Liam Hodges is a man of details. We’re standing in the middle of his about-to-be-open temporary retail space at 59 Greek Street in London’s Soho and it’s evident from every inch of the 1500 square feet that Hodges has a crystal clear vision of his brand. The plywood floors spray-painted with the brand’s logo, elements of catwalk show sets from the past six years scattered around the space, textile prints blown out and hanging on the wall as artwork… Wherever you look, there’s no coincidence in sight. And that’s exactly why Hodges got the opportunity to create his own shop in the first place – free of charge.
In a world where popping up on the retail landscape seems to be the choice of many, Appear Here is leading the way as the online platform creating a marketplace for temporary brick and mortar spaces. “As easy as booking a hotel room,” they say it themselves, giving anyone with something to sell an opportunity to rent a space in London, Paris, NYC or LA, for a short time period that could range from just a day to several weeks. Responding to the changes in the way people shop, Appear Here launched in 2013 as a tech start-up combining elements of property apps with those of easy-access booking websites. Wildly successful (and for a good reason), their client list already includes megabrands like Nike, Apple and Coca-Cola. Even if you never heard of Appear Here, you’ve most probably either shopped or partied in a space they rented out. More recently, they created a programme targeted at emerging brands looking to expand their brand beyond the e-tail universe. Space for Ideas was imagined not only as a competition supporting talent with free two-week residencies, but also as a mentoring programme involving the judging panel which currently counts Diane von Furstenberg, GQ’s Dylan Jones and Natalie Massenet as its members. That’s where Liam Hodges comes in. The designer sent off his application via an online form, creating a visual imagination of what the space would look like. While he originally applied for a residency in Paris and NYC, looking at this as an opportunity to expand into new markets, the team at Appear Here loved his idea about the space and offered him a chance to get in the middle of London’s streetwear gold mine. Just a stone throw away from Supreme, Stüssy and Palace, Appear Here assigned Hodges a two-storey space just off Soho Square.
The British designer only found out about his win three weeks ago. “And then I said I’m going for a long weekend in Berlin – BYE,” he tells me while giving a store tour, with the big shop windows still covered in newspaper, guarding what’s inside. And what’s inside is pretty incredible. Beyond the colourful interior completed with not-on-sale memorabilia any true Liam Hodges fan will be able to place into a particular season (including the SS18 teddy bear costume), there’s something here for everyone. A wide range of the new, SS19-season collection in one corner, small accessories in another, from poker chip and dice keychains to leather cardholders and printed socks. All of these are also available on the brand’s well-stocked e-shop which was, up until now, the only self-curated space for Liam Hodges. “It’s just totally different seeing all the stuff against other designers,” he says when asked about the working on a space of his own versus selling at Browns Fashion or End Clothing.
In addition to the main collection, Hodges used opportunity to give new life to some of his dead stock. “Instead of doing a sample sale, we wanted to offer people a new take on the old collections,” he explains the decision of reworking pieces from the past collections into very limited editions. A smart move indeed, creating new-found desire out of pieces that would otherwise devalue the brand, and perhaps just end up being resold online. This part of the collection is also coming at a more approachable price-point. “You can find the Ying to your Yang,” Hodges says while showing off two cotton patchwork jumpers that had its sleeve swapped between them, creating one-off contrasting combos. There’s also a move into interior design, perhaps subliminally influenced by Salone del Mobile rolling out in Milan right now. “I used to make cushions from seasonal jacquards for my nan as Christmas presents, and it seemed like a good use of excess fabric whilst also exploring new product categories for the brand,” he says. Pillows created in fabrics from several seasons, as well as a wall clock design with a LOST FOUND graphic and no numbers around it – it’s exactly what you would expect from Hodges Casa. But just like Jessica Cornish said in her 2011 hit, it’s not (all) about the money, money, money. The basement space will also be hosting a printing workshop in collaboration with Tottenham Textiles, offering free customisation of pieces with Liam’s custom graphics. Spaces are very much limited so be sure to register asap. Working with the North London-based printing studio, Hodges also refreshed sourced vintage tees, 10 of which will be dropping into stores every day. Now those are pieces worth waking up early for.
“With this shop we are looking at how we can grow as a business whilst having a more sustainability-conscious approach. Re-working production excess, samples and old stock to create new unique pieces and explore new price points. For us it’s about developing consumer-focused product without constantly producing more stuff into the world,” the designer says. Opening today and running every day until April 21st, Physical Reality is a whole new chapter in the bestselling book that is Liam Hodges. It’s a concept that’s only scratching the surface, and hopefully will be used in the future as a model for emerging brands to expand. Shopping without guilt, it’s the Hodges way to do it.
by Dino Bonacic
‘Physical Reality’ pop-up store by Liam Hodges is open at 59 Greek Street, London until April 21st. Images courtesy of Appear Here.