Ask a man to name five British fashion brands and the likelihood is, the names Paul Smith, McQueen, Burberry, Westwood and possibly – if they happen to have a keen interest in fashion – young British up starts Agi & Sam shall fall from the lips of their quizzical faces.
These brands are of course an intrinsic part of the British fashion tapestry and without them the very DNA of British style would be a far less creative realm. Yet while it remains important for us as the paying public to appreciate the eclectic mix such designers bring to the our tiny isle, there are a whole host of brands that unless you are willing to dig a little deeper, you may simply have never heard of.
Britain may not hold sway as it once did when it comes to textile production and manufacturing but that is not to say some of the most forward thinking fashion minds do not still find their inspiration on British shores. And just because you may not be familiar with their names, doesn’t mean they play any less of a role in menswear as some of the countries fashion behemoths.
Thankfully, if you haven’t heard of them, that’s where we at MFM can amend such errors and point you in the direction of some of the smaller, yet no less talented or cutting edge menswear brands, producing some of the best attire any gent could wish for upon our tiny isle.
Here’s a look at some of the UK’s most prestigious brands you might possibly have never heard of.
YMC (You Must Create)
The brain child of Fraser Moss and Jimmy Collins, You Must Create, or YMC as they are more readily known, have been cutting a swathe through men’s fashion for the best part of 20 years. Founded in 1995, the ethos behind this quintessentially British brand is to take classic workwear and give it a contemporary twist.
From those humble beginnings the brand has become a byword of cool British menswear and with shows at London Collections: Men, there is no doubting for those in the know, YMC is one of the UK’s best menswear brands.
Oliver Spencer, both the man and the brand, epitomise everything this is great about British clothing and cultural. A self taught tailor, his clothes have been worn by the like of British music gods including The Rolling Stones and Paul Weller, while over half the collection is still designed and manufactured on British soil.
In much the same vain as YMC, Spencer takes classic pieces of clothing and updates them for the modern man, thus creating pieces that look great on men of all ages. His use of colour is paramount to his collections with deep oranges, rich blues and soft yellow often evident in his collections. Oh, and he does a fine line in footwear too.
If brands such as YMC and Oliver Spencer tinker with the more traditional aesthetic of great British clothing, the guys over at FOLK combine this classic look with prints that are very much part of modern menswear. There is always a playful hint of exuberance with the FOLK brand and it shows in their continually evolving distinctive patterns.
Patterns and colour are at the core of this London based brand and the forthcoming Spring / Summer collection continues to prove that men can – and should – wear print and colour.
Fine shoes can be hard to find these days. In a world wear everyone wants to be seen in trainers, the art of making not only well made but aesthetically pleasing shoes has become something of a rarity. Thankfully, people such as Marc Hare, or Mr. Hare to you and I, is on hand to ensure those of us looking for modern, formal footwear shan’t be left behind by the trainer hogging masses.
The idea for his shoes may have only been thought upon in 2008 but with his own stand-alone store in Mayfair and stockists including Dover Street Market and Mr Porter, this is a brand very much in the ascendency.
In a world where far too many men are seen traipsing about the summer months in either board shorts or football shorts, Orlebar Brown offer us gents the opportunity to redeem our fashion faux-pas and make good of our clothing choices for those short summer months.
There is a sense of the suave, sophisticated gent in this young British brand – it was founded in 2007 – that would not look out of place on Monte Carlo yachts or sun drenched Miami beaches.
While all of these brands may take different paths in their design choices, the thread which keeps them bound together are there British roots. Their sense of traditional values, craftsmanship and attention to detail single them out as purveyors of fine style while their modern tweaks, contemporary cuts and use of colour and prints ensure they keep abreast with modern menswear.
They may not have the money, might and muscle of the UK’s biggest labels but if anything, this only helps add to their value and allure amongst men who love both their style and fashion. The baseball jacket or varsity.