The Tale Of Two Griffins

Two shops in Worthing have been discreetly influencing the South Coast’s street style, and importing fashion brands from across the globe into the area. Fashion journalist Zoey Goto paid The Griffin and Griffin Denim a visit to see what all the commotion is about.

The Griffin – 39 Warwick Street

Stepping into The Griffin boutique feels a little like entering an exclusive members club. Antlers are hung on the dark oak walls, soft lighting is provided by vintage floor lamps, while leather armchairs and a Union Jack sofa are on hand for weary shoppers to recuperate.

Since opening 19 years ago, The Griffin has established itself as an emporium for British heritage brands. The store stocks a substantial collection of Fred Perry clothing, a label long associated with the local youth culture of the South Coast, having been favoured by the original Mods in the early 60s.

This Modern-Day-Mod theme continues with the collection from Pretty Green, a menswear label owned by the musician Liam Gallagher and known for its Quadrophenia style clothing.

In keeping with the menswear revival for all things preppy (witnessed recently on the catwalks at London Collections: Men) is the Farah Vintage collection, known for their Oxford shirts and classic chinos. The Griffin also stocks Lyle & Scott’s Vintage and Contemporary collections. The 140 year-old brand is instantly recognizable by the golden eagle logo, often associated with British musicians and indie music.

No stylish menswear shop would be complete without a grooming section, and The Griffin offers various lotions and potions with chic, retro packaging from Baxter of California. There is also a range of Björn Borg underwear and an impressive selection of iconic Ray-Ban sunglasses, including the Clubmaster, Aviator and Wayfarer styles.

Sought-after shoe collections available through The Griffin include the luxury menswear designer John Varvatos’ collaboration with Converse, and The California Collection from Vans, a range of shoes that reference vintage surf and skate styles.

Recently, both The Griffin, and their neighboring shop Griffin Denim, have been teaming up with local artists and designers to create show-stopping window displays. The Christmas window for The Griffin was chosen as the winner of Worthing’s visual merchandising competition, while next-door, Griffin Denim received substantial media attention for its vertical garden window display. The use of plants used to create the installation cleverly referenced the historical use of plants within the denim making process.

The creative displays, relaxed ambiance and intelligent choice of menswear heritage brands have all succeeded in making The Griffin a very British success story.

Griffin Denim – 41 Warwick Street, Worthing

The Griffin Denim has carved out a reputation as the authority on denim. It started back in 1969 and was the first shop to directly import Levi’s jeans from America to the South of England. They have since become the area’s principle street wear boutique and a mecca for denim devotees.

The design of the shop is very East London cool, with exposed brick-work, an installation of naked light bulbs hanging from the ceiling and an illuminated display of trainers in a rainbow of colours.

Alongside denim heavyweight brands such as Levi’s and Wrangler, The Griffin Denim does a thriving line in fashion-forward, niche labels. Names to become acquainted with include Nudie Jeans. The Swedish brand specialise in premium denim and are known for their stylish designs, created using organic denim and responsible production.

The Griffin also stock the Japanese brand Edwin, a label that originally produced jeans for the American G.I.s stationed in Japan. Edwin jeans are recognisable for their distinctive red or yellow selvage and are much prized by the denim cognoscente.

An extensive range of street wear is also stocked at The Griffin Denim, including the cult label Billionaire Boys Club. Musician and all-round-style-guru Pharrell Williams started the label over a decade ago, with the designer Nigo, founder of the label A Bathing Ape.

It has since becoming hugely influential and is credited with injecting skate-wear into the world of high fashion. Nestled on The Griffin Denim rails you will also find plenty of Carhartt clothing, an American brand that originally made clothing for railroad workers, but is now one of the big names in street wear, known for their imaginative collaborations.

The selection of trainers at The Griffin Denim has proved so popular that the business is now expanding with a third boutique, dedicated solely to trainers. Sneaker is due to open on Warwick Street this summer and will be stocking brands such as Adidas, Reebok, Nike and Asics.

Luke Dancy, owner of Griffin Denim, says that he feels their success has been due to ‘being one of the very few remaining denim specialists. All of our staff are trained in service and product knowledge, specialising in denim fit’.

Luke stresses the importance of this knowledge, as unlike buying a pair of shoes, buying the right jeans is a more complex task, as everyone is a different shape. ‘We like to be able to cater for each individual customer finding them the perfect fit’. As I left Griffin Denim, I felt refreshed to discover that fashion boutiques with such an expert knowledge still exist. Both Warwick Street shops are definitely worth a visit.