Footpatrol x Soho Yacht Club ‘World Book Day’
To celebrate World Book Day, we met up with Ellis Gilbert who co-founded London based brand Soho Yacht Club to discuss the birth of the brand, an insight on his background and how the act of giving back to his community is essential to the ethos of the brand.
Soho Yacht Club has of recent made huge ground in exposing itself to the world. From young consumers to senior wearers, SYC caters to every generation without any judgement.
In addition, we are giving away limited edition Footpatrol x Soho Yacht Club t-shirts in-store in conjunction to donating your old books. All books will be donated between Clifton Primary and St Marks Primary School in West London. While stocks last.
FP: Ellis, to start things off nice and easy. How are you?
Ellis: I’m good man, I am sick of the weather, I can’t wait for some sunshine but I’m good man, I’m happy , very happy. How are you?
FP: I am good thank you bro, I don’t get asked that enough you know! Could you give us a little bit of insight into yourself and also Soho Yacht Club?
Ellis: I am just a young man from very far West London called Hanwell, I’ve lived there my whole life. I’ve worked in Soho for 10 years now for a few different brands, I’ve worked in Woolrich, Stone Island I was at Patta for a very long time and I met some good friends so shout out Damo ,Andre, Edson all those guys I mentioned there have taught me so much about business and friendship and about being a man and being honest. Whatever you want to do you can do it with hard work and being straight to the point it is not always about fun and messing about. A lot of love and respect for those guys.
FP: Where did the idea for the brand come from?
Ellis: Initially I was messing around and I wanted to make some clothes and all my friends from where I live used to mess about calling me Mr Soho because I was here for work. I used to work like six or seven days a week and I would always be out afterwards eating and drinking around here so you would probably see me at the Blue Post most days. My friend Clint, he was saying ‘Mr Soho’ ‘Mr Soho’ that should be your T-shirt. I was thinking of playing on the theme of always being in Soho and I was always to make something that was community based or like a club and then I was thinking I can’t really call it Soho Club because it really doesn’t have a ring to it. I thought Yacht Club kind of sounds prestige but it is kind of a gimmick because obviously you can’t have a boat in Soho, there is no water! I came up with the name way before I was thinking about any designs or anything like that, then I told my friends what do you think about Soho Yacht Club? They were like yeah, it has got a ring to it, that’s definitely one you should roll with. I was thinking I’m not sure because are people going to think that I am going to be serious with this massive boat and also because it was community based thing, I didn’t want people to think it was too exclusive in terms of a yacht club that was going to be too expensive to actually be apart of but it’s actually all community based.
Then I left it for a few months and then my friend Harry Clemence he messaged me and was like so the Yacht Club, the name is amazing, let’s get cracking on it and I kind of needed someone to spur me on and be like let’s go and get something done. I was chilling in Paris. I went to shoot something with Corteiz in Paris , me Clint and Flynn, he’s an amazing photographer. I was in Paris and I was lying there hungover and loads of messages came through on my Whatsapp and I was like what is all this ? It was ten in the morning looking at my phone so hungover I could barely see it and it is all these designs that Harry sent just initial ideas and I was like this actually looks sick, the name and logo and stuff and I was like alright when I get back we got to sit down and start working on it. A big shout out to Harry for getting the ball rolling. That’s kind of how it started off. I was away and then I came back and then we started working on it from there. Putting ideas together, Harry is quite a big stylist. He works for Clash magazine. He was showing me all these pictures and he had drawn a lot of references of what we wanted to look at and what we wanted it to look like. What’s the goal? What do we actually want to achieve because there are so many brands out there that put out a lot of tracksuits and puffer jackets or bags and stuff like that. We kind of want it to have more substance than just clothing , we want it to have a meaning. We want people to actually feel something, the reason it is called a club is that you’re buying into a lifestyle of helping other people. The first release we had done a breakfast club t-shirt and jumper and with that money we raised enough to feed 15 families for 2 weeks over the Easter holidays. With the money left over we started paying for a garden to be built in a school, it is like a bereavement garden. It is for kids that have lost family members they can go have a bit of time out during the day and it is a pretty amazing project. Looking back when I was in school, sometimes the small thing that the teachers would do to show a little extra effort you kind of like to be more enticed to work harder for them because you know they are working harder for you. Those are the kind of things I want to get into.
FP: Like you said you have been based in Soho forever, do you think being here for so long helped you build that community a lot easier ?
Ellis: 100% there is so many people like Duke’s Cupboard that has got behind me and helped and is always posting stuff, the amount of people I’ve met with Wilson, bringing me in on Footpatrol I am always so grateful for people that around me that are always offered me stuff when they don’t owe me anything or just having genuine connections and being good people. I think that really makes the world go round, having a connection not just because they can do something for you but because you actually like them. The work stuff comes a lot easier and that comes after, when you can build a connection with someone just over the simple things like a passing comment, laughing and joking or how they dress or what food you like to eat. Then you can build on that and you’ll be so surprised how you can go.
FP: How has it been seeing your local community respond to it the positive way that they are?
Ellis: I really couldn’t believe it, there are people that are seen when I am out and around where I live, 60 year olds wearing T-shirts, I’ve seen people wearing our hats. The funniest thing is a lot of the people that I see don’t actually know me for making the brand , they just know that it is a brand that it had started off locally. The fact that they want to support that has been amazing and also the amount of people I see in the messages when we do a release that is a community project . Whether it would be getting food for a school or new school books and uniforms, we made a post for school uniforms in winter. We had so many donations we could give it to three different schools and that was just off the back of people wanting to be a part of helping. Not necessarily them obtaining anything or being shouted out in the public eye, from the bottom of their hearts they wanted to help. For me that is the most special thing about being able to do something like this.
FP: We have brought you down to talk a bit about World Book Day and the T-shirt and anything in terms of these of book chats. Is this the first time you’ve done something like this?
Ellis: We’ve done things before asking people if you can drop any clothes or toys and a few books have come in and it is funny to see how quickly the books go. It is normally stuff that people have in their house, something that they used to cherish so it is normally good stories is not something they have just gone and bought. Even my own little brothers love my old James Bond and storm breaker books and stuff like that. For me, I am severely dyslexic so for a long time when I was in school I used to always shy away from reading. I had one teacher called Mr Gale and he said if you find something you actually want to read it comes a lot easier. I actually used to go to the library and look around and I would find books on football or I used to love adventure books or spy things like that. It spurred me on a lot more to try harder in my education. Reading for me was one of the most difficult things and it can go a long way when you become more confident. It is a tool that you can use in every walk of life, being able to read and write and communicate with other people I wouldn’t say it is underrated because you are still learning but you’ll be so surprised having good manners and being able to read and write can get you a lot further then sitting and having to get a degree for this and that. Communication is the key man! That is for almost every walk of life and every job.
FP: That’s a good piece of advice
Ellis: I have two older sisters, they always work hard. Reading and writing is like an adventure and where people grow up isn’t always exactly where they want to be in life. Sometimes the escapes you can get through books are amazing because you can be sitting in your house and then you’re reading about travelling the world and you’re in a different place, you’re in an adventure.
FP: What about a larger aim? Do you guys see it being a UK or worldwide thing? Do you have a larger game or are you working towards smaller, reachable goals that you think you can see instant success from?
Ellis: You know what I haven’t really thought about world domination or being here and there. For me, if I could impact 5 people’s lives and they do 5 people’s lives and they tell their little brothers and cousins, that will be massive for me. It is more so just to show that it doesn’t really matter where you are from or what you do, if you want to help people you can do it and often helping people will be better than getting that million pound job and having that fast car. In London you can only drive 20mph in most places so what’s the point of having a Ferrari. That amount of money shared between people, you can do a lot of good and that’s what will impact the world long term. Instead of being like consume, consume, consume. I am just happy to be on this journey and to see where it goes.
FP: Some people would have seen what you did during the Euros last year with the God Save Raheem t-shirt. Could you tell us a bit about that project and the reasoning behind what you were doing? We thought it was a really nice initiative you ran.
Ellis: I am a massive football fan, I would literally go to any game, I love playing and I am super competitive. Ask the boys they are sick of me moaning whilst playing on the Sunday, I do think being competitive is good though. It was in summer and I was looking at the England tops like £100 also a lot of the stuff around football was not very enticing to certain people especially the football England team, so I thought what can I bring to the table that is a little more different and I always see Raheem Sterling, he’s a young black man and kind of like a businessman, what he stands for me is that he is form St. Raphael, a local estate and all he has ever done is tried to play football and he kept on getting hounded in the press and I was like that’s one of my favourite players. He’s an amazing athlete but it doesn’t matter how good he does, he always ends up getting slated and then I was talking to one of my friends Jai and we were saying God save Raheem and it was literally like that lightbulb moment we got to turn this into a T-shirt. We put these on T-shirts we made like 10 or 15 for our friends and everyone in the groupchat was hitting me up like ‘yo I see these T-shirts’. We made these T-shirts in like an hour, got a sample the next day and from our actual idea it took two days to get them. At the end of that week I was like I am going to order 200, took them in a suitcase, went up town and I was selling them from the suitcase and it was just fun. Then I started going to the different games with the bags selling the T-shirts, it was amazing man. Then I ended up being on a shoot with him for New Balance and he was like oh you made those T-shirts, loads of his family got them so it was kind of nice to see. Big up to Raheem Sterling, he’s a lovely person. That he was shooting, he was playing football with the kids, giving as much knowledge as he could and he made sure everyone got footballs and football boots and was looked after. He is such a genuine, down to earth amazing person.
FP: Ellis, thank you for coming, we really appreciate your time with us to go over your story. Before we let you go is there anything you would like to share with the Footpatrol community?
I would just like to say thanks for the opportunity to share the story and join us on this journey and I hope this is the start of many future collaborations. To anyone younger that is listening or if it is going to be written down try and work hard , school is only a short period of your life and it can affect what you do in the future. Working hard now will help you in the long term. All in all the message is just be nicer to people man, you’ll be so surprised how much that does for other people and in turn it will come back to you, good energy will always come around. When you’re gone no one is going to talk about oh do you remember his Rolex, do you remember his car? etc. They are going to remember that guy that was always nice and had good vibes and he got stuff done.