17 March 1943 |
Ebbw Vale, Wales
Jeff Banks CBE (born 17 March 1943) is a Welsh designer of men's and women's clothing, jewellery, and home furnishings. Born in Ebbw Vale, Wales, Banks co-founded the fashion chain Warehouse in the late 1970s. He later created and presented the television programme The Clothes Show, broadcast on BBC One from 1986 to 2000.
Banks was born in the Monmouthshire valleys of South Wales, at Ebbw Vale. His sheet metal worker father left his mother when Banks was eight, and she consequently decided to move to London, England.
He was offered a scholarship to independent public school St Dunstan's College, in Catford, South London, but his mother couldn't afford the uniform. He went to Brockley County Grammar School instead, but still without a uniform. In order to afford a uniform he set up his own business buying paraffin at the bottom of the hill, then pushing it up in an old pram, and selling it for a penny more at the top of the hill. By age 13 he was employing a man to drive a lorry-based tanker, and at 15 he sold the business.
Encouraged by a teacher to study art and become a painter, he realised his art skills were limited during his first year at London's Camberwell School of Art, and so transferred to studying interior design and latterly textiles at Saint Martin's School of Art, and then fashion at New York's Parsons The New School for Design.
Banks holds honorary degrees from the University of Lancaster, East London, Newcastle & Northumbria, University College for the Creative Arts, and the University of Westminster, and is a Doctor of Arts.
In 1964, with money saved from the paraffin business and from his father mortgaging his own home, Banks opened the boutique Clobber in London, which carried his own designs along with other designers' work. It proved such a success that in 1969, he launched his own fashion label.
In the late 1970s, he co-launched the fashion chain Warehouse, as well as continuing to work as a freelance designer. After it was taken over by retail chain Sears, he was sacked for being disruptive in board meetings - which he never regrets. In 1979 and 1981 Banks became British Designer of the Year, and in 1980 he was made "British Coat Designer of the Year". During the mid-to late 1980s, he designed a large proportion of the stage-clothes for musician Howard Jones.
Banks's standing as a commercial force in retail fashion led to his presenting over 320 episodes of The Clothes Show, the BBC's long-running fashion show, alongside Selina Scott and Caryn Franklin. The show's success in often gaining over 10 million viewers, led in 1989 to the first "Clothes Show Live" event at the NEC Birmingham, as well as the launch of the Clothes Show magazine.
Having been asked to create corporate design wear for many organisations Jeff Banks created his own corporate clothing company in 1996. Incorporatewear is now the fourth largest company in the United Kingdom producing corporate clothing. With partners Rob Pollock and Brian Lamb the company produces a wide range of clothing for various types of companies. Banks has been responsible for designing clothing for everybody from Barclays Bank to Butlins Red coats to British Airport Authorities to Dinner Ladies. Companies Banks has designed include: Barclays Bank plc, My Travel, Nationwide Building Society, B.A.A, Abbey National, Swinton Building Society, Bradford & Bingley Building Society, Thompson Holidays, Local Authority Dinner Ladies, Stagecoach, Boots the chemist.
In 2000, he signed a deal to design clothes for the UK chain Sainsbury's. The installation of Jeff Banks stores within Sainsbury's outlets proved successful, but a dispute led to the early termination of his contract. The resulting lawsuit was resolved with Sainsbury's agreeing to pay a reported settlement of £1 million, plus a box of truffles every week.
Banks has continued to work as a designer with designs for the Guide Association, the England football team, and recently for London's 2012 Olympics bid, which were modelled at the launch by Sir Bobby Charlton, Sir Steve Redgrave and Denise Lewis. Banks continues to be heavily involved in corporate clothing and uniform. In May 2010 he offered to design the match-day 'walk-on' suits for the cash-strapped Portsmouth FC team for their FA Cup final appearance.
Having previously attacked designer Stella McCartney - Banks claimed she's only made it because of her father - Banks made the headlines again in 2007 when he attacked model Kate Moss's range for Top Shop, saying: "Can Kate sharpen a pencil, do an impression of a cow or draw a matchstick man? I would put money on it, though not very much. I'll bet [Kate Moss] just grabbed one of her many Prada bags, rifled through her wardrobe ... and turned up at Topshop's head office in Oxford Street for a quick hour's briefing with the in-house designers and buying staff."
- My Way: Fashion designer Jeff Banks on how to get on at work The Independent - 19 July 2007
- Jeff Banks bio BBC Wales Arts & Entertainment. Archived 20 October 2007.
- Jeff Banks - Fashion Designer University of the Creative Arts - retrieved 17th August, 2007
- Honours for Lee, Faldo and Delia BBC News 12 June 2009
- Meet Jeff Banks UKTV Style - retrieved 17 August 2007
- Jeff Banks Enterprise Challenge: About Jeff University of York - retrieved 17th August, 2007
- 100 Years of Girl Guides BBC - broadcast 7th February, 2010
- London 2012 cutting a dash with Jeff Banks for the final line in Singapore London 2012 - 22 June 2005
- STOTTY ON SUNDAY: Jeff Banks on Stella McCartney Sunday Mirror - 5 October 2003
- Herbert, Ian - Designer wars as Banks savages Topshop Kate The Independent - 25 April 2007