I’ve documented my love for smaller, independent brands several times over the years, as I believe this is where a significant part of the future of fashion lies. Sometimes it’s not about the latest technical developments or paramount designs…sometimes all it takes is embracing time tested essentials with new found love for their essence, quality and craftsmanship. And that’s exactly what S.E.H. Kelly is all about…
Out of its East London workshop, the label has managed to actively engage Britain’s finest makers in an assortment of fields, ensuring the highest quality fabrics, trimmings and manufacturing techniques. Every element that goes into the production process is sourced from renowned mills and manufacturers (some of which the last remaining) located in London, Lancashire, Yorkshire, Donegal, Kent and Nottinghamshire. Combining the best materials with a passion for quality, each garment is cut, sewn and hand-finished in specialised workshops. The result is a collection thriving with authenticity and superbly crafted pieces, embodying years of experience and love for the making.
What I love the most is how they manage to seamlessly blend simplicity with a distinct identity that transpires in each item, an identity focused on the product itself and its real value. I believe they describe it best - “shipping is always free, orders are always wrapped and dispatched within two working days, and prices — because the value of a garment is the value of a garment — are always the same.” This hands down approach along with trademark designs and materials, crafted “as and when”, definitely sets them apart from most brands. One of my must sees next time I’m in London…
“Take that person and travel around the world. Buy a plane ticket for the two of you to travel all around the world, and go to places that are hard to go to and hard to get out of. And if when you come back to JFK, when you land in JFK, and you’re still in love with that person, get married at the airport”—Bill Murray’s words to a groom to be
Lovely reading your underdog post. You said also that you have worked in the industry for a while, I have noticed a larger focus on quality. Mainly via #menswear. Have you noticed a resurgence of actual quality as merit? Or has the word "quality" simply become the fetishized equivalent to a Louis Vuitton insignia on a fake designer bag?
Hi, glad you liked the post! Being based in Portugal, which was recently referred to in Monocle as “the country that dresses the world”, I’ve had the chance to witness first hand how the industry flows, by working with national and international brands, creating my own brand and on my professional journey for the last 5 years or so.
I believe quality is inherent to a successful brand in the long term and, as I mentioned, is a defining trait on several emerging brands as a way to differentiate their product within a saturated market. So, in a way there has been an overall increase in product quality, especially when it comes to menswear. A clear example of that is how the production exodus flow has changed in recent years: brands which originally took their production to Asia (resulting in the bankruptcy of several European manufacturers), are now coming back to Europe in search of a better product, with Portugal being on top of the list due to its heritage and know-how in the industry.
As consumers have easier, widespread access to information through websites, blogs and magazines, their standards have also been raised when it comes to quality (even if there’s still a lot of misperception on the meaning of the word). As such, brands were “forced” to improve their products and look for “made in Europe” labels to reassure the idea of quality. Nonetheless, a large part of consumers still associate it with a particular label instead of actual craftsmanship and that’s what I tried to focus on the previous post.