Eric Musgrave

Since 1980, menswear & fashion retail commentator, opinionated thought-leader,
event host & all-round top bloke. Contact me to discuss working together.

The Ben Sherman book

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This photo shows me, my brother Simon and my Aunty Doris (nice slippers, Doris!) in the back garden of our house in Leeds in about 1969-1970. I am wearing Levi 501s and a Ben Sherman shirt.

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The influence of Ben Sherman, aka Arthur Benjamin Sugarman (above), on British style is examined in a handsome new book published by the modern company, which is now owned by Oxford Industries of Atlanta, Georgia. They wisely hired my former Emap colleague, Josh Sims, to write a history of a half-century of UK menswear, which is divided into eight “tribes” – Teddy Boy, Rocker, Mod, Northern Soul, Punk, Skinhead, Two Tone and Casual.

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Josh’s text, as usual, is easy to read and interesting to read, but most of us buy books like this for the pictures. This volume does not disappoint. The front cover here shows second-generation Mods in 1979, while the back cover has earlier Mods getting ready for a night out in 1964. With such a well-trodden path as British sub-cultures, lots of the pix are familiar, but lots are not. I offer here three that I particularly like.

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This pic is captioned: “18-year-old Mod from Kent, England, 1965”. Nearly 50 years later, that parka and knitted tie could have been seen on a young blade this past winter, but the tab-collar shirt would have been harder to find. (Does Ben Sherman make them?)

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This pic from the Wigan Casino in 1978 reminds me about how skinny so many of us were in those days. It wasn’t just from dancing to Tainted Love.

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I was a bit old to get into the Casual movement of the mid-80s, but I find its clean lines and tidiness very appealing. This is the Old West Stand at Highbury. Note the almost complete absence of replica football shirts here. I like the fact that Ben Sherman is confident enough of the power of its own brand to allow the appearance of other labels like Lacoste in this book. Make a bit of space for it on your style bookshelf. You’ll enjoy it.

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