Monday, 22 September 2014
Seventy Five Years in Ten Minutes
Here's a nice little documentary film from Topic Records. The folk music label celebrates its 75th birthday this year. This makes it the oldest independent record label in the world.
Did you spot dear Anne Briggs amongst the folk musicians immortalised by Topic through the years? What would we have done without Topic? Lost a big chunk of our musical roots that's what.
The Full English Project
Topic continue to provide the best support for British folk musicians, helping them find new audiences and keep the tradition alive. The label is naturally involved in The Full English project initiated by the English Folk Dance and Song Society.
The aim of The Full English is to "unlock the hidden treasures of England's cultural heritage" by creating the "world's biggest free digital archive of English traditional folk music and dance tunes". That's right — free.
The project also has a band — assembled from the enormous folk talent of Seth Lakeman, Martin Simpson, Fay Hield, Nancy Kerr, Sam Sweeney, Rob Harbron and Ben Nichols. Their album, inevitably released on Topic, is also called The Full English [Amazon].
Saturday, 20 September 2014
Singer Sargent Sweater
One of our most eagerly-awaited periodicals has arrived — the Autumn collection from Paul Stuart.
Please take a look at the full catalogue here and pick out your favourites — all superb quality, all timeless. Tell them Tweedy sent you.
I believe that Edwardian painter John Singer Sargent is an inspiration for the collection this year. He was described as an 'unrivalled recorder of male power', which you can see in one of his portraits above. As Brian Sewell mentions in the video clip at the bottom, Sargent was compared to van Dyck because of the realism of his portrait paintings — at a time when the art world (and political world for that matter) was in such tumult with all those boundary stretching -isms.
We've picked out a couple of shots from the Paul Stuart collection here that reflect that male power, and perhaps the colour palette of Sargent too.
The three-piece full-canvas suit in wool/cashmere above has a fetching double-breasted weskit with a shawl collar.
The jacket below is in a cashmere plaid cloth, which is also fully-canvassed, the green of the ensemble complemented nicely with the deerskin gloves, I must say, if that's not sounding too much like a fashion editor.
The family of Anglophone countries is well-represented in the Paul Stuart collection (with a liberal dose of made in Italy too). I see labels for Canada, USA, and England; and that coat below is made in Australia, by gad. I think that's the first made in Australia item we've featured.
To Our Aussie Readers: We don't get too much correspondence from our Aussie readers. Do get in touch. One thing I'd like to know is an Australian brand that makes extremely hard wearing trousers in cream colour (possibly other colours). I think sheep-shearers may have used them originally. I used to have a pair, but for the life of me I can't remember the name. Incredible things.
Wednesday, 17 September 2014
We've been long-time supporters of British mills (and fabrics) at Tweed Towers. None more so than Abraham Moon. The Moon tweed jacket I bought yonks ago still comes out with me on bike trips. There it is above. It was a welcome companion on a recent trip to The Queens Arms in Corton Denham, Somerset (below).
The Queens Arms is a very nicely situated pub that serves excellent pork pies. Worth a cycle out if you're in the vicinity, but quite hilly to reach it. You need strong thews.
As always, listen to the theme tune to Rutherford-era Miss Marple before undertaking such a journey. I make no apologies for adding this clip again. Ron Goodwin's Murder She Says [Amazon] is our adopted theme after all.
Abraham Moon Archive
Enough of the meandering introduction. Let's get on with the business in hand. I mention Moon because I wanted to say how much I've enjoyed reading through the short history of famous cloth and clothing they're put together on their web site.
Look under Heritage Collection and read about the British red coat, shepherd check (jacket - top), tweed, pinstripe, tartan, worsted, covert, cavalry twill, tattersall (weskit - above), duffel (below) and thornproof — all the bally hits.
When you see this information pulled together, you can really appreciate the contribution British mills and manufacturers made to defining classic men's style; and in expressing our culture through dress. Moon's Heritage Collection makes these cloths available to you today.
If more of our traditional mills can be less reticent about celebrating their heritage — as it's one thing that can't be faked by their ravenous Eastern competition — people will then fully understand the significance of the label they see inside their jacket.
Monday, 15 September 2014
Burwood in Sandalwood
Prada are reducing their stake in Church's. They've sold 45% of it. Uncharitable types might hope they sell the rest, and let Church's get back to producing purely English-style shoes again.
They've released some travesties in recent times; 'fusion shoes' in a confused mix of English and Italian style. Luckily, some of Church's classic range never went away. Burwood (above) is their textbook brogue. Built on a sizeable last, with a triple sole, there's no here-today-gone-tomorrow fashion styling about that shoe. This is bell-metal Britishness.
I've had the Burwood shoes you see in these photos for over twelve years, so they may be pre-Prada. I was hesitant to buy them at first because of the 'polished binder' technique they use to finish the leather. It's not a deception on Church's part to cover sub-standard leather; these are full grain leather shoes with full-leather lining — and mine are buttery soft and very comfortable. And the finish gives the Burwood in sandalwood a depth of colour like no other brogue. They proved too much to resist when we first locked eyes and eyelets.
As for the polished finish, on the plus side it is maintenance free. As I say, mine are twelve and I've only ever wiped them with a cloth. Look at the shine in the photos. On the negative side, any heavy scuffs to the surface will remain; they can't be wiped or polished away. This is not necessarily unattractive in itself, and sometimes desirable. You probably wouldn't want all of your shoes in this finish, nor want your work shoes to look knocked around, but it's good to have one or two pairs of shoes that look after themselves whatever the weather.
Saturday, 13 September 2014
The cool of Autumn starts to be felt in the second half of August. It's not quite time to bring out the sable-lined overcoat, but an additional layer under a jacket is welcome.
This is where John Smedley always help. (Actually, I wear them year round, but I'm pretty nesh.)
I've just added a couple of Smedleys to my collection (a green one and a red one) to fit specific under-jacket purposes. I tend to favour their 30-gauge extra fine merino sweaters for layering under jackets, as they're suitably thin.
A green Smedley v-neck sweater to sit under this vintage cashmere and lambswool flannel glen check jacket:
It just about allows a standard size Brooks Brothers button-down collar to poke through.
A brick-red crew neck to sit under this silk jacket:
I don't think I'm doing justice to the sweater or jacket in the photos here. They deserve better.
The cloth of the jacket, which is made in Italy for Maison Martin Margiela, is a wondrous heavy, non-shiny silk — loose-weave, but not quite a hopsack — that's a delight to wear. This is not a label I'm apt to wear (or cover), as there's a clear danger of heading into 'fashion' territory — so I bring in the tie and sweater with the hope of rendering timeless.
I tucked in the sweater for a '20s Brideshead, Sebastian-in-Morocco-style ambiance. Not sure that worked either. It all looks a bit unbalanced, as if I have legs like Jerry Hall. I'm sure you get the gist though.
Wednesday, 10 September 2014
The No. 1 Police Dress
It's a shame the police forces of Great Britain have largely moved away from their formal uniform into quasi-military 'tactical' uniform.
The Number 1 dress is instantly recognisable and reassuring. It exudes authority, but retains approachability; saying that this person is here to protect and serve, and won't incapacitate you with a taser if you ask them for directions.
Let's see the traditional uniform return to the streets. We want the classic dark navy serge tunic and trousers, white shirts and black tie, a whistle on a chain into the top pocket, the custodian (or bobby) helmet, a traditional wooden truncheon, polished black shoes, a Melton greatcoat for cold weather and Mackintosh cape for wet weather. And we want it all made in the UK.
We want our police looking smart and like grown-ups. We certainly don't want them twirling expandable batons in any hideous combination of fleece jacket, high-visibility tabard, open-necked shirt, combat trousers and (obvious) body armour. Do we?
Monday, 8 September 2014
I don't cover watches, but when you have one of your most experienced continental field operatives (gen here and here) imploring you to say something about a British watchmaker, you have to take notice.
The watchmaker is Robert Loomes of Stamford, Lincolnshire, England. (See Robert himself in the video below.) Our operative says that they're attracting the attention of watch collectors and enthusiasts from Antwerp to Vienna.
Robert Loomes is a family business that produces a range of manual-wind wristwatches that are entirely English-made in their Stamford workshops. A team of twelve watchmakers machine the components and assemble the watches, each specialised in a particular aspect. Loomes machine 80 percent of the watch components in-house. They also machine the cases and dials, and cut and polish their own crystals. They are happy to discuss any aspect of the manufacturing process and you are welcome to visit their workshops.
Keen as you are on heritage and provenance, you'll be pleased to know that the Loomes family has been involved in horology since the 17th century. You're buying into genuine British heritage here.
That's The Red Robin at the top in a solid 18ct gold casing. This model has the same mechanism as the watch Sir Edmund Hilary wore when he scaled Mount Everest.
A 'Swiss-made' watch requires only 50 percent of its movements to be made in Switzerland; dials, cases and so on can still be imported on top of that. LVMH use Seiko parts in their Tag Heuer watches, for example. This feels something of a con, perhaps perpetuated to fuel Chinese mass-consumption of 'luxury European products'. There are many notable exceptions, of course. I believe Rolex is a shining beacon against this practice, with Swiss-made everything; they even have their own in-house gold foundry.
Read the label and caveat emptor.
For the Anglophile Horophile
If you buy a Loomes watch, you support British manufacturing and reject the sharp practices and deceptions of the conglomerates in one fell swoop.
I relent. I will cover British-made watches form now on. How's that?
Saturday, 6 September 2014
How Could We Not Say Something?
DAKS, the epitome of clean-cut, conservative British style celebrates its 120th anniversary this year. They've pulled in Paul Weller to help showcase their anniversary collections. To say that this collaboration is a good fit is something of an understatement. Paul, master of the clean-cut British mod aesthetic, must have been clapping with his feet at the palette, the cut, and the all-round sartorial classicism of the clothes.
I can't find a great deal of information on what he's wearing in the photos here for the DAKS winter campaign. If you let me know the details, DAKS, I'll add it.
You Do Something to Me
For good measure, here's Paul with his daughter, and fellow musician, Leah in a video short for DAKS directed by Paul Barry. They're singing You Do Something to Me [Amazon] in duet.
Leah is also wearing DAKS. If the attention-seeking branding puppetry of record companies can create as disagreeable a product as Miley Cyrus, the timeless elegance exhibited by Leah in DAKS might just be the antidote.
Ah, the Crombie Boys. If you're going to develop a sub-culture, why not develop one around a single British gent's outfitters. This would be early to mid-1970s? I think it's time for Crombie Boys Two, the reboot.
Wednesday, 3 September 2014
I smuggled a few tins of angulas (or elvers) back from my summer trip. I simply adore these tiny little eels (recipes). After steak and kidney pudding (from Rules), angulas might be my favourite thing to eat. Does a British company supply them? Maybe we ship all of ours over to the continent? That would be a shame. I know we like the jellied variety, but let's make sure we're devouring the small ones too.
Broto do a nice-looking tin of angulas. I considered the bearded fisherman on the box as a pin-up. He's just the sort of imperturbable type we look for. A storm off the Beaufort scale? That's not going to alter his plans. The rain it rains.
The Rain it Rains [Amazon] - Spiers and Boden
Monday, 1 September 2014
"I kiss at last the beloved ground of my land..."
Il Ritorno di Ringo [Amazon] — Ennio Morricone with vocal by Maurizio Graf.
And so, suitably dressed, Tweedy slipped quietly back into his routines. He sipped his tea. The tea was strong, loose-leaf breakfast tea. He needed a clear head. He lifted a shortbread biscuit to his lips and crunched with determination. It was time to begin.
A good, restful holiday (and news blackout) can take off the years more successfully than hair dye and a corset. I spent much of my time floating around in the sea like a plank, wonderfully inactive. Planks have a good life.
Tweedy's Beach Thoughts: Two things help guarantee a good holiday location. Property developers haven't spotted its potential as a place to lure in oligarchs and princelings and priced the locals out. And secondly, the fashion-industrial complex hasn't spotted its potential as a fashion backdrop, then shuttled in vacuous fashion avatars — like Alexa Chung or Olivia Palermo (or whatever their names are, they're entirely interchangeable) — to proclaim the place 'hip'.
Pity the airport experience was so tiresome on the return. We don't expect swaying and chanting peons hurling rose petals in welcome. We wouldn't want the fuss. But can we not expect a modicum of civility and politeness at our borders? When you treat people as suspects, any engagement will inevitably result in conflict.
I did manage to read our summer book, and thoroughly enjoyed it. The film version should be remade. I'd start on the script, but Christmas is around the corner.
Friday, 1 August 2014
Don't be a Victim of Activity
Never wanting to become a 'victim of activity', as Michael Oakeshott might put it, it's time to padlock the gates at Tweed Towers for the summer and turn this pale skin an incarnadine red.
If you get too hot on your hols, I believe the general medical advice is to press an ice-cold glass of Sipsmith gin and tonic to your brow and relax on your terrace. Then you're meant to doze off listening to the distant chug of a small fishing boat trying to catch your dinner in the azure waters below.
Have a lovely, peaceful summer.
If you're struggling for diversions this summer, might we recommend the following? Firmly established, they're the kind of civilised events that help make the season.
Edinburgh Military Tattoo
The Edinburgh Military Tattoo dates from 1950. Who knows what might happen to this event, and the Royal regiments that take part, should Scotland decide to walk away from the union? Get in quick.
Straight after Glorious Goodwood - which you should also attend — Cowes Week on the Isle of Wight is great fun whatever the weather. This event started in 1826, mainly because George IV liked messing about in boats.
Newport Jazz Festival
An American one. Newport Jazz Festival is 60 this year. If you can't attend the event in Newport, Rhode Island, content yourself by watching a film of the 1958 event — the wonderful Jazz on a Summer's Day [Amazon].
If you watch the film, do look out for the shaven-headed preppy prototypes in the audience and the timelessness of their appearance.
Thursday, 31 July 2014
The Bearable Lightness of Packing
It's almost time to put down the pen, strip out of the three-piece pinstripe suit, and slip into something more suited to a Mediterranean summer.
Packing shall be light of clothes and reading. I intend to read a little, but not enough to hurt me; most of the time shall be spent ice cream and lotus-eating. The new translation of Leopardi's Zibaldone [Amazon] can wait until Autumn, the reflective season.
Carefully Placed into the Globe-Trotter
Sunspel Polo and Orlebar Brown Trunks
Sunspel Polo and Chuc's Trunks
Sunspel Polo and Orlebar Brown Trunks
Sunspel Polo and Chuc's Trunks
Note that this colour of Riviera Polo is unavailable at present. I'm tapping the side of my nose as to how it came into my possession.
John Smedley Polo and Chuc's Trunks
Sunspel Polo, Anderson's Belt and Brooks Brothers Trousers
Wednesday, 30 July 2014
Lie Back and Think of England
Don't look any further for the perfect towel to slip into your beach tote for a day at the beach. Travelteq say that they tried to create the best towel in the world, and I believe they've accomplished it.
The Travel Towel is made from Irish linen, and is available in various contrast colours in perfect pastel shades. It's a generous 2 x 1.45 metres. The width matters here. You can stake a claim to a decent-sized pitch on the beach, and lay out all your things without them rolling into the sand.
The towel is light. It's made in good old Amsterdam, where Travelteq are based. It has pockets for storing things. It can be used for picnics. I mean I could go on, but I'll just stay quiet and let you buy the bally thing.
Tuesday, 29 July 2014
The Optician Always Wins
I feel I have to curse my optician once more. He knows the Ripley-style spectacles from Oliver Peoples I wear (Sheldrake), so it's quite the coincidence that he just happened to have in stock some flip-on sun shade lenses for that particular style the next time I visited.
As soon as I saw the shades, my hand went into a kind of trance and levitated the wallet out of my pocket without my being conscious of it.
Since the acquisition they've been an absolute boon, I have to say. In lightweight polycarbonate, the shades are easy to attach, with wire clasps that slip onto the frame at the top and bottom. These have a brown tint to suit the frames, but there may be other tints.
It is great fun to play with the pop-up mechanism. They can pop right up to the vertical or you can cantilever them down to stay at various other angles till they're flat to the lenses of the glasses. The shades, as with the glasses, are made in Japan.
Monday, 28 July 2014
The English Rambo
Welcome to The Tweed Pig Summer Book Club. The idea is simple: We all take the same book on our hols, give it a read and then pop our thoughts on it down below, if we have any.
Nothing too taxing. We are on holiday, after all. This year we'll be reading Rogue Male [Amazon], written by British novelist Geoffrey Household. If the synopsis is anything to go by, I think we're going to enjoy it. Written in 1939, it tells the story of an English hunter stalking a European dictator. Cripes! He is caught, but manages to escape. Will he make it home? We'll have to read it to find out.
Quite an influential book, Rogue Male inspired the writer of First Blood, Michael Jayston, who introduced the Rambo character to popular culture.
So perhaps we should imagine an unflappable English-style Rambo, with received pronunciation and worsted suits. The type who enjoys devilled kidneys, the Times crossword and few words at the breakfast table — someone in the Richard Francis Burton mould.
Watch the Film Instead
Intimidated by the thought of having to turn pages on your holiday? I understand. Not to worry. Here's the film version starring Harold Pinter, Alastair Sim and Peter O' Toole:
Free film version
If that link doesn't work, try here.
You can pretend you read it and still add a comment below. How are we to know?
Wednesday, 23 July 2014
The Summer of Lime
Who doesn't want to smell like a Limey on holiday? I know I do. And it's quite simple. Just load up on the following lime-themed products and pop them in your suitcase.
Wisdom is found in those who take advice.
Bronnley - Lime and Bergamot Soap
Penhaligon's - Extract of Limes Eau de Toilette
Truefitt & Hill - West Indian Limes Shaving Cream
Trumpers - Lime Skin Food
Crabtree & Evelyn - West India Lime Body Wash
Floris - Limes Eau de Toilette
I like what 130-year-old Bronnley has done with its new packaging (top) — as fresh as the delightful soap.
Monday, 21 July 2014
Once off this overcrowded rock — Did you know that England has over four times the population density of Spain? Ever likely we queue for everything. We don't have a choice. — and somewhere along the sunny end of the continent, within stone-skimming distance of the Mediterranean, you'll hopefully find the space, quietude and climate to help uncoil that tense neck of yours. It's summer holiday-time, gents.
As a consequence, you'll be looking for jolly foot-tappers to listen to as you pack ice into a highball glass for that breakfast gin and tonic — You don't do that at home. — mentally planning your permanent exile.
Herewith, jolly foot-tappers; all tested in appropriately languid summer situations.
You can add them to the ones from last year.
Kisses - Funny Heartbeat
Kisses are an LA band. Funny Heartbeat was produced by our very own Pete Wiggs of Saint Etienne fame. Good show, Pete. Kisses provide our top photo due to the splendid parrot.
Alexander Dexter-Jones - Phantastic Phone Call
Alexander is not the son of Clash legend Mick Jones, as my initial assumption led me to believe, based on vocal delivery alone. He's actually the son of Mick Jones of the band Foreigner — a native of Somerton, Somerset, ancient capital of Wessex. 'Foreigner Mick' will be proud, I'm sure. Perhaps 'Clash Mick' will be too.
Madredeus - Haja O Que Houver
Something of an indicator as to where old Tweedy is heading this summer, Portugal's Madredeus have quite a following in Latin-Europe and Latin-America; not so much in the Anglosphere. Let's change that.
Haja O Que Houver is one of their more summery numbers.
Antologia [Amazon] is an excellent introduction to this Fado-inspired band.