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!”

voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Arts and Entertainment
Residents of Derby Road in Southampton oppose filming of Channel 4 documentary Immigration Street in their community
voicesSiobhan Norton on why she eventually changed her mind
Scottish singer Susan Boyle will perform at the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony in Glasgow
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules
filmReview: The Rock is a muscular Davy Crockett in this preposterous film, says Geoffrey Macnab
Life and Style
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

    BI Manager - £50,000

    £49000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...

    BI Project Manager - £48,000 - £54,000 - Midlands

    £48000 - £54000 per annum + Benefits package: Progressive Recruitment: My clie...

    VB.Net Developer

    £35000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: If you're pa...

    SAP Business Consultant (SD, MM and FICO), £55,000, Wakefield

    £45000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP Business...

    Day In a Page

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

    A land of the outright bizarre
    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
    Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

    The worst kept secret in cinema

    A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
    Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
    Why do we have blood types?

    Are you my type?

    All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
    Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

    Honesty box hotels

    Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

    Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

    The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
    Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

    The 'scroungers’ fight back

    The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
    Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

    Fireballs in space

    Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
    A Bible for billionaires

    A Bible for billionaires

    Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
    Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

    Paranoid parenting is on the rise

    And our children are suffering because of it
    For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

    Magna Carta Island goes on sale

    Yours for a cool £4m
    Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn