The young entrepreneurs put Manchester on the fashion map with the menswear brand Advocates

The designers hope to represent Generation Z with their approach and style and talked about the challenges of getting a business started.

Two young Manchester fashion designers have founded the menswear brand Advocates

The founders of a new Manchester menswear brand hope to represent the values ​​and ideas they care about the most, while putting the city on the fashion map.

Advocates was conceived by 26-year-old fashion graduates and businessmen Jack Lloyd and Elliot Stephen, who had the idea to start their own brand for several years before finally making it a reality.

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They talked about getting through the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic to get up the ladder of business.

And they described how Manchester has had a profound impact on their work and the clothes they hope to put on the shelves across the UK and around the world.

Who is the duo behind Advocates?

Jack and Elliot are lifelong friends from Ramsbottom who shared a passion for art from a very early age.

Both studied at the degree level, where Jack did fashion design at Manchester Metropolitan University, while Elliot followed up on his course in product design with a master’s degree in fashion marketing in the city.

They talked about how they transformed the ideas they have nurtured over the years into Advocates, and why the brand has the name it does.

Elliot said: “Advocates are a way of expressing ourselves. We want to be strong advocates for creativity as a whole, for Generation Z in fashion and now also for young entrepreneurs.

“As a career path, fashion is very much looked down upon and we want to represent it.”

A picture taken from ADVOCATES ‘look book

Jack said, “From an early age, we were both really interested in art, graphics, photography.”

Elliot added: “We talked about fashion brands from being around 16, and we knew it was something we wanted to do in life.

“The five or six years that went into starting the brand were about getting ideas, gaining knowledge about the industry, deciding what we wanted to represent and finding out who we were as creative.

“I think most people never really have a direction they want to go until later in life, but we had this idea from college.”

What kind of clothes does Advocates produce?

Advocates says its debut collection (though Jack and Elliot prefer to call them “chapters” to reflect how they see each set of clothes as part of the brand’s ongoing history), called Stomping Ground, pays homage to the classic clash between Mods versus Rockers .

However, they say they do not particularly want to take sides and instead combine elements of each.

ADVOCATES is a Manchester-based menswear brand

The business is about creating hybrids, fusing seemingly different ideas such as. advanced tailoring and cycling clothing.

The clothes are designed in Manchester by Jack and Elliot and then made in Italy, where the duo searches the world to find the right fabrics to bring their creations to life.

How did Jack and Elliot start a business?

Despite their apparent enthusiasm for their chosen field, Jack and Elliot admitted that it was not very easy to gain a foothold in the fashion industry from a small town just outside Manchester.

And getting Advocates up and running did not go smoothly either, as the global Covid-19 pandemic did not help.

Jack said: “When I first tried to find a job in fashion, it was really hard to solidify something. One day Elliot said he was ready to start the brand and we decided to take it seriously.

“One of the biggest challenges we faced was finding producers in the UK. We had to go down to London every weekend, set off at 3am, got down there and slept in the car park for a few hours before our first meeting at. 9.00.

“Then we found someone and we were ready to start block production, but they could not carry out the order anymore.

“We had to move everything very quickly and that stopped all our other supply chains.

“The silver was that we found a manufacturer abroad in Italy that was just perfect.”

Elliot said, “Anything that could have gone wrong in an initial launch happened.”

However, the duo say they now look back on these difficult early stages as a vital experience as it made them think more like businessmen and reminded them of the side of running Advocates along with the more creative work.

How important is Manchester for Advocates?

Jack and Elliot say the town where Advocates was founded is an extremely important part of their work, primarily because of the city’s continued reputation as a place where people can pursue creative ambitions.

Elliot said: “We are delighted and proud to be a Manchester brand. We are always pushing to come from Manchester, even though our goal is to be a global brand.

“Manchester is just full of creative influences everywhere. There are artists, other designers, photographers, videographers. I feel that the community of creatives is very close together here and it gives us opportunities to collaborate and easily learn from a city that is on the move.

Manchester-founded menswear brand Advocates

“Everyone has a spark here in Manchester. There are lots of little niches and it’s easy to fill one of them.

“There are also entrepreneurs everywhere here, and that enables us to learn, connect and maybe even teach people. Everyone wants to start their own business and represent who they are. You see it in the northern quarter with influence and creativity from the specific part of the city.

“We are beginning to realize that we are not alone here.”

And they said they would love to see a growing number of “made in Manchester” companies and products show up.

What’s next for Advocates, and will they advise other entrepreneurs to follow their dreams?

Jack and Elliot are currently focused on slowly building awareness of their brand, gradually expanding across the UK and then planning to make inroads in Europe.

They are also working hard to create chapter two of Advocates’ clothing and say they want to focus on community and lifestyle.

Excitingly, Jack suggests that they want to get away from specific attire for various activities (such as going to restaurants, working out in the gym, going to work, or relaxing at home) in favor of something more versatile.

They have also gone into podcasting as a way to connect with like-minded people and share it with their audience.

Asked what advice they would give budding business owners, they said the most important thing they have learned is the importance of patience.

Elliot said: “It takes years to build a valuable brand. You have to research what you want to represent. It will not be the first thing you think of.

“Treat the brand like your baby, do not be afraid to fail and work on it every day. You must build your community one brick at a time. “

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