British Fashion Inspired By and Made For Youth Culture Since 1963.
Ben Sherman – Popular on the British Music Scence, From Mod to Indie.
View Ben Sherman Fashion collections on London Fashion Review Blog
An Introduction to the Ben Sherman Brand
“Looking good isn’t important, it’s everything” – Ben Sherman
Arthur Benjamin Sugarman was born in England’s Brighton in 1925. In 1946, after the Second World War, Sugarman emigrated to California in the US. It was here that he would marry his third wife, Ruth, the daughter of a Californian clothes manufacturer. After marrying, Sherman adopted the American nationality and began working at his father-in-law’s business, where he would develop his shirt-making skills.
In 1963 Sugarman moved back to the UK and changed his name to Ben Sherman. He realized that the modern jazz fans of London were eagerly buying the Oxford-cloth American button-down shirts from brands such as Brooks Brothers and Hathaway. At the time, this American-style of shirt was only available from official importers leaving a gap in the UK market. Seeing this gap, Ben Sherman decided to make his own version of the popular button-down shirt as well as a collection of resort-wear holiday clothes that were growing in popularity throughout both post-war US and Europe.
The Ben Sherman business started in a small factory with just 10 employees. The brand differentiated itself by using higher-quality materials and unique stitching details compared to the existing imported shirts. This made Ben Sherman shirts immediately popular with the Mod-Cons of the time. by 1965, business expansion allowed the opening of a small office at the top of a shabby office block in Central London, which also acted a showroom for the first Ben Sherman collections. The brand continued to expand and in 1967 Sherman opened his first store in his hometown of Brighton. The rest, as they say, is history.
By the late 1960’s the shirt became popular with the skinhead subculture and with the Mod Revivalists in the 1970’s. The button-down shirts have now become synonymous with artists in the music industry who grew up in this era. The Ben Sherman original shirt became a status symbol for the scooter-riding Mods born during the time of The Clash’s London Calling. To be seen with a Ben Sherman shirt on, one had instant ‘cool’ appeal.
The Ben Sherman brand has continued to go from strength to strength, maintaining its popularity among the fashion conscious. Over time, the brand expanded its product lines branching into womenswear, childrenswear, shoes and fashion accessories and expanded into the global market and as of 2011 was available in 35 countries worldwide.
Ben Sherman Womenswear, which Ben Sherman has Since Exited Operations.
Ben Sherman (Sugarman) remained with the company until 1975, when he sold the business and moved to Australia. Ha sadly passed away in 1987, but his fashion legacy lived on.
The British founded fashion label remains a powerhouse in worldwide fashion having instilled a legacy for high quality mod clothing adopted in large by the youth generation. With stores continuing to grow globally, we will see Ben Sherman going from strength to strength in the years to come. It truly is a great British fashion success story.
Ben Sherman: Important Dates
- 1946: Arthur Benjamin Sugarman emigrates from the UK to California in the US (via Canada). He would marry the daughter of a Californian-clothes manufacturer.
- 1963: Now back in Brighton in the UK, Ben Sherman founds his own label and his famous button down shirt is debuted for the first time.
- 1967: After a few years selling his wares around the UK and Europe, Ben Sherman opens his first store in his hometown of Brighton.
- 1975: Ben Sherman sells his namesake brand and moves to Australia.
- 1987: Ben Sherman passes away.
- 2004: Oxford Industries acquire the Ben Sherman Brand.
- 2010: Ben Sherman opens a new store at No. 39 Savile Row.
The Ben Sherman Store at No. 39 Savile Row, London.
Inspiration and Aesthetic of the Ben Sherman Brand
Originally targeting the wealthy-portion of the market, his customers demanded a tailor-made product. His famous button-down shirts were quickly adopted by followers of bands such as The Beatles, The Troggs and The Kinks. The design of the shirts, with their sleek, effortlessly cool look was an instant hit with Mod music fans – Ben Sherman had found its niche in the fashion market.
With the creation of the classic Ivy League look, Ben Sherman integrated his own trademarks with the button at the back of the collar, a breast pocket with the Ben Sherman logo, a placket front and a loop for hanging the shirt sewn into the back. These features along with the unique pastel strips and bright colours have formed the high quality product which remains a fashion staple for many.
Ben Sherman Menswear and its Signature British Preppy Style.
The brand’s product offer now features belts, bags, sunglasses, underwear and leatherwear produced under license by other manufacturers. Using the strong British heritage of the brand, Ben Sherman has diversified its product range effectively to compliment the clothing line.
Shortly after the foundation of the Ben Sherman, British music groups such as The Beatles, Rolling Stones, The Who, The Police and The Kinks were wearing the brand. This propelled the popularity of the style and of course the Ben Sherman brand name. The association of Ben Sherman with musicians has continued and today stars and groups such Blur Oasis, Fatboy Slim, Moby, Bare Naked Ladies and Incubus are all fans of the brand.
Ben Sherman – Some Financial Information
For the 3 months ending on the 31st July 2010 the company reported net sales of $18,3 million with operating losses of $600,000 compared to net dales of $23.6 million and operating losses of $6.3 million in the same period the previous year. Losses were reduced in the quarter from an increase in comparable store sales in its retail business and increases in men’s sportswear wholesale sales. These increases were offset by a $5.4 million reduction in sales in kids’, footwear and women’s, all of which Ben Sherman decided to exit in 2010. Kids’ and footwear were subsequently licensed to third parties.
Ben Sherman Brand Marketing
The Ben Sherman stores create a unique shop environment, with its British heritage, the use of antique furniture, music memorabilia, artist photographs and the Union Jack flag.
In 2004, Ben Sherman was bought by the American-based company, Oxford Industries – an international apparel design, sourcing and marketing company that features a diverse portfolio of brands. Oxford Industries maintains the same image of the Ben Sherman brand, tying in the British music scene into its marketing strategy. A strong focus has been its product placement strategy and a key part of this was endorsing artists to wear the brand. Amy Winehouse and Ricki from the Kaiser Chiefs have recently been used to promote the Ben Sherman brand as well as Paul Weller, who released his own collection of Ben Sherman shirts in 2009.
Paul Weller in One of His Creations for Ben Sherman.
Ben Sherman currently dominates the Men’s clothing apparel market being the 4th largest casual wear brand in the UK. Today it has evolved into one of the UK’s most recognizable truly British fashion labels.
One Last Word on Ben Sherman
Ben Sherman sponsors a number of music events and supports up and coming British artists in the ‘Best Breakthrough Artist’ award at the Q awards. Its adoption of the Plectrum logo and its strong brand relationship with Gibson Guitars has cemented its brand recognition with the British music industry. Ben Sherman also sponsors a number of live music events in collaboration with Gibson Guitars and the music channel MTV.
Visit the official Ben Sherman website here.