An interview with Faz from The Archives

An interview with Faz from The Archives

An interview with Faz from The Archives

Launched back in 2018, The Archives is an independent clothes shop in Leeds which is dedicated to stocking classic, time-honoured gear from around the globe. It’s a true treasure trove of hand-sewn work-boots, selvedge denim and military jackets, and not only are we proud to say it’s one of our stockists, but later in the year the fine folks behind The Archives are going to be a big part of something pretty exciting… the Leed’s Nigel Cabourn Army Gym.

Obviously any talk of shops opening at the moment seems like a distant dream, so until we can get an exact date on anything, we thought it made sense to catch up with Faz, the founder of The Archives, to tell us a bit more about what he does and how he’s been getting on.

Also, now’s a good time to mention that whilst lockdown continues we’re stocking some classic Moonstar canvas pumps from The Archives on our website.

Here’s the interview…

Army Gym Leeds

First things first, how have you been managing with lockdown?

To be honest, it’s affected me big time. The Archives is a physical business, we’re old school in that sense. We sell clothes how they used to sell clothes back in the day— you go to the shop and the shopkeeper talks you through the ins-and-outs of the clothes. We go through the process very personally—we’re a dying breed.

But, by the grace of god, we’re still able to provide a service. We’re still taking orders on Instagram and getting new product in. As for the shop, I’m looking forward to seeing my old friend again.

Moonstar white

How did you get involved in clothes? Were they something you were always into?

As a kid I was always interested. It was my first love. We’d go into Leeds maybe every month to look at the shops, and the people who worked in them were the heroes. I’d think, “Doesn’t he look amazing.” But I couldn’t buy anything, because I was 16. I had a paper round and everything at that point, just to buy my footy boots.

But there was a shop called Verdi Clothing, a little boutique that was selling Stone Island Marina and those Italian luxury brands. And I remember asking Jamsheed, the Iranian guy who owned it, if I could have a job. He ended up saying I could work on Saturdays, and I felt like a god—he didn’t even have to pay me, if I’m honest. Jamsheed was very personable. He taught me well, and I watched, learned and applied. That’s where I learned that customer service always comes first.

With The Archives, the thing I am most proud of is our customer service. We aren’t just another store. The people who work here are family, and our customers an extension of that family.Moonstar purple

How did The Archives come about?

I always had the dream. The Archives was actually founded in the mountains in Andalusia, when I was there with my mum. That’s where the blueprint for The Archives was born. I literally spent a week, plotting with a pen and a pad.

And how would you describe it?

To be fair, the name itself would probably be the most relatable thing. It’s a reference library to the past. We’re showing the modern versions of these classics—how these jackets, jeans or coveralls are made, and the fabrications and techniques that go into them. Why do we sell a tubular t-shirt instead of a normal side-seam t-shirt? It’s because it doesn’t shrink, it doesn’t twist… there are always these components we can educate a customer with.

It literally is a reference, we’ve got stuff on the wall that is vintage, so we can say that’s a jacket from 1940, and this is a reproduction of one in 2020. We can show the similarities. Our logo is the library lamp—when you go into a library to study, you turn the lamp on, and that’s what we do—we study.

Moonstar black

How did The Archives come about?

I always had the dream. The Archives was actually founded in the mountains in Andalusia, when I was there with my mum. That’s where the blueprint for The Archives was born. I literally spent a week, plotting with a pen and a pad.

And how would you describe it?

To be fair, the name itself would probably be the most relatable thing. It’s a reference library to the past. We’re showing the modern versions of these classics—how these jackets, jeans or coveralls are made, and the fabrications and techniques that go into them. Why do we sell a tubular t-shirt instead of a normal side-seam t-shirt? It’s because it doesn’t shrink, it doesn’t twist… there are always these components we can educate a customer with.

It literally is a reference, we’ve got stuff on the wall that is vintage, so we can say that’s a jacket from 1940, and this is a reproduction of one in 2020. We can show the similarities. Our logo is the library lamp—when you go into a library to study, you turn the lamp on, and that’s what we do—we study.

It’s like those Moonstar shoes. On the face of it, they’re classic canvas pumps, but then if you read up on how their made, they’re on a different level.

Yeah, I sell them because I love them and I wear them. They’re so good. The ‘Shoes Like Pottery’ name comes from the building process of the shoes. They’re actually baked, like pottery in a kiln. They’re a beautifully made product. When you put a pair on, they’re like wearing handmade shoes… but they’re pumps. And they just get better with age.

Looking at the stuff you sell, why do you think these time-honoured pieces of work-wear or sportswear endure after so many years?

There’s just so much disposable clothing out there that I think the public are just tired of it. And also, I don’t want to look like my 20 year old nephew. Classic menswear can never fail. The blueprint has always been there, whether it’s militaria or safari.

What were you inspired by when you started The Archives? There aren’t many shops like yours in the North of England.

I suppose it’s a reflection of what I like. If I’m honest with you, I’ve always loved the vintage element, as everything tells a story. The best ‘repro clothing’ is when somebody tries to emulate something that was done before, but does it better. And that’s where we kick in.

If I was to give you a shop full of 1930s denim, it’d fit nobody apart from Danny DeVito—it just wouldn’t fit you. The sleeves were all cut short. It was work-wear. They couldn’t allow a cuff near machinery. And it’s the same for the military—the sleeves were shorter as they were handling weaponry. That’s the kind of stuff you can reference and like, but you have to wear ‘the now’.

Moonstar white

Yeah, it’s moving these classic pieces forward.

It’s a case of looking at the DNA of a product. It’s like Nigel Cabourn. I’ve known Nigel for years, and you can’t mistake his clothing. That’s a brilliant feat—and that’s not a coincidence, it takes work to get to a point where someone will recognise your jacket, or your dungarees. You can’t patent or trademark a pair of dungarees, but you can make them stand they way they do, and people recognise them.

I’ve always wanted there to be a Cabourn shop in Leeds, and now there’s going to be a whole shop of Cabourn up here in the Corn Exchange. Can you imagine how cool it’ll be?

I can tell you’re a busy man so I’ll let you crack on with stuff, but before you go, have you got any wise words to wind this up with?

These are some words from my dad—when you get met with resistance, be that in life, work or otherwise… silence. When you say nothing, you don’t say anything wrong.

Moonstar black