Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Crazy Man Crazy

Some people have a gift for sales. They will analyse the market, spot the business opportunity, and turn their hand to flogging almost anything. For others, the route to selling will be via a particular passion or hobby that outgrows their freetime. For Paul Davies, a local carpet fitter by trade, it was the latter. He'd always had a thing about bold patterned shirts of the 40s and 50s. In fact it was not just the clothing of that era, but also the music, dance, cars and design in general.




Over the years, Paul had noticed than many of his favourite clothing haunts in the Kings Road or over at Greenwich, had closed down or moved elsewhere, usually replaced by ubiquitous chainstores, more able to afford the ever increasing rents. Meanwhile he discovered that demand for retro clothing was stronger than ever. He sold a few old shirts through a market trader in Merton, and then again through a shop in Whitstable. It gradually dawned on him that he could make a business of it, and set about finding premises. Though our high streets may be littered with empty shops, often the difficulty, as he discovered, was finding out who owns them. 18A Church Road had once been occupied by his friend Andy, of Bambino, and at other times by an undertaker and a graffiti artist. Most recently it housed the offices of Croydon Enterprise, who duly awarded Paul a grant to restore the shop's exterior.




Since opening 18 months ago, the shop has become a mecca for people into all things 1940s and 50s. The stock mixes vintage originals with new retro styles, from labels including Dickies, Pike Bros and Rockmount. It didn't take long for me to find a shirt I just had to have.











My favourite shirt


From talking with Paul, I was amazed to discover the huge market that has grown up around this genre. Clubs catering to lovers of lindy hop and jive have sprung up all over the place, including several in SE London. There's the Diamond Jive Club at the Prince Regent Pub in Herne Hill, Swingin' at the Royston Club in Penge, the famous Rivoli Ballroom in Brockley, and The Cat's Meow at London Bridge. Chances are that some of the bands performing at these venues have got kitted out at Crazy Man Crazy, such is the shop's growing reputation. And word is getting out, in the various magazines dedicated to the style, such as Men's File and ├╝ber cool Jocks & Nerds, in which Paul was recently featured. 






Crazy Man Crazy
18A Church Road

3 comments:

  1. I want that turquoise/teal tie with the red & grey bits on it...

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  2. Oh yes indeed, I've had a few things from KMK,a bonkers Hawaiian shirt, a superb genuine 1950s heavy black overcoat, and a really good quality Dickies black bomber jacket. All incredibly reasonably priced, and very good quality indeed.

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  3. Oops, I meant CMC. For some reason I have it as Krazy Man Krazy in my head...

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