Meet Stephen Gray, owner of The Basement Menswear in Tunbridge Wells
How long have you owned The Basement?
I am also a partner in the Ilse Jacobsen shop and initially we planned to open The Basement as additional womenswear, but a year after we opened the Ilse shop we decide to go into menswear, due to requests from customers to have something for men, along the same style as Ilse. So we opened The Basement Menswear two years ago.
What made you choose the location?
I researched locations for three months, from Brighton, Chichester, Guilford, but really liked Tunbridge Wells and in particular the High Street area.
How would you describe the style of the items you sell?
We are smart casual, with great jeans, shirts and knitwear, with a carefully chosen range of jackets and coats. We are product, not brand led.
How do you decide what to stock?
I work on the wholesale side as well as having the retail shop, so I travel a lot, both to exhibitions in Germany and Copenhagen, but also visiting other retail shops all over the UK, which exposes me to all the great products out there.
What’s the best part of your job?
Seeing a customer happy with his purchase when he leaves the shop and returning to buy some more, because he loved what he bought the first time.
What’s a typical day like for you at work?
That depends on whether I am working in the shop, travelling to wholesale customers, or working on paperwork (my least favourite!) Days are long, but I love what I do.
Who’s your style icon?
I don’t really have a particular style icon, however I think David Beckham looks great in both formal and casual, but he can also get it wrong – remember the sarong!
What are the spring/summer trends you’re really excited about?
Colour – menswear is dominated by blue or black, so it’s great in the summer to have pinks and orange and this season some lovely taupe, beige and cream items. We also have some wild shirts from Brighton-based designer Gresham Blake coming in, and Gresham is excited as he grew up in Tunbridge Wells.
The Basement Menswear . 6 High Street . Tunbridge Wells . TN1 1UX . 01892 537 241