For many years now the rural parts of Britain have had their own distinctive fashion styles, a world away from that of the city. In the past few years these classic designs, based on practical solutions for environmental realities faced in the countryside, have begun to seep into and influence high-street fashion.
Countryside fashion brands and style have infiltrated mainstream fashion in a number of ways, and through a multitude of channels.
High street fashion retailers and designers, such as those like Top Shop, River Island and Fly London manage to anticipate fashion’s next big trend by paying very close attention to what styles top end designers and fashion houses are displaying at the various fashion shows held throughout the world.
Notable designers such as British designer Paul Smith, and Italian fashion house Fendi have featured British countryside inspired collections in the past few years, especially with relation to autumn / winter lines. A number of brands typically associated with the countryside and British outdoor pursuits have as a result benefitted from the exposure.
The 2010 Paul Smith collection was primarily about the English aristocracy, and this can be clearly seen in the designs that were created at the time. From chunky woollen items to tweed caps, everything about the collection shouted British countryside. Just a year later the Fendi collection, aimed for autumn and winter 2011, focussed heavily on traditional countryside materials such as tweed and plaid, all incorporated in lasting countryside styles.
Brands such as Burberry, for years popular with the upper classes and landed gentry, are now widespread throughout the nation and available from most department stores. There is however still an air of ‘exclusivity’ amongst some of the lines from these brands. For example Burberry Trench Coats still come at a relatively high price.
The impact that television has on high street fashion cannot be underestimated. Although fashion designs are not inspired by Television, TV is a great source of marketing for the clothes, and not just through conventional adverts.
‘Reality’ TV shows such as ‘The Only Way is Essex’ or ‘Made in Chelsea’ can have a significant impact on the popularity of particular clothing styles which are represented and effectively endorsed by their cast. For example Made in Chelsea features a number of well-off socialites donned in countryside styles such as Barbour jackets, Hunter wellies, and Fly London boots.
Despite the fact that these programmes feature groups of individuals who are just effectively showing off about how good they have it, a growing proportion of the younger generation remain hooked on this type of programme. As a result the fashion styles contained within the shows in turn find a boom in popularity. Due to the opulent lifestyle of the cast of Made in Chelsea the countryside fashion featured has also enjoyed the same boom.
It would appear that now styles such as the Barbour jacket have hit mainstream fashion that they’re here to stay, or at least destined to fade in and out from time to time as is the way with these things. Other countryside clothing accessories such as Hunter wellies will undoubtedly continue to remain popular due to a number of factors, such as that they are a recognisable brand on the high street, and a must have accessory for regular music festivals.
Ultimately countryside clothing has bridged the gap, made the transition over to the big players in high street retail, and will from now on have an influence to some extent over current fashion trends and styles.