Friday, 9 October 2015

Tweed TV - Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Man From The South

Based on a story by Roald Dahl, Steve McQueen appears with Peter Lorre and his wife at the time Neile Adams in this short film from 1960 presented by Alfred Hitchcock.

McQueen has the timeless clean-cut mod look he is famous for in the film. In fact, he looks ready for fisticuffs with some rockers on Brighton beach.

Note that he's wearing his favourite Hi-Top Chukka boots as from Sanders and Sanders.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Brooks Brothers - Facing the Sack

Sack Cloth
If you find yourself looking for spare capacity in your clothes to add a little comfort around the middle — I'm not saying you've put on weight — there are a few off-the-peg options in this hyper-fitted world we're currently living in. The 'sack' style of jacket without darts or suppression at the waist, popularised in the US (and by a mod take on Ivy League) — and once considered rather casual — lives on albeit in smaller circulation and shorter incarnations.

The vogue for short jackets can result in jackets ranging from something akin to the (acceptable) length of an Edwardian boating blazer to the (ludicrous) length of a Neapolitan waiter's jacket.

The Brooks Brothers sack jackets you see here appear to come in around the mod-length or boating blazer level. If I dare say, jackets that drop down at the sides can actually take this shorter length better than fitted jackets.

The jackets are from Brooks' Own Make range, made in their own US factory based on archives of the designs and fabrics the company used in the 1960s. Classic mods will enjoy the 60s provenance; and the shape is made for manoeuvring on a scooter.

The jackets are made from our kind of cloth: you see a Scottish worsted wool in the plaid at the top; and the houndstooth cloth is Harris tweed. Both are half-lined and will mould to the body nicely over time. As well as the shape, the jackets have classic sack credentials: 3/2 buttons, soft shoulders, Ivy-esque hooked centre vent.

Monday, 5 October 2015

Scabal's Noble Wool Club

The Noble Wool Club has a very nice ring to it. Noble. Wool. How to join a club that recognises nobility in wool? — you might wonder. But hold on. You need to be an 'ecologically sustainable and economically fair farming initiative' . I don't know about you, but that counts me out. The name intrigues nonetheless. Let's see how to make the cut...

Scabal launched the Noble Wool Club this year in collaboration with Woolmark in order to bring attention to the skills of ultrafine woolgrowers. I presume the readers of The Tweed Pig are fairly boned up on quality wool and the natural qualities of quality wool — fine and soft, insulating and breathable, renewable and biodegradable. With the Noble Wool Club, Scabal hopes to place a new focus on the selection process of their raw material that isn't just about the fineness (or micron count) of the wool fibres although Scabal excels at producing cloths using wool with exceptional fineness, as with the mind-boggling 12 micron Super 250s Summit fabric that came out last year — but also considers provenance, excellence in farming standards and sustainability.

Sheep to Shop

CEO of Scabal Gregor Thissen describes the requirements of the Noble Wool Club in the manner of a wine-grower describing terroir — the conditions need to be right to get the best results, and those conditions need to be protected once that quality is achieved.

The rules for the Noble Wool Club focus on Australian Merino sheep farms, favouring:

  • Family-owned farms that have the accumulated knowledge passed on through generations.
  • Farms that breed pure, or 'true-to-type', Saxon Merino sheep, based on heritage bloodlines.
  • Sheep kept on the granite-based soils, generally found 600m above sea level.
  • Wool that has a high staple strength and a fine crimp (or many bends) to enable the spinning of fine yarns.

As (I think) I've said many times, we can't have too much information on the labels inside our jackets: the tailor, the cutter, the cloth, the finisher — why not? It can all be tucked away for anoraks like me to pore over. Perhaps it's too much to name the sheep (Flossy, Dolly etc) that provided the wool, but why not the farm and region? Let's get some recognition for the hard work and integrity of the best wool growers, as Scabal is commendably aspiring to with its Noble Wool Club.

Noble Fleece
Scabal's Noble Fleece, described as a 'culmination of nearly 500 years of experience in weaving' is a Super 200s suiting fabric created from wool that qualifies for the club. The fabric is made at Scabal's mill in Huddersfield, England — a mill in operation since 1539.

Noble Tweed
Understanding that readers of The Tweed Pig have ravenous appetites for all things tweed, I can also remind you of Scabal's Noble Tweed range. I don't believe it's directly a part of this initiative, but we can't just stroll past and not mention anything. Look at the rather nice green gun club check and navy hopsack from the range below.

With the Noble Tweed range of middle-weight tweeds, Scabal is keen to reflect traditional British designs, but with a softer handle.

Friday, 2 October 2015

Iestyn Davies - Dowland Mini Concert

Morrissey of Elizabethan England
Both fans, a reader and I agreed that the music of John Dowland is more suitable for the darker, colder months; it's melancholy, introspective stuff. The lyrics of Dowland's songs would have Morrissey sharpening his pompadour in envy.

As if on reflex to the shortening days, I sought out the mini Dowland concert (below) from one of our favourite counter-tenors Iestyn Davies this morning.

Eric Clapton of the Lute
Iestyn Davies performed the concert for NPR with lutenist Thomas Dunford, dubbed the 'Eric Clapton of the lute' — absolutely exquisite singing and playing; and perfect for small, intimate settings like the pages of The Tweed Pig.

You can download the audio here.

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Drake and Hutch - The Manchester Brief

Designed for Comfort
Drake & Hutch is a men's underwear brand based in Manchester, England. The company was founded by Peter McGuinness who describes it as 'possibly the most exciting/terrifying thing' he has ever done. But the tremendous response has been overwhelming and he came to realise that underwear was his calling.

The Drake & Hutch boxer brief took three years to develop, with the intention to get the best fit possible — a fit that is unique to Drake & Hutch.  The briefs are made from 5.5 oz cotton lycra in Portugal. There are no internal labels and the briefs are constructed from hidden or flat-lock seams for maximum comfort.

These are the signature Bengal Stripe boxer briefs with bowler hat logo:

As you can see from the photo at the top, the freedom of movement afforded by the briefs means they are also good for wrestling your chums on the beach.

In the Pipeline - Hand-Printed Briefs and Boxer Shorts
Drake & Hutch is currently developing supima cotton boxer briefs with fabric hand-printed in London and boxer shorts made using cotton from one of the oldest mills in Europe  The shorts will feature mother-of-pearl buttons, bar tack stitching and hem gussets.

As the original briefs took three years to develop, we need to remember the old maxim — good things come to those who wait.

Monday, 28 September 2015

She is Gone - Goodbye Mother

We Murdered Mother's
So one of my favourite tea rooms closes and the world becomes a little colder and coarser. Mother's Little Tea Rooms in Somerset was on one of my regular routes. I would often stop and visit when I had the chance. I'd flick through a 1930s newspaper whilst sipping a rose tea and enjoy the calm.

But now it has closed for good. But why? Take a good look in the mirror, gentlemen — it was us. We killed Mother's by our own brutal hands.

How so? Not enough of us were willing to slow down for a moment and enjoy the ritual of elevenses or afternoon tea in a place of v. carefully curated ambience. Rather than be attended to by waitresses who cared about good service, we prefer, it seems, to slouch into an American fast-food 'joint' next to a main artery road and sink pails of coffee-flavoured milk froth as quick as we can before speeding on our way to make some money. Is England really so joylessly commodified? Does the economic argument trump everything? Slow down, chaps.

If you have a favourite tea room, book a table right now and order the most slap-up tea choice on the menu. Take your time. Enjoy the experience. Or it could go the way of Mother's...

In Loving Memory
I present some photos of my beloved space by way of tribute. Great times, great crumpets. (I suggest humming a little Al Bowlly as you look at the photos. They played a lot of Bowlly.)

Friday, 25 September 2015

Tweed Pig Pin-Up - Graham Atherton

Excellent friend Graham of gentlemen's clotherers Fogey Unlimited — who kindly provided us all with a terrific reader offer of 20% off any order — is back for the much-promised pin-up spread.

About the Photo
Graham has a fine collection of suits. I'm not sure I have the details on the one above. Graham did we speak about this suit?

No matter, let's find out a bit about Graham with a good old Q&A.

1. What does a dandy mean to you?

Eccentric, gregarious and flamboyant.

2. How would you describe your style?

Confirmed traditionalist, Fogey and complete and utter tweedophile.

3. If you could choose one era in time, what would it be and why?

1910 to 1930. The look, style, music and general vibe.

4. What's your favourite item of clothing and why?

A tweed shooting suit. Anything tweed, plus fours and Thurston boxcloth braces!

5. How long have you been dressing like you do?

Since the age of about 10 where I wore a tweed jacket to a wedding. It all started from there.

6. Do you ever dress down?

Although I hate to admit it, yes occasionally. When I worked for a Government department, dress down Friday was introduced. So I swapped a chalk stripe for a tweed suit on Fridays...

7. How do you put together an outfit? Do you spend a long time planning it or do you just pull it together?

I do think about it. However having so many combinations of suits and tweed, not to mention every colour of cords and moleskin trousers available, it’s usually not a problem.

8. Where do you get your clothes from?

Fogey Unlimited, of course! Although Huntsman, Cordings, Pakeman and a variety of tailors do get a look in.

9. You must attract a lot of attention from people because of the way you present yourself. What kind of things do people say to you?

Usually very kind words. The handlebar moustache gets comments.

10. What people or things inspire you?

Anybody who doesn’t follow the latest fashion. Style, NOT FASHION.

11. There are lots of sartorial rules, it seems. 'Never brown in town' and 'don't wear a matching tie and pocket square'. Do you follow any rules?

I would never, ever wear brown shoes with a dark suit. Never a hat indoors. It’s perfectly acceptable to wear a tweed suit in town nowadays, as at least its showing some style.

12. You own a gentleman's vintage clothing emporium, Fogey Unlimited. What inspired you to start this business?

I used to live in New Zealand and couldn’t find the items of clothing I wanted, so had to import them myself. Which made me realise there must be others such as myself.

13. What is your definition of a gentleman?

Manners maketh the man. Anybody who seems effortless in their attire. Just that ‘knowing’ how to dress.

14. Are there any particular accessories you like to wear?

I’m very keen on accessories. I always wear braces, armbands and sock suspenders. Couldn’t do without them. Rather partial to stiff collars too and for the dress down moments, I love a cravat and Tattersall waistcoat.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Wool Wheeze on the Row

Wool Week Gambols on Savile Row
One for your diary, gents. The Campaign for Wool launches its sixth annual Wool Week on the 5th of October (10 till 6) by letting (actual) sheep loose on Savile Row. The street will be laid with turf and transformed into an ersatz pasture representing the landscapes of Britain and New Zealand. Exmoor Longhorn and Merino sheep will be mingling with humans along the Row for this intriguing little inter-species shindig.

The tailors along the Row are joining in with the fun by keeping open house and giving access to their archives. The Row's tailors have also partnered with leading mills to create and showcase bespoke creations that exhibit the versatility and beauty of woollen fabrics for the event.

Shear and Now
If the sheep flocking around the street reminds you that you need a clipping, demon barbers Murdock London will be quartered in a 'shearing shed' offering themed grooming treatments during the day.

Monday, 21 September 2015

North Highland Initiative

Using Your Initiative
The North Highland Initiative was instigated by the Duke of Rothesay (a.k.a HRH Prince Charles south of the border) as a means of creating an identity — a brand if you will — for the far north of Scotland. The project brings together small businesses, the farming community and the tourism industry.

We bang on constantly about provenance. Championing brands and products under a regional banner is a great way to articulate the uniqueness of the region's offerings. And to give a good reason to visit. (It is great that Somerset now has its day too.) Why visit somewhere if it offers the bland kind of fast-food and fast-fashion you can find anywhere (and we've all rejected)? You're not interested in that kind of tommyrot. So what can you find in the North Highlands of Scotland that would pique your interest?

Doing the Northern Highlands
Well there's the North Coast 500 — 'Scotland's answer to Route 66' — to start with. The North Coast 500 is a 500-mile driving route that loops around the northern coast of Scotland, south from Inverness up to John o' Groats and around — and is the perfect way to find out what the North Highlands has to offer.

You will need a classic E-Type Jaguar for this adventure. Give yourself plenty of time for stops at the beaches, like Achmelvich beach below, and other attractions.

Close by to John o' Groats is the attractive Castle of Mey (below) — the most northerly inhabited castle on the British mainland. The castle was the home of the Queen Mother in Scotland. Having restored it to its former glory and enjoyed many summers there, she handed the castle over to a trust in 1996 to maintain it for the benefit of the local community.

Eating the Northern Highlands 
Load the boot of your vintage car with delicious Northern Highlands food and drink as you proceed on your journey. You could truly live the good life as a 'locavore' with what's on offer. The drinks trolley back home could be pretty much filled up too — lots of smashing distilleries up here.

I'll make a quick shopping list for you...


Wearing the Northern Highlands

Our good chums at Johnstons of Elgin support the Northern Highland Initiative with the Mey Selections tartan range. The range includes the tweed above and the cashmere scarf below.

It Works
Do you know what? I'm a born and bred Englishman, but these initiatives have done the trick. They've made the remote north of Scotland appear very attractive indeed; and made me seriously consider swapping my bowler hat for a tam o' shanter. I've always loved haggis and I wouldn't mind wearing a kilt.

Thinks: If I moved, I would just need to ignore the politics. That would be easy with Tweed TV....

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Savile Row - Welcome Ambassadors from Britain

Best-Dressed Street in London
Lovely little film from our very good chums at British Pathé about Savile Row in 1946 (titled 'Saville Row' sic).

I like the idea that rather than diluting quality with less-skilled labour, Savile Row would prefer to reduce the number of customers. I presume that view still holds today?

Monday, 14 September 2015

English Hair Styles

With all the cropped vintage hairstyles around at the moment, perhaps other styles popular in the 1930s should be considered. There's something for everyone on the picture above.

The aptly-named Regent would appear to be high maintenance, and the Manchester might require the least work.

Our friend below appears to favour an Argent to keep the hair from falling into his eyes when reading.

Here we see what appears to be a Military with a touch of Chester. A good, sensible proposition that gives him the appearance of a conscientious worker.

If you don't have the natural waves for a Chester, you can get your barber to set them. I'm sure he'd be up for the challenge.

Friday, 11 September 2015

Persuaded by Bath Gin

Gin Soaked
They say we can't get enough of gin at the moment. Over 50 new gin distilleries have opened in Britain in the past two years — not to mention the dedicated gin bars. That's a lot to sample, but I'm up for it if you are.

Bath Gin is from a local (to me) micro-distillery associated with the Canary Gin Bar in Bath.

In the above picture you see an individual bottle — with the cheekily winking Jane Austen logo — served with a vintage Staffordshire bone china cup and saucer in Regency blue from Paragon. Guests at Tweed Towers thought the gin tasted well in porcelain. (Such beautiful china came out of The Potteries. We must do a proper feature on the remaining factories in the 'five towns'.)

Bath Gin is created in small batches and has a unique blend of ten botanicals with wormwood and kaffir lime leaves given prominence. Jolly excellent stuff. The Canary Gin Bar is whizzo too.

Tweedys' Request: If you are an independent gin producer, please get in touch if you would like to be featured. Our readers want to get to know you. We have emptied a cupboard at Tweed Towers in anticipation of any free samples. By the way, we can empty another one for whisky if any whisky producers are reading this. We switch to whisky in the main during the cold months.

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Best Dressed - Goodwood Revival

Dress to Impress
It's the Goodwood Revival this weekend, a genteel, nostalgic and eccentric — in a thoroughly British way — celebration of the golden age of motorsports at the Goodwood Motor Racing Circuit.

If you are attending, there is a Best Dressed competition for ladies and gents held each day (portraits of competitors from last year above and below — smashing cardigan). And this year the festival celebrates the anniversary of Youthquake (a term coined in 1965 by Vogue editor Diana Vreeland to describe Swinging London) by introducing a Most Iconic Miniskirt award. I'm not sure one would suit me, but they do say there are some very good prizes to be won.

Shopping for Driving
From the Goodwood shop I recommend for your shopping cart the Goodwood Distressed Leather Cap, an eight-piece cap designed for 'an early morning tour down English country lanes'. The cap is perfect with a beaten-up old Barbour and Fair Isle sweater for a drive to a country pub for roast beef and Yorkshire puddings and a half of bitter.

And whilst your tootling around in your open top Morgan 4/4, you really want to be wearing a pair of the Goodwood Mens String-Back Driving Gloves in capeskin.

Monday, 7 September 2015

Dunhill - Gentlemen's Clubs and Spearpoint Collars

Dunhill for Winter
Spearpoint collars and overcoats and jackets in good, heavy fabrics are what I take away from Dunhill's winter campaign. I look at the spearpint-collared shirts in the collection and suddenly decide I'm a spearpoint man. I'm like that. Note that spearpoint collars look poor without a tie — they're a commitment to smartness.

But, you know what? There's something missing from these photos — a good Dunhill pipe. The clothes are crying out for one.

The campaign aims to evoke the timeless appeal of the gentlemen's clubs of Pall Mall and St. James's and beyond, and features a suave-looking Max Irons sporting the fetching greeny-blue glen check overcoat above and the grey herringbone tweed jacket below.

Might I suggest we have our next Bond? Bond is meant to have a cruel-looking mouth, as Fleming put it, as well as Scottish and Swiss parentage. I think Max would pass. (I'm always on the lookout for the next Bond, but do they listen?)

Dress Reform
The video for the Dunhill campaign was shot at the Reform Club — notable members including Thackeray, Churchill (resigned), Conan Doyle and H. G. Wells. The building was designed by Charles Barry and remains largely intact since 1841, as does the admirably civilised dress code — jacket and tie a must.

Saturday, 5 September 2015

Dunhill Umbrella Coat - Beware of Imitations

Letter from Melbourne - Et in Arcadia Ego

The Block Arcade, Melbourne
Bertie and I were on the blower the other day discussing a previous post on famous shopping arcades in Europe. Upshot was that I'd been a blithering dunce for not remembering The Block Arcade in Melbourne.

Bertie swiftly dispatched the facts on The Block to set things straight and highlight the general pleasantness of Melbourne living — Melbourne being the most liveable city on the planet by most accounts.

Tweedy's Request: By the way, fellows, if you know of a pleasant bolt-hole we'd enjoy in your neck of the woods, do pass on the gen. 

Letter from Melbourne

My dear Tweed,

I’d been meaning to pen a reply to your recent post on Tea Rooms when your post on Les Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert appeared in my in-tray. You refer to two other Great Arcades of the World: the Burlington Arcade and the Galleria Vittorio Emmanuele II.

And then the gas-lamp went off my in my head.

I know of a charming Arcade in Melbourne; its architect modelled it on the Galleria Vittorio; it has historic Tea Rooms; the aforesaid tea rooms are currently expanding; and – best of all — the Arcade is extremely chap friendly.

Get in Arcadia, I go,” as Ovid once said (or was it Shakespeare? or the Great Bard? Literary types, please confirm.)

The Block Arcade in Collins Street, Melbourne, was built in the French Renaissance style between 1890 and 1893. The odd name comes from the notion of the Beau Monde of Nineteenth Century Melbourne ‘doing the Block’. Melburnians modestly compare Collins Street to Parisian Boulevards. We even have a Paris End of Collins Street which, presumably, the French repay the compliment with a Melbourne section to their Place Vendôme.

On entering the Block, the first thing I hope you'll notice is the scent of exotic spices coming from Gewürzhaus, an Australian Herb & Spice Merchant with a touch of Mitteleuropa. While they also stock spices from around the world, it's hard to resist their Bavarian Roast Chicken Spice or their Apple Cake Spice.

Hopetoun Tea Rooms
If you're lucky you might be able to get a table at the Hopetoun Team Rooms. I say lucky because it's thriving and very hard to get a table at lunchtime. But in a good sign for tea drinkers, they're expanding into new digs on the lower ground floor of the Arcade. So press your nose against the window and admire the Art Nouveau wallpaper (& their sticky buns and cakes). You might also be able to find Welsh Rarebit on the menu - a rarity these days.

MCM Studio
Now, I did promise some shopping so pop along to MCM Studio. It has superb window displays of Italian shirts, ties, scarves and handkerchiefs. Tim has been there for 18 years and explained to me that not all Melbourne men go for the British look; many prefer the Italian look (I too was shocked!) But being catholic in my tastes, I’d suggest having a look at their ties and handkerchiefs, many of which come in interesting fabrics including cashmere and wool.

There's even a souvenir for Mrs T: a fine 100% silk scarf by local designer Andrea Ward with a pattern based on the mosaic tiles of the Arcade.

Mr Wares
Mr Wares is one of those shops you need when you’re searching to buy a present for your father, your father or maybe even yourself. It has an interesting selection of items from around-the-world with a focus craftsmanship and utility. (There’s a working trebuchet that would make a devilishly good present for my god son.)

John Wares opened the shop in 2013 and I’ve briefed him on People Like Us. In fact, in preparation for your vist, he’s put a tweed picnic rug in the window from Tweedmill in Wales.

Basement Discs
At the back of the Block, you’ll see a covered laneway. Take the stairs down to find Basement Discs, a specialist music shop. Now duck your head because you’re Going Underground, and I hope you’ll get your second sensory treat for the day: a hint of rose geranium from their oil burner. It’s not very rock and roll but it’s wonderfully inviting.

Now ask for Pat - he’s expecting you. His recommendations are always reliable and he immediately understood your concept of Music to Button a Cardigan By. In fact, he’s got a boxed set of the Go-Betweens ready for your playlist.

Arcade Games
You haven't even yet seen Mr Adriano Carbone, tailor, working away in his window or had a pint downstairs at the Charles Dickens or even the visited the antique watch dealer.

Save that for another day.

Bertie Davies
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