Thursday, 9 June 2011


M&I was presented with the opportunity to ask Nigel Cabourn some questions this week. The well respected menswear designer is based in Gosforth, Newcastle Upon Tyne and for the last four years has been producing a collection that is solely made in England using British fabrics. The label is called Authentic and uses 15 manufacturers in the UK who, according to Mr Cabourn 'are all making a very special product at a very high level.'

Here is our brief Q&A in full:

M&I: In a recent interview you said "I make everything in England, which isn't easy these days. It's a labour of love." – Can you explain what drives you to make your garments here?

NC: That’s pretty easy, it’s the authenticity. I love making authentic, real products - I am not interested in fashion... just something that is truly real. I go to great lengths to find manufacturers who make those real clothes. For example, our cold weather parkas were worn in the war, and I sourced out the original manufacturer. It makes it really special and authentic. I want it real. Not fashion. Function and quality is key to me. I want it to last forever. Everything made by Cabourn has huge longevity; it’s something you can pass down to your kids.

A Nigel Cabourn Authentic Tenzing Jacket

M&I: Is the renewed interest in products made in the UK having an impact on your business?

NC: I would say yes, hugely. Generally there is a huge interest in heritage garments. I think our advantage is that our company has been going for 40 years. We have a fashion heritage as well as a real heritage - that’s what makes us special.

M&I: As a leading designer creating UK made products how do you feel
about the likes of Burberry and Jack Wills purporting Britishness?

NC: I don’t mind with Burberry, I think they have every right; they are an old establishment. After all, they did dress Captain Scott, who was the first British man to cross Antarctica in 1912 - his whole crew was kitted out in Burberry. (It’s actually Scott's 100th anniversary next year and I am doing a collection for this.) But I feel that Burberry has every right. Jack Wills - it’s a completely different story.

M&I: Can you explain the inspiration for your Aircraft Jacket please?

NC: The idea originally came from a British RAF jacket, which was worn by pilots during WW2. However this jacket is only inspired by the WW2 jackets, and then we took it into a new development fabric of beeswax and oil cloth which we did last year.

M&I: Can you tell us more about your bag range?

NC: We are making more bags. We are working very closely with a very famous old fishing company, similar to Barbour, but who always specialized in old fishing bags from the 1920s, called Brady (based in Walsall.) The start of our relationship was based on my interest in vintage fishing bags. Recently I discovered that a couple of my favourite styles are old Brady bags from the 30s and 40s. I suggested to Brady that we do a collaboration, they were very excited and that’s what we are doing today.

Concept board for AW 11

M&I: What does the remainder of 2011 hold for Nigel Cabourn?

NC: What it holds for me is to get all of my winter production made beautifully and out on time. For us to go out over the summer and have a fantastic spring season - those are the two key things. Then we will start putting our minds on the opening of our shop in New York for July 2012.

M&I: Ok, to finish off, some lighter questions; w
hat's on your bedside table?

NC: At present- Scott of the Antarctic- Im reading it because I want to do a collection for AW12 based on his expedition.

M&I: Do you favour any other UK made brands/products?

NC: Margaret Howell - I wear one or two pieces of her pieces, particularly the shirts. I like that it’s a bit more basic and not over the top.

M&I: And finally, what is your favourite walk?

NC: I don’t have a favourite walk, and I’d like to say I do, as I do enjoy walking. When I get the opportunity I like walking in the lakes.

FOOTNOTE: Many thanks to Nigel, Kiomi and Drew at Nigel Cabourn for their time and help. Kiomi has recently set up the company blog which is well worth a look.