Kent & Curwen does Peaky Blinders
Does everything David Beckham touch turn to gold? One tends to think so after attending the latest show on a crisp Sunday morning in London by Kent & Curwen, his English heritage brand, which staged a Peaky Blinders moment this season.
Hard to imagine a hotter brand in London than this marque, which is closing in on annual sales of $150 million, and boasts some 200 doors worldwide. As well as a highly skilled designer in Irishman Daniel Kearns, who took the house somewhere new with an astute and very natty collection themed around Peaky Blinders, the cult TV show and BAFTA winning series about the Irish gangster Shelby family in Depression-era Birmingham.
"It’s important for us to always keep a real authenticity running through the brand. And I’m a real fan of Peaky, so the authenticity obviously is there. It’s what I wear. When they said yes after we approached them we were very proud and excited. We’re a heritage brand with a rich history from 1926 to now, with an amazing designer and a great team," Beckham told FashionNetwork.com after the show.
That signature Peaky look of grandfather collarless shirt with a striped stock, waistcoat, tight-ankle trousers and tweedy Crombie favored by the Shelbys was given a great spin by Kearns. Who tweaked the whole proposition with sweatshirts with a tweedy finish completed with K&C logos of faded black and white photos of roses, and contemporary bovver boots.
Kearns was inspired a grainy photo of founder Eric Kent, a proud military man returning from WW1 – again like the Peaky Blinders characters – before going on to found a uniform and club-wear business.
"We don’t have huge archives, so I wanted to take that image and extrapolate into something contemporary. Eric and Tommy Shelby could have even mixed in social circles, so I imagined that he went on to dress the Shelbys. Though maybe not worn with the red socks we prefer!" laughed Dublin-born Kearns.
Along with the tough and gutsy tailoring, he mixed in brilliant, over-sized striped cricket blazers and a marvelous finale redingote; spin bowlers’ cable wool sweaters; khaki pea coats; and duffle coats with big toggles, a major new trend.
For sportier moments, jockey silks made in patchwork Argyle diamonds of suede and wool; or padded puffers, again in cricket stripes.
The designer also noted that the house’s highly active web journal, Team KC, features photos sent in by fans, many posed with the very same flat caps worn in the TV series. Hence the name Peaky Blinders, since razor blades were inserted in the brims for fighting purposes.
Staged in a breakfast table setting, before David, Victoria and Brooklyn Beckham, and his new girlfriend Hana Cross, Laura Bailey and celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay, the show and collection marked an important stage for Kent & Curwen – the broadening of its whole concept from logo and sweatshirt brand into a fully fledged men’s wardrobe with oodles of clever tailoring. Something which EVP Ray Clacher predicted will gradually appear in the brand’s network of some 130 Asian stores.
Just as their leader Tommy Shelby eventually acquired a stately country home, so did Kent & Curwen move their event location from Covent Garden to a magnificent Gothic mansion on the Thames Embankment.
It turned out to have been built by the Astor family, whose founder John Jacob Astor made his first fortune monopolizing the beaver skin trade in the Northwest of America in the late 19th century.
Well, as Kent & Curwen showed clearly today, there is gold in men’s clobber too.
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