Friday, 24 February 2017

Ancient Madder: the Stuff of Quality Silk Ties

In my previous post I described how Seaward & Stearn made me an ancient madder tie in their London workshops. I've long had a fascination with ancient madder, which sounds more like an ingredient for a witch's brew than a printed silk. I asked Steve Reid of Seaward & Stearn to tell us more about it and am grateful to him for the below:

[Steve Reid writes] The home of English ancient madder is Macclesfield, where today it survives in small specialist workshops.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Seaward & Stearn: making silk ties in London

Making a tie isn't a straightforward process. From cutting the material to stitching the tie calls for care, skill and experience. Such skills are found in the London Bridge workshops of Seaward & Stearn who kindly offered to make me a couple of ties. I happen to have a fascination for that printed silk known, mysteriously, as ancient madder. With its rich, natural colours and slightly chalky feel, this screen-printed silk generally comes in geometric floret, medallion or Paisley designs, adding a classic sophistication to any look, whether tweed jacket or pinstripe suit.

I had the pleasure of watching a tie being made.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Grey Fox Wears: Glen & Prince of Wales Checks

I've been fascinated by the possibilities of mixing checks and couldn't resist trying these Prince of Wales check London Sock Co. socks with my E. Tautz Glen check trousers made from cloth woven by Johnstons of Elgin. The shoes are from Edward Green (all links below). Harry seemed to appreciate the look (or has he collapsed with shock?).

This is an unsponsored post. If you'd like your products to appear here and on other social media, please contact me.

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Thomas Lyte: A One-Stop-Shop for Valentine's Day Gifts

With a variety of products, Thomas Lyte is a good one-stop-shop for online Valentine's Day gifts shopping this year. The company was founded in 2007, but is already a Royal Warrant holder as gold and silversmiths. It also markets leather and other goods which make ideal presents all the year round.

See Thomas Lyte for a selection of gifts

This feature is unsponsored. 

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Caps Made in Yorkshire: Kempadoo Millar Headwear

The flat cap has seen a resurgence over the last few years and Kempadoo Millar has been at the heart of that, with their caps crowning the likes of Idris Elba since they were founded in 2013. And they're British-made in Leeds. Founder Rhian Kempadoo works with Yorkshire mills, such as Abraham Moons, Bateman and Ogden and AW Hainsworth, to create collections from locally sourced cloths and tweeds. Designs are varied, from funky to traditional. 

Cap Kempadoo Millar. Scarf Johnstons of Elgin AW17. Field coat Farlows UK. All made in UK.

I've grown very attached to my parkin (if you don't know what parkin is you're from the south or live outside the UK) cord cap. Fit is perfect, quality of cloth and construction are outstanding. See Kempadoo Millar for their range of caps, off-the-peg or bespoke.

This post is unsponsored. The cap was sent as a gift with no expectation of a review. Views expressed are mine alone. 

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Pure London 14th February 2017: Menswear for Over Forties - Insights from Grey Fox Blog

On Tuesday 14th February I'll be speaking at Pure London, a fashion trade show at Olympia, London. I'll be giving my perspective, as a consumer and blogger, on the opportunities for menswear brands to market themselves more effectively at the older man. My contribution, in which I will be interviewed, will be at 11.15 to 11.45 on that day.

Regulars will  have heard me expressing surprise and frustration at how the older man, a growing and affluent demographic, is largely ignored by the fashion world. I very much hope that my involvement at Pure will encourage a few brands to include them in their marketing. I will be giving my ideas, as a consumer, as to how they could do this, but also hope to learn the reasons for this myopia in the industry.

If you are there, please come and say hello, and take part in the discussion. I'd love to hear from brands with their thoughts. See Pure London.

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Johnstons of Elgin AW17: A Great British Company Builds on its Design & Manufacturing Skills

Johnstons of Elgin is one of Great Britain's greatest clothing and cloth manufacturers. With a mill in Elgin and a knitwear factory in Hawick in the Scottish Borders, they modestly design, innovate and manufacture for some of the greatest and best known international couture and fashion design houses. Unusually, they manufacture vertically: that is, their factories process raw materials right through to finished product. Needless to say, they play a vital role in the two Scottish towns where they operate.

Johnstons of Elgin - image Grey Fox

I've been following this company for a couple of years now and have been much impressed by what they do, the passion and skills of their employees and the breathtaking quality of what they produce. I will follow the Johnstons journey over the next few years as this is a British business to be proud of and to support. In an uncertain Brexit future, we will need the skills and quality of companies like this to consolidate this country's economic future.

I describe Johnstons as operating 'modestly' because, unlike so many of their designer and fashion clients, they're not well-known to the general public. However, they've now taken the decision to show their skills to the wider world under their own name. Early last year they appointed Alan Scott as Creative Director to build on this unparalleled design and manufacturing heritage to produce the highest quality fashion products. Their AW17 collections for men and women were launched late last year and will, I hope, be the start of something special for Johnstons.

Here are some of Alan Scott's superb sketches of the collection:


The collection centres on four themes: Natural Undyed, Cathedral, Heritage and Super Luxe. The first uses the warm browns, creams and greys of undyed cashmere and vicuna. The second takes design elements from Elgin Cathedral and its textures, patterns and stained glass. The third celebrates the 220 year history of the company by drawing on archive materials. The last records the very contemporary and technical nature of Johnstons' skills, with metallic yarns and creative effects. These themes apply to both men's and womenswear.

Starting fairly modestly, Alan Scott has great ambitions for the collection and the company. When I, in an overpowering fit of enthusiasm, suggested that Johnstons could become a Scottish (British) Brunello Cucinelli, a company whose products are a byword for off-the-peg quality tempered by a socially responsible approach to the world around it, he didn't entirely disagree. I admire this ambition and wish them well.


Super Luxe

I saw the AW17 menswear collection in Florence recently. The sumptuousness of the fabrics and the beautiful hand-finished tailoring and construction make this menswear that is of the highest quality. Johnstons strive to achieve ever finer finishes, using, for example, an extract of crustacean shells to allow them to spin cashmere yarn of such incredible fineness that it would otherwise break, producing astonishingly light knitwear for summer and luxury uses.

From left to right clockwise: Natural Undyed, Heritage, Cathedral, Super Luxe

The collection will be available later this year and will be built on in following years. There is much to come from Johnstons of Elgin. I hope that consumers here in the UK will support them with the same enthusiasm that they receive from consumers abroad. Buy British and be proud. See Johnstons of Elgin.
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