‘The Warm-Down’ is an interview series in which we speak to high profile individuals about their life away from the limelight. We’re interested in all the things you won’t read about in the mainstream media; their passions away from their ‘everyday’, what they value in their home life and how they choose to spend their days off. In this edition, we focus on Scotland, British & Irish Lions and Exeter Chiefs rugby player, Stuart Hogg.
In the summer of 2007, a young Stuart Hogg joined his Dad, working in the local clothing factory. The way Hogg jr. remembers it, he was fortunate his old man was one of the bosses because his commitment to the knitwear cause was questionable at best. He’d even skipped one week of his six-week internship to go on a rugby camp.
In the end, it turned out to be the right decision. Fast forward 14 years and Stuart Hogg has made himself into a vital part of the Scotland and British & Irish Lions rugby teams. A two-time Player of the Tournament at the Six Nations and one of the finest full-backs in the modern game, it’s undeniable that Johnstons of Elgin’s loss has been rugby’s gain.
However, his brief period of employment in the factory wasn’t entirely without its benefits. It gave Hogg an appreciation of what the world outside of professional sport is like; a life that, as all sportsmen are keenly aware, is only ever one serious injury away.
So indebted was Hogg to his father’s company that, years later, he returned to create a line of premium clothing
with them, identifiable in one simple way:
“To make it a bit different, we put little leather patches on the arm with my initials and the words ‘Ten25’, which was my Scotland cap number; something that’s very personal to me” says Hogg. “It meant a lot to me to work somewhere where my old man had made a big difference over the years. And I’m passionate about where I’m from.”
He’s talking to his friend and Exeter Chiefs team-mate Jack Nowell, who’s also a director of MUSTARD Clothing. Joining them is MUSTARD founder, Tom Cheeseman.
“The worst part was having to choose the right leather patches,” Hogg laughs. “We had about 150 to choose from! Actually, scrap that, the worst thing was that I had to model the final clothes! Fortunately, it’s amazing what they can do with the right filter and a little bit of airbrushing. Isn’t that right, Nowellsy?!”
The two have been sparring like this for the duration of our chat; each one critiquing the others’ cars, culinary skills (apparently Jack took one tiny forkful of Hogg’s haggis before swearing off the Scottish staple for life), stinginess with money and, of course, fashion sense. At one point, Nowell starts scrolling through images of Hogg on his phone, laughing loudly as each new shot reveals another dubious sartorial choice by the Scotsman.
“Any time there’s an old washed-up photo of me on Instagram, people know to tag Jack Nowell!” Hogg laughs. “This is what I have to deal with on a daily basis. All he replies is, ‘Thank you [laughing face emoji]’ and then screenshots them and saves them to his phone.”
The pair first properly met while touring with the Lions in 2017. However, it wouldn’t be entirely accurate to say that that was where their friendship began. According to Nowell, Hogg barely spoke to him until the final night. Meanwhile, Hogg insists Nowell refused to follow him on social media until he signed with the Exeter Chiefs a year later… despite Hogg having tagged Nowell in an image from said tour.
Either way, they’re clearly close now; bonded not only by being teammates but also their strong family values and entrepreneurial interests
Hogg is the owner of both a steak restaurant and a pizza place in North Glasgow. And it’s clear he’s passionate about both.
“With the pizza restaurant in particular, we wanted to do something different from the big chains which already existed in the town; to give the people there something fresh. Coming from a small town like where I come from, we try to support our local people and we hope that people do the exact same for us.”
Of course, given how turbulent last year was for so many businesses, that local support took on extra importance in 2020.
“During Lockdown 1 we definitely found that a lot of people were trying to support local restaurants and the takeaway pizza part of the business really enabled us to keep going. We’ve got about 20-25 staff and two managers in each unit and, despite how challenging it was, we were fortunate enough to be able to keep a lot of our staff on during that time.
“In fact, one of the Glasgow tight-head props Zander Fagerson lives just around the corner and he was one of our best customers; he was ordering something like four pizzas a week! That’s the good thing about being in the environment we’re in. All the rugby boys support you.”
So, is that what Hoggy’s doing when he wears MUSTARD clothing, then? Supporting Jack?
“No, not at all. I absolutely love the brand” he says. “When I saw Nowellsy wearing it, I thought, ‘Yeah, I’ll have some of that.’”
With a mischievous slice of sarcasm, he adds “I just want to be like Jack Nowell!”
“Only thing is that some of the bright colours he wears, the ginger Scotsman can’t pull off!” says Hogg. “I know my limits! But, yeah, I love your gear.”
All the back and forth has Hogg wondering aloud, “Hey, Jack, will we still be friends after we’ve finished playing?”
“Of course, mate” says Nowell. “You’ll live in Scotland and I’ll live in Cornwall but we’ll make it work.”
Is that the aim, then for Hogg? To return to Scotland in the longer-term?
“I think so, yeah. All the family’s there. This is my 12th season away from home so it’s been a long, long time away and it starts to get a little bit tougher the longer you’re away. You start to feel a little bit guilty, taking my three kids away from their cousins, their grandparents and aunties and uncles.
“But despite all that, my biggest concern is the kids having English accents!”
Shop Hoggy’s Look