The Q&A I Used to Write about Rivet & Hide for Sportswear International
In the autumn of 2013, my wife and I went on a weekend getaway to London. This was about a year after Rivet & Hide had opened as an online-only retailer. It would be another half year before they’d open their first brick and mortar store.
I’d arranged with co-founder Danny Hodgson to visit their office and workshop in West London on the Saturday. I was particularly excited about getting to try out their Union Special 43200G sewing machine from 1950 on a pair of Indigofera jeans I’d brought along.
Danny’s spouse Junior, who’s also the other half of the team, was there to show me the ropes. It was my first (and so far only) attempt at hemming a pair of jeans. I failed catastrophically. Luckily, Junior finished the job like a pro. After that, they took us out for dinner and we told stories about denim.
Rivet & Hide is internationally recognised as one of the world’s finest retailers of ‘rare denim,’ as they call it.
It almost goes without saying that they’re on my personal top 10 of denim destinations, which I wrote about in issue #289 of Sportswear International. Here’s the Q&A I did with Danny as part of my research for the article.
Key Facts about Rivet & Hide
Rivet & Hide
London and Manchester
Danny Hodgson and Junior Arraes (founders and owners)
Danny’s Path Into the Raw Denim Scene
Thomas: What triggered your passion for raw denim and heritage style?
Danny: I have always been interested in classic style and raw denim played its part in that.
In the early 2000s, I had some raw Levi’s that fit and aged so nicely. I bought a pair of Nudie selvedge jeans soon after and, like comparing two wines, I could see how each evolved over time with wear and washing.
That made me curious about the next pair and so on and so on.
T: When did you know you were ‘hooked’ on raw denim?
D: When I counted about 20 pairs of jeans in my wardrobe and was still interested in owning more.
T: What is your favourite thing about raw denim?
D: Raw denim is pretty timeless.
After 30 wears, the denim is starting to mould to you in a way washed jeans never can. This process happens whether they are a super slim, relaxed taper or straight fit.
That is when they start to look like your own unique pair, become ever more comfortable, the first signs of the indigo popping and the fading patterns begin to emerge.
T: When and why did you decide to open a store?
D: For some time, I had wanted to start my own business, and I began dreaming about giving a home to these great brands I had discovered eg 3sixteen, The Flat Head, Pure Blue Japan which hitherto had no representation in the UK.
I did not come from a fashion or retail background so this was quite a challenge personally. Initially, the intention was to open online only and during the first nine months that is how we operated.
Soon customers were asking to come and see the brands in person and try the clothes on rather than simply buy online. So I welcomed these pioneering customers into my living room in West London and soon the business outgrew the flat where I lived at the time.
I hired an office nearby where we mounted a small display and hemmed jeans. This was known as the workshop and customers would visit by appointment. People were so excited to find the brands in the UK and I got the opportunity to meet them face to face and see such a strong reaction to the quality of the collections.
I realised the next logical step would be to open a store and within months our first store in Central London opened. I also felt I owed it to the brands to give them a proper home in London. The workshop was great but it needed taking up a gear.
Our second store in Manchester opened this year. The reaction has been so positive and we have been warmly welcomed in this great northern city. We are super excited about seeing the store there grow just as the London one has done over the last five years.
The Concept of Rivet & Hide
T: What are 3 common characteristics of brands you stock?
D: Next level quality, original fabrics, classic style.
T: What’s the story behind the name of the store?
D: The rivet is an essential component of any jean. The hide refers to the leather patch, but most customers assume it is a reference to leather jackets, which is great as seven years ago I never realised we’d end up offering the best leather jackets you could ever wish to own.
T: What do you think customers value most about your store?
D: They trust us. They trust that we will never compromise on quality.
We also focus on the quality of our service whether it be online or in one of the two physical locations. It is unusual these days to receive such a personalised service with such detailed product knowledge.
T: What has been the greatest challenge you’ve faced so far, and what did you learn from it?
D: There has been many. Opening a second store while the Brexit drama is still playing out has been either brave or foolhardy.
It might be a cliche but business needs certainty. I am very open about my feelings on this issue. Being able to trade freely within the richest single market in the world is a huge benefit that could soon be voluntarily lost. To me that is madness.
I now have nine salaries to pay each month, two store rents to pay, and amazing product to buy. Brexit does not promote this in any way.
T: Why should denimheads visit your store? What makes it a ‘denim destination’?
D: I would not describe our customers as ‘denimheads.’ A small percentage might be denim collectors but most just love a great pair of jeans and clothing of superior quality and timeless style.
We really do carry the best denim brands on offer and have such a strong collection throughout the year. A visit to us is always worth it!
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