Style / September 2018

William & Son: From Town to Country

The needs of the modern man and the historic opposition between the town and country coalesce in this heritage British brand. William Asprey tells us how he fuses the past and the present so seamlessly at William & Son.

The elegant store front of William & Son, situated among the designer boutiques of Bruton Street, Mayfair.

Just standing outside William & Son’s base on Bruton Street in London is enough to learn a few key things about this brand. The architectural elegance of the Edwardian façade is the perfect symbol for the sophistication and longevity of the brand’s offerings. The mixture of the red brickwork, the white windows, and the blue storefront happen to be the colours of the British flag – and William & Son is quintessentially British. Finally, the location is Mayfair: one of London’s most stylish and storied neighbourhoods, the place formerly known as ‘the Town’ where aristocratic, country-dwelling rakes from the Restoration to the Regency period would go for urban excitement and adventure.

Now, almost two decades after the brand was founded in 1999, William & Son is rightfully regarded as one of the UK’s preeminent town & country brands. The relative youthfulness of the brand belies the timelessness of its offerings. However, when you consider that founder William Asprey had previously worked at the Asprey family’s acclaimed Bond Street jewellers (where he was responsible for the silverware in the Officer’s Mess at the Royal Green Jackets), which has been going strong since 1781, it’s easy to see why Mr. Asprey’s command of classic, understated British luxury is so thoroughgoing. So much so that the brand has already received a Royal Warrant; proof, if there ever was any, of William & Son’s appeal to the discerning English gentleman.

The brand’s in-house offering focuses on the cornerstones of traditional British country life. “A lot of what we do is British made and has a strong British heritage to it,” Mr. Asprey tells us, “such as silver, games and shooting.  I feel that with the success of British traditions and the worldwide appeal of all things British that we are able to play to our strengths, with the main one being that we are a British company.” The trick to conveying this sense of Britishness so succinctly and unmistakably? Good old-fashioned, no-frills functionality: bringing together the finest materials and the best craftsmanship, and letting them speak for themselves with minimum fuss and ostentation.

Herein lies the difference between town & country luxury and its younger, more prevalent baby sister, urban luxury. “The difference is the functionality of the clothing and the durability of the materials.  It also depends on whether you venture outside in the country or not!  If you do you will need warm layers of quality clothing that are designed for the harshest of days.  In the town, you can always find shelter.” This state of constant alertness to the elements, of always being prepared to put it in Boy Scouts parlance, is what has kept the culture of the British countryside going strong where other countries' rural elites have fallen into obscurity.

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Desmond Huthwaite

Copywriter at The Rake