Firstly, Laird Utility has come from hats and my love of headwear, which naturally harks back to their golden age, through the black and white movies of the 20s like Harold Lloyd to the 1970s, war movies, The World at War documentary, Godfather, Land Girls to Norman Wisdom movies, the archetypal 40s/50s/60s worker and watching Saturday morning movies as a child. Looking at old photos of the period with my Grandmother brought it all alive.
Big inspirations were always war movies, and when thinking about Laird Utility, I re-watched favourites like The Guns of Navarone, The Great Escape, and more recently Inglorious Basterds.
When you think of uniform, you think of uniformity, smartness, but what I loved about these movies was the hotch-potch approach to uniform, the randomness, taking uniform and military wear and making it cool, with that look of indestructability, Mavericks with a louche confidence. It inspired the beginnings of the clothing range really, the style and look. The starting point was the cloth, I always say that half of all fashion is the fabric, how it looks and hangs; that was the beginning, drawing on the best cloths we’d used with Laird Hatters – canvas and twill, Harris tweeds and Loden, as well of course as English tweeds.
The other aspect was the worn in look, wearing anything too new was somehow frowned upon, the clothes should be well worn and maintained rather than replaced. We’ve always thought that at Laird, that sustainability comes, not from recycling bottle per se, but from making something which will last, which doesn’t need replacing or re-purposing, but becomes more characterful. As a young man I wore my father’s shirts and jackets because they were worn in, from the 60s and very cool. When we started making Utility, I wanted to make items that got better with age, were tough and durable and where each piece became a staple of the wardrobe, something you could really live in and gets better.
One of or signature pieces is the Indiana Trouser, made in a military twill cotton. While ours are very different, they are Inspired by Indiana Jones, and his one outfit for every adventure; a jacket, shirt, and trousers, which endures through anything that gets thrown at him. It all fit with how we wanted Laird Utility to be.
When choosing the name, obviously Laird Utility has sprung from our Laird hatters ethos, ut we also wanted the name to reflect the durability of the product, as well as the every day aspect of the clothes. That’s not to say that they aren’t special or can be smart, but through the Post Dress to the Tank Jacket, we wanted the clothes to be tough, comfortable and in fabrics that would flow and age well.