Birch clothing

Universal Works, Birch, and Upcycled Clothing

It’s always great to work with our Nottingham neighbours Universal Works, but this was our first upcycled clothing project for the award-winning Hotel and Members Club Birch.

And what a brilliant idea it was (not ours), to delve into the Universal Works archives and select a wide range of high-quality pieces, that could be screen printed with the Birch logo.

Is screen printing onto a wide variety of different garment styles and fabrics easy?

Er, no, not really – every garment style was different, and every fabric was different, so screen printing under those circumstances can take a bit of doing.

We were saved however by the trust of Universal Works Founder David Keyte, who very kindly put his faith in us and said ‘Just do what you do’.

‘Are you sure’? Is the obvious reply ‘And will Birch be ok with that?’

’Can we go mad Chef and screen print wherever we want, however we want, and just freestyle the whole thing?’

The answer was that once we’d agreed on the five specific ink colours, yes, we could go for our life with a squeegee in hand – and we don’t need telling twice.

It’s the dream job, where you can remind yourself why you got into all this in the first place, to be an eight year old cutting and sticking and creating good things. Making clothes for your Action Man in 1970 out of your Grandma’s off cuts.

Before Upcycling was even a word.

And we should say – picking up such a wide range of Universal Works products, handling each one, screen printing it and putting it through a big textile dryer, you start to get a wide-ranging feel for the quality of the pieces.

And with my Grandma in mind, she is watching me and would never let me lie, the quality of the product is entirely bloody brilliant. The fabrics, the details, the ingenuity. Genuinely remarkable.

What did Birch want?

Through the magic of Universal Works and a little ink here and there, the creatives at Birch wanted workwear that unified the team with clothing people actually wanted to wear, while maintaining an eclectic and individual style.

In their very own words,

“Birch is more than a hotel, it’s an urban escape and an intervention from the daily grind. With this as our ethos, traditional staff uniforms would be totally out of step at Birch. We needed a contemporary play on the concept, working clothes that allowed us to celebrate the individuals of our team. Universal Works was the perfect partner for this, providing a common thread throughout the clothing whilst allowing our staff to pick different items based on their own styles and personalities.”

Hopefully we’ll get to go one day and see all the Upcycled Universal Works pieces buzzing about doing a great job, and learn more about Birch’s exciting rewilding project to revive the land, and create a greener London.

Birch x Universal Works – “Not a Uniform”⁠


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