About eight years ago while on a Press trip to Manchester I found myself sat next to the subject of today’s Textual Conversation. As the dinner progressed and the vino flowed myself and James Shaw started to discuss his new business idea and I proceeded to tell him he was mad for leaving his job and thinking about starting up a new clothing brand while we were in such a bad economic climate. I can categorically state I was 110% wrong, in fact I could not have been any wronger. This little brand, that in my tiny little mind was destined to fail has, to put it mildly, come on in leaps and bounds since it was founded in 2006, in fact Albam, to give this Great British clothing brand its correct title, was recently voted ‘Best for Men’s Fashion’ at The Telegraph’s Best Small Shops in Britain awards. Albam was built on a foundation of, “to make an honest product that is well made and that uses great fabrics”. This ethos has served the brand well and has earned itself the accolade of being THE most copied, sorry inspiring, brands of recent menswear history, from multi national designer houses to humble little high Street retailers, have used Albam as their inspiration in some way, shape or form for pieces or entire collections over recent seasons, whether they’d admit it or not.
The customer of Albam is equally diverse from Actors, Creatives, club kids, trendies or regular guys all loving a bit of what the label calls ‘Basics’ or what I would call foundation pieces. They, in my opinion, produce great, easy garments that lift whatever you’re wearing and make you feel good about yourself and what you’re wearing. As an independent clothing company, Albam are always looking for new ways to tap into their customers lifestyle, bringing them more of what they love: honest, beautifully-designed and well made products, whether that be the artisan services of barber extrordinaire Matt Raine aka Mr Natty or collaborating with mid century modern furniture website antikmodern.
Anyway, enough of me going on with oneself, lets hear from the man himself the co-founder of Albam, James Shaw;
What’s your favourite piece of clothing ?
I have three at the moment! A Western Mountaineering Down vest. Albam seamless T Shirts and a pair of Spellbound Jeans. My daily basics.
Who is your style icon ?
Cliché, but there is Steve McQueen (the actor) Simple American sportswear, great staples and just worn with his own edge. Not sure I would have liked to know him in person but he looked great. Royal Robbins (climber) looked pretty awesome when he climbed El Capitan back in the day and then nowadays I am not so sure. I like the idea that you wear the clothes rather than the other way round. Clothes should always be well made and great fitting, but I want to see the person and not the clothes first.
Can you tie a bow tie ? If yes, who taught you ?
I can after a few goes, my dad showed me many years ago and I just never have the opportunity to wear one regularly. They are fun but for me, speed is pretty important in the morning!
What piece of style advise do you live by ?
Keep it simple.
In your words, describe the collection ?
Albam AW12 has 3 points of view, which are relevant to the brand. We realized that we want different things daily and a single look/silhouette wasn’t particularly us as we live doing many and varied things. So we took this and created 3 spirits, all interchangeable but taking into consideration the basics of a wardrobe, great shirts, denim, T shirts, sweatshirts, work blazers and some technical outerwear and then looked to our sportier and more relaxed “white” label to bring in elements of sportswear whilst our “black” label brings to life some more fluid silhouettes, softer minimalism, maybe a Modern Crafted English silhouette. Honest, confident, a nod to the technical and a purity of thought.
Have you ever bought a piece of clothing and regretted it ? If so what & why ?
I bought a great Armani work jacket once, it was on sale for £50 and thought I must have it. I got it back home when I was living in Manchester and then sent it back. Twelve years later I regret sending it back, it would have been perfect for this winter!
In terms of regretting a piece because it wasn’t right, I have banished these to my Room 101!
What do you have to do after this conversation ?
Go for a run to wind down! I have cleared my inbox and my head is spinning!
What would you like to be doing after this conversation ?
Going for a run anyway, it keeps me in check with my headspace and creates a fluid energy that keeps my mind ticking.
What piece of clothing should everyman have in his wardrobe ?
Great jeans, for me at the moment anyway. Various stages of wear, Japanese denim, maybe some Albam in there for good measure!
What inspires you ?
Movement and the idea that we have to keep on moving on.
If you could have invented anything what would it be ?
Time, we all live by it, so that would have been fun!
Albam’s store on Bleak Street, London