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Big brands, new names: a recipe for success

In the last week we’ve heard the news that two iconic British brands have signed up hot names in British menswear to collaborate on capsule collections, creating what we in the industry might refer to as an ‘epic win’.

Scottish heritage label Lyle and Scott is set to launch a 28 piece collection for autumn 14 with the venerable buzz designer Jonathan Saunders, while bright young thing on the London Collections: Men circuit Matthew Miller will be winging his way even sooner with a spring 14 capsule with menswear stalwarts Ben Sherman.

There’s much to be gained from these ventures for both sides. Take Saunders and Lyle and Scott, for example. The 140 year old label is renowned for its fine knitwear and golfing heritage, and brings the weight of craftsmanship and history with its name. It’s a strong link for Saunders, whose signature use of colour, pattern and some super knits won’t jar too much with the Lyle and Scott aesthetic. The association to such a classic label will cement the breakthrough designer on the British menswear scene and broaden his appeal to a wider audience, both in terms of affordability (the capsule will be more in line with Lyle and Scott prices than Saunders’ own) and repute. Meanwhile, Saunders’ cool factor will push the historic label out of the oft-overused ‘heritage’ category, not to mention the collection will be shown alongside Saunders’ mainline at London Collections: Men in January.

For Matthew Miller, who is a lesser known name than Saunders, collaborating with Ben Sherman will do the same. His exposure will increase, while the quid pro quo in terms of cool aesthetic will work brilliantly for Ben Sherman as the young designer updates the brand’s classic elements such as its ‘house check’ with edgier components such as chest badges and enlarged prints.

We’ve seen a lot of bright young things collaborating with the likes of Topshop and H&M, so it’s lovely to see two newer menswear names acknowledging some of the more classic predecessors of British menswear, even more so when both parties are home-grown.

Better still, it’s not just happening in menswear; common ground can be found in a variety of factors. Designer Christopher Raeburn’s upcoming collaboration with British heritage brand Barbour, is grounded in a mutual love for military styling, with Barbour producing an autumn 14 line that “reflects the signature handwriting of both brands.”

There’s a lot to learn and gain from both sides, and long may it continue.

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