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Richard Martin

Lyle & Scott’s brand director explains why labels with an authentic heritage will never go out of fashion.

This year marks the 140th anniversary of Lyle and Scott - how is the brand celebrating?

We have introduced two capsule collections for spring 14 and autumn 14, with all product made in the UK. The brand has a serious heritage story to tell so we will be delivering this via a brand book due to launch in September 2014, to coincide with the brand’s official birthday. The brand will also launch a special collaboration for autumn 14 which is yet to be finalised and will be announced in due course. We will also be celebrating Scottish creativity through a series of films and partnerships.

What can you tell us about the new 140th anniversary collection?

It sees Lyle & Scott looking back through the archives to create an eleven piece premium line. The collection exclusively features the original ‘L&S ltd’ 1874 logo, which is indicative of where the brand started. Alongside this, the embroidered tonal eagle sits on the sleeve, subtly recognising where the brand is today.

How was it received at the trade shows so far this season?

Very well. We have acquired over 30 global, niche accounts so far. For us it has been interesting because effectively, we have been re-introducing the brand and reminding the market of its unique heritage. We have brought our new segmentation model to the market place through Bread and Butter and CPH whilst also exhibiting our capsules at NYC and Paris Capsule. Quantity is down but the quality is definitely there.

What effect did merging the Heritage and Vintage lines for autumn 13 have on the brand?

Lyle & Scott needed brand consistency across all segments. There wasn’t a major difference between design or price architecture across the two collections so we decided to execute the Vintage design direction across the complete range.

Do you think that the heritage trend has a time-limit for menswear?

No I don’t. ‘Plastic’ heritage brands will always have a limited lifespan as they have nothing real to take inspiration from and inevitably, ideas will become limited. Lyle & Scott has 140 years of unique history that it can draw upon. If these references are executed in a contemporary, relevant way then there is no time limit.

What impact has Carolyn Massey had since she joined last year as head of design?

Carolyn has fully executed the challenge of contemporising the brand’s rich and varied archive. By building a strong team which blends commercial with creative, she has had a major impact.

What is the biggest challenge you’re facing as a brand right now?

Controlled globalisation and finding the right partners. It always proves to be a challenge but we are well on the way to finding partners that can effectively communicate the brand in emerging territories.

What was the last good book you read?

Patti Smith ‘Just Kids’. New York City at that time was definitely a place I would like to have been.

You relaunched the Lyle & Scott website,, in August 2013 - what’s new about it?

It will clearly deliver all product segments along with the brand pillars of Scottish/Britishness, golf and heritage. The different sections will focus on Scottish creativity, the brand’s archive, extreme/urban golf and some great filmed content amplifying the collections and manufacturing history.

Did you always want to work in fashion?

I did a textiles degree at university, so I decided fairly early I wanted to work in the fashion business. The sole motivation for getting my first job in my early teens in a grocer’s shop was to buy clothes and records and nothing’s really changed!

What is a typical day like in your role as brand director?

It’s impossible to pin down a regular, consistent day, which is the reason why the job is so interesting. We’ve just signed off the autumn 14 collections and have spent a lot of time working on relaunching our accessories and increasing our footwear offer, so that has been the major focus over the last few days. Meetings with new distributors and regular meetings with sales and creative agencies are also in the diary for most weeks.

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

Being brand director of a profitable, global, nine-digit turnover business with the initials L and S in its name!

How do you switch off at the end of the day?

Spending time with my four-year-old daughter and running home. Both tend to clear the head and relax me.

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