Skip to main content

History Repeating: Talking Menswear with Jenny Schwarz

Menswear designer Jenny Schwarz looks to the past to create awesome men’s clothing for the future. The ethos behind her eponymous brand calls for meticulous quality and craftsmanship fused with a rugged take on smart styling. The resulting collection is wearable and utterly unique.

Intrigued, we caught up with the London-based designer to find out more.

Can you talk me through the history of the brand?

My brand has its roots in 1930s Bavaria, with my great grandfather who was a bespoke tailor. He was also a bit of an adventurer so in his spare time he would scale the Alps often being the lead climber (which meant that he led the way for the other climbers securing the rope to the cliff face). He also loved his horse and was often found hacking through the woodland and if he wasn’t doing that he’d most likely be perilously flying down the mountain on a pair of wooden skis.

It is this strange dichotomy of the precise craftsman and the reckless explorer that ignited my interest in the man. I studied as an apprentice under the couture designer, Gabriele Blachnik in Germany and then went on to study Menswear at Central St Martins in London.

In 2011 I launched my brand which remains inspired by my great grandfather and his rugged elegance.

Johann climbing, Jenny Schwarz
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Do you think your Great Grandfather would approve of the collection?

I think my great grandfather would certainly approve of all my collections and I hope he would have worn the pieces also. I can totally imagine him in some of our heavier melton jackets, dangling off a cliff whilst contemplating the cut of his next customer’s suit. I still use the same elements of tailoring that he passed down to my grandfather so he would also recognise some of the same, traditional techniques.

Who is the Jenny Schwarz guy?

The Jenny Schwarz guy is a little ambiguous. He is of no particular age although he must have the confidence to pull off garments that stray from the norm. Our cut remains classic so he appreciates the history and tradition in our tailored pieces yet he wants something modern and intriguing from his clothes. He doesn’t necessarily want to stand out from the crowd. Instead, he will differentiate himself by the detail and the quality. Our guy is a little unpolished, a little elegant and a little rugged.

What’s your design process, from initial inspiration to finished garment?

The design process is not one that can easily be defined. Although we are constrained by the regular clockwork of a year’s seasons, we will pull inspiration from everywhere and anywhere compiling a huge patchwork of ideas that come to fruition when the time is right. We’re not particularly trend-led and that allows us to bypass some of the more obvious choices and stay fresh for the consumer. We might start with pages of sketches which will be fed by inspiration, research and our imagination. After dissecting, leaving for periods of time, revisiting and re-dissecting we will reveal some of the stronger pieces at the same time we’ll be discussing fabric textures and tones and piecing the puzzle together. More often than not, the collection will evolve right up until the last minute. It’s like a balancing act between texture, tone, weight, formality, informality, editorial, commercial and many more elements. Sometimes we’ll just have a feeling that something is missing or that we need to drop a piece.

Aside from your Great grandfather, who are your menswear icons?

I tend not to idolise that much and I’m often teased for not recognising very famous people. I love old films and the depiction of a romantic era that we seem to have discarded. I’m thinking of Cary Grant, of James Stewart and of Humphrey Bogart and a time when we dressed up to travel or to see a show. I want to bring that to the modern audience in my pieces whilst retaining the adventure of the characters these actors portrayed.

What’s next for the brand?

We’ve just finished a very exciting collaboration for our AW15 collection which we’ll be releasing in January 2015. It was a lot of fun to do and we have some amazing pieces and shots as a result. It’s quite hard to keep things like that quiet for so long and funny to think that we’re already designing pieces for SS16.

How do you plan to spend the holidays?

As we’re currently a couple of weeks away from our holiday break we’re in full action mode right up until the minute we stop. Then we’ll be heading to Cornwall for the holidays. I plan on splitting the time between watching 1940s Sherlock Holmes films in front of a fire clutching a cup of hot chocolate and brisk, wintery strolls on the wild Cornish beaches.

Jodie Kharas
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Jodie Kharas is a style, art and culture writer who lives in London. She has contributed to the online platforms of POP…
If you’re a WWII history buff, you’ll love these field boots from Viberg
Viberg debuts authentic N-1 Field Boots
Viberg N1 Field Boots

If you consider yourself a history buff with your Netflix history full of World War II documentaries and "Band of Brothers" on repeat, then we've got your next shoe purchase from Viberg ready to go. But first, a little backstory. N-1 Field Shoes were often called "boondockers" which originated from the Tagalog word "bundok" meaning mountain. They became a crucial part of the American military uniform during World War II, and were specifically designed for the U.S. Navy.
N-1 Field Shoes: A history

The N-1 Field Shoes were exceptionally sturdy, made from steer hide suede, and hand treated with dubbin to give them water resistance and durability. They featured a rubber and cord sole that gave them excellent traction in various terrains and were extremely practical in harsh conditions, both combat and weather-wise. In the past, the soles were made from recycled car tires and surplus nylon, which was a strategy implemented to conserve resources during wartime material shortages. They remained popular after the war, and are highly sought after by collectors due to their historical significance.
Viberg N1 Field Boot

Read more
Gordon Ramsay’s watch collection is as ostentatious as his personality
Gordon Ramsay's watch collection is absolutely iconic
Audemars Piguet Code 11.59 Selfwinding Flying Tourbillon 26396NB

Gordon Ramsay is known as the straight-talking, okay, cussing, chef who has taken over television with some of our favorite reality shows; from Hell's Kitchen to Kitchen Nightmares, and the best of all, Hotel Hell. Amidst all of that, he's never exactly been known for his high-end fashion, preferring simple t-shirts or button-downs and jeans. Who hasn't seen that tiny suitcase he carries with him when he stays at those horrifying hotels? It's barely a carry-on for the plane! But, what he lacks in streetwear he makes up for in jewelry, and Gordon Ramsay's watch collection is full of some of the most iconic pieces restaurant money can buy.
Gordon Ramsay's watch collection

Gordon Ramsay is a top chef, a lord of the kitchen if you will, and apparently, he's a top watch collector as well with his collection featuring some truly stunning pieces, from Rolex to Omega, and Audemars Piguet thrown in for good measure.
Rolex Submariner 'Smurf'

Read more
Bravur Grande Boucle IV watch: A cyclist’s dream timepiece
Check out the Bravur Grande Boucle IV
La Grande Boucle IV watches

The Tour de France is the pinnacle of the cycling world, and it’s only just that it gets a special edition watch for the occasion. Thanks to Bravur, the newest addition to their Grand Tour series is a must-have for anyone looking to celebrate the event. With their new Grande Boucle IV watch, Bravur brings all of the elegance and history of the Tour de France into a timepiece that’s ready for cycling and non-cycling days. With subtle details that bring in the richness of the event, this watch is a special piece that will likely become a fan favorite. As it is Bravur has a series of collections that pay homage to the greatest races in the world, and with the Boucle IV watch, this fourth watch is set to be the ultimate rendition that encapsulates all that the Tour de France embodies. 
Grand Tour- La Grande Boucle IV

Not only is La Grand Boucle IV made with the high quality that surrounds Bravur, but it’s the small subtle details that truly bring the spirit of the Tour de France. With a 38.2mm stainless steel case and sapphire crystal caseback, this timepiece is sleek and modern. However, it’s the silver white with tarmac texture and polka dot pattern on the dial that gives it its character. Complete with a checkered finish line pattern on the rotor visible through the clear caseback, this watch does contain symbols of the sport. Perhaps the most obvious symbol of the Tour de France comes in the shape of the statement yellow strap and the vibrant yellow accent in the 15-minute counter at 3 o’clock.

Read more