Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Kestin Hare: Scottish Menswear Designer

I'm just back from a long weekend in Edinburgh at the invitation of several brands and I'll be writing about some of them here on the blog over the coming days. My first feature is about menswear brand, Kestin Hare who I first came across some 4 years ago as he launched his own brand after a long career in menswear, including as Head of Design for Nigel Cabourn. 

Kestin Hare's Edinburgh store (image Kestin Hare - all other images Grey Fox)

Like Cabourn, Hare is a supporter of British manufacture. His clothes have a strong classic influence, but also draw on modern Japanese and European designs. When I visited recently they had just visited an archive of mountaineering clothes and equipment for inspiration, so the sources of their designs are wide-ranging. 

I saw Kestin Hare's Edinburgh store during my recent trip to that beautiful city. Located dockside in Leith in the old Cruiser Store in Custom Lane (see top image above), this is one of two shops, the other being in Shoreditch, London. There's also a strong online presence (link below). 

Trying on Kestin Hare coats and knitwear (trousers Susannah Hall and shoes Loake)

I tried on some of the clothes, like what I saw and will be wearing more. I often find that, once I've tried them on, I like clothes that I'm not immediately drawn to on the peg. The lesson is to experiment, whether or not you're feeling adventurous. 

I loved the corduroy store coat (image above) and British-made knitwear and coats based on Marton Mills wool and Brisbane Moss corduroy (both British manufacturers). These and garments made from thornproof cloth, Borg fleece and reversed Fair Isle knits in comfortable fits come in natural outdoor tones, reflecting the Highland bothy theme of the autumn/winter collection.

I've made it a mission to explore casual styles to move away from a very tailored look and Kestin Hare has provided inspiration with this - look out for more on my Instagram account.

You can find Kestin Hare's designs, many British-made, at Kestin Hare.

Friday, 14 September 2018

Lumen Dating App for Over-50s

I've talked about dating before on the blog, looking at it largely from the point of view of dressing for a date. I'm now working with a new dating app for over-50s: Lumen was launched this week and I will be collaborating with them to give advice on matters of style and etiquette for those in the dating game. 

I accepted Lumen's invitation to work with them because of the quality of the team behind the app. I also know others working with them, indeed Rebecca Perkins (pictured below) has written here on the blog (link below).

Lumen is a joint venture from Antoine Argouges, former product manager and Head of Revenue at Match.com, Badoo, and Bumble, and renowned dating industry expert Charly Lester. Charly previously worked at the Guardian as their Dating Editor, and is the creator of The Dating Awards – industry awards for the online dating industry which focused on safety, customer service and consumer experience. 

I like sometimes to look at matters other than those relating to style. Furthermore, collaborative arrangements like this help me to allay blog costs while keeping content relevant to the subject of age, a constant theme here on the blog.

Rebecca Perkins (L) who has written about dating here on the blog (link below)

Unlike many brands, Lumen recognises the size and power of the older demographic and this lies at the heart of the launch of a dating app for this age group. Lumen has looked hard at the expectations of older daters and takes great care to verify profiles, which are expected to be detailed and to contain at least three photos. The app encourages meaningful conversations to help the communication process.

The Lumen team

The app has received £3.5 million investment from Andrey Andreev, the dating titan behind Badoo and Bumble. Andrey said “Do a search of the phrase ‘over 50s dating’. The results that come up are embarrassing for the industry. The over-50s have been mistreated by the dating sites for years. I’m excited to see the Lumen team launching an app which finally listens to this audience and specifically targets their issues and needs.’

Lumen is available to users in the UK and can be downloaded now, free of charge, from the App Store and Google Play Store. This feature is part of a collaboration with Lumen. My writing and advice will be appearing regularly on the app.

For previous features about dating here on the blog, click here.

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Billy Tannery x Crown Northampton Kid Leather Sneakers

I've been following Billy Tannery with interest since its launch last year. Using goat leather, a by-product of the food industry, they've made some beautiful bags, but have now collaborated with British sneaker makers, Crown Northampton, to make footwear. 

Their goat hides are sourced in the UK and are also tanned here, in Billy Tannery's own tannery. The environmentally friendly tanning technique combines traditional knowledge and modern leather technology, using natural ingredients such as vegetable and bark extract. All waste products are biodegradable and composted.

Crown Northampton, established in 1908, is based less than 25 miles from Billy Tannery’s home. Together, the two companies are releasing the limited edition kid leather Overstone Derby sneaker. The style is a Crown Northampton design, made exclusively in Billy Tannery leather in black, navy & chestnut and a choice of white or gum soles.

I've had a close look at a pair and hope to try some out soon. The leather is nicely grained, soft but strong and the insoles well-padded and comfortable. Each is made-to-order, with a pre-order price of £235.00 from www.billytannery.co.uk  

Monday, 10 September 2018

Chester Barrie Autumn/Winter 2018

Chester Barrie have over the years produced real sartorial gems and their AW18 collection, created under the direction of Simon Kirby, is no exception. While at first sight very classic in appearance, there are little twists that add interest without causing too much concern to those gentlemen who prefer their style to be low key but high quality - subtlety is the word.

Blues, greys and burgundy prevail and the addition of roll neck knitwear and a chambray shirt add very contemporary touches to the crisply classic collection. A mixture of Italian and British cloths give a quality feel to the well-tailored shapes. 

Altogether this is a versatile and stylish collection that will be beautifully made and carefully styled to work together to give an understated and elegant appearance. A collection of accessories, ties, umbrellas and brief cases, adds to the overall British look. See Chester Barrie.

For those who, like me, like to know these things, The Chester Barrie photoshoot was at The Ardkinglas Estate, Loch Fyne, Scotland.

This feature is unsponsored. 

Friday, 7 September 2018

Globe-Trotter: A Factory Visit

For the classic days of travel (think ocean liners, flying boats and steam trains) a decent set of luggage was required. It had to look stylish and be of solid construction with a stout pair of leather straps to hold it all securely. The brand to go to was Globe-Trotter whose suitcases and bags were (and are) used by royalty, celebrity and commoner. 

Of course the need for high quality luggage still exists and while waiting for hours in overcrowded airports doesn't cut the romantic mustard any more, it adds a little pleasure to an often tiresome journey to have a good suitcase. I've been using a Globe-Trotter luggage for a few months and everywhere I go it gets admired by hotel porters, airline check-in personnel and fellow travellers.

Arriving at the Globe-Trotter factory in Hertfordshire

I'm delighted to be able to report on my recent visit to the Globetrotter factory in Hoddesdon, North London. Founded in Germany in 1897, the company moved to the UK in 1932. Over the years its products have been used by the likes of Captain Robert Falcon Scott, Sir Edmund Hilary and Sir Winston Churchill. HM the Queen Elizabeth used Globe-Trotter for her honeymoon luggage in 1947 and continues to use her cases to this day. It was even James Bond’s luggage of choice in the film ‘Spectre’.

A corner of the Globe-Trotter archive

So, how are these cases made? The main structure is made from a special fibreboard - several sheets of paper bonded together using a secret process that involves vulcanised rubber. This produces a material that matures and strengthens throughout the first few years of it life and is as strong and light as aluminium. The fibreboard is cut to shape using laser technology and then carefully moulded using heat to prevent it from cracking. Leather corners, soaked for several days to make them flexible, are added and the case is bonded and riveted together. Leather handles and straps are added, giving the finished product its classic yet timeless style.

Shaping the fibreboard

Leather corners drying

Much careful hand work goes into each case

The older technology still works - presses for leather corners

Stitching the leather handles

Machine for stitching leather

Each case is hand assembeld and carefully checked

One of the great attractions of Globe-Trotter luggage is the combinations of colours available. A rich green case might be given tan leather corners and straps, or, as in the recent RAF100 Collection, a riveted aluminium-like finish is enhanced with black leather corners and a grey and black striped RAF belt. In fact, you can order your own bespoke set of luggage and have all the pleasure of selecting your own favourite colour scheme.

In common with many other British factories, Globe-Trotter appreciates the value of older technologies. Many machines at the factory have been used for decades to stitch handles, press leather corners or cut the materials used to construct each case. New technologies are used where needed, but sometimes the benefits of beautifully engineered mechanical tools are so great that they are kept in use and lovingly maintained.

Linings are added to the cases and checks made to ensure that locks align and work properly. Seeing the amount of hand work and quality checking that goes into each item drove home to me how these are products that are made to last and, unlike lesser suitcases, will not be going into landfill after a couple of seasons battering in airports, car boots and hotel luggage stores.

For more information visit Globe-Trotter

Note: I was a guest of Globe-Trotter at their Hertfordshire factory. This is an unsponsored post. I am using some Globe-Trotter luggage and will report back on its use from time to time here and on Instagram.

The Globe-Trotter Land Rover

Monday, 3 September 2018

Private White V.C. Launch Pricing Manifesto

It's been too long since I last wrote about Private White V.C. Their Manchester-made products are stylish and offer something a little different to those looking for quality British-made casual. 

Private White V.C.'s The Twin Track and cashmere roll neck AW18

The company recently launched a pricing manifesto. The price of products (and British goods in particular) is an issue about which I often hear from blog readers. I generally reply by raising issues around the ethics and sustainability of the production of very cheap clothing from abroad, but the fact is that each brand needs to explain its own prices. The feeling that some goods are too expensive can be countered by openness from producers, and this is precisely what PWVC are aiming to do here. 

I spoke to James Eden, Founder and C.E.O to find out more about the manifesto:

GF: PWVC has made a few changes recently. Can we start with the new Pricing Manifesto? What is the thinking behind this and how does it work? 

JE: I have written a fairly lengthy LinkedIn article on this which you can find here. But, in brief, the thinking behind this move is due to the huge shifts recently in the way consumers buy and the access to information that many now expect and demand - the marketing strategies of businesses now must change to meet this demand. We are trying to build something sustainable and so we are becoming more progressive in how we do things, we want to distinguish ourselves first and foremost on quality but also on how we inform and empower our consumers compared with our competitors. 

GF: So this isn't about being cheaper, it's about fairness of pricing. How do you see this benefiting everyone on the equation; PWVC, customers and the company's employees?

JE: PWVC benefit because this is our philosophy and it’s the cornerstones of what we stand for – we have nothing to hide so why not be transparent? Customers benefit of course because they can see the investment that goes into what we make and can be sure that they are paying the fair price for a truly quality garment and that price is the price which everyone will pay. Our machinists benefit because this is all about sustainability for the business, it’s about preserving their craftsmanship, their skills and their jobs. 

Private White V.C.'s cashmere topcoat AW18

It means not having constant change and flash sales where the garments they made with all their care and attention got sold for half of what they are worth – it shows we have confidence in and respect for their skills.

GF: You're making changes at the Duke Street store as well, where I see that Kirk Originals; the made in England eyewear label, Chase Distillery; British made gin and tonic company and Avanzato; a barber shop are joining Bennett Winch; who make British made bags and luggage, in your Duke Street store. How do you see PWVC developing its offering over the next few months/years?

JE: The Mayfair store has always been a profitable space for us, however now that we have updated the pricing policy, from a business perspective we have had to rethink the best use of the space and the stock that goes into it. 

There is a tighter, much more focused selection now, and we have also brought in like-minded business other friends who bring in new and exciting activities and also contribute to the operating costs. We will be doing a lot more events there and it will become a great space for people to be - come for a shave, have a drink and celebrate the best of British.

Private White V.C. products are also available online (link below).



NOTE: This feature is unsponsored. If you'd like to help me with the costs of this blog you may contribute on Paypal at greyfoxblog AT gmail DOT com

Friday, 31 August 2018

FiftyLife Campaign: Lifetime Lessons

I was recently asked by FiftyLife, who provide insurance cover to over-fifties, to contribute to their Lifetime Lessons Campaign in which they surveyed 2,000 over-fifties about their regrets and ambitions. I found it interesting considering these questions for myself, particularly as it confirmed how important it is to have a motivating focus in life; for me this blog and social media pay an important part, but family comes first.

Questions such as what is the best thing you've achieved in life? and what's been you biggest regret? occur to us at any age, but can be particularly pressing as you get older. They highlight the importance of planning your life with care at any age so that you don't have regrets later.

You can see how I and two other bloggers approached the issues on the FiftyLife website here and scroll down.

For a chance to win a £100 Amazon voucher visit https://www.fiftylife.co.uk/your-lifetime-lessons/

This is a sponsored feature.
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