We're delighted to introduce you to the Banvard & James Journal. This is our space to keep you up to date on all things Banvard & James. We'll be sharing news about our launches, introducing you to the team, giving you behind the scenes insight into our design and production processes... and lots more. This is where you'll come to delve deeper into our story and to find out what being a Banvard & James man is all about. We'll also be bringing you travel guides for our favourite destinations and sharing what we're reading, watching and listening to!
How did the Banvard & James story start?
Banvard & James was launched in 2013 by two brothers, Alex & Toby. Our story began with the Walker Umbrella. Born out of a desire to inject some colour into the grey streets of London, we embarked on a journey that has brought us to where we are today. Our original design idea was to create an umbrella with a colourful interior, while keeping the exterior more muted and classic. We reached out to some artisan suppliers to begin the production process, initially thinking we would create a brand which exclusively made umbrellas. We quickly realised, however, that we could create a more extensive men’s accessories brand and extend our concept of quality and tradition with a modern, colourful twist across a range of categories. We’ve always prioritised design but with equal focus on creating strong, durable and high quality products – at times this made the search for production partners a challenge but we’re proud to say that we’ve never compromised on either.
When we launched, we offered umbrellas, silk pocket squares, shoelaces, small leather goods and scarves. After the initial success of those first products, we continued to add to the range with larger leather goods and our woven belts. And things just grew from there! Pure cashmere scarves, 100% cotton socks and leather gloves were added to our offering - all featuring what would fast become our signature flash of colour. Men's accessories had never looked so good!
Our first event was the Spirit of Summer show (see photo above!), where we were blown away by the customer feedback. It was clear there was a gap in the market for luxury men’s accessories with a contemporary twist. The eye catching orange backdrop caught people’s attention and we loved meeting all our new customers. The first piece we ever sold was the charcoal and lime green umbrella – an amazing moment! We’ve always listened to our customer’s comments and feedback and this led us to designing our telescopic umbrella (the Roscoe) and to introduce our range of cotton socks, which now fly off the shelves.
We continued to sell through our online store and started working with a number of wholesale partners, as well as showing at events whenever we could. There’s nothing like meeting our customers in person so this is a side of the business we’ll always place great value on.
In 2017, UK sales were going well so we decided to show at the Market Wholesale show in America (photo below of our stand). We had a hugely successful experience and partnered with a number of stockists in New York – our USA launch was complete and this remains an exciting division of our business.
What makes Banvard & James men’s accessories so unique?
Here at Banvard & James, we consider ourselves somewhat of an authority on accessories. The umbrella is still at the heart of our offering, and we now offer a comprehensive range - our wooden handled Holton umbrella is, in our eyes, the 'ultimate' umbrella. We partner with one of the oldest umbrella makers in the world and are so confident that they will last a lifetime that we odder a full performance guarantee with each one.
The Walker umbrella is still very much around and is well and truly considered one of our 'hero' pieces - assembled by hand, it is of exceptional quality and opens with just the touch of a button. Due to its aluminium shaft and fibreglass frame, the Walker umbrella is extremely light and windproof - an absolute necessity when it comes to umbrellas!
Finally, we offer the Roscoe telescopic umbrella - for those days when you're not sure if it's going to rain but don't want to be caught out! It is incredibly light (just 350g) and fits neatly into a briefcase, bag or coat pocket. As with all our umbrellas, it is available in a variety of subtle colours with a matching cover.
What came after the umbrella?
After the initial success of our umbrellas, we started considering where else we could shake up the men's accessory market. We saw a perfect opportunity in leather accessories - we wanted to allow our customers to express themselves while still offering timeless designs. What we came up with was a range of card holders and wallets made from the finest Italian leather, in classic shades - navy, brown, dark green - but with that flash of Banvard & James colour, just peeking through. We later extended the leather range to include larger items such as our leather journals (with refillable notepaper), document holders and bags. More recently, we added an ingenious iPad holder which has to be seen to be believed. Don't forget to take a closer look when you've finished reading this article!
Can a gentleman ever have too many socks?
After numerous requests for the humble sock but with the colourful flair Banvard & James are known for, we launched our Archer ribbed cotton socks. They’re made using Fil d’Ecosse mercerised cotton and we offer them in a wide range of colours. The perfect addition to any getup, they provide a flash of colour - subtle enough not to over power but bright enough to be seen. We add new colours each season to keep things interesting and they are available as a single pair of socks or in a range of gift selections - from muted classics to brights and stripes. Our socks are always the fastest selling item at our events and it's no surprise why. They're cool, comfortable and allow you to get creative with your outfit.
Pure cashmere scarves…
When we first launched, we started with a collection of scarves called the Tetbury, woven with a blend of merino wool and cashmere. This is still available in a beautiful charcoal with either an orange or blue stripe detail. We now also have a wide range of 100% pure cashmere scarves which are made using the finest two ply ethically sourced Italian cashmere. This gives a scarf that is beautifully soft and warm yet lightweight.
Last, but not least, suede leather belts & gloves…
Suede belts were a later addition to our collection and one that now entirely encapsulates the character of Banvard & James. Our suede Huxley belt makes a beautiful addition to any gentleman’s wardrobe and is available in a range of classic darker shades (navy, green, burgundy, brown) as well as some brighter shades (pale green, pale blue, orange) so there really is one to suit every style.
Leather gloves were another slightly later addition and we now sell a range of options; smooth and suede leather gloves, shearling lined gloves – extremely cosy this time of year – and classic driving gloves. All of our gloves are made from the softest Italian leather and are hand stitched, ensuring the perfect finish. They offer a timeless classic design and add a touch of luxury to your outdoor outfits.
Where are we now?
We’ve just launched a new collection, featuring new leather bags, 100% pure cashmere scarves and a new range of colours across all our product ranges. As always, these are available to buy online, here on our website, as well as at various events and tradeshows. Keep an eye on our events diary for details of where you can find us.
So there you have it, that's the Banvard & James story so far. We're delighted to have you on this journey with us and can't wait to tell you more as we use this journal to explore every element of the Banvard & James world. Drop us a line here if you'd like to chat or comment - we always love hearing from our customers. And if there's anything you'd particularly like to read about in the journal, let us know that as well - all suggestions welcome!