FatKidOnFire has reached another milestone. We’ve had fifteen posts but more importantly ten interviews with ten varied but fresh brands. I wasn’t sure if I’d get one interview let alone ten!
To celebrate, I’m moving away from clothing per se and concentrating on a product that no one else (to my knowledge) in the world is releasing…
Find out more after the jump
Hailing from Norwich, Alistair Zelley comes from a family of jewellers who have been in the business for over one hundred years. That’s some serious heritage going on there! Whilst Alistair spends most of his time concentrating on helping run the family business, he has just started his own company – Zelley Bespoke. Zelley Bespoke first caught my eye at the Margin tradeshow in February (something the UK definitely needs more of, this show hooked so many people up!), Alistair had a little exhibit going on with a product that was so new I literally couldn’t get my head round it – precious metal shoe lace tips. Shoe laces that range in price fom £59 for Cubic Zirconias set in Sterling Silver to £2,500 for Diamonds set in Platinum (pictures to follow). Zelley Bespoke also produces other custom items; such as cuff links; tie slides and money clips. I sat down with Alistair to find out more…
Who/ what is Zelley Bespoke? It is my little window to the world where I get to show off my ideas as and when they materialize into a viable product. I am a jeweler first and foremost and love nothing more than selling. It is my day job and Zelley Bespoke would not have come about if it weren’t for the fact I come from a long line of jewelers. I am fully involved in the family business as we are a small family run chain of shops. I am split between two of them so always on the move. My father generally has the final say on all things except Zelley Bespoke, I think that is why I started it as it was something I could do myself the way I wanted. We are all about quality; I am sick and tired of all the cheap jewellery and the misleading sales people. I am trying educate as well as bring fresh products to the scene.
The Zelley family has long been trading in antique and fine second-hand jewellery. Being the youngest, Zelley Bespoke has allowed me to meet people both of my kind of age and of my way of thinking whilst continuing the jewellery thing.
It is hard for me to actually put my thumb on exactly what Zelley Bespoke is other than just an extension of what I have grown up doing. It’s a bit of a funny little thing as I am a one man band. I do everything myself, apart from building the website it’s all me! I answer all the calls; respond to all emails; am my own accountant; do all the running around; all sales calls; all press follow ups…the whole thing!
You’re doing something no one else (to my knowledge) is doing, how did that come about? You’re right, nobody else is doing this. Well nobody else in the world makes precious metal laces. The official term for the toughened bit at the end of a lace is an Aglet, this is technically what I make not the lace.
The whole concept came about while chilling out with a mate. It was something that just popped into my head while kicking back and relaxing. I thought that precious metal lace tips would be pretty cool on a pair of trainers I’d just bought. It wasn’t until a few months later that I decided to make myself a pair. Needless to say they looked wicked.
It was also around the time Dragons Den was massive and that kind of gave me the get up and go to actually try make something of it as a business.
What does/ will make your brand stand out and distinguish itself from the rest of the UK streetwear pack? Precious metal! Standard! Everything I am doing or want to do in the future must have Silver, Gold or Platinum involved with it somehow. My products don’t have a design ethos or a pattern across the board. Zelley Bespoke is more of a range of accessories rather than a brand. I suppose the main thing that will make us stand out is the ideas I’m trying to bring to the table.
Who/ what influences you in your work? Everything I see and do has an influence to a certain extent. My main influence is possibly my own need to keep busy. There isn’t anyone who I look at and think “wow they really touched me with their work”. I am my own influence. Sorry if that sounds pretentious or something!
I really like what Alexander Amosu does. He makes luxury products like Blackberry’s set with around 4,500 small diamonds. These are really posh and only really available to the ‘über wealthy’, but still look nice. However, from a critic’s point of view they are terrible. Stones will be falling out all over the place as the diamonds individually are just over half a point carat weight so each stone is about 200th of a carat and stones that size are very hard to keep in setting. But that’s just my way of looking at things.
I suppose another thing that influenced me to do my own things were Jacob & Co. watches. These are £70,000+ watches that use a quartz movement that I can buy for under a tenner. Personally I think they are hideous but people went crazy over them! I wanted to put a product out there that was well made of high quality. I generally see a Jacobs watch every 2 months from one of my watch makers where a stone has fallen out.
Diamonds set in Platinum – £2,500
What’s your take on the whole UK streetwear scene at the moment? It’s hard to pin point anything. I’m the first to admit that I am not the most “street” so don’t really feel that I can comment on something I don’t know a great deal about. I like what I like and really liked what I was seeing at the Margin tradeshow in February. I am very patriotic so will always have a lot of love for anything coming out of the UK (within reason). There are plenty of fresh brands out there and I would love to see them do well around the world.
Where do you see you and Zelley Bespoke being in 5 years time? That’s a crystal ball kind of question. Who knows? All my products feature precious metal and the last year has seen world record highs of the spot price of all three of the precious metals. Many large jewellery manufacturers we (the family business) used to deal with have had to evolve and are now refining gold rather than making jewellery due to the high price of gold. Some people I know were turning over £3.5 million of gold in four days. They only make 3-5% on that but if its 3-5% on £3.5 mill you don’t mind!
Zelley Bespoke is new and I’m just trying to get myself out there to see what people think. I am currently working on a few new custom products which I am really excited about and will look great in the range I am doing. I also have got a range of cuff links, tie slides and money clips in the making so whichever direction I move in Zelley Bespoke will always be about quality and craftsmanship. Zelley Bespoke is a kind of extension of the Zelley group of companies anyway and we are currently opening a new flagship shop in Norwich as it is. Us Zelley’s have been trading in the jewellery sector for 120 years and I have no intention of ending that tradition!
Where can people expect to catch your work, any stockists to watch? In all Zelley shops around Norfolk…jokes. There aren’t really many shops in my neck of the woods that have the customer basis required for my products. I am not going to name any ‘stockists to watch’ as I don’t want to jump the gun before anything is sealed. I am more about the one off customs at the moment so focusing on getting the press on that side of things.
However make sure you get a copy of FHM in May. We are giving away a pair of our laces in their Upgrade competition and there should be a little article on them somewhere in the magazine.
All sneaker heads should of course keep their eyes peeled while flicking through Sneaker Freaker, the Holy Grail of sneaker magazines in my opinion. Not sure if it’s the next coming edition or the one after but follow me on Twitter and you can be sure… I will let you know!
Top 5 favourite albums? Possibly the hardest most impossible question you have asked. I listen to all music bar a few genres but here goes my best:
- The Streets – Original Pirate Material
- Oasis – Stop the Clocks (Greatest hits compilation I know but got my favorites on it all in one place)
- Method Man & Redman – Blackout
- The Enemy – We’ll Live and Die in These Streets
- Ali-G In Da House OST!! (Big Film…Big Sound track!)
There are so many that would be up there though! These are just what stood out at this moment in time and the mood I’m in!
White Cubic Zirconias set in Sterling Silver
Shoutouts Shout out to anybody reading this and of course FatKidOnFire.
The Daily Street trio, they hooked me up when we met at Margin in February. They are on the ball with what they’re doing as “The Daily Street” and individually doing their own things.
Margin Trade show and the good people I met there. There were plenty of people there that were very welcoming and said lots of nice things about my bespoke laces. Biggest shout out from Margin to Katie from Lazy Oaf, thanks for the contacts.
Vestal – I had a good chat to them at Margin and they’re a Norwich link so much love.
Big up to Alex Nash. He’s doing something really special and has got plenty to come.
Big thanks to FHM for getting most of what they wrote about us wrong but thanks all the same.
All my Twitter followers… who have continued to follow me and all those I follow, check the list! I suppose I have got a big shout out to Twitter as well (Twitter is a very powerful tool).
All my people and the people I deal with on a day-to-day business basis.
Basically anybody I talk to I have a shout out for them. If I have left you out please do not be offended but it’s getting late and my head hurts!
A little celebration for both Alistair and I – he’s producing something completely unique and I’ve got this whole idea I had up and running into a fully functional blog that’s had fifteen posts with ten different brands being interviewed!
I hope you’ve all enjoyed hearing what Alistair had to say, holla at him on Twitter if so and head over to the Zelley Bespoke website to keep an eye on current and future plans. I’ve heard that some of the stuff Alistair has in the pipeline will be big. Pay attention, support and represent – this is exactly the kind of uniqueness the UK scene needs. Big up Alistair and Zelley Bespoke!