Monday, 31 October 2011

Hat's Off to Barbour's Beacon Heritage Collection

Barbour's New Collection Shows Innovation with a Key Historical Perspective

You wait a while for a Barbour feature and then two arrive in quick succession. But it would be remiss of The Tweed Pig not to mention Barbour's limited edition Beacon Heritage Collection.

The collection was created in collaboration with Japanese designer Tokihito Yoshida, who took his inspiration from the British countryside. Tokhito is renowned for his academic approach to design and thoroughness in construction. Here he has applied it to a collection that reveals a knowledge of Barbour's archive and colour palette.

It's good stuff. I just hope that with all the fashion talk around Barbour, they don't follow Burberry on to the catwalk and set adrift from their heritage. Yoshida, with his confessed Anglophilia, seems like a safe pair of hands. His almost obsessive attention to detail can be seen in the complexity of the The Spey Fishing Jacket (below), which is constructed using 240 pieces. But it's not complexity without reason - the jacket is built for purpose. 

You Can never Have Enough Pockets

Yoshida has said that he likes jackets that also serve as bags, so that you don't need to carry one. I know what he means. I sometimes wear my 3/4-length Barbour Border, with its important Made in England label, just because of the huge internal poacher's pockets. It's pictured at the top with my ancient wax hat. I re-applied wax to the hat myself and rather overdid it. But it keeps the rain out. The hat's kept in one of the poacher's pockets for sudden showers.  

Tweed Offerings

The Beacon Heritage Collection includes tweed coats for the great outdoors. There's no compromise on functionality. My favourite, the Oates (below), has a waterproof laminated Shetland wool tweed outer, which was inspired from a button-up tunic from Barbour's archive. It has leather buttons, is buggy-lined in ventile and has a zipped game pocket for all your hunting or rambling essentials - hip flask, Romney's delicious Kendal Mint Cake, cigars and so on.

Tweed Thought: With classic options like this available, why do people choose those insipid jackets in migraine-inducing colours you get in camping shops?

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

How to Make an Englishman

Constructing an Englishman in 5 Easy Steps

Take a bowler hat from Lock and Co Hatters.

Select shoes from John Lobb (Ltd).

Add an umbrella from Swaine Adeney Brigg.

Pick up a red carnation from Fortnum and Mason.

Finally, choose a pipe from Dunhill.

And that's it. There's really nothing more to it.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Clothing Hang Up

Kirby Allison Meets a Need for Decent Hangers

We pay the penalty for hanging clothes on inadequate hangers. Suits are in particular trouble if they are not hung well. A hanger needs to be wide enough to support the sleeves and collar of a jacket. And better to have a bar to hold the trousers that stops them slipping.

Where are we in terms of 21st century hanger technology then? Step forward US company Kirby Allison's Hanger Project. Texas-based Kirby Allison has researched the ergonomics required to preserve the shape of clothes as they hang. Necessity was the mother of invention here. Whilst working on Wall Street, he struggled to find hangers that did their job well.

The Hanger Project produces hangers for different types of clothes. The suit hangers come in four widths from 15.5" to 20" and have a large bulb at the end to support the shoulders of your jackets.

The trouser bar is felted to hold the trousers in place, better than clips to pinch the material or the rubber strings that snap over the material.

If your suit could read this, he'd be pleading with you to get one for him. No longer would he be seeming to cower on the hanger, but hanging proud and firm as nature intended. After all, as they say at the hanger project, "your clothes spend more time in your closet than they do on your shoulders."

Monday, 24 October 2011

Drakes - Easy English Elegance

Drakes' Tweed Jackets Evoke the Easy Elegance of the Duke of Windsor

Sometimes I wonder if I don't cover certain brands too much. It's something young Mrs Tweed and I might mull over with a cup of cocoa at Tweed Towers. Case in point is Drakes. I think I've mentioned them half-a-dozen times over the past year. But they´re just producing classic and wearable stuff.

Renowned for their ties and scarves, they moved into knitwear and shirts. They now have a range of unstructured jackets in soft tweeds. Buggy-lined, with the same fabric used on the sides and a Bemberg-y type material across the shoulders. Less is definitely more here.

The inspiration is the famously easy English elegance of the Duke of Windsor (previously known as His Majesty, Edward the Eighth, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, Ireland, and of the British Dominions beyond the Seas, King, Defender of the Faith, Emperor of India). And Drakes are using the term of "easy English elegance" to define this refined yet comfortable approach to tailoring. As they say, it is very hard to produce a relaxed-fitting jacket that retains its shape.

Bloody nice. I guess I will continue to cover Drakes while they continue to produce such lovely items. Available only at their Clifford Street shop.

Drakes London
3 Clifford Street
London W1S 2LF

Friday, 21 October 2011

Riedel - An Instrument of Pleasure

Riedel Glasses Shaped for Specific Grape Varieties

Riedel is a  family-owned Austrian glassmaker with a 250 year history. Maximillian Josef Riedel (above) is in charge of the American operation, and he is the 11th generation Riedel to be involved with the business.

Riedel started producing crystal wine glasses shaped for the specific grape varieties in the seventies. The shape is to enhance the "message" of the wine, its bouquet and flavour, hence your pleasure.

Do the shapes make such a difference? Being fairly credulous by nature, maybe I'm not the best to judge, but in refined wine circles the glasses are very highly regarded. My instinct is, much like decent tea deserves English bone china, fine wine deserves fine glassware. Actually, I dare say standard plonk is likely improved in a decent glass. It certainly makes the opening of a bottle of wine more of a ceremony when you pull out a couple of Riedel's enormous Vinum XL Pinot Noir glasses. The size of the vessel and the clarity of the crystal glass really lets you see the colour and depth.

As always with these things, you don't go back to drinking out of plastic beakers. I'm slowly building up my range.

What to Use for Brown Ale?

I wonder what would be the best shaped glass for a bottle of brown ale? Manns Brown Ale is a favourite of mine, the first of the second flourish of British brown ales that came out in the 19th century. Now brewed by Marstons. Is the dimpled half pint mug I've been using all wrong? Maybe I'll get young Mrs Tweed to ask Maximillian. In the meantime, suggestions welcome.

Riedel Factory in Austria

Riedel's factory is based in Kufstein, Austria, where you can see the hand-blowing techniques to produce the glassware at first hand. There's nothing finer than watching things being crafted. Marvellous.

The voice on this video sounds like Ken Nordine. It isn't, but it reminds me we'll have to do a feature on the word jazzer. 

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Commando Launches Estonian Offensive

Commando Comics launches a four story collection in Estonia

I had a very enjoyable time on my last trip to Tallinn, Estonia. The Estonians are nice, welcoming people. I went to the Olde Hansa pub.

Tallinn was part of the trading alliance of Northern European cities called the Hanseatic League, which stretched along the Baltic coast of Europe from London to Novgorod in Russia via cities such as Hamburg and Riga. King's Lynn in Norfolk retains a Hanseatic warehouse (below). Intrigued by the history, I've been targeting some of the dominant Hanseatic cities for visits. Tallinn is still very proud of this connection. Maybe it's due a comeback?

Anyway, hence the name of the pub, Olde Hansa. A fun place. A medieval-theme pushed to the limit, but a nice ambiance and great music - if you like early music. The cheery-faced musicians will play Greensleeves if you ask them. Sitting on chairs draped in animal skins, very pleasing spiced wines are served in earthenware pots. Seeking authenticity, the medieval menu has no potato, as potato hadn't arrived in Europe in the time they are recreating. Most dishes are served with spelt. Bear was on the menu went I visited.

A nice spot to read a Commando comic you might think. And you would be right. And now your Estonian-speaking friends can do just the same, as Commando has released a four story collection in Estonian.  

Kujutan ette, et!

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Grenson x Barbour = Impossibly British

The Grenson Barbour collection of shoes

Grenson, est. 1894, has teamed up with Barbour to create the Grenson Barbour collection of country shoes.

The colours and materials give the shoes a Barbour look. Good sturdy looking footwear that can take whatever the elements that can throw at them as you stride the moors, but still look in fine shape when you're nestled in that country pub by the fire enjoying a scotch egg and a pint.

The Egton Dark Green Oxford Brogue above is in Barbouresque dark green calf leather and fully leather lined with reddish dainite rubber sole . I've always liked green shoes, actually. You don't see many and that's a lovely wearable shade of green. Excellent with any sandy-coloured trousers. 

On the sturdy Cayton Boot below you can see the use of Barbour's wax cotton on the colour and tongue of the boot.

Not forgetting Steve McQueen

This winter also sees the launch of Barbour's Steve McQueen Collection to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Barbour's motorcycle jacket - as worn by Steve McQueen.

The belted Baker jacket, in 8oz heavyweight wax cotton is lined with Old Glory, my American chums. I think they do a Union Flag-lined version too, Britishers.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Ralph Lauren Sponsored New York Tweed Run Scuppered

Rugby Ralph Lauren Tweed Run hits the brakes

I was hoping news would be filed from our New York bureau on the inaugural Tweed Run leisure cycle in that fine city this weekend. Lots of photos of jolly types in suits celebrating that most robust of fabrics, tweed - man's best friend. Unfortunately, it was cancelled. Protesting and whatnot.

The sponsor, Rugby Ralph Lauren, did its best for the day not to be spoiled entirely, organising a day of events at its flagship shop in University Place, New York. Not the same though. They'd put a nice collection together to coincide with the event (sample below). What a shame. All the time and expertise that had gone into it.

Metronomy perform at future happening for Denim and Supply Ralph Lauren

Something that is intended to go ahead on the 15th of November in Amsterdam, protests permitting, is a gig from our favourite band from the English Riviera, Metronomy. They  will be performing on the Denim and Supply Ralph Lauren Warehouse Roadshow.

The lead singer of Metronomy, Joseph Mount, is from Totnes, Devon, which undoubtedly has the finest tea rooms in that county. In fact, it's quite possible to go on a tea room crawl along its lovely high street. These are proper tea rooms, such as the excellent Vintage Tea. Maybe it's the fact that Starbucks and co haven't landed that they continue to thrive? I'll raise a slice of Battenburg cake to that.

Label unconscious

Are all these offshoots and diffusion lines from Lauren becoming confusing? What do we have now, Black Label, Blue Label, Polo Ralph Lauren, Polo Denim, Polo Golf, Ralph by Ralph Lauren, Rugby Ralph Lauren and the newcomer Denim and Supply

If it makes things clearer, Denim and Supply "offers a new approach to denim and sportswear, capturing the weathered character of found vintage pieces and effortlessly styling them with an eclectic, individualistic spirit." What do you mean not clearer?

Friday, 14 October 2011

Coxon in Cordings

Graham Coxon dressed every inch like our kind of Rock God

I think it's fair to say that the portraits of Graham Coxon taken by photographer Mark Eilbeck serve as a template to show how every British pop/rock musician should dress. Leather trousers? Bandana? Do me a bloody favour.

Coxon has bemoaned in interviews that the English have let their standards of dress slip to appallingly low standards. The cardinal rule according to Coxon is no tracksuits on the high street. Gym-only. Is this state of affairs improving? No matter, dressed head-to-toe in Cordings, he's clearly part of the resistance (or is that the renaissance?). Top marks.    

Graham Coxon explores a folk sound with The Spinning Top

The last time I saw Graham Coxon play live was at the Cambridge Folk Festival.  It must be four or five years ago. He either played some accoustic numbers on the main stage or joined in with another folk group. I can't quite remember. Maybe both. But it indicated the direction his music was heading in. 

Cambridge is a good-sized and good-natured festival. And it's walking distance from the historical heart of Cambridge.  

Coxon released folk-tinged album The Spinning Top on Transgressive in 2009, musically reminiscent of accousticians Robyn Hitchcock, Martin Carthy and Bert Jansch.

I like the direction his solo work has gone in. By contrast, I don't quite get Damon Albarn's hipster-fest Gorrilaz. Maybe not enough Cordings on show?

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Notting Hill Editions - British Home of the Essay

Notting Hill Editions present the best in non-fiction essays

If it's raining outside and you have a spare moment, why not sign up and browse the collection of informative essays and weekly journal at Notting Hill Editions? Notting Hill Editions aims to present the best examples of non-fiction essays new and old.

In the Essay Library, you will find essays collated on themes, genres and time periods. As a sample, look out for an amusing piece by American writer David Sedaris from 1997 called Six To Eight Black Men, and The Duke in his Domain by Truman Capote, a profile on Marlon Brando written for the New Yorker in 1957. Each a timeless representation of a type of essay.

There is enjoyable writing in the journal too. I've just read a piece by British MEP Daniel Hannan called The British - Brutes and Gentlemen. Is he right?

Not currently any essays on the cultural significance of The Tweed Pig.  

The Travel Collection

Notting Hill Editions publishes beautifully presented collections of new writing. The latest is The Travel Collection - three original travel books.

All books are produced with stamped linen-bound hardback covers, no dust jackets, and proper sewn bindings. Well-crafted items, they'll look nice on your shelf and make your brain seem bigger to visitors. If books such as these are so lovely to hold and possess, then they can surely survive alongside the eReader.   
  • The Portable Paradise - Through his collection of historic guidebooks, writer, biographer and novelist Johnathan Keates explores the British cultural experience and expectations of travel before the First World War.
  • Questions of Travel: William Morris in Iceland - Poet Lavinia Greenlaw contrasts her experience and ideas about travel against selections of writing from the Icelandic travel journals of William Morris, a name most closely associated with the English Arts and Crafts Movement.
  • The Foreigner: Two Essays on Exile - American academic and cultural commentator Richard Sennett writes on the experience of political exiles in 19th century Paris and the ghettos of Renaissance Venice.  

    Tuesday, 11 October 2011

    Peckham Rye - Scarf Ace

    Scarves from Peckham Rye - 200 years of tailoring heritage

    I have a trip to Berlin around the corner, so it's time to think about the packing. And there's no better place to start than with a scarf. Finishing touch? No. Centre piece.

    We're representatives, ambassadors even, of our country when travelling. People we meet will form an opinion and add it to a composite image they make of a nation. That's a responsibility. And that means packing more than football shirts, doesn't it? For this trip then, I want a scarf that speaks well of Britain's stylish contribution to menswear.  

    The choice is made. It will be a hand-crafted silk spotted scarf from Peckham Rye (1799) that will accompany me.

    The London Spot is a beautiful thing - rakishly black with white spots and a lovely long hand-knotted black and white fringe. Lightweight too, made with finest graded gum twill (foulard) silk. 

    There's a touch of the RAF about it - they sported silk scarves to prevent chafing in the aircraft cockpit. Take a look at Tom's in Commando's The Sand Devils.

    And there's a bit of mod there as well, which never goes amiss.  

    History of Peckham Rye    

    Peckham Rye is a 6th-generation family-run English company with a long history in tailoring. Now specialising in neckwear and accessories, they produce silk ties, scarves and such for some of our favourite names on Savile Row and Jermyn Street. 

    It won't be hard to find a scarf you like from their London shop in swinging Carnaby Street, as they have over a hundred styles. They produce them in very small runs though, so pounce if you see one.

    Peckham Rye provide instructions for 17 ways of tying your scarf, from the "London coachman style of the 17th century to the Italian look of the 1960's." I'm not sure if I've managed to re-create one in my pictures. Marks for trying?       

    I must ask young Mrs Tweed to get in touch with Peckham Rye and probe them on neck wear...

    Peckham Rye – continuing Great British tailoring in the four corners of the world. A pleasure and privilege to serve.

    Peckham Rye London
    11 Newburgh Street,
    London W1F 7RW

    Monday, 10 October 2011

    England Out in Eden Park

    Eden Park - home of rugby and pink bow ties

    So it is that England's Rugby World Cup dreams come to an end at Eden Park, Auckland, New Zealand. Beaten by the French of all teams (grumble).

    And the English team kitted out for the tournament in French suits to boot. Eden Park, the French clothing brand, is named after the famous Auckland sports ground. It was founded in the 80s by players from Paris rugby club Racing Club de France, now called Racing Metro 92. They'll be outfitters to the English team until 2016. This world cup the team have been smartly dressed in tailored navy pinstripe three-piece suits, with pale blue shirts and red ties. Sadly, they can now pack them away.

    The story behind Eden Park's logo

    Eden Park was named after the famous sports ground in Auckland, and it's famous for its pink bow tie logo. The logo has a story. Racing Club players wore pink bow ties to the final of the French rugby championship in 1987. One of a number of eccentric touches the club's players from that era brought to the game.

    The video shows the English players being fitted for their suits in optimistic pre-cup mood. It will be Eden Park again for the next world cup. English player Dan Cole (top) has looked through the tournament like a character from Beowulf with his magnificent beard. Maybe they should go for tunics, cloaks and hose next time. Scare the French a bit. 

    Friday, 7 October 2011

    Agatha Christie - India does the Needful

    Comic book adaptations of Agatha Christie novels

    You'll still find lovely archaic English expressions being used in India, a throwback to its British period. Indian newspapers might describe a crime as a 'dastardly deed', the bus you catch might be called a carriage. Of course, the expressions will disappear as global (American) English muscles its way in. Or maybe not. Wasn't it Malcolm Muggeridge who said the last true Englishman would be an Indian?  

    Another legacy of the British Raj is the continued popularity of writers from that period, like crime-writer Agatha Christie. When I noticed comic book versions of her work in a bookshop in Jaipur, I pounced.

    Originally produced by Euro Books India, and presented to appeal to children, they are now published by HarperCollins with more grown-up covers. I was familiar with the stories, but couldn't pass up the opportunity to see how her novels translate graphically. I scooped up the jolly lot. They're an enjoyable diversion.

    I'm sure I had half-a-dozen. Why can I only find three now? Anyway, whenever I see the remaining three it takes me back to Ranthanbore and the lodge I stayed at for a tiger-spotting safari (didn't see one). I'm sitting on the veranda, cold beer and Agatha Christie comic at hand ready for a peaceful read. Just then, monkeys start going berserk on the roof; and out front the local villagers arrive and start to perform an endless song and dance routine, looking for some cash. I have to spend the next hour being the single hominid spectator.

    Greenway - Christie's holiday home

    Peace aplenty to be found at Greenway in Devon. Greenway was the holiday home of Agatha Christie in the 1950s and is now maintained by the National Trust. It is found on the banks of the river Dart across from Dartmouth. You can catch a boat from Dartmouth to visit - in fact they discourage too many cars, which adds to the tranquil air.

    And if you feel inclined, you can actually stay there through National Trust Cottages. You need some luck. It's very popular. Maybe bump-off some of the people who've booked ahead of you? That would make an interesting whodunit. In fact, if you do stay there, it might inspire you to write the next murder mystery to become a blockbuster in India. I'll buy the comic version.

    Favourite Marple?

    Who's your favourite Miss Marple? Some would swear by Margaret Rutherford, but I'd plump for Dame Joan Hickson. No doubting it though, Rutherford had the best tune.

    Might I recommend pootling down to Greenway in a Triumph Stag, Fortnum & Mason 'hamperling' in the boot, with Ron Goodwin's wonderful Murder She Says blasting out of the eight track stereo (windows closed).

    Thursday, 6 October 2011

    The New English - Loving London and Supermodels

    The New English launches their Love London collection 

    Having wowed everybody at London Design Week with their downright originality and creativity, our good friends at The New English have launched a new collection of ceramics in collaboration with journalist and photographer Barbara Chandler. They form part of her Love London project, which centres on a book of her photos of London life. Some of these photos have been realised on wallpaper and tea towels, and in a range of ceramics produced by The New English.

    The Love London range is manufactured in the Potteries, Stoke-on-Trent, and includes the Pearly Queens at Royal Hospital trinket box above. The trinket box reminds me of the lovely conversation I had with the Pearly Queen of Old Kent Road. Pearly politics means that there are now rival associations, which is a shame. I won't say any more, but I had to edit the post of that meeting after several emails came my way.

    Supermodel - for your home or office

    There's such a great energy emanating from The New English. They're pulling in the best artists and designers to re-imagine classic ceramic pieces and breathe new life into the craft with wit and imagination. Just look at this installation of bone china called Supermodel, based on life-size drawings by Phoebe Richardson. I know a steampunk who would quite fancy that hung in his parlour.

    Monday, 3 October 2011

    Purdey - Double-barrelled Shotguns and Single-breasted Jackets

    Purdey - Britain's most famous gunmaker since 1814 

    James Purdey and Sons represents the absolute pinnacle of English gunmaking. The name is world-renowned and synonymous with uncompromising high standards of craftsmanship. Established in 1814, they started out with the manufacture of flintlocks. It was the Battle of Waterloo the year after. I wonder if any Purdey rifles were aimed at the French alongside the standard Brown Bess musket and Baker rifles?

    Today Purdey are most commonly known for their sporting shotguns, but they still make rifles too, like the beautiful side-by-side rifle above. The company makes the guns in their London factory, but is no longer family-owned, having passed into the ownership of luxury goods conglomerate Richemont in recent years.

    Purdey's new season clothing and accessories

    Capitalising on the reputation of the Purdey brand name, but keeping to a sporting theme, is the Purdey collection of clothing and accessories. The full range is available in their Mayfair shop. Quality stuff, chums - our sort of clothes. Nice waterproof trench coat with field pockets below. Nice tweeds and waxy vest further below. We just need a gun dog to complete the look - I'd go for an English Pointer.

    James Purdey & Sons Ltd
    Audley House
    57 - 58 South Audley Street
    London W1K 2ED
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