Hemingsworth started out with high quality, made in England swim shorts, but it is now in the process of creating a full ‘English gentleman’s travel wardrobe’ – including flannel jackets and trousers for a/w 18, to move on from the seersucker jackets and trousers added for s/s 18. Tom Bottomley talks to owner Matt Jones to find out more.
Matt Jones is originally from the advertising world, having worked for agencies such as Leo Burnett. He had Blackberry as a client, with the role of helping them appeal to a younger consumer. They offered him a European role, which meant he worked out of their offices in Ibiza for three years. Nice work if you can get it. It’s little wonder then that his first creation with his new Hemingsworth brand was swimwear.
For starters, it’s made in England, by tailors in London. The swim shorts have a 29-piece pattern, and go through 17 hand-finished processes. They also retail at £180 (£74 wholesale), so they are not your average Speedos. They are tailored for a perfect fit with an integral waistband, Tahitian mother of pearl buttons, zips made to order in Italy by Lampo, and side buckles that are cast and finished in Germany to the highest specification. It’s this attention to detail that elevates Hemingsworth’s offer to a premium level, and is winning it plaudits in all the right places.
In the very beginning
Currently with his own creative agency, called Monk London, Jones says Hemingsworth has been his labour of love behind the scenes for the last five years. “With the constant wardrobe changes I had, travelling on three or four flights a week, I was always trying to find clothes that were breathable, that looked alright in a meeting, and that would see you by as you went through changing climates. There wasn’t much out there that fitted my requirements, so that sparked the initial idea to do my own thing. From working in ad agency land, we all love a good story, so I started putting one together. There was also the opportunity to create the only English-made quality swimwear.”
So, Jones began his journey with the goal to make ‘the world’s most luxurious swimwear’, bringing English tailoring, style and comfort together. Whilst an increasingly competitive category of recent years, with the likes of Orlebar Brown and Vilebrequin at the top-end, he felt no brand had gone far enough to create a truly tailored men’s swim short that the wearer could comfortably wear all day. “The reality being, most active men’s shapes change throughout the course of the day, and require more than a bulky side buckle or button clasp,” he offers.
A casual tailored short that you could wear all day, and in the water, was what Jones was looking for. He then called on the services of one Henry Butler, a design and development specialist, whose production credentials and knowledge of factories and where to find the finest components and materials were honed during his time working for brands including Nigel Cabourn and Fox Brothers.
During his time jumping out of the pool, on to a flight and into another meeting, Jones says he found swimwear particularly challenging. “I was always wearing shorts in to meetings, but they looked like swim shorts. And the ones that claimed they were tailored, weren’t, they just had side buckles. I started looking into it and, my job being helping to build brands for the future, I thought, ‘What could I make here?’”
The growth of the British swimwear market
Jones looked at the trends, with new British brands emerging and swimwear being a growth area. He thought that if he could create the best, most luxurious swim shorts, going beyond what other brands had done, then hopefully he would be able to build trust with retailers, and then start to make other unique ‘made in England’ pieces.
The addition of the classic travel jacket to the range utilises an unlined shirt-weight construction, and has been designed for the jetsetter with the inclusion of a travel document pocket. Its tailored shape is fitted for comfort, while its super lightweight, classic cotton blend seersucker, breathes. “I wanted to create a versatile range that has some of the most renowned features of a tailored suit that today’s modern man would appreciate, impeccable tailoring and supreme comfort with details like an integral hidden adjustable waistband and French fly featured on our shorts, or the practicality of a passport and plane ticket pocket in our jacket.
“The Hemingsworth man appreciates the finer details in life, but he doesn’t want to obsess over wardrobe changes. His wardrobe should never hold him back,” says Jones. The seersucker jackets, retailing at £395, come in five colours, pink stripe, blue stripe, green stripe, solid navy and solid grey.
Whilst the shorts were the foundation to the Clipper collection, Jones says he remains focused on creating an ‘English gentleman’s travel-inspired wardrobe’, with jackets, trousers and a host of British-made collaborations and partnerships set to drive the expansion of Hemingsworth in 2018. The seersucker jackets will also be joined by seersucker trousers for s/s 18, creating a suit – or mix and match options, as they will be sold separately.
The future of Hemingsworth
From a retail listings perspective, The Merchant Fox is Hemingsworth’s first partner for its Somerset shop (and online from this month), with a series of luxury and quality focused retailers to be announced going forward. Recently featured amongst the best summer swim shorts in GQ, Hemingsworth has also had good coverage in titles such as The Gentleman’s Journal, Kensington & Chelsea Magazine and The Rakish Gent.
Initial sales of Hemingsworth shorts from their website, have mainly been to international customers who are attracted to the whole made in England concept. “It’s gone from a few sales a week, to a few sales a day, and that’s now giving us the confidence to speak to retailers for s/s 18. We should be in Trunk for s/s 18. They have strong contacts with Lane Crawford in Hong Kong, and ideally that’s where we’d like to get in to.” They are also in talks with the likes of Liberty in London, though nothing has been confirmed as yet. Marc Alexander Agencies, which sells brands such as Circle of Gentlemen, Altea and La Martina, has just taken Hemingsworth on board to help to grow the wholesale side in the UK.
Jones is now busy working on Hemingsworth’s a/w 18 range, and developing their own fabrics for jackets and trousers. Fox Brothers flannels will be key to the new offer. “We don’t want to just be a swimwear brand, and we don’t want to just be a summer brand. It’s all about an English gentleman’s travel wardrobe, but we needed to start somewhere,” he says. Shirting is another key area which will come in to focus going forward and, with all the attention to detail, Hemingsworth could well be a new English success story very soon.