A vintage clothing brand which was launched in Hull 15 years ago is going global after sealing a partnership with a major retail group.
The Vintage Wholesale Company, which operates Poorboy Boutique in Humber Street, Hull, has now unveiled the WornWell brand with Primark.
The retail giant debuted the new brand in September at one of its flagship stores in the heart of Birmingham. This week it will release WornWell at its outlet in Piccadilly Gardens, Manchester, and later in the month the brand will launch at one of the company’s stores in Oxford Street, London.
Riccardo Seaton, who owns The Vintage Wholesale Company with his wife Angela, said: “It’s the biggest deal we have ever done. It’s absolutely unbelievable. It still doesn’t feel real, but that’s a mindset I have tried to keep to make sure I’m grounded and focused. I am trying not to get over-excited about it!
“After Birmingham opened they said they had never seen a better curated vintage concession. Comments like that make it all worth it but I just want to focus on delivering the brand that they expect and then see how they react.”
Riccardo took his first steps in vintage clothing retail as a hobby while working as a mental health professional. He then expanded into wholesale and built networks of suppliers in Europe and the United States.
He opened Poorboy Boutique in Princes Quay Shopping Centre nine years ago and relocated six years ago as the first retail outlet in Humber Street.
Bag It Vintage opened in Princes Quay earlier this year with customers invited to buy a bag and fill it with vintage clothing. The business also launched Worth the Weight at its warehouse in Bontoft Avenue, Hull, organising events where customers would buy clothes by the kilo.
All aspects of the business came under the microscope when a top team from Primark visited Hull earlier this year to seal the deal.
Riccardo said: “Primark first approached us about three and a half years ago. They found us online and their lead for new business innovation sent me an email. They wanted to talk about working together on vintage clothing.”
Riccardo went to meet Primark at Oxford Street in London and although the pandemic slowed things down the discussions continued in the background.
He said: “They were able to take their time, and when we came out of Covid they were ready to meet face to face and see the products first hand.”
Riccardo presented to the Primark delegation including the CEO earlier this year at The Vintage Wholesale Company warehouse. Their tour took in Poorboy Boutique, Bag It Vintage and the Worth the Weight, which has since moved to a new site in Sheffield and organises vintage fairs nationwide.
Riccardo said: “The CEO told me we should be proud of what we have done. He didn’t say anything else but I got a call that night to say they were very impressed with how it went. They loved the look of Poorboy Boutique and wanted to replicate that reclaimed, pre-loved look in their stores.
“I developed a few potential brands and we decided to go with WornWell. I own the brand and Primark give us space within their footprint to trade on their premises.
“Primark have a hand in how things are presented because there are certain regulations and requirements for big stores that don’t normally apply within our stores.”
Each store opening creates between five and eight jobs on site plus one at the warehouse in Hull. Riccardo is maintaining his focus on Manchester, which opens on Friday14th October, and Oxford Street on 23 October, but he admits to being excited about future possibilities.
He said: “We’ve added 24 staff in the last two months. Primark has over 400 stores in Europe and the United States and the next thing they want to talk about is scale-ability.”