Ag’e-mes – Handmade today for the vintage of tomorrow
A few weeks ago we put together a definitive guide to ‘Made in England’ menswear. On the back of such a successful response, together with our genuine passion for brands championing the ‘Made in England’ philosophy we went on a hunt to find some of the best up and coming British brands to learn about their stories. Our search brought Ag’e-mes to our attention. After chatting to Marc and Robbie (the brains behind Ag’e-mes) we could tell that they shared our passion so set out on learning more about the brand.
Firstly, can you tell us a little bit about Ag’e-mes and what the brand is striving to achieve
Ag’e-mes is a premium luggage and small accessories brand – born of necessity. As creative professionals who travel extensively for work, we struggled to find products that suited our busy lifestyles and were also well considered and build to last. So, we decided to make our own – both durable and timeless with a contemporary gender-neutral aesthetic.
Your tag line ‘Handmade today for the vintage of tomorrow’ – can you explain how this phrase came about
Fast fashion is not designed to last. We believe in making better products today that will endure the test of time. Hand-in-hand or over the shoulder, you’ll always have a dashing companion by your side throughout your own grand tour.
Whilst reading through the Ag’e-mes Journal I noticed you made a very good point about how ‘homogeneous high-end brands are all striving to be individual but somehow looking suspiciously similar’. What sets Ag’e-mes apart from other existing brands?
For our products, form follows function. Mainstream brands tend to look to each other to find their next best seller. We don’t follow this commercial approach to design, rather favouring the influence of the people, materials and function involved in the process of bringing our products to life.
You have a wealth of experience working for a number of brands along with fabric/trim sourcing and garment manufacture knowledge from around the world. How much of an advantage was this in starting up Ag’e-mes?
In fact, its been almost no advantage at all! Upon starting Ag’e-mes, we had to wipe the slate clean from our previous commercial work. Our focus for the brand is upon ethical sourcing, sustainability and manufacture – the exact opposite of high street fashion.
It is clear from your social media accounts that you gain inspiration from the manufacturing process itself, why do you think it is so important to champion British Craftsmanship and the ‘Made in England’ philosophy?
It’s about relationships with people – those involved in the creation of our products. There is a wealth of knowledge and experience in British manufacturing that directly influences how we bring our designs to life. This heritage of craftsmanship is at risk from fast-fashion, so it’s important to us that we support and promote the Made in England philosophy.
All of your materials, components and labour are sourced right here in the British Isles, how important is it to have a strong relationship with your suppliers when implementing a ‘Made in England’ product journey?
Our relationship with our suppliers is everything. It ensures quality and provenance is maintained to the very last stitch – and guarantees our authenticity.
The hardware in your designs comes from the iconic Abbey Foundry, perhaps best known for their work with high-quality equestrian manufacturing; how did this partnership come about?
We take utmost consideration when sourcing anything for the brand and will only ever use the very best hardware on all our products. As such, Abbey Foundry is the only place to source such items. Their pedigree is second-to-none and their traditional manufacturing processes align perfectly with our own philosophy.
In sourcing your waxed proof cotton, you work with Halley Stevensons; experts in their field. Talk us through the design process when deciding the fabrics/ colours for your products.
The 343g cloth from Dundee’s Baltic Works has remained relatively unchanged since it’s 19th century inception for the fishing industry. It’s the tactile nature of this traditional material that informs our very design process – the cloth is very easy to work with when developing new patterns and offers unrivalled practical qualities. For our debut collection, we selected a limited palette of four classic colours – to create a sleek aesthetic.
We’ve heard about Shirley over at your Suffolk workshop, tell us more about her role in the Ag’e-mes production process
All patterns and initial samples originate in our Oxford studio. We then work with dearest Shirley who uses her 40 years of experience to bring our designs to life in our Suffolk workshop. If there are improvements to be made in construction rest assured she will find and correct it.
Ag’e-mes only use the finest vegetable tanned bridle leather as this is the most environmentally-friendly process. Do you feel it is important to be an environmentally friendly brand and is this something you will continue to endorse in the future?
We’re an ethically-conscious brand and we’ll never compromise this. Commercial constraints will always come secondary to sustainability.
Finally, what’s next for Ag’e-mes? What are your future plans for the brand?
Our debut collection will be officially launched this October at London’s Best of Britannia and our full range will be available to buy online thereafter – including some gorgeous small leather goods made right here in the Oxfordshire countryside. We’re also looking to add further independent retailers to our stockists around the UK and beyond.