The UK experienced high inflation; society was forced to adopt a three-day week1
and forced into strict austerity. A young Isaac Benson, like many people during this time, struggled to find a job. It came to the point where he decided he would have to come up with something himself in order to stand on his own two feet. And this was the moment that Isaac had a simple idea which led to great things.
His uncle already had a little shop on Toynbee Street near Petticoat Lane Market - home of the famous ’rag trade’ in East London. Penniless Isaac borrowed £70 from his sister and decided to buy some trendy knitwear from a local wholesaler, with the intention of selling it on the market. His uncle let the young Isaac hang those garments in the front of his shop, and every Sunday Isaac came to the market to sell them. Sales were surprisingly good, so Isaac didn’t hesitate to expand his offering, and decided to work on the market full time. Slowly but steadily he built a name for himself.
Isaac opened his first shop and started to trade as BRUTE, though he still kept his stalls on the market. BRUTE offered a full range of menswear. However, buying from other wholesalers soon seemed unsatisfactory to him.
Isaac started his own production with a business partner. The first small line consisted of cardigans and jackets. Everything was produced in the UK, and BRUTE slowly moved from the role of retailer to that of wholesaler, mainly suppling customers in London. The business was a success, so eventually they added more products to their range, still producing entirely in the UK. And here we are, just one step away from Guide London.
Isaac and his business partner established a new company, Guide Clothing Ltd., producing clothes using the brand GUIDE LONDON. The following years saw their first exhibitions in the UK, Paris and Germany. A strong focus on detailing distinguished Guide’s collections from other brands. The Guide London brand added new clients rapidly from the UK to the rest of Europe.
Guide London was awarded the BKCEC British Apparel Export Award 2. It was a huge privilege to receive the certificate from Her Royal Highness The Princess Anne who personally visited the Guide London office.
Isaac bought his business partner’s share of the company. Together with his sons Jack and Richard, he reformed the brand, focusing on in-house design development and reinforcement of the business with UK independent retailers and retailers in Ireland and Scandinavia.
... THE STORY CONTINUES ...
Here we are today, with Guide London as you know it, offering everything from shirts, tailoring, knitwear, trousers, coats; to socks, underwear, belts or wallets. Guide London has now become a total-look brand with a strong focus on detailing, because we believe that ”every detail matters”.
1 The Three-Day Week was introduced in the United Kingdom in the 1970s in order to conserve electricity due to the work-to-rule action of miners, and also to avoid further inflation and currency crisis. Rather than shut down, companies were forced to work only three consecutive days per week, and prohibited from working longer hours on those days. The intention was to prolong the life of available fuel stocks. Hospitals were exempt. Meanwhile, television companies were required to cease broadcasting at 10:30pm.
2 BKCEC - the British Knitting and Clothing Export Council.