Universal Works

Grandpa Family: David Keyte & Stephanie Porritt, founders of Universal Works

In our Grandpa Family editorials, we highlight creative, ambitious and exciting people who are close to us.

This time, we meet two people who are close to us in the sense that we have worked with them and developed a close relationship over many years. Geographically, they are however somewhat further away and we made it all the way to Nottingham, UK to spend two days with David Keyte and Stephanie Porritt, the brains behind Universal Works.

Hi Universal Works! Give us a brief introduction of yourselves - Who are you and what do you do?

David Keyte: Hi! I’m David, I’m one of the co-founders and the designer of the collection, as the joint CEO. And I’m quite good at making coffee.

Stephanie Porritt: Hi! I’m Stephanie, I’m the other joint founder - the creative director, stylist and in general sensible person in the team!

Your first collection launched in 2009, but how did it all start for Universal Works? When was the first seed planted?

David: I guess I always thought I had a collection to offer when I worked for other designers - but I was not formally trained and I was not confident I was “allowed “ to be the designer. But late in 2008 the brand I was working for had some funding issues and stopped paying me, so I snapped and said “maybe if I have to work for free I will instead work for me!”. And so I started a company and didn’t get paid for two years! But eventually, we’ve made some profit.

If you had to describe Universal Works in a few keywords, what would they be?

David & Stephanie: Honest, cool, comfortable, confident, contemporary! We’re trying to think of more C words but maybe the one missing is understated?

On your website it says that you make "honest clothing" - how would you describe the meaning of that?

David: Well, we try to tell the truth and be transparent in everything we do. Clothing is perhaps the most important thing of the things in life that are not important! What you wear is personal and a choice – it’s not a life-changing thing but it can be a life-affirming thing – it can make people feel good more confident and more alive even.

Stephanie: But we want to understand our environmental impact and be honest about how, why and who we work with.

"Clothing is perhaps the most important thing of the things in life that are not important! What you wear is personal and a choice – it’s not a life-changing thing but it can be a life-affirming thing – it can make people feel good more confident and more alive even."

— David Keyte

How do you approach sustainability in your work, and what are your thoughts about sustainability in the fashion industry?

David: My mantra is “We all need to buy less shit, but please buy my shit”! Well, different meanings of the expletive but yes we make things and that has an impact, so we need to be aware of the people who make our fabrics and our clothing - Are they treated well? Do they have a living wage? Do they have a chance to thrive?

Stephanie: Our fabrics are the best we can find - organic,  recycled, and do the least damage. Basically, we care and we have to be as responsible as we can - in fact, be responsible first and foremost.

My mantra is “we all need to buy less shit, but please buy my shit"

— David Keyte

What are your hobbies and interests, aside from working with Universal Works?

David: I have a totally screwed-up work-life balance! But I also love my work and my mission, so I’m good with it. But I listen to a lot of music - it’s a big part of my life.

Stephanie: I love film - we try to see a lot of movies.

David: Oh and I follow football, I do a lot of shouting at TV screens!

David & Stephanie: But family and, hugely importantly, friends are what we try to focus our free time on. They keep us sane.

What are your goals for the future and which role do you think you're playing in the future of fashion?

David: Keep doing what we do but keep learning too. And for me, to keep finding ways to be a better person and run a better company - I want to create a happy company with happy staff and happy customers.

Finally, what are your go-to pieces for days when you don't know what to wear?

David: Well, that’s something that’s different every day depending on weather and commitments. But our Oxford pants in summer canvas, with a simple white t-shirt under our new knitted dickie cardigan. Low-fi and understated cool (I hope). Oh, and a baseball cap!

Grandpa x Universal Works

Having built a close relationship over the past few years, now felt like the right time for Grandpa and Universal Works to come together and develop an exclusive piece. The collaboration is also a part of Universal Works ongoing Future Friendship Project where they team up with like-minded partners who share their vision around “Peace, Love and Soul”. Check out the collaboration below!

Discover Universal Works

Shop now
Vacation Polo Piquet NavyVacation Polo Piquet Navy

Universal Works

Vacation Polo Piquet Navy

630 DKK

In stock

Road Shirt Delos Cotton BlueRoad Shirt Delos Cotton Blue

Universal Works

Road Shirt Delos Cotton Blue

1 050 DKK

In stock

Coverall Jacket Nearly Pinstripe NavyCoverall Jacket Nearly Pinstripe Navy

Universal Works

Coverall Jacket Nearly Pinstripe Navy

1 650 DKK

In stock

Oxford Pant Nearly Pinstripe NavyOxford Pant Nearly Pinstripe Navy
Oxford Pant Nearly Pinstripe Navy
Oxford Pant Nearly Pinstripe Navy
+0

Universal Works

Oxford Pant Nearly Pinstripe Navy

1 600 DKK

In stock

Tech Overshirt OliveTech Overshirt Olive
Tech Overshirt Olive
Tech Overshirt Olive
+0

Universal Works

Tech Overshirt Olive

1 150 DKK

In stock

Judo Pant Herringbone Denim Washed IndigoJudo Pant Herringbone Denim Washed Indigo

Universal Works

Judo Pant Herringbone Denim Washed Indigo

1 150 DKK

In stock

Beach Parka OliveBeach Parka Olive

Universal Works

Beach Parka Olive

2 000 DKK

In stock

Square Pocket Shirt Hendrix Curry Stripe Ecru/LilacSquare Pocket Shirt Hendrix Curry Stripe Ecru/Lilac

Universal Works

Square Pocket Shirt Hendrix Curry Stripe Ecru/Lilac

1 155 DKK

In stock

Tie Front Jacket Herringbone Washed IndigoTie Front Jacket Herringbone Washed Indigo

Universal Works

Tie Front Jacket Herringbone Washed Indigo

1 150 DKK

In stock

Parachute Liner Jacket OliveParachute Liner Jacket Olive

Universal Works

Parachute Liner Jacket Olive

1 550 DKK

In stock

Military Chino Ospina Cotton Dark NavyMilitary Chino Ospina Cotton Dark Navy

Universal Works

Military Chino Ospina Cotton Dark Navy

1 320 DKK

In stock

Camp Shirt Dye Tie Navy/YellowCamp Shirt Dye Tie Navy/Yellow

Universal Works

Camp Shirt Dye Tie Navy/Yellow

1 290 DKK

In stock

Vacation Polo Piquet NavyVacation Polo Piquet Navy

Universal Works

Vacation Polo Piquet Navy

630 DKK

In stock

Road Shirt Delos Cotton BlueRoad Shirt Delos Cotton Blue

Universal Works

Road Shirt Delos Cotton Blue

1 050 DKK

In stock

Coverall Jacket Nearly Pinstripe NavyCoverall Jacket Nearly Pinstripe Navy

Universal Works

Coverall Jacket Nearly Pinstripe Navy

1 650 DKK

In stock

Oxford Pant Nearly Pinstripe NavyOxford Pant Nearly Pinstripe Navy
Oxford Pant Nearly Pinstripe Navy
Oxford Pant Nearly Pinstripe Navy
+0

Universal Works

Oxford Pant Nearly Pinstripe Navy

1 600 DKK

In stock

Tech Overshirt OliveTech Overshirt Olive
Tech Overshirt Olive
Tech Overshirt Olive
+0

Universal Works

Tech Overshirt Olive

1 150 DKK

In stock

Judo Pant Herringbone Denim Washed IndigoJudo Pant Herringbone Denim Washed Indigo

Universal Works

Judo Pant Herringbone Denim Washed Indigo

1 150 DKK

In stock

Beach Parka OliveBeach Parka Olive

Universal Works

Beach Parka Olive

2 000 DKK

In stock

Square Pocket Shirt Hendrix Curry Stripe Ecru/LilacSquare Pocket Shirt Hendrix Curry Stripe Ecru/Lilac

Universal Works

Square Pocket Shirt Hendrix Curry Stripe Ecru/Lilac

1 155 DKK

In stock

Tie Front Jacket Herringbone Washed IndigoTie Front Jacket Herringbone Washed Indigo

Universal Works

Tie Front Jacket Herringbone Washed Indigo

1 150 DKK

In stock

Parachute Liner Jacket OliveParachute Liner Jacket Olive

Universal Works

Parachute Liner Jacket Olive

1 550 DKK

In stock

Military Chino Ospina Cotton Dark NavyMilitary Chino Ospina Cotton Dark Navy

Universal Works

Military Chino Ospina Cotton Dark Navy

1 320 DKK

In stock

Camp Shirt Dye Tie Navy/YellowCamp Shirt Dye Tie Navy/Yellow

Universal Works

Camp Shirt Dye Tie Navy/Yellow

1 290 DKK

In stock