Monday, 19 July 2010

British Remains

As they couldn't find anything decent that anyone else was doing, Andrew Bunney and Daryl Saunders did it themselves. British Remains was born.

As they could not find anything decent printed t shirts, Andrew Bunney and Daryl Saunders took matters in to their own creative hands and launched British Remains. I heard the first murmurings surrounding the brand during my tour of Lewis Leathers. As Bunney enthusiastically flicked through over a number of books dedicated to the London of yesteryear, enthralled by the subcultures of London and beyond, he excitedly told me that he was working on a range of printed t shirts. The once challenging, political, humourous, marginalised printed tees shirts of old have seemingly lost their way no thanks to the mass produced varieties hanging on rails across high streets near and far. Bunney and Saunders wanted to reignite a printed passion. For inspiration they looked to what they knew best, symbols of Britishness and subculture...

Bunney and Saunders talked for many years about the things they like, hate and mourn about Britain and British Remains will explore some of those feelings. When I heard the news that the label is exclusively available at the Hideout I made sure that I dropped by the Soho street wear institution over the weekend. After perusing the rails of Supreme and taking fancy to a pair of Visvim's or two, I focused my attention on the British Remains products in the window. The debut collection is a tightly edited offering, each piece entirely encapsulates what the label is all about.

The range celebrates facets of Britain and localised symbols that would ordinarily not be known outside of these shores. London brickwork, toilet signage and Generation X are all given the printed cotton treatment. The Margate boy in me was instantly drawn to the latter option...

After spending my youth in this once bustling now wonderfully depressing, occasionally violent and particularly English seaside town I just had to purchase Generation X as it depicts a celebrated beach scene. This was Margate during its heyday. In 1964 you were either a Mod or a Rocker. You had to be one or the other. The Mods had designer suits, Italian scooters and The Who. Rockers had leathers, motorbikes and Elvis. For a few years in the early 1960s, the two groups represented a sharp division in British youth culture. Their rivalry often spilled over into violence, and the 1964 Whitsun holiday weekend clashes in resort towns on the south coast terrorised local residents and outraged much of the nation. This image of the English seaside at its most memorable is juxtaposed with an image of academia gentility. Harrow is one of the original nine English public schools. It has many traditions and rich history, which includes the use of boaters, morning suits, top hats and canes as uniform as well as a very long line of famous alumni including eight former Prime Ministers (including Winston Churchill, Jawaharlal Nehru and Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston), numerous foreign statesmen, former and current British Lords and members of Parliament, two Kings and several other members of various royal families, 19 Victoria Cross holders, and a great many notable figures in both the arts and the sciences.

Although the front is powerful, the back of the t shirt is not overlooked. Published in 1964 under the title, 'Generation X - Today's Generation Talking About Itself,' by Charles Hamblett and Jane Deverson set out to understand the youth of the time and exposed a cultural revolution. John Braden, an 18 year old Mod and a car mechanic days after the Whitsun clashes in Margate was among them. 'They might've got a bit of a shock but they deserve it - they don't think about us, how we might feel.' Jacobs was part of the original Generation X. Not one of the youths described by Douglas Coupland in his 1991 book of the same name. The original Generation X were all teenagers in the Swinging Sixties - young adults whose lives were documented in a unique social project put together by two authors who set out to understand the youth of their time. Originally, Deverson was asked by a women's magazine editor to conduct a series of interviews with teenagers of the time. The picture of disaffected youth that emerged was a new phenomenon and was deemed unsuitable for the magazine: the book was the result.

With their exploration of Britain, past and present, British Remains stirs up odd feelings about the country I live in. What it means to be British, what it once meant and how it has evolved. The class struggle, the rise and fall of subcultures, everyday symbols that are often overlooked. These are all things that make Britain so interesting. It is undoubtedly a thought provoking yet aesthetically pleasing brand. I'm looking forward to watching this label grow.


J said...

Nice! Is this the first time you've posted a t shirt? Great choice.

James said...

I'm not sure what the tee is really getting at. I understand the juxtaposition of images, but the quote really makes no sense. How does fighting people who are in the same hardship as yourself show the establishment up.

To me the Margate incident seems like the prelude to terrace culture; people using a particular passion as an excuse for violence.

Have a quick google of the quote and name and you'll get to a book by Terry Rawlings, with lots of interviews following the Whitsun riots.

As purely a t-shirt I've no problems with it. Sorry going off on one there.

Style Salvage Steve said...

J: Ha, this is not the first time I've posted a t shirt but there haven't been many. Little as interesting as this one.
James: No need to apologise, I love comments like these! I agree, now the quote shows up the ludicrous motives for the clashes. My understanding of the inclusion of the quote on the shirt though is to just highlight the anger amongst Generation X (granted it was misplaced in many instances). It might not have made complete sense but I'm sure that Jacobs believed wholeheartedly in what he said here. For me, the quote and images combine to paint an interesting picture of life in Britain in 1964.

snappy said...

Nice modeling Steve! I really like the t-shirt image and the message is quite clear, definitely thought provoking. I'm looking forward to seeing more of the brand too, and what else they might have to say.
snappy x

Anonymous said...

Love that tote bag, so cool!!


Related Posts with Thumbnails