British fashion – and style – is quite unlike anything else in the world. No other nation seems to be equally as proud of its heritage as it is willing to embrace new trends, emerging talent and innovative designs. Old is mixed with new, both high end and high street sit in every Brit’s wardrobe, eccentricity is very much welcomed, and clothes are so much more than just clothes; they’re part of British culture and identity and can quickly become symbols of political and social movements (just look at Maharishi or the Clarks Originals Desert Boot). British style wouldn’t be anywhere without the brands leading the way; here are some of our menswear favourites.
Hailing from shores of South Shields, Barbour knows a thing or two about creating outerwear. Famous for its quilted and wax jackets originally designed to withstand the elements of the north east, Barbour has become a British institution worn by everyone from members of the royal family to country dwellers and city slickers. Today, Barbour draws on its rich history (over 120 years and counting) and contemporary style to create some of the best menswear in Britain.
Another brand renowned for its jackets, Belstaff dates back to Stoke-on-Trent in 1924. Producing waxed motorbike jackets, Belstaff soon became adopted by the likes of Che Guevara, Sammy Miller and Steve McQueen, turning into one of the most iconic brands of the 20th century. Its legacy continues today, updating the classics season after season.
A trailblazer of ‘90s utilitarian style, Maharishi is the cult brand known for its contemporary – and unusual – take on military wear, mixing eastern cultural influences with street wear and traditional army clothing. Using the brand as a demonstration of his anti-war ethos, founder and designer Hardy Blechman gives a whole new meaning to camo print.
Having produced modern-day classics since 2002, Oliver Spencer has been paving the way for the contemporary gent’s style for more than a decade. With British designs that take inspiration from America and Japan, the label’s namesake creates distinctive pieces that bridge the gap between streetwear and tailoring.
Dating back to 1970, Paul Smith has lead the way in contemporary men’s tailoring for over 40 years. Starting out with a small boutique in Nottingham, Paul Smith has become one of Britain’s greatest exports – famous for its classic style, innovative use of fabrics and design and touches of eccentricity.
Private White V.C.
Private White V.C. takes inspiration from its namesake – WW1 hero Private Jack White – recreating military wear and vintage designs for the modern man. With a business model that concentrates on ‘from sheep to shop’, Private White V.C. has full control of how its products are made, with everything designed and manufactured in its Manchester factory.
A 1970s midlands town may not be the first thing that springs to mind when it comes to fashion, but that’s exactly where David Keyte found inspiration for his label, Universal Works. Launched in 2009, it mixes a retro working class utilitarian aesthetic with effortless style, and has seen collaborations with the likes of John Smedley and Universal Works in its short but successful lifetime.
Since launching in 1995, YMC has become one of London’s most exciting British menswear brands. Choosing understated, wearable style and updates on traditional items over fads and trends, YMC creates clothing that is both timeless and original – continually referencing music, decades past and popular culture in its collections.
Words by Angharad Jones