Photos: Sam Alexander-Pearce
We first met Danny Hodgson three years ago at a DC4 party in Berlin during Bread & Butter. He introduced himself to us as a big fan of the brand, having bought several pairs of our jeans via Self Edge’s online store. Over the next year, we got to know him better and have become close friends with him as he became the first shop in London to stock 3sixteen - first via his online store, and then later on via his by-appointment-only workshop. Just four months ago, Danny and his partner Junior opened the doors to their physical storefront in London, successfully achieving what many online businesses dream of doing at some point. Having been alongside Danny throughout his journey at Rivet & Hide, we are continually impressed by his thoughtfulness - both in wanting to treat his customers well and represent our brand in the best possible way. We took some time this week to check in with Danny and see how he’s been faring at his new home.
Can you tell us a little about Fitzrovia, the neighborhood that your shop is located in? Why did you choose this area, and how has the local response been so far?
Fitzrovia is in the heart of London yet off the beaten track. It’s mainly Georgian architecture as London developed into this area in the 18th century. Our shop was bombed in the war so it’s a 60s construction sandwiched between 250 year old buildings. This is quite common in London. A group of Bohemian artists known as the Bloomsbury Set regularly met in the pubs in this area in the inter-war period and the area today is home to many creative and independent businesses. When I started online over 2 years ago I said to Derek, owner of Lewis Leathers a few doors away from us, that I thought this would be where I located the bricks and mortar; he urged me to move into the neighbourhood. We are both destination stores and do not need the heavy footfall of neighbouring Soho but we are extremely well located and easy to reach. Our customers come to London from all over the world for so many reasons, and I wanted to make it easy to put a visit to our store on their must visit list.
The local response has been great. In my past life I travelled a lot and have lived in Madrid, Rome and France. So on a personal note, I had an urge to root myself in the city of my birth and become part of the community. Fitzrovia is both friendly and welcoming and we have done that instantaneously. Locals come into the store and get really excited by what we are doing, amazed at the great collection of raw jeans we carry as well as the shirts and jackets from Japan. Many come in, browse and say positive things and leave. But slowly but surely they are coming back to buy their first item from us. 3sixteen jeans are really popular with the locals. In this part of town nobody wears a suit to work, preferring clean raw denim instead.
Rivet and Hide has had a few homes before 5 Windmill Street. It was first run out of your living room as an online shop, and then a year ago you opened up a by-appointment-only workshop so you could meet customers face to face. What has the transition to a full-time brick and mortar store been like?
Fast! It felt like our customers wanted us to take it to the next level even if we were not quite ready. But I pushed it to meet growing expectations and that gamble is paying off. I felt strongly that the unique brands we carry should be represented in Central London and I did not want to hang around for that to happen. When I saw this space in such a charming location on Windmill Street, a stone’s throw away from Lewis Leathers, I said to my partner Junior ‘that’s the one’. I got an agent to represent me, as it’s very hard to get a retail space in central London without trading history. I kept assuring everyone I had done the sums but in truth I hadn’t. I knew this was the right place and that the figures would sort themselves out. I didn’t want precise calculations to get in the way of my dream.
Having the store is a lot of fun too. Meeting customers face to face, sharing knowledge, nipping out for a coffee with them, or for a cheeky beer in the great pubs Fitzrovia offers. Becoming part of the neighbourhood feels really good.
You worked in the airline and hospitality industry prior to opening up Rivet & Hide. What lessons have you learned from your former profession that have informed the way you seek to treat customers both online and in person?
Making a customer feel welcome and valued is second nature to me. It astounds me that so many people can get that wrong. Junior also has this skill. Above all, we give customers a lot of time, either exchanging detailed emails or in the store itself. If a guy spends 2 hours trying on jeans and leaves empty handed we still thank them for their visit in the same way as someone who has spent $500 or more. We genuinely value the fact they are interested in what we sell.
Jake has started helping out on Saturdays. I thought a friend of his had walked into the store on his first trial day by the way in which he greeted him. We took him on.
What are some of your favorite small businesses in your area that you like to support?
Well I bought a Lewis Leathers Phantom jacket last year. I get my hair cut by Frank Rimer of Thy Barber who cuts at Sharps; they also do great coffee. Kaffeine is where we held the launch party in 2012 and I pop back there when I can for its food as well as coffee. We have met a wonderful couple from Mexico who own El Burrito on Charlotte Place. Roberto was ill a few years ago and his wife, Marisol, promised to run a marathon in many of the capitals of the world if he survived. He did and she is about to run the Mexico City marathon. She’s crazy. You know the altitude of that place? 7000 feet. You struggle to run for a bus there. She picked up the 3sixteen+ 77BSPs and loves them.