As I have mentioned on many occasions, there is no style of attire I love more than nautical-inspired clothing. And I thought I had seen it all until I discovered a vintage-inspired British clothing label that creates handmade, nautical-style garments that are influenced by its local fishing heritage: Wayside Flower.
My heart literally skipped a beat upon stumbling on Wayside Flower, the U.K.-based brand that produces limited-edition and made to order clothing, jewelry, and accessories. Being blessed to be located in the same town as Wayside Flower, I was delighted to be able to speak to some of the folks involved with the brand via email all about how Wayside Flower came to be.
Wayside Flower was created by partners Stephen Banks and Natalie Musgrave. The duo studied fashion in London before embarking into the industry; Banks read at the Royal College of Art and Musgrave studied at Cordwainers College. When their study was complete, the pair ran a design consultancy that lead them to live and work in London, New York, and Hong Kong and saw them work with established clients such as Nike. After more than a decade of running their consultancy, in 2013 Banks and Musgrave decided they were ready for a new challenge — and thus Wayside Flower was founded.
Natalie describes the move back to their hometown on the Yorkshire Coast as the "catalyst that sparked us to create a brand true to the area." They chose a name for their new venture that reflected their coastal roots and the local fishing heritage that they garner inspiration from. The name "Wayside Flower" harks from a local fishing trawler of the same name. Pictured above are the crew of the Wayside Flower: left to right are George Crawford, Brian Jewit, Joe Harrison, Jack Glenton, and Norman Redhead in the wheelhouse behind. It is a breath of fresh air to see a clothing brand really embracing its local culture and to observe the passion that the founders share of their hometown's history.
Natalie tells me that although Wayside Flower primarily creates men's workwear, they also produce crossover styles such as the "Shop Coat;" plus, its denim jackets are available in women's sizes and can be purchased through the Wayside Flower online store. Musgrave informs me that all of their pieces are "handmade using British materials and yarns wherever possible in our studio which overlooks the North Sea." Sounds idyllic, doesn't it?
Taking their inspiration from the local fishermen, there is an emphasis on functional and practical products like waxed cotton kagoules, fishermen's smock, and traditional hand-knit Gansey sweaters. I soon discovered that Gansey sweaters are an integral piece of the Wayside Flower jigsaw. I am ashamed to say that having lived in a fishing town for the majority of my life, I had no idea what a Gansey was. Natalie explained, "A Gansey is a distinctive, reversible woollen sweater designed to provide protection for fishermen." She elaborated by describing that "each fishing community would have its own identifiable pattern based on a selection of motifs related to the sea."
Popular nautical motifs would include nets, ropes, ladders, herringbones, and more. The reason behind the specific patterns was so that if a fisherman's body was found in the sea, people would be able to recognize the pattern on his Gansey and return his body to his hometown for burial. The Gansey is the perfect garment for a fisherman; it is both wind and waterproof due to the combination of seamless construction, the use of fine 5 ply worsted wool, and a tight knitting method.
Wayside Flower made its North East coast Gansey knitting patterns available to the public to ensure the important traditions and heritage of the Northeast coast of England — which were historically passed on through word of mouth — are not lost. For any avid crafters or knitters, the patterns are available via the Wayside Flower website and cost a mere £5 (approximately $8). You can choose from your favorite Yorkshire coast locations, from Bridlington to Filey to Scarborough among others. Whether you choose to knit one yourself or purchase one from Wayside Flower, a Gansey would make a fantastic gift for anyone who loves nautical culture, British seaside resorts, or high quality, handmade garments.
However, it's not just all jackets and sweaters. For those of you lucky enough to live in warmer climates, Wayside Flower also creates a range of t-shirts and shirts. There is a Breton Stripe t-Shirt that has strong sailor vibes and tees made from Japanese cotton. If your job (or hobby) negates that you need to protect your clothes, you will find denim and thick cotton aprons to assist you. Wayside Flower also creates cozy knitted hats, scarves and socks, and super cute yet functional knitted iPhone cases. You can even flaunt the fisherman look in a cool, fisherman-inspired, tartan neck scarf that would tie in nicely with the revived '90s grunge trend. Don't forget your four-legged friends! Wayside Flower makes awesome waterproof dog coats so that your furry pal can stay warm and dry, too.
Personally, my favorite section of Wayside Flower's slick online store is the "Jewelry" page. The handmade silver jewelry range includes unique Silver and Bronze Rope Cufflinks that boast an etched rope pattern, an edgy Silver Safety Pin, and the awesomely quirky Silver Crab Claw Necklace.
Most recently, Wayside Flower has been working closely with British Made Company in Japan and retail in their stores in Tokyo. Nobody knows what the future will bring, but learning about your culture and embracing your heritage like Wayside Flower is a great place to start!
Images: Wayside Flower