There was a buzz going round, the word was a new kid on the block was going to be making classic Ivy menswear. Ivy Jim was on board as a consultant and the project was being bank rolled by Phil Stedman, the son of a former Cunard Yank which the company was named after. Hopes were high, could it be that as America had lost its way with its classic Ivy silhouette Liverpools Harry Stedman was about to step into a nich market that saw Modernists and Ivy fans trawling vintage or waiting for John Simons to make? In the end it proved to good to be true, Jim became Cunard Jim and his ship sailed. Stedmans moved position, offering some garments with Ivy influence, some without. Non the less Harry’s is a story of interest and some of his products may well find their into way Modernists wardrobes. College No.9 caught up with Stedmans Johnny Ridley, to get the lowdown on Harry, his products and plans and lines in the future.
above; Cunard Harry
Where did Harry’s interest in the Ivy look stem from?
Firstly, we think it’s important to outline the fact we’re not an Ivy League label, though that style is thoroughly influential to the kind of clothing we have and hope to produce.
Our designs are the result of detailed research into clothing from throughout the last century and we wouldn’t feel a singular label, Ivy for example, would be the fairest way to describe our brand. Detailed research into men’s attire feeds what we do and that is to help translate classic attire into something wholly modern, something today’s man can easily connect with.
To answer your question about Harry’s taste for Ivy….he was first exposed to the Ivy look when visiting New York in the 1950s. Harry was a Cunard Yank one of the 25,000 sailors and stevedores that worked between the East Coast, South America and and New Zealand. From these travels grew his love of American clothes and music. Coming from drab, war broken Liverpool, America and New York in particular seemed like another world. Liverpool’s role in the growth of the popularity of American fashion and music has been well documented elsewhere and is in some senses a forgotten story that still lives strong through Harry. Seeing it all in the flesh helped shape his tastes as he was able to enjoy so many things (menswear and beyond) that hadn’t filtered over to his native Liverpool. He’d later become a style catalyst of sorts, bringing back his treasured clothes to parade in his hometown.
Where is the company based?
We’re based in London.
Will the clothes be produced entirely in the U.K?
Our garments are produced both in the UK and abroad; we seek out the best “man for the job” as it were, so look to align ourselves with manufacturers that can help realize our designs regardless of their location.
What has been the most challenging thing about starting up the company?
One of the main challenges has been streamlining our vision for the future, working out exactly what parts of Harry’s colourful life to focus on and draw inspiration from. He’s travelled the world and been exposed to a range of cultures and styles, all of which helps us better understand clothing from the past - its value of the time, its purpose. His adventures have served as a divining rod of sorts, helping highlight periods in time we want to focus on. This has meant we do very much focus on the 50s and 60s, the most vibrant years of his youth.
I’m sure everyone who’s heard about a new company making classic Ivy clothing is looking forward to seeing Harry Stedman’s clothes. When can we expect to see them for sale?
Our first batch of garments have recently debuted on our website; two classic ivy shirts, tees, our Drizzler jacket and a selection of grooming products. The later hail from a brand we greatly respect - Baxter of California. Just in time for Christmas were two trousers made with Japanese twill, shirts made with Thomas Mason fabrics, five shirts made at the well-respected Brooks Brothers factory in USA, and hand-made in England leather belts.
The Drizzler coat, which we think is great.
In addition, we will offer via our website the following well-made and highly sought after products: Corgi socks, Shetland jumpers & scarves, and John Smedley jumpers and accessories. For Spring 2013 we have an entire new range of beautifully crafted clothing including macs, trousers, button down shirts, stripe t-shirts, unstructured jackets, anorak jacket…just to name a few.
above; Stedmans chino pants, complete with nice pocket detail.
How many lines will Harry be offering at the launch? Will he add more lines as the company grows or will you be just be doing a limited range?
We’ve launched with a small selection of garments and with plans to add pieces in the near future, building toward a point whereby we can release a full, well-rounded collection season on season.
Stedmans; A work in progress.
Will you be making garments in small runs? How many shirts or jackets in a cloth will you make for instance?
Our garment runs will be sensibly small to begin with, to later expand to meet demand. Volume is related to success, we can only but cross our fingers and hope our wares are warmly received.
Will your jackets feature floating canvas or fused construction?
As of right now, we do not have tailored jackets that require canvas.
In the future, we intend to offer jackets with floating canvas as that is a more traditional approach for quality construction.
Are there any specific vintage brands or garments that have served for inspiration behind your clothes?
Lots! There is not one specific brand that jumps to mind but there are a number of vintage pieces that we used for inspiration. For example, our shirt produced by the Brooks Brothers factory is a specific re-invention of the classic Ivy League oxford button down shirt - one that’s not commonly available today. Also, our Drizzler jacket was inspired by Drizzler jackets worn during the 1950’s in America, however, we updated the look and traditional fabric; opting to use shall we call it… a ‘technical’ material.
Can you tell us about the general process you go though to design and realise a garment?
We start by thinking of what feeling we want to portray to the customer and what feeling they will have when they wear the garment. This feeling then inspires the look we’ll design for the garment. We then go into our extensive research library and see who has worn clothing that has spoken the same way. From there, we carefully consider what fabrics to use & interpret the design for a modern customer.
Of course you’ll be looking to walk before you can run but how do you see the company progressing? Any plans for a store in the high street?
A brick & mortar shop would be fantastic; it’s definitely something we’d love to do. Right now it’s a case of focusing on developing signature pieces and our line as a whole. Once we establish our fan base and truly own that “Harry Stedman look” when can talk seriously about growth to open a store.
I guess your market is the Ivy style fans and the more sussed modernists. Do you see classic Ivy appealing to a broader section of the public with the right marketing?
To go back to our points in your first question, we don’t see ourselves as an Ivy brand. Yes, we will have pieces that use Ivy as a platform, as inspiration, but we would hope to be seen as a more dynamic brand. We’d hope our wares are seen as new classics, accessible clothes that can be worn in a variety of ways, thus lending themselves to a whole host of styles.
You can check out the full range at Harry Stedmans here;
You can also find them on Facebook;