What was the catalyst for starting Ardour and whats the long term goal?
Ardour came about through a culmination of years growing up together as friends, following an almost identical path with regards style and social circles and putting into practice our shared passion for clothing. We met over a decade ago and although it sounds funny, I think we were always destined to do something like this together. The long term goal for Ardour is to become a firmly established brand here in the UK and to eventually have our own store. That’s the dream, and there’s no reason why we can’t make it a reality – we’ve come this far.
What or who are a few of your most inspirational brands or people?
Saul – Since an early age I was always interested in sub cultures and the styles associated with them. My parents were original 60s skinheads, so the tales of their sartorial and social forays were something that resonated with me greatly. I found my own feet through growing up going to football and become immersed in the whole culture that goes with it. Like Shaun, I was infatuated with the whole thing, especially the clothing side of it, and that has never left me and never will. There are too many labels that have passed through my wardrobe over the years to pick just a few, from the likes of Mandarina Duck through to Margaret Howell. There’s also the added element of a vested love for the original Ivy look, something that has influenced both myself and Ardour, and will continue to do so. As regards individual people, I’d have to say Fraser Moss of YMC and Simon Spiteri of Anthem Store. Both hail from my home town, a place that doesn’t really strike high on the list as most style concious or culturally active place in the world, but I look at what both of these have done and achieved through following their passions and I take note of that, and that’s my inspiration.
Shaun – Saul has summed up both our very similar upbringings and the paths taken during our early lives.
We take inspiration from various outlets but as rightly pointed out our football background can’t be shaken off and although evolving is obvious, a certain element will always be present in the way myself and Saul dress and also how we vision clothing.
Personally speaking and as we move onto bigger projects my love for natural dyes, finishing and fabric progression will play a big part in the future of Ardour.
The dyeing and ageing processes are something we enjoy and are currently working on a natural indigo range of clothing, so without using cliches and names dropping I would rather focus on the materials and see where we can go as Ardour as opposed to looking back and saying “Mr X did this and we liked this”, it’s more a case of we love British tweed, we love natural tanned leather, we love heavyweight denim and the inspiration comes in the form of seeing what we can create with the materials we love, to pinpoint our direction as a whole is quite hard to do and our focus can change from classic British wear to work wear to Ivy wear, mod, casual, clean lines and vibrant fabrics especially where our scarves and pocket squares are concerned, so to answer the original question I think inspiration comes in many forms and not just from other labels/people.
Are you guys from a fashion or design background?
Saul – I’ve worked both freelance and employed as a fashion writer for a number of on line and print publications, but apart from this my background lays in engineering.
Shaun – As with Saul my background is within engineering and I have no previous within fashion or design. Clothing has always been a passion, another expression and it’s nice to be in a position to throw as much of my spare time into it as possible.
Is it important for Ardour to retain Britishness or are you happy to draw from other places with a strong style aesthetic such as America, Japan or Scandinavia?
We’re both passionate about British manufacturing and keeping things UK based as much as possible, but we also have a strong affinity to American and Japanese product, and what’s not to admire and love about Scandinavian design? However, I think it’s important to aide the growth of British design and economy, even at a small level, and we’re both encouraged and proud to be part of a growing number of small independent British brands that are of a similar ethos.
I think my favourite items from your current range are your wallets, what was the design process involved with these?
Like with all our products, we start with an initial idea and we gradually develop it through the medium of drawings and discussion, we enjoy leather goods and being able to see our sketches turn into products is an extremely satisfying process especially with the un-dyed natural veg tanned leather goods, starting out as an untouched blank canvas and being able to see them develop with their own individual patina through wear and tear is a much more personal experience, the hand stitching again is a personal preference and we feel that it gives a more natural look as a whole.
We use 7-8oz leather (roughly 3mm thick) on most of our leather goods (aside from pocket build) with a thicker leather in store for the enthusiasts amongst us.
One thing that’s probably worth mentioning here is that each individual product we run at Ardour is something that we would personally wear and use ourselves, so it’s both enjoyable and invigorating to let our ideas flow to the eventual culmination of having the product in hand.
Whats the biggest lesson you’ve learnt so far?
That it’s the little things that count, the small details, the genuine courtesy and making our customers know that we appreciate their business. Our customers satisfaction is and always will be paramount and the most important thing for us.
You’re still manning the helm at Sinister Delicious blog which is ace, in fact theres a clip on youtube with Steve Hall taking about Junior Boys Own Records and he uses the term ‘Headonism in a nice shirt’. I always think of that quote when I visit. So what the future for Sinister now Ardours gaining momentum?
Saul – Sinister Delicious has always been an outlet for our passions, whether that be style, music or culture and we’ve built it up steadily over the years, having had nearly a quarter of a million visits, which is a bit mad. Sinister is an important thing for both of us and although it’s always been written in a very tongue in cheek manor it remains something we both love doing as it’s somewhere to share the things we love with like-minded and not so like minded people. So although Ardour takes a lot of our time where we might once have been writing for the blog, we still like to update it when we can.
Shaun – I think we both feel that a blog is personal and we have always tried to keep it as that, we do write about our Ardour goings on but as rightly pointed out it’s a great source for us to talk freely about what we are into, what we are buying into, what we are listening to, sharing mixes and it’s not about to stop anytime soon, where else could Saul post photo’s of himself in such poses ?
I know from reading Sinsiter that you’re both are as obsessive about music as your clothes, give us your current top 5 tracks.
Saul – To avoid a scene straight out of High Fidelity I can’t think about this one too much, so in no particular order :
The Essence – 92 Bluh: I’ve been digging this for a little while now, quality release on Flemish label On Point records.
Tierra – Sonya: This hasn’t been out of my record bag since I bought it and usually finds its way into my sets. Proper Bass line driven boogie funk that’d make the biggest square in the world get down.
Son of Sound – Nightshift: This shady character has been bringing out some ace stuff and this moody cut on Basement records is just the ticket for when you’re feeling a tad debauched. Probably best listened to with a bird and some amyl nitrate.
Freekwency & Ale Chambers – Living in a Lie: Freekwency, AKA Benny Badge produces some of the best modern boogie and funk around. This is a favourite of mine with a great vocal from Ale Chambers.
Les Femmes – Thrill Me: Another record that never leaves my bag. Just go and youtube this one, it’s timeless and killer in equal measures.
Shaun – You say to yourself “don’t be anal, just put 5 down” but it’s never as easy as that and I’m trying to not to put too much thought into it because I would change my answers every 10 minutes, the only way to do it is to list the 5 records that I’ve listened to most this week:
Fantastic Man – Zero 12″ recent(ish) purchase and a beautiful B side.
LCD Soundsystem – 45:33 part2 12″ is a very special record to me, I play it as much now as I have previously.
Evans Pyramind – Never Gonna Leave You 12″ is an absolute gem of a record, beautiful.
Freekwency feat Charli James – By My Side is a modern boogie lick unfortunately only available on d/l but one of my most played tracks this past 12 months.
Rahaan – Disco Fantasy edit 12″ is another recent pick up, bags full of soul, good feeling and disco.
If you like boogie/house/disco we hold a residency down in London with a night we put on called Boogie Cartel, you should drop by.
My personal sartorial weakness is t-shirts (I’ve got way too many), whats yours?
Saul – Jackets and coats without question. No matter how many I have hanging in my wardrobe I always want more – I think the word’s addicted.
Shaun – Jackets and Denim. I have evened my wardrobe out over the last few years so I’m at a good level of equal share at the moment.
Worst haircut you’ve ever had?
Saul – I used to race cycle speedway when I was younger and got selected to represent Wales in the world cup, so in my infinite wisdom I decided to get a chequered flag shaved and bleached into the back of my head, which was ironic because we came last. Either that or a skinhead.
Shaun – Probably when it was at it’s longest, I’m not talking Marc Bolan long, just shaggy and pointless.
Last great pub you frequented and why?
Saul – It’s always been more clubs than pubs, but one that holds a special place for me growing up in Newport was called The Angel. It was a complete dive but we used to have some proper moments in there, all off the rails, bossing the Juke box all night and enjoying life. I think we all got barred eventually but I learned some pretty important facts of life in and around that pub.
Shaun – Again as Saul points out it’s always been clubs over pubs that I have spent most of my time in but if I had to choose a pub it would be The Anchor in West Bromwich (long shut down now) which is now a lap dancing club but I spent many a good day/night in there over the years, just the right amount of wrongness.