Photograph: Imogen Chong
INTERVIEW | M.C.OVERALLS | WORDS BY IMOGEN CHONG
Meet M.C.Overalls founder & CEO James Scroggs
AIME speaks to the founder and CEO of London based fashion label, M.C.Overalls. We discuss the brand’s evolution over the last century, and its take on contemporary workwear.
What brought you to starting M.C.Overalls?
I’ve always been into men’s fashion but it wasn’t until being part of this business that I properly began exploring this passion. Entering this company was pure opportunism for me. I have worked with different startups before but this is a market that I have always watched purely from the sidelines. When I suddenly had the chance to take control of, and reinvent, our century year old brand, I thought wow that doesn’t come along that often, and with a business partner who also happens to own a sourcing house - it was a no brainer. This means that we have the ability to do the manufacturing, allowing us to be a relatively vertically integrated business, which is bit of a one off!
How has the original concept of the brand evolved?
The original concept came from the three guys who founded the brand back in 1908. At 17 years old they headed out of their Lithuanian village to find their fortune, with no idea that they would become cloth makers, let alone start creating uniforms for machinists during the war. That spirit of enterprise and not quite knowing what the answer is, is how I would describe myself, in the sense that I do not fully know the entirity of the business, but I am learning on the job, which can be very exciting.
As a 46 year old man, I look at generations way behind me, and even the post-Millennial generation or Centennial if you like, as they grew up in a world where there was no guarantee of work or a progressive career. That is why it is important to explore and try different things, and find out what it is that you are really good at. The brand’s original name is Morris Cooper Overalls, and the great grandson of Morris Cooper is one of the directors, so it was a family trademark which I have had the opportunity to reinvent. From experiences throughout my business career, my instinct told me that a heritage brand would be boring, as the world does not need another heritage brand. However, a contemporary workwear brand that uses the inspiration from such a unique back story, is in fact as interesting as it gets. It does not mean that down the line we won’t use the heritage card, but that is for when we have earned our stripes.
Finally, what are your thoughts on unisex clothing?
Without meaning to sound like a strategist, I think that if you give it that label it all sounds wrong. We didn’t set out to create a unisex brand, we just aimed to design clothes that both men and women could enjoy, but of course, the way women buy our clothes is very different to how men buy them. We didn’t set out to find the mid point between both sexes, we just wanted to create a collection that doesn’t alienate either.
I think the notion of women going into a menswear store and buying from the menswear section is a really exciting prospect. That doesn’t mean that the person who designed that menswear collection thought about aiming it towards women, or said I’m going to make this unisex. I just think we are in that space where men and women are trading from each other in terms of identity, in terms of lifestyle and fashion which for me is the future.