This month we sat down and spoke to Accrington’s finest, Iain, the brains behind one of our favourite UK based brands, TRiCKETT. Grab yourself a beer (or coffee) and enjoy…
Hello Iain, you’re the brains behind Trickett – how are you today?
I am really good thanks for asking. I have just been to the post office, signed off the Christmas baubles and I am just waiting for my pizza to finish in the oven. How are you?
I’m cracking, now let’s get started. Where did the idea behind the brand come from?
TRiCKETT was founded because I wanted a place where I could get all the things that I wanted / liked in one place. The brands that sold nice shoes were either a bit pretentious or too expensive. The shops that sold socks didn’t take them seriously enough. The places that sold T-shirts and sweatshirts were always really cheaply made… I could go on haha. So I wanted somewhere I could get all this nice stuff on one website.
I am notoriously hard to buy gifts for and I imagined that there are loads of people out there who were equally so. TRiCKETT gives the opportunity to friends, partners, parents etc of these awkward people somewhere to go and know that they will be happy. I am also really into US sports and the places in the UK that sold American stuff were always just a bit too nerdy… I mean I am a geek, but in a good way… I think.
What’s your background within menswear?
Other than buying stuff from shops, I don’t really have one. There are great companies out there who have founders who’ve worked for some of the best in the business, but I haven’t. All the products from TRiCKETT are a result of me working hard and learning every day. I am from Accrington, so the chances of knowing someone cool to get your foot in the door are pretty limited. That is why everything I do is built from the ground up, I don’t expect anyone’s help and appreciate every person that has ever engaged in any way with TRiCKETT.
What I do with the brand is no different to what anyone else can do, but I do refuse to be outworked. I genuinely believe that there will always be more talented people than me, but I hope I can outwork them. Sorry for the rant!
No problem, what’s the ethos behind Trickett as a brand?
As far as a one sentence ethos goes, I just try to be nice. And that covers many bases. Whether that is being nice to suppliers, retailing products that are at a really great value price point, delivering best in class customer service, posting on social media or just thanking people for their purchase with a handwritten note in each order. Being nice is what I always try to do.
My mate Joel once said that I make luxury items for Accy prices and I think that is quite succinct, so let’s run with that.
Where is the brand based?
The brand is based in the east Lancashire town of Accrington. I live here, I work here and I support here. I am very lucky to even have a small part to play in this town’s history and feel connected to it in everything I do. Taking a pride in where you are from does seems a little archaic, but in truth, I like it that way.
Talk us through the progression of your products?
I have been very fortunate in that the suppliers and makers that I have worked with have all given me time to make mistakes and to teach me how best to do things. When I first started out, I manufactured garments and other products by putting the name on existing products and thinking that was running a brand (which for many people it is).
However, as time has progressed, I have realised that in order for people to really understand your point of view, every single element has to be thought about. I have always had a fondness for Italian culture, after visiting a few times and seeing how factories and family brands all have a very different way of doing things, which is their ‘hand writing’, I decided that I needed to do this. Now our t-shirts are built to a custom shape, the super heavy sweatshirts are manufactured from a custom loopback sweatshirt fabric, which is exclusive to us and much meatier than the Japanese sweatshirts I have spent £350 on in the past (sorry dad).
I just want every year or every product that I finish to be a chapter in the story. So many big and small companies get by making the same thing over and over again, but bringing your customers and team along for the progression is for what makes clothing and lifestyle brands exciting. I will keep going for as long as people want to keep watching, which I hope is for a long time yet.
Moving away from Trickett, what’s your top 3 labels/brands of your era and what are the reasons for you answers?
I always kick off with the most influential and biggest sportswear in the world and of all time, Nike. The stuff that they have done with apparel, footwear and culture can’t be matched. Although the wonderful 3 stripes of Adi helped to create a culture, Nike and Jordan helped shaped it into the thing that we know today. Whether that is a good thing or a bad thing is really up to you, haha!
The Hundreds aren’t necessarily something that I would wear nowadays, although I did get a Charlie and the Chocolate factory top recently, which is ace, but the bomb from Los Angeles showed me that if you had a work ethic and ability to send an email, you could run a clothing brand. Bobby Hundreds’ book ‘This is not a T-Shirt’ is essential reading for anyone looking to start any form of company. The Hundreds were the first interactive brand with Bobby answering emails to you personally, all the while updating a website and designing really playful and political graphics. Without Bobby and Ben, there is no streetwear culture. Fact.
Barbour will always have a special place in my heart, they were the first jacket I bought with my own money and this was after I had seen an old fella at a Burnley match wearing one. I had to go to an old gun shop in Clitheroe to buy it and at the time I was dressed like Cam’ron (where did those pink air force ones go?), I can only imagine what the lady in the shop thought.
Anyways, there is just something very British and very understated about the brand and I genuinely find it intoxicating, that and the fact that ‘some’ of it is made in the UK .
Where do you see the brand in 10 years’ time?
I honestly try not to think 10 days ahead let alone 10 years. I just try to keep my eye on the here and now and let other stuff fall into place as it happens. I would love to see a shop / space in Accrington where people could come and have a coffee, buy a t-shirt and exchange ideas, but with the way shops and in-person purchases are declining, I think we will just concentrate on giving the best possible experience online that we can.
In 10 years, I would like to have a shop in Napoli though… but let’s see.
How has COVID affected the brand and also your creative process?
2020 for many brands / companies has been a very strange year. We have been very lucky in that we have had amazing suppliers that have pulled out all the stops to get stock into the shop super quick. There have been times when we have had to edit designs or colour choices simply because a yarn, fabric or whatever wasn’t available, but that is what makes things exciting.
Our coffee supplier came in and packed 30 boxes for us at the height of lockdown in Italy. Marina, our sock maker, used old yarns, just to get something out of the door. Our t-shirt printer Jim, drove a 70 mile round trip just to print some tops for us.
This all comes back to being nice to suppliers, we pay our bills ahead of time, try not to apply too much pressure, knowing that if we need a favour, we will get it. So in short, it kept us on our toes!
What’s the most satisfying aspect of owning your own label?
In the past I have had jobs and the thing that my managers said most often about me is that I am unmanageable. I sort of take that as a compliment. I am not interested in being a millionaire or having a big house, my terraced one in Accy is fine. I don’t want the kudos of having a face people know, that is why I don’t put my face on the internet much. I am not even that bothered about TRiCKETT being on everyones body, the most satisfying thing is making others and myself happy.
I get to wake up and do something I enjoy every day. Not for a single second do I take this for granted and I try my best to deliver objects that make people smile. Every week I have to release something that appeals and that is pressure I really enjoy. I also like delivering products to people that they love and can afford, that is my favourite thing, getting emails and note from people who are really happy and I also like people saying where we can improve too.
I suppose all in all the best thing about having your own brand is the freedom to do what you want, when you want. I am lucky that I have a great group of people supporting me and only wanting to see me improve and that really is the most satisfying part.
Moving away from clothing for a second, what else inspires you?
I love travelling, I love old photos, architecture, food packaging, old action figures, new action figures, Action Man’s clothes, house plants, newspapers, aftershaves and perfumes, food, ice cream, pubs, dogs, cats, films, hip-hop, US Sports, soul music and much more. I think meeting different people is important too. Trying to see things from different points of view and enjoying difference is super important.
How do these inspirations influence Trickett as a brand?
Having alternative influences to different brands gives you an advantage in that you can call on them to make some great stuff. Just because you like football doesn’t mean you can’t like rugby. Just because you like Vivienne Westwood doesn’t mean you can’t like a pair of adidas Dublins etc. I think being different and interesting is what makes us individuals and there is nowt wrong with that.
What’s the product your most proud of and why?
I think the super heavy sweatshirts are the thing that I am most proud of. The chain of coming up with an idea, jotting it down, sending it to the factory, they develop it, you approve it, retail it, customer buys and then customer loves it, is littered with potential errors. But with the super heavy sweatshirts, we got it right all the way along.
This is a sweatshirt that competes with and, is probably better than, most of the sweatshirts I have ever bought for 5 or 6 times the price. Making something that is even better than you imagine it in your brain is a really great feeling and making it for a price that most people can enjoy is amazing too.
Do you support the famous Accrington Stanley?
I have been watching Stanley for as long as I can remember. Through the woeful times and the more recent amazing times. My pals and I used to get in for free at half time because we were usually playing around the ground… I can’t get away with that now though haha. My Granddad was a keen Stanley fan and I used to watch quite a bit with him too. I actually like to go on the match on my own as most of my pals support Blackburn or Burnley. So being a grumpy man in the corner suits me fine.
I am proud to say that the people who run the club really care about doing a good job and making the town proud. I still think there is a little way to go, but I genuinely believe that we will get there. On, Stanley, on.
How much are you missing football?
Honestly… not much. I was only talking about this with my dad earlier today. I love football; the culture, the clubs, the fans, the history, the magic even. But I really don’t like the money. All this stuff about wages and transfer fees, honestly, I couldn’t care less. The shirt and crest is more important than anyone who plays in it. It is annoying that I can’t go on and watch Stanley and I think how lower league teams have been treated is pretty dismal. However as regards missing football, I have found other stuff to do, read, go running, talk to my mates more. I am not honestly sure if I will be as ‘into’ football as I once was. I believe I will always have a proper obsession with the game, but as regards missing football as a whole, that ship sailed long ago.
You’re a big fan of Italy – where’s your favourite place to visit?
Yikes, that is a big question. I have a Neapolitan heart so I genuinely believe that there is nowhere on planet earth quite like Napoli / Naples. The people, food, culture, superstitions, the football team, street art and the atmosphere make it genuinely one of the most intoxicating places that I have ever been. We did a book about the place recently, which has pictures in it by Ciro Pipoli. He captures Napoli better than I ever could chat about it!
Last year I went to Brescia for the first time and to say that it is an industrial area it is really beautiful. In the shadow of mountains, this place has really beautiful buildings and the people are amazing too… oh and the food is great… and the wine.
Bologna is beautiful, Florence, Parma, Genoa, Rome, they all just have different feels to them. That is before we start on the Amalfi coast…
What’s the best Italian export in your opinion?
Pizza. Plain and simple. Without pizza, I have no idea where humanity would be right now. It is the food for every person, whether rich or poor, there is always a pizza for you. On that subject if you are in Napoli, head to Concettina Tre Santi in Sanita.
Sure, you will have to wait two hours to get a table (and you can’t book), but the San Gennaro pizza is worth it!
Finally, can you summarise Trickett in only 3 words…
Accrington. Kindness. Weird.