Setting up a British menswear brand is not without challenges, but quality rules over quantity, says Anthony & Brown founder Paul Brown
I have a finance background. The passion for menswear fashion began while working for a company called Oliver Sweeney, who produce high end men’s shoes and menswear.
Oliver Sweeney produced quite a lot of their products in Italy and they went through a difficult period when the value of the Pound to the Euro dropped significantly. This resulted in a take over and business relocation from Devon (my home area) to London. I was heavily involved in the takeover but declined the opportunity to continue in London due to other opportunities closer to home.
This experience resulted in my passion for quality menswear and a desire to produce in the U.K. Seeing Oliver Sweeney go through a difficult period made me keen to avoid uncontrollable pitiful’s such as currency fluctuations – hence producing from the United Kingdom whenever possible.
I had some success selling other brands online once I left Oliver Sweeney, this was mainly end of line stocks so I had no control of sizing and very little control of exact designs. I wanted to produce a brand where I could have full control, and a brand that excited me and I would be proud to wear.
I gained help from one of the old directors at Oliver Sweeney, who helped me to launch the brand via trade shows and online bloggers etc.
Who is your target market for Anthony & Brown and what kind of research did you have to do to be sure there was the market for your garments?
My target audience is professional males ages 35-50, I researched by taking examples to trade shows and speaking to store owners and people in the industry.
What have been your biggest challenges in starting the brand?
The biggest hurdle has been financing the brand, due to MOQ’s (minimum order quantities) it takes a large amount of finance to be able to produce a range of the quality that I require. Personal circumstances with illness of family members has also put a strain on the brand as it is a small team.
“The biggest hurdle has been financing the brand, due to MOQ’s (minimum order quantities) it takes a large amount of finance to be able to produce a range of the quality that I require”
Why was it important for you to manufacture Anthony & Brown in the UK?
It is important to me to produce in the UK where possible as I believe strongly in quality over quantity. I would rather own one nice jumper that I am proud to be seen in than five jumpers which I don’t feel so good in.
I also love the fact that I can easily visit the factories and work alongside people who are passionate in their fields without language barriers.
One of the biggest challenges has been sourcing UK manufacturers for various items of clothing in the range. Some items in my range are made outside of the UK at the moment, however I am looking to make all future ranges in the UK and there are trade shows now which I will be attending to locate the best manufacturers for my brand. (like our Meet the Manufacturer event Paul!)
Can you tell us a bit about how you found your manufacturer? And why you chose them to work with?
I was introduced to my manufacturer by a sourcing agent I was using when I first started out. I visited them and loved the quality of their product and how professional they were in their approach.
Anthony & Brown is already a popular brand and stocked in London, Hampshire and Devon, are there plans to expand to other stockists, or even have a dedicated store?
I am mainly working hard at increasing my online presence, gaining new customers and keeping my current customers happy. At some point in the future I would like to have a dedicated standalone store but that would not be for a while.
We are looking to bring in leather belts made from Oak bark leather. These belts are produced by the last tannery in the UK, who produce their leather using traditional methods which take up to 12 months per hide.
We are also looking to bring in a range of jumpers made from a merino wool and cashmere blend.
The dog logo is a big part of your brand, tell us about the dog….
The dog logo is of my dog Penelope, she has a huge personality so it felt fitting to base the logo of the brand on her.
She is coming up 6 now and has become a bit of a local celebrity, she is often spotted as being the dog from Anthony & Brown.
And finally, as one of our longstanding members what is the best thing for you about being a part of Make it British?
The best thing about being a member of Make it British has been that it is a very effective way to introduce my products to a lovely audience of people interested in supporting the country by buying British.
Kate and Lauren are very passionate about increasing awareness in British made products and are doing a great thing for the revival of the clothing industry in the UK.