Have you got a personal favourite event, exhibition or collection that you have launched?
Hemal: The Bene Cult collection. I think that was the first collection we did that sold out in a day.
That’s the design with Bene Culture repeated three times isn’t it?
Hemal: Yeah that’s the one. We got the design of a friend of ours and we wanted to do a whole collection on it. It was really weird because we chucked the lookbook together one weekend and didn’t really think much of it, it was just going to be another drop. We dropped it and it sold out within an hour and bear in mind there was quite a lot of stock too. We were like ‘Shit. This might do well.’ We had a few black hoodies lying around and just went to our printers because we thought you know what print on these too, let’s see what it’s like in black. We started wearing them about but it was just like us, family and friends kind of thing. People kept coming up asking ‘what’s that hoodie’ and just explained they’re just spare ones we had.
That’s when you know you’ve got a good product when someone comes up to you asking where you got it from.
Hemal: Exactly but we were like it’s just a hoodie, nothing serious. Few weeks before Black Friday we thought it might be cool to release them in black so we quickly ran to the printers and got some printed. Did some product shots on the iPhone again and released on Black Friday which we had never done before, so we didn’t really know how to work it. It must have been around 25-30 hoodies which we put online and they sold out fast. Then the following year we thought we should do it again because people ask for it throughout the year, we must get like 40 messages asking when is it being restocked. So we did it again but shot an amazing lookbook for it but we limited it to 70 hoodies this time which we at the time thought we’re not going to sell all of these but again it sold out. People bloody love this hoodie. Then the following year we did it again but made a bigger thing about it so pushed it to like 100 hoodies and some tote bags. Again we doubted it, thinking people must already have this hoodie five times or something by now but I remember being in bed and launching it a bit early, we must have sold out before it turned 12 and I thought this is so sick.
So every year you upped the stock but always thought it wouldn’t be like the year before?
Hemal: We always doubted ourselves yeah. We sort of realised more this year that people really love our own products so every month we’re trying to put something new out there. I think especially next year the stuff we put out is going to be very different to what people see Bene as now. Right now you’re looking at the in between stage.
Is there a dream event or collaboration for Bene, I know you mentioned opening a London store but is there something right up there?
Hemal: Yeah our big dream is to open a department store. A big focus at the moment is being environmentally friendly so I think the end goal is to have a business that is fully sustainable, providing a living wage to everyone who works for it and have the ability to be a platform for loads of designers, fashion people etc. Having a store but it not just being a store if you get what I mean. The vision is a ground floor which would just be clothes, the second floor being a gallery space, the third being a workspace and then another floor being a music venue or something. Obviously it is a pretty big goal to reach but we think we can get there one day.
You’ve just launched the autumn winter collection, can you talk a bit about the inspiration for the designs?
Hemal: We thought about it a year ago. We try and tie our collections to stuff that is Bene so like community, growth, culture so a very big one was like 70s and 80s in America where in college you would be put in houses, teams and stuff like that so you were a part of a community. We associated the team values aspect with Bene Culture. We normally go for quite edgy lookbooks but for this one we thought let’s just be friendly and happy, this is what it is about. People seem to really like it.
Yeah how’s it doing?
Hemal: So we’ve sold out most of the stuff. On release we sold out on four or five items but we’ve still got bits and bobs of stock left.
What are some of the biggest challenges you have faced and how have you overcome them?
Hemal: I think the hardest thing has been balancing work with business and then with life because we all work our day jobs too. Another thing is how crazy the clothing industry is. Nothing is written. For example we had this one hoodie last year that didn’t do that well on release but then like a month later they all sold out on a day, you can’t predict how something is going to perform. Have you read Bobby Hundred’s book?
Yeah ‘This Is Not A T-Shirt.’ I’ve just finished it actually.
Hemal: It’s a really good book. There was a bit in it about Frank Ocean with a Hundreds T-Shirt, which wasn’t seeded to him so he must have brought it from one of The Hundreds’ stockists. A photo was taken of him wearing the T-Shirt and then after the photo is shared online that T-Shirt sells out.
Yeah I know what story you’re on about. It was a win-win in a way for the Hundreds because somebody like Frank Ocean bought that T-Shirt because he obviously loved it and then also that photo gets shared and helps sell it out.
Hemal: Yeah it’s like perfect but the thing is those people probably didn’t know the brand, they bought it because Frank Ocean wore it.
Yeah which means they get to learn more about the brand and then they become more attached to it.
Hemal: But it’s mad because the clothing industry is one of the most fickle industries around because you can be hot one day and in the gutter the next day based on people’s views.
Can you talk a bit about the relationship you have with other independent labels and the process to get them stocked in your store?
Hemal: Yeah usually it starts with an email or we see the brand on Instagram and think yeah let’s get it in. We could also meet someone at a tradeshow and get their details. One of our favourite brands that we have stocked for nearly four years now is SCRT. We really get on with the guys that run it, they’re just genuine nice people. For us if your brand sells out for us then that’s amazing but on the other side if you’re not willing to work with us and build a good relationship then it doesn’t matter. We’re more about the relationship than results. We just pick stuff that we love, the best way of putting it is if you walked into our wardrobe this store would be it.