The business of fashion isn’t all that fabulous these days. Covid-19 has wreaked havoc on industry supply chains, leading to a slew of unsold merchandise and closures of countless stores. In this time of crisis, fashion has kicked into survival mode—every brand for itself. Which is why it’s especially heartening to see two seemingly disparate labels joining forces now.
It’s a thoroughly British union, representing the UK’s heritage and its contemporary style. Indie brand The Workers Club and time-honored outerwear house, Mackintosh, spent lockdown refining a new capsule collection that combines the best of both brands. And yes, you’re right in thinking “Mackintosh, like the raincoat?” The company was founded in Glasgow in 1846 and hit the big time making rubberized raincoats to protect horseback riders, coachmen and later motorists from the elements while traveling. Today, Mackintosh still makes all its outerwear in Scotland and specializes in seam-taping: a complex process that, rather than sewing, involves sealing the different parts of a coat with resin-like adhesive, applied by hand, to ensure maximum waterproofing.
The Workers Club is only five years old, but this plucky newcomer has made a name for itself as one to watch thanks to its prime Japanese denim and refined takes on workwear staples. It was co-founded by Adam and Charlotte Cameron, a husband and wife team who’ve collectively spent over 30 years working behind the scenes at marquee fashion houses. Adam’s credits include a tenure at Dunhill, as well as costume design for the Kingsman movies and a role creating Mr Porter’s in-house collection, Mr. P.
This tie-up with Mackintosh is the culmination of a relationship that’s been building for several years. “I first worked with the [Mackintosh] factory when I was at Dunhill, and then again to make Mark Strong’s Blackwatch check, waxed field jacket for the first Kingsman movie,” says Adam. “The company’s reputation speaks for itself—it’s one of the last great outerwear makers in the UK.”
As you’d expect, then, coats play a starring role in the capsule. At its heart is an updated version of the design that launched TWC: the Shell Jacket, a year-round layering piece, based on traditional M-65 field jackets, with a detachable hood and drawstring waist. The Shell Jacket can also be lined with a zip-in gilet or bomber—TWC often sells these pieces as a trio. Now made by Mackintosh in waterproof Japanese cotton, this is the first time Adam has been able to produce his signature piece in the UK.
“I’ve worked with lots of British manufacturers over the years and—with the best will in the world—they can be a little bit unorganized,” he says. “What really struck me about Mackintosh was the precision of everything. There’s a finesse to their product that I really admire, and it feels great to be able to say our signature coat is 100 percent made in Britain.”
Alongside the Shell Jacket, TWC has worked with Mackintosh to create a new printed bomber, three-quarter length parka and a curated range of hand-washed Japanese denim jeans and jackets. Adam is obsessive about denim and by tapping into his expertise, Mackintosh has been able to present its outerwear as part of a full look that feels fresh and easy to wear. “The capsule is a natural springboard for Mackintosh,” says Adam. “It shows that there’s more to the brand than a raincoat.”
Moreover, the collaboration taps into a wardrobe philosophy that’s particularly timely. As we all navigate the “new normal”, versatile, relaxed layering pieces are the name of the game. Right now, a three-piece suit is a tough sell, but a lightweight utility coat mixed with a pair of Japanese selvedge jeans? That’s a uniform that feels altogether more appropriate for working-from-home and socially distanced hops around town.
Savile Row tailoring may not be the look of the moment but TWC and Mackintosh prove that you can also count on the Brits for casualwear done smart.