Realm & Empire

Tell us a bit about Realm & Empire - what's it all about?

Realm & Empire was born out of a desire to create contemporary menswear that brings something new to a market swamped by suspect ‘heritage’ claims. Our aim was to create something honest and quintessentially British, with strong historical links.

At the centre our creative development is our exclusive partnership with Imperial War Museums and the unique access we are given to the museum's archives at the beginning of each season for design inspiration. From this we create authentic yet contemporary British tailoring that honours history, craftsmanship and attention to detail. 

Tell us more about your partnership with the IWM.

The authority of IWM supports everything we do and ensures that all Realm & Empire apparel is inspired by real history. Each season's collection is created from original narratives, designs and details uncovered in IWM’s extensive archives of photos, prints and garments. 

Give us a taster of some of your A/W16 products.

For our AW16 'Submerged' collection we take inspiration from the former British Commando Frogman Force (now the Special Boat Service) and the tough, clandestine amphibious operations deployed by the British Navy’s special marines, divers and secret demolition teams during and after the Second World War.

Reference points include hand-cut stencils, official stamps and faded ink forms associated with British sea power during the period. The functionality of original navy uniforms is brought up-to-date in rich indigo dyes and rusty hues, and with durable fabrics, oversized pockets, patched elbows and extra thick linings. Highlights include a premium R&E wool mix duffle, a ‘frogman’ style hooded jacket and chunky, British-made commando roll necks.

Camouflage was key to the British Navy’s operations during World War Two. The graphic cornerstone for the collection comes in the form of geometric patterns in unobtrusive tones of navy and grey, inspired by the concept of ‘dazzle camouflage’ first developed by British artist Norman Wilkinson in 1917.

What's important to you? And what inspires you?

It’s important to us that everything we create combines a genuine narrative and authentic detailing, so we put a huge amount of time and effort into research. We look at the fabrics used back in the day, the construction and shape of garments, the colours and production processes used, details such as trims and insignia, and also the personal story behind each piece. 

The garments that inspire us often had to perform in the harshest of conditions, so we go the extra mile to incorporate additional features that are informed by the functionality and practicality of original utility uniforms and workwear into our reinterpreted designs.

For us it’s never about simply replicating, but adapting our findings to include our own unique design handwriting and creating truly special, contemporary pieces that we would be proud to wear.

Anything else you'd like to tell us?

We are very excited about our SS17 development, which will see the narrative move from the ocean to a theme centred around espionage and the great intelligence coups of the Second World War. Reference points include the famous Station X radio interception station at Bletchley Park, the counter-espionage of the British Security Service's Double-Cross System and the fake ghost squads of Operation Fortitude, which kept the Normandy landing classified.

Ernest readers receive 20% off the AW16 collection; just quote 'ERNEST16' at the checkout on Realm & Empire's website; Offer ends midnight 31 December 2016.