Thursday, 21 September 2017

An Invitation to You All: 27th September 2017

I'm involved in an exciting project with Brita Hirsch, tailor, to explore and describe the art of bespoke tailoring. Brita is making a Norfolk jacket for me from a piece of Harris tweed which I was given by Harris Tweed Hebrides on my visit to the islands earlier this year.

On Wednesday 27th September, Ludwig Reiter are hosting two linked events. First is a Tailoring Afternoon from 15.00 to 19.00 at which Brita Hirsch will explore tailoring. Secondly, from 19.00 I will join Brita and we will describe our project in detail and discuss bespoke tailoring, quality and craftsmanship. 

Here's the invitation. I hope you can attend:

Ludwig Reiter looks forward to welcoming you to an exclusive event
with Hirsch Tailoring. The bespoke ladies and gentleman’s tailor is known to combine heritage materials and shares our passion for craftsmanship.

(1) 27th September 2017 
Tailoring Afternoon
3pm – 7pm
Meet Brita Hirsch and explore the art of bespoke tailoring 
over a glass of champagne.

(2) 27th September 2017 
‘In Conversation: Tailoring & Craftsmanship‘ Evening 
7pm – 9pm
David Evans, men's style blogger and founder of Grey Fox Blog, leads an inspirational talk with tailor Brita Hirsch. Please join us for a champagne reception.

As space is very limited, please RSVP for the ‘afternoon’ or ‘evening’

6 Brook Street 
0203 302 3421

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

The Chap Broadens its Horizons: Please Support on Kickstarter

I have the great privilege of contributing a regular column to The Chap, a quarterly magazine that helps men become gentlemen and women become ladies. The magazine's editor, Gustav Temple, wants to broaden the publication's horizons by offering a range of clothes and accessories, including a Harris tweed jacket and forties-style dresses for the ladies. He has launched a Kickstarter campaign to achieve this aim and I urge you to support it, if only for the goodies on offer. 

In this video Gustav explains what he wants to achieve, I must apologise the he appears to have forgotten to remove his titfer indoors, but I expect that in his excitement this slipped his mind. See also The Chap website for more on the magazine and Kickstarter for details of the campaign and to sign up.

Friday, 15 September 2017

King & Allen: Tailors

When I went to King & Allen Tailors for a suit I had in mind a lightweight suit for three season use. After some thought I decided I'd like one made from that fascinating textured cotton fabric, seersucker. One of the signs of an excellent tailor is that he or she will work with the client to produce something that not only meets the client's requirement, but also is wearable and stylish. Seersucker is rarely used in the UK, but Jake Allen, a founder of the company, didn't turn a hair. I met him at King & Allen's Surbiton branch where, like any good tailor, he talked through my thoughts and made some sensible suggestions for a practical and stylish suit.

Although I'd decided on seersucker I was nearly diverted by King & Allen's huge range of cloths, from lightweight wools, tweeds, flannels, cottons in all designs and colours. As with most tailors, a large market is the man or woman looking for tailoring for a wedding. Many clients are not familiar with the possibilities and Jake Allen's knowledgable and tactful suggestions ensure that the client leaves happy with nothing he or she may regret in future.

Jake Allen is overcome by the wonderful suit he's made for me

As it happened, the navy seersucker I selected was nearly at an end; the mill (Huddersfield Fine Worsteds) had only a small amount left, but careful cutting made it adequate for my needs. A couple of fittings and the suit was perfect; exactly what I'd wanted. The double breasted jacket with slim, but not too slim, trousers with turn-ups makes an ideal suit for formal or smart casual. The seersucker has been cool in summer but not so flimsy that it isn't ideal for use as autumn chills set in. The jacket was, at my request, half-lined - and this has been done beautifully. The quality of the tailoring is high and fit and comfort are excellent. A two-piece suit in similar cloth will cost from £899.

King & Allen have several locations around the country and have to date made well over 30,000 suits. To find out more and to arrange a fitting, contact King & Allen

The cloth was from Huddersfield Fine Worsteds.

This feature is a collaboration with King & Allen. All views are mine alone.

Monday, 11 September 2017

Hidden Curiosities Gin: From the Founder of Cravat Club

Jenny Meguro is founder of the successful Cravat Club. Featured several times on this blog, she provides British-made silk cravats, ties and pocket squares to men of discernment. However, not content with this, Jenny has now developed a gin, working closely with a small local distillery in the Surrey Hills. 

Jenny Meguro proudly shows off her Hidden Curiosities gin

In the name of research Jenny tried 100 gins (over the course of a year, she's quick to point out) in order to develop her distinctive and delicious product. She's used 20 botanicals to produce an aromatic gin that I found delicious with a drop of water, but it's also goes well with a high quality tonic water, perhaps (as Jenny recommends) with pink peppercorns and green cardamom to enhance the subtle flavours. This is a truly outstanding gin.

Hidden Curiosities gin is already stocked in several bars and is making a name for itself early in its career. To buy and to find stockists, both shops and bars, go to Hidden Curiosities website.

For more information here on the blog on Cravat Club, click here.

I was sent a sample of gin to try. All views are my own.

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Union 22: Menswear Store in Liverpool

I'm aware that sometimes this blog may be somewhat London-centric so I'm delighted to feature a Liverpool menswear store that seems to be going places. Union 22 has a wide and varied selection of menswear and I like their philosophy too: 
"The older, more sophisticated customer who used to buy into heavily branded garments no longer wants these. They are looking for something different, and that’s where we provide our service and stock".

To find out more I spoke to Dale Allman, one of the store's founders:

Tell us about Union 22 and where the name came from:

Union 22 came about when my father wanted to buy a plain white shirt. He wanted a slightly more elevated product than the high street stores but could not seem to find one to satisfy this simple request. Union 22 co-founder, John Cooper, was, at the time, working for Tessuti; he had been the manager of Hugo Boss, Flannels and Wade Smith back in the day. John is the go-to guy for fashion in Liverpool, so my dad went to see him. They spoke about the lack of selection for the more sophisticated customer who doesn’t want to wear heavily branded items but wants luxurious and quality garments. This led to the partnership between myself, (Dale) and John. We established that we were going to do something that no one has ever tried to do in Liverpool. John has always worked for large companies however he would be a partner in our new venture. His vision for the fashion scene in Liverpool was a smarter movement away from the large branded labels. This is where the initial partnership started.

A late summer Union 22 selection: Clockwise from top left: Corneliani, Armani, Bertolo, John Smedley, Corneliani

What made you open a menswear store in Liverpool ? 

The name Union 22 comes partly from the building in which we are situated, Union House on Victoria Street. This Grade II listed building is a piece of history in Liverpool, it was built in 1882 and was home to Tetley Tea headquarters back in the day. The story of the tea being sourced in China and brought to the docks can be seen on the sandstone carvings in the Cornish and on the walls which are beautifully preserved. The number 22 was just a number which seemed to flow effortlessly off the tongue; it's a very easy number to pronounce. We were all sat in Milan by the canals discussing names, and it just came out after a few Negroni cocktails. However, since then we've found out that in numerology it is known as the Master Number. 

What brands and styles do you sell? 

Having worked in fashion in Liverpool for 15 years, John knows the market very well and their trends. We had a location that we felt would go hand in hand with what we were trying to create with the concept of the store. This being a story, we wanted to bring back the theatre and romance of fashion and tell the story behind the building we are in and the reasons for buying some of the most revered menswear brands in the world. We love Liverpool as a city, and we wanted to bring a gem into the north-west. We stock brands that clients normally travel to London for, so we wanted to create our own special place where they can shop for an experience like no other in Liverpool.

We currently have this list of brands in the store: Armani Collezioni, Bertolo, Cheaney, Corneliani, ETON, Morrow Socks, Tom Ford, Edwardson, Johnstons of Elgin, John Smedley, Tramarossa, Nobis, Mackage, Twelevesons and coming for AW17: Lardini, Sealup, Mackage Women’s. For AW18 we'll have: Brioni, Canali, Ermenegildo Zegna and Santoni.

To what extent do your own tastes and styles influence what you stock? 

The style we sell is a mix of semi-formal/upper casual. We bring in brands with history and heritage. We are building our brand list stronger and stronger as can be seen with the more recent additions for AW18. We sell brands which focus on quality and craftsmanship rather than a label.

Our tastes influence what we buy because of various reasons, one of those is the way we see the fashion scene in Liverpool moving. John’s experience is that the older, more sophisticated customer who used to buy into heavily branded garments no longer wants these. They are looking for something different, and that’s where we provide our service and stock. It is something that has not been done in Liverpool and it has been received well so far. Personally I have a taste for things which are timeless. Fashion comes and goes but style always has a place. Whether it be a red wine like Chateau Margaux, a Porsche 356 speedster or a Patek Phillipee, these things are made with care to last and are very special. We wanted to create something like these, something to really be elevated within the city, so we choose brands that are not available anywhere else in Liverpool, and some which are only in Union 22 within the whole of the UK.

How do you see the store developing in future? 

We plan to extend the store downstairs to add an additional 2500 square ft. We see the future of Union 22 being a special place where people shop not only for brands which are sought after but also for a shopping experience and service like no other. To open up another store somewhere else in the UK is next on the list, it would be a great achievement if we could do this.

Union 22 is at Union House, 23 Victoria Street, Liverpool L1 6BD. See Union 22 to browse and buy.

This feature is a collaboration between Grey Fox Blog and Union 22.

Monday, 4 September 2017

Bennett Winch: Top Quality Made in England Bags

I've been trying out a leather and canvas brief case from relative newcomers, Bennett Winch. There are a lot of men's bags and luggage out there, but the skill is finding the good stuff. My experience has been that you seldom go wrong with British-made bags. The skills of manipulating leather and canvas have been around a long time in our country. Recent interest in British-made has revived skills which were getting rarer. 

In the case of Bennet Winch, the best British manufacturing skills have been supplemented by outstanding design. The chocolate brief (I'd buy it just for the name) is made from grain leather (I love seeing the texture of leather) and high quality canvas. The combination of materials makes it lighter than it looks, yet it feels robust and all the brass fittings, zip and clips, are solid and work smoothly. Inside is every sort of pocket and flap you're going to need to carry documents and technology around with you. 

In a competitive market, Bennet Winch have produced a bag which looks different but remains supremely practical. It's become a firm favourite and often accompanies me on my bloggy outings. Best of all, it smells gorgeous, although after a few days you have to press your nose to the leather to really appreciate it (don't do this on the bus or train).

To see and buy the full range of Bennet Winch bags, visit their website.

I was sent the bag for review but have received no compensation for this feature. All views are mine alone.

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Grenfell AW17: Made in London Outerwear with Heritage

I've a lot of time for Grenfell and own (and wear) vintage and modern pieces of their British-made outerwear. Grenfell's links to exploration and the great outdoors started in 1923 with the production of a closely woven cotton that was wind and water proof. It was used to clothe many mountaineering and polar expeditions and was adopted by country and motoring sports enthusiasts. Today Grenfell makes its products in London and has collaborated with many other brands to market its particularly British style of outdoorwear.

Vintage Grenfell

With autumn nearly on us, you may be needing something from their AW17 (autumn/winter '17) collection. It follows their heritage/archive inspired approach and is available online and from Harrods. I've been able to wear a coat from the collection, the Tourer jacket (pictured below). 

The Grenfell Tourer is a beautifully made coat that is part biker and part country/combat jacket. The details are striking, with poppers, pockets and flaps that are well-designed and practical, closing with a mechanical perfection that makes the jacket shout style and quality. Lined with a colourful tartan and made from water and wind proof Grenfell cloth, it has all the makings of a modern classic. I'd love to see it in a country brown and olive, but for the moment it's only available in black, no doubt to echo the biking heritage. It's also slim cut, so I suggest you go a size up to wear with thick knitwear.

Another favourite of mine is the Shooter jacket (above). It's already been around for a year or two and was a revival of an archive design. I own both vintage and modern versions. The differences are few, but the coat represents a stylish alternative to the now commonly seen waxed jacket, or the nylon waterproofs that are fine on mountaineers but less necessary for more stylish outdoor activities. I've worn it in drenching rain and it hasn't failed me yet.

The Walker jacket (above), another revival from the Grenfell archive, is one I hope to try in anger soon. Worn by mountaineers and walkers in the mid-twentieth century, it would be interesting to see how this shapes up against the modern Gore-Tex equivalent. It's unashamedly traditional and simple design makes it a piece that will, like most of Grenfell's products, last a lifetime without ageing or wearing out.

Here are images of some of the collection:

Grenfell Tourer

Campbell Gabardine Beige

The Rake x Grenfell Despatch Rider's Coat

Grenfell Harrington

For more information and products and to buy, go to Harrods or Grenfell's website

This is an unsponsored feature. I received a Tourer jacket for review. All views are mine alone.

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