Brutus is a brand that has transcended generations and genres with a powerfully strong and pivotal look. In exploring the latest collection we headed to Whitehawk FC to capture a club that offers a free-thinking fresh outlook on a party from non-league quarters for SoccerBible Magazine Issue 8.

Whitehawk FC are a club that encourages atmosphere. They want the off the pitch passion to fuel the on the energy and with Brutus, there's a brand who care for the sub-culture. As rich in quality as they are in story telling, this short film by Jess Kohl is accompanied by an interview with the man who steers the Brutus ship, Jonathan Freedman. Imagery captured by Lydia Garnett too, this is a collaborative showcase of a game so laden in style.

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Brutus is a brand with an almighty strong character, born in ‘66 the connection to football is something ingrained, is that fair to say?

“My Dad and Uncle started Brutus in 1966 when they were 17 and 18 and England was on top of the world! The brand stands for pride, unity and strength. It's like a football club. Once you are a Brutus fan, you’re a fan for life. When you see someone else wearing a piece of Brutus clothing you give each other a nod.”

Having re-launched the brand in 2009, can you tell us about the experience of bringing your father’s brand back to life?

“Bringing back the brand was simple really. The minute I started researching and reaching out to fans I was inundated with positive feedback, fond memories and incredible anecdotes. Everyone has a personal story they relate to Brutus - so for me it was just about bringing everyone together, listening to them and producing what they asked for. The overwhelming consensus was to recreate the original pieces exactly as they were. So I took that very seriously and even tracked down the original factory in Hong Kong to ensure the product was bang-on. The rest took care of itself. I stuck to what the fans wanted and they showed me a fierce loyalty by buying every piece that we create.”

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Was there a fresh feeling you wanted to give this new lease of life?

“The fresh feeling was already there in the original product. It stayed fresh throughout the years. I enjoy experimenting with how the product is shot and showing how versatile what we make is - but deeply ingrained in the brand is authenticity, and authenticity doesn't need re-branding or freshening up!”

The styling and the imagery you guys use is vividly powerful, do you feel it’s important to tell a story through the products you put out?

“The styling and imagery is powerful because the brand and product is powerful - and the story is ingrained within it. I'm very careful about who we work with to style and shoot the brand. You can tell in the first 30 seconds of a conversation with a stylist or photographer whether they 'get it' or not. We've been really fortunate to work with some legends like Jamie Morgan, Barry Kamen, the boys at Lives and Works (LAW Mag) and Lydia Garnett who shot this piece, it shows how understanding the brand has nothing to do with gender or generation. If you get, it you get it!”

The sub-cultures that Brutus have lived through have been hugely influential in representing England as a nation. What does it feel like to have been part of that?

“Brutus has lived and thrived through the decades of British youth culture, from Mod to Skin to Punk to 80s Casual to 90s Rave. Brutus found its place within each movement without losing any credibility, which is rare.”

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We’re in a time where 90s throwbacks seem commonplace with many brands enjoying a resurgence. There’s something deeper though with something like BRUTUS. Would you say it’s a lot more genuine?

“I wouldn't say we are more genuine than those brands... Brands like Fila have been around 100 years and Kappa is about the same age as us. They also have their diehard fans and are strongly linked to certain subcultures and have made some really iconic clothing. I think it's more about whether the new consumers buying into these brands are educated about their histories. That's the thing that I think is really important; that people take the time to learn the cultural heritage they are buying into. There's a soundtrack linked to all heritage brands - it's important to have a listen!”

The guys and girls wearing the brand are into it in a big way, how much do you look to build that connection between what you’re putting out and the audience you’re catering for?

“It's all about the people who wear it and listening to them is key. They are our customers, our outspoken beacons of truth, they tell us exactly how it is. I feel a responsibility to them to ensure I'm not messing with their heritage. In fact I feel more like their audience than the other way round. I re-create what I see in their lives, what they share with me.”

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Flipping the coin on the negative connotations that people may think about someone with a punk look at football, how misunderstood would you say this style is?

“It's like everything, there's the truth and then there's the mainstream media's portrayal, which is often about scaremongering in order to sell papers. That's where the negative connotations would come from. There is a huge disconnect but we can all dig a little deeper to figure out the real story and make our own minds up. Sometimes it's just about making eye-contact and saying 'alright'.”

The time, care and attention that your audience take in looking so damn smart is incredible. It’s all about the due care for your clothes and image isn’t it? That’s quite a beautiful thing in itself, the process?

“Yes this comes down to pride and attention to detail - the founding principles of Brutus and the youth cultures it represents. The Brutus customer was never the richest but was always the smartest. No one can mess with that.”

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A 50th year for the brand and the collection you’ve released to mark this, it’s got to feel like quite a milestone moment?

“I suppose it is a milestone, and I feel quite proud to say 'established in 1966' as it shows we've stood the test of time. But we're all about what's happening today and having fans from every age group, gender and nationality living the brand right now is the most important thing.”

What do the next few years look like? You must be excited to keep breaking fresh ground?

“No one knows what the next few years will look like - it's a time of uncertainty and change in the world but I think we have to stay positive and know that change is progress and uncertainty means it ain't gonna be boring! And the same can be said for BRUTUS. Something I'm really excited for is our tie-up with the guys at Too Hot Ltd with whom we are creating a beautiful sportswear range paying homage to the sporting greats of the 70s. Watch this space…”

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Film by Jess Kohl
Photography by Lydia Garnett
Interview with Jonathan Freedman

View more from Brutus here.

Pick up SoccerBible Magazine Issue 8 here.