At the tender age of 20, Preston Brown, from Sunderland, owns a thriving vintage shop and has built a street wear brand that now resides as a concession in seven Topman stores across the country.
Brown sits down with us to talk about his premature success. Pintsized and decorated purposely in lavish, primary – coloured graffiti; there’s an instant whiff of vintage in his store that gives it its authenticity. Downstairs in the basement (which doubles as a stockroom and a makeshift studio) we promptly start.
I gently mention his success and he’s quick to shut me down: “Thanks, I am fairly proud. But I believe neither business has reached its potential in the slightest. I don’t think I’ll ever be content with what I have achieved, but that’s just my character, to always want more.”
Immediately his modest yet driven personality shines through. Appearing quite introverted as he talks of his achievements, whilst he tucks a strand of hair behind his ear; the rest tied back in a bobble and a dark heavily overgrown beard shaping his face.
His preference for street wear is echoed in his chosen outfit. A slouchy oversized grey t-shirt, black jeans and those fancy ‘Yeezy Boost’ trainers from Kanye West’s Adidas collection, someone he takes inspiration from: “If I could choose one person to wear Simple clothing it would be Kanye. He’s a cool guy, who is respected and acknowledged in the fashion industry. We have had some minor celebrities featured in our clothing but nothing that drastic, yet.”
Unashamedly, Preston continues that some members of the Geordie Shore cast have been spotted in his designs: “It makes sense, we’re a North-East brand and its great exposure for us!”
Since it was established in 2012, Simple Clothing has evolved into a home-grown fashion success; but where does, a then 17 year old boy, get the financial drive to start up his own fashion line? Wealthy parents, giving their son free reign? NO, certainly not!
Preston said: “My Dad’s a fireman, and my Mam stays at home. They’ve been supportive. It’s always difficult for someone who has no idea about a certain industry to be enthusiastic but they try.
“Vintage clothing was the easiest route into fashion for me considering my circumstances. I started my clothing business when I was 16, I had little to no money and vintage clothing was something I could acquire easily, sell for a high mark up, in volume and quickly. It’s just snowballed from there.
“I had a graphic design background. It was a hobby – designing and trying to sell my prints, it grew quicker than I ever imagined. Before I knew, it was an established brand stocked by the countries biggest retailer.”
Our full AW15 range is available in 7 Topman stores throughout the UK including Sunderland, Darlington, Middlesbrough, Hull, Metrocentre, York and Newcastle Eldon square. If you near any of our stockists be sure to check out the new range. #simpleclothing #simple #topman A photo posted by ⠀⠀Simple Clothing. (@simpleclothinguk) on
Topman weren’t always on board, though. It took some convincing before they put trust in the brands potential.
Preston said: “We tried tirelessly to contact Topman but we never got a reply. One day someone from Topman head office spotted the brand and set the wheel in motion. We fell lucky! It was a case of being in the right place at the right time.”
The 20-year-old remains modest whilst shying away from his personal talent behind the designs which provoked the initial attraction.
The designs were introduced first in Sunderland’s Topman store, and have broadened their reach into the Metro Centre, Middlesborough, Darlington, Hull, York and recently Newcastle.
Simple Clothing is living proof of young, successful talent in the North-East, which invites both praise and negativity, in which he welcomes, along with a playful smile he explains: “Negativity is part of the parcel of success. But it’s flattering to me; it shows they’re taking notice. I’m less than 10% along the way of my journey, ambition never hurt anyone.”