Brand Of The Month: Mackenzie & George
As a country girl who has found herself working and living in London, I'm always on the lookout for brands that allow me to express my country style but also work well with life in the City. I feel that Mackenzie & George has managed just that. They create beautiful classic pieces which are inspired by the British countryside.
After having lusted over a few pieces for a while, I was lucky enough for parents to treat me to the Drayton belt for my birthday. I was absolutely thrilled! It's just perfect! I love how classic it is with the simple brown leather, but the pheasant and guinea fowl feather inlay adds a really fun and unique element. It works perfectly in the office for dress down Fridays with a pair of jeans and silk blouse, but also looks fantastic with the many thousands of Breton stripe tops I have for the days I escape the rat race. This belt is just so beautiful, I get so many compliments ever time I wear it.
Apart from the beautiful design, I immediately noticed the amazing quality of the leather. It's incredibly soft to touch but very sturdy. Perfect if you are someone like me, who likes things to look nice, but also be durable and stand up to life in the countryside. It's only taken one belt, but I am completely hooked and waiting for an excuse to treat myself to more of their gorgeous accessories!
I wanted to delve a little deeper in to the real story behind the brand, so I had a chat with Melanie one of the Founders, and you can see for yourself the humble beginnings of what is a now very successful, continuously growing country lifestyle brand.
Where did it all start?
In a tent! We (my now husband Chris & I) spent a few years selling his parents interchangeable belts and buckles at craft fairs and Covent garden apple market, living in a tent at the shows whilst we did so. We eventually started coming into the workshop to make the products and found we were really interested in using natural and long lasting materials. Chris' father had been making belts for brands and department stores since the 1970s and so was very seasonal fashion focused. We wanted to so something a bit different; a bit more to our own tastes. We both like a very classic look, and quality of materials is what speaks to us. Eventually we started our own business in 2012, and introduced other products such as the hats and feather brooches - made by a good friend of ours Wendy - and also products that we are due to bring back such as purses, wallets, bags etc.
Who has been your biggest influence?
Well, this actually harks back to where the name came from in the first place. Sitting in the tent in the evenings for all those years before starting up the company, we used to talk about people we admired and how they dressed. Chris' memory was of his grandmother (maiden name Mackenzie) who was always impeccably turned out (even at 8am!) but never wore the floral or patterned items favoured by many of her peers - it was always very clean lined, timeless shapes, and she'd never be seen without matching gloves and belt! She'd stand out in a crowd but you couldn't put your finger on why.
Mine was my great grandfather (George). He was quite the character but what I always remember is he would have some little detail to every outfit that was so unique for someone of his age. Postbox red socks, or a bright coloured vest under his shirt. An unusually patterned pocket square or beautifully embroidered handkerchief.
It was talking about these two people from our childhoods that formed the basis of what we do; timeless designs with attention to detail.
What's your favourite product and why?
Oo that is a tough one. It's hard because nothing leaves the cutting table unless we absolutely love it! I think at the moment I would have to say the Windsor Clutch, which we are just about to launch in a new MAXI size, and the new suede Chatsworth belts. The clutch because it's very much my baby. I hate having to dig around massive bags for the essentials, so this fits everything in perfectly, and even in the new maxi size is ideal for attaching to inside of a bag or on your belt loops to be hands free. The Chatsworth I love because I adore suede - I think it makes such a tactile texture to an outfit, and its the perfect width and subtle design that it just looks so great on everyone; men and women!
Your favourite moment in the Mackenzie & George story so far?
Well this probably changes quite often. We have just done Royal Highland Show, with our biggest ever stand and launch of our Personalisation & Prosecco Station. We had a phenomenal response, the stand looked fantastic and we had so many lovely comments from customers old and new. I was really proud of our team and we had a fantastic show.
If you had to pick a motto for your company what would it be?
I was asked this recently actually, and it has to be what we consider with each and every products; wearability that lasts.
You'll find the lovely Mackenzie & George team exhibiting at the below events throughout the year. I highly recommend popping along and saying hi! Or check out their full range on the website.
Great Yorkshire Show 11-13th July
The Game Fair 28-30th July
Dublin Horse Show 9-13th August
Burghley Horse Trials 31st August - 3rd Sept
Blenheim Horse Trials 13-17th Sept