British designer Nigel Cabourn expands in Asia, extends womenswear range
You may come across Nigel Cabourn in a flea market or vintage clothing store in Paris, Tokyo or London. The cult British designer - who claims not to follow fashion - is inspired by vintage and military apparel and workwear, functional items in which every detail matters and of which he is a keen hunter and collector. Cabourn studied fashion at Newcastle’s Northumbria University between 1967 and 1971, and started selling men’s clothes he designed to local retailers. After graduation, he launched his first label, Cricket, in 1971. It featured a new take on military uniforms and three-piece suits in Harris tweed, which he hand-produced in his Newcastle workshop, delivering them to the local stores himself. In 1983, he adopted Nigel Cabourn as his brand’s name.
Since then, Nigel Cabourn’s reputation as a menswear designer has kept growing. In Japan, aficionados of the heritage trend regard him as something of a superstar. While there is only one Nigel Cabourn store in Europe, The Army Gym in London, over time the number of Cabourn stores in Japan has risen to seven, of which two are dedicated to womenswear and two are shop-in-shops at the Isetan and Matsuya department stores, both in Tokyo. Last March, Nigel Cabourn entered the Chinese market too, opening a co-ed store with a partner in Beijing.
The designer also bought the British workwear brand Lybro, which he relaunched in 2015. Cabourn’s Mainline collections are produced in Japan, while the Authentic collection, which has only been developed three times since 2003, to celebrate events like the anniversary of Sir Edmund Hillary’s ascent on Everest in 1953 or the first British South Pole expedition in 1912, is made in the UK. Lybro clothes are instead produced in Hong Kong and China.
Nigel Cabourn’s collections feature a complete men’s wardrobe, including dungarees and jumpsuits and, from the Autumn/Winter 2013-14, they also include a few women’s and unisex items. In 2016, Cabourn hired French designer Emilie Casiez, who notably worked with Tsumori Chisato after launching her own label, with the objective of developing more womenswear items to meet the growing demand for them.
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