The core look behind the brand was that these are clothes aimed at creative people. And they wear it for a reason and use it and wear it out. That’s the idea. – Philip James, founder and creative director of &SONS.

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On the show

Today on the show I am talking to founder and creative director of &SONS, Philip James. &SONS is an interesting brand, they have a touch vintage about them, a touch of work wear, but with a modern look. Some of you may know of &SONS through their ‘Great Escape’ campaign. They made a cut sleeve sweatshirt reminiscent of the one Steve McQueen wore in The Great Escape.

I talk to Philip about the influences that films and iconic actors have had on the designs. As well as what its like trying to manufacture garments in this country. The podcast is available to listen in the player below or on iTunes, Stitcher or Spotify. The below are loose show notes transcribed from my interview with Phillip.

What was your background coming into this?

When I was a bit younger, I used to buy vintage clothes and cut them up. I wanted to make something different that no one else was wearing. I had a passion for vintage and things that are a little bit different and have details. That’s probably where I’ve drawn that experience from. &SONS Trading Co, Ltd is primarily a menswear brand with a vintage lean, I guess. But for the modern day guy. I like to think that we’ve taken the best from the past and turned it into something practical. Still very cool and a bit more comfortable.

I love the site, great imagery and you get to learn the history about each garment along the way.

Yeah, I love the origins of the garment and why they came about and why they are called certain names, for instance, the Peacoat.  I wanted to know why this coat is designed this way, and why it has that many buttons and why it has a high collar etc. I think that other people are interested in. So I thought we could tie in that interest, rather than just cold sales of ‘here’s a garment buy it’.

Let’s talk films. How does the brand intersect with iconic movies and tell me about your personal influences and how that inflects on And Sons?

You’ve probably noticed an obvious one is Steve McQueen in The Great Escape, one of the main ones that I think a bit of Serpico is in there. So to is Jeremiah Johnson. I still paused some of these films and looked at the clothes they’re wearing and taking the original details and hopefully turned it into something for today. It’s that era of classic film that obviously inspired me and millions of others.

Serpico Al Pacino

Serpico Al Pacino (Inspiration)

Then put those up on the more mood boards? And then maybe get some feedback from design teams?

Yeah, definitely. I’m a massive Pinterest fan. So I use that a lot. I always start with a sketch, I like to see something drawn, and then I can have my own little touches. I annotate and write what I want. Here. We’ve got a great team, they take my drawings, and then make them into something beautiful and technical. The factory can then interpret those and make them into a sample.

Robert Redford – Jeremiah Johnson (inspiration)

Where are the factories?

We have factories in India, Turkey, Portugal, Britain and Sri Lanka. When I first started, I had this dream that everything would be made in the UK. But it soon became apparent that was completely unrealistic, because of the price, the price and also the MOQ (minimum order quantities). When you’re first starting out, the minimum order quantities are the hardest thing because people want you to make 1000s. But when you’re starting, you want to make as little as possible, so you can launch your brand without so much outlet. So that was hard. Also, unfortunately, I found the sort of attitude of people wasn’t as passionate as I was hoping for in the manufacturing market in Britain.

I guess there’s a reason it moves to other countries, because manufacturing Britain kind of died. I don’t know. It just couldn’t make it work with the people that I had as contacts. And I’m still very passionate about it. We make most of our knitwear here at the moment and leather. But if I wanted the business to work, it became apparent that I couldn’t do it all in Britain. We have some amazing factories, all accredited and we make sure that everything’s ethically sourced We’re being as good as we can on our sustainability side of things of how we transport too.

&SONS cravat and braces

I know there’s a lot of the garments on the website that have unusual names. Are they film related?

I think that comes from working in branding all my life. Rather than just making another shirt or a pair of denim, we give each garment a character. I like to think of it as a character. And so we give it a name. And we design its own label and give it its own set of marketing assets really. But the names are plucked from all sorts of places, films, definitely names of relatives and names in history, just inspiration from all sorts of places.

&SONS sweat tee

Do you have to be careful how you market such a film-related garment without incurring any kind of licensing issues with like faces?

Yeah, I’m I’m obviously coming from that industry, I’m very aware of intellectual property and how it’s used. The same with every image I took for 30 years, it was something close to my heart. So I’m always respectful of how we use it. I like to think what we do is more of a homage to those people that we feature and what they’re wearing in that era of time. It’s more of a tip of the hat, I guess to the person involved.

&SONS workwear

How much of &SONS is a personal passion? And then how much of it is a commercial venture?

It’s funny, we’ve been discussing recently about the sort of passion projects that we have, and whether we should have a ‘rogue range’ where we just make things for the sheer sake of it. With no real commercial sort of push behind it. Just because we want to make it and we want to see what people are thinking. We’re obviously a business and we need to make money. But I still like to keep that idea that we’re making something that we’re all mad about.

Discount Code

There is a special discount code for my audience. For you boys, I asked for this especially so that you guys get off the couch and check out the site and the code is TAILORS25 (all caps) TAILORS25 just enter that code at the check out and you’ll get an exclusive 25% discount.