The fifth in a twelve-part series intended to change the way you buy and wear fashion. This month we feature menswear label Tender.
Left: Misa wears Jumper and Shorts Matthew Miller.
Right: Misa wears Jumper and Jacket Nigel Cabourn. Socks Pringle. Boots Loakes.
Tidou wears Jumper Arn Mercantile. Coat Christopher Raeburn. Shorts One Nine Six Zero.
Heritage has been a buzzword in fashion marketing for the last few years, particularly in the menswear market. The concept of brands that are firmly rooted in Britishness seems to strike a chord and the likes of Pringle, Burberry and Barbour have been reaping the rewards. This month i-sustain is asking what it means to be a ‘British brand’ and questioning whether Made in the UK is the sustainability solution.
Take a tour round our fair Isles and as you pass through the eastern counties and the Midlands you’ll come across an abundance of beautiful churches and historic buildings. These remnants of past prosperity are indicative of the wealth generated through the wool trade in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. Move further north and in Derbyshire, Lancashire and Yorkshire, you’ll notice the many mill towns, bearing witness to the age of industrialisation, driven by cotton production. All in all it’s safe to say that textiles are woven in to the history of our economic success and yet today less than one fifth of the clothing we wear is manufactured in the UK.
Left: T-shirt Tender. Cardigan Margaret Howell. Coat Christopher Raeburn.
Right: Tidou wears T-shirt Tender. Shorts One Nine Six Zero. Socks Pringle. Boots Loakes. Misa wears T-shirt Tender. Shorts Matthew Miller. Socks Pringle. Boots Loakes.
The decline in our textile industry has had many knock on effects. After the Second World War, unable to compete with the production in India and latterly China; many of the northern mills were closed and the towns that had grown up around them became areas of high unemployment and social deprivation. The huge quantities of wool produced by our sheep farmers is more often than not burnt, as the quality and subsequent value is so low it is rarely worth the famer’s while selling it. Much of the skill and expertise surrounding the manufacture of clothing and textiles is fading away and a rich seam of our cultural heritage looks set to disappear. In sustainability terms the issue isn’t clothes miles or the carbon reduction benefits of making things closer to home; the true value of making in the UK lies in reinvigorating communities, reigniting industry and reconnecting people to the value of the clothes on their back.
The resurgence of the heritage brand has gone hand in hand with the worst economic decline possibly since the 1930s, so what is driving the interest, certainly not price, many of the brands in question sit at the higher end of the market. The truth is at times of instability and unrest people look to economise but they also look for the things they can trust. There is a real opportunity to use this moment in time to rebuild a meaningful UK clothing and textile industry, rather than using it as an opportunity to dupe people with clever branding and marketing that suggests authenticity where none exists.
Left: Jumper Arn Mercantile. Shorts Matthew Miller.
Middle: Jacket and Jeans Tender. Parka One Nine Six Zero.
Right: Top Matthew Miller. Jeans Tender. Socks Pringle. Boots Loakes.
We’re not suggesting that every element of what we wear should be produced in the UK, just that where appropriate we should encourage and nurture the skills and resources that surround us. Classic shoe brand Loakes has been based in Northampton for 130 years producing finely crafted yet affordable shoes that can be sent back for repair when they wear out. Loakes are part of a small group of businesses that keep the Northampton leather industry alive. William Kroll the man behind British denim brand Tender has worked tirelessly to establish a network of artisan producers in the UK to supply his needs. The jersey for his t-shirts is knitted in Leicester and the garments are then constructed in the same town. His denim is imported from Japan but then dyed here using traditional English plant dying techniques; his leather belts and bags are made in the last functioning oak bark tannery in the UK and the wool for his knits is needless to say from British sheep. This level of commitment to authenticity is what we need to make people trust the businesses they buy from and to remind us all that our success is based not just on what we do but on what we make.
Click here for interview with Tender designer William Kroll.
Grooming: Marco Antonio @ Debbie Walters Management
Photographers Assistant: Jonathan Leigh
Models: Tidou @ Select Misa @ M&P
Retouching: Russell Day @ Daybreak Creative
Head here to see our i-Sustain series in full.