Take a stroll down heritage-steeped Berwick Street and you’ll find everything that makes London’s Soho great. Independent vinyl shops, traditional London pubs, bespoke tailoring, textiles, and one of the capital’s oldest markets, all nestled in one of the most vibrant and diverse neighbourhoods our city has to offer.
Adding yet another jewel to the location’s crown, the street now also boasts a wealth of the hottest independent menswear labels currently on the market. Opening shop in 2012, one such disciple of Berwick’s buzz is Percival Clothing, a retail haven for the eccentric gent looking for something more than just the same-old trend-led consciousness. With a savvy hunch about the street’s retail inclination, the founders set up shop, studio and headquarters at number 43 before being joined by many others such as Nudie Jeans and Universal Works, catering to their media and film-based clientele working for companies around the corner.
Originally started in 2009 by designers and illustrators Chris Gove and Luke Stenzhorn along with accounts director Jacob Sorkin, Percival quickly enlisted the help of friend and freelance menswear designer Olivia Hegarty, becoming the stellar line-up that runs the show today. Speaking to Olivia, she tells us that from their Dalston-based design studio and wholesaling for clothing stores in the UK and Europe, they launched a string of pop-up shops testing different areas of London before deciding on the current Soho setup thanks to the area’s attributes.
Since the beginning, the label’s lifeblood has always been to focus on carefully considered designs, pride in local production, and premium quality workmanship. With her expert appreciation of textiles and an interest in the responsibility born by all designers to produce sustainably, Olivia tells us that when it came to selecting an accessories label to feature alongside their own designs, finding the right brand match was key.
That’s where Rubber Killer comes in.
Originally started in Chiang Mai, Thailand, by eco-friendly designer Joi Wong-Savun, Rubber Killer is all about slick totes and accessories made from up-cycled road tyres and inner tubes. The label was discovered by Charlie and Nicola while they were living out there and running their previous business.
Speaking to Charlie, product designer by day and serial entrepreneur by nature, he explains that the first bag caught his eye on a wander through the walking streets of Pai in northern Thailand. A bright yellow tote with a contrasting pitch black base made from this reclaimed rubber and a super soft ‘cotton suede’ jumped out at him, and after a serendipitous encounter with the owner Joi again months later at a market back in Chiang Mai, the rest, as they say, is history.
By giving a second life to a small proportion of the 290 million tyres being dumped into landfills every year, the hardwearing totes, messenger bags, pouches and notebooks hope to make a small dent in the serious environmental issues of fire hazards, air pollution and water contamination that come with these rubber graveyards. However not only are the products eco-friendly, they’re just plain beautiful. Classic, clean cut designs and a satisfying weightiness belying each bag’s durability mean that you can in fact be both stylish and eco-savvy.
Needless to say, this devotion to quality and sustainability runs as a perfect parallel between the two brands. Speaking about Rubber Killer, Olivia explains that they were immediately drawn to the ethos behind the bags with their focus on upcycling, adding that “the quality of construction of the products is great and even though they are unisex, they sit well in a menswear store.” The importance of workmanship and textiles is also apparent in both labels – “we also like the play on materials, for example the different textures produced from the various examples of found rubber. This sits well against our clothing collections where texture and fabric choice is a big part of our design aesthetic.”
Just take a look at the yellow rain mac and canvas and rubber tote – they could have been made for each other.
Likewise, when asked why Percival was the right choice for Rubber Killer, Charlie replies that not only the shop but the team behind it are fantastic – “if you read their biography it’s all about sustainability, so we’re on the same page. Olivia is amazing and her shop is perfect; why Percival? Why not Percival.” The positives that come with We Are Pop Up’s ShopShare become apparent too when he adds that as a brand that is new to the UK, Rubber Killer can get a slice of the action alongside this more developed menswear label. “We can piggyback on their brand identity, the persona, the lifestyle of Percival. They’re already established, already gorgeous, already out there.”
These benefits work both ways. Not only does Rubber Killer access a whole new market that is perfect for their brand – for example they were featured strongly in the store’s latest mailer – but also Percival can enrich their customer experience by bringing something new and exciting to the table. Olivia tells us that the collaboration “enhances the clothing range itself by offering something alongside it that we feel is relevant and of interest to our shoppers.”
It was also something they were looking to do by approaching labels directly, but have had much more success through the listing on We Are Pop Up. Olivia adds that “the reach is greater than we would have had through our own research and direct contact with individual businesses.” For Charlie, ShopShare enables the brand to be autonomous, allowing him the freedom to launch several ShopShares at once, testing new areas around London without having to be present himself.
Olivia explains that at Percival they realised that they could use We Are Pop Up to find interesting independent accessories companies that might like to work with them in store, and after creating their listing they had a pile of responses within days. They are already working with three, (and possibly in future, four) businesses that found them through the site.
We Are Pop Up is acting as a hub for forming new collaborations by connecting brands and businesses directly, putting them in complete control and opening up a whole new world of entrepreneurial possibilities, all at the click of a button.
Are you a shop looking for exciting new brands to join you in store? Discover hundreds here.
A brand on the hunt for new collaborations and want to team up with an established boutique? Find the perfect match here.
You can find Rubber Killer in Percival until this Saturday 18th July, or check them out in T&SHOP, a tea and lifestyle concept store. Also coming soon to The Permanent Pop Up, a new multi-brand retail space in Soho.
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