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Life in the Machine: The Best British-Made Menswear 

Inspired by Mike Nelson's The Asset Strippers, we look at a pair of home-grown menswear brands.

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Loughborough-born artist Mike Nelson has transformed Tate Britain's Duveen Galleries from hallowed hall to industrial scrapyard for his latest work, The Asset Strippers.

For the piece, Nelson has collected outcasts from Britain's waning industrial era, among them symbols of the once-glorious textiles industry. Looms and knitting machines pose as sculptures, often with colourful spools still attached, as if ready to whirr into action.

The installation explores a nation which, while turning inwards politically, has all but ceased to provide for itself. Where Britain was once a shining example of industry, it is now a nation reliant on foreign goods, from the cars that we drive right down to the clothes we wear.

In 2018, almost £20 billion worth of garments were shipped in from overseas, making it the fifth largest area of import behind only oil, medicine, cars and power generators. But despite this, the British textiles industry has, in recent years, shown noticeable growth.

A handful of brands are choosing to invest in time-honoured craftsmanship, sourcing locally-made fabrics and employing factories in London, Manchester, the Midlands and elsewhere.Here, we take a look at two of the most exciting menswear brands born, bred and manufactured at home.
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E Tautz

Designer Patrick Grant is himself a one-man band, rallying for the revival of Britain's textiles industry. Aside from E Tautz – which makes most of its garments in its own factory, and the rest elsewhere in the UK – he also operates Community Clothing, a brand designed to fill the seasonal gaps in factories' schedules.

But back to E Tautz, which though a century and a half old, is currently responsible for some of our most forward-thinking menswear. The brand specialises in the sort of garment which whispers its luxury: wide-legged trousers which fall just so, billowing blouson jackets and oversized but meticulously cut shirting.
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Oliver Spencer

Oliver Spencer, the man, has been championing British-made fabrics and manufacture since he founded the formalwear brand Favourbrook in 1993.

He took those same principles to Oliver Spencer the brand, which launched in 2002 with the philosophy "Quality needn't mean formality, casual needn't mean careless."

Like E Tautz, Spencer applies Savile Row techniques to sports coats, chinos and everyday shirting, much of which is made in England.