This Menswear Maker Works out of a 19th-Century London Workshop

This Menswear Maker Works out of a 19th-Century London Workshop

Joe Brown
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Shopping online often feels like work. To find one shirt, you have to slog through dozens of pages of boring photos of boring people wearing boring clothes. This isn't true of S.E.H Kelly. A visit online feels like a tour through their hidden, rain-damp workshop—from photos of button jars and bolts of cloth to the quirky ways that they describe their proper attire. I absolutely adore it. For this installment of Creative Crushes, S.E.H Kelly founder Paul Vincent shared some details about his label and design process.

In one sentence, who are you?

I am Paul, and I run S.E.H Kelly, which is a menswear company based in London.

What do you do? How did you learn it?

We make clothes for men, every aspect of which—the cloth, the buttons, the buckles—is made by suppliers from around the British Isles. There are two of us at the company, and the other one, Sara, learned the trade in a tailoring house on London's Savile Row. I have a background in retail and design and other things, and together we cover most bases.

3 favorite possessions?

I don't really cherish possessions. I like my watch, which was a Christmas present, and—well, my bag is very much appreciated, being as it carries half my life without much complaint. My third favourite possession eludes me, sorry.

What does a typical work session look like?

Wake up, reply to emails, get train to workshop, pick up things, get train to a factory, drop off things, reply to emails, run around chasing up problems with cloth or patterns or making, eat, reply to emails, wrap and pack orders, print order documentation, walk to post office to send orders, walk back to factory, tie up loose ends, tidy up, get train home, eat, update or fix website, reply to emails, bed. Oh—and fit in some design if chance permits.

The workshop is our headquarters, and is first in a row of very small workers' units built at the end of the 1800s. It has a downstairs where we hang a selection of our garments and store various components such as buckles and horn buttons; and an upstairs, where we use a makeshift office and undertake the various more moribund duties of running a business.

It is a good little space—although rather dark—and is difficult to locate even when you're standing nearby. Visitors often remark, "Not easy to find, are you?" which I take as a compliment, since I've always enjoyed visiting places which are off the beaten track, or require some effort to discover. Always more fun, I think, and exciting, and hopefully brings a tinge more interest and character than a typical shopfront.

How do you get over creative block?

I don't force anything. If I struggle for a solution—be it a design solution or some written words—I leave it alone and do something else. I find the best ideas are those that at least appear to come naturally, even if they're the result of days or weeks of subconscious thinking.

What was the last item on your to do list?

"Remove collar from shirt for man in Norway."

How do you see the world in 2078?

Much more convergence of culture facilitated with cheaper travel, cheaper and more widely available communication technology, and hopefully much more mutual appreciation of one another rather than squabbling.

What’s your number one bucket list item?

Be absolutely, fully, and entirely satisfied, without caveat or "to-do," with every piece of our collection.

Who are you creative crushin’ on lately?

The game developer Ojiro Fumoto.

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Joe Brown
Joe Brown is a Senior Portfolio Director at IDEO’s San Francisco studio who leads teams in designing new products & services and helps companies build the muscles to do that work themselves.
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