Lincolnshire born Nigel Cabourn has over 40 years experience in the fashion industry, it's obvious in his design and attention to detail. A humble cult British designer who is somewhat a Newcastle legend doesn’t class himself as a ‘fashion designer’ as he doesn’t follow fashion.
His collections, which are not influenced by ‘fashion’ trends but driven by inspirational stories of real people in history and vintage military, outdoor and workwear pieces. For Cabourn the product comes first. The fabrics and trims, the manufacturers he works with are all carefully chosen so that he produces the best garments he can. At the end of the day his aim with each collection or collaboration is to create timeless styles that have the quality to last, get better with age and wear and that are still relevant in years to come. Clothing that people can wear for a lifetime then pass down to their children is somewhat the brand ethos.
For over 35 years Cabourn has been avidly collecting vintage military, sports, expedition and work wear clothing as well as books, and he has amassed thousands of pieces from all corners of the globe. Cabourn says ‘I’m absolutely fascinated and excited by the fabric and details in these functional, comfortable and above all durable garments, which have on the whole, been created not by fashion designers but by technicians and scientists’.
Cabourns love of all things vintage, fascinated by the pop music culture of the late-1960s, Cabourn was inspired by the ‘Flower Power’ movement, the Vietnam War, British ‘Mods’ and a plethora of sports—including cricket, football, and table tennis. However “I didn’t know vintage existed until 1978”, claimed Cabourn, after being gifted a vintage Royal Air Force (RAF) flying jacket by Smith.
Cabourn met Paul Smith in 1972, and that's when his real love affair with vintage garments started. They met only two years after he had begun to design menswear, he needed a place to sell his wares and Smith was his man. In gifting Cabourn the vintage RAF jacket he lit a fire in Nigel, that even today still burns stronger than ever. Having been fascinated by the functionality and fabric of vintage garments ever since, the Cabourn archive now houses thousands of pieces from all corners of the globe.
Xile is now stocking a range of Nigel Cabourn collections, including a collaboration with Element. However the most recent collection to land however is ‘The Army Gym’ collection. It takes inspiration from military and vintage sportswear used for basic training throughout British history. Developed from hand selected items from Nigel's vintage archive. The Army Gym is an ode to functional garments that were built to perform and last.