- Identity Design,
- Design for Print,
Based on a mutual passion for graffiti and street culture
We kickstarted an independent retail revolution
In 2013 Rob, Tom and I embarked on a business journey fraught with challenge, risk and reward. After opening a clothing store and a partnering gallery, print workshop and multiple graffiti initiatives, we helped change the creative and cultural face of a city.
We were the first of a new wave of independent businesses to take a chance and open up shop in a neglected corner of the city centre. Within only 2 years, multiple friends, and friends of friends, opened up their own businesses around us. This spark inspired a generation of entrepreneurs who felt like they too could make a difference and create something that they wanted to see in their city.
We renovated a three-story Victorian building over the summer of 2014
A new interior retail experience in the city
We wanted something. So we built it. 51-53 was a menswear store rooted in graffiti and street culture selling apparel, footwear, skateboarding hardware, graffiti paint and artist supplies. It was the centre point of a large creative business, providing an entry point for individuals to interact with street culture at any level—and enabled us to move forward with other projects outside of retail. We renovated a building over the course of three months in the summer of 2014, art directed the interior design and worked alongside a number of talented designers, makers and tradesmen to realise a fresh vision for what a retail business could achieve.
An identity that celebrated the city
The store's location was central to its visual identity, with street culture at the heart. Fashion-savvy customers are often loyal to a select number of stores, and we wanted to capture the local economy by celebrating it through our graphic language and image style. Gritty, urban and brutalist. Capturing the essence of what street culture already is, in many ways, was key. We aimed to lean on visual conventions of the industry whilst putting a considered spin on our brand identity.
Simple, bold, black & white. We aimed to very matter-of-fact, very direct and very punchy. You could say very masculine — this was a menswear store after all. The boldness and simplicity of the typography in the identity represented our values.
Capturing a mood through image was important for us. We didn't want the imagery to take centre stage necessarily, but rather compliment the typographic direction and be more textural, showing subtleties of the culture we were communicating.
51-53 was part of EN Agency alongside Upstairs Gallery, Present Workshops, the Hall of Fame and New Horizons
Campaigns designed to communicate cool
We had two general approaches to advertising the store. The first was very much about putting our brand identity at the forefront, with the aim to increase awareness of who we were and what we were about. The second was about putting the product centre stage, so that potential customers understood our offer more clearly whilst at the same time having an introduction to our brand.
Customers often buy from certain outlets because of their desire to be affiliated with that outlet, just like they buy the clothing itself by brand. Putting our brand identity first enabled us to build levels of trust with people so that they felt both comfortable and cool buying from us.
In our brand campaigns, the product was present, but textural. However we also needed to be able to put the actual clothing on offer as the protagonist, and by teaming up with photographers and stylists we created our own lookbook content to use in these scenarios.
In-store events and lock-ins
One of our main goals was to brinig together a community around street culture in the city. We did this in a number of ways through the entire business, but with the store we wanted to combine this with selling product. The store would always be open during gallery openings, and alongside these private views we also organised ‘lock-ins’ where paying customers can attend, enter competitions, play games, socialise and get discounts on products around the store.
The local music scene
A huge part of the culture of our store was the music we played. Hip hop, house, punk—whatever the collective felt appropriate at any given time was played through the speakers. We made it a monthly event to have live DJs playing in-store that represented this brand value, producing free mixtapes off the back of it and increasing our network within the city.
Original seasonal lookbooks
Between location scouting, sourcing photographers and stylists, art directing, lighting and getting behind the lens to photograph, we consciously made the effort to produce original content every season in the form of lookbooks for our stocked brands.
The ‘Launderette Shoot’, shot by Robyn Clarke and styled by Jade Washington
The ‘Greasy Spoon Shoot’ was, like the ‘Launderette Shoot’, a reveal into working-class life in the city
We also produced a number of studio-led lookbooks
Shot by Robyn Clarke and styled by Jade Washington
- Rob Fenton
- Tom Edwards
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