Matt from Area 213 sat down with Nick Aitken, founder of Bearded Monkey, to find out more about the origins of the brands and the footwear South Africans can look forward to wearing.
Matt: Nick, how did you get started in the worlds of fashion and retail?
Nick: I started off in 2004 as the menswear agent for Polo. Then moved to Busby House as the Guess Jeans agent for men’s, ladies, kids and accessories. Then back to Polo as Sales Manager and then in 2009 started my own shirt brand Vogel & Aitken which is still going today. 2017 started Bearded Monkey with two other partners.
Matt: How did Bearded Monkey come about?
Nick: There were many years of discussion but we finally made a trip to Italy to secure licenses for the brands we wanted, and attended the fashion fair Pitti Uomo where we finalised our choices. There were three brands that really stood out to us for different reasons. Drunknmunky, with its funky designs; 2Star, with its quality and the fact it’s made in Italy; and Lotto Leggenda, with its Italian heritage and association with the stars of sports through the ages.
Matt: Why are you excited about Bearded Monkey?
Nick: I’m excited by the prospect of offering 3 very exciting new footwear brands to the SA market; brands that herald from overseas, and Italy in particular.
Matt: What separates Bearded Monkey from the competition?
Nick: We have an inherent point of difference – you can’t find our shoes anywhere else in the country. Our brands are also well-known. Lotto is particularly famous for its rich Italian history and Drunknmunky is a favourite throughout Europe. It’s not as if we’re launching unknown entities.
Matt: Any plans for physical stores?
Nick: Absolutely. We aim to launch two stores: one in Cape Town city center and another in Joburg, potentially in Parkhurst, Melrose Arch or Rosebank. These will be coming soon, so stay tuned.