To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the brand’s founding in 1963, the team at Ben Sherman is releasing a retrospective book examining the past half-century of teenage fashion tribes in the UK. Penned by Josh Sims, author of Icons of Men’s Style, each of the book’s eight chapters focuses on a particular youth subculture and the Ben Sherman brand’s place in it, from the Teddy Boys of the early 60s to the Casuals of the 80s. The book will be released on 7 February, including a limited-edition run of 500 copies featuring slipcases wrapped in Ben Sherman shirt fabric.
In addition to the book’s release, a 50th anniversary capsule collection will also be made available this spring. The seven pieces in the Duke Street Foundry collection, named for the Brighton location of the company’s original factory, are all made in England and feature the same style of parkas, track jackets and candy-colored shirts that sharp young gents gobbled up in 1963.
Born Arthur Benjamin Sugarman in Brighton, Sherman emigrated to the United States at age 20 and legally changed his name to Ben Sherman upon receiving U.S. citizenship in order to sound more American. He got his first taste of the fashion industry while in the States working for his father-in-law’s clothing manufacturing company. When his mother’s declining health necessitated his move back to Brighton, he used the skills he’d learned from his father-in-law to open his own clothing factory making men’s shirts. Like the brand’s current spring/summer 2013 Jazz Life collection, Ben Sherman’s original shirts were inspired by the Ivy League button-downs worn by American jazz artists such as Dizzie Gillespie and Miles Davis. Such shirts were not widely available in the UK and were exclusively imported until the Ben Sherman factory opened.
Using only American-made fabrics, Sherman’s shirts featured fashion-forward colors and a slimmer Italian fit that set them apart from their imported cousins. Fastidious Mods appreciated Sherman’s attention to detail, such as high-quality stitiching and the signature button on the back of the shirt collar, and flocked to the new brand, prompting the opening of a showroom on Carnaby Street in 1964. Since then, the Ben Sherman brand has been adopted by everyone from the punks in the 70s to members of Blur and Oasis in the 90s to Amy Winehouse and Ricki of the Kaiser Chiefs in the Noughties. For the company’s 50th anniversary they will be partnering with the Teenage Cancer Trust for its March shows, along with two 1963-inspired collections, and, of course. the book.