New+Authentic+Vintage = Nigel Cabourn

**Meet Nigel Cabourn and peruse the Fall 2010 collection: Saturday, October 9th 2010 12 p.m. -5 p.m. Men’s 4th Floor, 660 Madison Avenue.**

Nigel Cabourn

Along with a recent gut renovation of the Men’s 4th Floor at our Madison Avenue flagship, came a new host of designers/collections to outfit a guy interested in quality, authenticity and iconic styling. Nigel Cabourn’s Authentic & Mainline collections exemplify these criteria, drawing on his 40 years in the fashion industry and extensive collection of rare vintage sportswear. In anticipation of his appearance at Barneys on Saturday, October 9th Nigel kindly consented to a little delving into his own past and some reflection on the present.

Andrew Caldwell:
You’ve been in the fashion business for 40 years, what first drew you to sportswear and how did you decide that this was the calling for you?
Nigel Cabourn: It was pop music that drew me to the fashion business. In the late 60s, the real inspiration of the day was flower power and psychedelic music. The British music scene at that time was fantastic, and as a fashion student, I was inspired by the clothes worn by groups such as The Who, Procal Harem, Small Faces and many more. This inspiration was the backbone of my ideas when I started my business in 1970, as a 20 year old fashion student.

AC: You’ve been a serious collector of vintage pieces for years, and one can see the influences of these pieces in your own collection. What is it about these garments that inspire you so much?
I started collecting vintage clothing from 1979. Over the past 30 years, I have accumulated nearly 4,000 pieces. The inspiration that comes from these pieces is key to my design philosophy.
I love the real working and functioning details within these garments. This is what Nigel Cabourn Authentic is all about. I particularly love mountaineering clothing from the 1920s and 1950s and the details from these original garments are completely real, and these are the type of details which inspire my current days collections. My heroes are the famous climbers Mallory from 1920s and Hilary from 1950s.

AC: Do you have a favorite vintage piece?
NC: The problem is that I have many, because I have spent 30 years collecting garments for specific details.
I particularly like the original mountain parka which Edmund Hillary wore on Antarctica in 1958. This jacket inspired my current Everest Parka where we sell 300 pieces per year to all specialties stores around the world.

AC: I am sure you are aware of the current obsession with anything and everything “heritage” or “vintage” inspired. As a designer that has been tapping this reference pool for years, how do you feel about its current vogue?
NC: Frankly, I am a bit disappointed in the current obsession with heritage and vintage inspired clothes. Many companies actually did not make the clothes that they are now professing to have made. They are often just cashing in on the current trend of heritage. Also, the heritage world or vintage world is used too easily and actually is only describing a trend and not really “a true heritage” garment.
Due to this, I describe all Nigel Cabourn Vintage pieces as archival pieces, because my ideas come from special, rare pieces which often are between 50 to 70 years old, and they have been purchased at a great expense due to their rarity.

AC: I’ve heard stories that Sir Paul Smith once worked for you.
NC: This is true. Actually, Paul worked as my sales agent between 1972 and 1973 when I first launched my brand to the London stores. He introduced my brand to some famous stores of that decade. We remained good friends through the 1970s. In fact, he introduced me to the first vintage market in Paris in 1979, which was the beginning of me collecting my vintage collection. He also bought my product for his Nottingham store throughout the 70s.

AC: You love outerwear. I’ve been ridiculed for the number of coats I own. Most would argue the suit as the defining masculine garb, but I would argue for the coat. What do you think?
NC: Well, I am not surprised as company like myself and Stone Island have built a worldwide reputation on the back of outerwear rather than jackets. You can still build a fantastic concept around outerwear, just look at the story I built on the back of Sir Edmund Hillary and Everest.

AC: Your studio and office are in Newcastle, in the north of England, not a fashion capital to be sure. How does working outside of the “norm” influence/affect your work?
NC: Working in Newcastle in the north of England as a successful outerwear company is perfect. The north of England is like the north of America, very cold, bleak, wet, and therefore an inspiring area for outerwear. In the north of England, near Newcastle, both Barbour and Berghaus are based. Which shows that the North East is a true outerwear base in the UK.

AC: We are very excited about your visit to Barneys to promote the Autumn/Winter 2010 collection. If there was one piece that was a “must have” from this collection what would it be?
NC: The backbone of Nigel Cabourn Authentic Collection is its classic pieces based on mountaineering in the 1950s. “Must have pieces” are Everest Parka, Mallory Harris Tweed Jacket and Cameramen Jacket, which we have been producing for the last 10 years and are available every winter season.

– Andrew Caldwell, Associate Buyer – Men’s Contemporary Collections

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  1. By SWURDIN | the linkout, week 40 on 10.10.10 at 11:27 am

    […] “Frankly, I am a bit disappointed in the current obsession with heritage and vintage inspired clot… A talk with ‘mister authentic’ Nigel Cabourn on his inspirations and thoughts on the current trends in fashion. […]

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