Stitches + Steel Visit- March 22
We've wanted to visit Stitches & Steel Custom Haus, Essex, for a while, so when the opportunity arose to shoot our new spring jackets there- we jumped at the chance. The guys at Stitches & Steel share many of our values. They create go-to pieces that don't go obsolete with the seasons and moving trends and are committed to life on the road.
Whilst we were there we explored their incredible space and caught up with Co-Founder Oli to learn a little bit more about where it all began.
@stitchesandsteel / @water.cooled
For those who don’t know of Stitches & Steel, tell us a bit more about the brand.
We're a purpose driven brand with a penchant for a good road-trip. We're a far cry from the traditional clunky 'Campervan' aesthetic and it's our focus on producing lightweight, functional products that enhance your time on the road rather than take away from it that sets us apart. We're a passionate crew who'd consider themselves an agile and lean DTC business who also can't say no to getting on the spanner's either. We're not 'Van Converters' in the traditional sense but we do manage to satisfy our creativity through the 'Custom Haus' which is our outlet for building vehicles here. Our studio is just inland from the most easterly inhabited island (Mersea Island)in England. We're an hour east of London. It's nice out this way. It's where we took you lot to shoot your new jacket in our Land Rover.
And what about yourself? Tell us about your background & where it all began!
Tor came from an interior design background, predominantly bar and restaurant. I cut my teeth in the Surf/Skate/Snow industry. It was A brief stint immersed in the Sailing Industry that allowed Tor and I to combine our skills and use Stitches + Steel as an outlet for that meeting-of-the-minds.
We did read that you have a background in sailing, would you say this interest is carried through to your own products?
Yeah, The island we grew up on is an old fishing town and with that, sailing / being a sea-dog is ingrained in you through the community from an early age. We grew up racing boats against each other and while at the time that seemed very normal, after both having stints away from that, then eventually coming back home, it probably played a bit more of a role in our lives that we gave it credit for. The hardware and systems used in sailing and on the boats themselves are so purposeful, light, strong, hardy and beautiful. It was when we realised all this amazing stuff could be used, if rigged and applied correctly, into vehicles.
These 'land going vessels' were so similar to boats when we squinted, so we kept heading down that path. S+S is 5 years of applying that mindset to commercial vehicles and life on the road.
Something that we can’t get over is the Stitches & Steel space- who came up with that concept?!
The quick story is we had the opportunity to be involved with acquiring an old factory (A timber joinery). We had the vision to reimagine it into a commercial / industrial setup. We oversaw the build and founded 'The Old Joinery'. It's now a commercial space that we sublet individual units to 15 other like-minded tenants who also call this only Factory home. Luckily we got the pick of the bunch and chose one of the bigger, more photogenic studios on the site. The majority of the Furniture, benches and design was dictated by what was left here with it being a 100 year old factory. We've made use of what we could to get the balance of functional-warehouse / studio-office.
Is there a project that you’ve worked on that you are especially proud of?
This year sees us launching the first 'Custom Haus Specials' into the wild. They're ultimately the culmination of applying all that S+S has learnt onto the latest Volkswagen Transporter chassis. These van's are specced and supplied to us directly from Volkswagen and represent what contemporary life on the road can look like. A heavy focus on the thrill of the drive, while being a functional room-that-moves. It's that dual needs that we're obsessive over and where our deployment of Sailing hardware works so harmoniously.
How have the events of the last couple of years affected you? For us, they have definitely taught us to appreciate what the UK has to offer when shooting content etc!
Yes and YES! losing our European pals as customers rocked us pretty heavily but closer-to-home adventures happened for the masses which was a really nice thing to see. The UK is small with such diversity and while we had an idea of what our shores were capable of providing, it was killer to watch more and more discover how good it can be closer to home.
What have been some of your favourite road trips in recent years?
We make a pilgrimage down to the Basque Country every year and while it's not new for us, it's yet to tire. It's a trip we'd recommend. We hoon through France chasing summer as it retreats South and use Hossegor / Biarritz as a base to rip about chasing waves, wine and food around that elbow of the world. We recommend jumping on a boat home from Santander or Bilbao. It feels like a natural lap that we can't seem to get enough of.
Finally, what’s next in the pipeline for Stitches and Steel?
We're very excited to say we'll be letting our loyal following jump into the brand as family this Spring. We're going live with a round of funding that'll allow people to be invested in the brand. We'll be using the funds to continue employing the right talent while continuing to build and develop products that march to our beat of Traveling light, Going Further while championing what that mindset can achieve. See you on the road. O + T.