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A community collaboration

An independent lifestyle store and brand imaginatively showcases its latest collections, modelled by customers and friends.

Words. by Hannah Tapping | Images by Adj Brown

I have been a self-confessed fan of Roo’s Beach since the early days. Drawn by its expertly curated selection of colour-popping fashion collections, accessories, homewares and gifts, the store houses a plant department and coffee shop, making it a stylish meeting place and setting for the Roo’s Beach regular socials, while the website affords out-of-county shoppers access to a unique brand roster which includes L.F.Markey, Levi’s, GANNI and American Vintage amongst many others. While locals and visitors to Newquay are regulars, Roo’s Beach is also a destination store, drawing customers form further afield, such is its renown for collections that focus on fabric, fit, style and sustainability.

Left | Roo Cross

Right | Angela Hayne, Roo's Beach first ever customer, wears Bellerose and Hartford

Founder, Roo Cross, set up the business almost ten years ago after moving to Cornwall with her young family: “We had bought a place in Mawgan Porth over 20 years before, and spent increasingly more and more time here. We got to that critical point where we really wanted to be in Mawgan Porth full-time. Being part of an open-minded community appealed to us; there is a real freedom of thought and spirit living in Cornwall.” Roo has always had a keen fashion and design eye, but actually, funnily enough, had never worked in retail, until she opened the business. “I realised there was a gap in the market for brands that I could get access in Hampshire and London that weren’t represented in Cornwall. People told me that I wouldn’t be able to sell fashion in Porth and that no-one would come. For me the success of the business has had to be based on us being open every day.” Roo sells brands she is proud of, ones where she believes in their ethos: “Our absolute stand-out and biggest selling brand has been GANNI. It’s an expensive brand, but its environmental credentials are head and shoulders above any other. It is beautifully made – I’ve got pieces of GANNI I’ve had for five or six years, and they look like they’re brand new. It’s such a well-curated, well-made, and very responsibly sourced brand.”

With a broad customer base spanning many walks of life and age groups, people are drawn to Roo’s Beach for an aspirational look that reflects the eclectic Cornish lifestyle, promoting a sense of fashion freedom, un-governed by traditional parameters of age, size and sex. “I’ve noticed this over the years and it’s shaped the way the business has evolved and essentially has dictated the style that we have adopted and the brands that we have curated. We buy very differently from other independent stores and always have done; this has evolved and developed as we’ve got to know our local community and developed our own style accordingly.”

Top Left | Angela Hayne, Roo's Beach first ever customer

Top Right / Bottom Left | Ellie and Lucy from The Old Garage Wine & Deli.

Lucy - head to tow in GANNI. Ellie - GANNI coat, YMC trousers

Bottom Right | Hilary, Rob and Frankie the dog.

Hilary - a great mix of Bellerose, Hartford and Levi's. Rob - Stan Ray cord jacket, YMC shirt and Edwin jeans

“I buy completely emotively and always have done. I literally go and see the collectors and buy the things I like, and what I know our customers will like. We offer a very accessible, casual, everyday sort of fashion which always contains strong colours. Pink and yellow always sell well as does anything leopard print.” Roo’s denim edit is also exceptional, with Levi’s to suit every shape and age: “My mum is going to be 80 next year and she’s still wearing Levi’s from us – I love that. I always say that I don’t know another store that will sit Rhythm, American Vintage, YMC, Vans, Hartford and GANNI side by side. We believe our edit is unique to Roo’s Beach and we buy based on colour, print and a laid back style rather than what’s in fashion – funnily enough we tend to be bang on trend without necessarily meaning to be!”

Left | Lucy wearing GANNI

Right | Hilary wearing Bellerose, Hatford and Levi's

Bringing all these unique elements into play, for Winter 2022 the creative team at Roo’s Beach have launched the R Neighbourhood photo campaign, imaginatively showcasing their latest collections, modelled by customers and friends of the store. “We have such an interesting, mixed community here in Cornwall. There’s a real spirit of entrepreneurship and individualism amongst our locals, driven by their love of living by the coast, wanting slightly different things out of life and almost top of the list is putting lifestyle above everything.” The R Neighbourhood idea was a natural

progression for the store. “Being able to photograph our clothing on the local community, by calling on long-standing friends, customers and fellow independent business owners, is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the inspiring folk we have in Cornwall. I love the idea of people seeing our clothes on real people – it gives them the confidence to see that they too can wear clothing that makes them feel amazing and takes them out of their comfort zone,” says Roo.

Above | Andy, Holly, Amy, Ollie & Harvey, Wavehunters' Watergate Bay team with Lentil, one of Roo's Beach's favourite shop dogs.

“The Boyz in the Wood have a place very close to my heart as they have worked alongside my husband Ian and I for the past ten years building various projects, including the shop, with us and are also great friends – this took them far out of their comfort zones – but how good do they look? Hilary is also amazing and just looks fabulous in everything. She’s got such a great style and I love the way she puts things together. I feel the photographs of her are truly inspirational. The response to the campaign from customers has been overwhelmingly positive – people have loved seeing the photos and I feel proud to celebrate local talent and style this way, it also gives us such a great platform to style our clothes as we imagine that they should be worn, in everyday life, practical and making people feel great about themselves,” says Roo.

“Yes, some pieces are expensive and we make no apologies for this as we believe in good quality, well made, sustainable, responsible fashion which is made to last and overall offers great value in a cost per wear way. This has to be the future of fashion and we are educating people that if they buy good quality items, they will more than pay for themselves in the long run. Take Angela for example; she was our first ever customer and she came to me this year and said, “Roo, I think I owe you money for that skirt I bought, because I’ve literally lived in it!” I think people do have to think about buying less; buying the things that they love and that they can really get lots of wear from. Then if you do get fed up with it, you can take it to a charity shop and someone else can love it. It’s that whole circular consumerism in fashion, which I think again, is really key.”

Top | Ray, Lee, Tom & Gaz, Boyz in the Wood – local chippies The boys are dressed in Stan Ray and Blundstone Middle /Bottom Right | Nat and Anna – owners of Gorse Bakery Nat and Anna are predominantly in YMC other than Anna’s GANNI boots and handbag

Bottom Left | John, Mathilda with children Rasmus, Axel and Dusty Eldridge – owners of Strong Adolfos Café. John wears Universal Works suit with YMC shirt, Mathilda wears Mads Norgaard trousers and everything else GANNI

Launching a menswear edit has contributed to the success of Roo’s Beach. Joining Roo, Joe Leman has been instrumental in growing the offering, bringing incredible retail experience and some fantastic brands to the store. “R Neighbourhood has been great in that it shows guys that they don’t have to wear a logo t-shirt from a surf shop. You can wear a nice shirt and not feel like you’re being too smart. A lot of the menswear brands we have are British, such as Universal Works and YMC, whose clothes are made in Portugal in family orientated factories. Joe’s been really good for me in terms of buying, as we buy men’s and women’s wear together. It’s good to have fresh eyes and we’re excited about stocking brands who have men’s and women’s collections and use the same fabrics for both, or who offer unisex styles.”

As Roo’s Beach nears its tenth anniversary, there are plans for their own-brand collection. Working with a family-run jersey factory in Portugal, a range of jersey t-shirts with a perfect fit for both men and women will come to the Roo’s Beach rails next year. “It has been an amazing journey and with the recent introduction of menswear and our very own plant shop, we feel we have truly become a destination store and pride ourselves in offering something for everyone,” concludes Roo.


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