Words by Anders Redder
Photography by Benjamin Mark Benoliel
Meet Nigel Cabourn, a British menswear icon. Steadily hanging on to benchmark principles like craftsmanship and quality fabric, his brand has been an essential part of British wardrobes for quite some time.
Having worked his way through the fashion industry since the 1970s, you would think nothing about Nigel could surprise us anymore. We sat down with the man himself in his home to have a chat about his passion for vintage clothing, fabric and having a 14 hour workday.
B&O PLAY: Your collections always seem to be heavily inspired by British heritage and military history. What’s so great about mixing history and fashion?
NIGEL: Nigel Cabourn is not a fashion company. Heritage brings a huge functionality and originality to our clothes.
B&O PLAY: How important is it for you to link your brand to British culture?
NIGEL: My brand is linked to British culture and always has been because I am British and live that lifestyle so my clothes show my British lifestyle.
B&O PLAY: How do you discover these gems of vintage inspiration? How do you keep on discovering gems of vintage inspiration?
NIGEL: I travel the world four months a year and I know all the best vintage stores around the world and the collectors. I know my history about military clothing so I know what I’m after. Often my collector friends do so too, so when they find a gem they know I’ll love they save it for me.
B&O PLAY: Does music play a role in your search for inspiration?
NIGEL: Music is the inspiration for how I started my business in 1970. This was on the back of flower power, Vietnam and British pop music all combined together which gave me a wonderful start to beginning my brand. I listen to music all the time traveling and working.
B&O PLAY: Craftsmanship is a big part of your brand’s identity. Why?
NIGEL: It is key with the authentic brand we have introduced, a British made product showing British quality at its best is essential to our story.
B&O PLAY: Music has always played a big part in the identity of British subcultures and the way they dress. Why do you think music and fashion connect so well?
NIGEL: Music and fashion connect so well to me because it reminds you of the actual era and the spirit of how things are going right now. Music and fashion for me are always about memories.
B&O PLAY: London is obviously buzzing these days. Tell us how an experienced designer like you keeps his head cool during fashion week?
NIGEL: I don’t! I just really enjoy the moment. I love the energy and I just go with the flow, meeting lots of people, enjoying myself.
B&O PLAY: Working out has become a huge part of your life over recent years, could you tell us more about the and how you fit it in to your busy schedule?
NIGEL: This is no problem for my schedule because I extended my schedule to a 14hr day. Starting at 6am on the exercise 6 days a week.
B&O PLAY: You seem to travel a lot and your passion for exploration really comes across. Where are your favourite places to visit and what do you do when your there?
NIGEL: My two favourite places are Tokyo and New York. In Tokyo I have my own fat Surly bike so I never use taxis – I travel around all the streets on my bike. I find it exhilarating. When travelling Tokyo streets by bike you see a whole different energy. Also, it’s the best place in the world for collecting the rarest vintage pieces which is so important as it’s the whole inspiration behind my brand. I love the energy and the whole atmosphere of New York. It’s the best place in the world for me to do a workout along the Hudson River. Of course listening to music at the same time while doing this is fantastic.
B&O PLAY: Favorite 3 restaurants around the world?
NIGEL: The Firehouse, on Chiltern Street in London – I love the buzz. The Ralph Lauren Restaurant in Saint Germain in Paris – the steaks are amazing (they’re flown in from Ralph’s ranch in the U.S.). Soho House New York – it’s about the interesting people more than the food. Restaurants for me are about meeting my friends and watching interesting people as much as the good food!
B&O PLAY: Favorite 3 cities?
NIGEL: Melbourne, Australia. Tokyo, Japan. New York, USA.
B&O PLAY: Favorite 3 stores around the world?
NIGEL: My Army Gym in London, because I like wearing all my own stuff, that’s why I design it and I get it there. Jantiques in Tokyo, the best vintage store in the world. Also I love a few separate vintage stores in the flea market in Clignancourt in Paris.
Current City: Newcastle
Occupation: Owner, Nigel Cabourn