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10 Things Your Didn't Know About Universal Works

Sep 25, 2023

David Keyte from Universal Works Clothing

Having earned a glowing reputation for their ethically produced, easy to wear pieces constructed using the finest of fabrics, you may already be well aware of Universal Works and its contemporary take on classic workwear. But how well do you know the backstory behind this brilliant British brand that started up in Nottingham back in 2009? Given that here at Urban Industry we have just taken delivery of an exceptional collection of pieces from the new Universal Works Autumn/Winter collection we decided to dig a little deeper into the brand by asking  co-founder, head designer and company director David Keyte to let us in on some facts that even the most ardent of Universal Works wearers may not be aware of. So before you head over to check out the new collection with its Lancaster Jackets, Langdale Cardigans, Aston Pants, Saucony sneakers and iconic Baker Jackets, first have a read of Mr Keyte’s top ten things about Universal Works that you probably didn’t know. Oh and by the sounds of it, creating all of that stunning clothing appears to be seriously thirsty work, cheers David….

 Shop the full collection from Universal Works here

1) Universal Works only started up because another brand I worked for had refused to pay  what they owed me (that brand will remain nameless unless you buy me a beer).

2) For the first three collections Universal Works only used fabrics that were already lying waste on the factory shelves and had been left behind by other brands (again those brands will all remain nameless unless you buy me a beer). 

3) Universal Works uses the same t-shirt maker in Portugal as a major A-list French fashion house who charge more than three times, maybe even four - I'm not good at maths - for their tees than we do (once again both the brand and the maker will remain nameless unless you buy me a beer). 

4) I don't design anything that I would not wear myself, even though some of it might not fit me (I’m bigger than I look, too much beer I guess). 

5) All Universal Works garments have a strange missing label on them (if you can't find it I can explain next time we share a dram).

6) I designed my first Universal Works collection fifteen years ago purely to get it noticed by Oi Polloi. Back then they had the best collection of brands and the best website around, meaning that I really had to produce something very good (I'd tried buying Steve and Nige a beer as a bribe instead but that hadn’t worked).

 7) Universal Works had a great business in Russia, it was one of our biggest markets and we made some really good friends over there and yet now we have none. I really hope one day we can live in a world with peace and love, not war (I am not under the influence of any vodka right now).

8) I still get thrilled seeing someone, anyone, wearing Universal Works that I don't personally know (as opposed to some of my mates who I had to buy a few beers first in order to get them interested). 

9) I loved soul music as a young teenager way before “The Blues Brothers” but just like them I feel that I’m on a mission, though my mission is to dress men, all men... scrap that ...all people. There are far too many people out here who need help and I do really want to dress them all (this is not the beer talking, just little old sober me)

10) Our motto at Universal Works is ‘Peace Love Soul’ which is nothing to do with soul music, I'm a huge fan of it sure but I also love punk and rave and jazz and tons of shit, so not soul music but from the soul, from the heart, with soul, with honesty, with integrity, we do what we love and try to do it well (please drink responsibly). 

So there you have it, wise words from the main man himself,offering up a humorous and heartfelt insight into one of our favourite British brands here at Urban Industry. The next time you’re down this way David rest assured that the drinks are on us!

David Keyte from Universal Works Clothing

Words from Neil Summers & David Keyte