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By Olivia Marsh on 30.10.2023

Feature: Rupert and Buckley

Fashion with a conscience, the loveliest director of a company that you will ever meet and a fantastic collection of quintessentially British clothing. InQuire interview James Buckley, a third Year University of Kent Law student and the creator of the clothing brand Rupert and Buckley.

Rupert and Buckley was founded at the University of Kent and is now in its second collection of clothing, with an add on collection being released in November and the exciting promise of a third collection come February.

Starting a clothing brand whilst at University is quite an achievement, How did the company start out?
Basically it was an idea of mine because I’ve always known about high street brands that cater to students already and the idea that I wanted to set up a new clothing label were the clothes would be made in California or England and then would be sold at a student price rather than a high street price. This was really the core idea, student clothing at student prices.

Where have you taken your inspiration from?
I looked at so many high street stores and if you look hard enough you can definitely see influences of other brands in my own brand, so I’ve looked at Abercrombie and Fitch, Jack Wills etc. because they are successful companies and I needed to look at them to see what the winning formula is.
You could compare my clothes to them but I would definitely say that they make their clothes en masse in China, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing but it is when they charge prices as though it’s been made in England.

The name Rupert and Buckley it’s quirky and very charming , where has this come from?
The company name actually changed fifteen times, Rupert is the name I would have been called if I wasn’t named James so the name Rupert is my business side.

You currently have a deal with American Apparel who provide you with exclusive clothing, how did this come about?
It was all by accident, I was with my producers in Yorkshire and my friends said to contact American Apparel because they might help you out and I ignored them thinking that American Apparel wouldn’t be interested. But I sent them an email, I got a response and had several telephone conversations and was then invited to interview, so went over to London for an interview with 12 women and they asked me questions about where the brand was going and how American Apparel could help and afterwards they quickly offered me a sponsorship to sell their clothes through me and to have clothes made for me.

How would you sum up the Rupert and Buckley style?
Quintessentially British, simple and unique. It is a country and city fusion style of clothing which I think is quite quirky having a flannel shirt which is very normal in the countryside but brought into a city is quite quirky because it’s not as common.

Is the top hat something that you wanted as a symbol, because that is very British?
Yes, it’s become a symbol of the brand because it’s quite quirky and different.

The models that you use on your website are they all students from our area?
Yes, they’ve all been from Kent and mainly from this University, it started out being just my friends and then it turned into applications from the website and the new set of models for this collection are all friends of friends, they all had something different which make them unique.

Who does your design?
Me, I design all of the clothing and there has been some designs coming from American Apparel.

Where is the brand going?
I want Rupert and Buckley to be distinguishable on its own because I’ve used inspiration from so many brands around me I feel that for security of the brand I need to give it something new. I want to steer the brand towards being solely made in England and America and to make that more obvious and in February the clothing will start to be branded. Pushing that our clothing is not made in sweatshops.

How many people are involved in your brand?
As a team there are about twenty people, including models and contacts at American Apparel and people who design. I definitely couldn’t do this on my own, my friends modelling for me, they didn’t have to, the long drives to studios, there are a lot of people that help to make this work and it’s really nice to have this support.

How does it feel to see people wearing your clothing on campus?
I went to see one of my friends in Darwin college and there was a girl walking towards me wearing a Rupert and Buckley hoody and I started smiling thinking it was a friend but it was a girl who I’d posted to a few weeks earlier and I realised that she wouldn’t know who I was at all but I looked at her and to see her wearing it was really odd, I felt like saying that’s mine, I made that!

To see the current collection, go to http://www.rupertandbuckley.com/ .

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