When it comes to independent shops selling stand-out fashion garments, Brighton is spoilt for choice. Situated in the quirky North Laine area of the city one such store is Flawless Clothing, which sells T-shirts, jackets, hats… and scoodies. These unique handmade garments from clothing company Cierva are a cross between a scarf and a hoodie: they’re very hipster, and very Brighton.
Oli Whiting has owned the shop since September and sells garments made by independent brands and artists as well as those that he prints himself on a direct-to-garment machine (he’s also recently bought a Brother embroidery machine). He stocks clothes from Bristol-based label Dr Banana and Brighton-based brand Sacred Stitches, along with clothing from the hip hop label High Focus.
For those looking to approach a shop such as Oli’s with their own garments, check first that your designs fit in with the retailer’s current offering. Previous to Oli taking over, the shop stocked T-shirts featuring internet memes and TV show designs, whereas the garments currently on sale allow customers to feel they’re buying unique designs that could never be found on the high street – instant style without being brash.
If you feel your styles mesh, then it’s a simple matter of approaching Oli with your designs: “Send an email or pop into the shop and say hello. If I like the stuff and its fits into the shop, and it’s a reasonable price, then I’ll take it on,” he advises.
Most of the tees he sells are 100% cotton – the brands he uses for printing include Gildan (Premium), SG, American Apparel and Continental – and the garments in the shop are all of a uniformly high standard to match customers’ expectations and demands. “I definitely look for quality garments,” Oli confirms.
The clothes he sells are often limited editions – Dr Banana, for example, never makes more than 50 of any item – but Oli doesn’t insist on this. After all, if something is selling well, being able to restock easily is a plus. He does, however, work on a sale or return basis when taking on a new brand. “I’ll take some and see how they sell,” he explains. “If they do well, then I’ll start looking at buying them outright. It’s a bit safer for me, but it’s also beneficial for the producer because they might have their own website where they sell them at a premium, so if I can’t sell them they can take them back and get their premium further down the line.”
As well as being approached by people, Oli says he follows up recommendations when looking for new garments to stock, so building a reputation for supplying good quality, original designs should be a top priority.