Guys, can you share with our readers how END. got started?
We were friends from Uni with a shared passion for sneakers & streetwear which was really hard to find as at that time the whole industry/market didn’t really exist. There wasn’t any online at this time and physical stores such as Footpatrol & The Hideout in London, Undefeated in the US and Patta in Amsterdam were just getting started. Colette in Paris had been around some time longer and was probably the most established. These stores were some of the inspiration for us starting out and the brands we were interested in were not really available outside of the cities with these stores. So, at the age of 21 we started a small store on High Bridge street in Newcastle called END.
We didn’t have any past business acumen, experience or knowledge of the industry but our passion for products with good design and inspiration from what others were doing at the time gave us the belief that we could make it happen. It’s been a long road with so many unexpected challenges!
What attracted you to retail?
Initially it was really the product & design. Sneaker culture was just kicking off at this time and small streetwear brands with great design and new ideas was interesting to us. It was also the idea of creating something ourselves. After we got started we started to understand more about retail and meeting people with similar interests whether that be our team, our customers or our suppliers. We have met some many good friends and amazing people over the years we wouldn’t want to do anything else.
What’s the thought process behind your brand mix?
Starting out, and still to this day, we were really into sneakers, streetwear and sportswear. Some of our very first brands were Wood Wood from Copenhagen, Umbro by Kim Jones (now Creative Director at Dior), Maharishi, A Bearded Man, New Balance, Gasius, Nike, Visvim and Adidas. Late 2000s as we grew more into the industry and learnt more about the world of fashion & design we started to appreciate different brands like Comme des Garcon, Our Legacy, Acne Studios & Moncler but at the time it wasn’t really the done thing to mix different types of brands in one store. Although it wasn’t a conscious decision, it was something that just felt natural to us, END. was probably one of the first stores to mix the traditional pillars of different brands (streetwear/ sneakers, contemporary and luxury brands.)
What do you look for when adding brands to your portfolio?
It’s quite broad, we appreciate lots of different things but if we were to boil it down to something that everything has in common; Interesting concept, good design, an understanding the customer, and importantly does it fit into our END. world.
What made you want to carry Patta?
We have followed Patta since the start and we collected many of their sneaker collaborations long before we met the team (the Chlorophyll's and 5th Anniversary Denim’s are two of the best Air Max 1s of all time!) So, we knew of Patta the business and from time to time we would go over to Amsterdam to visit their store. Then over the years we met Edson, Gee and Danny who are all great guys with similar interests to us. It was a natural step to work together.
How did you learn about Patta?
Really the collaborations with Nike and reading articles on blogs about the huge queues they would get outside of the store on release day.
How did this Begin. collaboration come to life?
This year is our 15th anniversary so we reached out to the Patta team to see if they would like to do something with us. Why Begin? I think because both END. & Patta started out with a shared interest for something and both companies are a reflection that if you have a passion & a dream then no matter how many challenges and obstacles are in your way just go for it, you can do it! Especially now, the world is such a crazy place, but it needs new ideas and people are going to make it happen. Start something. Begin.
Since most business is conducted online these days, set the vibe of your store for us.. What do your customers look like, what music is playing, how do the store clerks approach us?
Most of our business is online but our physical stores are so important, they are the heart of END. The stores themselves are pretty unisex & neutral with a friendly and welcoming vibe which makes a good surrounding for our products. The community aspect; the END. team & our amazing consumers is what really brings the store to life. Whenever we go into our stores we are always super proud to see them busy with people shopping & smiling. The stores are happy places.
We are all about empowering creatives and aspiring entrepreneurs: Do you have any piece of advice for anyone wanting to open up a store themselves?
Great question. When we started END. so many people told us we couldn’t do it, we didn’t know what we were doing and why don’t we go and get a normal job?
When we started the questions we would get were like; Who are you? Christiaan & John. How old are you? 21/22. Where have you worked before? Nowhere. Who do you know? No one. How much money do you have? None! Looking back, it was pretty much impossible to make END. work but I think it shows that it is possible and if we can do it then anyone can do it.
If you have a passion, an idea or a dream then we this is a powerful thing and you should go for it and believe you can make it happen. Don’t get us wrong, it’s not going to be easy, there will be challenges & obstacles along the road that you have never even thought of but with a strong heart and good people around you then you can overcome anything. Still to this day at END. we encounter challenges that we have never even contemplated, every day is different!
END & Patta are two examples that it is possible. If we inspire some people who are reading this article than that is a beautiful thing.