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Fashion May, 27 2011

Brand Focus | Norsea Industries

Nörsea Industries garments exude a deceptive simplicity that, upon closer inspection and attention to their ethos, reveals a veritable lesson in traditional workwear. Literally. We spoke to founder, Stephen Banks, about the importance of production, brand evolution and the story behind their jewellery line.

If clothes tell us much about the communities and the cultural histories that created them, what story do you hope Nörsea Industries conveys to the world beyond the rugged, windswept, seascapes of Northern England?

Hopefully we help to retell the local story of our stretch of coast and the people who have lived here. Looking at a little changed way of life through modern eyes.

As a brand it seems that you put a huge amount of effort into your methods of production in order to produce English workwear classics that remain true to the items that inspired them. Can you elaborate on the intricacies of these methods (eg hand-made trims, the importance of, sourcing and testing of organic yarns and dyes etc..) that make the Norse Industries ethos what it is?

Often the process not just the product is what inspires us. Whether it’s hand made buttons or hand knitted sweaters you can see the skill of someone who has taken a yarn or a metal ingot and shaped it over time into a three dimensional wearable object. The trouble with mass manufacturer is it’s difficult to romanticise over the image of somebody pressing a button. The artisan who makes something from start to finish can have a sense of pride in having made a thing of practical beauty, something of tangible worth.

Do you aim to keep traditional modes pf production alive via your garments (such as the silversmith techniques employed by your own Natalie Musgrave), or is it simply a case of believing they are the best way of doing things?

When something has been hand crafted with all it’s unique imperfections I think you love it that little bit more.

Nörsea Industries is a direct product of the remote coastal surrounds of Northern England, but what were the specific inspirations behind the forthcoming SS11 collection (does it have a title)? – Seemingly, there’s a strong athletic theme, what with the prevalence of sleeveless Tees (Hetton & Marinus), Runes Cap Sleeve Tee & the Darwen Vest, but at the same time, SS11 is incredibly light and airy.

We tried to reflect the feeling of a day trip to the coast in Summer time. ‘That end of the line freedom’ as Philip Larkin put it. When you alight from your train for a day at the sea side.

It feels like Nörsea’s elegantly simple product is designed to slip straight into any existing wardrobe without prompting any doubts over what to wear it with. Is this a conscious thing that helps inform your designs?

I think of the collection as a whole and try and move it onward slowly adding a few styles in at a time. The hope is that all the clothes work together.

Nörsea Industries are clearly shaped by a very strong, clear, inspiration touchstone (the masculine, historical world of England’s fishing communities) but in what ways would you say Nörsea has evolved most over the past few seasons?

Over the seasons the collection seams to have found it’s own identity. We have various influences, but over time these become less visible in the final designs and more and more we are left with an individual aesthetic, a composite of all our past work.

A jewellery line is not the most common addition to a menswear label, especially one that produces such a strong utility-driven, workwear look. What’s the story behind this line and what cultural stories does it continue to help write for Nörsea?

The jewellery is a good counter balance for us. It helps tell a different side of the story. Nature and durability.

What traditional fabrics and finishes are getting you guys excited in regards to the AW11/12 collection? After all, it will be interesting to see how your initial thoughts match up to the finished items that we’d no doubt love to talk about again in a Second Look feature with your good selves, sometime down the line!

The usual blend of brushed flannels, heavy canvas’s  and Yorkshire worsted wool. You could always add your own water proofing through a build up of fish oil, diesel oil and grime. The traditional method used by the local fishermen to keep there Gansey sweaters water repellent and wind proof.

Words: Alex Jackson

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