This tiny UK-based, 2-person companies doing interesting things whilst being under the radar of most folks. ARN Mercantile is the label of Neil and Akimi, the name being made up of their initials combined with that of their son, Robin. The Mercantile comes from the period when Neil was working as a ‘red liner’ in the US, hunting out vintage clothing. They would use the old Mercantile’s as store front’s to buy old pieces, put up a sign ‘your old levis for cash’, and sort through the dross to find the gold, as well as buying dead stock from the mercantiles. Years later when starting his own company, the Mercantile still had a nice ring to it. They are a small company, and happy to stay small. Being small means being able to be picky about who they deal with and have more control over how they work and who they work with. Finally, it also means there doesn’t have to be such a huge focus on creating massive profits, though making enough to live off is preferable! For Neil and Akimi, ARN Mercantile is more a passion than a business.
ARN came to a lot of people’s attention after the collaboration with Nigel Cabourn. Given that both companies have an interest in British workwear and UK-based production, there was obviously a common ground. Cabourn is primarily an outerwear guy, so he approached ARN, suggesting a collaboration on trousers, an area where ARN has a reputation for doing trousers that are well constructed, hang and fit well. This resulted in several excellent trousers under the Cabourn brand, included the 4 pleat and Naval pants. Neil’s superb pattern cutting and attention to detail combined with Nigel’s British workwear and fabric history proved to be a great combination. The collaboration lasted 8 seasons, after which ARN wanted to focus on other work.
Worked and lived in the US and Japan, Building collections for Massimo Osti , Bonneville and archine project (GDI) (UK & Italy), Carhartt work-wear (USA, Germany &UK) Levi, Lee (Sun Capital), Manufactum, (Germany), May Trading (UK and China), Kato (Japan) Nike, Adidas, C&A(Germany). Building style and garment archives for ARN, Nigel Cabourn, ASOS, and Carhartt.