Interview: Thom Grogan
“It’s giving a nod to a fairly classic way of living and dressing, taking care of your appearance without it being over-worked or pretentious. It’s a fairly blue collar attitude as far as a $1000 pair of shoes goes.”
- Thom Grogan
Thom Grogan, one of the partners behind café and men’s emporium Captains of Industry, gives a wry smile as he says the last, conscious that the ideas of “blue collar” and $1000 shoes presents as a jarring misnomer. But the essence of what he is referencing is there: this desire on the part of a particular consumer to return to the ideals that dominated until the boom times following World War II – that clothing and shoes should be built to last, a necessary investment during a time when disposable income was, for the majority, an impossible ideal.
Thom: “Right now there is an increasingly larger appetite and audience for products with a traceable history. People are wanting to know where a product comes from and then invest in that – buying pieces that won’t be chucked out for next season, destined to become landfill.”
It’s an approach that translates from food, to clothing and shoes to personal maintenance. Thom and partner Alan Beverley have cleverly played upon demand, pulling together a classically trained barber, shoemaker and denim designer to share space with the café. (The tattoo artist upstairs just sweetens the deal.) Melbourne men are clearly appreciative of their efforts.
Thom: “We find there is a lot of cross-over; Sam the barber is booked out everyday and guys come in for a coffee before going up to get tattooed or buying a pair of shoes. It’s a very traditional way of functioning and it’s appealing to all demographics, from hipster kids to city lawyers and QCs. It has a lot of familiar elements to a lot of people.”
Ultimately Thom views the shift with appreciation, aware that there is still a significant proportion of the Australian male population unsure of how to approach the idea of personal style.
Thom: “We are one of the only countries in the world that you can wear the same thing at 7 years-old as at 70, and it’s not that there’s anything wrong with that… but there is…”
He laughs when he says it. Looks like Captains still has some market share to grab, yet.
Level 1/2 Somerset Place, Melbourne.
ph: 9670 4405
Story: Sarina Lewis