Saturday, 4 June 2011

NORTH SEA NEIL

Neil Starr, North Sea Clothing, Submariner, Edward Barber photographer, Concrete Editions
North Sea Clothing, Navy Submariner © Edward Barber, West Witterings 2010
Neil Starr North Sea Clothing Expedition, Edward Barber photographer, Concrete Editions
North Sea Clothing, Navy Expedition © Edward Barber, West Witterings 2010

Q. When did you found North Sea Clothing?
A. I started up North Sea Clothing four years ago.
I have spent the past twenty odd years hunting and sourcing a diverse range of vintage items including, objects, musical instruments and clothing. The expertise, which came from handling items of high quality, led me to focus my collecting on specializing in military and motorcycle garments and accessories. These in turn were supplied by me to designers and brands seeking inspiration in the development of their collections.

Q. What led you to start the company and focus on The Submariner jumper?
A. It really came about as a response to a combination of things:  from my experience with vintage and archive pieces I realised that items of such quality were becoming increasingly scarce but were the product of a long standing tradition of manufacturing in Britain. With most companies outsourcing to the East for a cheaper alternative, the perception of British manufacturing was as being too expensive. So by producing my own updated version of The Submariner, sourcing British Wool, and using a British manufacturer I could through North Sea Clothing maintain and revitalise these links with excellence.

Q. Did you start with this one style and then expand to others?
A. Yes!  After The Submariner came The Expedition, a shawl-collared jumper with a brass shank anchor collar button, and now The Intrepid, a Norwegian style submariner with a navy/cream fleck follows on.

Q. Tell me a little about the history of this type of clothing and how you make them today?
A.  The Submariner sweater was War Office issue to the Royal Navy in both World Wars. By the 1950s motorcyclists had adopted them to wear under their jackets as a fantastically effective way of keeping out the British weather.
All these sweaters are made in a traditional way using British wool. The ecru colour is undyed wool so the lanolin aroma is still there. Lanolin gives the wool a natural waterproofed quality just as it would to its original owner in the fields during our chilly damp winters.

Q. Where is North Sea Clothing available to buy?
Currently we have retailers in England, Sweden, Japan and soon the United States and Canada. Please see website for details.

Q. Do you have plans to expand the line?
Yes. North Sea Clothing is about garments that are suitable “Whatever the Weather”, so our great British climate continues to be one of the inspirations as well as the desire to produce enduring items of distinctive quality that are made in Britain.

Images: Edward Barber

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