That smelly old tent

I recounted a story from my youth to a new client recently, extolling the fact that they were a great British manufacturer with almost two centuries of history and they made great quality British products. It was a classic story of an old, faded green (or it could have been blue) tent that my Dad would bring out on family outings and mini-breaks. It was a heavy canvas affair, with sturdy guy ropes, big brass zips and I recall an unusual smell that never faded and to be honest lives with me to this day. But the tent gave me the legacy of so many memories as well, the smell of sausages frying in the morning, cold wet grass, rain on the tent and good times with my Dad.

The other great thing about this tent was that it was my Grandad’s, passed down a generation and had it not been for a nest of door mice one winter, it would probably me mine now.

The story triggered a whole host of questions for me, what legacies do brands leave now? How will many of these brands physically leave anything behind other than a huge pile in a recycling centre or even worse landfill?

With so many brands offering a disposable lifestyle at next to no cost, savvy brands that can leave some legacy are falling into fashion and the consumer is looking back, not forward for their next purchase. The other observation was that consumers are changing their buying reasoning. They now seek out quality, shirking the associated moderate expense, but in that they strive for some longevity as well, something that will last, whether it be their attire or something for their home.

Barbour are a brand to have quickly jumped onto this concept, offering pre-loved waxed jackets. They buy back old jackets, run them through their repair and re-wax process. You get that countrified shabby-chic look so often desired and a jacket that will most likely do another 25 years. A host of websites have also appeared offering clothing rental, giving you access to high brow, high quality brands for the weekend at a fraction of the retail cost. Anything retro furniture wise is now a must, with the price of classic well made pieces fetching premium prices across retro retailers and auction sites. The classic silver service is back in vogue with silver cutlery and table ware becoming sought after. 

Why? Because older stuff is well made, because its British, it has a story, it will last and in some cases you can pass it on to the next generation who can write their own story with it.

I personally have a pair of British hand made brogues that are over 30 years old, they have been re-soled several times, I’ve taken care of them and I’m told still have a couple of resoles left in them. Yes at the time they cost a bit more but how many pairs of shoes would have replaced those over that time, think of the cost and the environment. Many might say that’s the tight Yorkshireman in me, perhaps, but I know quality and I see the value in buying once and buying well.

The number of brands you can honestly say leave a legacy has long been in decline but there is definitely a positive movement in the right direction with more and more independents setting up shop who believe in quality and most of all leaving something good behind. These are the brands we need find and the products we need to buy.

So I say to you, seek out the smelly old tent, brush it down, give it some TLC and use it, perhaps you can pass it on one day to another generation who can weave it into the sort of their lives, leaving a little something behind.