Make it British interviews Sam Clapp from new modern British knitwear label Common Sons
Can you tell me a bit more about yourself and why you set up Common Sons?
I have always worked in the clothing industry, most recently doing retail design for Pop Store Commercial. During discussions with people we have worked with we found there was a gap in mid-market menswear for a Knitwear brand, especially one that has a story and provenance. More and more people care about where their clothes are made and care that what they buy is good quality and will last.
How would you describe your knitwear?
It’s ‘Modern British Knitwear’. We are serious about our fits and fabrics but also want to have fun with the designs. We create designs that borrow a little from your granddads style then mix it with offbeat colours, contemporary details and modern cuts to make distinctive knits.
In which part of Britain are you based?
Our Studio is just south of Oxford and we also sell out of a showroom in central London. We are also in discussions with distributers in the US, Australia and Europe so hopefully we will have bases all over soon!
Why did you decide to manufacture in Britain?
We always wanted to make an authentic British brand, there are loads of brands out there that play on Britain as a marketing tool, but at the end of the day their clothes are mass produced overseas. We were also interested in the history of British manufacturing and thought it would be interesting to discover that along the way. Everyone we have met from our yarn supplier to our trim suppliers have great stories and insight, so it’s been really fun to do it here.
I also love the fact that our clothes have a provenance that customers can relate to. People who buy our clothes know the staff are treated and paid fairly at every part of the process, they also know they are supporting something local to them.
There are also a lot of practical advantages to manufacturing over here, especially for a small company like us. We have been able to go to the factory every week to check progress and quality, if there is a problem we can be up there in just over an hour. For a small company any delay or mistakes in production could have wiped us out straight away. Factories over here are also able to offer smaller minimum requirements to overseas.
Who makes your products?
We have a factory just outside Wolverhampton that does our manufacturing; it’s a family run factory that has been in the business for years. We are also looking to get some summer pieces made in Manchester.
Where do you source your raw materials from?
Our Yarn supplier is based in Leicestershire, our buttons are from Nottingham and East London, and the printing that we are doing for Spring Summer 2012 will be organically done near Bath.
What has been the hardest part of getting your range made in Britain?
The hardest part for us was actually finding a factory. It was like a wild goose chase at times with lots of whispers of factories in this area or that. It took months to find the factory we are using now.
And what has been the best part?
It’s a cliché but there have been a lot. One of the best parts has been getting it into stores and seeing the reaction. I would never have thought both Selfridges and ASOS would have been interested in our first season, so we are pretty chuffed with that.