Glasgow-based independent menswear brand G69 takes classic menswear wardrobe staples – T-shirts, polo shirts, parkas and bombers – and creates contemporary cool with a subtle tartan twist. Creative director Mark Bradley reveals why he’s taking the label online – and urges more support for fledgling designers
What do you do?
I am the creative director and head designer of G69 Clothing.
Who are you?
An independent Scottish menswear designer with a goal of bringing independent design to the mainstream.
Where are you based?
In the east end of Glasgow.
Why did you set up the company?
The company was set up after three years of study at Cardonald College (now Glasgow Clyde College) where I achieved an HND in design and manufacture. Following this I was fast-tracked into third year of a fashion business degree at Glasgow Caledonian University. Following ill-health and a realisation the course was not for me, I decided to follow my ambition and eventually launch the label.
I have a goal of taking G69 to a level where we can put Glasgow and Scotland back on the map. There is, and always has been, an abundance of talent here in terms of design and manufacture as well as the many other creative fields which was forgotten when production was moved overseas. However, the talent still remains. I am lucky enough to have learned from these people through my time at college and now I find myself working alongside many other talented individuals with the label.
Where are your products made?
The products are produced, altered and finished in various locations around Glasgow. Certain designs, particularly our cut and sew pieces, will go to two separate locations in order to produce the final outcome.
What’s different about your product?
We are a proud Glaswegian/Scottish brand. The name G69 is derived from Glasgow’s east end, the area in which both the label and I were born. One of the important aspects for me is being able to work alongside other independent creatives who have a skill set which we may require from time to time, such as engraving or production of certain products. We have a standard of quality which is expected with every single piece, which reflects well on the brand.
What is your most popular product?
Our most popular product would be our cut and sew designs. There is a lot of appreciation for these due to the way the garment is manufactured, particularly the long sleeve polos which have a subtle sleeve panel detail.
Who are your customers?
We have found customers range in terms of age and gender as there have been times female customers have picked up a design for a relative or partner. Personally I never feel it is right to segregate supporters of the brand. I am very grateful for all of the support we receive and I feel fashion is a personal statement which highlights a self-confidence in your choices.
What is your background?
My background was actually in construction within my father’s roofing company after leaving school at 17. I had always had ideas of launching a clothing label but didn’t have the knowledge of how to do so. I researched and found I could study fashion design and manufacture in Glasgow so left full-time employment to study for four years in total. I had my father’s full support, which always made things easier as he encouraged me to follow my ambition.
What challenges have you faced?
I feel I will speak for a majority of independent designers and brands when I say I have found it very hard, if not impossible, to gather support financially and information from those who are supposed to be in place to help develop businesses such as G69. There is so much talent within the fashion industry in Scotland, if it can be labelled an industry. I say that because without support, encouragement and development then there is no industry, just a collection of very talented teams and individuals who are out on their own trying to make their way forward. Which ultimately will be very hard to maintain.
What was the biggest surprise along the way?
Probably during our involvement in the Wear Eponymous (a Glasgow-based retailer who supports independent brands and culture) pop-up store this time last year at Glasgow Fort. The support we received within that two week period was phenomenal. It was also made all the more special as this was based in the east end of Glasgow which the brand represents.
What is the fun part of your business?
Creating and developing new designs in collaboration with other creatives. Seeing someone wearing one of your designs out and about is always a nice feeling too.
How have things evolved?
We have taken part in many pop-up shops which only last a short period of time. Now we have a permanent stockist with the Wear Eponymous online store. We also recently finished a run in Princes Square shopping mall in Glasgow city centre within their concept store, a great location among some of the biggest brands around.
What have you learned?
To appreciate what’s been achieved along the way. I haven’t done this as much as I should have. Also never stand still, always try to move things forward and progress.
What’s your style philosophy?
As clichéd as it may be, my philosophy would be “lead don’t follow”. Running an independent brand, it’s important our customers take the decision to support us over the more mainstream brands.
Which items do you have at home?
I own and wear every G69 design. When placing production orders I always add in an extra one for myself.
What is your aim now?
My aim for the short term is to build our recently launched online platform www.g69clothing.com and in the longer term bring other brands on board. We are lucky to have reached agreements with a bespoke jewellery brand, Glasgow-based Ruth A Morrison. Ruth is originally from the Isle of Harris and specialises in custom-made jewellery that includes the world famous Harris Tweed fabric in the designs. She will be providing us with cufflinks and tie pins. We’re also speaking to other brands and have projects in the pipeline. My aim is to create an online destination that provides for customers’ needs from top to bottom, so right now is an exciting time for me and the brand.
• G69 clothing is available at www.g69clothing.com. Also available at www.weareponymous.com