Basics are that category of clothing oftentimes best described as “wear a few times, then use as pajamas.” The search for non-branded, tailored basics that don’t cost more than they should, are elegant enough to wear to dinner, and last a long, long while has been difficult. (There seems to be a Kickstarter for the perfect white T-shirt launching every other week, with the expectation you buy a new one every three months.) Launching with SS16 a few months ago, Basic Rights aims to address some, if not all, of these woes. Dreamt up by musician Freddie Cowan (of The Vaccines) and former Reformation head designer Brianna Lance, the pieces are their “zoned-in idea of perfect essentials,” Cowan tells CH. These are all items that that they couldn’t find on their own shopping trips. With input from Savile Row tailor David Chambers, the vintage-inspired cuts have more personality than what you might see from the equally awesome basics company Everlane.
“The lack of attention to detail in the cut and fabric quality was something that came up a lot. We used to spend hours looking for the perfect white shirt or perfect jean and were surprised not to find them anywhere,” he continues. “Some labels had certain aspects right, but had failed to combine them together and the few that did would charge $100 for a T-shirt, which to me defeated the point of a basics company. Often, items were spoilt at the last hurdle because of an unnecessary zip, an ill-placed logo or a poor cotton, which makes all the difference. So even though we strive for simplicity in everything we do, there are actually huge variables within that.” Their direct-to-consumer aspect keeps prices more affordable, with the Heavy Weight tee made from french terry cotton priced at $45.
“There wasn’t a basics line, to us, that spoke to our friends and the men we know,” Lance adds. “Everything seemed to be stripped down to a point where fit or style no longer mattered, or designed to the point it looks like ‘fashion.’ We wanted to make beautiful, affordable clothes that people could feel like themselves in.”
A more modern form of masculinity, moving past brands that dress up men like hunters or miners.
“I wear the sweat shirt and jeans pretty much day in day out,” says Cowan. “I spend a lot of time on my hands and knees when I’m working so I relish the idea of clothing that improves as you beat it up. The clothes are elegant and tough, which is how we picture the guys that wear them. A more modern form of masculinity, moving past brands that dress up men like hunters or miners. The clothes are the perfect blank canvas which allows the personalty of the wearer to come through.” Lance builds her outfits from the collection, too. “I actually wear the trousers the most and the T-shirts; even though I’m a lady they still fit me really well,” she says. “I also am a big fan of the tunic.”
Shop Basic Rights online, where they’ve added a few new pieces today—including tan trousers and a white denim jacket. The collection is divided into “tops” and “bottoms” and viewable in one quick scroll, making the browsing experience unusually enjoyable. Expect a few more releases in June and July and beyond, as they expand throughout the year (hint: car coats and leather jackets).
Images courtesy of Basic Rights