Established in 2012, The Great Divide started out as a menswear e-tailer offering a carefully edited crop of wares by the likes of Sandqvist, Wood Wood, Our Legacy and Penfield. In April 2015, it added physical retail to its repertoire by opening a curated space within women's denim boutique Bad Denim. We caught up with co-owner Stephen Monaghan to get the lowdown on the concept. Interview by Emma Holmqvist Deacon

The Great Divide's retail space at Bad Denim
The Great Divide's retail space at Bad Denim

What inspired you to open The Great Divide’s (TGD) physical incarnation?
We started online decided to expand with a physical store when we felt comfortable to do so. We grew and marketed the name and TGD ethos digitally and then decided it was time to shake some hands…  It’s something we had been considering for a while, though we are not ones to rush into something that can spell trouble or cause financial woes just to illustrate growth. Rather, we wanted to reverse the trend and open a bricks and mortar space after the website had started to perform to the level we want it to. It’s ticking along rather nicely right now so the store is an extension of the positivity and growth incurred on the site, while it also allows us to play the shopkeeper-role and manifest physical interaction with our customers when possible – Brits are a nation of shopkeepers!

How will the store complement its web equivalent?
It is edited – not too grand – yet carefully curated with brands that we re- merchandise on a fortnightly basis. As the store is on the smaller side we need to be careful not to over merchandise and fill it up too much; it needs to be crafted selectively to ensure it always looks like a considered environment.

The shop is housed in East London’s Clapton within another store, namely women’s denim purveyor Bad Denim. Why did you choose the area, and indeed to join forces with Bad Denim?
The area is massively on the up and has a great potential customer base who we believe may appreciate not having to get on buses and trains to access the best menswear brands… As for teaming up with Bad Denim, Erin McQuinn who runs the store is a friend of ours, and she thought: ”girls accompanied by guys shop in my store, it would be a good idea to access these guys…”. We agreed, and here we are. Lower Clapton houses a demographic we can serve and get along with – we want to make friends…

Some of the brands at The Great Divide
Some of the brands at The Great Divide

Which type of friends in particular – who is the customer?
Aged about 23-45, discerning, interested, creative minded. I like to think we reach people with manners, etiquette and good sense of humour who enjoy clothing, brands and have a loyal disposition. The majority of people we reach and get to talk to appear to be top blokes to be honest.

Name a few brands that do well at TGD.
Dickies, Vans, Asics, Our Legacy, Carhartt, LVC, Filson, PORTER, Champion, TSPTR, Penfield.

Any new discoveries?
B.D. Baggies… and I love Béton Ciré headwear. I want to bring back Mizuno to its former Japanese glory.  Mountain Equipment and Carrier Company are fantastic, too.

"The shop [...] allows us to manifest physical interaction with our customers when possible."
"The shop [...] allows us to manifest physical interaction with our customers when possible."
Where do you hunt for products – showrooms, trade shows… which particular ones?
All above and further afield to boot … to name a few trade show, we attend Pitti, Seek, Capsule, MAN, Tranoi and Jacket Required.

Which sources do you rely upon to pick up new trends?
Young people and old people, never in-between people.

Which fashion trends do you predict will rule in AW15?
The 70s color palette and silhouette revival; super high-end technical garments (check out Norse Projects for this in AW15); detachable linings as jackets; roll necks with everything and suede.

Which stores, in the UK and globally, count among your favourites and what do you like about them?  Have any of them inspired The Great Divide?
Hanon store, Goodhood, END, The Shopkeeper Store and OiPolloi all inspire and make me proud to be part of the community of independent retailers.

The Great Divide Store
82 Lower Clapton Road
London E5 0RN