LUKE has changed the way that men dress. The trademark effortless style that nods its head at the trends rather than slavishly follow them has, since 2001, been a practical interpretation of contemporary menswear. The brand draws strong influences from the tough elements of its native Birmingham. Foundry worker meets fashionista, Luke’s ethos is to put a fashionable twist on any men’s garment but without over designing to retain a cool masculine look. SIXTYNINE degrees caught up with founder and Midlander Luke Roper to find out how he at first broke into the world of fashion and then found himself at the forefront of it.

I got interested in fashion from quite an early age. I grew up in Walsall Wood and my mum was a really talented dress maker and watching her create master pieces started the fire burning. I started to help her out and before I knew it the football boots were sharing time with the sewing machine. By my mid-teens I was making one off shirts and trousers for my friends and this escalated with lads from all over the area putting in their orders. My mum still inspires me; 77 years old this year and still a legend with more energy than most people half her age!

Growing up there was a certain degree of support in the Midlands and I am very grateful for that and very humbled. The people inspire me and I love the sense of humour. I’m also immensely proud of the region’s fantastic industrial heritage, I love working hard and our industrious past drives me to want and achieve more. Throughout the UK there are hotbeds of style, often fuelled by the “lesser spotted independent” menswear stores. These are the lifeblood of our British Fashion industry and my favourite stores. It was these stores that I wanted to work with and they showed me that at the end of the day lads are not going to spend their hard earned cash on something they don’t like or is bad quality.

I take inspiration from anything and everyone, no big names, the man on the street that loves his style and knows his clothes. In the words of the National Lottery, “it could be you” I’d like to think people buy LUKE for what it is, great design led products. I’m a complete clothes addict but if I had to pick three key items, which could work across different looks and as one it would be a crisp white shirt, a raw pair of denim jeans and some classic brogues. All timeless pieces that need to be in your wardrobe! With the economy finally turning, the first graduates of the ‘disposable high street generation’ will hit their mid twenties.

With a few quid back in their pockets they’ll expect much more from their clothes and the desire for quality pieces that are well designed will win out once more. Luke, Birmingham Bullring

Luke, Birmingham Merry Hill Centre

Luke, Leicester High Cross Centre