The London–based brand was founded in 2011 and has already put its stamp on the world of Menswear, releasing a debut lookbook in April 2013. The distinctiveness of the brand does not come from pompous inspirations of abstract art; it is inspired by a life-experience-laden human being, in the form of Harry Stedman – father of current MD Philip Stedman.
Harry Stedman brings together, somehow in perfect harmony, British Heritage and classic Americana, underlined by elements of quintessential 50s style. This marriage of transatlantic trends really does resonate with Harry Stedman’s life path. Born in Liverpool in 1932, Stedman enlisted in the British Army in 1951 to escape the war-dishevelled streets of his hometown. Somewhere along the line of his extensive travels, Stedman stumbled into the Big Apple, feeling the city spoke to him far more easily than Liverpool was ever capable of. Namely Ivy-League inspired, he returned to the UK armed with his favourite American trends of the 50s.
Underlying rough ‘n’ ready tones, fed by Stedman’s working-class Liverpudlian roots, compliment the otherwise clean cuts of the collections. We’re talking blackened knuckles and cut-throat razors here (one look at the Tumblr page really sets the tone). It all seems to be about taking past, out-dated shapes and reworking them to suit the modern man, or “discerning gent” as the brand has put it.
Of course, Harry Stedman does not simply consist of clothes documenting every step of Stedman’s life. Particular brand themes strike a continuous melody throughout each collection. The team “pride [themselves] on the quality and durability of [their] clothing” whilst retaining a modest, yet impactful, colour palette. The cuts are impeccably fresh, yet New York street smart.
Inspired by the likes of 50s icons Fred Astaire and Antony Perkins; if the brand was a dance, it would undoubtedly be the American Smooth. The lookbook boasts high-waisted jeans, swept back bouffants and varsity jackets; a clear nod to the Americana trend. So nonchalant, so smooth, the ‘Harry Stedman man’ looks as though he could make girls go weak at the knees with just so much as a sultry comb of his hair (#swoon).
What particularly struck me about the brand was the evidence of real thought having gone into every single element of the Harry Stedman bubble. From the website backdrop of maps and postcards reminding us of Stedman’s arduous travels, to the detailed blogs on the careful production of each individual item (check the blog on the Scottish Knitwear factory); there is something about these designs that is so very personal. The emphasis on fit, durability and wearability refreshingly means that Harry Stedman really does consider the customer’s needs above all else.
So there you have it. Smooth, vintage 50s Americana combined with authentic, classic European tailoring, with a sprinkling of ‘roots of Liverpudlian working class’ thrown in for good measure. Really, it seems that Harry Stedman stands for so much more than just sartorial splendour. It is the voice of hard work, life experience and the ability to dust off the dirt to become that discerning gent; it represents a way of life.
Words: Lizi Woolgar