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IN CONVERSATION WITH PAUL CLAPHAM OF USKEES
Throughout the years Uskees have been in the clothing business, they’ve noticed a change in the relationship with what we wear; a shift to a faster, quicker model built on ever changing trends and cutting of corners. Founder, Paul Clapham created the brand to provide an alternative to that shift. From sourcing through to design, they use high quality, organic materials - putting a passion for craft at the centre of everything they do. Traditional techniques are shown the respect they deserve, so that the lessons of the past can be used to create something for the future. The Uskees range centres around traditional workwear styling, brought up to date for the modern consumer. Classic work shirts, over shirts and jackets head up the core line of pieces, with a focus on utilitarian silhouettes and functional design.
In a recent episode of the MenswearStyle Podcast we interviewed Paul Clapham, Founder of Uskees about his background in fashion retail and eCommerce, and how his 'built to last' workwear brand was born. He was attracted to the simplicity and aesthetic of work garments which go against the disposable clothing attitudes the 'fast fashion' industry has brought to the masses in recent years. Our host Peter Brooker and Paul also talked about repairing clothes, inspiration and history behind their designs, the meaning behind the brand name, and what it has been like growing a business through the Covid-19 pandemic.
“I've been in the retail arena for many years. I worked directly for Levi Strauss and managed a number of their biggest stores for a few years and then went into internet retailing approximately 10 years ago. I then had a lightbulb moment in the shower one day, I wondered if I could sell denim dungarees on the internet and imported some from America. Over time we built sales, but it was always a bedroom business. It became a race to the bottom because the marketplace got more and more flooded. So, I began to think about how we could diversify, how we could survive in the longer term and how we could build something that was for us. We had always sold brands like Carhartt and Dickies, so I have always been familiar with workwear, and I like the simplicity of it. I'm not particularly a high fashion person, and I'm not a particular follower of trends."
"That's what I have always enjoyed about workwear, the simple aesthetic fits my personality. One day a friend of mine was wearing a very simple Chinese working jacket that he got from a vintage store. It wasn't particularly glamorous, but it was really nice and simple. As soon as I saw it I thought, that's what we can do, we can create clothes that will be fit for purpose and simple. We’re based in Manchester and one of the key areas of Manchester is clothing wholesale and internet businesses. I don't like the idea of disposable clothing; I don't like the idea that things can be thrown away after a couple of uses. The idea of fast fashion has been a relatively new one. I want to try and rally against that. I just want to create something that will encourage people to buy less, repair more, cherished more, and build a relationship with a garment.”
This is a shortened transcribed edit of episode 118 of the MenswearStyle Podcast with Paul Clapham, Founder of uskees.com. You can listen to the full version below or listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or your favourite podcast player.
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