While Regatta Professional is most commonly associated with technical jackets, tough workwear and performance sportswear, its new Originals range brings fashionable streetwear to imprint, as Images discovers
In February 2017, Regatta Professional director Anthony Haber invited Images to a sneak preview of a completely new collection. Called Originals, the streetwear line is rooted in the Manchester of the 80s and 90s: It evokes memories of the many bands the city produced during that period, whilst retaining a timeless appeal that remains closely in step with the current Zeitgeist. It is also, it has to be said, a radical departure from the familiar Regatta Professional garments.
The line, which is available from the beginning of August 2017, is not high fashion, reports Anthony, but “wearable streetwear” that will appeal to corporates as well as the independent fashion brands and online shops.
Megan Pacey, assistant marketing manager, adds that the Regatta team had noticed an increase in the sales of its products when they were photographed in a much more contemporary, stylish way, indicating a shift within the industry to a focus on the style and fashionability of the products being sold. “We thought this was the perfect time to take advantage of that industry attitude change,” she explains. “Because we’re based in Manchester, the majority of our workforce is in Manchester, including our product design and marketing teams. We thought that was the perfect starting point. From looking at the city of Manchester and the creativity we have in the culture of the city, we wanted to create a range of modern, menswear classics.”
Manchester is known for many things, including being the birthplace of some of the most iconic British bands, as well as having an industrial heritage that spans more than 200 years, including the establishment of Regatta in 1981. “Manchester is obviously the best city in the world,” says Anthony, who is quick to point out that although the line pays more than a passing nod to bands from 30 or 40 years ago (think Joy Division, Stone Roses, and The Smiths at Salford Lads’ Club), “It’s not a backwards looking range – these are timeless classics.”
In an industry where marketing hyperbole is routine, these timeless classics are already proving their authenticity: Happy Mondays, the quintessential ‘Madchester’ band, will be wearing Originals jackets during their upcoming tour this winter. “We managed to show them the brochure we put together and they absolutely loved it,” says Megan. It’s an emphatic seal of approval.
“We’ve had some fantastic responses from our distributors on the range,” Megan continues. “It’s quite an easy story for a consumer to understand so we see this being quite accessible to the end user. We were a bit dubious about whether it would be well received across Europe because it is a Manchester UK story, but they really seem to have grabbed hold of it, especially in Germany.”
The garments are all completely rebrandable, with removable labels. The only ‘branding’ is the Manchester worker bee. “It’s in a hexagon on the product. It’s about half a centimetre, so very tiny. It just like a little signature really, rather than being an emblem or a logo,” Megan explains.
There are nine jackets in the line. They range from the lightweight Didsbury to the waterproof Deansgate 3 in 1 jacket with lightweight bodywarmer, and are all named after areas of Manchester. “We’ve used quite traditional fabrics to keep with that timeless feel. The Didsbury jacket is a mid-season piece, like a Harrington jacket with a checked inner fabric. It looks really traditional and really of-the-moment. The Withington jacket is more of a streetwear product, so while it’s a classic shape, it uses modern technology. It’s got a polyamide fabric, so it’s got a water-repellent finish, but it also has lightweight down, so it’s an insulated jacket. It has a really soft handle to it, which has gone down well with people that have seen a sample.”
The Fallowfield is expected to do particularly well, reports Megan. “That’s a product that everybody, when they’ve seen it, has really taken to it. It’s a diamond-quilted bomber jacket, it’s really a classic piece. The one that’s in the office, everybody is trying it on.” It’s available in navy, black and dark khaki.
The military-inspired Whitworth is made from a waterproof, windproof, breathable, wool-effect fabric, ideal for cold winter days. It has a detachable borg fleece collar and a double-breasted front. The Ardwick is a stylish parka with faux fur trimmed hood, deep handwarmer pockets and a weatherproof stormflap. Those looking for a bodywarmer design can opt for the lightly padded, sporty Longsight.
Quality bomber jackets are never out of fashion, and the vintage-inspired Castlefield, in waterproof polyester micro poplin fabric, is set to be a wardrobe staple. The Corner House is another bomber-style, with leather-look sleeves, wool-effect fabric for the body, plus stretch rib collar, hem and cuffs.
While Originals is aimed at men, and the brand has no plans to offer a womenswear line, it is proving – at the Regatta Professional HQ, at least – to be just as popular with the female market. “Because it comes in size small, there’s a lot of women around the office stealing samples,” laughs Megan.
With the growth of the independent retail sector, this launch seems a canny decision. Megan is points out, however, that while the brand is appealing to the online and indie retail sector with the Originals line, she thinks it will also appeal to traditional embroiderers and printers. Businesses looking for something a bit different for their workforce will also be attracted to the range, Megan adds: “We have had great interest from customers around the world for the range who will be looking to sell to their usual customers with a strong fashion story. While it will definitely appeal to independent labels and online, I think we will also have interest from larger customers who are looking for something new that they can’t currently offer their consumers.
“We want to constantly challenge the industry and be a step ahead, and that’s what Originals sets out to do.”