Could you tell us a little about yourself and what it is that you do?
I’m 36, a vintage military clothing collector, I co-own and design Heritage Research, we’re a small team so we all take a hands on approach with the brand from the concept stage, fabric sourcing etc right through to the final garment, sales and PR.
Everything has to start somewhere, so how did Heritage Research come about?
It was started as an ongoing project essentially fueled by our interest in historical and military garments and their application in contemporary style.
I’m the type of consumer that requires context within the things I buy so we decided to create a brand where every piece directly references a garment from the past but isn’t necessarily an exact copy.
It was initially a side project we sold to a few handpicked accounts in Japan but the market was shifting in the UK and we started to get a lot of enquiries, so approached key stores like Oi Polloi and Peggs and it took off.
Did you previously have a background in garment design?
Neither of us have had formal training in garment design but we’ve both worked within the design and fashion industry for about 9 years and prior to that I sourced vintage clothing for a living.
Both of us have collected vintage pieces for a long time and I suppose you get a feel for the ergonomics of garments and learn the technical stuff as you go on.
“A lot of men are seeking out new, quality brands rather than the usually generic highstreet fodder …
What gets you out of bed everyday, and what keeps your passion alive?
Because the brand is truly driven by a love of what we do and the clothing we’re referencing rather than a business necessity we really enjoy the day to day so we’re always motivated!
Have you seen a change in the way men purchase clothing? Do you think men care more about appearance in this current day and age? Especially in the UK, I see a lot more people investing in quality rather than quantity.
Definitely, there’s a real move towards a more intelligent approach to buying. A lot of men are seeking out new, quality brands rather than the usually generic highstreet fodder. I think people are starting to see that spending more on a garment that will last and communicates individuality is more satisfying than buying a lot of cheap fashion clothing.
Saying that, I think they’re are certain brands within the H R genre that allude to being quality and value for money and play on the same themes when in reality they’re made in china and have the same production values as Topman or something similar but are asking top end prices, so I think the consumers needs to be informed about what they’re buying into.
The new lookbook from you guys was terrific. What made you come up with that location? And what theme, if any, is behind the spring 2011 line?
The lookbook was shot by a friend of ours, John Isaac, who ones of those annoyingly multi talented people who can do everything!
We wanted the shots to reflect the brand in the sense that although the inspiration for the SS11 collection is definitely American, the fabric application and reworking of the garments is definitely English so we wanted the photos to compliment that. The location was Johns idea, theres a definite correlation between the aesthetics of North Cornwall’s coastline and Northern California.
The collection is a homage to the returning American servicemen who fought in WWII. Many disaffected young men returning home to California after the war found themselves unable to re-assimilate with society.
The camaraderie and feeling of belonging that came from being part of a military unit was gone, and so, for some, it was replaced by taking to the road with other like-minded types on motorcycles, or in Car clubs which also sprang from this sense of detatchment, regular meets and races taking place at Muroc dry lake, north of Los Angles. Hot Rodding became a favoured pastime of youngmen who had been trained in the Military and now turned those skills toward building and racing cars. The previously unkown Hawaiian sport of surfing rose in popularity in the 1940’s.
Surfing had a great impact on many of these ex servicemen, its freedom and danger appealing to those who craved the adrenaline rush of action, mirroring that found in Hot Rodding and motorcycle riding. These sub cultures would become inextricably linked, creating the West Coast stereotype we know today.
“Initial ideas come from garments in our archive or from research, we then discuss themes etc and draw the ideas together.
Any stand out items from the spring 2011 collection?
I think the Eastman for H R motorcycle jacket is amazing, a beautiful handmade garment that will always be in style and will last for years. Also, the knitwear is great, perfect for the British spring (and summer, ha ha)!
Could you guide us through the design process for one of your garments? What happens from start to finish?
Initial ideas come from garments in our archive or from research, we then discuss themes etc and draw the ideas together.
Once we’ve decided on the styles we then start to decide how much we want to keep of the original garment in the design. We create an initial pattern and a toile or prototype and adjust it if required.
We then discuss fabrics and a proto sample is made.
Who and what inspires you?
WWII and Vietnam era US military clothing, the photography of Tim Page and Ron Stoner, Gary Eastman, Confederate style of the ACW, Dennis Wilson, Major Richard Winters, functional clothing design, Buzz Rickson’s, Ralph Lauren, JEB Stuart, Will Oldham.
What’s next for Heritage Research? Any upcoming projects that you can share with us?
We’ve just finished the AW11 collection samples and have started on SS12, the fabrics for AW11 are amazing, we’ve had wools custom made for all styles including an exact copy of the WWII USMC frog camo woven in wool!
Cottons have all been custom made in Japan and the collection itself really pushes the boundaries of the possibilities of handmade garments.
New projects include H R Womenswear for AW11, a collab with Japanese denim brand Allevol, HR jewellery and an amazing Eastman collab!