Kent & Curwen: new London fashion tribes
To lunch with David Beckham and his happening label Kent & Curwen, which unveiled a series of great tribes of London images shot by the noted photographer Perry Ogden.
The subject – three London groups: boxers, artists and rockers, the latter shot on a rooftop to mimic that of the Beatles' last concert on top of their building at 3 Savile Row. Nowadays, Kent & Curwen’s design headquarters is at number 14 of the same street.
“We are progressing at the pace we want to progress. We are doing very well. Obviously, this collection has taken a whole new identity, giving the brand a fresh look,” Beckham told FashionNetwork.com over lunch on Floral Street, next door to the house’s new Covent Garden flagship.
“We are always very proud of the Kent & Curwen history. Now we want to make into a multi-generational brand. From the young kids boxing to the bands and having Perry do what he does,” added Beckham.
Presented on large-format prints, Ogden’s images range from a Bethnal Green boxing ring where young pugilists don leisure suits; to a Hackney football field with kids in bold rugby shirts and baseball jackets with leather sleeves. The young artists appear in velour double-breasted jackets and bold military cut coats. Nearly everything plays on the logo – whether the English rose with 1926, the year the brand was born, to fluttering embroidered Union Jacks.
“We wanted to capture the idea of preparation. No matter what discipline you have, everyone has a form of preparation. David often talks about how he would really consider what he would wear both before and after a game,” explained the brand’s creative director Dublin-born Daniel Kearns.
Since its re-launch 18 months ago, The K&C rose logo sweatshirts have become a cult look. Next, the house plans to roll out the new Floral Street store concept – with its easy access and faintly industrial installations – in its chain of 120 stores in Greater China, a heritage of Kent & Curwen’s time as a license held by the Asian luxury brand importer Renown, which dated back to the 1970s. Kent & Curwen is now majority owned by the Hong Kong based Fung family, who also own several Savile Row brands and Sonia Rykiel.
Beckham’s role? “I’m an owner. And I own quite a big part. And I love fashion and I love its design and the history of this brand. But it is Daniel who is taking it to another level. The two of us collaborate, but he is the designer. I see him every week and I go through everything he is thinking of doing. All his ideas. But I don’t get in the way. We have a very strong brand. We are very big business in China and we will remain one, and we are slowly trying to change the stores there, as we have lots,” smiled Beckham, dressed in a sleek cashmere redingote and white sneakers.
The former English national team captain languidly toured the tables, chatting with editors as a video of the shoot played on a giant screen. “I still feel so full from Christmas. I need to get back to my boxing,” he joked to Kearns.
Added the designers: “Perry has shot British culture for the past 20 years. He did the Pony Kids in Dublin, still for me one of the all time best photo series. He also shot Bacon’s studio where you have the pictures of Lucien Freud shot by John Deakin, which inspired Bacon’s painting. He had the ideas we wanted in his back catalogue. The brand is originally a sporting brand based on uniforms. So, that’s why we focused on the uniform of the artist, boxer or musician. That’s what tailoring is today, though maybe it is wearing a frock coat with track pants and trainers.”
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