Steve, how did Gray & Co. come about?
After opening an Ilse Jacobsen concept store on the High Street (the first outside Scandinavia), I opened a menswear shop in the basement, which I cleverly called The Basement. After three years, I decided we needed to move the menswear to a shop with its own shop front, and Gray & Co. was born. We opened in Chapel Place, a pedestrianised gem in Tunbridge Wells which is home to some fantastic independents.
How would you describe your clothing?
Our pieces are relaxed and casual. We work mainly with small companies who produce in Europe and use organic materials and are also sustainable.
Which brands do you stock for men?
We avoid big name brands and instead work with smaller names including Emanual Berg shirts from Poland, Sunspel from the UK, Holebrook of Sweden, Knowledge Cotton from Denmark and Mac jeans from Germany. We also work with an Italian shirt company and an Italian knitwear supplier. We also stock socks from Peper Harow who produce locally in Burgess Hill.
You recently expanded into women’s fashion. Who can we find on your rails?
A few of the brands we work with for menswear also offer great pieces for women, such as Holebrook, Knowledge Cotton and Mac Jeans. But we have also found new names like Milano and the fantastic Camilla Pihl from Norway – we are their only stockist in the UK.
How do you choose who you work with?
I have worked in the industry now for 35 years so most of the brands I stock are well known to me now. I also enjoy visiting trade shows in Florence and Copenhagen to find new talent. I seek out high quality clothing brands with a focus on sustainability.
Why should we be seeking out our independent clothing stores?
You receive a really personal service from an independent as well as better quality pieces and also much better knowledge and passion for their offering. I have a genuine love of great clothes and have many loyal customers as a result!
Why have you joined the TN card?
I felt it was good to support a local company that works with our town’s independents, understands how difficult it is to retail in the current climate and wants to help. I also wanted to thank the Tunbridge Wells community for supporting local.
Which pieces should we be adding to our wardrobes as we head into summer?
For men we have a great selection of shirts, particularly the linen ones. Linen breathes and is very comfortable to wear when it’s warm. For women we have some fantastic dresses from Milano and Camilla Pihl which suit any occasion.