Heritage homeware: the great British brand boom

2012 was the year that Britain shone on the international stage, with Diamond Jubilee celebrations in June and a summer of Olympic and Paralympic glory in London. Union Jacks were flying in many a street and patriotism was at an all-time high.

Last year’s events have helped to revive our pride in British production, encouraging more of us to be inspired by our heritage. This newfound appreciation for all that is British has sparked a resurgence of brands such as Cath Kidston and Emma Bridgewater, who represent a growing nostalgia today for heritage styles.

In the 1950s, Laura Ashley set the trend for quintessentially British homeware with her distinctive Victorian-inspired pattern. Today, Kidston and Bridgewater have found their place in the homeware market, and each with their own unique style.

Kidston’s pastel tones and floral prints and Bridgewater’s dotty crockery can be found on almost every UK high street, and undoubtedly in homes across the country, representing the idyllic country home with a modern twist.

It is their awareness of the public’s love of heritage patterns and styles married with their adaptation to modern tastes and advances in technology that has much to do with their success.

Bridgewater matches an understated design with rich colours, making her products adaptable to the modern home, whilst Kidston’s smart-phone covers have become one of the company’s best-selling items. It would seem that this marriage of old and new has been key to their success in the UK market.

Another reason for the rise in popularity of such brands could be linked to the revival of afternoon tea-time. Streets across Britain were flooded with residents and their baking delights last year when the Jubilee celebrations urged the public to come together in the street parties, which have had a huge part to play in encouraging more of us to take pleasure in the simple act of enjoying tea and cake, but also in recognising this tradition that is so integral to our heritage.

Television has also been hugely influential to this recognition, with such programmes as The Great British Bake Off attracting an audience of 7.2 million for its series finale last October. The humble cupcake has also been thrown into the limelight in recent years in the form of everything from earphone covers to money banks, and the teacup has seen a similar glorification.

Other British homeware and fashion brands steeped in history have seen a revival in recent years, notably Roberts with its vintage radios and Barbour, whose garments epitomise country life. As with Cath Kidston and Emma Bridgewater, these brands have ensured that their products suit today’s market whilst retaining the quality and style for which they have been renowned since their initial creation.

Though some have been concerned by the expense of the events of 2012, it must be noted that British production has seen a surge in popularity thanks to the year’s celebrations. Our national pride and appreciation of our brands has found new strength, and long may our love affair with British heritage continue.


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Maddy Hutt