On the third floor of Pill Box, there’s a fashion empire in the midst of being built. If Marcel Robin, Alexandre Ruimy and their team have anything to do with it, the brand Elevate London will soon be lifting off.
Launched in 2012, Elevate London specialises in modern, stylish street wear. Some of their collection is stored in their office, ready for shoots and distribution, and while we’re taking photos of founder Marcel and Creative Director Associate Grace, I can’t help but reach out and touch the soft leather, zips and exquisite detailing.
The line is only menswear but I’m already trying to work out whether their XS will be too big. Looking at the collection – the sharp cuts, sexy colours and rock-and-roll style – it’s no surprise that the pair of them grew up in Paris.Marcel moved to the French capital from Senegal at the age of 11 and then, in 2009, began work as a nightclub promoter in London. It was actually on the club circuit that he met Grace. They both have an encyclopedic knowledge of nightspots in London but they don’t go out that much any more; they’re too busy working. Alexandre, who is 18, moved to London to study fashion.
Though he and Marcel are different in age and look, they managed to combine their styles into clothes that are simple but never boring. And so, Elevate was born.
As with all fledgling global brands, they initially worked from their kitchen table to get their business off the ground. They moved into Pill Box last year, and it looks – if their office is anything to go by – as if they’ve settled in. It's cosy.
Grace is mostly found in the Pill Box office, where marketing, PR and distribution take place. 'Pill Box was chosen for its location and its comfortable and unconventional atmosphere,' she explains. 'It’s the perfect compliment to Elevate’s brand culture and ethos. It’s professional without having the typical traps of a corporate setting. The office is also a convenient warehouse and storage facility, because of the tight security.'The most important things in an office space for us are comfort, security and a general positive space. It has both to feel like a second home for employees, and to be suitable for business partners and clients.' Just as their office has to fit into the brand’s look, stockists are carefully selected to house their collections. E-tail is central to their business strategy and brand concept.
All their designs are available online but if you want to see before you buy, they are stocked in One by One in Soho, which also has an in-house tattoo studio, as well as a concept boutique in Italy called La Ferramenta. But in spite of their international backgrounds and stockists, Elevate is firmly based in London. Design and manufacture is mostly UK-based as they take advantage of local superior craftsmanship.
When I ask Grace about how the government could make it easier for small creative businesses with big ambitions, she is clear on what they should do: 'They should extend their business-rate period for new businesses. Doing so will encourage new brands and businesses to emerge in the market with confidence. It will also allow a lot of brands to maintain production and manufacturing in London as opposed to outsourcing these services.'Marcel Robin is much quieter than Grace, so I try to get a rise out of him with a cheeky question: If he’s judging by appearances, what does he judge first? But – it’s not surprising he used to work in hospitality – Marcel is unfailingly polite: 'I do live by never judging a book by its cover.
However, having been intimate with clothing for as long as I have, there are certain characteristics I can perceive about individuals by instinctively taking clues from their personal styles.' They are sharp and they are stylish. With a new collection in the offing, and fans like Rita Ora and Chris Hemsworth, I wouldn't be surprised if Elevate London needed a bigger office soon.