April is shaping up to be a patriotic month here in England! On the 21st April, us British will be wishing the Queen happy birthday. St. Georges Day arrives two days later on the 23rd April, reminding us all of the patron Saint of England.
With all of these celebrations, it’s a perfect time to look back on all of the iconic, well-loved British designers who we are proud to represent here at Zee & Co.
An iconic designer even today, Vivienne Westwood became a more established British designer when her tartan-heavy designs were adopted by the punk rock community in the 1970s. Working closely with her husband Malcolm McClaren, Westwood famously clothed the Sex Pistols during their heyday. Since then, her unique designs have continued, with her adding in a whole variety of bright and bold fabrics, patterns and cuts. Of course, her familiar tartan designs still remain a large part of most of her collections. Known for her eccentricity as much as her clothing, this definitely shows through in her memorable, incredibly unique and on-trend designs. Seen as the ‘Great Dame of Fashion’, her unique Royal ‘orb’ crested logo is present on the majority of her designs.
Vivienne Westwood was awarded an OBE by the Queen in 1992 and has been bestowed with the Designer of the Year title twice.
Despite leaving school with only one qualification, the late Alexander McQueen secured an apprenticeship with Savile Row tailor Anderson and Sheppard. After gaining tailoring experience and being pushed by fashion designer Isabella Blow, McQueen launched his first collection in 1994. Up until his death in 2010, McQueen’s designs carried an air of extravagance, which quickly became well loved by fashionistas and celebrities alike. Amongst those celebrities is David Bowie, who he designed a wardrobe for his 1996-1997 tour. Some may also remember the Union Jack coat worn by Bowie on his Earthling album. His designs often adopt a an asymmetric, bold and colourful pattern, especially on the women’s designs, whilst his suits are a must-have for any formal occasion.
Even after his death, Alexander McQueen’s legacy lives on via the McQ by Alexander McQueen label which was established by his long-time assistant, Sarah Burton in 2010. You will be able to see plenty of these new designs on both our men’s and women’s collections regularly.
Founded in 1894 by John Barbour in England as an importer of oil cloth, Barbour went on to become well known for its waxed cotton jackets. Supplying waterproof clothing for the Royal family since 1974, Barbour has since expanded their collection from not only their traditional waxed jacket, but to a whole range of shirts, hoodies, t-shirts and accessories. The Barbour International label hosts their large collection of biker wear, including their iconic biker jackets. The Barbour Steve McQueen collection is based on the fact that the American actor, famed for his role in films such as The Great Escape, owned a Barbour International motorbike jacket. Their designs encorporate images of the late actor, as well as sticking to their traditional look and feel.
Established by William Green who learned to produce shoes by helping his mother produce shoes at home, the Grenson brand began once Green moved out of the family home in 1860. In 1866, William started William Green & Son, which after repeated trips to London, became famous for their quality, craftsmanship and durability. In 1895, Grenson moved to a larger factory, where shoes continue to be manufactured, even today in Queen Street. The Grenson brand was registered in 1913, becoming one of the first brand names to ever be registered in the UK. Now producing more shoes than ever before, Grenson can be recognised by their designs such as their classic William Brogue shoe, the Holborn lace-up shoe, Fred boot and suede Alex shoe. Since expanding to cater for women, whilst also producing bags, wallets and accessories, Grenson is definitely a British label to remember.
Commercially successful and held in high regard in the fashion industry, he opened his first shop in 1970 in Nottingham. He then showed off his first menswear collection in 1976 under the Paul Smith label in Paris, to great success. Gradually expanding his retail business, it was at his Covent Garden shop in 1979 where Paul Smith was able to offer an eclectic combination of clothes and accessories that reflected his ‘magpie personality’.
His flagship shop opened in Notting Hill in 1998, which became the year that he showed off his first women’s collection. Since then, Paul Smith has continued to expand his business, choose fabrics, design clothes and oversee every aspect of his brand.
Today there are twelve different collections, such as the Paul Smith, PS by Paul Smith, Paul Smith Jeans and Paul Smith Accessories labels that we are proud to present at Zee & Co. Quintessentially British, his designs often include his signature multi-coloured stripe design, the striped zebra or colourful Mini Cooper, and embrace a bespoke look and feel.
In 2000, Paul Smith was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II after nearly three decades as a menswear icon.