How did Bene Culture get going?
The company was founded by Vimal Chauhan, Hasim Jhina and myself. We initially opened the business with an online store and Depop. The majority of our products were vintage but we also stocked called Heresy, Sol Sol, SCRT and Tealer.
From the start of Bene Culture, we knew the importance of selling on every sales channel possible - as every little helps when you are growing your business. This led to us launching our Depop store which initially provided our platform to sell and gain a community. Within around 9 months it led to us gaining around 100K in followers and provided us with a steady sales stream.
Within a year of running the store online, we felt like we needed a physical location as the community aspect of our concept was extremely important. For around five months we viewed a range of different spaces. Then we found our current unit in Digbeth and we knew it was perfect due to the area and the people surrounding us.
As we've always been based near Birmingham, we always knew Digbeth as the creative district within Birmingham. It has a thriving art scene, skateboard culture and is a platform for creative start-ups.
Where's streetwear going post-COVID?
I think, since COVID, a lot of streetwear brands have spoken to their communities and those ties are stronger than ever - through buying their products or supporting their charitable efforts. As we are still very early on in the post-lockdown world, we are still unsure of how it may effect streetwear community - but hopefully its for the better.
How do you think creative people are responding?
I think every creative has dealt with the lockdown in different ways but we have noticed a lot of them either taking the time to step away from the grind of freelance work, or creating the best work since they started.
What's your point of view on fast fashion and where we can be more sustainable?
In past years we found the increase in fast fashion and e-commerce sites harmful to independent businesses, this is mainly due to customers preferring throwaway fashion (one or two wears) on a cheap budget making the market extremely competitive. But, now a lot of customers are making the choice to go towards vintage products and more sustainably-produced clothing.
We are trying to produce as sustainably as we can within a reasonable budget; this is done by making a majority of our products limited in quantity and stocking a large range of vintage items.
We also feel that using local suppliers and manufacturers allows a drop in the carbon footprint of our products and allows local businesses to flourish.
What emerging labels do you think are doing things well?
Our favourite brands right now are Workshop Studio, who are creating great handmade bags in Bristol and Greater Goods who are creating brilliant products by upcycling vintage products from the likes of North Face and Carhartt.
Where do you want to take Bene in the future?
We want to create great products, but we also want to ensure we are creating a great future for our customers & creatives. This is going to be accomplished by working with more artists, opening up different platforms for our community to thrive.