The Interviews: the word from Jacket Required
As temperatures topped 101 degrees fahrenheit in London on what was dubbed "Tropical Thursday" - and the hottest day in Britain ever – last week, it was business as usual at Jacket Required in east London’s Old Truman Brewery. Visitor numbers were notably down on day two, as was the number of brands exhibiting, in what seems to be an increasingly shrinking show. But the mood remained upbeat, and thankfully the air conditioning was working just fine. Here’s what a selection of exhibitors had to say.
Paul Batista, brand manager, Yogi Footwear
What’s winning for you?
We’ve really nailed the colour palette this season – adding in oatmeal and sage options in the suede styles. The wider toe box on the stitch down centre seam shoe, either with the negative heel which promotes good posture, or with a crepe sole, is getting more traction now. That stems from earth shoe styles from the 1970’s. Everything is locally sourced where we make in Portugal, using a third-generation family owned factory. The big surprise for us has been our sandals, which are brand new for SS20. In keeping with the rest of the brand and where the brand is produced, they are based on a traditional Portuguese fisherman’s sandal. We’ve given it a negative heel for a USP, and it’s £130 retail so it’s a price above Birkenstock, but a price below Suicoke and Fracap. It sits in the middle at an accessible price point.
Have you seen the brand growing in recent seasons?
Absolutely, and internationally as well. We’ve really accelerated this year. For the first three months of this year, when we were selling AW19, we opened up 18 new accounts, with 14 in the UK and four overseas. But now we are getting traction in the US, and we’ve had Huckberry.com come in with a big order. That’s very premium and they curate everything beautifully, telling the story of each brand in depth. It’s a very big business which has 1.5 million subscribers to its newsletters. And now for SS20 we are going to be going in to John Lewis in the UK. Yogi is currently a comfort shoe brand that’s resonating with a fashion customer in the cooler premium independents, but going in to John Lewis is how we will grow in to more widespread acceptance.
How have you found the show?
In terms of exhibitors it’s a bit ‘honey I shrunk the show’. There’s probably about half of the exhibitors it had at its peak. Going back two or three years I think there was about 300-odd exhibitors, it’s more like 140 now. So, it’s shrunk significantly and seems to be going through a period of consolidation. Beyond that I’m not sure what the organisers’ plans are for it. My brother, Mark, who co-founded the show, is no longer part of it. I think that’s had an effect because a lot of the more important buyers are now migrating to Paris, where Mark now does Welcome Edition - the multi-label showroom - with a couple of partners including Kestin Hare. That’s been a great vehicle for Yogi.
So, what keeps you coming back to show at Jacket Required?
Well, we do see quite a few of our domestic UK accounts here, the ones who maybe have smaller stores which they can’t leave for too long periods. They tend to come down here for a day or two. So, though it is a much smaller show and the footfall is lighter, it’s definitely worth me being here. I picked up three new accounts yesterday. People are still coming, but what will be interesting is what the organisers do with the show next. They have actually been asking the brands what they should do with it, so we shall see, but we will come back.
Phil James, founder and creative director, & Sons
How long has your brand been established?
We’ve been going for around three and half years now. We started on Kickstarter to fund the first collection with £53,000. I’m a photographer in advertising by trade, and I was on a photo shoot one day in Northamptonshire when I saw an old building that only had ‘& Sons’ left of the sign. I liked it, so I registered the URL as andsons.co.uk, and thought one day I’d do a project with it. Since we’ve started, we’ve just built the collection and added more colours and options of what our customers like from selling on our website. We’ve done lots of advertising, and went heavy on Google Ads, as well as on Instagram. I shoot all the stuff, and we’ve been using loads of imagery and short films to promote it. We’re currently going out for more investment, purely to grow it.
Where did the heritage look come from?
It came from me and how I dress at work. I like workwear and I wanted stuff that I could move around in and be comfortable. I was ordering from about 10 different websites but not one website where I could just order the complete look, so that’s when I decided to start one myself.
What did you start out with?
I was just going to start with some T-shirts and sweatshirts, but then I thought I would do a layered outfit. So, we did everything from caps to boots, head to toe. We are making in Britain as much as possible, and we’ve got eight-piece baker boy caps, Henley undershirts, short-sleeved sweatshirts, workwear-inspired waistcoats, chore jackets, denim jeans, a pea coat, a submariner white roll-neck jumper and work boots. The idea is, it’s all interchangeable. There’s also now accessories such as chunky watch straps and wrist cuffs, leather belts and a leather biker-style wallet with chain, which goes well with our jeans. We’ve also got a military bag and distressed sweatshirt with cropped off sleeves inspired by Steve McQueen in The Great Escape, and I’ve paid Getty Images to use an image of him in the film with the bag and in the sweatshirt. They are not replica pieces, it’s more of a homage.
How have you found the show?
It’s been really good. It’s a bit quieter on day two, no doubt because of the crazy heat. We were here for the winter show as well and it worked really well for us. We’re here to get more stockists, as we only currently have around four in the UK, including The Bike Shed in Shoreditch and Cahill Clothiers in Colchester, and 12 across Europe in total. We’re slowly building it up. One of things this show is good for is we’ve seen guys with shops in the north as well as in Scotland, and they are target areas for us.
Michael Finlay, business development manager, Remus Uomo
Is this a first time showing at Jacket Required?
Yes, absolutely, we decided we’d come over from Northern Ireland to give it a go. We’ve haven’t exhibited at a show in the UK for the last couple of years, and we thought that this is probably the best menswear show in England to do.
This looks like a much more casual line than expected, has there been a change in direction?
The heritage of Remus Uomo is in tailoring, but we started a change in direction around 2011, with a greater focus on our casualwear - to create a lifestyle brand. That was the start of the journey, but we’ve now developed it much further. Remus Uomo is part of the Douglas & Grahame brand house, which is based in Northern Ireland – just outside of Belfast, in a place called Carrickfergus. The company has been going since 1924, and Remus Uomo is its biggest brand which itself is 27 years old. We have about 360 doors across the British Isles which are selling the brand currently. In Ireland, a big account for us is Best Menswear, based in Dublin, which has about 12 stores, as is Ej Menswear in Sligo and Galvin in Tullamore, one of the oldest and finest independent menswear retailers in the country. In the UK we mainly supply independents, such as the likes of Psyche in Middlesbrough, Coneys in Lincoln and Woven in Durham. They are key retailers for us.
What are the key pieces?
We’ve got a retro-inspired but contemporary sportswear look coming through, with some short-sleeved cotton knitted polo shirts in various colours, with button or zip-up collars. Knitted polos have been a real area of strength for us in recent years. And we’ve got a great summer blue houndstooth two-button blazer, with a soft shoulder, that’s doing well. That will retail at £179, so the price points are good. We also have a viscose blend Hawaiian-style shirt with a revere collar, which will retail at £55. As a lifestyle brand we’re building in all elements and we are now even doing sneakers, as well as canvas and leather trimmed weekend and laptop bags.
How have you found the show?
It’s been quite good. We’re happy with some new leads we got on the first day. We are keen to grow our brand exposure and customer base, particularly in the south of England, and it’s great to see customers that we already work with. It’s also been brilliant that the air conditioning is working, as I was a bit worried about the heat before arriving here.
Atila Bela Babos, head of menswear design, Collectif
How long has Collectif been around?
It’s been around for 18 years. The womenswear has been the focus, but we launched menswear six months ago. It’s a leading brand for 1940’s and 50’s inspired ‘pin-up fashion’. Our flagship shop is in Camden Market and we also have stores on Commercial Street in east London, in Old Spitafields Market and another in Brighton.
What are they key menswear pieces?
Our 1950’s-style gabardine jacket is proving very popular. The wholesale price is £25, and it retails at £65, so we have really good prices. The 12-gauge knitwear is also key, in 50’s and 60’s styles with retro stripes and with either button or zip-up collars. We also have denim jeans in a 1940’s cinch-back style, and a 1950’s cut, as well as a more contemporary style. Another key piece is our leather biker jacket, and the quality is amazing. For SS20 we’ve got 1940’s-style Hawaiian shirts with revere collars. Then there’s café racer tops and raglan baseball style tops with biker and aloha prints.
How have you found Jacket Required?
It’s our first time showing here, as we’ve only introduced menswear since I joined six months ago. We’ve seen existing wholesale customers here, who have bought the womenswear before, from France and Switzerland, and they have now bought the menswear as well. I have taken orders here. The show started well on the first day, but then got a bit quiet later on. I get the feeling that a lot of Europeans stay away at the moment, with the whole uncertainty over Brexit. I’ve heard concerns from German customers regarding what’s going to happen with deliveries. I don’t think there’s enough information to say ‘hey guys, this is not going to happen tomorrow.’
What shows do you normally do?
We show at the London Edge show at the Business Design Centre in Islington, and we will be doing the Vegas Edge show that they now do in Las Vegas in September. That show is very good for us. We also show at Magic in Las Vegas.
Julie Featherstone, director, Dead Legacy
How long has the brand now been established?
It’s six years old and we’re based in Manchester. It started out with three guys, including my husband, James Featherstone, just printing sweats and Tees in a garage. We bought the other two guys out when I joined three years ago to run it, and that’s when we evolved the brand to offer a full men’s lifestyle collection. We’re showing our AW19 collection here to drop in stores in September, as we work closer to seasons rather than being more forward order. We still do printed Tees and sweats all year round, with different additions added each month. They tend to be more volume driven around Europe rather than the UK now. We’re popular in Norway and Sweden, and we do sell in around 50 UK stores, including with USC and online retailers such as Reem Clothing.
What are the key strengths?
We import it from Turkey so the quality is very good, and the price points are really reasonable - like high street prices. Our T-shirts start at £29.99 retail, the hoodys are £44.99, and our maximum price is £54.99 on our jackets. It’s streetwear, but we’re moving more towards smarter pieces now as well – so lads can wear it from day to night. Dressed up sportswear if you like. Also, our printed Hawaiian viscose shirts have been best sellers this summer, so we’re carrying those through. Then we’ve got six pieces you can mix and match, including a sweatshirt, hoody, Tee and two different joggers. People buy them together and we’re finding men like to wear a co-ordinated outfit, so they are buying matching Tees and shorts or sweats and joggers and so on.
What are more dressier pieces?
We’ve got a checked cotton trouser fabric, but in a jogger style with zip pockets, and that has a matching bomber jacket. We’re seeing that lads are looking to be a little bit smarter than just wearing a regular tracksuit.
How have you found the show?
It’s very hot outside so I think people are preferring to go to a beer garden rather than a trade show! It’s been good from people coming outside of the UK, so we’ve made contacts with retailers in the Middle East, America and Russia. In terms of UK buyers, it’s been a bit slow. The UK independents we supply are mainly in the north, so we’re looking to increase exposure in the south. It’s our fourth season showing at Jacket Required, and I’ll definitely do the January show. The winter edition is just busier, and we had a good show at the last one.
Fredrik Ekström, creative director and head of sustainability affairs, Europe, Tretorn
When was the brand established?
It was established in 1891 in Helsingborg, Sweden. It started out making protective rubber galoshes for farmers and workers. Then in 1900 we started making sports sneakers, so we are actually the second oldest sneaker brand in the world.
We have re-introduced the Mexico 68 tennis shoe, which goes back to the 1968 Mexico Olympics when we supplied the Swedish tennis team. We’ve relaunched it coincide with the Tokyo Olympics in 2020. We’ve done it in white leather, and the style design really stems from our canvas sneaker which was the shoe Björn Borgwore when he was winning Wimbledon titles in the 70’s. All of the construction is from recycled rubber and we only work with tanneries that have solar power or wind power. So, it’s a certified eco-friendly leather. On the outerwear we have the new Sarek collection. Sarek is a large area in the northern part of Sweden and it’s very wet! We were able to trademark the Sarek name in 1972, and it’s the largest untouched wilderness in Europe. There’s an original rubber hiking boot, which we actually launched in 1972, and we have fully waterproof outerwear, including a new camo jacket with a print inspired by an aerial photograph of the Rapa Valley in Sarek. The entire Sarek line is made in recycled fabrics. We’ve also brought out women’s line of outerwear to the show, which are more traditional raincoats like our trench coat.
What is the new collaboration with Nigel Cabourn?
It’s three pieces within the Sarek collection, so each piece is in green and white in keeping with the colours found in the Sarek area. There’s a bi-colour mountaineering jacket, a rucksack and some sneakers. The canvas on the sneakers and the bag is actually recycled organic Ventile. Though Ventile is a fabric Nigel often works with, it’s the first time he’s worked with an organic recycled version.
How have you found the show?
We’ve been doing Jacket Required for a few seasons – I think this is our fifth time here, and we find it good. Our UK business is growing. We’re getting a lot of traction now on our sneakers, because they have the sustainability factor, all made in recycled and natural fabrics. We’re also seeing growth in our outerwear sales. So, we’re happy. There seems to be less people who come to the show in the summer as opposed to the winter, but it’s also 38 degrees Celsius today, so that explains it a little bit! I like it that they now do panel talks, and we were involved with one yesterday on sustainability. It’s good to get people talking and raise awareness.