Jean-Paul Sanchez is a long time Ibiza fan having visited the country for many years, before finally deciding to make a change to his and his family's life. In seeing a gap in the market of Ibiza for a real shop, focused on real fashion (no, not the shops that sell the 'I Love Ibiza' t-shirts/vests/knickers/hats/towels/ tattoos/mugs/mouse mats/etc etc) they set up reVOLVER in the beautiful little streets at the base of Dalt Vila.
I like to think I'm 'in to' fashion, my better half is a budding designer herself, and so I'm pretty sure I know the difference between an item of quality, and an item of no worth. I'm not talking purely about monetary value here, but rather quality, uniqueness and style... these are the sort of words JP and his team took in to consideration when setting up reVOLVER. To ensure that the standards were high, the shop and its brand were respectable, credible and had real fashion substance to it.
Clearly, they have succeeded. It's the only true fashion shop many people can tell me about if I ask them, and one of only a few I'm really aware of outside of the high street shops you'd find in hundreds of other locations around the world. Without wanting to use the word 'inspiring' too often, which perhaps I have been guilty of in the past, it's difficult to find another word more suited the story of their success with reVOLVER. Essentially, they came to Ibiza, loved it, found a passion and put their all in to it. At the end of the day, they are a walking step-by-step guide on how to make a good business work, in a place you love, with a happy life. And I think for a lot of people, that is the dream.
Where are you from originally?
I was born in London but grew up in Casablanca, Milan, Barcelona and London…and Tring, in Hertfordshire. Doesn’t quite complete the list does it!
When did you first come to Ibiza?
1984 with my parents! First ‘proper’ visit was in 1995. And literally every year since.
What did you do in the first years you were in Ibiza?
Party! But when my wife and I, Catherine, moved over to live, in 2008, it was to set up reVOLVER.
What do most people know you for in Ibiza?
For reVOLVER (fashion shop in Ibiza Town) and for being Jake’s Dad and Catherine’s other half.
How did Revolver start up? Was it an easy process to get to the point the shop is at now?
It was a classic ‘back of napkin’ thing. We were going to invest in property here but realised that that wasn’t going to change our lives. We’d still be in rainy London but be managing property where we really wanted to be spending our time. A good friend, Emma, who owns the shop next door, called No Age, told us about the lease becoming available on the shop where reVOLVER is now. We had no experience in designer retail but we’ve always had a passion fashion. So, we did a business plan over a weekend and made the jump!
Why do you think Revolver has done so well to cement it’s reputation on the island?
Because we deliver on our promise of offering an alternative to the traditional luxury fashion brands you can find in every town and to the poor quality ¨I heart Ibiza¨ kind of tee shirts you still find here. reVOLVER is known for introducing cool, cult fashion brands to people who would never find them at home. It’s become a ‘go-to´ store for locals and visitors alike.
Are you happy with how things are with the business at the moment? Is there anything you’d like to do in the future – expansion etc?
We’re delighted! Fashion retail is hard work but I think we’ve cracked it. We’ve expanded recently with our online store, www.revolveribiza.com, which is proving to be a great success. We’re now global, selling McQueen shoes to women in Bulgaria, Westwood to men in Miami and Y-3 to trendy Aussies. It’s a great feeling.
We’re always looking for new opportunities, be that opening more stores, collaborating with designers on ‘reVOLVER exclusives’, our own-label or giving people the chance to buy our range fabulous range of sunglasses on the beach and not just the boutique in Ibiza Town. Sunglasses may well be an area for expansion for us as we’ve become particularly well known for them. We don’t sell brands you can buy in airports! Linda Farrow, Alexander Wang, Kris Van Asche, Matthew Williamson, Victoria Beckham, AM Eyewear, LGR…really different brands that people go mad over!
And we’re always evolving reVOLVER, keeping it fresh with new brands and doing things like painting the whole shop white, floor included – we need our heads testing!
What is it about fashion that fascinates you so much?
That it’s about how you feel more than how you look. It’s about individual style and personal expression. There aren’t that many more obvious ways to express yourself other than the way you portray yourself to the world in how you dress. Other than how you dance maybe, and you can see a lot of that here too. People letting lose and making shapes!
What do you think of the fashion industry in Ibiza? Is there enough business here on the island to keep you satisfied?
There’s a thriving industry here and I think it’s great. It’s not all to my taste but there’s a whole lot of new talent coming through producing stuff that’s not all white flowing dresses.
What’s more important for me are the clients, the customers who live here all year round and the visitors. Ibiza is attracting an increasingly style-savvy crowd who are shunning boring mega-brands and looking for something ‘more’. Which is why, I think, they come to reVOLVER.
Many people come to the island year on year looking for ways to start up a business, what advice would you give them?
Go for it! Ibiza has an incredibly entrepreneurial vibe and a there’s whole network of people that can help. That and get your basics right – market research, financing…have a plan. And remember there’s a whole world of difference between coming here on holiday and living and working here. Of course it’s amazing but it’s a tough nut to crack.
You cater almost exclusively for a customer who has the money to afford the items in your store, would you ever consider changing things up to make it more affordable for others?
That’s not entirely true. We’ve always had an ´inclusive-exclusive’ philosophy, born from coming to the island before there was a VIP area at DC10! By that I mean you can come to reVOLVER and sure, you can buy a ‘statement’ dress by Sass & Bide but you can also pick up an amazing top or cool leggings at a great price. Again, we’re not obsessed with prices and labels, just making you look and feel great whatever your budget.
The shop is based in the beautiful cobbled streets at the base of Dalt Vila, what is about this area that is so special?
Classic Ibiza! No visit to the island is complete without seeing the Old Town and the Dalt Vila. And it’s perfect for us being a little bit away from the high street stores and the more traditional boutiques. reVOLVER itself is in a beautiful old building with original stone walls and Sabena beams. More shops and bars are popping up all the time, too, which means it’s not just got a great in the summer but has a wicked buzz about the place in winter too.
Tell us who your unsung hero of the island is?
Whoever cleans our local beach every day without anyone noticing.
What is it you love about Ibiza?
The way it makes you feel. Sure, the sun, the sea, the natural beauty of the island, the world-class clubs and restaurants and ultimately the people. All these things make it such a special place.
And finally, is there anything else you’d like to add or say?
No I think that’s it. Learning when to stop is a skill you most certainly need on this island!
Silly big line-up to be enjoyed here folks.
Part two of our Ibiza 2014 review. Anniversaries, highlights, lowlights, the music...
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Steve Lawler enlists us into his Sunday night warfare one final time.