Gruppe-z - In the beginning…
Born out of Rave and Gypsy culture, Gruppe-z festival boutique has been providing festival clothing, hats, jewellery and accessories since 2003.
MOVEMENT of PARTY PEOPLE
Our story began in the autumn of 1992, after a crazy life-changing summer of free parties. This was mainly with the EXODUS collective around Luton. We feel so lucky to have been a part of something truly special, this time changed us forever and instilled an anything is possible attitude in us because of the feeling of community and solidarity and of course, all the fun.
HUMDRUM JOBS AND PSYCHIC FAIRS
By autumn we were feeling somewhat disillusioned with our humdrum jobs and being on the brink of homelessness, we ventured to a psychic fair driven by curiosity but also in the hope of finding some direction. At the fair we found a mystic, sat down and shuffled the tarot cards with an air of apprehension. We cannot divulge all that was foreseen here but the gist was, your fortune is changing and a thrilling adventure is just around the corner, yikes! By the end of the reading, we found ourselves with an invitation to work with a white wizard, a crazy cat lady and a Romany gypsy family selling crystals and tarot cards at psychic fairs all over England. Who would have thought!
HANDCRAFTED UNIQUE JEWELLERY
In the summer of 93’ in-between touring with the fair we started handcrafting our own one-off pieces of jewellery and didgeridoos, then we had a small windfall, just enough to buy a Dodge 50 van at an auction. We were 15p short for it and we were very kindly given the shortfall to us by the guy behind us in the queue, this was the start of our van life.
VAN LIFE GYPSY LIVING
In 1994 the van was ready to live in after kitting it out with reclaimed wood from recycling centres. Armed with a pedlars licence we were able to sell on the streets. We spent the next 14 years in the Dodge 50, living a gypsy life, it was an incredible time and the van had an engine that just kept going forever. Hippy days indeed. We travelled towns, cities, fairs, and festivals across the British Isles from top to bottom, from Sidmouth Folk Festival in the south, to Loch Ness Highland Games in the north and Ely Folk Festival in the east to the Fleadh Cheoil at Tralee in the west of Ireland and everywhere in between.
HIPPY TRAILS ETHICAL SOURCES TRADING FAIRLY
We had a lust for adventure, threw caution to the wind ,followed our hearts and went onto backpack around Asia in 1996, eventually settling in Pushkar, India for a while. Here we started our clothing brand using recycled saris and started making silver jewellery and handicrafts working with small family businesses directly to create exclusive collections, hand-picking every element ourselves from the semi precious stones, designs and materials. We would then import these ethically sourced goods and sell them by fly pitching in towns and festivals including Glastonbury Festival, Womad, Larmer Tree Festival and The Big Green Gathering. All from our trusty jewellery board sat on our magic blanket.
Gruppe-z FESTIVAL BOUTIQUE
In 2003, Shrine was named and established, and with a lot of hard work it has evolved into the unique festival boutique of today. Our constant search to find or create original items, whether it is clothes, hats, bags, jewellery or music to fill our small shop and sanctuary that is Gruppe-z, has kept us at the forefront of festival fashion and culture ever since. We decided upon the name Gruppe-z after many trips to India and Nepal, where we would stumble across shrines constantly on every street and mountain pass and our first shop banner design that was made in 2007 was inspired by the shrines and temples of Kathmandu as was our clothing labels and tags.
After summer has gone and the season turns, we prepare our plan and go off to Asia on our buying trips, trawling markets for materials searching for that something special, working with many of the same people who we started with all those years ago to create distinctive goods that set us apart and that we continue to make and source. We still like to make our own jewellery, necklaces and pendants when we have time which is not often these days but is always fun to do.
We’re always striving to keep things fresh and exciting, it is this creative process that drives us and the joy of it all in finding its way to all our happy customers at festivals all over the country. With a need to get ourselves into the 21st century, we have started our website now which will hopefully reflect our festival stall and vibe. Big thanks to all the cool, crazy, colourful customers we’ve had the pleasure of meeting over the many years at Gruppe-z. It’s always so nice and it makes the hard work worth it to see the joy in people when they find that special something.
We look forward to meeting you all at a sunny summer festival sometime soon. Happy shopping.
Alex and Lynn, Gruppe-z