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Postcode Pride: SE London On A T-Shirt

March 18, 2018
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Gavin McDaid sports one of his Coolwich tees. Also available in black with white writing.

photo by @cineviewstudios

The power of the t-shirt to celebrate, inspire, defy, and define is well known. Vivienne Westwood’s Destroy t-shirt epitomised a moment in 1970s punk politics, and the Wham! Choose Life design became the two-word bold-font icon of the 1980s.

When Gavin McDaid moved to Woolwich a few years ago, he sensed a certain something in the local air, a mix of passion, pride, enthusiasm, and anticipation. It was that “thumping self-centered vitality” that Ian Nairn described in the 1960s when discussing Woolwich’s ability to always rebuild itself, to pick itself up and get on with the business of being one of London’s most mercurial places.

So Gavin decided to put it on a t-shirt, and The Coolwich Collection was born. For the price of a couple of large Pinot Grigios and a packet of crisps at the Dial Arch, you can add your postcode to your wardrobe if you’re lucky enough to live in Southeast London. Here’s the low-down from the Coolwich Kid himself…

TOWIW: So, firstly can you tell us a bit about yourself. Are you new to Woolwich or have you been around here for a while?

Gavin: I was born and raised in Derry in Ireland, I have been in England since 1999, beginning ‘up North’.  I have been in London for about 12 years and in this area for almost 3 years. Prior to that I lived in Shoreditch but for most of my time in London I have lived in South East London in places such as Brockley, New Cross and Lewisham.

Is your background in fashion?

Believe or not I was a lawyer in the City for 10 years!  However, I have always paid close attention to all things fashion related and I would say I am naturally creative having dabbled with poetry and being in a guitar band from time to time.

What inspired you to do the t-shirts? Was there a light-bulb moment?

As you already know, one of the reasons I moved to the area was because of the information I found on your blog.  After moving here, I followed you and the #Woolwich hashtag on Twitter but without actually being a part of Twitter.  I drew such positivity from what I read that I felt that I wanted to do my bit and I really wanted to do something to create a buzz and unite people.  This resulted in my near 6 year hiatus from social media coming to an end.

Who thought up Coolwich? I reckon it will catch on!

I just merged the two words together and used it in a hashtag once and hey presto, it was there, that was the light bulb moment, I think. Then I just ran with it, within days I was half way to setting up the business.

How are sales? Which design is the most popular?

We had a real boom following The Evening Standard article and we have been super busy ever since.  It’s just about neck and neck between the SE18 postcode tee and the black Coolwich one for the best seller.

I’ve noticed you’re very particular about how people should launder your product. Can you tell us a bit about the quality? Where are the tees made?

The tees are made of organic cotton which means they are good quality but also need to be taken care of.  They are all made in India in wind-powered factories where the workers are treated well.  It makes us proud to be able to say we offer ethically made goods.

What’s general feedback been like? Do people stop you in the street and want to know where you got the cool tee?

The feedback has been great, I have had lots of people talk to me in the street and on the train. We did a photo shoot recently in the town centre and we had groups of kids clambering to get a view of us, it was great fun!

Any plans to expand to other nearby postcodes? I’m pretty sure the good people of Charlton and Eltham would wear a tee with pride.

Yes, check out our SE Collection, which has one tee with an SE logo that represents all of South East London and, as if that’s not enough, we have also done most of the individual postcodes for all of South East London. If people cannot find their SE postcode on there, just contact me and I will get it arranged for you.

I think you’ve already added some colder weather gear to the range, is that right? What’s new and what’s on the cards?

Yes, indeed, we have a couple of sweaters and hoodie available and also The Coolwich Life bag.  I am busy looking at extending the range further, so there should be further additions soon.

You’re obviously a fan of the area. What are your top five favourite places to eat/drink/be merry in?

Oh, that’s tough. The Woolwich Equitable would probably be my favourite hang out.  I have played there on their open mic nights.  I love Viet Baguette, I was a fan of The Rust Bucket when they were in the square (now at Streetfeast).  Public is also amazing too.  I quite like The White Swan in Charlton (they have a great open fire) and the little cafe in Charlton park up there too.

The details: follow The Coolwich Kid on Twitter @coolwich or Instagram @thecoolwichkid and check out the website at


From → In Woolwich, Reviews

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