Guinea founder, Judie Cutting always had an eye for a superbly cut jacket. Raised in a family steeped in the equestrian worlds of racing and hunting, she had long noticed that during the winter jump racing season one type of woman invariably stood out. That woman was the sublimely elegant dresser who made everyone else – to use a racing expression – look like an ‘also ran’. She personified everything Judie loved about classic style.
In 2015 Judie put her love of textiles and design and her sharp eye for tailoring to use by starting her own clothing brand.
Her vision was to create beautiful clothes based on equestrian fashion’s cut but she needed a name to encapsulate the brand’s essence. Clearing out a drawer one day, she found a gold guinea coin from 1775 and knew she’d found the name. ‘For 400 years the British guinea, worth £1 and one shilling, was used to price and purchase only the finest luxury goods – from works of art to wine, jewellery and fine tailoring,’ says Judie. ‘As a child, I remember my father’s accounts in guineas from his tailor or wine merchant. Racehorses are still sold in guineas, and we still have iconic top races named after them like the 1000 Guineas and the 2000 Guineas’.
From making and selling tailored coats and jackets for the horse racing set, Guinea has expanded its range to include chic velvet coats with an edgy city look, always with an emphasis on the distinctive cut, inspired by hacking jackets or side-saddle habits with simple details that draw attention to or minimise the waist.
Guinea sources its cloth from traditional British mills, which Judie commissions to her own designs. This ensures that her fabrics are exclusive and unique to Guinea – once a fabric is woven and sold out, it is not repeated. This means Guinea can constantly produce garments in limited edition runs.
Guinea’s classic British look has attracted customers from round the world and allowed the brand to expand internationally.
‘We don’t set out to try and be British but we’re innately British in the way we design,’ says Judie. ‘Britishness has a specific and recognisable feel and heritage, but trying to define it is extremely hard. It’s enigmatic but distinct and that is what our customers are buying into.’
With ecommerce sales from around the world Guinea is now developing stockists in Europe and America. A new exciting development is that Guinea is now stocked in China, including in the prestigious British House in Beijing and on China’s biggest luxury platform secoo.com.
‘When we do our pop-up shows at places like Goodwood Revival or the Royal Windsor Horse Show, Americans flock to us and account for about half our sales,’ says Judie. ‘Many come from the Carriage Association of America and they love the timeless equestrian style at Guinea’s heart. Wherever we go, our clothes act as a magnet. Just like our namesake the guinea, our clothes represent the finest of the fine.’