Lux Et Robur
Throughout the course of the pandemic, I’ve documented the struggles that Tranmere have encountered as the club and it’s supporters try to navigate themselves towards a positive future. Through a League One demotion in an unprecedented time of a health pandemic and a couple of managers who didn’t really bring the success or the unity to the club that they thought they would’ve been able to achieve and bring. However, something that has continued to deliver is ‘http://www.luxetrobur.com/’ as the saying (‘where there is faith there is light and strength’) has never been more relevant and the shirts that the brand has made have kept fellow supporters in high spirits.
Before the start of the new campaign, I caught up with the man behind it all as he went into depth with me about how the business operates and his feelings ahead of a new start with the return of Micky Mellon at the helm.
To start the conversation off, could you tell us a little bit about the person that you are. Have you always been a Tranmere supporter and have you always been interested in clothes designing?
‘All of my friends in school would support Liverpool or other clubs but I didn’t have a team at that time. I spoke to my dad about it all and he told me that if I did choose to support Liverpool or another Premier League club I’d only be able to get the shirts and not go to the games but if I was to support Tranmere I’d get the shirts and the chance to go to the games. So, I got the shirt, went to an Anglo-Italian game at Prenton Park and fell in love with the club from there. Tranmere has been one constant in my life from that moment onwards, even if my head was slightly turned by other things when I was in my late teenage years’.
‘I haven’t always been interested in clothes designing. I don’t really know how to describe how my love for that grew. It was at a moment in time where I didn’t have a job and I noticed that I could make money by making and selling shirts. That idea came about when I saw that Liverpool had similar brands and fan designs. I thought it would be cool if Tranmere had something similar but I didn’t think anyone other than me would be interested in starting anything so I saw an opportunity. It was around the time of the 2018 world cup, I made a website for it and it really got my creative juices flowing. One of my friends is really good at graphic designing so he made pictures for the site and from there people started to ask for different shirts etc. It caught fire from there really and it was helped massively by the club’s form and the positive atmosphere. It’s not my full time job, it’s something that I enjoy and I like engaging with others through it as no one’s really interested in negativity and I try to make my clothes as positive and humorous as possible’
In terms of the brand’s success, do you think it’s gone as well as you thought it would have been when you first wanted to formulate your idea?
‘There was nothing to really base an expectation off when I first had the idea because it was something that hadn’t been done before at the club. You may have seen the odd bit of tat on ebay but something with a good knowledge of Tranmere wasn’t really out there, there were no shirts that if you weren’t a Tranmere supporter you’d look at it and go that’s a Tranmere shirt. There was no real expectation at the time, I’m not even too sure what my end goal was. There’s a little bit of pressure on me now, I’d say, to create something when something significant has happened but it’s what I enjoy. I’ve had many compliments about my work as well which is something that keeps you going, people saying that they wouldn’t have similar shirts if it wasn’t for me. However, I also don’t want to be in competition with anyone like the likes of the Trust and the club itself because everyone is doing great work. Some people have misunderstood my intentions at times but I just try to do stuff that maybe the club wouldn’t and couldn’t do, for example the EFL shirts. However, I’ve also tried to help the club at times. For example, I helped produce the Rover and Out shirts which are still available to buy in the club shop. To answer the original question, I didn’t really have any expectations but I’ve certainly noticed the growth’.
I was just thinking from a business perspective, as we’ve touched on expectations, how would you address something which hasn’t sold well which you thought would? If that’s something that you’ve experienced thus far.
‘No, I think something which has been made evident over the past two years is that I have no idea on what will sell well and what won’t. There are some items that I’ve paid an artist to do or I’ve spent my whole day working on and it’s only one had like when I put it out on social media and I go on to sell three. However, I see the positives in that as it’s at least been noticed by someone. I try to make stuff that I’d wear as well and I like to keep everything simplistic in a way.
The shirts stay relevant as well, for example the EFL one’s and they’re still able to be bought. However, I’ve made some for players that have still gone on to leave like the Otis Khan Boss one. I couldn’t quite make the font right on that, I may have been done for copyright if I perfected it!’
We started our conversation off by talking about how your dad bought you your first Rovers shirt and that you’d go to the games in the 90’s. What are your thoughts on the new home shirt and does it pay homage to kits of that era?
‘The first shirt I had was the one with the stripes over the shoulder. The new shirt, I think is a brave move to change the manufacturer to a lesser recognised one. I had a meeting recently with Christine from the club shop and she was saying how important it was that the kits sell, so to take a risk in that area is really brave. With old kits, I don’t think that they should be kept in the past. I think they should be left there because there is a market for them and it’s always great to look back on them. I like the new crest though, it’s not really new as it’s the one that we had in the past but it’s a great badge and it’s in Oxton Village as we all know! I get on with the artist behind that painting, Paul Curtis, as I’ve produced shirts for him for his website in the past’.
Touching on people who have purchased your shirts, have you ever been surprised by someone wanting them. For example, I’m just wondering if Mike Dean has one!
‘Scotty’s bought a shirt, Nors has requested one after Wembley which I duly obliged, Mark Ellis had one. Simon Howarth, he bought a couple and we played against the team which he manages the other day. He was a great striker for Tranmere’.
I’d just like to place your attention on the upcoming season and the return of Micky Mellon, someone who certainly acts and behaves like a Rovers supporter. Where does he rank in terms of your greatest Tranmere managers and what are your thoughts on his return? Also, what will it be like to actually go to games instead of watching it behind a screen via iFollow?
‘I think he’s the greatest manager in my lifetime, I experienced some of the Johnny King games but I was too young so I didn’t really get a feel for how great he was. I feel a bit gutted that I wasn’t aware of how good King’s tenure was. However, it’s not even Mellon’s results it’s the way that he builds a togetherness around the club and if you had to give a microphone to anyone to talk about the club you’d want it to be him. He understands and knows that everyone needs to get on board and I can’t imagine anyone else managing us and building the same feeling that he continues to create. When everyone gets into the stadiums it can go one or two ways but I think we’ll all just be happy to get back, results are put under more scrutiny and more excitement with fans back I think because that’s where supporters can gather to talk and express their feeling. It’s a stroke of genius to get Mellon back I think, the club wants promotion and Mellon is someone who can, as proved in the past, show our ambitions. There is what seems like a perfect storm of positivity, with awaydays back, great signings and we have played well in the friendlies we’ve had so far. I feel that there is some recruitment left to be done though’.
Are there any new player names that have given you ideas for new shirts?
‘I’ll be honest it seems like they all leave or drop in form when I make shirts for them so I don’t want to jinx anything before the new season starts! At the moment, I’m making us a German team T-shirt. Don’t ask me why! It’s got German writing on it which translates into English as ‘Rovers above everything’. Maybe it’ll gain the club some German followers!’
Has there ever been a player or a moment that you look back in hindsight and feel like you’ve missed out on creating something for?
‘Probably not, there’s none that I can think of. There’s a subbuteo T-shirt that I wanted to get the 1991 Wembley team printed onto, I wanted to get that done for the 30th anniversary but I completely missed the deadline for that. I was disappointed not to get that out in time but it could be out in time for the 40th anniversary!’
To finish this conversation off, where can people come across your work and what recently made item should they be placing their attention to?
‘Every Tranmere fan who’s on social media knows what my Twitter username is (laughs), it’s @luxetrobur. Also, my website is http://www.luxetrobur.com/. The shirts that they should be placing their attention towards? I’ve got this Jurassic Park shirt out which has ‘Prenton Park’ in its place and Johnny King instead of a dinosaur. I quite like that one!’
Thank you very much for your time!
No worries mate, there were fewer questions than you originally made out there was (laughs)!