In the world of contemporary menswear, British brand Nigel Cabourn is a force to be reckoned with. But in order to fully understand the trajectory of the brand, you have to learn a bit more about the man behind it, and of course, that is Nigel himself.
Born in 1949, Cabourn came of age in the 60’s, a time synonymous with new fashion, music and art. Against the backdrop of these various movements, Cabourn began his foray into the creative scene by studying Fashion Design at Northumbria University from 1967-71. After learning his craft, Cabourn developed an interest in vintage pieces, something that was actually introduced to him by fellow British designer Paul Smith by way of a vintage Royal Air Force jacket. When Cabourn started his own collection some years later, vintage pieces, specifically military related, were a huge inspiration for him and remain so to this day. On the brand’s website, Nigel (in his own words) notes that everything he designs comes from either a moment in history, an inspirational person or a vintage garment. He takes great pride in his 4000 plus strong collection of vintage pieces, and pre-pandemic he spent much of his time travelling the world in search of new finds.
While some would interpret this penchant for all things vintage as an inability to look beyond the past, Cabourn argues the opposite and sees them (vintage garments) as something that will pique his creativity. That being said, he doesn’t consider himself ‘fashion forward’, his collections are designed to have staying power, both in the sense that they transcend trends and that they are crafted from quality materials. Durability is hugely important to Nigel Cabourn, and one of the reasons he so admires vintage garments (particularly those from a military background): ‘I’m absolutely fascinated and excited by the fabric and detail in these functional, comfortable, and above all durable garments, which have on the whole, been created not by fashion designers but by technicians and scientists’. Cabourn’s designs carry forth this ethos of attention to detail and emphasis on materials, all in all managing to transform it into clothes that not only exceed their purpose but are a joy to wear.