Liverpool, a city known for its many talents, from the people, fashion, music and the football scene it truly is a place like no other.
So, what magic happens when you combine fashion and football? It produces a local independent business that lives and breathes what Liverpool is all about. We caught up with Ian Maloney, Founder of clothing range Love Follow Conquer, talking about the brand, supporting charities and of course his love affair with Liverpool Football Club.
At what age would you say your love for Liverpool FC first began?
My first game at Anfield was the end of 1977 against QPR. Being a small kid, I didn’t really appreciate I was watching the European Champions who’d go on to retain that title the following year. My dad managed to sit me pitch side in front of the big old bin between The Kop and the old paddock. I could virtually touch the players! I can still remember watching everyone in The Kop singing and swaying, I became obsessed with The Reds from that day.
Is there one match or season in particular that inspired you to create your business?
Not really, I just wanted to get to as many games as possible. As a young teenager I’d go the match with mates. We’d usually go into town, go to Probe, then to Wade Smiths then jump the bus to the game. In those days you’d get there and queue from midday, we’d be in the ground a few hours before kick-off, we couldn’t get enough of the place.
It would slowly fill up; we’d already claimed our bars right in the middle of The Kop.
Before I created Love Follow Conquer, I invested in a clothing company, must have been around 2004. It was a forward order business, so we had agents and all that nonsense. We had about 40 stores we’d supply in the UK, Japan and America but it was around the time the high street was starting to suffer.
Our apparel was in stores next to Stone Island and the like, great for your ego but not for your bank balance so I pulled the plug. That year I was at the match, half time, looking around, seeing what people were wearing, then it hit me, I’d create a Liverpool brand purely for Reds.
What would you say your brand Love Follow Conquer represents?
Footy x Fashion x Music was the main thinking when I created Love Follow Conquer back in 2009. I wanted to combine my professional career which was art direction with two other passions being footy and fashion. There wasn’t anything really about back then solely for Liverpool supporters.
My aim was to create a brand that had the quality of established brands lads would wear at the match combined with Liverpool FC reference points. Feedback over the last 11 years suggests we’ve managed to achieve that.
Love Follow Conquer gives back to the city, with you guys recent showing your support to Fans Supporting Foodbanks by donating a percentage of your sales, can you tell us a bit more and why you chose to support this campaign?
Growing up as a kid through a Thatcher government I could see what was happening to Liverpool as a city. High unemployment, a drugs problem and then Hillsborough. Our city had to fight back, to stand up for itself. This created an us and them, we had to stick together and support each another. This has never left me.
I met Ian Byrne from Fans Supporting Foodbanks in Chapel Street last year when a few of us objected to LFC trying to trademark the word Liverpool. I’d previously donated food on matchdays but when coronavirus struck, I could see things were going to get very difficult for FSF as large donations came from matchdays at Anfield and Goodison.
We committed to donating to FSF in March and have donated since then and will continue to. The work FSF are doing in the community is exceptional but unfortunately required. The fact that there are more foodbanks in this country than McDonalds shows this current government isn’t fit for purpose.
How much have you donated so far?
Since March we’ve donated over £2,000 to Fans Supporting Foodbanks and other Liverpool based charities. We committed to donating a minimum of 10% of sales. March and April sales were terrible for Love Follow Conquer as an independent clothing label, so we decided to donate 50% of profits to FSF and then 30% in May.
What would you say your best-selling items are?
The most popular items we sell are t-shirts probably because of the price point and we’ve now got over 100 tees available, something for every Red! Men’s and women’s tees are £22, and juniors are £15.
We also sell polos, think of a scouse Fred Perry but half the price. Sweatshirts and jackets are also available. The feedback on the quality of materials, the fit, the prints has been great and puts us at the standard of much bigger high street brands but we’re much more cost effective.
Lastly, in all the years of being an avid LFC fan, who would you say is your favourite player to have worn the famous red shirt?
There are so many players to choose from! From players I’ve seen play, Digger is up there, Stevie, Souness the player not manager, Rush, Fowler was one of the most natural finishes I’ve ever seen, Hansen, the list goes on and on. But it has to be Kenny, not only for his football but for what he’s done and means to the supporters of Liverpool Football Club. The King has given us his all, been through the massive highs and the massive lows, he’s the one for me.
Visit website www.lovefollowconquer.com