How &SONS became a pioneer in the workwear scene
By prioritising small-batch runs, generation-to-generation artisans, and everyday pieces, this British label has been setting standards since 2014…
In the past few years, even though the uniform of the nine-to-five has moved away from polished Derbies, ties and pressed suits, a different kind of workwear has actually grown even further in popularity, with overshirts and heavy-duty denim becoming the go-to for style enthusiasts. Not only are such pieces designed to withstand the tough UK climes, but their appeal has been raised during a period in which the notion of investing into quality and the handmade has become emphasised.
One such workwear label that has caught our eye of late has been &SONS, a brand that eschews current trends in favour of a hardy, timeless clothing capsule that’s imbued with a vintage-inspired style.
The British company’s story began in 2014, as its founder, Phil James, a seasoned commercial photographer, had conceived the idea of producing a range of workwear that would be created by and for artisans, craftspeople and pioneering creatives, with a spirit and aesthetic that would draw upon throwback influences, such as American workwear from the mid-to-late 20th century; leaders in the industrial age; and old-school motorbikes. During one photography project that year, when Phil spotted a faded sign – ‘&Sons’ – that belonged to the company that once occupied the set location on which he was shooting, he saw his opening and registered the domain name that same day.
Phil’s initial steps began with sketches of the pieces he envisioned – items that were durable yet elegant, comfortable and wearable, in order to help separate them from the more tough and robust options on the market – and sent them to small-scale, family-operated companies whom he saw as potential collaborators.
Moreover, in order to counter the trend that saw consumers draw upon several big-named brands, Phil conceived a layerable head-to-toe line, initially releasing a limited-run range that included selvedge jeans, a peacoat, leather boots and a flat cap in tweed, all of which were noted for their ease-of-wear and versatility from the office to the late-night bar.
Today, Phil still chisels away at perfecting his craft, creating singular workwear products that sit between tradition and innovation. The team maintains a firm commitment to the finer details – from seam to stitch – and maintaining their collaborations with world-class makers, such as The Hat Butcher, whose time-honoured methods and traditions are passed between generations.
Equally as important to the hands that make the products are the premium, stand-the-test-of-time materials from which the clothing is crafted. Highlights include the take-anywhere Great Escape Bag and the Getaway Bag, which are made from 100% waxed cotton canvas, finished in brown leather, water-resistant and will age beautifully over time.
There’s also the Sunday Shirt, a versatile piece that can be layered over a henley or under a denim jacket, and complete with pearl button fasteners and elbow patches; the Carver Jacket, made from heavy cotton twill, is sleek yet functional due to its three front pockets, and its barely embellished design allows it to pair with most items. Fans of Steve McQueen’s evergreen style will be drawn to the Rebel Harrington Jacket whose lightweight cotton construction, raglan sleeves and knitted cuffs make it ideal for the transitional seasons – and the brushed cotton flannel check in the lining adds a splash of detail. And, true to its mission of easing up workwear’s reputation for unforgiving materials, there’s also a selection of soft knits: the Pioneer British Wool Cardigan, most notably, is a chunky option that elegantly moulds to the wearer’s contours.
By refusing to pump out large releases frequently, and instead focusing on growing its wardrobe slowly, bit by bit and in small batches, with all pieces considered carefully and done in a sustainable way, &SONS’s hard-working, quality-first ethos has helped it to become a pioneer in a world it entered just under a decade ago.
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