Inspired by the casual, I-just-threw-this-on-(no-really-I-did) look of the urban café scene’s consciously nonchalant gentleman clientele, Pandco is Birmingham’s home-grown online store for hand-drawn and hand-made t-shirts. The company is the creation of Adison Rudall and Lee Timms who actually met in a coffee shop, share a passion for caffeine and are heavily influenced by the scene and style of today’s men in tees so prevalent in hip city hangouts.
At the point they met, the guys were already (separately) on the Birmingham gigging scene and playing in bands. Fairly soon they set up a design agency together producing band merchandise and, says Adison: “Realising we were pretty good at it, and seeing a gap for niche British brand t-shirts, decided to take it a step further”. Now Pandco is a firm favourite with fashion-forward Brummie boys and many more besides, with the company’s current fan base of overseas customers taking in 37 countries.
The concept is simple enough: use top quality cotton, local suppliers – the t-shirts are printed up the road in Leicester – and great photography, but it’s the artistic flair of the guys themselves that has their clothing stand out. “We do all the designs ourselves and the styling of Pandco is very hand drawn, with a particular typography.” The company has since widened its clothing offering and also produces leather goods, with wallets made in the Jewellery Quarter by the only leather manufacturer left in the city. “They use organic Swedish leather from a company we found at a fashion show in Paris. We can email them a drawing in the morning and go and see a sample in the afternoon.”
So, the main question on our lips was: do Brummies have their own look? Apparently, yes they do, and it changes depending on the neighbourhood. “Digbeth is vintage and Adidas, the Arcadian is more trousers and shoes, while the Jewellery Quarter is quite Shoreditch.”
Social media has proved instrumental to success of the brand, with guys’ history and connections in the music scene providing an audience not only for the bands they go to see, but also for their rather fetching apparel. While highly active on Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter, it’s Instagram where their reputation has really taken hold. With a company feed and personal ones for each of their pseudonyms – Mr Clark and Mr Timms – their following stands at almost 92,000. “We learnt as we went along. We released a coffee mug with a Pandco hashtag and that sold out in 2 hours. And we found Ricky Hall, who’s modelled for Diesel and David Beckham, and gained a lot of exposure.”
So what’s next? “We’ve got various ideas. Maybe a shop; we’re looking at a pop-up store in the Great Western Arcade. And we’re exploring America.”
We have a sense that, whether they open up over the pond or not, these boys will definitely go far.