There are a lot of different reasons to like the ‘workwear’ aesthetic, for some its the rugged had wearing nature, for others, it’s evocative of another era, for me it’s functionality and simplicity.
The term ‘workwear’ is somewhat overused (almost as much as ‘heritage’) to describe a wide range of clothing that we might once simply have been termed as the everyday clothing of the masses. This clothing that was originally designed to be simple, utilitarian and functional. It had to last and nothing was added that wasn’t needed, the result often being something rather elegant. The trouble is that the over the prevalence of ‘workwear’ has seen a trend of getting as many ‘period’ details into a single piece as possible (how many random pockets do you actually need!). The results can sometimes end up looking little costumey. let’s be honest, most of us aren’t actually going to be climbing mountains, working oil rigs or fighting bears in this stuff, we’re going to be sitting at desks or going to the pub, so let’s have clothing that’s not out of place doing that.
Companies like Old Town Clothing and S.E.H. Kelly keep the designs simple, taking the best of then to make something that works for now. None do this better than ARN Mercantile.
Using clean lines and subtle detailing, they produce garments that are both relaxed and elegant while still having a touch of humor. ARN Mercantile is a combination of English workwear and Japanese design. At its heart is pattern cutter Neil Christopher and his fabric expert partner Akimi.
Both have been involved in the fashion industry for many years, and the pair skills compliment each other perfectly. Great attention to detail is taken both with the sourcing of organic fabrics that will develop well as they age and tailoring the designs on the body to ensure good fit and movement. The fabrics are largely sourced from Japan, while the garments are constructed in the U.K. Neil and Akimi are both very hands-on and ARN Mercantile is intentionally kept small scale ensuring quality, and directness. Using elements like contracting buttons (a nice element of controlled randomness) the couple injects personality and an element of playfulness into their garments. With ARN Mercantile everything lies in the detail. You can get an impression of the level of attention to detail from these images from their sneak peek at their spring/summer collection: