Built on an ethos that supports craft produce, simple classics and quality basics, Dick’s Edinburgh opened in Stockbridge in November 2012. Situated within a lively village often dubbed the bohemian area of Scotland’s capital, its location is the perfect environment for independent design. Rebecca Jackson speaks to co-owner of the store Andrew Dick to find out more.
Based in Stockbridge, a lively village in Edinburgh, Dick’s Edinburgh opened in 2012 as a means to present a carefully selected collection of menswear, womenswear, accessories and homeware. Owners of the store Andrew Dick and Uli Schade handpick brands that specialise in craft and have a common philosophy of quality and longevity. This ethos is central to everything they do.
It’s a world away from London, which the husband and wife team used to call home. “We wanted to be somewhere quieter, more compact,” says Dick. “I was working as a journalist at the Guardian newspaper. Uli was and is still a photographer, and we fancied being close to one set of our parents. I’m from Edinburgh and grew up near Stockbridge. With real passion for well-made, functional things – from clothing to homewares – we thought it would be a good mix for an Edinburgh shop.”
Offering up a pared-down line of modern, simple classics and quality basics, Dick’s does not aim to cater to a particular demographic. Customers are described as the type of people who hold other interests and are not clothes obsessives. As Dick says: “Just folk who like great quality”.
The majority of buying takes place in Florence and Paris, at shows such as Pitti Uomo. Dick and Schade handle all aspects of the sourcing. Next season will see the duo focus on developing existing lines in-store, with no plans to drastically change the brand offering. It’s not difficult to see why, when taking into account the type of product on offer. “The store isn’t about fashion but longevity. Everything in the store is really well considered; we edit it right down so people don’t have to. They simply know that every product in here is made by the best manufacturer in their field,” says Dick.
The in-store brands mix is varied, catering to a wide range of product categories and geographical areas. The focus is on brands such as Eribe, Harley and Howlin’ – all knitwear pieces made in Scotland and Ireland. However, Dick’s doesn’t just stock labels which are reserved exclusively to local areas. Independent brands are sourced from around the world.
Other key pieces include shoes from Northampton by Trickers and Sanders; T-shirts, polos and boxers by Sunspel; Breton shirts by Orcival and workers’ jackets by Vetra, as well as bags by Edinburgh based Soda Kitsch. Homeware includes Royal Sussex Trugs and Swedish Korbo baskets; hand-forged pans by Turk; and skincare products by Aesop.
Elsewhere in-store, leather wallets, pencil cases and footballs are made by Sonnenleder; kitchen knives are available from French label Opinel and German brand Windmühlenmesser. Decorative handmade wooden crows are by Swedish designer Mikael Nilsson and woodblock letter prints by Chris Sleath, a local printmaker based in Edinburgh, are hand printed especially for the store.
Knowing where your product has come from and the story behind how it was made is of vital importance to Dick and Schade – an ethos which is passed on to the customer. The desire to support and stock small independent labels which convey quality and a passion for manufacturing was one of the initial inspirations for setting up the store. It is Dick’s aim to have every existing Scottish manufacturer represented, and his passion for craft seems to have an infectious effect on the store’s customers. “The real high has been the overwhelmingly positive response to the shop and people sharing our ideas about the way things are made being important. I think our brand mix is really developing. And everything is made by folk who are passionate about what they do and it shows. Now it’s a case of finding the best products we can from small manufacturers,” Dick says.
Starting life as a menswear store, the store has expanded to stock homeware, accessories and womenswear since its initial conception. However, menswear is the bestselling category in-store and online. The same stock is offered on both platforms, but with less than 10 per cent of takings originating from online in comparison to in-store. It seems the store naturally benefits from its supportive environment, a village which promotes independent design and appreciates one of a kind stores such as Dick’s. In an area that shies away from the commercial attitude of the high street, the bricks and mortar space has flourished.
Inspiration for the in-store aesthetic was taken from a number of shops around the world, especially those in Japan. Inspired by that country’s strong focus on craft, the store’s minimalistic appearance highlights an unpretentious, uncomplicated attitude to shopping. Taking on much of the renovation work, Dick and Schade wanted the store aesthetic to reflect the tone and quality of the products and labels stocked in-store. Schade designed the interior of the store and basement, and a local carpenter made the interior oak fittings. A friend of the couple used lime plaster on the walls, adding a contemporary feel to the Georgian building. The result is a simple appearance featuring a washed wooden floor, utilitarian steel, grey walls and wooden fittings.
Running the store has not been without its challenges for Dick and Schade – as any retailer might expect in the current climate. Road closures in the local area, Brexit, drastic and continuous discounting by other shops are all challenges that Dick has faced since opening its doors four years ago. However, considering the duo opened the business in the midst of a recession, with many other like-minded businesses sadly closing up around them, they have thrived as a bricks and mortar store.
As for the future of the store, there are no immediate grand plans. In fact, rather appropriately when you take into account the careful and considered approach so far, the future of the store is also carefully considered. It’s all about – as Dick puts it – “Slow and steady evolution”.