Spotlight - 07/08/24

A Q&A with Apparel Entrepreneur Scott London

12 min

By Meghan Day

A Q&A with Apparel Entrepreneur Scott London

Spotlight articles shine a light on designers and design materials we admire. Our founder and principal designer Rebeccah Pailes-Friedman has met many wonderful designers as an educator and career designer, and in our Spotlight interviews we ask them about their work and their design journey. In this interview we spoke with entrepreneur and angel investor Scott London. We were especially excited for this Q&A, as Interwoven just helped Scott launch is new padelwear brand, GLDN PNT, and seeing a product launch on the market is always special for us.

Scott London is a seasoned entrepreneur and angel investor with a remarkable career spanning over three decades. London has founded several iconic apparel brands, including Aspen Apparel, Wu-Wear, Zoo York, and Baby Phat, demonstrating his expertise in fashion and brand development. He was an active member of NY Angels, where he was instrumental in mentoring and funding early-stage companies. He is the founder of Metarama Gaming + Music Festival and has made significant contributions to the esports industry through investments in ventures such as Las Vegas Rogue, Millennial Esports, and Enthusiast Gaming. Currently, he serves as the CEO of the newly launched GLDN PNT. His experiences and entrepreneurial spirit make him a great person to talk to about the intersection of design and entrepreneurship. We asked him about the inspiration behind his new brand, what’s special about the sport of padel, how to foster a culture of creativity, and what it was like to work with a design consultancy.

Apparel entrepreneur Scott London
Photo courtesy of Scott London.

Q: You’ve created a number of companies. What first drew you to entrepreneurship?

A:  I don’t know if there’s a real answer to that other than that it was a natural, organic thing. I started out of school just trying to make money. I hadn’t thought about getting a job. I hadn’t thought about being a professional. I didn’t plan to become an architect or a doctor or whatever. I was an art dealer because I was an art collector and I was friendly with some artists that happened to become very well known. One of my parents’ friends asked me if I could get them a painting from an artist I knew. That morphed into making some T-shirts. I started working for a friend, making T-shirts, and then started my own little T-shirt business. I manufactured for bars and restaurants and things like that. I ended up getting one big account, I remember it was Eddie Bauer. From there I built a private label knit business. So the answer is that nothing was planned.

Q: You recently launched your newest brand, GLDN PNT, what inspired you to start this collection?

A: I play a lot of padel. I moved down to Miami about seven years ago, after selling my last business, and I took up padel. I played a lot of tennis and then was introduced to padel. Padel is super big in Latin America and in Europe, and it’s a real melting pot, especially in Miami. I always thought that if I was going to go back into the clothing business, it would have to be activewear. Everybody’s wearing activewear these days, whether you’re dropping a kid off at school or you’re going to the local coffee shop. You’re no longer dressed up, you’re in your activewear clothes. I thought there was a need for it.

Q: This isn’t your first apparel brand. What makes this brand different? 

A: This became a more personal project for me, a more personal company design-wise than any I’ve done before. I used to manufacture for a company called FUBU, which stands for For Us By Us. And GLDN PNT is sort of my FUBU in the sense that it is something that I’m manufacturing for myself. I’ve always loved what Rick Rubin says about his taste in music and why he’s a successful producer. He says that he doesn’t know anything about music. He produces for himself and, luckily, people like that. This time, I’m taking that approach. I know what kind of shorts I’d like to have. I know what kind of t-shirt I’d like to wear. I don’t have to be everything to everybody. It’s a small capsule and I can design what I know I like and what I know my friends in the community like. We’d like to say that this is by padel for padel.

Q: How do you approach brand storytelling generally?

A: There aren’t a lot of padel brands. A Wilson or an Adidas – they are trying to be everything to everybody in a way. They have a tennis line that they say is also for padel. So this is padelwear specifically for padel athletes. And I’m going to get to what I think that means. But the first thing in creating this brand was asking: what is the soul of the brand? A partner and a friend of mine, who was the first person I spoke to about this, was José Moya. I started doubting myself and thinking, is this gonna be just a crazy idea? Is there really a need for this? Am I just gonna be making a bunch of clothes and giving them away to friends? We started talking about golden point and what it means. In padel, golden point is a term in lieu of deuce. When you get to the juncture of deuce, to move the game along, you sometimes play golden point, which means sudden death. Next point wins. And we thought, that’s actually really interesting. That means, make the next moment count. He said, That could work for anything. That could work for running, that could work for any sport. It’s like our version of just do it. That’s the essence of the brand right there. That’s what we’re building: it’s performance apparel for the moments that count, on and off the court. That’s our true north.

Q: Can you tell us about a key piece in the GLDN PNT collection?

A:  There’s a couple. I love our cotton and lyocell graphic tee. It’s a performance T-shirt. You can wear it to play. You can wear it to the gym. You can wear it to get an avocado toast. It’s a really comfortable, great feeling T-shirt. And it’s logo-driven but it’s not in your face. In my past life there were a lot of big logos. Now it’s more tonal, so it looks like a nice shirt and you can wear it on the court and it’s great to play in. A great piece for men and women is the short. We can’t be an Alo or a Lululemon, where everybody can find something in the collection. I want people to say they have to have the GLDN PNT short – that’s a great short. At 7 inches it’s a great inseam length and everybody can wear it. It’s a great fitting short with water resistant pockets, so the balls don’t get wet when people sweat. Then there’s a skirt called the flirty skirt, with two ways to store the ball and a sexy logo hit on the bike-style shorts underneath the skirt. I think those three products are the core of our brand right now.

Q: How do you find your customers and how do you work with them to create a GLDN PNT?

A: One of the great things about padel is that it’s a real community. There’s something about padel. I could talk about padel forever in terms of why it’s so addictive, but I think that there are a few big reasons. One: you’re playing in a box. You’re playing with four walls for the most part. It’s something that four people are doing together. In tennis doubles, you’re not necessarily even talking to your partner so much, let alone the people you are playing against. In padel, you’re talking to your opponents as much as you’re talking to your partner. It’s like golf in that sense, it’s very social. That bleeds out into the greater community. There’s a real sense of community in padel. You get everybody’s feedback. I joke around that I have a padel wife. I don’t even know where she lives, I just know her on the courts when we’re playing. I see my son’s friend’s parents. You can hear from the players what they want and what they need. I can see what they’re wearing day in and day out. 

Q: How much do you pay attention to current trends when making decisions about a collection?

A: I was paying attention to attitude more than trends. I told a friend of mine that I was playing with that I was doing this collection and he said, That’s great, because there’s nothing to wear. I was surprised by that. There’s a world of tennis clothes out there. It’s not actually anything different, right? It made me think about what he meant. I think it’s similar to the early days of snowboarding and skiing. Now it’s a whole category but, in the early days, the snowboarder didn’t want to wear the ski clothes. They could have, technically. There were some things that had to be adjusted with the pants but they could have worn ski clothes and they could still wear ski clothes today. But athletes want to differentiate themselves, because a sport is a community. 

Q: You worked with Interwoven to create this collection. Could you talk about some of the challenges and rewards of working with a design consultancy?

A: When I owned a private label knit business, I worked with other people’s designers and just did the manufacturing for them. Then, when I had my own brands, we had in-house designers. That’s how I got to know Rebeccah. We knew each other from a past life. She was working at Fila at the time, and I was manufacturing. Years later, I reached out to work with her on GLDN PNT.

As a startup, it was so great to work with Interwoven. It’s great to outsource design skills. You’re watching every penny and you can’t necessarily have an in-house designer. You probably don’t even know who you are yet as a brand to invest in an in-house designer. So you can go to somebody that you’ve worked with in the past and, potentially, as in the case with Rebeccah and her team, you know you speak the same language, and you can hit the ground running. That’s the pro. The con is that I wanted a hundred percent of Rebeccah’s time, but that’s not how it works. It was a great balance for us as a new brand and a great fit for the project. 

Q: How do you foster a culture of creativity and innovation within your team?

A:  I think you just have to keep an open mind about everything. It’s the same for every business, I imagine. You can’t bash bad ideas. You can’t have people afraid to come up with ideas because the diamonds are in the rough. The good idea is somewhere, it’s going to reveal itself if you let it. If people are afraid to present ideas, a great idea is not going to come out. Having open communication, open dialogue – it gets everybody flowing. You make sure everybody’s comfortable, make sure everybody’s collaborating, make sure everybody respects everybody.

I really like what James [Jebbia] did at Supreme. I like what Ronnie [Fieg] does at Kith. These are big shoes to fill but I like how they stuck to their core in terms of building the brands. They stuck to having capsules and drops and things like that versus trying to be everything to everybody. Supreme is a mature brand at this point but it still has an incredible soul. They were always true to that skateboard brand, even as they expanded into fashion, and I would love to be core like that to padel, and then be able to branch out from there and make the next moment count. I previously owned a brand called Zoo York. Downtown New York was a different thing than it is today, but the kids were wearing the product and skating up and down the streets, and it was the same with Supreme. It was being worn by the kid that was skating. Right now I’m focusing on stuff that’s primarily being worn on the court.

Q: How has your approach to creating new ventures evolved over the years?

A: It’s a lot scarier now. Now I know too much. When you’re young, you don’t know what’s ahead of you. You don’t know how hard it is. You kind of stumble along. I felt like I knew so much. I knew I needed to get the right pick and pack, I knew I needed the right designer, the right production person, and all these things are costly. There’s a very low barrier to entry, but there’s a big barrier to scale. Now all of a sudden I’ve created this brand, I’ve created this product, we have product in the warehouse, and now I actually have to get it to scale. I actually have to get it out there in the world. 

Q: What advice would you give someone who is thinking of starting their own apparel brand?

A: Just do it. It’s a lot of fun. if they’re passionate about it, if it’s something that they know and love that they’re designing for themselves, they should do it. I had a partner at Baby Phat and we would look at deliveries. Every single month, we had a new delivery. It was a lot of product, 30 or 40 new styles a month, and we would guess which one would do the best. The one we guessed was always the one that did the worst, because it wasn’t designed for us. We weren’t the customer. I think if you’re designing for yourself and you’re designing for your friends and your community, you can be more passionate about it.

I think It’s a hundred million little things, because there are so many different aspects of the clothing business. It’s multifaceted, especially in a startup where I’m wearing the CEO hat, the CFO hat, working with the head of design and production…you’re making a lot of different decisions that all have to coordinate. I think of the people I’ve worked with in the past and try to think how they would do things. I try to bring lots of those little pieces to the table and make sure that the ship stays upright so we can get to the next level.

Check out the rest of our Insight series to learn more about the design industry. Sign up for our newsletter and follow us on Instagram and LinkedIn for design news, multi-media recommendations, and to learn more about product design and development!


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