The North East coast has a rich naval history with sites such as Hartlepool Marina and Seaham harbour holding dear maritime memories for some. Now, one plucky fashion-lover has decided to celebrate his heritage through a new and exclusive clothing line that he manages single-handedly.
Gerard Purvis, a 26-year-old brand manager from Sunderland, recently launched the menswear company named Harbour Clothing as a venture into the world of fashion production while he maintained his retail job in Topman. Fashion North collaborated with Harbour Clothing to create a mini photoshoot which can be viewed below. The T-shirts modelled, priced at £18 each, are part of the limited edition collection which can be viewed at: http://www.harbourclothing.uk/.
We spoke to Gerard about why he set up Harbour Clothing and what we can expect from him in the future.
What made you create your own brand?
“I’ve worked in retail for 10 years and I’ve always been interested in fashion, but I think it was also a bit of a quarter life crisis! I’m 27 this year and I wanted to create something that I was in control of, and I just thought to myself, if I can manage a store and make all this money for someone else, why can’t I do it for myself.”
How did you manage to go about setting it up?
“It’s all still really early days. Harbour was originally a joint venture with me and one of my friends, but I don’t do compromise well. I’ve always been quite an impatient person, I need everything done yesterday and done my way, so it was best for our friendship that I just went it alone. Then in the space of 3 months, Harbour went from a concept to an up-and-running brand. It’s been a lot of work, especially with a full time job too, but I’m so happy with the progress.”
“There’s no point just doing what someone else is doing or recreating someone else’s work at a lower standard. Harbour is about statement, classic pieces that are distinct.”
What is the concept or ethos behind the brand?
“When I started thinking about what my brand would be, the key themes I kept coming back to were classic, minimal and accessible, therefore, the logo is simplistic and graphic to try and illustrate this. I wanted something that looked like a brand that has been in production for decades, with a little nod to the heritage of Sunderland via the crane emblem. I’d never want to create a “throw-away fashion” or trend-led line. There’s no point just doing what someone else is doing or recreating someone else’s work at a lower standard. Harbour is about statement, classic pieces that are distinct.”
Why “Harbour” Clothing? Is there a link to the area?
“I wanted a brand that was linked to the history of Sunderland, and a name that could stand on its own and sound credible to people outside the area. My family has roots in the city; my granddad worked in the shipyards, my great uncle worked down the pits until they were shut down, my parents have lived and worked here all their lives. The city has such an amazing industrial history and I wanted to celebrate that and have a brand that reminded people that Sunderland isn’t a s***hole. It’s had its rough patches, but it definitely feels like we’re on an upward curve now with so much regeneration and investment appearing.”
What can people expect in the future from the brand?
“The limited edition launch lines have been selling well. The next step are the high summer lines, photographic print tees and vests which I’m really excited about. I’m looking at denim and shorts too, to start diversifying. My absolute dream for the brand would be to open a factory here in Sunderland, sewing and printing all the product here and selling around the world. It’s a bit of pie in the sky, but I think it would be full circle for a brand that is built on the industrial heritage of Sunderland, to bring industry back to the city.”