The Voice of hipshops


Interview with Jack Pattison, co-founder of Freddie Grubb

It hasn’t been too long since British brand Freddie Grubb opened its doors on London’s Amwell Street, a fresh and funky shop front in a somewhat residential area, with plenty of lovely independent stores. Named after the maverick pioneer of British cycling, a Freddie-Grubb-signed bike is a contemporary take on the traditional bike: a piece for those with a modern sense of the road, willing to add a drop of style to the everyday cycling. And there’s more to this shop’s story: here you’ll find a curated selection of accessories and home furnishings, all in the same refined style. Here’s our chat with co-founder Jack Pattison, giving us a look behind the scenes of his store.

Freddie Grubb front shop

HS: How did Freddie Grubb grow from an idea to an actual store?

Freddie Grubb has been a labour of love. What began as a silly conversation in the pub soon snowballed into a genuine business opportunity. We got heavily involved in every aspect and detail of the bike which meant the design and prototype stage took 12 months longer then we expected. This was really valuable time in which to hone the design. Having a stand-alone shop is really important for us as a start-up bicycle brand. Customers can come and be fitted correctly, test ride the bikes and give us their feedback. It’s also essential to have a somewhere convenient where we can offer servicing and after sales support.

HS: How did you pick Islington as an area to open up your shop and what would you say Freddie Grubb adds to the district?

We run business from the shop so it was important we had a shop that we could work in as well as sell bikes from. We always wanted it to be a destination shop, somewhere easy enough to get to but also quiet enough for customers to enjoy test rides safely. Amwell St. is a charming Georgian parade of shops – it ticks all the boxes.

Freddie Grubb bike

HS: Tell us a little bit about your design approach: your references and inspiration.

We set ourselves the brief to design a bike with a comfortable, clean frame that will ride really well.
The designs are all inspired by classic 50’s British road frames but with a modern geometry. Once we established this, we could focus on the details – which are really important to our design ethos. We stripped back anything unnecessary and focussed on elements that some major manufacturers leave as an after-thought or add on.

HS: Who produces your bicycles?

Each Freddie Grubb bicycle is built to order with care and precision, one at a time, by our mechanic Gordon. Building them in this way means that we can be flexible and make small changes and customisations if necessary.

Freddie Grubb shop

HS: How would you describe your clientele? What are the main reasons someone choses to buy a Freddie Grubb bike?

Our clientele are design conscious and generally people who have an eye for detail that are willing to pay a little bit more for quality. People who understand the merit of paying a little bit more for something that will last. There are 3 main reasons for buying a Freddie Grubb. Quality, Comfort and style. Why compromise?

Freddie Grubb accessories

HS: How do you curate the other items in your shop: where do they come from?

We have a few choice partner brands we work with all of whom share the same design ethos. Detail and quality.

Jack Pattison on a Freddie Grubb bike

HS: What’s your idea of a favourite ride across London?

Easy. Starting at the Freddie Grubb store in Islington, dropping down onto the canal and following it all the way to Crete Brewery in Hackney Wick. Its a beautiful car free route with plenty of opportunities to shop on the way. There’s an amazing cafe called Towpath that serves the best coffee where you can sit on the side of the canal and watch other bikes go past. After that there’s Broadway Market, Victoria park, the Olympic park and finishing at a Brewery that also make the most incredible pizzas. Fortunately it’s not far for me to roll home afterwards too.


Interview with Alice & Ben, owners of Country of Origin

This year’s end of summer brought a unique addition to London’s retail scene: Country of Origin, the brainchild of Alice Liptrot and Ben Taylor is a knitwear store where you pop in, choose your color, size and shape, and a few days later you’ll have your item ready for you.  And indeed you’ll have plenty of reasons to cherish it for the long haul: with a strong passion for Britain’s industrial heritage, the collections at Country of Origin are created on hand-powered machinery, built over 100 years ago and handled by dexterous hands, using high grade lambs wool as well as modernist color palettes and structural integrity. We’ve invited the lovely Alice & Ben to tell us a bit more about their shop’s story .


HS: What is it special about A Country of Origin, in your own words?

A&B: All our knitwear is hand framed, it’s a process that uses antique hand-powered machinery which allows us to be extremely flexible in what we make. We believe in craftsmanship and honesty, so we put that into our collection. We want people to engage with local production and how things are made. People are often cut off from that side of things so by bringing our machines in to the retail space, we engage with the process.


HS: What kind of experience do people expect when they enter your store in Clerkenwell? 

We take pride in our bespoke service. Customers can either make an appointment or drop in during opening hours. We first decide your size and fit. We want to make the perfect jumper that is unique to you. There are 8 stock colors, designed to be mixed and matched in any way you wish. We then choose neck shapes: funnel, turtle, crew… the choice is yours. We’ll then make it in store with leads times of 3-5 days.



HS: How easy was it to find the antique machinery you are currently using? How many of these are left in your part of the world?

Industrial knitting machines are hard to come by these days. Not too long ago there was a whole industry that relied on them. Slowly but surely they were replaced by computerized machinery, rendering them surplus to the bigger factories. We searched high and low to get the machines we needed, and they were in pretty bad shape when we found them, but after a lot of love and care, they’re back to their old selves!


HS: What about the people handling these machines? Can you tell us a little about them?

Our knitters in Scotland have been knitting for over 35 years. They were trained in the factories of Hawick, and when these closed down in the 80’s, they moved to small batch production that continues today.



HS: The store sometimes also hosts workshops for those looking to learn more about traditional manufacturing techniques. Any of these coming up in the near future?

Our workshops are a key part of what we do. Every Wednesday and Sunday from December onwards we will be holding workshops in store. We’ll talk you through the basics, and by the end of the session you will have made your own lambswool hat! More advanced classes will also be available soon.