LOOKING round Alex Shaw’s smart, modern men’s fashion store, AN-X, it’s hard to imagine that it started life selling three-piece suits.

Now the Sunbridge Road shop is packed with the brands - Luke, Antony Morato, Guess, Nicholas Deakins, Cruyff, Weekend Offender, KWD and the like - that stylish young men with an eye to the latest trends seek out. It’s a long way from ties to designer tracksuits and baseball caps but owner Alex knows that it’s vital to keep ahead of the game.

“Fashion has obviously changed a lot in the last three decades and the menswear and footwear we sell nowadays is more casual in style,” says Alex. “But no doubt it will change again soon!”

Bradford Telegraph and Argus:

Alex Shaw inside the Sunbridge Road store

No matter how trends come and go, AN-X, now known as one of the North’s leading independent fashion stores, has maintained a loyal customer base that spans the generations. “After trading as long as we have, we’ve seen several generations of families shopping with us. We get all ages, from 15 to the occasional over-70,” says Alex, who has worked in menswear in Bradford for more than three decades. He started working for a store called Hargreaves in 1987, which was on the site AN-X now trades from.

He opened AN-X in 1991 in partnership with Graham Dibb, owner of Hargreaves, at 11 Upper Millergate. Graham retired and, in 2004, the Hargreaves site became available and AN-X moved there.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus:

The exterior of the current shop in Sunbridge Road when it first opened as AN-X in 2004


Bradford Telegraph and Argus:

Alex Shaw (up the ladder) working on getting the first AN-X shop ready to open in Upper Millergate in 1991

So how did he come up with the store’s unusual name? “It’s the question we still get asked the most,” says Alex. “The original AN-X shop was an Annex of Hargreaves, but the unit we opened in had a frontage split into four sections so we ended up shortening annex to AN-X, so that the signage we wanted would fit.”

He has introduced anti-Covid measures - making hand sanitiser available, face visors for staff, a one-way system, advice posters, regular cleaning and, above all, getting back to making his business successful. And at the forefront of that is his relationship with his customers: “Nearly all our trade comes from local communities, without them there’s simply no business. It is important for communities to support local businesses - shopping local both builds a community spirit and a stronger local economy. The reopening has meant we can once again try to adapt to a changing marketplace, which is what independents do best. And we can start to look forward to getting Bradford moving forward again.”

* AN-X, 46 Sunbridge Road, Bradford. Website: an-x.co.uk; Email: info@an-x.co.uk; Facebook @anxmenswearbradford; Twitter @AnxMenswear; Insta@anxmenswear

Bradford Telegraph and Argus:

Alex at AN-X in about 2000

Bradford Telegraph and Argus:

Alex, in a visor, with an old till at the shop