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I sometimes forget that Country Attire is an international operation, and although we have many thousands of customers in Great Britain and Ireland, we have many thousands more throughout the world. So the very phrase ‘Country Attire’, which we consider to be so essentially British, may well have differing connotations when read in Korea, Spain, Russia or Austria. True, a great many of our customers come to us simply because we do specialise in typically British, country clothing with which they like to identity. I imagine this is partly due to our colonial, and indeed imperial, past, where we sought to introduce British culture to all parts of our then empire.
Strange though it may seem to us today, the British Empire was an enormous operation which in 300 years rose so that at its height it governed about a quarter of the world's population and controlled over 30 million square kilometres of territory. Yet in little more than 80 years, has relatively benignly disappeared from the world stage, while leaving a legacy of British justice, administration and culture which continues to work effectively to this day in the majority of our former colonies. This largely unsung achievement, which stands at odds with the cataclysmic demise of virtually every other empire in human history, still quietly imbues Britain with international respect well beyond our current size and economic importance. Another clear sign of this respect from former colonies is evidenced by virtually all of these countries retaining important trade links, political affinity, and indeed in many cases, actual sovereignty, by being members of the British Commonwealth of Nations.
But proud though we are of our history, heritage and traditions, we haven't let this impede the upsurge of exciting British fashion design. Since the 1960s, Britain has held the torch of international clothing innovation aloft, and it shows no hint of decline. As with British food, the dreadful post-war mantle of deep depression, questionable quality and surly service which afflicted us for a decade or two, has, to a large extent, been flung off to reveal among the grey relics of our “dark satanic mills”, a vigorous upsurge of ideas, invention and excitement. In the mid 1960s colour and fun and music and panache exploded in Britain, along with new materials, styles, hair design, cosmetics, jewellery and attitude, which drew no inspiration from previous generations and stood up to be applauded, (or indeed ridiculed depending on one’s stand-point, or, to be truthful, age?). Some of these ill-starred attempts at 'cool' were indeed plainly ridiculous, emanating from a talentless group of 'hangers-on' who attached themselves to the gifted main-stream. Fortunately they've been swiftly consigned to the waste bin of history. But the real class could not be denied.....
1960s Style Icon
So yes, reverting to my original point, internationally, country clothing may not immediately conjure up images of tweed-clad country gents and ladies striding the Scottish grouse moors when imagined from Korea, Spain, Russia or Austria. Climate, local tradition and fashion will have their own demands. But it is interesting and heartening to discover that our range of British quality brands is more than acceptable and adaptable in all these countries, none of which formed part of our late empire, yet all of which are enthusiastic buyers of our 21st century British classic brands.
So this is where Country Attire is today; a young, energetic and international company, full of ideas, but not fearful of trying out new techniques or possible solutions from unusual sources. The focus on quality in both products and service is relentless, as is the constant search for new British products with which to swell our already 8,000+ catalogue.
Our newest brand is Joules, and as they describe themselves… “Born in the British countryside and crafted with true British style and eccentricity, Joules designs upbeat, colourful clothing for women, men and children who love the outdoors and live life to the full”. Oh how we echo those sentiments! We would have nicked them ourselves if we thought we could get away with it. But Joules have seized on that other endearing British quality ‘eccentricity’. So although Joules might never be labelled ‘traditional’ or ‘heritage’, leaving such epithets to the much older, revered brands such as Barbour and John Partridge, they do maintain their respect for quality and style and bring these basics to everything they do.
We are glad to be holding substantial stocks of Joules products. Indeed, having just had a sneak preview of their 2012 range, which will reach our stock mid-year, we're really excited by what we've seen. Well done Joules! The new season brings much that is new and different, yet it still ticks every one of their brand boxes: British - Style - Eccentric - Colourful - Outdoor - Full of Life. If you can do this and keep doing this as the seasons unfold you will have success, not just with the British public who discovered and loved Joules clothing from the beginning, but internationally as distant countries also discover the warmth and magic within the Joules brand.