Wednesday, 29 February 2012

It's All About the Leather - Edward Green Shoes - The Manufacture

Edward Green 1890

Edward Green is a classic English shoemaker that was established in 1890. They have a shop in Jermyn Street, London, and the shoes are manufactured in the shoemaking capital of the world - Northampton. They have a line of ready-to-wear shoes, but also make bespoke.

What makes their shoes so special? It's all about the leather they say. Edward Green uses natural burnishing calfskin for their leathers. The leather isn't completely finished in the tannery, but dyed with a base that preserves the clarity of the grain and allows Edward Green to work their magic in the final stages of construction.

As the character of the leather is fully open, it requires expert cutting (or 'clicking') before the final finish of polishing and burnishing the completed shoe. This very manually-intensive work creates a shoe leather with unmatched depth and character that improves with age.

The Best Leather for Shoes?

Edward Green uses calfskins from the best Italian tanneries. The leathers match the requirement of the shoe, such as:
  • Natural Burnishing Calf Leather where the final colour is created through the layering of the original tannery dye and the burnishing, antiquing and polishing on the finished shoe. which gives a very particular character and depth, as used in the city shoes.

    Example: The Oakdale Slate above.
  • Country Calf Leather with a heavier construction and sole that can take the knocks is used on their robust country shoes.

    Example: The Galway in Rosewood country calf below.

What's a 'Notched' or 'Fudge' Welt?

A welt is the band of leather which runs around the base of the upper to connect the upper to the sole. A storm welt has a raised protrusion which helps keep the elements from seeping in between the upper and sole. Sometimes they have small notches on them which move any water back down off the welt and gives a different look.

The Windermere with notched welt:

More to Come

Tweedy's Note: the Edward Green people are very knowledgeable about their craft and, most importantly, seem willing to speak to us. They've been very helpful. I'll get young Mrs Tweed to find out some more on the company for us. 

By tomorrow please Mrs TP. No pressure. 

Monday, 27 February 2012

Olympic Preparation - Archie Foal

Olympian Socks

The Olympic Games in London are just round the corner, much to the dismay of most Londoners. Team GB have quite a few entrants for the shooting events, which include pistol, rifle and shotgun. Hopefully, the shooting will be confined to the stadia. Getting behind the team, we've tracked down something that might just give our shooters the edge. In case there isn't an official shooting sock - and if not why not? - might we suggest adoption of the Lars Olympic from Archie Foal?

The Lars Olympic socks in navy, red and white are made in England by a company of Master Knitters established in 1850. They are knitted on Bentley knitting machines from a blend of Angora and Australian superfine merino wool that's produced in Italy, which makes them incredibly soft but durable. The garter is buttoned, so you can wear with or without.

Archie Foal

Archie Foal was established in November 2010 with the purpose of working with English knitters and manufacturers to create classic socks and knitwear in the finest yarns.

Everything is made in the UK, actually in three of the Home Nations. The socks are knitted in Wales and Nottingham, England and the knitwear is made in the Scottish Borders.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Overcoats Go Pop - The Dirk Bogarde Proposition

The Independent Overcoat

The overcoat, that long and heavy woollen coat with its few classic styles and military variations, was a staple in the British pop music scene of the early 80s. Well, the indie end of pop, at least. Using selective memory and confirmation bias, let's put forward a theory as to why.

The Bogarde Proposition

Firstly, Morrissey wore an overcoat quite a lot, which led to its semi-popularity amongst young people. Morrissey's singing about life in rainy Manchester practically demanded an overcoat (and a raincoat for that matter).

Tweedy's Thought: Now Morrissey sings about Pasolini and Rome, perhaps his adoption of Angelo Galasso shirts makes some kind of sense?

Why the overcoat? A bit of cultural archaeology gives us Exhibit A: Dirk Bogarde. This is a photo of Dirk taken from the film Victim.

Now let's take a look at this photo of Morrissey:

Spot anything? We know that Morrissey is a fan of Dirk Bogarde. Is it too hard to imagine that Bogarde may have had some influence on Morrissey's adoption of the overcoat in the 80s? Or is that I re-watched Victim the other day and was looking for an excuse to tie these photos together? Only you can decide.

I Was Looking for a Coat and Then I Found a Coat

I've been seeking out off-the-peg examples of the overcoat with raglan sleeve, which extend in a single piece to the collar. The brief is full-length overcoats that Motley Crue wouldn't be seen dead in.

I've seen too many short overcoats, lots of over-styled overcoats with zips and pockets in odd places, and overcoats in unpleasant colours. However, Magee of Ireland, established 1886, has one that fits the bill. The Corrib is a full-length raglan overcoat in heavy Donegal tweed. I can almost see Dirk and Morrissey nodding their approval at this one. Let me know if you spot any others.

Indie Pop Overcoats in Action

The Bible (Heringbone Overcoat):

H2O (Dogtooth Overcoat):

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Campaign for Real Tea - Teapigs Tea

Teapigs Tea

A relative newcomer to the tea industry, teapigs was founded by tea evangelist Nick Kilby and tea addict Louise Allen (pictured above) in 2006. Based in Brentford, England, teapigs blends and sells whole-leaf teas loose or in bags (tea temples). We first came to know about them with their admirable campaign for real tea. The campaign is trying to get cafes and other outlets to replace tea made with the dusty fannings that are used in standard teabags with proper whole-leaf tea. Commendable.

Not Quite an Everyday Brew

The teapigs Everyday Brew, a Great British classic, is their best-seller. Peppermint and Earl Grey are also popular. If you are undecided on what to choose, a mood-o-meter on their web site will help you select teas based on your mood. I chose fussy, but podgy is the most popular mood, apparently.

Tea-Drinkers Take Risks

The company has been surprised by the adventurousness of their customers. Some stick to their regular blend of tea, but many are willing to try all types. Some will reach for different blends through the day, glugging mugs of session tea, such as the Everyday Brew, in the morning, then switching to the subtle flavours of Jasmine Pearls in the evening.

Tea-Making Basics from Teapigs

Louise reminds us of the tea-making basics:
  1. Start with a good tea – make it whole leaf, real tea. ( teapigs ideally!)
  2. Always use fresh water from the tap – not the re-boiled stuff that has been sitting in the kettle since last week. 
  3. If you are making black tea – pour the boiling water onto the leaves as soon as the kettle has boiled. With green, white or oolong teas, water off the boil is preferable.
  4. If you are making it in a cup, put the milk in after the tea ( only for black teas) - if you are using a pot, put the milk in the cup first.
Louise says, "Black tea is great, but be brave and try some other kinds of tea – my personal favourite is oolong."

Manly Tea Choice

Realising what a manly set of readers The Tweed Pig is likely to attract, Louise recommends their manliest tea, Yerba Mate. The leaf is South American and is reputed to contain "practically all of the vitamins necessary to sustain life". This probably means that we can live on tea and cake alone. I knew it.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Cad and the Dandy - Suit Buying Course - Lesson 3

The Final Lesson

I know you're tired, but don't think of dropping out of the course now. You're nearly there. You completed lessons 1 and 2. This is the final lesson, the finishing line is in sight.

It's time for some motivational talk from James Sleater at Cad and the Dandy to get you to the end:

"Tailoring is an art form not a science and it takes years of training to become a cutter, coatmaker or trouser maker. Each jacket alone takes around 50 hours to craft. Below are the Savile Row guidelines which our suits are made to."

Lesson 3 - Making the Suit - Savile Row Guidelines by Cad and the Dandy

With these guidelines, you will know what to demand of your bespoke suit.

  • Inlays – inlays to allow adjustment to the main body seams
  • Linings – felled by hand
  • Vent and Front Edge – hand prick-stitched throughout
  • Breast pocket – slanting breast pocket with hand stitched border
  • Top Collar – hand draw-stitched onto the facing
  • Front button-holes – hand-stitched and left lapel button hole with sewn flower loop
  • Cuffs – featuring opening slit and hand-stitched button holes
  • Armhole – lining-eased and hand felled
  • Front pockets – hand top-stitching on pocket and gorge
  • Sleeves – set in by hand
  • Shoulder pads and canvas – hand-cut and shaped
  • Jacket foreparts – fully hand-canvassed
  • International waistband – with inlays of 3-4 inches and side-seams for adjustments
  • Buttons – sewn by hand in cross stitch
  • Buttonholes – cut and sewn by hand
  • Fly – hand-stitched
  • Trousers fronts – half-lined for comfort
  • Seat seam – hand-stitched
  • Pockets, band lining and back curtains - sewn in by hand
Well Done!

Congratulations. You have been awarded The Tweed Pig Technical Certificate in Suit Buying.

With special thanks to Cad and the Dandy for putting the information together for us.

Hopefully, this short course has helped you brush up on your suit purchasing skills. Now go out there and 'buy suit'. 

Tweed Pig Pin-Up - Victorian Cigarette Suit Man

Anonymous Victorian Man in Cigarette Suit

We're persevering with the Tweed Pig Pin-up series, you may or may not be glad to hear. This time we're going for someone who is long dead and we know nothing about. A tough proposition you might think, but take a close look at the man's dress. That's right. He's wearing a suit made of cigarette packets. On many levels, we thought, that makes him a good candidate.

About the Photo

The photo is of a Victorian man, of seemingly humble means, posing with a bicycle at the back of a terraced house. I've had this photo for many years now and I don't know anything about it. I guess he's dressed for a celebration, something like May Day. Imagine the scene of him riding his bicycle dressed in the suit, his English moustache fluttering in the wind. What can we see in those eyes?  Pride?  Amusement?

Friday, 17 February 2012

France Gall in The Pudding Club?

Gallic-Flavoured Pop
A genre of French (and Spanish) pop music in the 60s called 'ye-ye' was influenced by British beat music and American rock-n-roll. The name is a continental twist on 'yeah, yeah'.

Mostly, the songs were sung by women. We had the British beat girls such as Cilla, Dusty, Lulu, Sandie and many others. The French had the ye-ye girls giving the pop tunes an irresistible Gallic flavour, including Françoise Hardy, Sylvie Vartan and France Gall.

France v England
France Gall recorded a list song in 1967 called Made in France. The song tries to pin down the differences between France and England using representative people and objects. How did they keep the song down to three minutes?

On the British side, Liberty gets a mention, so too Burlington Arcade. A few 60s faces are in there and, perhaps surprisingly, that swinging British institution The Salvation Army. How might the list change now? Perhaps you have some ideas?

Made in France

Le pudding et le shetland, David Bailey, Mary Quant
Jerk and Radio Caroline, "Caroline" no "Caroline".
It's made in England.
Accordéon qui balance, les gauloises et la pétanque
Tour Eiffel et camembert et Maurice Chevalier, c'est made in France.

Les Français, les Anglais peuvent toujours essayer.
Ils ne seront jamais, jamais pareils, pareils, pareils, pareils, pareils.

Les beatniks aux cheveux longs like the young Napoléon
Les Dollies pas compliquées, difficult à expliquer.
It's made in England.
Les guitares romantiques, the sono no terrific.
Oh ! My darling I love you, mon amour, mon amour.
C'est made in France.

Entre Londres et Calais, il y a un fossé, un si petit bateau
Et puis de l'eau, de l'eau, de l'eau, de l'eau, de l'eau.

Mini jupes et maxi bottes, Liberty jusqu'à non-stop
Burlington, Julie Christie and the Salvation army.
It's made in England.
Le Beaujolais, le pastis, les British promènent à Nice
Et le tunnel sous la Manche, but the tunnel sous la Manche
C'est made in France.

No, made in England, non, made in France.
No, made in England, non, made in France.

The Pudding Club
Gall was wise in mentioning that Great British institution 'le pudding'.

Enthusiasts at The Pudding Club are devoted to preserving classic British desserts, such as Spotted Dick or Jam Roly-Poly (Dead Man's Arm). The type of puddings that stick to your ribs. Too many deserts are foam this and deconstructed that nowadays. We want proper, recognisable puddings thank you.

At their weekly meetings in the Cotswolds, England, The Pudding Club presents seven traditional puddings to try. You vote for your favourite. You and your spoon decide.

If you cannot get to the Cotswolds, the club launched a range of puddings that are now sold in supermarkets. The Ginger Syrup Pudding, soaked in golden syrup and topped with chopped stem ginger, is proving a smash hit. Best eaten with lashings of custard, as I'm sure France Gall would have it.

Vive le pudding.

Three Ways House and The Pudding Club
Chipping Campden
GL55 6SB

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Deft as a Brush - Vulfix and Simpsons

The Isle of Man Connection

I'm sure you're aware that it's impossible to shave properly without a badger-hair shaving brush. But did you know the connection between shaving brushes and the Isle of Man?

Alexander Simpson started making his legendary Simpson's shaving brushes in the East End of London in 1919. Following the loss of his factory in World War II, he moved his business to the West Country.  The brand became part of Progress Shaving Brush (Vulfix) Ltd in 2008, who also make Vulfix brushes. The company is located on the Isle of Man in the British Isles.

The home to two of the big guns in British shaving brushes - Simpson's and Vulfix - is now the Isle of Man, location of the infamous TT Races and its motorcycling close-shaves.

Anatomy of a Shaving Brush

The majority of Simpson's brush handles are made using an ivory-coloured resin that is hand-turned on a lathe. The handles of a Vulfix brush may be made of pewter, wood, onyx or silver. You can see a Vuflix Old Original in pewter with matching pewter soap dish above.

The handles are polished and filled by hand with a knot of badger hair in varying grades. The hair for each knot is sorted, weighed and tied by a skilled brushmaker.

Below we have a Simpson's Chubby, and the indispensable travel brush, stamped with the distinctive SIMPSON seal. Further below is the "Major", which was originally designed for the Himalayan explorer, Major Victor Beeching.

What Grade of Badger Hair Should I Choose?

The various grades of badger hair are categorised as Pure Badger, Best/Super Badger & Silvertip Badger.

Pure Badger
Pure Badger hair is dark and silver in appearance. This grade of hair is firmer to the touch and helps exfoliate the skin prior to shaving.

Best/Super Badger 
Best Badger is softer than Pure Badger and has excellent water retention qualities. In appearance, it has a unique dark band capped by light tips. The tapered head shape of Simpson’s Best Badger brushes is achieved without the use of the trimming machinery (unlike other manufacturers), giving wonderfully smooth and soft tips.

Silvertip Badger
Silvertip Badger is the finest Badger hair available in the manufacture of shaving brushes and originates from the neck of a badger. The hair is untreated and untrimmed, simply shaped by hand to give an exceptionally soft feel.

Simpson's Shaving Tips

Simpson's share their tips for a decent shave.
  • Shower or bathe before shaving, or warm the face with a hot flannel.
  • Use plenty of hot water and shave in a warm environment.
  • Protect the skin with a good skin food or moisturiser. (Trumper's Coral Skin Food for example)
  • Use a Simpson badger shaving brush with a quality shaving cream.
  • Apply a North to South paint brush motion to lift the beard.
  • Shave with the beard, never against the grain.
  • Rinse the razor blade frequently in hot water.
  • Rinse face with cold water and gently pat dry to close pores.
  • After shaving use a good moisturiser or skin food.
  • Avoid applying alcohol-based products to the face after shaving. These will damage the skin.
  • Rinse shaving brush thoroughly and store in accordance with instructions.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Private White on Parade

Attention Private White VC

Private White VC is a family-sized and family-owned men's clothing business "inspired by family heritage and born out of a devotion to British manufacturing". Their factory, which opened at the turn of the 20th century, remains in the heart of Manchester. Having changed ownership and name over the years, but always having a reputation for manufacturing high-quality garments, the company is now run by Michael Stoll and James Eden  - Private White's great-grandson.

The original Private White returned from World War 1 a hero who was awarded the Victoria Cross. He  started work at the factory as a cutter, but later became the owner. The company has remained in the 'rag trade' ever since.

Their factory has a dedicated staff of 80 who make clothes for their own label as well as for other prestigious brands, such as Purdey and Holland and Holland. It has also manufactured for Aquascutum, Burberry and Nigel Cabourn.

James Eden is famously hands-on. He's at the Manchester factory during the week and working in Private White's London shops at the weekend getting feedback from customers. At the vanguard of the new appreciation of local manufacturing in this country, he encourages young people eager to learn the trade to contact them about apprenticeships.

The brand is, of course, big in Japan where they have a distribution partner specialising in heritage British labels.

Designer Heaven

Nick Ashley, son of the famous British interiors and clothing designer Laura Ashley, is the in-house designer. At his disposal is the company's mouth-watering archive of a hundred years of British men's clothing design. With 5000 pieces, it's possibly the biggest of its kind in the UK.

You can see the influence of this archive in the look of the coat and guernsey sweater below and materials used.

Ventile Coat

The Insulated SB4 - Cinnamon Ventile raincoat uses Ventile - that silent, weatherproof fabric - on the outer. The coat has been worked to keep stitch detail to a minimum.

Guernsey Sweater

Everyone needs a Guernsey sweater. Private White's Guernsey Sweater – Tobacco is in lambswool, which has the distinctive tightly-knit fibres of this type of fishing sweater that was commonly used by the British Royal Navy for its insulating and water-repelling properties.

They also do a blue version with the traditional 'boat' neckline.


Private White V.C
55 Lambs Conduit St Bloomsbury
London W1N 3NB

Private White V.C
57 Ledbury Road
London W11 2AA

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Dege and Skinner - Britain's Best Young Tailor 2012

Britain's Best Young Tailor 2012

Commendable that the BBC is broadcasting programmes profiling young British people who are making a mark in various trades and crafts. The latest offering was a programme to find Britain's Best Young Tailor 2012. The finalists filmed for the programme were selected from hundreds of candidates.

I wanted to see a bit more needle-and-thread action and learn a bit more of the craft, but it was an entertaining programme. The apprentices conducted a number of tailoring trials judged by tailors Mark Powell and Richard Anderson (we'll be reviewing Richard's book on the gritty world of tailoring soon).

The programme included a segment where the apprentice tailors were questioned on their knowledge. Did you know that Henry Poole created the first dinner jacket? A couple of the apprentices didn't. I won't repeat some of the answers. Even I'm blushing.

About the Winner

Emma Martin, apprentice at the Savile Row tailors Dege & Skinner, was named the winner at the end of the trials. Emma is a former student of Newham College and is hoping to complete her apprenticeship as a Coat Maker with Dege & Skinner later this year after two years of training with the late Stefano Tormambe and Dege & Skinner's Head Cutter, Peter Ward.

Congratulations Emma.

All About the Detail

I was slightly fixated on Mark Powell's details during the programme. The shoes and watch chains in particular. Anybody else?

Friday, 10 February 2012

Britishness German-Style - Living La Vida Gestaltungsort

German Reader Quizzed for Intelligence

Having cornered our German reader (and honorary Tweed Piglet) Nicolas, who had the temerity to get in touch with us about the Tweed television series, I wasn't going to let him get away unscathed. He needed to be squeezed for intelligence for my next trip to Berlin.

Milking our German Reader - Intelligence Gathered

After intensive questioning, here's what our highly-trained field operatives came back with:
  • The name of an interesting club & shop in Germany
  • A question to ponder
Chelsea Farmer's Club - Berlin

A recommendation for British ex-pats in Germany. The Chelsea Farmer's Club is a club and shop based in Berlin and Dusseldorf. Nicolas says they have, "enthusiasmus für das wahre in der ware", which is roughly translated as "enthusiasm for the good in goods". It's aimed at those with a taste for British classic clothing.

Club Philosophy
  • Never wear short-sleeve shirts.
  • Prefer regional cuisine and the British wardrobe.
  • Never use an electric grill.
  • In the city appreciate the bicycle, the diesel in the country.
  • Rejoice in life and promote the arts.
  • Be calm and keep dancing when your partner or partners cannot dance. 
  • For swimming or indoor sports events a healthy scepticism will prevail.
  • Like classical music in the church. Other music should involve your legs.
  • Walks without dogs are allowed - but not recommended.
  • When enjoying summer in Weimar, a nap by the Ilm is essential.
  • See the world as a wonderful gestaltungsort (place that can be shaped by you).
  • Never forget the motto of John Ruskin: "There is no wealth but life. Life including all its powers of love, of joy, and of admiration."
Tweedy's Thought: Bullet 2 is a bit of a mantra here at Tweed Towers.

Ponder-Piece: Do British Classics Travel?

Nicolas pondered whether classic British clothing travels well. Is a German in Berlin dressed head-to-toe in Cordings wearing a costume? That sort of thing.

Well we're all wearing costumes in one way or another aren't we? Here we may be straying into Jungian archetypes and ideas of self and persona.

Let's hover nearer to the boundary of pretension and bring in Kantian reasoning. What drives our choices? Could the choice of brogue over flip-flop be simply explained as an a priori intuition? Or, in the words of Sammy Cahn, is it a question of whether "you've either got or you haven't got style"?

Tweedy's Final Thought: To attune yourself to the right mental attitude for wearing British classics, just become an Englishman.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Tweed on Film - Drama on the Hebrides

One of Britian's Oldest Brands - Harris Tweed

One of our German readers kindly contacted us and suggested it might be a good idea to post the films from the documentary series Tweed originally produced by the BBC. Being lazy and seeing the opportunity of knocking together an easy piece on the back of someone else's work, we thought it was a great idea. Danke Nicolas.

In all seriousness though, it's a great film and did much to bring the precariousness of the future of Harris Tweed to people's attention. And as we're a repository of British classics, it fits nicely with our brief.

The Fight for the Heart of Harris Tweed

Genuine Harris Tweed is hand-spun and hand-woven at home by Outer Hebridean islanders. Against the modern curses of fast fashion and throwaway culture, as they say in the film, "If ever there is a time to wrap ourselves in this beautiful, sustainable ethnic British cloth it's now."

Like any good drama the series had its heroes and villains. Our award-winning friend, indie weaver Donald John Mackay has a role - heroic, of course. We'll leave you to decide who are the villains. There are engaging walk-on parts for tweed from other parts of the British Isles and tweed fanciers too.

Since the film was made in 2009 there has been a mighty shift in attitude towards provenance, heritage and integrity in clothing and cloth manufacture. Right now the future is looking brighter for Harris Tweed.

Do Weavers Wear Tweed?

Rewatching, I noticed that the tweed weavers wear little tweed themselves. Is it like fisherman who rarely eat fish having handled them all day?

Tweed Episode 1/3 Trouble Looms from Pssst on Vimeo.

Tweed Episode 2/3 Harassed Tweed (part 2 of 2) from Pssst on Vimeo.

Tweed Episode 3/3 Hanging by a Thread from Pssst on Vimeo.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Floris - Q & A Session with Edward Bodenham

A Cause for Jubilation with London's Celebrated Perfumery

It's going to be a busy time at Floris this year. As suppliers to the Royal Family, Floris will be involved in the celebrations of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. And if I know athletes, I imagine those competing in the London Olympics this summer will be heading to Jermyn Street to stuff their Rimowa suitcases with their classic British scents.

In this context, we extend our thanks to Edward Bodenham, Marketing Director at Floris, who took time over a pot of tea and a dish of Welsh rarebit in Fortnums to speak with young Mrs Tweed on scents and (British) sensibility.

Edward has worked within the company for over fifteen years and is part of the 9th generation of the Floris family. Floris is a small family business, so he is closely involved in the creation of new fragrances and in most other areas of the business. He works alongside his two cousins Tom and Lucy, and his sister Emily who has recently joined the business.

Q & A with Edward Bodenham

What is special about Floris products?
Floris is unique in being the longest running perfumery as far as we know anywhere in the world. We are still a family business and have never changed hands so are very fortunate to be able to have retained all the formula books and expertise passed down from over 280 years of creating fragrances. The fact that we are all direct family members working in the business means that we naturally have such a passion for the quality of our products, which I’m sure our customers recognise and appreciate.

Where is Floris most popular?
We are most popular in the UK, but have many customers all over the world. Our biggest export markets are currently Italy and Germany.

What is Floris' best-selling male fragrance?
Our best-selling male fragrance is No.89 which has recently overtaken Elite in popularity. It is a quintessentially English gentleman’s fragrance, clean with fresh citrus cologne top notes and a distinctive spicy woody character.

How do you arrive at the names for the perfumes?
Many of the names for our ladies fragrances, like Night Scented Jasmine are taken from the flower that features most prominently within the heart notes of the fragrance. One of our men’s fragrances, called JF, is named after our founder Juan Floris. One of our most recent men’s fragrances, Mahon Leather, is named after the capital of Minorca, birthplace of Juan Floris. With Minorca under British possession, he sailed to London and married his English rose Elizabeth before setting up the shop at 89 Jermyn Street.

Do you think preferences for particular scents have changed overtime?
In the very early days of perfumery, fragrances tended to be much stronger and less sophisticated. This is due to the fact that not only did people not cleanse as often as they do now, but also only certain oils were able to be distilled. Now, due to much more advanced distillation techniques we are able to extract many more refined and subtle essences to use in the creation of a scent. Generally I think that preferences have changed to people wanting a fragrance that has many different nuances and represents an element of their personality in some way. More recently I think that there seems to be a trend to customers wanting to find a fragrance that is a little bit more special and individual and is not necessarily something that is the latest ‘big release’.

How do you preserve your heritage but continue to innovate?
Our heritage is incredibly important to us and has provided us with our own rich and unique expertise in perfume making. This expertise coupled with the various creative ideas and passions of the family members working closely with our perfumer, means that we can strike a good balance between trying new things but with this wealth of experience behind this. With any new fragrance that we are working on, I like to think what if our forefathers were able to smell them and whether they would approve.

What should people look for when they are buying a perfume?
Perfume is one of the good and often fun things in life and is very much about personal preference. I think that people should look for a fragrance that they feel a connection to in some way and one that suits their mood. Many people choose a different fragrance depending on various things such as, the time of day, the time of year, the weather and also generally what mood they are in. Something that many people use as a guide to finding their perfect fragrance is the compliments that they receive when they are wearing it. Ultimately though I think that if it feels right to you and makes you feel good then you can’t go far wrong.

If you could capture in a bottle a particular scent, what would that be?
As something that I would not necessarily wear but would love to capture the wonderful smell of the fresh air early on a crisp sunny winter’s morning with just a hint of wood smoke in the background.

Did you always intend to work for Floris?
Yes, I have grown up with Floris and have fond memories of visiting my father and grandfather at work as a boy, and working in the shop in my school holidays. I have always felt a strong emotional connection to the fragrances I smelt regularly whilst growing up, along with a real passion for the company. It did always feel like a very natural step to join the family business.

Are you loyal to one fragrance or do you like to change often? Do you wear different fragrances in summer and winter, day and night?
The fragrance that I am most loyal to would have to be Elite, partly because of growing up with it, as I was five when it was launched. Also though, it’s a scent that every time I smell I am always in awe at actually how good and how complex a fragrance it is. Recently I have been wearing one of our latest new fragrances, Mahon Leather, which is very warm with a gentle spicy note which I love for these chilly days.

Moving on from Floris and the world of perfumes...

Is there any particular item of clothing that you enjoy buying and are very particular about?
I’m afraid that I’m not really one for buying clothes. I have my trusty items of clothing so when I do buy I look for fairly simple, but good quality clothing and which I know will become a future trusty item of clothing. Jeans & cords mainly. My wife is very good at knowing what sort of clothes I like so I am lucky enough to be spoilt by her usually at Birthdays and Christmases.

British classic?
Foster & Son shoes on Jermyn Street. Quality and true craftsmanship at its best.
On a different note altogether, the Brown Betty. I do love a good pot of tea and I am very pleased with my genuine British-made Brown Betty.

[Tweedy: Foster and Son piece coming soon. Possibly Brown Betty too.]

Hidden gem?
Dukes Hotel Bar, St James. Their expert head barman Alessandro makes the most fantastic cocktails including the legendary Vesper, and the new Fleming 89, which was inspired by our No.89 fragrance. Strange, but true.

[Tweedy: Ian Fleming mentions Floris in his James Bond novels.]

Tweedy's Thought: The interior of the Floris shop in Jermyn Street is an object lesson in leaving well alone. I can think of many heart-breaking examples of shops and pubs where the owners have panicked and thought they needed to chase the latest interior trends, ripping out all the charm and history that had accumulated over the years in the process. Just look at that original mahogany below. Marvellous. So warm and welcoming. Imagine if it was all removed and in came the minimalist look of a bedroom in a ryokan. Shudder.  

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Cold Remedies - Otis Batterbee

Tweedy Catches Cold

Bloody cold at the moment. And I have a cold to boot. This calls for some old-school measures to keep warm. Hip flask of course, but also the trusty fur hat for outdoors, and that classic gentleman's tool for keeping warm inside - the hot water bottle.

Hit the Bottle with Otis Batterbee

Hot water bottles work. Fact. Particularly in drafty old Tweed Towers. But you wouldn't want a Hello Kitty-shaped one would you? You would? I knew you were joking.

What about this one below? It's by British company Otis Batterbee. Made in England, the hot water bottle comes with a more refined woollen cover in Prince of Wales check suiting fabric with a velvet back.

Designer and founder, Otis Batterbee, says the core values of his company are "quality construction, good design and the use of the best possible materials."

The hot water bottle acts as a suitable surrogate young Mrs Tweed, but with an evocative and reassuring smell of warm rubber. Actually, I'm getting a little too attached to it. Maybe a few more days of freezing temperatures wouldn't harm.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Saint Valentine's Spray - Floris

A Valentine's Warning

Valentine's Day is around the corner. Just thought I'd mention, as I don't want you to miss a romantic opportunity or to get into trouble for forgetting. You know how we are? I'm thinking a Floris scent would make a nice gift.

Bouquet de La Reine - A Present for Queen Victoria

Bouquet de La Reine would be a nice choice for a lady-friend on Valentine's Day. It has a romantic story that you can appropriate and demonstrate that you're all heart beneath that tough, stoic exterior. Romantic story: Bouquet de La Reine was originally created by Floris as a wedding present for Queen Victoria on her marriage to Prince Albert in 1840.

James Floris created the scent in the Floris perfumery in Jermyn Street and it's a beautifully balanced classic floral fragrance. A good choice of gift. But don't overdo the soppiness. You don't want her to think you're a 'wet lettuce'.

Santal - Tweedy Spoils Valentine's Day

I didn't mean to spoil the surprise, but I discovered a bottle of Santal in a drawer the other day. Exhibit A below.  A splendid woody and lightly spicy sandalwood fragrance that is perfect for day and night at this time of year. I'm hoping it comes my way as I'm almost finished with my bottle of Mahon Leather. And if it doesn't come my way, questions need to be asked.  

Floris Q & A

We broke this news a while back, but we'll break it again as we've been rather slow off the mark: a Q & A with Floris is promised very soon...
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