Nestling in the heart of London’s historic Camden Stables Market is Modfather Clothing; a lovely building with some lovely clothes (especially the scarves), full of character and, indeed, characters. Over a frothy coffee we got the lowdown on this thriving family business.
Tell us about Modfather Clothing.
We started off selling classic Café Racer scooter helmets. Our customers were like-minded people and we were frequently asked “Do you know where I can get a decent suit?” or “Can you recommend a good, stylish clothing outlet?” So, five and a half years later, here we are! Mods, Skinheads, Suedeheads, Soul Boys, Rude Boys and Scooterists – all are welcome.
I suppose you could say we are “very London” – a bit cheeky sometimes. Customers who tell us a suit is coming up small are likely to be told to lay off the biscuits.
The shop building is unique, isn’t it?
It was originally a horse stable that served the local goods yards. It’s Grade 2 listed, with some lovely original features but it does mean we can’t go knocking down walls. We’ve turned it into a bit of a “man cave”, with our collection of vintage memorabilia, plus some signed bits and pieces from some of our favourite customers. Our Tootal Scarves are on a vintage coat rack. Like everything else in here, it’s a one-off. It adds to that sense of history. Yes, it is pretty unique!
You’re in a tourist destination. Is that a help to you?
Camden is perfect for us. The shop has become a destination in its own right. We have regular international customers who make sure a visit to Modfather is part of their London itinerary. They come over for major music events and festivals, things like the International Ska Festival or Le Beat Bespoke, and we’re very much part of their London experience. There have been some great events at the shop, featuring some tremendous live bands and the best vinyl DJ’s.
Social media has obviously helped. Customers are blogging “Whilst you’re in London, check out Modfather”. We’ve been the final stop off for lots of scooter ride outs, from all over the UK, and even had the Vespa Clubs of both Paris and Bruges driving over for a visit. We are blessed with lots of beautiful regular customers, who are very much our good friends. We always try to offer advice, or a personal service, but only if asked for.
Is there a downside to being in a tourist hotspot?
Not really. If I had a pound for every visitor who just takes a few photos I could retire now! We’ve sent away a few wayward tourists looking for Union Jack t-shirts but not until we’ve tried to sell them some stylish knitwear! Plus we are in the middle of a music mecca. We’re a hundred yards away from Dingwalls and the Roundhouse, and the front cover of the first album by The Clash was shot a few yards from the shops front door.
It’s a family business – is that important to you?
Definitely, it’s part of our ethos. We hosted the Kids Go Ska event as part of the International Ska Festival. Lots of toddlers learning how to skank! We had guest DJs, dance demonstrations, talks – it was brilliant.
What’s the ambition for Modfather?
Our slogan is “Modfather Clothing – Attention to detail in Modernist retail”. When that’s recognised all over the world I’ll be happy!
You can find stylish clothing – including Tootal Scarves – at www.modfatherclothing.com where you can also find details of the Modfather Christmas Party at Dingwalls on 23 December 2017.
With thanks to Mario, Daniel, Sean, Lucy, Greg, Ben and Dave.