Introducing Understated.Era, the British brand going global

Understated.Era founder Charlie March talks to us about its origins, growth and where he sees the label going.

Today it can be difficult to make noise as a newborn fashion brand. The market is oversaturated, and typically labels are finding that they need to be doing something left-field, out there and pretty unique to cut through. That being said, Charlie March, founder of Understated.Era, is of the opposite opinion. As the name suggests, everything the label does is quiet, refined and not too shouty, and March's aim is to build a business that lasts, as opposed to one that has its 15 minutes on the popularity ladder.

March, who was born on the South Coast of England near Brighton and is who is heir apparent to the Goodwood estate, is now based in New York City. The decision to kickstart Understated.Era, which went live in the summer of 2023, came after he realised, due to his own personal experiences in the Big Apple, that the UK's global fashion appeal was dwindling. Sure brands such as Alexander McQueen, Stella McCartney and Burberry still sit on the global main stage, but when it comes to burgeoning businesses that were making waves overseas, he found there to be minimal presence.

Working in finance, March explained to Gentleman's Journal that "being a part of a very different culture helped me to see that British fashion was failing to appeal to a global audience." This, he suggests, is down to the fact that many brands don't scream and shout about their heritage. And those that do still aren't being lauded away from British shores. "Growing up in the English countryside with great access to [the Goodwood] archives and historic imagery made me really excited about British fashion and style, but moving to NYC I saw that there was no apparent modern British identity there."

Understated.Era merges British heritage and contemporary design aesthetics. Rooted in the rich history of his upbringing at Goodwood, the former hunting lodge and now home to world-famous motor racing, and inspired by contemporary street fashion, March curated his first collection. It launched in early February and features wardrobe essentials that are steeped in minimal design, ranging from versatile basics to tailored garments. A black, loose-fitting blazer cut from organic cotton, sits next to lambswool and cashmere blend knits. Tailored trousers re wider and more boxy than expected, while a front-pleated cotton gaberdine trench is whimsical in design, but cut shorter to give it a contemporary feel. There is also a skirt up for grabs, which March says he wants to not only bridge the gap between menswear and womenswear, but also just make the traditional kilt a little bit cooler. It comes in blackwatch, a historically British design, and black houndstooth, and is meant to be styled out however you wish. With loafers? Sure. With a T-shirt. Totally. But no guy should fear wearing one, which is the whole ethos of the brand: comfort, confidence and wearability. It's a little Margaret Howell, and a touch Scandi in its execution (sharp lines, hidden seams and minor branding) while March cites The Row, the über luxurious New York-based fashion house that sells T-shirts for £500, as an influence.

At Understated.Era all clothing is designed in Britain and made in Portugal, and everything harks back to traditional design practice. "We are trying to tell a story of heritage and quality – that buying more is not better," March says. "That you can be fashionable without shouting. We want to help elevate tradition and heritage and this is what we mean when we talk about being comfortable with the past but doing so in such a way that embraces the future. This is what British fashion needs to find – an authentic story that pulls through elements of our history and community to the modern world."

Simplicity is key and March is convinced that a no frills approach will give the brand longevity in the difficult fashion landscape. This comes down to everything, from the shape and cut of clothing to the neutral-hued colour palette he has opted for. "This was very intentional," he explains. "We wanted to make a wardrobe that was very wearable and androgynous in the first instance. Over time we hope to expand this as we continue to find and develop fabrics that fit with our identity, however, we felt that it was important to develop this slowly in line with the brand."

And despite being in its first year, and with collection one only now readily available to shop, March is looking to the future. And there things are looking bright for Understated.Era. March is looking for potential stockists and retailers on British shores and further afield."In five years we would like to be a global brand representing the best that British fashion has to offer - we will continue to draw inspiration from classical tailoring and styling whilst reinventing those aspects into a more modern silhouettes and designs."

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