We kick off 2021 with a brilliant interview with re-wax extraordinaires, Mallin and Son. Talking fashion sustainability, Leeds United and the love of vintage jackets, we hope you enjoy an interview we thoroughly enjoyed conducting.
Hi mate, cheers for taking time to have a chat, how are you today?
I am actually just recovering off the back of covid which knocked me for six. Christmas in lockdown with two children, a dog and covid was something new..
I can imagine, glad you’re on the mend. For those who may not know, please can you give us a brief backstory into Mallin and Son, from past to present day?
I started during the second half of my beloved Leeds United’s playoff collapse against Derby in 2018. I had bought an old Barbour Gamefair and decided to give it a re-wax myself having watched a video on YouTube. It was sat on the table through the match and I needed to take my mind away from crying so I gave it a go with our demise happening in the background.
My background is in User Centred Design which involves a lot of behind the scenes and tech stuff so you don’t really see the end product. I enjoyed waxing a jacket before I saw a before and after right there in front of me. After doing a few friends’ jackets, I put an ad out on social media offering a free collection and delivery service in and around Yorkshire. I was happy with one a month at the time but then the flood gates opened and I found myself driving 6 hours one evening just collecting and delivering.
I then decided that this had some legs so moved the business online in November 2019. Using my design background, I did a lot of research and testing which led to the introduction of our mailbag service whereby a customer simply completes a form and an addressed mailbag lands with them a couple of days later. The service really took off after that and we started capturing the market with our 10 day turnaround. We have two competitors in the UK which are both brand specific and work on an 8 week + timeframe. We knew we could do better and to this day, continue to.
Lockdown was kind to us and whether people were deciding to save money or go walking more, I’m not sure, but we were inundated with jackets being booked in. We were clearly making a mark as one of our competitors employed us and took us on as an official partner whilst the other called us to say how pissed off with us they were. Great for us on both counts.
I was very lucky that I found someone local who could work magic with repairs and really needed her work to get the recognition it deserved. I was more than happy to provide that platform and without that I would be more than a few steps behind where I am now.
I have always had my hand in the creative side of things and in November 2020 I decided to take all of my research from repairs and stuff I loved, to create our own clothing but with a twist. More on that later. As with everything new, it can be a little scary but it was really well received and continues to grow in popularity.
So from one jacket on a table to a fully fledged business with our own clothing line. It’s as mental for us to understand as it is for anybody else.
What inspired you to form the brand?
The brand name itself is a play on my surname, Mallinson and having become a dad to Edward in 2017 I figured I’d do something with him in mind, hence Mallin & Son. I purposely didn’t choose something obvious like ‘Wax jacket man’ or similar as I wanted to keep the scope nice and wide for future growth.
What’s the ethos?
In short, we want to fly the flag for fixing things rather than throwing away. The old adage of ‘buy cheap, buy twice’ is often true so investing in quality and looking after it is really the way to go. I grew up on a council estate in Leeds and we had what we needed but didn’t have the extravagance that’s on show so easily today. Hand-me-downs from other families were the norm and there’s nothing wrong with that. Today it’s too easy to get a full head to toe outfit in Primark for £12 but it eventually all goes in the bin. We have seen first hand that people want to look after things purely by the amount of jackets we service every week. I certainly think we can all do better and urge people to choose what they need over what they want a little more.
Where else do you draw inspiration for the brand?
I like to think we cross a few boundaries as when I set up I assumed I would get most work from the equestrian types but it didn’t work out that way. For the first year, our main body of work came through what I’d consider the ‘casuals’ with more than a few sat in most football stands resplendent in a nice Belstaff. So when I create something, I want it to serve a purpose. I want our stuff to be worn for a purpose and think ‘Yeah, I’d actually wear our hat or Submariner’ when freezing my bollocks off in the kop on a Tuesday night (If we ever get the chance to again…).
Old military jackets, field shirts and similar are really great too. I look to classic shapes and icons like Steve McQueen and James Dean, which is obvious but they rarely got it wrong. The British heritage of old and the romanticism that surrounds the old motorcycle scene really inspires me too. For a long time the Union Jack had some horrible connotations so I deliberately used it within our brand to link back to some of those heritage times.
Other than menswear, what other passions do you have?
Aside from my footballing loyalties, I am a keen cyclist and long to have the style of Bernard Hinault (Google him!) The escapism and ‘outdoors’ stuff, seeing the sites really does it for me. I also like to jump on my motorbike and disappear for a few hours to get some much needed headspace. It’s great as your mind doesn’t have time to wander as you’re too busy thinking about not dying.
Obviously COVID has affected everyone’s life this year, how has it impacted the business?
As I mentioned previously, It really has accelerated our business to levels we could never have expected. Whether it’s because people were out walking more or wanting to save money, I’m not sure. A £55 re-wax is obviously much cheaper than a £350 jacket. I do also think that people are spending more consciously with so many aspects of life changing for us all. I think it’s given people some time to really re-evaluate and I know for us a walk out with the kids in the woods is something we cherish more these days.
Tell us about your “Re-Worked” options…
Our ‘Re-Worked’ range sees us building on our ethos and taking clothing new, vintage and surplus to create something unique in small runs or one off pieces. It’s our way of repurposing clothing that may just end up in landfill whilst fulfilling my itch to create something. We started with re-working a new sweatshirt which sold out within 2 days and took me totally by surprise. It was humbling to see the response from people who have supported us on our journey throughout and continue to do so. We have done a good few bits and I will carry on creating things that interest me but most importantly, stuff I would personally wear.
We also know what works and what doesn’t when it comes to jackets so we are picking up lots that are in bits and re-working them into something ace.
As well as fashion, this blog is all about music and football – do you have much interest in either?
I spent almost ten years of my 20’s playing in bands so I have served my time! These days my tastes are pretty eclectic but I find myself often returning to Jeff Buckley, Arcade Fire or The Smiths when I need to get my concentration on. Bowie can also do no wrong and anything from Berlin makes me happy.
For Christmas last year, my dad bought me a ticket and program from my first ever Leeds game in 1991 against Derby (them again!) which this year makes it 30 years in Feb since my first match. Frightening! I have seen it all throughout and am a child of 90’s football, having the ability to name kits, squads and subs from the era like the geek I was. Leeds United have my heart but I will happily watch a game from the Belarussian third division if there’s nothing else on.
What’s the best, and worst, thing about owning and running your own shop?
We actually run from a home workshop that we outgrew in November so come Spring we hope to have converted our garage into a bigger premises. 99% of our business comes from online orders but a shop/coffee shop is my ultimate dream. Again, who knows what this year will bring so I know how lucky I am to have what I have right now.
What are your plans for the future?
I feel we have established our rewaxing and repairs service with a good constant flow so I would really like to test my creative muscle and make our mark in the sustainable fashion movement. I don’t think it’s going away and more and more brands are making moves towards it. I want to continue to be bold and a little bit brave in believing in my business to create some really interesting clothing and accessories throughout the year.
I’d love to be having this conversation with you in a year’s time having done a few collabs with brands we love, so we will see.
Describe Mallin and Son in only 3 words…
Re-Wax. Re-Work. Re-Wear.