by Karen Alberg Grossman

According to Paul Alger of the U.K. Fashion and Textile Association, the fall/winter Chicago Men’s Collective is being hailed as a success by the 40 British exhibitors who took part. “Most of these companies manufacture in the U.K. or have products that are uniquely British in their look and feel. Most of these U.K. brands are represented by U.S. and/or Canadian based agents, often the unsung heroes of the British menswear industry, including Birddog Group, Kuehnerts, Peregrine NYC, M5, BlackWatch, to name but a few.”

Johnstons of Elgin

According to Alger, UKFT worked closely with the Department for International Trade and the British Consulate to promote the British presence at the show. In addition to the 40 booths, they organized two G&T and Whisky tasking events for buyers and visitors, with support from Heather Falconer Agency, representing Huddersfield Fine Worsted and Ettinger in the U.S.


After the European Union, the United States is the U.K.’s most important export market for fashion, particularly menswear, as much for the Brits’ trademark quirkiness and style as for their top quality manufacturing. Says Alger, “If world events reveal anything these days, they remind us of the importance of working with our friends and allies, and there’s no closer relationship than that of the U.S. and the U.K. Across all sectors, we’re seeing that, post-Brexit, U.K. companies are prioritizing the North American market for their quality and premium U.K.-designed and manufactured product.

Peregrine Clothing

“For U.K. worsted fabric brands,” Alger continues, “The Chicago Collective offers the opportunity to connect with premium U.S. stores and tailors to whom they can sell cut lengths of premium British cloth from Harris Tweed from the romantic Outer Hebrides of Scotland to softer flannels and the finest worsted textiles from mills in Lancashire and Yorkshire – all beautifully, ethically and sustainably woven in the U.K. (not one Uyghur worker was harmed…). As in Japan, many U.S. and Canadian stores now offer in-store tailoring for their customers.



“Bottom line, the U.K. story stands out because of the history between the U.K. and the U.S., because the U.K. is the birthplace of the traditional British suit and Goodyear Welted footwear, and because the U.K. and the U.S. share so many core values. It’s been a real privilege to work with and support this prestigious group of British menswear, footwear and textile companies in Chicago. I believe that, with amazing support from the show organizers, we’ve raised the profile of the U.K. group in the market. We hope this is only the beginning and that we’ll be able to support and grow this group over the years ahead, showing the U.S. and Canada that the U.K. is a natural partner of choice.”


John Smedley