Dressing Up: One of the most Irish institutions in London isn’t even Irish, it’s a Jewish, no-frills, factory outlet ready-to-wear shop in Golder’s Green
Gold’s Factory Outlet – includes among its customers everyone from humble, every day labourers to multi-millionaires who park their Rolls Royces and Bentleys outside its famous Big Red Building on Golders Green Road.
The business has its roots in Petticoat Lane, the original home of the “rag trade” via 1960s Carnaby Street, and two brothers, Warren and David Gold, who worked together for 50 years. Warren died of a heart attack last summer aged 77 and is much missed.
He was so synonymous with the business that many people mistakenly assumed it ceased with him. It hasn’t, it’s still going strong, just the way, we’re told, Warren wanted it.
Today it is still managed by Sam, whom many existing customers will already have met as he has been at the shop for the past 21 years.
The shop’s secret is that it has no designer names – although it does source its clothes from exactly the same factories that make similar, or precisely the same, items for those well known High Street and West End brand outlets.
Sam, for instance, is wearing a very well cut blazer – a factory sample, he says, that’ll be on the racks. It is soon clear that it is made for a long-established, well-known name – rhymes with something like ‘zombie’ and for sale in a paticular West End department store synonymous with high prices and luxury goods.
One one occasion we saw a customer leave very pleased having spent less than £100 while a short while before another customer, one with a big Rolls or Bentley mentioned at the beginning, equally satisfied having spent nearly 20 times that.
“We won’t let anyone leave here not looking good in something they’ve bought from us. It’s bad for business. We have something for everyone and, in the very unlikely event that we don’t get it right first, or second, time we can alter it.
“But how many places can offer you seven different fittings, seven, in one size – long, short, tall, portly, you name it, we’ve got it. We offer quality and service.
“Most of our customers are repeat business who’ve been coming to us for years,” says Sam. In addition to having seven fittings for every size, those sizes go up to chest 72 and waist 62.
“Our Irish customers always seem to like a ‘slim fit’ but we don’t let anyone leave unless it’s actually a ‘good fit’,” says Sam, diplomatically.
“It’s a bit odd actually, we always have lots of Irish customers but for the past week or two (first week of December) there haven’t been quite so many.
“Not sure why that is, we’ll rely on you to get them all back in – tell them they will automatically get a 20 per cent discount,” he says with a laugh. “Don’t the Irish wear dinner suits? We have a great range beginning from £99 and this is really the time for them,” adds Sam.
The cheapest suit on sale – and it matches the quality of High Street outlets charging more (because it’s usually the same) – costs £79.95, two for £150.
There’s also a few buy-one-get-one-half price offers. Further up the price scale you can pay £399 for the same suit that would cost a lot, lot more with a different label, or £250 or £200.
Or you might get that £399 suit for £250. The thing about Gold’s, says Sam, is that the shop wants its customers to come back…and keep coming back.
To one customer, for whom a selection he has made turns out to be an especially auspicious choice that looks really good indeed, he says: “Here, take some of our business cards – so when someone sees and says how good you look in that, you can hand one to them and send them to us.”
Check out the Big Red Building website: www.thebigredbuilding.com