The new Hollister? British surf brand Steamer Lane launches online
Update: The Steamer Lane website unfortunately isn’t live any more, but we’ve left this article here in our archive just for completeness.
We’re always on the lookout for great new British labels, and one that’s caught our eye in the last week or two is Steamer Lane.
The folks behind Steamer Lane describe it as “a new British clothing brand inspired by the golden age of surfing and beach culture of the 1950s and ’60s”, and its inaugural collection – a summery range of men’s and women’s t-shirts – was launched at the end of May. So, does Steamer Lane have what it takes to be a British Hollister?
Just as the US surfwear chain’s ‘1922’ device is about evoking a brand rather than historical accuracy, so too is Steamer Lane’s ‘1961’ motif – harking back to those ‘Surfin’ U.S.A.’ days of half a century ago. What’s nice about Steamer Lane, though, is that the story of the business itself is about as authentic and down to earth as you can get.
Co-founded by partners Philip Harmer and Antonia Rees-Brown, who live together in Surrey, the company has been created with a start-up budget of just £3,500. Remarkably, neither of them has any training or experience in art, design or fashion either – they’ve created the brand from scratch, designed the products by hand on the kitchen table, and brought Steamer Lane to market single-handedly.
“We had no money for product development, marketing or professional expertise,” Philip told us. “It’s been a real shoestring project and a steep learning curve, devoting our time to research and attention to detail in delivering a product and a brand we can be proud of. With big business exploiting cheap industrial-scale labour we’re not sure there are many clothing companies that can say that.
“Steamer Lane is a real Mum and Dad surf brand, cast from the same humble beginnings as the early pioneering brands of the 1960s and ’70s, born out of a passion for the lifestyle and creativity rather than commercial motivation. Our designs tell the story of the places we’ve visited and those on our bucket list along with the eternal search for the perfect wave and the perfect beach; a wearable postcard of our adventures.
“We wanted to create a real brand from a real lifestyle, based on traditional values of quality and service. Steamer Lane is more than just a label or a look, it’s about an experience – from the initial concept and the first pencil drawing right through to delivery and opening the branded cardboard packaging.”
So what are Steamer Lane’s products like? Well, the 2014 holiday essential collection is a colourful range of 100% cotton t-shirts for men and women – pictured above – featuring three distinctive designs: the original stylised wave logo; a college-classic ‘1961’ print; and a vintage-feel ‘Cruz liner’ motif, evoking the old-school big-wave riders of California’s legendary Santa Cruz surf breaks.
Each design features a different print colour and effect, including the raised-graphic style popularised by Superdry (and Hollister, indeed) along with diffused, soft-hand and vintage-look techniques. The attention to detail is appealing too – the neck labels are printed for comfort (so no scratchy labels with washing instructions in a dozen languages digging into your neck) and in a contrasting colour for style, and there’s a cute wave logo hem tab on the men’s sleeve and the women’s hem line.
All the colours and designs look fresh and cool – we think the guys’ Californian raised-logo t-shirt is our favourite – and the price (£19.99 with free P&P) is about what you’d expect for a premium-quality branded tee. Now we just have to persuade Phil and Antonia to let us model one 😉
If you want to check out the label for yourself, you can find Steamer Lane exclusively online at steamerlane.co.uk, where all purchases come with free UK postage and returns. Let us know what you think!