In 2013 Ben Sherman celebrated fifty years of British style culture. As a global lifestyle brand, it now presents a full lifestyle offering of contemporary menswear, with retail stores in key cities around the world.
The brand’s foundation is in shirt-making and the Ben Sherman shirt is an icon, adopted by youth culture and style movements from the Mods of the 1960’s via Ska, Two-Tone and Brit Pop, to today’s current bands and style leaders.
They recently announced the launch of their Autumn Winter 2015 campaign, which is an emotive and authoritative reinforcement of the Button Up concept. This defining look has resulted in a genuine signature style for the seasonal Ben Sherman brand campaigns.
For the Autumn Winter 2015 season they continue to encourage men to button up their shirts, whilst giving a nod of acknowledgement to those who already do. Their advertising campaign will include fashion press, creative windows and digital video content, which will launch online alongside in-store activities throughout the season.
A Short History
Ben Sherman was a legend in his own right. A man described as ‘always embracing the new and the different’; someone constantly searching for the best of things. He disliked regularity, preferring to search out things that were perceived as unavailable to him. He was a passionate businessman with an artist’s soul.
Born Arthur Benjamin Sugarman in Brighton in 1925, at just 20 years old Arthur left a post-war torn Britain for America where he saw a land of hope and promise; he was full of drive and ambition. He raised a family in the San Fernando valley and began working for his father in law who owned a successful clothing manufacturing company. It was also while in America when applying for citizenship, that Arthur decided to change his name. Ben is what his family called him and Sherman was a surname that he felt was a good, solid, strong American name. Unfortunately his mother who lived back in England became very ill, so he quit his job and relocated the family back home to Brighton. Without a job, Ben Sherman decided to use his clothing manufacturing experience and rented a factory in Bedford square, Brighton.
Ben started making shirts for other people. But soon his creative flair took over and he started designing his own shirts. Then in 1963 he was ready to launch the first Ben Sherman shirt.
Its basic design was influenced by the classic American Ivy League shirt but Ben’s design vision added the back hook, the button on the back of the collar, but most importantly his feel and passion for fabric, pattern and colour created a unique garment.
Colour was something that particularly intrigued Ben, so he used Oxford fabric in pale shades, pale pink, yellow and blue. He used candy stripes, again, using pale pinks, greens and blues. Peoples’ initial reaction to all this colour was not positive, but typically Ben Sherman pushed ahead as he totally believed in his ideas.
He wanted the best quality fabrics, so the special fabrics used were all from America. He also decided to box each shirt individually, which was, in those days against the grain.
The shirts were a huge success, offering something brand new and previously unseen in England. Interestingly it was exactly at this time that the first British youth culture was in full flow; the post war teddy boys. This movement had shown a new generation of youth that clothing could be a key indicator of their beliefs and signal their belonging to a culture or movement. A second wave of young men came along who loved the sharp Italian style and this group went by the name of ‘ the modernists’ who quickly became known as ‘mods’.
This British youth culture embraced the Ben Sherman shirt, loving it for its quality, slim-fitting style, its colour and unique design. The feeling was that there simply had never been anything on the English scene like it. The Ben Sherman shirt was revolutionary and so was the ‘mod movement’. Through fashion and music, London and Britain were cool again, the swinging 60’s was in full flow and the atmosphere was europhic.
Ben Sherman opened a showroom on carnaby street and soon afterwards opened 2 stores in London as well as a store in Brighton (his Brighton store was called ‘millions of shirts inc. ltd) Ben Sherman could not produce shirts fast enough and orders often exceeded production capacity. It is famously quoted that in 1970 Ben Sherman ordered a million yards of oxford cloth, a quarter of a million of gingham fabric and a quarter of a million yards of colourful striped material from his American fabric mill. This is testament to the popularity of the Ben Sherman shirt.