Been there, done that, got the T-shirt: Croydon entrepreneur launches fashion brand

Pic: Yuan Li

Pic: Rob Wilson of Fluid4Sight

He founded Croydon Tech City in 2012 and over the past four years, born-and-bred Croydoner Jonny Rose has seen it grow and flourish, helping put the borough on the map.

Now Rose has now come up with a new way of celebrating his hometown: T-shirts and sweatshirts bearing the slogan “Croydon vs the World”.

Rose launched his brand last Monday, explaining: “I want Croydon to be sexier, cooler and a place where you would want to hang out.”

Rose lives in the moment — he’s spontaneous and ambitious — and is excited about the future. “All of this really started about three weeks ago really,” he says. “I was surfing online and saw all these home-pride T-shirts like ‘Memphis vs everybody’ and thought ‘why not do a Croydon version with a spin?’ I talked to a friend the next morning, got the logo done, the T-shirts printed and here we are.”

Pic: Rob Wilson of Fluid4Sight

Pic: Rob Wilson of Fluid4Sight

The idea for the T-shirt was born out of his belief in Croydon – something that propelled him into starting Croydon Tech City. He says the inspiration was watching as riots tore apart the town in 2011.

“A year passed and nothing had really changed,” he says.

“I then decided it was time for a change. Nothing had actually been done to regenerate the area.”

Thus Croydon Tech City was born. “It’s a movement, an organisation of about 2000 Croydoners, all working together to make Croydon the Silicon Valley of tomorrow. That’s our vision,” he explains.

For Rose, the old Croydon was uneventful. “It didn’t attract the hype-young crowd. Why I pursued the idea now is because Croydon has changed hugely since the riots. The fact that we have more tech start-ups means we have more money coming into the borough, lots of entrepreneurs, and people who want to create a new business.”

Croydon is definitely pushing the stereotypes away and becoming the new Shoreditch, according to Rose.

“Boxparks are moving into the area, Westfield is coming in 2020 and there’s definitely been an art renaissance over the past year,” he enthuses. All of this made Rose realise how perfect the timing was for ‘Croydon vs the World’. “It’s your traditional boring town now becoming a cool town. People are more and more proud to be from Croydon.”

Pic: Rob Wilson of Fluid4Sight

Pic: Rob Wilson of Fluid4Sight

After the online-launch on May 23, Rose is now looking forward to the official launch at Croydon’s RISE Gallery. “We’ve had people like Banksy there, Damien Hirst, and I’m very excited to be launching there, while the Jamie Reid exhibition is taking place. It’s amazing to see the contrast between someone like him and someone like me.” Indeed, Croydon’s Reid was a punk activist in the 70s, creating art work for the Sex Pistols. His art reacted against post-war London’s regeneration. “He’s looking at something from the past and I’m very much looking at the future.”

Join ‘Croydon vs the World’ on June 3 at RISE Gallery at 7pm onwards. Local DJs, artists alongside with Reid’s exhibition. “It’s gonna be fun to see everything come together. All of this happened because of people getting together and trying to do something to create, and make this area better. ‘Croydon vs the World is the next step towards that.”

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