Fashion brand designer Stephen Gill describes his 2012 visit to the Imperial War Museum in London as that “eureka” moment.
“It sound corny, but the hairs stood up on the back of my neck,” says the 48-year-old, who lives in Rollaston in the Harborough district.
The “inexhaustible potential” he saw when visiting Churchill’s War Rooms, among other exhibits, has now been converted into the Realm and Empire menswear clothing label.
Its head office is based at The Point business park in Market Harborough, where it employs six people.
And its T-shirts, jumpers, trousers and many other items of apparel, are now being sold in about 40 stores or websites across the UK and about 60 overseas.
It was items such as posters, old photographs, period clothing and typographical designs that piqued his interest. And the link to history.
Stephen explained: “Here was an almost infinitesimal resource of amazing archive material that could provide the creative inspiration for our brand.
“Authentic and respectful of the history it represented, it was everything we wanted Realm and Empire to be.”
His exclusive deal with the museum involves a percentage of the profits going back to the museum, a much-needed new revenue stream for a charity which, like many other, is coping with funding cuts.
He visits the museum about five times a year but members of his team are there once a month.
Stephen is a self-taught fashion brand entrepreneur, although he dislikes the phrase.
He didn’t need to go to university to get where he has, it’s all been achieved through good old fashioned, contact-building and hard work.
Stephen is also involved in five other brands, to do with men’s and women’s footwear and another clothing concept.
And it is very much a story of a local boy done good.
He grew up in Foxton, and went to Foxton Primary, Kibworth High School and Harborough’s Robert Smyth School.
For more information, see the firm’s website www.realmandempire.com.