The Rise Of The Independent

Words by: Andrew Williams

archer-adams

I had some good news this week. It seems that independent London label Archer Adams has now gone live. When I first introduced Archer here in June he was just beginning to get his stock in. Now the Marylebone shop is open and the website firing on all cylinders.

His unique, somewhat rock ‘n’ roll style of clothing is going to add a much needed breath of fresh air to a market getting a little stale under the weight of the ‘well curated’ American work wear scene.

archer-adams-ties-and-rainc

I have a lot of time for Archer, and his dedication to quality manufacturing –much of it in England. I’m rather taken by his simple Rain Coat, which I didn’t see on my first visit; and I’m particularly fond of his English hand made ties in Dupion Silk. The vibrant colours and texture make them a good contrast fit with denim, cord and even tweed.

In my very first article for Mensflair I pointed out that my particular passion was independent menswear retailers. When thinking about the intervening period it’s heartening to see just how many independents have launched, and how many others have not only prospered but have made an impact beyond these shores.

For Archer Adams is just the latest in what could almost be described as a movement. Just recently Trunk Clothiers opened its doors offering, amongst other things,  J.Crew to UK men for the first time. Before that there was Hostem, and before them Present, Meet Bernard, Garbstore, Oi Pollio, Lodger Footwear and Albam, several of which can boast international followings.

For years the independent retailer was in decline, a feature of increasing property prices and high rents; an inability to penetrate the public consciousness in the face of bigger high spending brands; and the herd mentality of shoppers. Now, dare I say it, they are virtually fashionable.

Much of this resurgence is down to the pivotal role that the internet plays in our lives. It has resolved many of the impediments to success for the independent retailer, effectively providing him with a shop window onto the World at minimal cost. Look at blogging phenomenon like A Suitable Wardrobe, Inventory and A Continuous Lean all of which now retail clothes and apparel to ready made audiences.

Of course it’s not just the young at heart that are getting on. Some from the old school have taken full advantage of the internet; people like Michael Campy with Bromleys, and second generation retailer Adrian Herring at Herring Shoes. If you’re looking for craftsmanship look no further than Ettinger Of London with their beautiful handmade leather goods, Carreducker’s bespoke shoes or Charlie Collingwood with Henry Herbert bespoke tailors.

I’m pleased to say this resurgence isn’t confined to the UK. There is plenty going on across the pond. The Cordial Churchman with their unique handmade ties is one retailer I’m keeping an eye on – thanks to An Affordable Wardrobe for putting me onto this one.

All those mentioned are merely the ones I’ve so far met or which caught my eye, but there is no denying the independent is on the rise.