Manchester-based label Represent a hit at Milan Men’s Fashion Week
Represent was launched in 2012 as a t-shirt label, almost for fun. In just a few years it has morphed into a successful streetwear brand with 150 multibrand clients, among them department stores like Selfridges and Harvey Nichols. The label showed twice in New York, and then took to Milan this season - Italy being its leading market, with 40 retailers - where it rounded off the menswear fashion week with a bang.
The brothers George and Michael Heaton, aged respectively 24 and 26, chose a green, football pitch-style turf as the catwalk for their gang of models, clad in hoodies and jogging pants in red, black and white, Represent's colours but also an overt reference to the strip of the brothers' home town's Manchester United football club.
Eyes concealed under the brim of their caps, heads covered by their sweatshirts' hoods, with sneakered feet and messenger bags slung across their shoulders, the models flaunted tops, down jackets, wind-breakers and assorted parkas, looking as though they had just walked out of a post-industrial, northern English neighbourhood with a decidedly working-class vibe.
"We began by selling t-shirts, which we used to design in our spare time," said George, who at the time was still a graphic design student. "Then, one thing led to another, we sold more and more t-shirts and eventually we started being involved in the brand full-time. [Represent] sort of grew up with us, evolving into a more sophisticated kind of streetwear," he added, mentioning their dressmaker grandmother Sylvia, "who helps us out in this venture."
The label features a unisex look from head to toes, cleverly drawing on a British design iconography featuring musical influences ranging from punk rock to skateboard-style hip hop, its rebel attitude sprinkled with a tailored touch, evident in the Prince of Wales and tartan suits reinterpreted in a comfier, destructured style. The collection is produced using a selection of Japanese cotton and polyester fabrics, and nylon ones from Italy.
"We are wholly self-financed, and everything is made in England, between Birmingham and London," said George, who is in charge of the commercial side of the business, while his brother Michael takes care of design. A family business run with gusto, with prices ranging from €100 for the t-shirts, €200 for jeans and approximately €300 for jackets and trousers.
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