iStyle: It begins with the shirt...

The days of having to hunt down the wares of original mod brand Brutus are over, as the son of one of the founders has revived the label for nostalgics and a new generation alike, says Paul McKenzie

...the shirt sets the tone for what follows. Get the shirt right and everything else is easy. That’s the No 1 rude-boy rule. Rude boys, skinheads, mods, casuals, soulboys, the lads and lasses who are the heart and soul of Britain’s vibrant youth culture know instantly when a brand sells out and are quick to cut it loose. They also know when a brand is the real deal and will chase “classic” clobber over the globe and pay any price.

Exhibit A is the Brutus Trimfit, button-down, short-sleeve Stewart tartan shirt. “It’s the must-have shirt for any self-respecting man,” says Mario Warner, who owns Modfather clothing in Camden, where the shirt was the best-selling item this summer. “I got my first one in 1971 and it was my pride and joy.”

After production of the shirts halted in the early 1980s, Trimfit shirts were difficult to find. The only way to get hold of one was on eBay or through various Facebook groups, where the teens who wore them in the Seventies shared the desire to reclaim a slice of their youth.

Eavesdropping on this cyber conversation was Jonathan Freedman, whose father Keith and uncle Alan had originally set up Brutus clothing back in 1966. “It was Brutus denim not the shirts that were the big thing back in the Sixties and Seventies,” Keith Freedman recalls. But after giving Levi’s and Wrangler a run for their money, the Freedman brothers cashed in their chips and moved into the property market. Jonathan uncovered his father’s former fashion life when he stumbled upon old adverts for Brutus clothing in the attic. He spent the next few months trying to discover if people still remembered or cared about the brand and was taken aback by the love afforded to the Trimfit shirt.

In 2010, Jonathan set about relaunching the brand in a carefully considered way. He returned to the original production factory in China; there was to be no mass production just careful attention to the original detail. Slowly, he expanded the chequered palette from three to 20, selling to outlets that really knew the mod/ska market. Shops like Modfather, Hip in Leeds and Jump the Gun in Brighton took the early orders, and the shirts flew off the rails.

Jonathan could have stopped at the Brutus shirts, but he caught the fashion fever and is soon to launch Brutus Gold denim and Brutus suits, and is teaming up the Trimfit range with Dr Martens and Trojan Records.

And how do the rude boys feel now that their fashion secret is out in the open? “They’re just hoping it doesn’t go the way of other mod and ska brands,” Mario says. “And they’re happy they can now pick up a classic shirt for £50 instead of £200!”

peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Fans hold up a scarf at West Ham vs Liverpool
footballAfter Arsenal's clear victory, focus turns to West Ham vs Liverpool
New Articles
i100... she's just started school
New Articles
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
New Articles
i100... despite rising prices
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    Qualified Primary Teaching Assistant

    £64 - £73 per day + Competitive rates based on experience : Randstad Education...

    Primary KS2 NQTs required in Lambeth

    £117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

    Primary NQTs required in Lambeth

    £117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

    Primary NQTs required in Lambeth

    £117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

    Day In a Page

    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam