Tom Cridland, the enterprising force behind the sustainable fashion brand that bears his name, embarked on his journey two years ago. Armed with a modest government start-up loan of £6,000, he embarked on this path immediately upon completing his studies at the University of Bristol, a mere 23 years old at the time. Today, his brand boasts a global clientele spanning six continents and has garnered international press recognition for its revolutionary initiative, The 30 Year Collection, which is at the forefront of a movement to safeguard our natural resources by crafting exceptionally durable clothing. The 30 Year Sweatshirt, T-Shirt, and Jacket are meticulously crafted to such high standards that they come with a remarkable three-decade guarantee, promising free repairs or replacements should any issues arise.
The brand operates under the leadership of Tom and his remarkable partner of six years, Debs, who serves as the Managing Director. Their relentless dedication to nurturing this start-up into a globally recognized brand is a labor of love that reflects their unwavering commitment. They both share a deep concern about the potential repercussions of Brexit on small businesses like theirs, fearing that it might jeopardize the substantial effort they’ve invested over the past couple of years.
Tom initially envisaged Tom Cridland as a brand specializing exclusively in trousers when he received the £6,000 government start-up loan. However, he swiftly discovered that this sum was inadequate for launching a full-fledged e-commerce brand. The first year proved to be a daunting struggle to establish the business, with Tom exhausting his funds in the quest to find a supplier in Portugal (a choice influenced by the country’s reputation for producing exquisite clothing and Tom’s Portuguese heritage) and refining his trouser designs. The brand offered 14 trouser colors, crafted from luxurious cotton, wool, and cashmere, featuring a uniquely elegant and comfortable cut. The only problem was the absence of stock.
Tom rallied every available email address and leveraged MailChimp to introduce his brainchild to the world. Eventually, he managed to secure his first stock order by conducting a pre-order sale featuring images of the samples on their website, tomcridland.com. Throughout this challenging period, Tom remained steadfast in his vision, with his financial resources stretched so thin at times that he questioned whether he could afford an Oyster Card top-up or a simple meal of pasta and canned tomatoes from the local Co-Op, let alone his cherished weekly Nando’s indulgence.
A significant turning point for the brand came when they had the opportunity to create trousers for renowned figures such as Leonardo DiCaprio, Hugh Grant, Stephen Fry, Jeremy Piven, Rod Stewart, Brandon Flowers, Robbie Williams, Nile Rodgers, Michael Portillo, Stephen Merchant, Frankie Valli, Nigel Olsson, Ben Stiller, and Daniel Craig. The endorsement of these distinguished men for their signature product was a profound honor, setting Tom Cridland on a transformative trajectory.
The release of The 30 Year Sweatshirt in June of the previous year marked a milestone for the brand, propelling them to greater heights in terms of press recognition and customer engagement. The past twelve months have seen Tom Cridland’s journey encompass notable moments, including appearances on BBC Radio 4’s Today Show, intimate breakfast meetings with Jeremy Corbyn, interviews with CBS News and Reuters showcasing their 30 Year Sweatshirts and T-Shirts, interactions with Nigel Olsson at Elton John concerts, interviews by NBC News at the Rockefeller Center in New York, and collaboration with Deki, a Bristol-based charity that provides micro-grants to entrepreneurs in developing countries, empowering them to escape poverty.
The brand’s invaluable partnership with their Portuguese suppliers has been instrumental in realizing their unique designs and creating clothing of exceptional quality, from their signature trousers to The 30 Year Collection. The prospect of Brexit threatens to place significant strain on this vital working relationship.
Tom Cridland’s core ethos revolves around offering luxury clothing at an accessible price point. However, a potential Brexit could introduce additional financial burdens in their dealings with Portuguese suppliers, leading to the necessity of price hikes that could undermine their business model. The imposition of trade restrictions as a consequence of Brexit could have severe repercussions for their fledgling brand. Given their small team, increased bureaucratic demands would leave less time for creative pursuits and business growth. Moreover, these restrictions might cause their suppliers to lose interest in catering to their needs, as their order volumes are nowhere near those of large corporate brands. Tom believes that numerous other small start-ups like his may face comparable challenges.
Beyond the challenges it might pose to their supplier relationships, a Brexit would exponentially increase their logistical workload. In order to offer well-crafted clothing at affordable prices, the brand operates as an e-commerce business, delivering products to a substantial customer base within the European Union. With only two full-time employees, the introduction of additional export regulations due to Brexit would undoubtedly pose a logistical nightmare.
Tom raises a fundamental question: Why jeopardize the lifeblood of our economy, the small businesses, by departing from the EU? While it’s essential to acknowledge that there are articulate arguments in favor of Brexit, Tom strongly believes that many small British businesses, like his and Debs’, relying on European trade, could face severe challenges if Brexit becomes a reality. He underscores the contradiction within the pro-Brexit camp’s belief that Europe will not turn down lucrative trade with British businesses, especially smaller enterprises.
Tom emphasizes the importance of one key aspect: voting. If everyone cast their vote, Brexit might not be a reality. However, the passion of those in favor of Brexit often exceeds that of those who support remaining in the EU. As young entrepreneurs concerned that the way of life they’ve grown to cherish might be imperiled by Brexit, they urge everyone to participate in the referendum to ensure that the outcome truly reflects British sentiment. Tom acknowledges the dedication of the pro-Brexit campaign but implores those who hold different views to care just as deeply.