Made in England Menswear
To many, the phrase Made in England conjures images of countryside woollen mills and Saville row tweed blazers. Both are true, and both possess a remarkable history that should be celebrated. However, for me Made in England conjures images of reinvention, of those same historic mills now filled with quirky contemporary designs that look forward as well as back.
I’ve had the privilege of working with many people who share my passion for British style. From my own family’s history of Yorkshire tailoring, to London based creative directors, to people from the other side of the world who love how uniquely timeless the British menswear industry is. To celebrate this, we’ve put together an in-depth guide to the menswear brands, new and old, championing the Made in England philosophy.
Private White V.C
Jack White was born in Leeds in 1896 and joined the Royal Lancaster Regiment at age 18. He was later awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious honour bestowed on British forces.
After WW1 he returned to Manchester to work as a trainee pattern cutter at the local factory, rising through the ranks to become General Manager and then Owner. White’s Yorkshire influences led to the company specialising in woollen garments, rather than just the traditional Lancashire cotton raincoats and mackintoshes.
Today, in the same factory nestled in the heart of Manchester, Private White V.C continue to make lovingly handcrafted garments. Where possible, they weave their own cloths using local mills, many of which have been loyal and unwavering partners through good times and bad over the years.
Drake’s was founded in 1977 in London’s east end, producing scarves for high-end fashion boutiques & tailoring houses before branching out into ties and pocket squares for which the brand became known.
Drake’s has grown from luxury accessories manufacturer to a true design house with a distinct and recognisable aesthetic; sartorially informed yet easy-wearing, contemporary yet timeless. They still produce in the UK with a Somerset factory dedicated to unique design & craftsmanship.
Established in 1784, John Smedley are the oldest manufacturing factory in the world, crafting beautiful, high quality garments that are designed to last, made in England and distributed the world over.
Within the 1950’s and 60’s John Smedley became the brand of choice for the Beatles amongst many others and by 1980 they had established themselves as the go-to knitwear brand for British designers such as Dame Vivienne Westwood and Sir Paul Smith.
They are now one of the most forward thinking contemporary made in England brands around, recently collaborating with Liam Gallagher’s label pretty green.
Handmade in England since 1866, Grenson embody everything we love about enduring British style. They are the perfect example of a brands ability to keep a rich heritage whilst revitalising image and staying at the forefront of contemporary British fashion.
All Grenson shoes are ‘Goodyear Welted’, a shoe-making technique that was invented in the mid 1800’s involving many individual processes. The key benefit is that the shoes are strong and last a long time. It takes up to 8 weeks to make a pair of Grensons and involves well over 200 individual operations.
Inis Meáin Knitting Co.
Inis Meáin is one of the three Aran Islands that lie on the far edge of Europe, thirty miles off the western shore of Ireland. It’s a place of wild and rugged beauty. Inspired by the place, Inis Meáin Knitting Company designs and produces individual, unique pieces of knitwear in the finest yarns, all exquisitely finished by hand.
Realm & Empire
Established in 2011, Realm & Empire launched its first collection for SS12 and has quickly carved a niche as a brand that is not only visually appealing, but British inspired to the core.
Taking inspiration from military design, they launched a collaboration with the Imperial War Museum. It’s a unique collaboration that sees an archive of overwhelming historical importance creatively interpreted by their team into contemporary, stylish menswear collections.
Church’s are a British institution in shoe-making and have carved a legacy based on quality and craftsmanship. From the meticulous selection of leather and brogue perforating to the construction and final stages of finishing and polishing, every step of the manufacturing process takes place at their factory in Northampton with passion and dedication.
Oliver Spencer the brand is the vision of Oliver Spencer the man; self-taught British tailor and shopkeeper. The brand was founded in 2002 and around 40% of the collections are now entirely made in England.
Built on a philosophy that quality needn’t mean formality & casual needn’t mean careless. That philosophy fhas resonateted worldwide, from a single shop on London’s Lambs Conduit Street, Oliver Spencer has gone on to open four more shops, and an international online business.