Urban Industry x FatKidOnFire - [Special] Interview #50

Urban Industry x FatKidOnFire

[Special] Interview #50

It’s finally time.

FatKidOnFire has celebrated its 6 month birthday, its 100th post, its 100th follower and finally we’re arrived at the next milestone. We have something very special for you guys to celebrate (and no Arun, it’s not a horse). This is Interview #50…

When you think of British streetwear webstores there are a few that spring to mind.

There’s one that would arguably sit at the top of that list in most peoples minds and that store is Urban Industry. Here at FKOF HQ we’ve got seriously big love for the UI family – they take stock both established “mainstream” brands but also have the time of day for the small, start-up independent brands that need all the support they can get.

Definitely a template other stores in the UK should take heed of! Peep the feature and then find the special surprise we’ve got lined up for you guys at the end of the interview. We sat down with founder and owner Dan King to find out more…

Who or what is Urban Industry? Urban Industry is an independent store based in Eastbourne, East Sussex. We’ve been going since 2002 and we’ve been building it up since then. It’s husband and wife owned and we have another 8 great people in the team. We attempt to stock some of the most interesting product from across the board; from multinational sportswear brands to bedroom start ups. We are an Online store with a destination store open to the public at our warehouse facility.

You’ve been in this industry in one form or another for over eight years – what’s your secret to continuing survival when so many others have folded and disappeared? How are you coping with the current economic situation? I think it’s just trying to pick the right product at the right time. I wasn’t trained to do this – it’s something I love and I still feel my way along even now. A brand can have items one season that sell out really fast and the next season they drop like a stone and we could have closed ourselves down many times in the past. Especially if we’d got the balance wrong with too much stock of the wrong thing. Brand cycles go up and down and judging which our customers are backing or shying away from is also paramount. There’s no use sticking with a brand if they just aren’t producing the products that our customers will get excited about.

What does or will make your website stand out and distinguish itself from the rest of the UK streetwear (online or not) stockists? It has to be the depth of the brand list and the depth of the stock we carry. We try to cover a good selection from a brand if at all possible through all departments. Twinned with this, it’s trying to give the best customer service as possible. We all take it personally if a customer has a bad experience with us and in line with this we’ve spent a hell of a lot of money and time designing internal systems to make sure everything dispatches quickly and correctly. It sounds like a corny line about customer service but it really is true. Thirdly, I think it’s because we’re always trying to push ourselves forward with how we operate. For instance we’ve just redesigned the entire website to look and work better, we’ve taken the time to shoot product from this winter season for our recent A/W 2010 lookbook and we’re investing in do more of this and also more video across the site. So lastly, with all that, it’s the constant progression that might set us apart, never resting!

[Urban Industry have one hell of a shoe wall – heaven for a sneakerhead like me!]

What’s your take on the UK streetwear scene at the moment? How does what we’re producing compare to the international market? UK streetwear is a bit of an odd one. There are some great t-shirt brands out there; the epitome of what good streetwear should be, people starting things for themselves. Where we don’t compete that well is on the fully-fledged brands with a fully developed cut and sew collection unlike a lot of the US labels. This mainly comes down to costs of manufacture I guess and the fact that stores are hesitant to stock more UK product because generally the customers prefer the US product. We try and support where possible and where we actually like the UK product, I still wouldn’t stock a UK brand just because it was UK if it didn’t look the right for the store.

What are your favourite UK independent street wear brands at the moment? I like Villainous Visard, Too Much Posse, AnyForty, Second Son. Theres some nice pieces coming on from Death before Dishonor… Sorry if I’ve missed anyone else out!

Where do you see Urban Industry and the streetwear market being in 5 years time? For Urban Industry I’d just like to see it keep growing. We’re presently looking at taking a larger warehouse to hold all the stock and to build a bigger photographic studio, so that will help. I’d like us to carry on what were doing now, finding interesting new brands as well as being the first stop for all our customers favourite brands. I still want to be buying in the good stuff! The streetwear market? Who knows!

I hope that we can still maintain the ‘streetwear’ market, there are a lot of big stores which are buying into the ‘streetwear’ look because they’ve already conquered their high street markets and obviously this is the next thing to cover and dominate.

I hope that brands find a way to resist floating all of their product to the biggest stores as it defeats the whole point of independent streetwear, a market which grew up on the outside of the mainstream, for people who don’t want the clothing that everyone else has or just like different, well made pieces that people like them created.

What range of brands are you currently stocking? Are there any new brands you’re looking to stock in the near future? Obviously too many brands to mention here – around 80 at the last count. There aren’t too many we’re looking to take on presently, but there are a few possibles which I’ll keep quiet on!

Top 5 favourite albums? Tough one!

  1. DJ Shadow – Endtroducing
  2. Pearl Jam – Ten
  3. Arcade Fire – Funeral
  4. Anything by Unkle
  5. GZA – Liquid Swords

Too many to pick from really!

[The new bike wall, which went up yesterday, and some sick Shepard Fairey artwork]

Any shoutouts? My wife Vicky, Sean, Lizze, Ruth, Emily, Matt, Mike, Elliot and Nicky, the Urban Industry Team. <p >Carl Burnham – Dickies and The Original Store. All our reps, agents and brands we deal with.

Ok, we’ve been teasing you for long enough so we’ll put you out of your misery.

To celebrate reaching the 50th interview, FatKidOnFire and Urban Industry have joined forces for two weeks (starting from today, 19th November and running until 3rd December) to provide a 15% discount code on all purchases from the UI webstore. Simply enter “fatkidonfire” at the shopping cart before checkout to receive your 15% discount. Done!

Dan and the UI fam are definitely royalty when it comes to supporting UK streetwear. Having been in the game for almost a decade and to still be one of the most popular webstores (and not forgetting their physical store in Eastbourne) says it all really! That’s praise in itself. We can’t really top that. But when you say streetwear (web)stores we think Urban Industry! If you’ve liked what you’ve heard from Dan and want to find out more, find Urban Industry on Facebook or Twitter and go get your 15% “fatkidonfire” discount via their website. ‘Bout it.

If you have any thoughts on what Dan has had to say, or thoughts on anything else you’ve read let us know either via the comments section below or through one of the other forms of contact (emailTwitter and Facebook).