So Who are ScootsSuitsandBoots.com, and what are they about ?
Their are four of us involved, and my name is Mick Harwood. I previously set up a builders merchants business, I spent 12 years growing the business before eventually selling it.
For a couple of years I continued to work for the company that I had sold to, but the passion I felt for the business disappeared once it became my "day job". In comparison the extra time, and for a while money, enabled me to pursue my passion for scootering and its associated "scenes".
I already knew from my attendance at scooter rallies and ride outs just how engaged folk where with the "scene" and that mods and skinheads in particular had an enduring passion for clothing and "looking the part". Obviously, it helped that I totally empathised with them !
So what happened really was a meeting of two passions, the one for scootering culture in all its myriad forms and a re-ignited passion for business.
The company has been trading online for two and half years, and is going from strength to strength.
Scoots, Suits and Boots .com is unique in that it combines stylish riding wear with the clothing and footwear that the fashion conscious scooter rider wants to wear. We stock a mixture of well know brands such as Ben Sherman alongside smaller, often new, clothing brands such as Art Gallery Clothing. In terms of best selling lines, its Corazzo on the riding wear side, and on the fashion side of things its footwear, wether its Ikon, Dr.Martens orDelicious Junction.
Musically,I have quite eclectic tastes, but my journey really begins with the Punk and New Wave movements of the mid-late Seventies.
As a school boy I would regularly curl up under the bed covers listening to John Peel on the "tranny",... back when the sentence reffered to a radio !
Then as I was leaving school the mod revival and 2-Tone movements where in full swing, and I think both movements blended Sixties influences with those of the Post-Punk era. My number one favourite group of all time where The Jam, and I think they demonstrated that point better than anyone.
That in turn led me to explore those influences, both musically and in terms of fashion.
As I say my tastes are eclectic, but over the years I have developed a passion for Northern Soul. Its a litttle ironic really as back in the Wigan Casino era I just wasn't open to it all. Even when I had joined the mod movement and I delevoped a healthy interest in Motown, I was still largely ignorant of the NS scene.
It was only later that I discovered the joys of hearing tracks one after another, that I had not heard a hundred times before, and the therapeutic effect it had on my jaded ears.
My thoughts are that their is something quintessentially British about the way that certain fashions and music have been adopted by the mod movement. By that I don't neccessarily mean that all the music and clothes are British, but rather that we have this way of taking influences from other cultures, often mixing them up, and then creating something that we can relate to.
In turn that created a basis on which the British music scene has built on since. Todays bands might say they are influenced The Who, rather than saying that they are influenced by Blues music, even though The Who where influenced by the Blues.
With regards to the job, the most rewarding moments are the simple ones really.
Its when we get emails from customers thanking us for our service and when folk place nice testimonials on our website. We work within a community and we can only be successful really by adding some value to that community. Obviously we want to make a profit, but we firmly believe that you only get out of life what you put into it in the first place. Our role is to provide style and fashions that our customers may find difficult to get hold of otherwise, and then get that clothing to them quickly and at an affordable price.
Then hopefully if we hold up our side of the deal, we will be rewarded by having a successful business.
Our typical customers are predominantly in the 35-55 age group, and are mostly male.
This comes as no surprise to us really as we target a customer base that is interested in scooters, the mod scene and the skinhead scene. Many of our customers would have been involved in the mod revival and the scooter scene in the years since the 80,s.
Thats not to say that we don't have customers who where involved in the original mod scene as I know from various telephone conversations, and relationships built up on forums, that we most cetainly do.
The encouraging thing is that their does seem to be renewed interest amongst youngsters for the fashions etc. but sadly most cannot afford to buy classic scooters, and its that love of those machines that seems to be the most enduring aspect of many sub-culture scenes.
We only trade online, well except for trading at scooter rallies etc., but apart from that I think that we are experiencing a phenomenon in which for the first time masses of people can indulge thier passions and interests without feeling that they are at odds with the rest of the people around them.
What I mean by that is that since the internet revolution, and the social media aspect in particular, people have realised that their are far more people who share their interests than they could have imagined. In turn it has enabled those people to gather together socially, and feel part of something that they thought they had left behind.
Finally, our aim as a company is to become the number one destination for people who are confident enough to count themselves as part of one of our uniquely "British sub-cultures". I don't use the word "British" in a jingoistic manner, our customers come from all corners of the globe and they are drawn by a love of the sub-cultures that formed on our little island.
I suppose you could say that we aim to become the "asos" of the counter culture !