Interview: Harvey Broadbent
Coventry’s Positive Outlook Clothing label is taking it’s confident ethos to new heights. With it’s first store exceeding expectation, an online platform that’s built on a beautiful ethos to a new, pop-up store in Birminghams Bull Ring, one of the largest shopping developments in Europe. To celebrate the brands continual rise we caught up with founder, Harvey Broadbent to discuss his drive, passion and future vision.
Your clothing label is called Positive Outlook, is this a mantra you carry personally or was it inspired by someone or something else?
It’s definitely a persona I have tried to spread throughout out my life but it most likely came from my parents who have always promoted a positive outlook in everything they do and all aspects of their lives.
Tell us about you, your background and what inspired you to create, design and launch your own clothing label and store?
My initial interest was in fine art at school but I chose to study Product Design at Bournemouth University as I was interested in pursuing a career in design and learning more about just how products of many varieties came to life. It was during this course that I gained an interest in sustainable alternatives and spent part of my final year researching the issues and possibilities in the fashion industry and writing a business plan for an organic clothing company. From there I combined my need for more positivity in the world with the want to create a more sustainable fashion brand, from which Positive Outlook was born.
For those amongst us who dream in owning a clothing label what were the initial difficulties and now the on-going concerns of your industry and business in general?
The initial difficulties in starting a business came with sourcing manufacturers and garment producers that followed the same beliefs or process both ethically and sustainably that I wanted to hold with my business. The continual issues are quite general, funding your ideas and actually taking the risks needed to grow a business are both stressful and frightening, but no matter the result you gain something, whether it be growth in the business or in yourself.
Positive Outlook has a strong belief in sustainability and minimising it’s impact on the environment. Can you tell us more about how you deliver and maintain this?
We manufacture predominantly from bamboo which is much more sustainable than cotton and man-made fibres requiring little to no water and growing faster than any other plant with no need for pesticides. Next we choose manufacturers who work under the Fair Wear Foundation ensuring all workers have a legal contract, a living wage and safe working conditions to name a few. Finally we use only water based, chemical-free inks for printing.
The ethical ethos is inspiring, is this a difficult approach to deliver or does it go hand-in-hand with a brand that radiates positivity?
I believe our name goes hand in hand with our ethical approach, we aim to make a positive impact on people and the world we live in.
Your first store in Coventry’s Fargo Village has received great feedback and incredibly reflective of your ethos. Are you hands on with all aspects of the brand from identity to interior design and all that’s in-between?
I get asked this a lot and can honestly say that pretty much everything you see is me, with help along the way. My father and I built the entire store by hand using reclaimed materials I had collected over the months before opening, entirely based on a 3D design I had created using skills i’d developed through my university course. I myself am involved in every part of the design process from the actual graphics, to the garment designs, fabric choices etc. I also do the majority of the photography for the business both within the studio and location all self taught.
You’ve recently launched a pop-up store in the mighty Bull Ring Birmingham. How did that come to fruition and how difficult was it to bring it to life?
We have recently opened a pop-up in the LINKSTREET area of the Bullring connecting the newly renovated grand central. I was approached by a company called Appear Here through a friend. They introduced me to the area and I was invited to view a couple of options with them, they had heard of the company and felt we would fit within in the area perfectly. Two months later we began the build and 3 days later we opened. It has been a huge step for us with serious investment from all aspects, but as one of our new designs depicts you have to ‘Take Risks’.
With one permanent store, a growing online space and the experience of creating a short-term pop-up, where does the future of Positive Outlook lie?
Only time will tell and I don’t won’t to give a way too much, but we do plan on venturing into a few different clothing areas with the brand as well as more pop-ups across the country next year.
Finally, what do you think the attitude towards retail will be in 10 or 20 years? Will it be solely online, will global brands still dominate or could it shift to become the domain of local businesses only?
Thats a tough one to answer as it is changing constantly. I imagine online will continue to grow and remain dominant but I still believe there is still a want and need for physical stores but they must focus on the experience and creativity.