The World According To: Cole Buxton

The World According To: Cole Buxton

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THE WORLD ACCORDING TO:

COLE BUXTON AND JONNY WILSON

The co-owners of the British lifestyle brand share their top tips for success, keeping it in the community and starting from the ground up.

WORDS: TJ SIDHU, IMAGES: LEWIS KHAN

When it comes to building a fashion brand, there are a few ingredients required for success: killer clothes, of course. But focus, discipline and a die-hard fan base come in handy, too. Since launching in 2018, it seems British menswear brand Cole Buxton has acquired the full recipe.

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Like all ambitious ideas, Cole Buxton started small. Straight out of Falmouth University and with a degree in performance sportswear design under his belt, Buxton, from Derby, started his namesake label as a line of T-shirts. After connecting through mutual friends on Instagram and immediately hitting it off, Jonny Wilson, from Sunderland, joined the brand as a co-owner – at the time, he was working as a freelance photographer.

Buxton and Wilson quickly picked up on the value of direct-to-consumer marketing – the brand’s customers are all part of the same community as its owners: they work hard, hit the gym, lounge about on holidays, and want a functional wardrobe to express that.

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Eschewing fleeting trends in favour of enduring style, Cole Buxton proposes a full wardrobe for the modern man. On one rail, you might find subtly distressed T-shirts pre-shrunk for a “worn in” feel, luxurious heavyweight hoodies in 100% cotton, slouchy tracksuit bottoms and insulated puffer jackets in midnight black. On another, more experimental pieces such as leather carpenter trousers, trucker caps, a fluffy hooded shearling jacket and a zip-up track top with an all-over “CB” monogram. From day to night, Cole Buxton has you covered.

These days, Cole Buxton is proudly sitting at the same table as one of British menswear’s fastest growing independent brands. But it wasn’t until last year where things really took a turn. While the brand has enjoyed much success, it was the release of Cole Buxton’s first-ever sneaker, the Wilson, named after Jonny, that got the boys buzzing. Coupled with the brand showing a collection in Paris for the first time, and ending the year with a shiny offering on FLANNELS, we felt it was no better time to get the low-down on living, through the eyes of Cole Buxton and Jonny Wilson.

“There’s almost an argument to say that we wouldn’t have grown as fast as we did if we were classically business trained.” – Cole Buxton
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1. TRUST YOUR GUT

Experience isn’t everything. Without a traditional background in business, Buxton and Wilson dove head-first into the making of their very own brand. “There’s almost an argument to say that we wouldn’t have grown as fast as we did if we were classically business trained,” Buxton says. “Some of the decisions we made, from a financial point of view, didn’t ‘make sense’, but they made sense for the brand, and for the business.”

Whether you’re taking cues from Buxton and Wilson by starting your own brand, or you’re thinking of quitting your 9-5 to pursue greater ambitions, you could learn a thing or two from the design duo: “You just have to be mindful at every stage – what got you there and then ultimately, if it’s bad, what can get you out of there,” Wilson says. For them, the art of working for yourself comes down to an alternative school of thought – instinct, trust and learning along the way. “The good thing about not having any experience is that we use this brand almost like our own school; this is our university course, this is our degree – we live it every day.”

“We've never actively thought, ‘how do we maintain a lifestyle on top of it?’ It is a lifestyle.” – Cole Buxton

2. LOVE WHAT YOU DO

The key to success is to love what you do, and the boys behind Cole Buxton know all about that. After all, they have a reputation for working seven days a week. But that’s not to say they’re chained to a desk: “We don’t sit in the office seven days a week, but every minute of the day, we’re thinking about the progress, and that is fulfilling,” Wilson says. “Any person who has a business of any kind is thinking about it 365 days a year. This business is my lifestyle.”

“If you're a founder, director or whatever, it consumes your thoughts, 24/7. You can't really escape it,” Buxton adds. “If you want to escape it, then it's probably time to hang it up. We've never actively thought, ‘how do we maintain a lifestyle on top of it?’ It is a lifestyle.” So, whether you’re embarking on a start-up or training for the marathon, finding passion in your work could make the hard work feel like a breeze.

“If you make it your own, it’s so much more fulfilling, and more real.” – Jonny Wilson
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3. ORIGINALITY RULES

“If you make it your own, it’s so much more fulfilling, and more real,” says Wilson. There’s no denying the menswear landscape is pretty saturated these days. But don’t waste your time looking at what your neighbours are doing. “There'ssomething to be said for backing your own design ethos to create trends, or at least create things that are so true that they can either become a trend or they won’t.” With that said, Wilson and Buxton favour timeless design that eschews the never-ending trend cycle, for clothing that speaks to its customer.

 “We have such a great understanding of our communities, because we are ultimately a part of it.” – Jonny Wilson

4. BUILD A COMMUNITY

Cole Buxton’s community is as important to the brand as the clothes are. With an ever-growing fanbase, the brand has accumulated an army of like-minded customers, who share the same core values as its designers. “We have such a great understanding of our communities, because we are ultimately a part of it. Six years ago, we were in that community – obsessed with fashion to a degree and a love of dressing well,” says Wilson.

Surrounding yourself with positive people will drive you and your ambitions – and make you some friends along the way, too. “We've almost invited [our community] into the whole journey,” he continues. “Whether it be with the films that we’ve put out, the daily social media content and the communication between us and our customers, we're there with them.”

“We’ve never been shy of going really out there.” – Jonny Wilson

5. BE BOLD

While Cole Buxton is known for its minimal approach to design, you’ll likely be hit with an unexpected turn in its collections. “There’s an energy when people see something new,” Buxton says, before Wilson continues: “We’ve never been shy of going really out there. We've always been big on using bold colours, for example. We really enjoy trying to bring some kind of vibrance to our collections, and for our customers. It's obviously very easy to just do loads of black T shirts and hoodies. Naturally, that is predominantly what you sell the most of.” So, whether in life or in the colour of your T-shirt, take a plunge and do something a little different.

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