Old Town | By Guest Contributor Philip Goss
Ladies and Gentleman, I am happy to introduce you with DENIMANIAC’s new guest contributor – the fantastic Mr. Goss of Ijin Material fame. After raving to you about Phil’s own blog, we now have the honor to have him writing for us. So, without further ado here’s Phil’s first (let’s hope of many) post. [SY]
‘‘Those that do not respect the past are condemned to repeat it’’ stated early 20th century Spanish philosopher, George Santayana. And never a truer statement declared when applied to the art of clothes-making. But, in spite of these modern words, there are those that respect the past so much that they deliberately choose to repeat it, and even actually live in it. And none more so than Mr. Will Brown & his artisan utility label Old Town, a staunch & steadfast stalwart of non other than authentic, tailor-made British Workwear. Well, made to order, not made to measure as ‘‘Old Brown’’ (as he is known to stouthearted fellows alike) himself coins it.
A major influence on Old Town is an interesting period in art and design, either side of, and during the Second World War, when a rather self-conscious British style emerged. A wind of change which translated into the designer days of disposable digitalism , seems to indicate that Nostalgia is making a hearty come-back & increased respect is gained by all things historic & Hardy ( Thomas in this case… ) & more priority is placed on gentlemen’s garb purveying an emphasis on utilitarianism & being built-to-last, in laborious times, when graft meant having blisters on your blisters. And being based in the Georgian market town of Holt, Norfolk, where the bluster of the North Sea blows a gale, & ‘‘small life is here’’, you can stand on the tips of your hobnail boots & almost see the hook of Holland. It is then that you will understand the need for sleeves on your Waistcoat & true English cloths like Biscuit Stout Twills worn by Wessex herdsmen.
With many contemporary denim labels adopting ‘30/40s , mid-wars wardrobe references & the existence of specialist Japanese brands like Haversack having clearly been visiting the olde curiosity shoppe of late ( I believe there is even another Nipponese brand called the very same….) those who favor a tad more stride in their Strides (*check your Tailor’s Book for the definition) will home in on likes of Mr. Browns workhouse wares which cater as much for sturdy wardrobe staples ,as for the best jam tarts offered in the vicinity, the whereabouts of which trusty assistant , Miss Willey, will advise (by appointment only).
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However it is no overnight expert that we refer to here. Will (once Willie) Brown has more than 30 years of heritage in function as fashion. Originating from a pre-gentrified Shoreditch area shop called Modern Classics, his salt-of-the-earth urban uniforms, in strapping styles as revolutionary as Guy Fawkes, effortlessly dressed budding New Romantic impresarios such as Steve Strange in austere, ” no frills”, ration book colours, without the slightest sign of a Chinese slipper , way back in the early 80s when the nascent London club scene boasted that ‘‘one look lasts a day ‘‘, a quote defined by Wag club host ,Chris Sullivan. Brown’s simple , honest-to-goodness, functional workwear continued to sell in legendary pre war concept store Demob in Soho, with copies of his unisex primary colour hooded anorak with signature ‘‘Metropolitan Police’’ black and white checked band, appearing in every market in the country, even then.
Nowadays, he is revered in equal regard by vintage denim heads, veterans of the eighties, Lindy-hoppers & lovers of labels like CDG & Dries Van Noten alike , for his beautiful men’s furnishings such as the nautical (& pre-fly era) Dreadnought pants & the poetic , seafaring Oxfords (favored by Benjamin Britten in chambray, no less), all handmade upstairs in the workshop of 49 Bull street , where it is advisable to telephone first before travelling any great distance because the trains are so infrequent. Despite the inconveniences of modern travel , visiting an authentic time capsule & bastion of New Englishness has merits far beyond the effort to arrive there & if you happen to be travelling by modern motor car , be attentive & remember, in order to arrive in the correct frame of mind, ‘‘move forward by looking out of the rear window….. to see where you‘ve been’’ Precisely like true Englishman & self confessed ”clothesmaker”, Will Brown. Old Town. Classics with no twists. [PG]