Best of British
For all the nations around the globe, the more I speak to people with their finger on the fashion pulse, the more I come to realise us Brits are revered as pioneers both on the high street and high-end fashion. From Topman and River Island to Alexander McQueen and Dame Vivienne Westwood, we truly do cover every base with regard to the echelons of fashion.
However, while both the top end and mass-market labels are known throughout the world, there are a plethora of smaller British brands that offer a unique perspective towards fashion, covering the middle market for hip kids and men who like to take a little care with their appearance. Such brands may not be so obvious on the eye but in that is where their beauty lies. A fashion kid will be able to spot these brands from twenty catwalk paces; those in the know will be wearing them at trade shows, catwalk shows and will be featured on every style blog from Jak&Jil to The Sartorialist.
The inconspicuous nature of such brands and the fact not everyone wears them or even knows about them, is what gives them an edge in a market place which at times can buckle under its own weight of expectation and product.
I could write about such brands all day, for they are the ones I not only love the most but respect the most because for every gargantuan fashion house or high street retailer, there are a hundred or so diminutive but perfectly placed brands hoping to gain just a small slither of the style pie. Such brands are the life and soul, the bread and butter of the industry; their values are high, their clothes are great and best of all, not everyone walking down the street will be wearing it.
Here are three of my personal favourites.
You Must Create or YMC as they have become to be known are without question one of my favourite British brands. Mixing classic tailoring ideals with contemporary prints enables YMC to cover a large swathe of the fashion buying public. It doesn’t matter if you want a simple jersey sweater or pocket t-shirt in a rich tone of burgundy, a striped shirt in a hue of blues or a more adventurous pair of wide, tapered trousers, YMC offer a stylish yet modern look for any man.
From Farringdon Macs to Portland jackets, knitted jumpers in a myriad of beautiful colours (Tobasco orange is a personal favourite if only for the name) leather and suede finished winter boots, Oliver Spencer really is a gem in the English crown. There is something very gentlemanly about the clothes Spencer produces, an air of sophistication mixed with playful banter, the wise old man with that youthful glint still glowing in the corner of his eye. Colour and cut are very much at the forefront of his designs and while he may take his inspiration from yesteryear, his clothes are very much made for the man of today.
Hailing from the Midlands, Universal Works combines heritage workwear, modern tailoring and elements of street style to create a brand any Brit should be proud stems from their Island. Be it suit jackets in camouflage, Aran knit cardigans or Herringbone work shirts, the Universal Works range is both wide and varied. Proud to call themselves a small, independent British trader, David Keyte – the brainchild of this fabulous brand – proves, when it comes to fashion, the British lead where others follow.
To check out all these brands and more great British labels, visit Stuarts London, one of the best stockists of independent British brands in the UK.