Take a scroll through the pages of the Beaufort & Blake website and try to take a guess at when it was founded. Its clothes clearly bear all the hallmarks of great British craftsmanship – fine construction, traditional silhouettes, high-quality fabrics. Perhaps, then sometime in the 1800s? A heritage business handed down from father to son and now run by a great-grandson putting a modern spin on signature styles?
We can see why you’d assume that. The brand’s line of understated, classic but contemporary shirts, knitwear, trousers and essentials speak of a brand with decades of expertise. It may come as a surprise, then, that Beaufort & Blake was only founded in 2013.
“Beaufort & Blake started life at The Royal Agricultural College,” explains co-founder Sam Pullin. “Black tie balls were a frequent occurrence at the college and the May 2012 ball had a ‘Best of British’ theme. A friend declared he was going to stitch a Union Jack flag onto the back and sleeves of his dress shirt – the idea for the first shirt was born and we set to work bringing it to life.”
From that spark of an idea came an equally quirky beginning. Despite being sold from the back of a Land Rover, the first 50 shirts were gone within a week and before long the founders realised they had something special on their hands. “When we started we had a completely unique product and almost no competition,” says Pullin. “We revived the ‘pattern-back dress shirt’ from the 80s – a tradition hailing from the military. At the time, the only place you could get a shirt like ours was to have one bespoke made on Jermyn Street. By making them available off-the-peg at an achievable price we quickly dominated black tie balls up and down the country.”
Seven years on Beaufort & Blake has blossomed into a brand offering options for every area of your wardrobe – along with a full range of womenswear to boot. And, while button-down shirts remain the brand’s most popular item, it also does a roaring trade in trousers, rugby shirts, and jackets designed, in Pullin’s words, for “winter in the country, summer on the coast, and to always navigate town with ease.”
“We’ve tried to build a team that really understands our customers,” Pullin explains of the brand’s design ethos. “By going to the places our customers go and indulging in similar lifestyles, the design team spend as much time understanding the importance of the practical needs of the garments as they do delivering the aesthetic. With our town, country, coast ethos we find inspiration in every corner of this lifestyle, whether it’s archive references from 80’s Sloane culture, colour inspiration from Notting Hill houses, stitch patterns from a nautical flag or a quality reference like the leather of an old saddle.”
A British brand through and through then. But simply having a strong aesthetic and construction know-how doesn’t guarantee success in today’s crowded fashion marketplace. What does Pullin think had made Beaufort & Blake so successful?
“The energy we’ve put into crafting a brand that resonates with the lifestyles of our customers, never taking ourselves too seriously, offering a fresh perspective on traditional menswear and going big on product details and quality has contributed towards our success so far,” he suggests. “From a business perspective, it’s been an enormous learning curve and we’ve certainly weathered a few storms. Continuing to ride the rollercoaster, staying focused and adapting our offer has helped us continue to do what we do best.”
Of course, it helps that the team has a very strong idea of who ‘Mr Beaufort’, as they affectionately refer to him internally, is. Dapper, modern, stylish, decent and with an appreciation for tradition and good manners is how Pullin describes him. In essence, a true gent.
So what’s next for Beaufort & Blake? “Some day in the future, we would love to bring the brand to life with a store concept. Watch this space.” We’ll see you there.
Looking for something to go with the your new Beaufort & Blake shirt? Here’s how G.H. Bass & Co turned the penny loafer into an icon…
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