Britain has an extremely rich fashion heritage and proudly boasts some of the biggest brands in the world; some of which have remained at the forefront of the fashion industry for over 100 years.
Let’s take a closer look at the heritage of some of these brands who have deservedly solidified their status as the finest fashion names Britain has to offer.
Lyle & Scott
Lyle & Scott is a very well-known brand that were originally established in a small town in Scotland all the way back in 1874. Their initial ambition was to simply create high quality knitted undergarments, but the brand experienced such great success that they soon branched out and began creating a wide range of top quality garments.
Since being founded over 100 years ago, the brand has experienced a number of resurgence’s over the decades, particularly popular amoungst the suave style of the Mod’s during the 1950s. The football Casuals of the 1980s were also quite fond of the brand and of course not forgetting the new generation of trend setters still wearing the brand today.
Lyle & Scott can also boast being recognised as the very first golf brand that was worn throughout the sixties and seventies by many golfing icons, such as British Golfers Malcolm Gregson and Brian Hugget often seen sporting Lyle & Scott jumpers on the golf course.
In 1971 Vivienne Westwood first started out in the industry making Teddy Boy clothes for Malcolm McLaren when they opened Let it Rock at 430 Kings Road in London. By 1972 the designer’s had moved on from their Teddy Boy style and turned their attention to biker clothing, zips and leather. They re-branded the shop with a skull and crossbones and also renamed themselves ‘Too Fast to Live, Too Young to Die’.
1976 was a revolutionary year for Westwood, the Sex Pistol’s , who were managed by McLaren went to number one in the charts with God Save the Queen and were controversially refused air time by the BBC for their outrageous performances and their anarchistic lyrics. Vivienne Westwood is often credited for styling the punk movement, becoming known for her attention-grabbing and often controversial designs, her brand achieved a somewhat infamous status during this period.
Westwood, who became a key player in the punk fashion movement has since branched out and developed into an internationally renowned British fashion brand that still to this day remains true to its outrageous roots.
Established in 1856 by Thomas Burberry, the brand originally focused upon the design and development of outdoor attire and quickly became famed for their iconic trench coats. The brands distinctive and iconic check-pattern has also become one of the most widely recognised fashion prints in the world today.
During the early 2000’s Burberry became heavily associated with the modern day football Casuals, with the trademark check-pattern seen adorned upon the heads of many football fans in the stands. The brand eventually became so entwined within football hooliganism that it consequently led to the wearing of Burberry check-pattern garments being banned at certain venues across the nation.
In recent years Burberry has repositioned itself at the top of the high end fashion market and reversing the stigma it once had by removing the brand’s check-pattern from all but 10% of the company’s products. They developed an extensive range of premium garments including suits, trousers, shirts, sportswear and accessories for men, woman and children.
Frederick John Perry was an English tennis player and former World No. 1 who won three consecutive Wimbledon Championships from 1934 to 1936 and was World Amateur No.1 tennis player during those three years.
In the late 1940s, Perry was approached by Tibby Wegner, an Australian football player who had the idea to produce a sports shirt made from knitted cotton in the game’s traditional white dress code. The Fred Perry sportswear brand was launched at Wimbledon in 1952, with a laurel wreath as the brand’s logo which was based on the original symbol for Wimbledon.
Although Fred Perry as a brand did experience an impressive degree of success following its debut at Wimbledon, it really began to take off as a serious fashion brand in the 60’s when the stylish Mod culture started pairing the iconic polo shirt with their designer suits. With such a huge demand from Modernist’s calling out for Fred Perry shirts to be produced in more colourways, the brand began expanding their range.
Whilst the classic 1952 cotton pique shirt is still a bestseller to this day, more recent collaborations with designers such as Richard Nicoll and Raf Simons have helped to expand the company’s horizons and enter into the high end fashion market.
Belstaff are yet another example of a fine Luxury British fashion brand, founded by Eli Belovitch and his son-in-law Harry Grosberg in Staffordshire, England in 1924. Using their expertise in dealing reclaimed fabrics and rubber goods, combined with the added demand for waterproof fabrics during the war years, the pair subsequently formed the Belstaff brand. The name is a combination of Eli’s surname and his Staffordshire home. Belstaff originally rose to fame as the first company to use wax cotton in the manufacturing of waterproof apparel for motorcycling.
During World War II, Belstaff supplied everything from parachutes to aviator suits. Given the pair’s longstanding skill in water and weather-proofing, they were the obvious choice to produce survival suits that would go on to save the lives of many airmen and sailors. Such was the demand from the armed services for Belstaff supplies, the company took on an additional 600 workers.
In more recent history, Belstaff produced a short film executively produced by Liv Tyler, called OUTLAWS – the story of a mysterious drifter and motorcycle stuntman, haunted by memories of a beautiful trapeze artist and hunted by a maniacal director seeking revenge. The film featured David Beckham in his first ever serious film role, where he can be seen sporting the Belstaff Outlaw Jacket throughout the film.
Belstaff has come a long way to establish itself today as a prestigious brand through its sporting past, combining functionality and luxury in a British heritage brand.