Sunday, 18 April 2010

ASOS' timely 'Best of British' collaborations

As the volcanic ash grounds Britain indefinitely it becomes ever more apparent that we are indeed an island. It seems that half of the people I know are stranded in some far away land, not least Susie who who is unable to return from New York until next weekend at the very earliest while those of us still left have a mere 93278 square miles to play with. This feeling of isolation could provoke cabin fever like hysteria but not on this blog, not at the moment anyway. Thankfully we are marooned on a land that has a wealth of craft and design talent. ASOS' soon to be fully launched 'Best of British' line sees nineteen brands combine for ten limited edition collaborations for SS10. Borne of a desire to work more closely with a selection of brands already stocked by the online retailer and from an aspiration to produce pieces that sum up the nation's wealth of design talent. The list of brands reads like a mouth watering catalogue of the very best British companies and designers. From two of my favourite designers in Tim Soar and Carolyn Massey working with Corgi and Slazenger respectively to unexpected unions in Bill Amberg and Southsea Deckchairs to Brady bags and Jas MB, there is just so much to covet for the warmer months ahead. I've selected a few of the very best collaborations with a little information on each for you below...

Bill Amberg and Southsea Deckchairs - This is one of the most unexpected collaborations but it encapsulates a very definite sense of British summertime. Everything created by Bill Amberg is unique; not just in sustainable materials and handmade quality, but in outstanding design and innovative production techniques. Made in England by West Country craftsmen, Bill Amberg bags are frequently made from hardwearing vegetable tanned leather, produced from one of the last remaining pit tanning operations in the UK. However, for this project Amberg has worked with Southsea Deckchairs utilising traditional deckchair fabrics for his bags. These bags take me back to summers spent making sandcastles.

Carolyn Massey and Slazenger - As you should all know by now, Carolyn Massey is one of our favourite designers while being one of the leading figures in pushing menswear at London Fashion Week. After having a good nosey around her workspace it was clear that Massey is at her happiest when researching something she has found, either an old picture or an actual garment. By taking elements from pieces she has seen and found while combining them with her personal vision for menswear she creates something new and exciting. For 'Best Of British' she has delved in to the archives of Slazenger and Wimbledon to help create her own classic tennis wear that transcends the courts.

Dr Martens and Ally Capellino - Dr Martens are synomous with youthful rebellion and here they've teamed up with the quintessentially British luggage and accessories brand Ally Capellino. Capitalisng on their strengths, the leather loving labels have combined to produce four style of DM, two shoes and two eight holed boots.

Brady and Jas MB - Two of the biggest names in UK bags have joined forces to produce two models that perfectly embody the very best of this island. Both are well know for their craftsmanship but their products normally mix in very different circles. Brady bags, renowned for their solid foundations with the fishing, hunting and shooting folk collaborate with Jas MB, a label known for their statement pieces that are beautiful and hand made in London.

Tim Soar and Corgi - Tim Soar always embraces a purist, modernist approach to menswear , creating classic clothing with unexpected fabrications. For his AW10 collection he shocked a few of us as it saw him collaborate with British heritage knitwear company Corgi. During our Menswear Day coverage we caught up with the designer and he enthusiastically declared that "Corgi are exactly what British manufacturers should be about, making an extremely high quality product that does not try to compete with the Far East on price." For 'Best of British' he has teamed up with the Welsh hosiery and knitwear brand once again to create a knitted sweater.

Grenson and the British Millerain Co Ltd - With a history spanning more than one hundred and forty years you would forgive Grenson for resting on its Goodyear Welted soles. However, when compared to other classic English shoe makers, they have been making the most positive and interesting moves in recent years. One of the clearest examples of this is their collaborations with well chosen brands from Rag & Bone to Albam to Tenue de Nîmes. These collaborations have reminded us that a classic English shoe brand doesn't necessarily have to follow one set path of shoe making and design. Here they have created an oxford, a lace up boot and and a desert boot which all showcase performance fabrics from the British Millerain Co Ltd.


Being the style geek that I am, my only criticism of the project as it stands is that there is not enough information on how the products came to be. You all know how much I enjoy a spot of factory porn but sadly it is absent from the current coverage. I would have loved to have been properly introduced to the brands involved and to have been offered some insight in to the production. However, the fruits of this project remind us all that this island of ours is home to a great away of craft and design talent.


iliketweet said...

Britain is a bit good isn't it? Hope Susie makes her way back soon.

tweet tweet tweet


Matthew Spade said...

i'm pretty excited about all this, first i've heard of it. just checking it out now.

love the dr marten 3 eye shoes in grey. and the sore & corgi is exciting

Make Do Style said...

Well despite the factory porn omission the collaboration information you've provided is fab!

Tom said...

Great post, interesting collaboration there from Dr Martens.

Michael said...

A great initiative from ASOS though I think the results are a bit mixed. Love the look of the Tim Soar/Corgi sweater though.


I love a collaboration or two and here we have a good few... first impressions are good.. nice to see Capellino venturing into footwear and Massey is always a winner! Its refreshing to see ASOS provide us men with great tidbits

Yours tRuly



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