Margaret Howell Men’s & Women’s Clothing & Accessories
View Margaret Howell Fashion collections on London Fashion Review Blog
Following her graduation in 1969 from Goldsmith’s College, University of London with a Fine Art degree, Margaret Howell began designing, making and selling accessories from her London flat. Men’s shirts were soon added to her collection and after increased demand from international designers such as Paul Smith, a studio workshop closely followed. A womenswear collection followed in 1980, which helped drive international expansion of the namesake brand; Margaret Howell was one of the first waves of British designers to find success in Japan.
Since the 1980’s, the brand has expanded beyond fashion, and now includes a furniture range, (in addition to the full womenswear, menswear and fashion accessory lines). As of 2011, the Margaret Howell brand has five stand alone stores in the UK and a strong international profile of stores, including 70 retail outlets throughout Japan.
- 1970: Margaret Howell begins her career in fashion by designing, making and selling accessories from her home in East London.
- 1972: Howell adds men’s shirts to her collection and as orders increase, with whole sale clients including Paul Smith and Ralph Lauren, she sets up a studio employing ten skilled machinists.
- 1977: Margaret Howell opens her first shop on South Molton Street, London, in association with Joseph Ettedgui (head of fashion brand Joseph), selling a full range of menswear.
- 1980: The Margaret Howell brand expands to include a womenswear range. Additionally, the first independent Margaret Howell store opens in St. Christopher’s Place, London.
- 1982: Sam Segure of Washo, Tokyo signs a license to sell Margaret Howell designs throughout Japan.
- 1983: The first Margaret Howell standalone store opens in Aoyama, Tokyo.
- 1995: The Margaret Howell collection shows for the first time at London Fashion Week.
- 1999: The Margaret Howell Tokyo flagship store and café opens in Shibuya.
- 2002: The Margaret Howell concept store opens in Wigmore Street, London containing housing design studios and a retail space selling womenswear, menswear, accessories and furniture.
- 2003: Margaret Howell joins forces with Japanese denim label Edwin to produce her first ever denim collection.
- 2006: Margaret Howell is asked to design uniforms for the Victoria & Albert Museum, which as of 2011, are still in use.
- 2007: Margaret Howell is awarded a CBE (Commander of the British Empire) for services to fashion.
- 2009: The brand opens a standalone store in Paris.
Inspirations and Aesthetic of the Margaret Howell Brand
Margaret Howell’s original inspiration for her fashion label formed when she found an old, yet finely stitched pinstripe shirt at a jumble sale. This item inspired her homemade accessories and first line of men’s shirts. Margaret Howell remains the chief designer of her namesake brand, noting nature, places and some of the timeless fashion icons of the past, including James Dean, Audrey Hepburn and Barbara Hepworth as key influences for her collections.
With a commitment to British manufacturing, traditional production techniques and quality fabrics, Margaret Howell’s garments are simple, understated and wearable – known for their attention to detail and functional approach. Howell’s designs are always contemporary in look and feel. She favours traditional fabrics, such as suiting materials including pinstripe wool, tweed and meltron (a heavily felted, tightly woven fabric, with a smooth surface) that are made into long, soft silhouettes for a relaxed, lived in and natural look.
Margaret Howell: Recent Collaborations
The Margaret Howell brand has recently collaborated with a diverse range of designers and brands to commemorate her love of design in all of its forms.
- G-Shock: In 2009, Howell collaborated with the watch manufacturer, G-shock (a branch of Casio) to create a limited edition watch in black. A white version of the watch was launched 2 years later in 2011.
- Yoshida & Company: In 2009, Margaret Howell collaborated with the Japanese company to design a collection of functional bags based on the company’s Porter branded luggage range, first launched in 1962.
- Gore-Tex: In 2009, working with the company for the first time, Margaret Howell designs a light-weight activity jacket using Gore-Tex fabric.
- Baracuta: In 2009, Margaret Howell collaborates with Baracuta to reissue the classic G3 jacket, from a design based on a vintage 1960’s jacket found in the Baracuta archive.
- Edwin:.She spent a year researching yarns and dyeing processes, and in collaboration with Edwin launched her first denim collection consisting of classic painter’s trousers, five-pocket Western jeans and jean jackets lined in black cotton.
- Kenneth Grange: 2010 saw the release of the Margaret Howell Plus range with collaboration on a shirt design with industrial designer Kenneth Grange.
- Sam Hecht: Howell collaborates with UK designer Sam Hecht, in 2011, to create a special shirt that combines the functionality of a cycling jersey with the styling of a tailored shirt, for office workers who commute to work by cycling.
Future of the Margaret Howell Brand
The Asian market accounts for 75% of the brand’s international turnover – so expect to see further expansion within this lucrative market. Additionally, with a love of all kinds of design, expect the Margaret Howell brand to continue collaborating with a diverse variety of brands and designers.