Before the pause button was recently pressed on the boxing world, British fighters were the ones making all the headlines, with Heavyweight champ Anthony Joshua set for a summer title defence and Tyson Fury hot off the heels of a devastating victory over the heavy handed American Deontay Wilder.
While we impatiently await a return to in-ring action we wanted to throw a spotlight on a British clothing brand inspired by the glove game that’s caught our eye with their stylish wares.
British Vintage Boxing is a family run business, that is the brainchild of avid boxing enthusiast and former professional trainer Zen. He was inspired by greats such as the late British sporting legend, Sir Henry Cooper, to create a premium sportswear brand with a firm focus on the old-school.
We caught up with Zen recently to find out more details on how British Vintage Boxing came about, the brand’s ethos and his boxing style icons. Let’s Meet the Brand.
The MALESTROM: We’re all about championing brands we love here at The MALESTROM, why don’t you tell our readers a bit about British Vintage Boxing and how the business initially came about?
Zen: BVB is a boxing heritage inspired sportswear brand reimagining men’s classic staples through a modern lens – crafting sportswear for the everyday champion inherent within us all.
A love of boxing and its origins captivated me from the outset. Vintage footage of Henry Cooper and Muhammad Ali from 1963 ignited what would become a lifelong passion for the sport; seduced by the drama and the limitless stories of heroism. BVB was very much the result of a natural evolution from being a boxing coach, author and devotee of old-school sportswear.
I wanted to create something I thought the sport deserved, premium clothes that reflect the qualities of these hard-working fighting men, that echo their courage, resolve and fortitude. To add to the proposition, coming full circle, we teamed-up with the Cooper estate to include Sir Henry Cooper as an integral component of the brand. A British boxing icon and model of probity we could think of nobody better to partner with.
TM: What are some of the pitfalls you’ve faced along the way?
Z: The whole journey is and continues to be a challenge from supply chains to critical paths and the unforeseen… pathogens don’t help! Even the best laid plans can fall apart once the first shot is fired but we stick to our Commander’s intent – take the bridge and find a way!
TM: What is your ethos? And how important is it to the brand?
Z: My ethos is to be relentlessly valiant, authentic and act with integrity at all times – qualities integral to the brand.
TM: Tell us more about your products?
Z: We’re very sweat fabric orientated, with an emphasis on paying homage to authentic vintage sweatshirts & joggers while at the same time modernising fit and embellishing with BVB’s signature style narrative.
The ranges are inspired by significant British boxing icons e.g. The Bombardier sweats and joggers are an ode to the great British Heavyweight ‘Bombardier’ Billy Wells. Wells, served and boxed in the Army, a thematic we carry this through our designs.
TM: What’s your most popular item right now?
Z: Our Bombardier khaki patch sweatshirt is currently our best seller – all the hallmarks of authentic vintage; side panels, eyelets, reinforced stitching premium fabric, etc. Rendered with embroidered patches representing the home countries, celebrating their rich boxing heritage.
TM: Who is your boxing icon style wise?
Z: We have to choose two! Henry Cooper & Muhammad Ali of the 1950’s & 60’s. Henry for his effortless style and Ali for his casual cool during this period.
TM: It must be a huge positive for the brand that the current boxing landscape is filled with top British fighters?
Z: The resurgence of British boxing, especially in the blue ribbon heavyweight division with AJ and Tyson Fury has definitely been a positive. The romance of the sport has returned and with it a sense of history.
TM: Who would you say is a modern day boxing style icon?
Z: You would have to say AJ scrubs up well, but he’d look good in anything!
TM: How important has it been that your products often replicate original fabrics and making methods that were used in that original expedition?
Z: We put a premium on using the very best sweat fabrics, it is for this reason we use a family run factory in Portugal; a country renown for its high quality sweat fabrics. We endeavour to retain as much detail and character of vintage sweats while modifying design for a modern fit.
TM: How difficult is it to stand out from the crowd in such a crowded market?
Z: The bold nature of our proposition, in my humble opinion, makes us instantly identifiable. The challenge is to stay visible, reinforce and continue to build and refresh memory structures to stay relevant.
TM: What does the future have in store? What are your aims?
Z: As a business we naturally want to grow, but in a sustained, balanced, feedback loop, whereby all involved benefit. To continue to bring value and develop new and innovative ranges – while retaining a boutique experience, with the ability to remain agile and retain our intimate customer experience.
Ultimately we want a London flagship store, a hub for a fully immersive BVB experience, for like-minded people.
TM: What advice would you have for anyone thinking of starting their independent business?
Z: Pragmatism, don’t over expose yourself. Listen to your customers, talk to them, always put them first. Focus on value and let that become your currency; everything else will follow. Test, find your 80-20 winners and double-down.
Do everything and treat everyone with integrity. Most importantly breathe, it helps, ask Wim Hof.
TM: How important is it to engage with other like-minded brands?
Z: We’ve benefitted a lot by sharing ideas, experiences and common goals – goals where the posts have now moved, replaced by a new, pervasive, shared optic for a fairer future. What success means has taken on a different hue, entirely more inclusive.
TM: What’s your favourite independent brand? Who would you nominate for us to feature next?
Z: We a bit biased here, but we love The Vintage Showroom – purveyors of the finest vintage clothes – as well as producing their own brand lines. Doug & Roy are great guys who seriously live their brand.
TM: How can people track you down?
Z: Punch in britishvintageboxing.com on the net – you’ll find us faster than Henry Cooper’s left-hook. Keep your eyes peeled for our next pop-up shop.
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