Cro’Jack: a Q and A with founder Dean Batty

    Fashion Buyer caught up with industry insider Dean Batty to find out how he is turning his knowledge of the trade and love for fabrics into premium menswear brand Cro’Jack

    Q  So Dean, you’re a brand founder now. Are you a designer too?
    A  (Laughs) I’d never call myself a designer. Too many people in the industry would take the mick if I did! But I do have an eye and I love fabric, that’s my passion and that’s been the starting point for Cro’Jack.

    Q  If you’re not designing it, who is?
    A  Well, it’s a team of me and my wife Lisa [Batty]. I know what I want and she has the talent to make it happen. Her CV speaks for itself. [Among her credits is a stint as senior designer at Belstaff]

    Q  What’s the idea behind Cro’Jack?
    A  It’s a menswear brand that’s all made in Britain. That’s central to the whole thing. It’s manufactured in the West Midlands at LS manufacturing. It’s probably the last and certainly the biggest factory provider left in the UK. We have great facilities including a quilting plant, laundry room, embroidery business, a webbing team. The west Midlands used to be the centre of British manufacturing and as much as possible I’ve sourced the fabrics from Britain too. Though there is some organic cotton from France and some Italian fabrics too.

    Q  And what does Cro'Jack mean?
    A  A crossjack is a piece of sailing equipment – a piece of wood that stabilises the mainsail on a ship. It was invented in 1530 and it is the sixteenth century version of a turbo charger – it meant that British sailors were the fastest in the world. It’s no coincidence that this was the period that saw sailors from here zoom off to pillage and plunder and all that. But whatever else that meant, it meant that Britain started to turn from an impoverished backwater to a seriously rich country.

    Q  You’re something of a sailor yourself aren’t you?
    A  Yeah. I love it. Which is typical considering that I come from the most landlocked village in England! And yes, there will be nautical references in the brand but it’s not a super purist sort of thing. We’re not about to replicate the most authentic piece of clothing ever or anything like that. The fits for example are all brought bang up to date.

    Q  That’s important to you isn’t it?
    A  Very, it comes down to three things. Fabric, fit and value. Get those right and the brand will work.
    Q  And how have the buyers responded to it?
    A  So far, really warmly. They find it refreshing I think and they love that it’s made in the UK. We are only opening about 20 accounts in the UK to start with and I think I know what they are. There will be another 20 worldwide.

    Q  And what are your ambitions for it long term?
    A  About 100 accounts globally I think. I do think of the brand in global terms not just the UK.

    Q  OK, so tell us about the collection

    A  There are five jackets in six fabrications, there’s three jersey styles and three knit styles – including an indigo dyed style, which I love

    Q  And what’s your favourite piece in the range?
    A  It must be the Uffa. I just love it. [Dean pulls out a buggy lined 4sb indigo dyed linen jacket with notched lapels pleated patch pockets and hunting details that include poacher’s pockets]

    Q  We hear you have a large collection of jackets.
    A  That’s true. I have over 100. My favourite is an Apaloosa denim jacket. It’s saddle stitched and blanket lined. When I bought it, it was already quite worn but then I gave it to my Dad. He’s a joiner and he wore it to work for a few years. It got really beaten up until it was so beautifully aged and battered I had to have it back! He loved it and didn’t want to relinquish it but I got it back from him and now I just love it. It’s like an old friend.

    To find out more about Cro’Jack call Dean on 07966 460066

    Prices go from £85 to £250 at retail, on a three times mark up.
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