BEAMS PLUS AW18 COLLECTION

BEAMS PLUS AW18 COLLECTION

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BEAMS PLUS AW18 COLLECTION

It’s been a number of years now since we began stocking the clothing from Japanese label Beams Plus and each season it just gets better and better. For us, their reference points – that of classic Americana, the military and vintage sportswear – tick all the boxes, creating clothing and accessories that not only have a unique look but are also highly wearable.

So what’s in store this season? Well, there is a distinct focus on sportswear, especially the humble rugby shirt. The Beams Plus version, the Knit Rugger, is something a little bit special, pairing the preppy sports style with knitted woven construction to give something of a luxe edge. Still, classic elements such as the stiff white cotton collar and short placket remain, rooting the Knit Rugger firmly to its sportswear roots.

BEAMS PLUS AW18 COLLECTION BEAMS PLUS AW18 COLLECTION BEAMS PLUS AW18 COLLECTION

Another standout item is the Button Down Brushed Check Shirt, a take on that mainstay of winter wardrobes, the humble check shirt. This version differs thanks to the brushed cotton handle and vibrant yellow colourway, two details that seem small but add up to create something a cut above the competition. We paired the Button Down Brushed Check Shirt with one of their Shaggy Cardigans, a style that breaks with the assumed convention that cardigans are boring and stuffy thanks to the mohair and wool blend and bold block pattern.

BEAMS PLUS AW18 COLLECTION BEAMS PLUS AW18 COLLECTION BEAMS PLUS AW18 COLLECTION

Whilst grey winter skies can often be reflected in the clothing we wear, we like to fight the drabness and crack out something like the pink Lambswool Crew Knit. If this vivid colour is too much for you, and we understand that for many hot pink is a step too far, Beams Plus also offer up the same cut in a more subdued shades such as brown, blue and yellow. Whatever colourway you choose, the great fit, saddle style raglan sleeves and crew neck collar remain.

BEAMS PLUS AW18 COLLECTION BEAMS PLUS AW18 COLLECTION BEAMS PLUS AW18 COLLECTION

Take a closer look at the Beams Plus collection either in store or online now.

YOGI FOOTWEAR X PEGGS & SON.

YOGI FOOTWEAR X PEGGS & SON.

YOGI FOOTWEAR X PEGGS & SON.

We’ve long been admirers of Yogi. There’s something about their footwear, a blend of traditional styles and contemporary details, that really sets them apart from the myriad of shoes brands out there. So when the opportunity arose to put our stamp on two of their most iconic styles, we jumped at the opportunity.

Immediately we were drawn to the Winstone, a sleek, high top silhouette, and the Elijah, a tough boot based around classic hiking styles. Taking these as starting points, we began adding our own twist, deconstructing each pair and thinking about what we love in a good piece of footwear.

Unsurprisingly, it turns out that making a shoe your own is not that easy. There are so many different materials and colourways to choose from you end up making questionable choices. A roughed up yellow suede upper? Ok, not too bad. But would pairing that with green leather paneling be too much? Yes, definitely. What about a white patent leather upper with contrast black piping on a royal blue sole unit? Steady on now cowboy…

YOGI FOOTWEAR X PEGGS & SON. YOGI FOOTWEAR X PEGGS & SON.

Though obvious in hindsight, what’s needed is a cool head and a modicum of self restraint. Yet this can prove somewhat difficult to attain when you have hundreds of potential options laid out in front of you.

After playing around with some interesting fabrics and bold tones, we decided to kit out all three shoes in nubuck suede; top grain leather that has been buffed on the grain side to create a smooth, velvet-like finish. This was then paired with black and tan colourways to give us a starting point from which to build.

Next we opted to add a bit of personality via the tumbled leather on the reverse heel patch of each shoe. On the Winstone we added our ampersand logo to the rear pull tab and on the Elijah we stamped it just below the ankle line. In both cases, the subtle piece of branding is in keeping with the overall simplicity of the shoe.

Putting thoughts of green leather panels and roughed up yellow suede to the back of our minds, each pair comes matching leather laces and tonal sole units. Finally, each inner insole features dual branding, a small gesture to our partnership with the guys at Yogi.

YOGI FOOTWEAR X PEGGS & SON. YOGI FOOTWEAR X PEGGS & SON.

You can take a look at the highly limited collaboration both in store and online now.

IN CONVERSATION WITH FRANKIE STEW AND HARVEY GUNN

IN CONVERSATION WITH FRANKIE STEW AND HARVEY GUNN

IN CONVERSATION WITH FRANKIE STEW AND HARVEY GUNN

Brighton duo Frankie Stew and Harvey Gunn are making moves. Their brand of reflective, pensive hip-hop is a refreshing departure from the anodyne sound that currently dominates the airwaves and streaming charts on both sides of the Atlantic.

Sat amongst the beats are sonic and lyrical references to golden-era hip-hop, subtle nods to UK bass culture and commentary on the city that they call home. If this sounds like it could be confusing, it’s isn’t. Everything is delivered with open-eyed clarity and awareness; there’s planning, thought and patience behind the lucid lyrics and tight production. It all seems to be the culmination of a plan that has been many years in the making.

Their music is undeniably of Brighton, mentioning landmarks, talking about growing up within the city’s limits, seeing and documenting its changes. With this in mind, and with the release of a their new single, Love One Another, we thought it time to catch up with the guys to discuss their origins, driving Mustangs in Ibiza and what the future has in store.

 


 

IN CONVERSATION WITH FRANKIE STEW AND HARVEY GUNN

“It’s exciting,” says Frankie with a broad smile across his face. “It’s the first time we’ve been played on Radio 1 ever. It’s cool, but I try and not get distracted and gassed, we need it to be played again.” He speaks like someone who knows only too well how fickle the music industry can be. “Once is cool, but you quickly get forgotten about. Not to be all negative about it, I just don’t want to get carried away, I want to be on Radio 1 all the time, that’s the goal.”

The tune they’re talking about is Coconuts, a single that has become something of a breakthrough for them. The Radio 1 play was the culmination of years of hard work and came directly on the heels of another milestone. “The first play for Coconuts was by DJ Target on 1Xtra,” explains Frankie. “He plays a lot of unsigned acts in a section of his show and he selects what he wants to play which is cool. It’s better than being thrown in a mini mix because he introduced us. It was nice, a good feeling.”

What about the accompanying video, filmed in Ibiza? “Yeah that was fun, a good couple of days. Driving around in an old convertible Mustang. I can’t even drive but I had a go at it. Doing donuts around the guy filming was a lot of fun. I was scared about crashing it! We got a couple of friends who live in Ibiza who had connects with old sports cars and his dad had a couple of Mustangs so we just rented one for the day.”

IN CONVERSATION WITH FRANKIE STEW AND HARVEY GUNN

For Harvey, the man behind the beats, his journey into music production began at a Hove youth club at the age of 14. “I went there and learnt to DJ and really got into electronic music. It started with things like drum ‘n’ bass, dubstep and grime, all that kind of quite heavy stuff. From that I started making that kind of music but a couple of years later I met Frankie and started making hip-hop with him. For the past six years me and Franks have been working together. It’s taken ages man, it’s such a slow burner but it has had a nice progression to it.”

You can tell he has a steely determination when it comes to honing his craft. Even songs from years back have a clean, contemporary feel, taking time honoured traditions such as sampling but pushing the envelope sonically. “I’m totally not a purist when it comes to sampling, I will use anything,” he says. “I will use stuff from YouTube. But at the moment a lot of our latest music has been a lot less sample heavy, partly because it usually raises copyright issues!

IN CONVERSATION WITH FRANKIE STEW AND HARVEY GUNN

“I’ve never been like a real crate digger; I’ve always taken anything from anywhere,” he readily admits. “I use a lot of sample packs for electronic music and techno, but then apply that to hip-hop and just try and have fun with it and be creative with it.”

With this simple division of labour – Frankie on lyrics and Harvey on production – we ask Frankie if it can sometimes be hard to get along creatively. “We’re friends so making music has been quite easy,” he says. “It’s never been that awkward because we’re such great mates. If he makes something that I don’t like I’m not afraid to call it shit. And vice versa. We don’t take offence to it. I think that’s why it works because we are 100% straight up with each other and that’s why it has always been easy. I trust him with all the production and he trusts me with the writing. He doesn’t try and make me say something or point me in a direction. It’s a nice little 50/50 balance and it works quite well.”

IN CONVERSATION WITH FRANKIE STEW AND HARVEY GUNN

Things can move fast in music. You can be plugging away for years with no recognition and then something changes. Your listens on Spotify go through the roof, you start getting asked to support big acts, potential managers emerge from the woodwork and want to talk business.

“It’s really exciting at the moment,” says Harvey. “Coconuts, the first single we have put out this year, has gone down really well, we’re really happy with the feedback. Now we’re just taking the time to strategise correctly and have a good team behind us to put things in place correctly.

“There’s lots of music we are sitting on,” he adds. “We’re shooting a video for our next single, but the main thing for us is the tour we have in October and tickets are on sale for that now. We’re going to Nottingham, Birmingham, Manchester, Bristol, Leeds, London and Brighton with potentially more dates to come.”

“It’s bigger than the last one,” adds Frankie. “We went on tour not so long ago but this one is bigger. We could upscale it, but we want to keep some sort of demand there for the spring tour. It’s easy to get carried away and try and cash in.”

IN CONVERSATION WITH FRANKIE STEW AND HARVEY GUNN

So what format does a Frankie Stew and Harvey Gunn live show take? What should punters expect on their upcoming tour? “Harv triggers it all live with a launch pad so it is a bit more interesting than just listening to a DJ,” explains Frankie. “It does take a bit of rehearsing but it’s good fun, I love it, man. It’s completely different to performing in the studio, totally opposite. The studio seems like it is fun but it’s not like that all the time. It’s hours and hours of me trying to write lyrics or listening to Harv. Whereas performing, as nerve wracking as it is sometimes, once you get it going there is nothing better than that.”

We ask him about dealing with nerves and whether or not he likes being the focal point in the performance. “I like it. When I first started it was long, but now I’m used to it and it’s great.” He happily admits that he’s “always nervous for the first tune,” but after that “it becomes easier” to enjoy it. “It is always a weird sense of relief when you finish a show though. It’s stress, with so many lyrics it’s long having to remember them all. An hour’s worth of straight bars is hard!”

IN CONVERSATION WITH FRANKIE STEW AND HARVEY GUNN

 

Frankie wears:

YMC – Suedehead Crew

Our Legacy – Puron Vest

visvim – FBT Suede

Harvey wears:

Folk – Signal Jacket

Sunspel – Crew Tee

Common Projects – Achilles Low

A.P.C. – T-Shirt Yukata

YMC – Dean Shirt

Nudie – Lean Dean

 

A huge thanks to Frankie and Harvey for taking the time. You can see them on their upcoming tour this October.

Photography: James Hole

C.P. COMPANY AW18 COLLECTION

C.P. COMPANY AW18 COLLECTION

C.P. COMPANY AW18 COLLECTION

Well well well, look what’s arrived. The latest selection of C.P. Company gear in all its unabashed glory. The Italian label, the brainchild of the late Massimo Osti, has been a progressive force in men’s fashion since its inception in 1975. Initially founded as a means for Osti to experiment with new materials and fabrics, with a specific focus on work uniforms and the military, recent years has seen the label’s aesthetic shift distinctly towards sportswear inspired clothing. This move has given the brand something of a cult status among its die-hard followers, with legions of fans obsessively waiting for each new collection to drop.

C.P. COMPANY AW18 COLLECTION C.P. COMPANY AW18 COLLECTION

This season, C.P. Company have once again chosen to move forward with their own inimitable take on luxe sportswear styles. Classic cuts, those such as the Lens Crew Sweats and Logo Tees feature heavily and have been updated in bold colourways. We’re feeling the rich yellow iteration, a tone that feels right for both summer and autumn. But if this proves to be a little too bright then worry not, the selection of subtler hues such as dark olive, navy and black are all present.

C.P. COMPANY AW18 COLLECTIONC.P. COMPANY AW18 COLLECTION

Whilst the sportswear approach that has dominated the label’s output in the last few years can be seen in items such as the Track Pants, the fit of the Lens Pocket Cargo Twill Pant has more in common with fine Italian suiting than relaxed loungewear. A sharp cut, clever material choice and just the right amount detailing combine to create something a little bit special.

As you might of guessed, these aren’t your typical pair of trousers; these are trim with a taper from knee to hem for a modern look. The tough twill has been paired with considered details, things such as dart detailing on the knees for a more ergonomic fit and angled cargo pockets on the thighs, to give a contemporary feel that belies the label’s 42-year history.

C.P. COMPANY AW18 COLLECTION C.P. COMPANY AW18 COLLECTION

 

Next up we have the Softshell Goggle Jacket, a garment that utilises panelled construction to aid with fit, comfort and manoeuvrability. Featuring two large pockets on the flank, the iconic C.P. Company goggles are present in the large adjustable hood. The tortoiseshell colourway, a kind of subdued burgundy, is a great tone for autumn and brings to mind earthy hues and falling leaves.

Finally we come to one of the standout pieces, the Arm Lens Popover Smock. Based around classic sailing styles and featuring a typical relaxed fit, it has been cut from 100% brushed cotton for a soft handle. The black coffee colourway has been paired with a large adjustable hood, buttoned collar, two flapped chest pockets and iconic lens logo detailing on the left arm.

C.P. COMPANY AW18 COLLECTION

Take a look at the latest AW18 C.P. Company collection in store and online now.

POP TRADING COMPANY AW18 COLLECTION

POP TRADING COMPANY AW18 COLLECTION

POP TRADING COMPANY AW18 COLLECTION

Amsterdam based skate label Pop Trading Company are back with their latest AW18 collection. The Dutch brand have never been ones to shy away from drawing from a wide selection of stylistic influences and their latest selection manages to reference everything from pop culture to sportswear staples.

As well as paying homage to seminal Seattle record label Sub Pop and cult TV show Stranger Things through two typographic tees, there is a distinctly nautical flavour to the latest arrivals. A highlight for us has to be the AMS Hooded Jacket in a bright yellow colourway that has been cut from brushed cotton canvas. With a relaxed fit thanks to the looser cut and raglan style sleeves, the front is fastened with a funnel style neck that doubles as a face protector.

Another winner is their bold take on the classic Breton stripe tee. The Nagel Longsleeve has been cut from 100% cotton and has a heavier feel that is suited to the colder weather. Playing with a classic horizontal stripe pattern, the purple and black have been intermixed with bold yellow and subtle branding can be seen on the side seam.

Staple items such as the Sportswear Company Lightweight Half-Zip Sweatshirt make a welcome return, as do the Hip Bag and Passport Pouch. Yet again Pop Trading Company have presented another tight and coherent collection that cements themselves as a young label well worth keeping an eye on.

 

POP TRADING COMPANY AW18 COLLECTION POP TRADING COMPANY AW18 COLLECTION POP TRADING COMPANY AW18 COLLECTION POP TRADING COMPANY AW18 COLLECTION POP TRADING COMPANY AW18 COLLECTION POP TRADING COMPANY AW18 COLLECTION POP TRADING COMPANY AW18 COLLECTION POP TRADING COMPANY AW18 COLLECTION POP TRADING COMPANY AW18 COLLECTION POP TRADING COMPANY AW18 COLLECTION

Shop the full selection from Pop Trading Company either in store or online now.

IN CONVERSATION WITH PIERRE BOISELLE OF RECEPTION CLOTHING

IN CONVERSATION WITH PIERRE BOISELLE OF RECEPTION

IN CONVERSATION WITH PIERRE BOISELLE, FOUNDER OF RECEPTION CLOTHING

“It’s all about food and socialising” is about as good a slogan for a clothing label we have come across. The man behind it, and the t-shirts of Reception Clothing, is Frenchman Pierre Boiselle, traveller, gastronome, designer and general raconteur.

Combining your passions into a day job is surely the dream for many of us and Pierre has succinctly blended his love of adventure, food and clothing into Reception. After many years at denim supremos Edwin, he decided to branch off on his own, creating bold graphic tees that tell tales of an odyssey through cuisines from around the globe.

From steak restaurants in Rio and Greek tavernas in Athens to down-to-earth canteens in Tokyo, his silk screen prints are all about the finer things in life. We caught up with Pierre in the midst of a busy fashion season schedule to get his take on skate culture, Death Row meals and his favourite restaurant in the world…

 


 

P&s: So how did the concept of Reception Clothing come about?

PB: Back in October last year when I was in New York together with my wife taking a little break for four days. I was desperate by then to start something and was very influenced by many skate brands doing great visual stuff.

As you do in big cities, we spent most of our trip shopping, walking and eating… After a few glasses of wine I came up with the idea of paying tribute to some great restaurants we have visited via the medium of the t-shirt.

IN CONVERSATION WITH PIERRE BOISELLE, FOUNDER OF RECEPTION CLOTHING

You used to work at Edwin, can you tell us a little more about your time there?

I had such a great time there and met friends for life. I worked at Edwin for a little over six years and I have been involved in most processes needed for a brand like them to develop, everything from creative roles to sales. Work in Progress is a fabulous family to work for and I am proud of having been a part of it.

It’s hard to think of a better slogan that “It’s all about food and socialising”, when did this first come into existence?

Ha! Thanks for saying this! It means a lot to me. It’s always difficult to put words together and even more so when it’s not your mother tongue. 

To be honest I can’t remember exactly when I came up with this sentence – I tend to write many slogans like this on paper from time to time and I thought this one was very relevant and impactful for Reception.

Some of the restaurants featured are from far flung exotic places. Do you get to travel and eat a lot through your job?

I have been lucky enough to travel regularly for both work and in my private life for the last ten years. Even before this actually as my mum sent me all over the place when I was a teenager.

Travel remains to me one of the greatest luxuries in life. I love to visit a city for a few days, get the most out of it and go back home. There is always something good that comes out of travelling. 

IN CONVERSATION WITH PIERRE BOISELLE, FOUNDER OF RECEPTION CLOTHING

How do you choose the restaurants that feature in your collections? I’m guessing they are personal favourites, but how do they make cut?

Yes, they are all personal favourites. Not only for the food but mostly for the souvenir. We have great stories for each of these places. 

What makes a great restaurant for you?

Passionate people, tasty products and simple dishes. And finally an interesting conversation with either friends, colleagues or lovers…

Do you cook much yourself? What’s your go-to dish?

No, I don’t know how to cook, my wife is really good at it though. I should learn how to do a few things…

Death Row meal, what would it be?

Currywurst mit pommes!

The S. Pellegrino Top 50 restaurant list has recently been announced. How much are you into fine dining and Michelin starred food? Or is that stuff not necessary for a good meal? 

Not necessary for a good meal, however it can be great from time to time. But you need to be ready to spend money. My personal favourite is Bruno in the South East of France. All the dishes served are made with truffles. Everything I have eaten there was absolutely fantastic.

The house and garden are stunning too. Bruno, the owner and chef, is not rated by the guide Michelin as he always refused to be submitted to the pressure of the stars. This is another good reason to visit that restaurant. Subversion is always a good idea.

IN CONVERSATION WITH PIERRE BOISELLE, FOUNDER OF RECEPTION CLOTHING


 

And there you have it, a gastronomic journey through the mind of Pierre Boiselle. Be sure you take a look at the latest Reception Clothing collection either in store or over on the website.

SUMMER FABRICS TO KEEP YOU COOL WHEN THE TEMPERATURE RISES

SUMMER FABRICS TO KEEP YOU COOL

SUMMER FABRICS TO KEEP YOU COOL WHEN THE TEMPERATURE RISES

Not all fabrics are created equal. Some are heavier, thicker and more insulating; some are lightweight, soft and highly breathable. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that a waterproof outer filled with duck down is going to be great at keeping you warm in the coldest months of winter.

But what sort of materials are better suited for the warmer weather? To answer this question we’ve created a handy guide to some summer fabrics that work as a great alternative to cotton. Below we run through materials such as linen, rayon, tropical wool and discover how these different materials have been designed to keep you cool when the temperature rises.

 


SUMMER FABRICS TO KEEP YOU COOL WHEN THE TEMPERATURE RISES

Made from the fibres of the flax plant, linen is the archetypal summer fabric. Lightweight, highly absorbent and typically featuring a loose, open weave, linen is perfect for keeping you cool on long hot summer days.

A great choice for both jackets and shirts, there is something about linen that is effortlessly relaxed. The way it hangs, paired with the way it takes on dye, results in a look that is the definition of laid back summer cool.

In store we have some great linen garments, especially the offerings from Venetian label Barena. Their Camicia Pavan Tellino is a casual shirt that has been based around a simple pop over style. The short placket and narrow collar are matched with a single open chest pocket and curved hem. We’re also a big fan of the workwear influenced jackets from French label Vetra. Their Rigging Jacket has been cut from pure brushed cotton for an unusual hand feel, but the cut is classic workwear: slightly boxy on the body with a button fastened placket and three external pockets.

 


SUMMER FABRICS TO KEEP YOU COOL WHEN THE TEMPERATURE RISES

Whilst the idea of wool for summer sounds like a terrible, sweaty idea, tropical wool is different. The looser weave promotes air circulation and the fine fibres actually draw moisture away from the skin.

What is most interesting though is the smart, smooth finish, something that makes it an ideal fabric for lightweight summer suits and sophisticated jackets. In store we have the Nohr from Norse Projects that comes in a deep navy colourway. The material for this jacket has been milled in England by Yorkshire based Alfred Brown, a business that has been creating fine worsted cloth for well over a 100 years.

Norse have added their own minimal touch with the concealed plackets, sharp cut and narrow collar. And, if you want to go the whole way, the Danish label have also crafted the Luther Trousers from the same material that feature a clean, modern tapered fit.

 


SUMMER FABRICS TO KEEP YOU COOL WHEN THE TEMPERATURE RISES

Rayon is a fabric derived for purified wood pulp, and whilst this doesn’t sound that glamorous, this semi-synthetic material is perfectly suited to the heat of summer. What we love about rayon garments is the soft, smooth hand feel and their great moisture absorbing properties.

Another huge benefit of rayon is its ability to take on dye, something that results in vivid colours and vibrant patterns. Pair all of these qualities together and you can see why rayon is often used for bright summer shirts such as the ones we have in store from Levi’s Vintage Clothing.

Their Hawaiian Shirt in the baked apple print is, for us, one of the shirts of the season. The bold, slightly abstract pattern, is a replica of one found in the Levi’s archives from the 1950s, faithfully recreated for the modern era. The loose fit of the shirt has been paired with a wide camp collar, button fastened placket and two flapped pockets on the chest.

 


SUMMER FABRICS TO KEEP YOU COOL WHEN THE TEMPERATURE RISES

Coolmax is a moisture-wicking fabric that actively draws sweat away from the skin to keep you cool. If you couple this technology with tried and tested seersucker, a material with a puckered finish designed to sit away from skin, then you have perhaps the ultimate summer material.

This season Danish label Norse Projects have been experimenting extensively with this wonder fabric, using it is a number of their lower wear pieces. The Harri Tapered Trousers in a subtle tonal pinstripe are a perfect summer garment. The tapered yet relaxed fit has been matched with four pockets, one of which has an inner section for a phone, and a zip fastened fly.

The same material has been used in the Harri Shorts in both a pinstripe and navy colourway if you fancy exposing the old milk bottles when the sun shines.

 

You can take a look at our complete selection of summer-ready fabrics here.

TALKING DESIGN WITH DAVID KEYTE FROM UNIVERSAL WORKS

TALKING DESIGN WITH DAVID KEYTE FROM UNIVERSAL WORKS

TALKING DESIGN WITH DAVID KEYTE FROM UNIVERSAL WORKS

Universal Works are a brand we have long admired. So long in fact that we were the very first store to put in an order with them when they started. It’s been a great relationship ever since. As they celebrate their ninth anniversary, we thought it  high time to visit founder and head designer David Keyte and his ever expanding team at their new Nottingham HQ.

We’ve sat down with David before, discussing inspiration and the history of his label, but this time we thought we’d talk more about his design process. Being able to see how he and his team work, his studio and how all operations are kept under one roof was great. So carry on reading below as we speak to David and his partner Steph to understand more about the workings of one of our favourite brands…

 


 

 

Charlie: How many different items do you design for each season would you say?

David: We have a very, very large collection.

Steph: I’d say it is about 320 items this season.

Charlie: And they’re solely designed by yourself?

David: Well, I have an assistant, Sam, who works alongside me, but as a business what we do is hugely about teamwork. Even the design process to some extent is teamwork, working closely with the people who make the fabrics and who make the garments. Being in a factory or with a maker is where you see different methods and ways of constructing things. Maybe you see someone’s mistakes, or something that they have forgotten, or something they don’t do anymore. You see different methods that tend to push you in directions you may not have thought about. A lot of my design is talking to people, then creating a really, really bad sketch, then Sam puts all of that into something that is technically a lot more readable.

TALKING DESIGN WITH DAVID KEYTE FROM UNIVERSAL WORKS

Menswear doesn’t change that dramatically each season, and silhouettes develop gradually, so we don’t have to reinvent the whole thing. We may have designed 320 items, but probably season on season, we create only a few new shapes. We may make a new shirt, or even two new shirts, we may make a new jacket, maybe we make it wider or shorter or longer, but we are not completely changing it. So in one season there might be 10/12 completely new things that started off with a sketch.

Charlie: So you’re not feverishly making one new design every single day in order to keep up production?

David: No, I mean, our best-selling pant started off in season three and we’re still making it in season 20. Some of the best things just last.

Steph: We’re always constantly looking for new fabrics, so we often have the same style but in new materials. Fabrics are really important for us to put a collection together; they dictate how it feels.

David: Last winter I created a new piece, the shape and fit was new, but I had done it in a sweatshirt fabric and I thought I’m not sure about this. I showed it to Steph and even showed it to the sales guy Martin Gill, and nobody got it. But I found a new fabric and put it into it and it’s now the best-selling style we’ve done for the forthcoming season. So sometimes it’s about the right fabric, right shape and timing.

TALKING DESIGN WITH DAVID KEYTE FROM UNIVERSAL WORKS

Ian: One of the fortunate things about menswear is that it moves really slowly, and we don’t want to reinvent the wheel. It’s not like women’s fashion, it’s a lot slower. What you said about shapes changing incrementally, it’s the same with denim. At the moment slim jeans are reasonably fashionable, give it another few years and we will be back to wide again. But it takes time  to happen in menswear. The same thing would take two seasons in womenswear.

David: That can be true about collar size and is true of so many different aspects of menswear. The moment something is classic, it’s gone, it’s outdated. It won’t be a classic in a few years because it gradually moves along. But that change is so slow that half competent people like myself can catch up with the change, or even anticipate it.

For me, the reason we started the label is because I wanted to produce a collection of clothing that I thought was relevant for menswear at the time. I created something I wanted to wear and I thought a lot of other people would also want to wear. And thankfully I’ve been proven right. Design can be anything from thinking about how much to nudge that shape or detail to deciding to make our own Ikat fabric rather than buying the same blue one we bought last time.

So design is not just shape and fit. A clothing company has to deliver product to people like Ian and design is just one aspect of this. You can have great ideas, but if you don’t deliver it on time at the right price with quality that doesn’t come back six months later, you haven’t made a product. So for me it’s a much more holistic approach, can we do all of those things and if we can then we have a business.

Ian: I suppose at the start you are going in quite blind as well, like a buyer. Take a particular fit, for example the Aston Pant, it’s such a phenomenally successful fit of pant, and we consistently sell it incredibly well season after season, but you wouldn’t know that initially when designing. How do you get to that point of understanding whether or not it’s a good product?

TALKING DESIGN WITH DAVID KEYTE FROM UNIVERSAL WORKS

David: You don’t know. In many ways the Aston Pant is a typical example of the design process. I would naturally design something slightly wider and looser than the Aston, but I knew that I had to come up with something that was acceptable to the guy who wanted what I would term as a skinny pant. But I wanted him to have something less skinny. So I had to give him something he thought he wanted, but I had to create something that I felt was true to us. It’s our slimmest pant, but for most of our customers it’s their widest. And it has been a huge success. We just got the fit right and people love it and people come back to it. Is that amazing design or a fluke? It’s probably somewhere in the middle.

Ian: It’s a great example of how an item can change through the fabric, it’s just a completely different animal when its twill or wool.

David: We have made the Aston in really simple cotton twill which we offer every season and we have made it in pure wool Merino suiting and everything in between and it works. It will be the first or second thing on the line sheet. A huge part of design is understanding what will be successful.

TALKING DESIGN WITH DAVID KEYTE FROM UNIVERSAL WORKS

Charlie: Does opening up in other markets like Japan, where trends and fashions are different to say Europe, alter your design process?

David: It makes me want to go and live in Japan! No, I think having a diverse market gives me more opportunity to create different things and I’m nothing if not eclectic. I want a beautiful suit and I also want a hoodie and a pair of sneakers and a baseball cap. I like those aspects of menswear from streetwear to military to formal tailoring and I want have a version of all those things at Universal Works.

So having a diverse market allows us to be varied with our design and also our product. We can know that our slightly wider pant will be popular in Japan, but we also know that the super expensive Italian fabrics that we put into our classic pieces will sell very well in America and Italy because they love the fabric’s feel.

We also know that the UK market is dominated a little bit more about price and perhaps because of the rise of online retailing the feel of something is less important. Or maybe us Brits don’t understand fabrics in the same way the Italian market does.

Our customer base in Korea is probably 25 but our customer base in UK is probably 40. Again, this gives us the opportunity to feed both those markets with slightly different products. So, I think it allows me a bit more freedom than our sales team would typically allow me.

Charlie: Obviously Universal Works is a very personal brand to you, how much of your everyday needs and requirements is reflected in the clothing?

David: It’s entirely a wardrobe for me!

Charlie: You get a bigger iPhone, you think I’m going to need a bigger pocket and then we all have to have a bigger pocket?

David: The reality is that it is a huge wardrobe for me. There is nothing that I wouldn’t wear. I don’t, and couldn’t wear it all, and I would choose to wear the Pleat Pant over the Aston currently, but all of these things I would love to have. I can’t have 320 things each season, but I could try! It’s a reflection of all the different aspects of my clothing loves, desires and obsessions.

TALKING DESIGN WITH DAVID KEYTE FROM UNIVERSAL WORKS

Charlie: That speaks about the enthusiast in you…

David: Yes, absolutely, I am that. But maybe sometimes I should give things a little bit longer to breathe and have a chance to be successful. The garments that you know have been successful for a long time, it’s hard to not show them again but I genuinely look at those things and think whether or not they have had their day. Do I still want to put it on, do I still want to wear it tonight? And if I do, it stays. You can only use your own sense of style and timing and all those things to say yes or no, then it’s up to the public to buy it.

Charlie: It seems to have worked so far…

David: Well, yes, but you could also argue that we have a big collection. If you throw enough mud and all that… Normally we have a meeting and we have a discussion. It’s not just me making those decisions anymore. We have a bunch of people who have to sell the product.

Charlie: Does their feedback impact what you produce or design? Do you take into consideration the commercial aspect?

David: Yes and no. Mostly if you ask a retailer what they want to buy, they want to buy their best sellers from last season again. Because that sold well so they want more. But they also understand that they need something new to excite their customers. So it is our job to find that new thing. But you don’t want it to be too new that it pushes the customer away. It has to be just new enough.

Ian: It’s exactly that. You can get too far ahead of the curve.

David: To some extent you have to listen to what retailers say. But you do have to have a little bit of single mindedness. You need to say that I really believe in this. Our aim is to give them the thing they haven’t seen yet and to do that you do have to have a bit of ego and self-belief.

TALKING DESIGN WITH DAVID KEYTE FROM UNIVERSAL WORKS

Ian: Weirdly though, success can be a difficult business, because as a retailer or a designer, once you taste a certain amount of success with a certain product, it’s really difficult to not keep going back to it. To bring something new in is kind of difficult. When you have had no success, you can do what you want.

Charlie: You’ve done a number of collaborations, the ones with Novesta stick out, as does the one with Millican, which I think we stocked.

David: I loved doing that one with Millican, shall we do another one with them?

Charlie: How do you approach working closely and creatively with another company?

David: I think we have fairly simple criteria about collaborations, which is will we enjoy it, do we personally want it and are they a nice bunch of people to work with? If they fit all those conditions then we will have a go. I really want it to be collaborative. I really want to say to someone can we do this, is this possible? And then for them to have an input into it as well. Not just us painting their shoe a different colour.

TALKING DESIGN WITH DAVID KEYTE FROM UNIVERSAL WORKS

We tend to stick to things that we don’t feel we’re particularly expert in. That’s why we have done a lot of shoes, bags, that sort of thing. This is not our field of design or product development or production. So, like, those guys are experts in shoes, can we make some shoes with you as you know what you’re doing? And we like your shoes, we would like to make a version, have you tried this, have you tried that? That’s the easiest, simplest collaboration for us because it gives us something we want to make ourselves but don’t understand enough.

Charlie: Have you ever gone down the creative path with another brand and just though that this is not how I planned it, or how I wanted it?

David: Yes.

Charlie: What do you do then, persevere?

David: No, we stop.

Ian: What about the Universal Works bumless chaps?

David: You’ve got to try these things Ian. Obviously I’ve still got a pair!

TALKING DESIGN WITH DAVID KEYTE FROM UNIVERSAL WORKS

Charlie: Ian tells me that Peggs & son were the first store to put down an order with you when you first started. Can you tell me more about this period when you were starting out but were still waiting for orders? It must have been an exciting, nervous, worrying period, where you know you have a great product but you have to convince everybody else.

David: I had an idea to create this collection and I met a guy on a train that I knew [Martin Gill], but not that well, but I knew he had a showroom in London. He said to me, 10 minutes into the conversation, “if you’re going do this, I’ll sell it”. What you mean put it in your showroom with Margaret Howell and Oliver Spencer and Il Bussetto and the other nice brands he had? And I thought, you know what, you’re the last piece of the jigsaw. I can’t do all of this and do the sales, so it was perfect.

TALKING DESIGN WITH DAVID KEYTE FROM UNIVERSAL WORKS

We then made 45 samples in an unbelievably short space of time and I said to him, go and get me 10 clients and if I get 10 clients then I’ll have a business. He got nine and I said, well, what’s nine or 10 between friends? We’ve got a business. When we were delivering that first season, we got a phone call off a guy in Primrose Hill who said “where’s my order mate?” It turns out Martin had lost the order, so we actually did get 10 orders. So he lost 10% of my customer base in my first season, the bastard!

Steph: At that time we didn’t have any connection with our customer, really. It was very separate, Martin was the agent, he sold it, we were very much in the background, just packing the orders.

Charlie: Did Martin give you any feedback? Suggesting you should change things?

Steph: Everyone said that if we had made it in navy they would have bought more.

David: We made the first collection in black and olive and they all said “does it come in navy?”.

Steph: So yeah, we learnt a lesson there.

David: We didn’t do black for another five years. It was a strange time I guess, I didn’t know that it would work and I was quite prepared for it not to. I’m more nervous now because then it was just me, if it didn’t work, so what? Steph had a job so we could pay the gas bill. I didn’t have employees. Now if I get it wrong I’m bloody scared. All these people need paying and they’ve got lives to lead and we have a responsibility to them.

It feels much more nervous every season when I stand in Pitti or Paris, that first sale, and I think, I need 200 people to like this. That gets way scarier. I have very, very sleepless nights before those days. I’m not a nice person to be around! At the beginning it was a lot easier, I wasn’t nervous because Martin was confident he would sell it. He knew what was selling in his showroom, he knew the people who were coming in and buying and he was confident and told me the price is great, the product is good, I’m going to sell it. So, I felt comfortable. He says the same these days, bless him, and he’s normally right…

TALKING DESIGN WITH DAVID KEYTE FROM UNIVERSAL WORKS

A huge, huge thanks to David, Steph and the whole team at Universal Works for taking the time to show us around their new Nottingham home. Make sure you take a look at the latest Universal Works collection here.

Photos: James Hole.

 

PATAGONIA ARE SUING TRUMP

PATAGONIA ARE SUING TRUMP

PATAGONIA ARE SUING TRUMP

American outdoors label Patagonia have always been ones to stand up for what they believe in. Having donated millions of dollars to grass roots environmental causes, last year they began legal action against Trump, filing a lawsuit in protest of his decision to remove protections for Bears Ears national monument in Utah. ⠀

Critics say that the move by the US President will result in some two million acres losing federal protection and could pave the way for private ownership and exploitation of previously public land.⠀

As well as being vocal critics of Trump in the past, Patagonia also donate 1% of all annual sales to environmental causes, a figure that was close to $10million in 2017, and have launched projects to encourage customers to repair and recycle their old gear.⠀

For us, Patagonia are a model for how fashion businesses can operate ethically and sustainably whilst still producing incredible clothing. As ethics and the environment become more prominent in consumers’ minds, Patagonia are at the very forefront of this movement and represent what a progressive clothing company can and should be.

HOW TO MAKE A SUNSPEL TEE: WE VISIT SUNSPEL'S FACTORY

HOW TO MAKE A SUNSPEL TEE: WE VISIT SUNSPEL’S FACTORY

HOW TO MAKE A SUNSPEL TEE: WE VISIT SUNSPEL'S FACTORY

We’ve long been aware of the quality of Sunspel’s made in England tees. Just getting your hands on one immediately reveals a lustrous finish and soft handle that puts them head and shoulders above the competition.

We’d also heard about the long staple cotton yarns used in construction, the fastidious attention to detail and the unrivalled craftsmanship. But these terms are abstract concepts, hard to gauge and difficult to fully grasp without a detailed knowledge of clothing production.

So when we were invited to Sunspel’s factory and design studio in Long Eaton, Derbyshire, we immediately booked our train tickets and revelled in the chance in the learn more about the creation of our favourite t-shirts.

 


 

It’s easy to lose sight of our manufacturing heritage down here in Brighton. Our main industries seem to be tourism and digital marketing, the result of which is more coffee shops and vegan brunch spots than seem necessary. So a trip up to Long Eaton was a great reminder that a world beyond cortados and chia seeds exists, a place where businesses and factories still produce tangible products.

HOW TO MAKE A SUNSPEL TEE: WE VISIT SUNSPEL'S FACTORY HOW TO MAKE A SUNSPEL TEE: WE VISIT SUNSPEL'S FACTORY HOW TO MAKE A SUNSPEL TEE: WE VISIT SUNSPEL'S FACTORY

We were met at Nottingham station by Universal Works’ founder David Keyte who kindly dropped us at the Sunspel headquarters on his way to another local factory where he was getting knitwear samples produced. Down a road of terraced houses, 200 metres from the banks of the River Erewash was the saw tooth roof of the Sunspel factory, still standing in the same place it has been for over 100 years.

We were met by John Mart, production/sourcing manager, a man who knows everything there is to know about the creation of finely crafted English t-shirts. A veteran of Sunspel for 18 years, he was the perfect person to show us around, explaining the multitude of processes, vast history and product development at Sunspel. After listening to his wise words for even a few minutes, his and Sunspel’s unwavering dedication to quality quickly became apparent.

HOW TO MAKE A SUNSPEL TEE: WE VISIT SUNSPEL'S FACTORYHOW TO MAKE A SUNSPEL TEE: WE VISIT SUNSPEL'S FACTORY

For instance, Sunspel used to source all of their long staple cotton from Egypt, a country widely regarded as producing some of the finest cotton in the world. But around five years ago, at the height of the political crisis in the country, the Sunspel factory began noticing a reduction in quality. Slight white flecking was appearing, affecting the uptake of dye. The factory ran tests and discovered that the result of this flecking was down to immature cotton being picked before it was ready. Unable to tolerate this dip in quality, they scoured the globe before finally being satisfied with the quality of cotton from California.

 


 

Making a t-shirt is a very long, very involved procedure. As well as negotiating complicated geo-political issues when sourcing, what you do with the raw materials once you’ve acquired them impacts on the finished product.

Only long staple cotton, those with individual strands typically around two inches, is used. Everything else is rejected to be used by other clothing manufacturers with less discerning taste. This yarn, smooth and lustrous, is then twisted with another to create a strong, dense weave that takes on dye exceptionally well. Once dyed, the finished cloth is then shipped to the Long Eaton factory ready to be turned into the iconic tees that are beloved by everyone from Bond to Batman.

HOW TO MAKE A SUNSPEL TEE: WE VISIT SUNSPEL'S FACTORY HOW TO MAKE A SUNSPEL TEE: WE VISIT SUNSPEL'S FACTORY HOW TO MAKE A SUNSPEL TEE: WE VISIT SUNSPEL'S FACTORY

After an initial inspection (the first of many, many quality control checks), it is handed to a pattern cutter for marking and cutting. Using an extra sharp saw that wouldn’t look out of place in a joiner’s workshop, she cuts each panel, creating the building blocks that will eventually become the finished product.

This stage is crucial as any errors here will throw off production further down the line. These cloth panels are then distributed to several seamstresses, all with a highly specialised set of skills and tools who go to work overlocking, marking and stitching. One particularly fiddly part is the creation and attaching of the collar. First a seamstress cuts cotton into a precise width that is rolled onto a spindle. This roll of two-inch-wide cotton is then taken from one machine and placed onto another that feeds it through a device that folds it neatly before a needle stitches it around the unfinished collar of the front and back t-shirt panels.

The process is quick, intricate and miraculous. An innocuous strip of fabric is turned, as if my magic, into a perfectly formed, beautifully stitched collar. A t-shirt is beginning to form.

HOW TO MAKE A SUNSPEL TEE: WE VISIT SUNSPEL'S FACTORY HOW TO MAKE A SUNSPEL TEE: WE VISIT SUNSPEL'S FACTORY

After a quick fire rally of stitching, hemming, trimming, steaming and ironing, all that is left is to fold each tee and slip it into its packaging. All along the way quality control checks have been taking place. Fabric is weighed, off cuts are checked for extraneous wastage, time sheets are checked and forms filled out. The finished tees, batched up into boxes, pass through a metal detector to check for any broken sewing needles before a single tee is plucked at random from every dozen or so boxes to be sent to quality control for inspection. A last check in a long line of compliance procedures.

 


 

Watching anything get made this intricately is always a pleasure. The cumulative experience and skill of the women who operate the factory floor is remarkable and this translates into a product that really is something very special.

HOW TO MAKE A SUNSPEL TEE: WE VISIT SUNSPEL'S FACTORY HOW TO MAKE A SUNSPEL TEE: WE VISIT SUNSPEL'S FACTORYHOW TO MAKE A SUNSPEL TEE: WE VISIT SUNSPEL'S FACTORY

The fact that this type of production has been in rapid decline is even more reason to cherish it. We seem to be proud of our manufacturing past here in Britain, yet we have idly watched it disappear. Rising costs, cheaper international alternatives and an economy more focused on providing the world with financial services than physical products have all been to blame.

But when something is made as good here as anywhere else on the planet, we should all sit up and take notice.

HOW TO MAKE A SUNSPEL TEE: WE VISIT SUNSPEL'S FACTORY

Many thanks to John and Michael for taking the time to show us around the factory floor. Photography: James Hole