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James Cowdale Posted by James Cowdale
on Apr 20 2020

&SONS - Behind the Brand

How having the freedom and guardianship of a brand allows ideas to be pushed and goals to reach new heights.

There is a time in every creatives career when they want 100% control over a brand they create. At Third Floor, we become fearlessly loyal to the brands we create and where possible act as brand guardians, but it’s not our train set and we’re acutely aware of that. We like to think we nurture these brands and hand them over to their loving parents and watch from a far as they (most of the time) blossom….

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When I was approached by Phil James of Shadowplay with an idea to launch a menswear brand I couldn’t resist. I was privileged to see some early designs and I was hooked. Before I knew it, we were deep into developing the brand identity and producing a campaign for Kickstarter. Our Digs have always been a chance for me to tease the thoughts, dreams and aspirations out of our clients and help them to articulate what they are hoping to achieve. With Phil, this wasn’t the case, I saw it immediately. His vision for a credible, authentic, vintage menswear brand with clever modern twists. His passion was infectious and myself and the studio wanted to see this come to life.

This was the turning point for me. Seeing something so clearly, without the need to dig deep… But like many creative ideas, it needed polishing. This wasn’t just about creating a few garments and hoping someone would share our enthusiasm and buy them. This was much bigger, there was a sense of purpose behind all of this and that’s what I was tasked with creating. ‘Clothes for Pioneers’ spoke to me, it was a nod back to ‘value modes’ that I use a lot in the workshops we carry out at Third Floor, but it also suggested we were going to do something different. We were going to create a brand that spoke to guys like us; give them the chance to look and feel good, whatever they do, and a style that was timeless without chasing trends, whilst bucking the world of ‘fast fashion’.

This sense of purpose has been intertwined into every touchpoint of the brand from the unique names of every garment, the beautifully poetic images and videos created by Phil and his team, and the ongoing brand development at Third Floor. We believe in our purpose and it seems others feel the same. Since our launch 4 years ago we have gained an impressive 23,000 followers on Instagram alone, quadrupled our sales targets every quarter and are now stocked in major retailers around the world.

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But this is the short story. The long story is 4 years of hard work, perseverance, long days and nights, failures, gains, losses, fallouts, good ideas, bad ideas…and all of this whilst managing our other businesses. But what has made this possible is the partnership between myself and Phil, our wives, our very small, dedicated team and the harmonious relationship between both Shadowplay and Third Floor. The mutual respect, understanding and shared vision allows us to explore the brand at every level, constantly evolving and creating and being free to experiment and sometimes fail. All of this without the additional pressure of managing a brand our client has put their life and soul into. But it means we take risks, it means we push boundaries and do something we genuinely love and believe in, no matter how long it takes.

This is why &SONS is a successful brand. Not because of the sales we’ve hit or the high street retailers who now display our clothes, but because every single person involved in the brand – from the founder, the close knit creative team and every single one of our Pioneers – believe in it. They feel part of it, they live and breathe it and would never do anything to damage it, no matter the opportunity put in front of us. This is when a brand can blossom, when you have a very clear distinction between you and the millions of others trying do the same thing. When there is passion and purpose beyond anything, including profit! For us, this is a bi-product of the brand. What we wanted to deliver was a chance for guys to dress well, feel good, make a statement and feel part of something.

For me &SONS has achieved this in a very short space of time and will continue to grow because the foundations are solid. It really can be that simple.

So my advice for anyone looking to embark on this adventure –whether it fashion, a tech start-up or a traditional business – is invest in your brand, be clear on what you’re going to promise and let your partners help you achieve all of this.

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