How an Instagram post became a Kelham shop: The rise of Clobbercalm
The power of social media, eh? Stood with Ben Woodhouse inside his Clobber Calm outlet, a spacious two-roomed industrial unit based on Percy Street, it’s hard to imagine that all this started from something as simple as an Instagram post. But such is the modern age, offering the ability to interconnect with various worldwide communities at the touch of a button, which has allowed him to move from fashion follower to Instagrammer to blogger – and then to today, a proud store owner.
Towards the back of the unit you’ll find something of a vintage haven, but it’s in the front room where things are really unique. A wide selection of high-quality menswear from around the world spans the shop floor, from Japanese raw denim experts Iron Heart and Full Count to exclusive US brands such as Rogue Territory and Rail Car Fine Goods. It’s also the only place in Sheffield to stock Red Wings boots, and a truly enviable selection are lined up neatly on the far side.
For me, this is style, not fashion – because clothes made this well won’t be going anywhere fast.
“I worked for a vintage wholesaler called Glass Onion in Barnsley,” he tells me. “So I had a lot of access to old denim and developed a big interest in it. After settling down with my wife and kids I stopped playing in bands and basically needed a bit of a hobby. I decided I was going to start up a fashion blog; I’d put a few outfits up on Instagram and developed a bit of a following, but I wasn’t really sure what the angle was going to be.”
Believe it or not, it was while watching an episode of popular show Gogglebox that the penny dropped. “I just thought if people watching telly could enjoy watching other people do the same thing, why couldn’t I do a men’s fashion blog based on men’s fashion bloggers?” His long-term friend, graphic designer and fellow clobber lover, Callum (clobbercalm.cal), came on-board and thus began The Men Behind the Menswear blog, which started by running a weekly feature called ‘10@10’. Their idea was to ask an array of popular online fashion bloggers from across the globe ten questions about their fashion influences, thereby injecting a little bit of personality into what until then had been purely visual social media presences.
#supplylife last day of prep before it’s open! However feel free to call in if your passing! 💙 #denimcommunity #clobbercalmsupplyco ootd #wiwtd #wiw #instaman #raw #levi #levis #levis #redwings #lee #leejeans #rawdenim #indigo #denim #denimfades #selvedge #japanesedenim #selvedgedenim #usamade #indigodenim #japaneseselvage #menstyle #mensdenim #mensclothing #menswear #mensfashion #levis #redwing #redwings
A movement towards raw and selvedge (a type of seam used in jeans) denim had been growing for some time and was reaching its peak in places like Japan, the US and various European countries. There was a dedicated online audience already in wait, which allowed Clobber Calm to sell clothes via the online platform; traffic to the site quickly boomed, the Instagram following passed 50,000, but Ben knew to sell the high-end brands they’d need to find some bricks and mortar of their own – and he knew just the place.
“It was always going to be Kelham Island,” he says. “It has a contemporary but sort of industrial vibe to it, and that’s a similar sort of feel to the stuff we stock. The people of Sheffield have shown us a lot of love already; some are coming in just to find out a bit more about raw and selvedge clothing, and we’re more than happy to talk them through it. It’s proper service done how it should be: as soon as someone comes in here they have our full attention until they leave. We take pride in it because there’s a story behind the clothes we sell, they’re made with love and built to last. For me, this is style, not fashion – because clothes made this well won’t be going anywhere fast.”
Check out Clobbercalm’s site here. Or find them at Unit 118 Albyn Works, Kelham Island, Sheffield.