Hawksmill Denim Co. Looks Beyond Home Shores For Growth
England’s southern flank; you could argue that this coastal strip sums up much of the country’s character and what it has come to stand for. Proud naval ports, retired colonels obsessing about foreign hordes beyond the horizon and then pockets of progressive tolerance like Brighton.
Brighton has stood for slick menswear for decades – think, Quadrophenia – and is home to the fine Dawson Denim atelier. News is reaching us now that a more recent startup, Hawksmill, has popped the corks after the success of its first season and is now setting its sights on establishing growth. They are now available throughout much of the UK plus now Japan and Australia, and are opening up with retailers on mainland Europe.
Meet Fraser Trewick, Meet His Jeans
Fraser is the heartbeat behind the brand which is as much a manifesto for crafted quality, functionality and character as anything else. Having led the charge for Nudie’s sales success, he certainly knows the premium denim business from top to tail and you get the sense that every stitch of the current collection has been agonised over. What will work, what will not? And, what will convince retailers like Selfridges and Oi Polloi to put their faith in the brand?
We’re particularly impressed by the jeans themselves. Tailored on Union Specials in Europe using predominantly premium weaves from A-list mills like Japan’s Kuroki Mills and Cone Mills in North Carolina, the range now extends to some ten styles.
Each has a contemporary tapered silhouette. So, once you have chosen your denim (there’s an organic in there, too), the question largely boils down to how much of a taper would you like and do you want a wash with that? In fact, the loose tapered 14oz. Organic Dirty Wash is especially easy on the eye.
So far, so good but another, far more fundamental question also hangs over the Hawksmill Denim Co. At the time of writing, the United Kingdom is set to decide whether to withdraw from the European Union and Trewick is eyeing the future with trepidation. He told us;
The UK’s potential “Brexit” from the EU could have serious consequences for our business. Keen to avoid manufacturing our jeans in places like China where worker exploitation is rife, we have always used European factories.
With the UK being part of the EU, the import and export of our goods is very straight forward. If we were to leave the Union, this could potentially complicate what is now a very simple process.
Another industry source (who prefers to remain unnamed) is even more fearful for the future. He explains;
This isolation could cause havoc and the menswear business is no exception. Trade tariffs, a falling British Pound, customs hold-ups; they could all have a disastrous impact upon the brands we know and love as well as the newer guys who are trying to establish a foothold in the face of fierce competition.
We probed whether the higher price of overseas brands would mean a bonus for the UK’s home-grown manufacturers.
It’s just not that simple. Customers want choice and they are loyal to their existing brands so they will just purchase fewer garments. That’s spells disaster for the startups and the people they employ. Also, remember that many raw materials are imported so that means price-hikes for the domestic brands, too. There are no winners here, none.