John field clothing range
- By Pete Moore
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- Last updated: 26/01/2017
John Field was first established in 1965 to provide riding clothing for the equestrian market. Owned by the Seyntex Group, the brand was relaunched and reinvented in 2011 under the ownership of Maureen Saynaeve, great granddaughter of Arthur Seynaeve, who founded Seyntex in 1908. Today Seyntex employs some 130 people at its headquarters in Belgium where it has administration offices, warehouses, a fabric laboratory, a shooting range, warehouses and showrooms. Manufacture of Seyntex products takes place at factories in Eastern Europe and Asia with all of the John Field range being manufactured in Romania.
The original Seyntex company was located in an area of Belgium renowned for the production of flax, the company’s first product, and over time established a lucrative business making canvas for tents and for military trucks, going on to make garments for the military, police and firefighters. In 1968 Seyntex bought John Field, a company founded in 1965 by a Brussels based businessman to make equestrian clothing.
The interest in John Field was originally personal; Maureen’s father and uncle were both professional showjumpers at an international level and wanted to create a range of technical riding clothing, which they went on to launch in 1970. In the 1980s the company started producing the Aircoatflex range of breathable, light and strong foul weather clothing and 10 years later moved into the fishing, shooting and outdoor market with the focus on producing high performance garments.
John Field is now in capable hands. Maureen, who started working for Seyntex in 2010 in the purchasing department, has not only learnt how the family business runs but also has a degree in business and a masters in fashion entrepreneurship. Her final project during her masters in fashion entrepreneurship degree was to design and develop an eco-friendly countryside jacket. “That was when I realised I really wanted to go into the country clothing market and combine my passion about the countryside with my interest in textiles,” she explains. “In 2011 I relaunched John Field with the aim of fulfilling two specific requirements: to create highly technical garments and to retain the elegance of traditional fieldsports clothing.”
First and foremost the brand ethos is to offer high quality at value for money prices. “The price/quality relationship is very important and the fact that our garments are also functional and comfortable makes them very appealing,” says Maureen. “Furthermore every product is tested by the family which has a long history of involvement in shooting and fieldsports; for example we were shooting in Scotland recently and were all wearing John Field products which allows me to develop and adjust the designs to be extremely practical.”
Today the complete John Field range is designed by Maureen and manufactured using Seyntex’s own technical fabrics. Each product is designed for a specific purpose with materials being selected accordingly and eco-friendly materials used wherever possible. Quality is key with the focus combining performance, durability, comfort and inventive features with elegance and a stylish look.
Design inspiration comes from Maureen’s own experiences in the field with improvements being made to each product each time it is produced, based on customer and retailer feedback. “Our bestselling raincoat for example is improved on year after year based on specific feedback, which is vital,” she explains. “We also produce products based on demand; our sales team in France was often asked for a reversible shoulder cape so I designed one and it is now very popular. It does make me very happy when I go to a customer and say ‘here is the product you asked for last year’.”
Key John Field products include a summer field shirt with a design drawn from a shirt produced for the armed forces and designed to be worn under a bulletproof vest. The field shirt has a traditional check collar and sleeves with Thermacool fibres in the body for moisture management, an integrated recoil pad and an anti-mosquito treatment that lasts for 50 washes.
As well as the range of waistcoats, jacket and trousers, all of which offer high-tech and unique features, John Field also offers some more unusual garments: its reversible shoulder cap and hood is fully waterproof, lightweight and quick to put on, while its Gale rain skirt won the New Ladies Clothing Product 2014 at the prestigious Time Inc Shooting Industry Awards held in May this year. The fashionably flared Gale Rain Skirt comes in a muted forest green colour and is lightweight, waterproof, windproof and breathable. Made out of recycled polyester TEX3 fabric it is adjustable thanks to two stylish leather side buckles and elastic in the waistband, can be put on in a matter of seconds and is extremely stylish.
The whole collection is under continuous development, as Maureen explains: “The intention is to develop John Field into a country lifestyle brand so I am looking to move back into the equestrian market and to broaden the more general country products we offer. We also launched a technical jacket and trousers for children at the CLA Game Fair at Harewood House this summer to test the demand for children’s products.”
Currently John Field clothing is available in the UK, France, Benelux and the US, and there are plans to sign up sales agents for new markets and move into new markets such as Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy and Eastern Europe. In the UK the brand is retailed by a number of premium distributors such as Bettws Hall, William Evans, House of Bruar and Beretta Gallery in London. “I was fortunate to sign up these distributors at a very early stage,” says Maureen.
“Now when we go to new retailers in the UK they can immediately see that we are serious business and that our products are extremely good.”
One of the unique aspects of John Field is that everything, from design through to delivery, is managed by the company itself. “I do the first designs and we then manufacture samples, partly in Belgium and partly in Romania,” adds Maureen. “Fabrics and production are all European which is important to us; when I go to IWA, for example, people are very interested to know where the products are made and how the business works. Romania is also easy for me to get to, communication with our staff there is good and we have a very great working relationship.
So the future is looking very positive for John Field as a brand and on a personal level I’m excited about being able to produce new designs, enter new markets and deliver our range to more customers.