How did the idea of Rex Club first come about?
In 2013, my brother Hamish and I went to New York for the very first time. We’d just started to watch the NFL a few years before that, so a visit to the Metlife Stadium (home of the New York Giants – and Jets!) was our number one priority. Most people might want to go up the Empire State building or visit Times Square, but for us and our obsessive love of sport, it was entirely about watching the Giants. The game was played on a freezing November night and it was an incredible spectacle – if memory serves me right, the Steelers won. During the game, Hamish and I couldn’t stop noticing the amount of Royal Blue on show. Despite being season ticket holders at United all our lives, we’d never seen crowds decked out like that before. At home, you’d go to a game wearing as little colour as possible, maybe with a pin badge. But the Giants fans that surrounded us were wearing as much team merchandise as possi- ble, to the extent that we jibed they probably wore Giants underwear! The one thing that really ap- pealed to us was the cap culture – that was some- thing we thought suited our love of sports back home to a tee, a fashionable cap with team branding that could be worn and taken off when required.
How long did it take for the idea to become a business?
We returned from New York and by the follow- ing month I had registered Rex Club on Compa- nies House whilst still at my old job. By February 2014 we had some idea of how we wanted the business to work, and I think Hamish got our first sale with Edinburgh Academical (fondly referred to as Accies) around then. That same summer we made caps for Exeter Chiefs, Cornish Pirates and Rotherham Titans. I think the real question would be, ‘when did I start to treat what we were doing as a business?’. I’d say that moment probably arrived when we bought our first embroidery machine.
Hamish is still heavily involved with Rex Club. How is it working with family?
It’s a family affair here for sure! At Rex Club I ac- tually work with both of my brothers, my younger brother Hector runs our production. Working with anyone, especially in a start-up capacity, can be fun and trying in equal measure – we all have our opin- ions and those won’t always align. However, having grown up with both of them, we share so many of the same passions and values. Cheesy as it sounds, often working alongside them doesn’t feel like work at all.
You work with pro teams demanding the latest and greatest, and you also work with grassroots players and teams. How does your approach dif- fer when dealing with the two?
Everyone will want something personal to them, but we never wanted to be a business that offers a premium range for one customer and a ‘cheap and cheerful’ one for the next. We sell things we’d wear ourselves – that’s really where our mantra ‘For The Players For The Fans’ stemmed from. I suppose the only real differentiating factor is order volume, as that will dictate the options available for a custom- er. We offer off-the-shelf caps for most of our cli- ents – that’s great for when a local business wants a mix of styles, colours and sizes, as it gives them the flexibility they require. On the other hand, someone like GB Snowsport will want the same design in one style in a greater volume, and for an order like that we can offer greater customisation to the cap itself.
Meeting so many people from different clubs and disciplines must really fuel your passion for the sporting world, right?
For sure. I think it’s very difficult to not become interested in the sports you’re working with. I remem- ber when we first started working with some Super League teams, and one Thursday night I found myself getting really into a Widnes Vikings vs Castle- ford Tigers game. One weekend some friends and I found ourselves shivering inside an ice rink watching Manchester Storm – in retrospect, we should have realised that an ice rink would be reasonably cold. Esports is the one that really pulls my attention at the moment. We have worked with a couple of teams and individuals lately, and I now have Twitch on my mobile, it’s really a guilty pleasure.
You have a really varied client base. Does this present any challenges for the business?
The list seems endless, even simple things like ship- ping to Samoa or importing from Asia require different answers. We are keenly aware that working with schools requires very different things to work- ing with the local rugby club or England Cricket. We first started working with Charterhouse School after I approached their master in charge of cricket on a tour back from Sri Lanka; we were on a flight together and I noticed all the boys were wearing their own caps. So this school wanted something appropriate for cricket and the school shop, where- as Wilmslow Wolves may want something more streetwear appropriate. England Cricket will want you to adhere to strict brand guidelines, and Manchester Storm may want you to get slightly creative.
You’ve managed to combine a passion for sport with a day job. What’s the most satisfying part of the work?
Repeat business is probably the greatest compliment. I was at Oakham School the other day, just by chance, and I saw their pupils walking around in our hats. Also, just last week my younger brother Hector and I were driving up to Edinburgh and we saw someone with one of our caps on the back of their headrest. Really though, nothing beats watching Hamish play at Murrayfield, and seeing fans entering Murrayfield with their caps on!
Do you have any favourite Rex Club designs from past projects?
That’s so tough, I fall in love with every new cap we make for our own brand, and then I tire of it and we’ll design something new. I am not sure what that says about myself – perhaps I’m always striving for more? Who knows, let’s not read into it!
I think the Rex Club Royals cap we made alongside ex England cricketer James Taylor, in support of the British Heart Foundation was awesome, it was clean and yet full of character. Plus our Rex Club Athletic cap was inspired by old fashioned monogram style sports log- os, which ticks a lot of boxes for me. It’s simple and yet bold, and with a nod to the history of sports that I love.
Any sports enthusiast will have seen that even Nottinghamshire CCC have recently reverted back to a similar logo – we’re currently applying it to some bobble hats for them. With regards to the team logos we work with, Exeter Chiefs have great branding, I just think it’s so iconic and I loved visiting Sandy Park. The tomahawk chop is epic!
THE FUTURE OF REX CLUB…
What does the future have in store for Rex Club and it’s clients?
I probably would have answered this question very differently in February, most likely I would have answered, very uncreatively, ‘more of the same’. However, with the world now being what it is, I am hoping to be able to speed up our introduction and roll out sustainable headwear across our entire range. We’ll also be looking to engage with our community more, lockdown has put a huge onus on this. Our journal is a great way to focus on case studies within our field and we’ll be looking to increase our content across social media.