A couple of weeks ago Blackshore founder and MD Simon Middleton was interviewed by fashion historian and BBC writer/presenter for the BBC website's culture section.
Amber's excellent article has gone live today. It's a fascinating run through the appeal of seaside and coastal fashion, and features Blackshore.
The interview was much more extensive than the sort quote that appears in the piece, and the author said she would have used more of Simon's comments if there'd been space.
And here's the full text of what Simon said in the original interview:
What inspired you to set up Blackshore?I think it’s in my nature to create enterprises that challenge me at multiple levels. I’m not a designer, and I don’t have actual making skills myself: but I love being involved in the manufacture of quality objects. In the past I’ve had a musical instrument factory, which made beautiful handmade instruments. The pleasure I get is from giving other people the opportunity and circumstance in which to make. To use a film analogy, I’m not an actor or a cinematographer… but more akin to the producer or even director.In my previous clothing business, I used other factories to make what we had designed. But this time around I wanted to be closer to the product and the people that made it, so I decided to open my own workshop/factory.Where is Blackshore clothing made?Blackshore clothing is all made in the British Isles, and as long as I’m in charge, always will be. It falls into two halves. Sewn garments (jackets, trousers, shirts, coats) will be made here in our Lowestoft factory (the former fishing net factory). Our factory is yards from the sea and is literally Britain’s most easterly clothing factory (a new meaning to made in the Far East).Knitwear, which is important to us as well, is made in small family factories in the Channel Isles and in Nottinghamshire. Knitting requires different skills and different technology. And it’s a big investment, but if we succeed then it’s my plan to bring knitting in-house as well in due course. We may also do some local hand knits working with local home-based knitters.Why do you think coastal clothing still holds such appeal today?
The coast is where people go to relax, to dream, to get in touch with a different side of life and the human condition. It’s elemental. Even a simple day at the seaside is full of profound dreams and mood-enhancing change for children and adults alike. And the coast speaks of adventure too of course. And the clothing of the coast is wonderfully democratic and speaks of working people – both at work and at play (unlike traditional ‘countryside’ clothing which has so many associations with the gentry and the aristocracy). I’m not talking about ‘yachting’ clothing which is a completely different genre of course. And the unpredictable weather conditions of the British coast mean that ‘coastal clothing’ covers almost every season.. and has to be tough, practical, comfortable and relaxed. And almost by definition, coastal style is somehow always cheerful and friendly… it doesn’t take itself too seriously.
Why do fishermen inspire artists and designers?
I think the elemental aspect of fishing is the source of the inspiration. The pitting of man against ocean and weather. It’s dangerous, it’s hard, and its practitioners are in some ways a breed apart. It has a kind of glamour to creative types therefore. But it’s also the environment in which practical all-weather clothing is developed and refined. And I think every man who dons a gansey sweater or a really well built wax cotton nautical style jacket feels a little more manly and adventurous.