Being Beautifully British

For Autumn Winter 17, we have challenged the meaning of “British” style and worked with Ancestry.co.uk to reveal the make-up of our DNA…

9th October 2017

What makes you beautifully British? Your love of tea? Fry ups? A Sunday roast? Your Italian accent? A perennial suntan? Barbecues on the beach?

You see, British style is not 100% British. In fact, there’s no such thing as ‘100% British’. Or 100% Dutch, French, American, Asian. At some point in your ancestry someone moved in and unsettled the neighbours.

And at Jigsaw, we’re no different. We source our materials from 16 countries. Our clothes are made by 45 different nationalities. Without immigration, we’d be selling potato sacks. So, for Autumn Winter 17, we have launched a campaign – ♥immigration – to challenge the notion of British style.

“Fashion doesn’t operate in a bubble; it plays on a broader psyche,” says our CEO, Peter Ruis. “We could just talk about clothes, but with what is going on around us it seems hypocritical and superficial to not accept the debt we owe to immigration in its broadest sense. Be it people, cloth, the stone floors in our shops, the film to shoot our campaigns. We are all part of a vibrant, tolerant, global Britain. These are things we believe in as a brand.”

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The desire to know more about ourselves – who we are, where we come – has become “a thing”, says Russell James of Ancestry.co.uk, the family history organisation Jigsaw has partnered with as part of this campaign. “Everybody has a desire to know ‘who’ they are, and exactly how they define that differs from person to person.”

Ancestry invited Jigsaw staff to take DNA tests, which revealed our individual ethnicity regions (for example: 70% Italy/Greece; 11% Iberian Peninsula; 19% other regions) and genetic communities (Ancestry members who are connected by DNA).

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“People living in Britain today are such a genetically diverse group that finding anyone with 100% British DNA would be statistically improbable and very surprising,” Russell continues. “On average, people in Britain are 37% British. Being ‘British’ means a lot of different things to different people – this statistic reflects Anglo Saxon DNA.”

Russell recounts working with a “quintessentially” British village, whose community believed they were 100% British. “But, on average, they were only 40% British, with parts of Africa and the Middle East showing up on their ethnicity regions. They were really surprised.”

Russell adds that, for an increasing number of people, their DNA results inspire them to travel. “Knowing more about yourself can only give you a better grounding for going about your daily life,” he says.

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By Ana Santi

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