Friday, 14 January 2011

A beautifully tailored brand

My relationship with brands and the idea of branding goes up and down - but, rather like Darcy in his ridiculous declaration of love to Elizabeth Bennet, I love Aubin & Wills despite all the reasons I shouldn't. And I think there are two main reasons for this.

The first, and why I got into the whole branding business, is the obvious and gorgeous use of design. The wonderful over use of typography, the curlicues and fabricated heritage, the archaic language, "Exclusively for the discerning," and wild overclaim, "Second to none," all adds up to a visual story that lifts the heart and opens the wallet. The story is about the respect, nostalgia and celebration of a great retail and tailoring tradition. The brand is new, launched in September 2008 as an offshoot of Jack Wills for an 'older' market, but the spirit of its visual manifestation is so honest in its actuality that it is not a sham or a pastiche, it is very much revelling in the joy and history of fabulous graphic design.

The commitment to design goes way beyond the graphics - after all it is a fashion label and I think the clothes are beautifully judged with their mix of trad British and contemporary relevance. More than that they demonstrate a genuine commitment to sourcing and supporting traditional clothing manufacturers - a new boot has been developed with Grenson, The Black Addington overcoat is made from Herringbone cloth woven by British mill Fox Brothers & Co, The Pallington Mac was designed in collaboration with the two hundred year old brand Mackintosh.

The second reason I think this is a really interesting brand is their outstanding drive to create a community around themselves. The Westbourne Grove shop hosts exhibitions and talks as part of its 'cultural offensive' and the Shoreditch store has a Cinema and Gallery with a lively programme. In terms of developing a 'tone of voice' they they are using an excellent portfolio of tools. The Almanac they produce quarterly and their little videos are fantastically sexy and a risqué.

Now, what has inspired my homage to Aubin & Wills? Well the sales, of course. In need of a good coat I was lured in by the rather distinctive Addington coat in the 'Large Dogtooth colour woven by the esteemed mill, Magee of Donegal in Ireland, famed for its continued use of traditional hand weaving methods and directional, interesting cloths.' And even more attractively at half-price. Ordered online, my real joy came when it was delivered, the large box opened to reveal the over-sized paper carrier bag covered with glorious type, inside which was this amazing garment bag, in real cloth, carefully enshrouding my beautiful, half-price, coat. Ooo - what a thrill!