“The designs are original, drawing on heritage menswear, and functionality is sacrosanct”

Traditional materials, all from the British Isles, and an obsession with construction combine to make SEH Kelly a genuinely artisanal menswear label, says a menswear blogger

SEH Kelly Ventile cotton car coat, from £370
SEH Kelly Ventile cotton car coat, from £370

SEH Kelly is a small British menswear label, big in Japan but little known in the UK, despite being around for 10 years now. The couple behind it, Paul Vincent and Sara Kelly, care deeply about the traditional materials of the British Isles: heavy cord, natural linen, waxed cotton, unpolished horn.

SEH Kelly corduroy shirt, from £140
SEH Kelly corduroy shirt, from £140

The designs – covering trousers, shirts, coats, jackets and accessories – are original, drawing on heritage menswear, and functionality is sacrosanct. Vincent has a real thing about pockets, for example. Take the car coat (from £370) in Ventile cotton: many brands would just slap on a couple of patch pockets in this instance. Instead, Vincent has a curtain of cloth running around the waist that acts as the flap for those large, deep pockets. It makes the waist seam part of the design, and means both pockets feel like an integrated part of the coat. It looks clean, functional and yet distinctive.

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He consistently cuts side-access pockets into the seams for the same reason. Indeed, they sometimes disappear into a patched hip pocket, so the end of that cut is hidden away. Vincent also has an obsession with shoulder constructions – he utilises set-in shoulders, raglan shoulders, half-raglans, a dropped raglan (bizarre, that one – a workwear style where the shoulder seams don’t actually sit on the natural shoulder but further down the arm) and a set-in shoulder with a lapped seam.

SEH Kelly wool duffle coat, £480
SEH Kelly wool duffle coat, £480

The shirts (from £140) are made in beautiful shade and fabric combinations, such as olive linen, ecru cotton and charcoal corduroy. The collars are a good size and the horn-button choice is perfect; the toggles on the duffel coats (£480), for example, are  wonderfully big and chunky.

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SEH Kelly does have a small shop-cum-workshop in Shoreditch, which is worth a visit. It’s the first in the Cleve Workshops line, off Boundary Street, and is open only on Sundays (12-5pm) and Mondays (11-6pm). Otherwise, it’s shopping online, where you will be treated to Vincent’s beautiful yet descriptive prose. I won’t spoil it for you – just go and have a look.

Simon Crompton is an author and journalist and the founder of a leading website on luxury and bespoke menswear, PermanentStyle.com, which receives over a million visitors every year. He is the author of several books including The Finest Menswear in the World (Thames & Hudson). @permanentstylelondon.

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