Whether you’re a savant who knows what to reach for every morning or one that’s a little more indecisive – Nottingham based designer David Keyte is bucking trends by offering simple, well-made clothes, in a very unassuming and refreshing way. Meet Universal Works, the company David co-founded launched in 2009 with a simple aim “to make real, honest clothing based on fit and good design, though never over designed”.
The brand was inspired by David’s early years in the Midlands during the 70s and the culture around work wear versus weekend wear. Come a Saturday night David’s Dad and Uncles would often eschew their work gear in favour of dressing up and taking pride in their appearance. Through the 80s, David was always around the creative industries, from sign writers to fashion brands – before going on to complete a 30 year stretch in the fashion industry, working with world class names from Paul Smith to Maharishi.
The brand’s ethos is best summed up by them: “Universal Works is about the mixing of ideas; understanding heritage and context underpinned by contemporary needs and aesthetics.” It’s a very rare thing, people taking the time to understand heritage, whilst being for the people both in terms of style and appeal. Manufacturing and production has also been crucial to David and the team, making garments both here in the UK and overseas, but always with trusted parties. And that’s a purpose that they’ve been greatly rewarded for – now stocked from Los Angeles to Seoul, but in that undeniably Universal Works way – they’re still based in Nottingham.
Doing it they’re way, is part of the Universal Works appeal. They’ve opened and continue to open stores – and their stores are direct reflection of their brand - always interesting, well designed, not overly fussy but a very welcoming space, the kind of place you wouldn’t mind just hanging out in. The detailed oriented amongst you will notice Universal Works’ staff in their social content – modelling the product and looking very slick as they do so. But more than anything, they’re ability to keep it real is probably what’s most refreshing. And perhaps David put it best in a recent interview with Oi Polloi, when asked about influences: “…It’s that idea of understanding and appreciating the past, and trying to make it relevant”.