Suit Yourself 'collared' (Excuse the pun) Adam Le Roy, owner of "Jump the Gun" one of Brighton's coolest clothing emporiums for an exclusive interview about the shop and living and working in Brighton?
"I’ve been in Brighton almost 25 years after moving from London where I grew up. Got into the Mod scene in about ’81 and bought my first scooter in ’82. Have been riding scooters, listening to Soul, Northern, Jazz and R&B ever since. I never gave it up, even when it was a little out of fashion in the early 90’s. When it’s in your blood I think you’re stuck with it forever. Brighton is really great. I can’t think of anywhere else I’d like to live or work, it’s got everything including a “do whatever you like” attitude."
So when did Jump the gun open and what inspired you to open a shop?
"We opened in 1992. I was at a bit of a loose end and wanted to get out of London. Thought Brighton seemed a good bet and shops were so cheap to rent My brother and I thought we’d give it a go. Didn’t have any cash really so we had nothing to lose"
And where did the name come from?
"The name came from the song “Jumping the Gun”. We were listening to an old Ska tape whilst painting the shop just before we opened and we needed a name quick. Seemed to have worked out I think."
When you first opened what was the reaction in Brighton and have you seen this change over the years?
"When we opened everyone just didn’t know what we were doing. The only items we had in the shop were a load of t shirts that we printed upstairs and some Ben Sherman shirts with the Black & orange label, as well as some Lonsdale t’s. You couldn’t buy Ben Sherman or Lonsdale anywhere in the country apart from one other shop in London. People came in and said “Who are Ben Sherman and What’s Lonsdale?” We couldn’t believe it. At last a local band bought some Lonsdale t’s and went on TOTP and then Britpop was born. We were saved but only just in the nick of time, things weren’t going well"
A lot of what you sell are your own designs, was this a conscious decision and do you stock any other brands?
"Almost everything is own brand. This is the only way we can get the fit and quality we want for our clothing. We are also very un branded so there are no external branding logos on our clothes. Which in this day and age is almost impossible to find. We focus on late 50’s / early 60s Jazz/Mod scene so our fit is slightly different to the regular “Mod” type retailers. Very few other brands in the shop. Some Loake shoes and a couple of knitwear people from France as well as a few items from The US".
Have you ever thought of expanding the business to other parts of the country?
"If you want to run a shop well and keep focus on service and customers then one is plenty"
The mod culture is strongly emphasised in all you do from the web site to the shop design to the location, have you seen a rise in mod culture in Brighton since you opened and are there any other businesses that cater for the mod fraternity?
"We are a bit of a Brighton institution so people do travel to see us. We have helped in growing the Mod scene by being here and supporting the whole scene locally and nationally. There are always other shops selling Harringtons and target t shirts but nobody like us".
What are your strongest selling lines and do you cater for both men and women?
"Menswear only but we sometimes sell the odd item to girls as our clothes do come up very slim fitting. Generally our sales are spread across all our lines. We like to think that there are no week items. If we don’t like it we don’t sell it"
How many members of staff do you employ and what are your opening times?
Open everyday 10-6 and Sunday 11-5. About 6 of us work here but not all at the same time.
Tell us about the web site, are most brands available on the site? Do you do a tailoring service?
"Everything is on the website. As far as tailoring, no. All our suits are Off the peg but we have an excellent alteration tailor locally that we recommend for final tweaks if needed".
What is you current view on the national mod scene?
"The scene is relatively healthy. Always need more young ones of course".
Where would you like to see your business in 10 years, do you have any future plans?
"Only plan is to always improve what we do and hope people like it. Hard to talk about the future, who knows......"
Do you ever have sales either through the shop or online?
"Never have a sale or discount offers. You must remember that our stock is already 50 plus years out of date already......"
JUMP THE GUN - 36 GARDNER ST - BRIGHTON - BN1 1UN - 01273 626 777
Adam Le Roy - Jump the Gun