Embrace the new and different and reject the normal and mundane with Ben Sherman.
Ben Sherman was a legend in his own right. A man described as ‘always embracing the new and the different’; someone constantly searching for the best of things. He disliked regularity, preferring to search out things that were perceived as unavailable to him. He was a passionate businessman with an artist’s soul.
Born in 1925, at just 20 years old he left a post-war torn Britain for America where he saw a land of hope and promise.
He began working for his father-in-law who owned a successful clothing manufacturing company. However, when his mother in England became very ill, he quit his job and relocated the family back home to Brighton. Without a job, Ben Sherman used his clothing manufacturing experience and rented a factory in Bedford square, Brighton.
Ben started making shirts for other people. Then in 1963 he was ready to launch the first Ben Sherman shirt.
Its basic design was influenced by the classic American Ivy League shirt but Ben added the back hook, the button on the back of the collar, and introduced colours and fabrics that were revolutionary for the time.
Colour was something that particularly intrigued Ben, so he used Oxford fabric in pale shades, pale pink, yellow and blue. He used candy stripes, again, using pale pinks, greens and blues. He used special fabrics from America.
The shirts were a huge success, offering something brand new and previously unseen in England.
It coincided with the post war Teddy Boys, a movement that had shown a new generation of youth that clothing could be a key indicator of their beliefs and signal their belonging to a certain culture.
A second wave of young men came along who loved the sharp Italian style and this group went by the name of ‘The Modernists’ who quickly became known as ‘Mods’. This British youth culture embraced the Ben Sherman shirt, loving it for its quality, slim-fitting style, its colour and unique design.
The feeling was that there simply had never been anything on the English scene like it. The Ben Sherman shirt was revolutionary and so was the ‘Mod movement’. Through fashion and music, London and Britain were cool again, the swinging ‘60s was in full flow and the atmosphere was euphoric.
Ben Sherman opened a showroom on Carnaby Street, the two stores in London as well as a store in Brighton: he could not produce shirts fast enough and it is famously quoted that in 1970 Ben Sherman ordered a million yards of oxford cloth, a quarter of a million of gingham fabric and a quarter of a million yards of colourful striped material from his American fabric mill. This is testament to the popularity of the Ben Sherman shirt.
Now having existed for five decades the Ben Sherman shirt and brand have been adopted by almost every youth culture or style movement along the way, from the mods, to 2 tone and ska, to brit pop and is today still worn by the current bands and style leaders of the current decade.
Ben Sherman remained at the helm of the Ben Sherman shirt brand until the mid ‘70s when bad health meant he sold the company and retired to Australia where in 1987 at the age of 62 Ben Sherman died.
THE BRAND TODAY
Ben Sherman not only created clothing history with his Ben Sherman shirt, but he created a way of thinking that has helped create a global brand today. His passion for original thinking and rejecting the normal and mundane has left a legacy that can still be witnessed today.
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Find out more at bensherman.co.uk