How to launch a label

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This autumn Patrick Grant, who’s spent the last couple of years revitalising Savile Row tailors Norton & Sons, is resurrecting a ready-to-wear brand, E. Tautz. The label started life in 1867 making hunting breeches and its customers included Winston Churchill and Edward VII before it ran out of puff in the years following World War II. We spoke to him recently about the new venture:

Esquire: What need are you trying to meet by restarting the brand?

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Patrick Grant: “I was disappointed that apart from Savile Row there was nothing British that matched the quality of the high-end ready-to-wear Italian brands. There was nothing that looked or felt British. This is an opportunity to do something that has beautiful cutting, fantastic cloths and beautiful manufacturing - all the things we stand for here at Norton & Sons and which we felt were missing from British RTW brands.”

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ESQ: Who is actually making the clothes?

PG: “We have a wonderful network of great British craftsmen and women: fantastic knitwear people in South Wales, Hawick and Shetland, hand knitters in Harris, fantastic tie makers in London’s Clerkenwell and in Selkirk, and then our own skills in tailoring and shirtmaking.”

ESQ: Why does it matter where they’re made?

PG: “At the moment there is a real lack of integrity in a lot of products. We’re offering clothing with an enduring value and which will form part of a wardrobe of clothes that isn’t going to date, so the shapes are classical but modern, masculine and flattering and made from beautiful British cloths.”

ESQ: As clothes date so fast does it matter if they wear out quickly?

PG: “The idea behind Tautz is that a man starts to assemble a wardrobe of clothes and then, over the course of 15, 20 or 25 years, he builds that wardrobe up. The idea of buying something with permanence and building a wardrobe in a considered manner is very relevant now.”

ESQ: What is it about the collection that makes it different from regular designer brands?

PG: “There is a level of polish that people associate with luxury, but we’ve taken that veneer off to find a level beyond it. We like our cloth to look real and we like the irregularities that set hand made pieces apart from factory made clothes. Once you’ve had a hand made suit it’s hard to look at machine-made suits again in the same light.”

ESQ: Did you always wear classic clothes, or were you once trendy?

PG: “Most people go through the same phases with their clothes, just at different times. Quite early on I had an interest in splashy labels and fashion, then I got to my early twenties and started to wear very restrained suits and ties, maybe a dark grey suit, white shirt and dark blue tie. In my early thirties I started to think about pattern and colour, which is trickier to do and takes a bit of experience. At Tautz we provide you with clothes for your thirties, forties and fifties - when your style is settling down.”

ESQ: Where did the motifs on the sweaters come from?

PG: “They are heraldic symbols, gleaned from the family crests of our old customers. The original idea came from a couple of 1910 public school rugby jumpers. They had these hand sewn felt badges, which had been cut out by hand. Other schools did the same. There are no visible logos on the Tautz clothes, but we liked the idea of a motif that links you to an idea of the past. They look fun and there’s a naivety to the way they’ve been done.”

ESQ: What was the design inspiration for this first collection?

PG: “We took a lot of references from the Edwardian photo albums of an old customer, they are full of fantastic images of him stationed in India and Afghanistan wearing his military uniform, civilian clothes and rugby, cricket and polo clothes. Also the Duke of Windsor is a fairly obvious source of inspiration, in the way that he put his clothes together laying patterns on top of patterns, and we have three or four customers who consistently look amazing in different ways and I make a little note of exactly what they’re wearing, the colours and the patterns. So it comes from lots of places, but it’s all rooted in classic and simple English menswear.”

www.etautz.comwww.nortonandsons.co.uk