The company was originally called Griffin Laundry, but we leave off the Laundry bit now. Customers started to wonder if there was a face behind the name. There is: mine. But you don't need to see too much of it. At the end of the day, is a guy going to buy a Ralph Lauren shirt because he has seen Ralph in a massive campaign or is he going to buy a Griffin shirt because he likes it?
It's important to me that our customers [Griffin's business partner is Nick Hart] feel we're not ripping them off, that they are getting value for money and that they are impressed over time. I don't believe that people should pay a premium for "designer" clothes.
Clothes have to be practical, like our cotton suit with combat trousers with loads of pockets for passport, boarding pass and stuff. But they should be creative, individual, with character. I'm into new, technically- advanced fabrics. I keep taking the idea of function further; so now there's a message of protection, not just against cold but against elements like sun and smog. It hit me this summer. On the beach, everyone was covering up like mad. Back in London, I saw joggers and bus drivers wearing face masks. You've got to make clothes that fit people's needs. I'm working with fine cottons that shrink to make a really tight protective weave that keeps the sun out. I'm exploring clothes that are heat resistant. I'm even looking at incorporating protection against stabbing.
I want to put the message across that we are causing the problems. I want to open the debate. That's why Griffin has a site on the Internet. You can't buy the clothes through it, but you can see them and discuss them. Our customer isn't a young cyberpunk but he is into gadgets and likes pressing buttons. The Internet is going to be a great way to shop when they sort out how to work the safe transfer of money. In the meantime, we use it to discuss what men want from clothes. We have one path for late-night surfers looking for fun information and another path, that cuts out the gizmos, for the business user who wants straight data. A lot of effort goes into making site pages that are interesting, because most of the clothing stuff in cyberspace isn't that interesting. Once someone has found our pages, they won't be disappointed. Like our garments really.
Jeff Griffin interviewed by Belinda Morris
Griffin web site: