In conversation with: Banvard & James

5 min read

In conversation with Banvard & James


Banvard & James

Est. 2013 - London, UK

"Ensuring your wardrobe contains a variety of simple, classic pieces is vital in building a wardrobe that lasts and transcends seasons. [...] We appreciate the British Gentleman is often more conservative, but that’s where Banvard & James helps, subtle, discreet colour mixed with classic British design."
- Alexander Hudson



Co-founder of Banvard & James Alexander Hudson shares his tips on how to elevate style through colour. Read his advice for sporting a timeless style and the golden rule of a gentleman's etiquette.

 
Jeya Narrative: You started Banvard & James back in 2013. What brought you to start your own business, how did it begin and how has it evolved since?

Alexander Hudson: Banvard & James was started out of a desire to inject some colour and personality into men's fashion through beautifully crafted fashion accessories. It was clear Gentlemen are keen to add personality to their outfits, often through coloured silk linings to their suits and jackets or by adding a pop of colour through their socks. While still remaining fairly conservative, myself and my brother set out to design a range of accessories and gifts for men that feature our signature discreet, vibrant colour.

We started with the Walker umbrella, which is still one of our best-selling items today. We realised there are a lot of Gentlemen that didn’t want a plain, black umbrella, but equally didn’t want to walk around with a bright yellow one. The idea came for a double canopy umbrella, with a beautiful charcoal grey outer and a coloured lining - discrete, yet different.

We do not use the colour black in our designs, and never will - there is enough of that around as it is; take a look outside! We have always ensured we only work with the very finest artisan manufactures we can, who use the best raw materials, producing beautiful products that last for many, many years.


What does your brand stand for? What do you seek to achieve?

Classic British design with a colourful, modern twist. We sell to even the most conservative of customers who appreciate beautiful, hand-crafted pieces, but something that is a little different. At times, fashion can become very bland if we are not careful – black and navy coats, suits, bags, shoes. All rather drab. Hopefully we can bring a little personality and discreet colour into this.

Colourful ribbed socks for men


Why is Made in the UK so important to your vision? How does the British manufacturing heritage reinforce your vision?

British style and quality is timeless and well-respected all over the world. Drawing on many years of experience within manufacturing helps ensure our pieces are of the highest quality. But raw materials are equally important.

 

How is style a medium for self-expression in your opinion?

If working in the creative industries, it can be easy to reflect your own personal style in what you wear casual vs. formal, colourful vs. plain. But often when a more traditional, formal or conservative outfit is required or desired, this can be hard. It is much harder than one thinks to stylishly and successfully accessorise a suit for example. This is one reason why Banvard & James is becoming so popular. Our pieces are timeless and classic, and can be mix and matched with a variety of styles.

In conversation with Banvard & James

How would you describe your personal style? And who has had the biggest influence on your style?

My fashion is relatively simple - I am rarely seen not in a shirt and chinos. I don’t think I even own a pair of jeans. But what is very important to me is well fitting clothes and beautiful shoes. I then mix and match accessories to ensure I maintain a look and style that is different, even in a subtle way, to the crowd.

 

Do you think there has been a shift in what people look for in their garments and accessories in recent years?

There has been a down turn in the ‘formal accessory’ category, which is reflected by the shift towards a more casual work outfit across most sectors. Accessories are the perfect way to mix up and completely change a look without having to invest in lots of new clothing. Take our simple, but hugely popular Wilson Coloured Shoe Laces – what an incredibly simple and stylish way to refresh an older pair of shoes for a fraction of the price.

 Luxury ribbed socks for men

Where do you see the biggest trends in menswear and men’s accessories in the next few years?

In contrast to what I said above, I think there will be a push back towards a more formal look across all sectors. People are buying less but buying ‘well’. Everyone loves the opportunity to try new things and ‘dressing up’, especially with the wedding season around the corner, is something more and more people enjoy. 

 

Your accessories are inspired by Europe - Italy in particular. What differentiates the Italian and British sense of style? And how could the modern man achieve that look?

We are the first to admit that vibrant colour can be difficult to work into an outfit, especially if this falls outside of your comfort zone. The Italians especially, but most of the European Gentlemen in fact, have this mastered. We have a huge French fan base and a pair of orange chinos or bright blue shoes would not be uncommon on them. We appreciate the British Gentleman is often more conservative, but that’s where Banvard & James helps, subtle, discreet colour mixed with classic British design.

Silk pocket squares made in the UK

What are the key characteristics of classic and timeless? Is there such a thing?

Yes, I believe there is. We see this in on continuity range – those pieces that have always been in stock and always will be. It is very ‘fashionable’ in high street fashion to push new ranges and seasons on customers almost every few months. While this is fine in moderation, ensuring your wardrobe contains a variety of simple, classic pieces is vital in building a wardrobe that lasts and transcends seasons. Simple, classic white shirts (well-fitting of course!), beautiful shoes and navy chinos will always be appropriate. Mix these up occasionally with a pair of blue or burgundy socks, blue hand-woven leather belt and burnt orange and indigo cashmere scarf, for a simple and elegant look that stands out from the crowd.

 

In your opinion, what are the golden rules to a man’s etiquette?

To respect others and oneself.

  

What is the most quintessentially dapper accessory every gentleman should have in their wardrobe?


A beautiful, strong and stylish Walker Umbrella…of course! 

 Colourful shoe laces for men


Lastly…

Place you call home: Somewhere with friends and family…for me that place is London…for the time being anyway

A colour: Burnt Orange
A movie or book: The Thomas Crown Affair (both versions)
A sound: Skis carving across a freshly bashed piste.

A place: Lake Como, New York or Porto…too hard to choose
Go-to accessory to dress to impress: Beautiful shoes and belt
Most coveted item in your wardrobe: My Crombie coat
Favourite tool to work with: Our Ralpley A5 Journal – nothing like pen and paper
Favourite inspirational quote, or best piece of advice anybody ever gave you:Details matter, it’s worth waiting to get it right” Steve Jobs
Why Jeya Narrative? Jeya Narrative share our passion for quality manufacturing and design.






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