One of our very favourite brands and bloody nice fellas, Stockport's Casual Connoisseur have gone strength to strength in the last decade with a style thats unmistakably their own. The 'Weir' hats in particular sell out instantly on every release and end up going for big bucks on eBay.
We caught up with Tom from the brand for a quick chat whilst he was away in Amsterdam preparing for the release of the latest Weir hat.
Hi Tom, what's going on in the world of Connoisseur at the moment? Any upcoming projects you would like to chat about?
Hi there, I'm writing this on a Monday afternoon after a couple of days in Amsterdam. Tomorrow we release our final bobble hat until next autumn; the 'Tramsterdam' Weir, as that was based on the seating pattern of the city trams over there it was 'essential' that we went and photographed it, having produced it and picked the Pantones based only on a Googled imaged it was great to see we had got it bang on, I've no idea where we'll go with these but it's fun doing them. So, as well as sorting the sales, post and catching up from weekend it's all about getting them prepared for tomorrow. We've been sorting a few new products out as we plan ahead for the next few months, some exciting ideas with the Overlook pattern moved a little further on today too. Got the usual new t-shirt designs being sorted for production and release over the coming weeks and months, so new commissions and new styles always happening, always sporadic.
Your current 'business trip' brings us nicely onto the next question, the Weir hat is a bit of a phenomenon and sells out instantly year after year, is it quite mind blowing when you take a step back and look at it?
Yes, it's really crazy! When we first did them around 8 years ago no one else was doing them at all. You might find a Ping hat in a golf shop but it was not a thing, not like now with all those girly ones with the fur pom-poms that are everywhere. So much we worried that 50 of two colours was going to be too many. Now those first two we did didn't sell out in a minute, but they were gone in a day or two, so we kept at it, offering a few colourways of the same pattern each winter and various 'specials'. When we did the Overlook pattern we couldn't have imagined how crazy that went! We're still doing them each winter now and they still sell out in seconds much to the frustration of many, but that's what it's all about. It's probably not a surprise to see various others out there now doing the same thing as us, as I say above it was and is very niche and was completely unique to us to take crazy ideas and unfamiliar patterns and put them into wearable items, I guess we have to look at that as a compliment.
The Overlook carpet pattern was such a subtle clever little nod done well to a classic movie, I know you guys are right into your movies any recent flicks to your taste?
It might just be me but I've been rather underwhelmed by new stuff over the last year or so, there's been some films I've not got round to watching for sure, this winter I did enjoy Rogue One. That was one highlight I can remember. My brother also dragged me to the Southbank BFI to watch an old taped-off-the-telly-with-advert-breaks copy of an old fave, Nuts in May which was ace to watch on the big screen that was another highlight, it was packed out and it was funny seeing everyone howling at certain scenes.
Next month one of our big all time favourites One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest get's a re-release that will be tremendous to catch at the cinema, looking forward to that one! But on the whole not watched anywhere near as many films as we used to, which is frustrating as they can inspire us a great deal and it's always nice to get lost in someone else's story for a couple of hours. To a degree television has taken over. The usuals like Game of Thrones was great and a series called Quarry based on the pulp novels from Max Allan Collins, was really good. Looking forward to this Twin Peaks revivial too.
I'll check out Quarry sounds like it could be worth a bash, nice one. So what's on the connoisseur playlist, whats got your ears right now?
Good question, always a bit of everything, always usually old stuff as we're a bit hard to turn like that for some reason, anything and everything really. Bowie, the Fall, the Mondays, Smiths, New Order, Zappa, Public Enemy, Ice T, Rolling Stones, Creedence Clearwater, the Band, Johnny Cash, loads of mad pub Grandad music, always.
On a parting note, It's been inspirational watching you guys grow especially through some major trails and tribulations and your one of the inspirations that got started ding our thing in the first place. What advice would you give other clothing brands/artists?
Thanks, that's nice to know, tough question really, as I don't think we fit into the conventional brand, we don't follow seasonal collections or trends, we work odd hours. Our thing usually is, get an idea we think is both original and (hopefully) great and then try and make it a product. It all helps if you can get a good working relationship with the people and places you work with. I'd say the best advice is to just stick with it, never give up, we've been close in the past as you mentioned, but I still feel like after ten years we are only really getting started.
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