Thursday, 29 March 2012

Crichton Bespoke of Chester - Q & A on Shirt Making

Crichton Bespoke of Chester - Tailors and Shirt Makers

Crichton Bespoke is based in the charming city of Chester, England. Managed by Patrick Barker, the company was started by Patrick's father in 1969 as bespoke shirt makers. The business has expanded to offer bespoke tailoring and continues to manufacture in Chester, where it has its own workrooms.

The Chester Rows in the centre of the city date from medieval times and offer covered walkways containing shops and other dwellings on two levels. Here you'll find Crichton Bespoke. The area is worth a visit. It's nice. And why not call in at Crichton Bespoke to be measured for a shirt whilst you're there?

We asked Patrick a few questions about the shirt making side of the business. Food for thought when choosing a shirt. Many thanks to Patrick for taking the time to respond to young Mrs Tweed's pestering.

Q & A with Patrick Barker, Managing Director of Crichton Bespoke

What are the most popular designs for shirts?
Out of the three or four hundred cloths we carry in stripes, checks, plains and fancy paisleys, the most popular shirts we make are classic white ranging from fine Sea Island to heavier Oxfords and herringbones and blues ranging from pale ice to deep azure.

How many style options do you offer?
We carry a set range of 6 collar styles, ranging from the Classic and Windsor through to the Button-down and Nehru, 4 double-cuff styles and 4 single cuff-styles. But customers can request their own unique collar and cuff design where we would create their own pattern.

Monograms come in 3 different styles and sizes and a wide range of colours to compliment the shirt fabric. They can be placed on the breast, rib, pocket or cuff. White collar and cuffs, coloured inner-collar bands and under-cuffs and details on the front strap are all offered. The cut of the shirt is very much down to request of the customer whether it be for a fitted or a more full-bodied shape.

What type of buttons do you use on the shirts?
We use a mother of pearl button and on dark cloths we use a smoked shell button.

Why choose bespoke shirts?
Choose bespoke because of the wide and exclusive range of fine cotton shirtings on offer, the style options which allow the customer to design a garment from scratch down to the colour of the thread used, and the comfort, fit and shape that simply cannot be matched with an off-the-peg shirt.

Tips on choosing a bespoke shirt?
My advice would be, do not over complicate your shirt order. The most beautiful orders I see are the English-cut shirt with Classic or Windsor collar, double-cuffed in luxurious plain cotton or an understated Bengal stripe. Great for the office with a suit and tie and for casual with the sleeves rolled up.

Tweedy's thought: Bengal stripe shirts are absolute classics. A nice broad navy or red stripe on white. What could be better? I feel a gap in the wardrobe needing to be filled.   

Is there such a thing as a perfect fit for bespoke shirts?
Each customer is different in body shape and style preferences, my job is to create a garment that is comfortable and easy to wear as well as addressing the customers own individual style requests.

How many hours does it take to create a bespoke shirt?
It takes on average four to six hours of labour time to create one of our bespoke shirts.

How many client patterns do you have on record?
In our time in business, we have acquired a library of thousands of individual customer’s patterns which can be called on for a customer after years between orders, presuming the customers measurements have not altered…

The Steps to Create a Crichton Bespoke Shirt

Patrick explained the steps in making their bespoke shirts. All of their shirts are cut by hand in their work rooms right in the heart of the city of Chester.
  1. First a paper pattern is cut from the individual measurements taken from the customer.
  2. This set of patterns is then laid onto the material and all the separate twenty one pieces that make a bespoke shirt are cut out.
  3. These pieces are then given to one of our skilled seamstresses to have the firm linings stitched into the collar, cuffs and breast strap and sewn together.
  4. The shirt is then ready to have the button and button holes done, it is then pressed and the finished shape of the collar and cuffs formed on wooden moulds.
  5. The shirt is then trimmed of threads, checked over for the high standard of quality we pride ourselves on, packed and wrapped in tissue for the customer to collect.

Minimum Number of Bespoke Shirts

In Patrick's opinion, a gentlemen should have a bespoke shirt for each day of the working week, two for casual use at the weekend perhaps, plus a Tattersall if he is a shooter and a classic stud fronted dress shirt.

Tweedy's Stats: Nine bespoke shirts will see you right, gents. 

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Wilde About Tusting

Tusting and Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde once said that "fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months." He also said that "quotation is a serviceable substitute for wit", which is handy - you might see The Tweed Pig peppered with more quotations than ever from now on.

Why do we bring up the subject of fashion and Oscar Wilde? Well, as you know we're not really interested in trends here at Tweed Towers, we're interested in the classics - creations that stand the test of time. Something like the beautiful Gladstone Tourer bag (above), produced by Tusting of Olney, England, the English leather goods manufacturer. It's based on the original Gladstone bag, forerunner of the modern suitcase, which was designed in the 19th century and named after the British Prime Minister William Gladstone.

A Gladstone Bag?

And the Oscar Wilde theme continues. Tusting developed their version of the Gladstone bag for a film version of Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest. The 2002 one with Rupert Everett and Colin Firth, I believe (I'm not checking). It was intended as a one-off piece for the film, but the bag proved so popular that it's been in production ever since.

About Tusting - Made in England

Wonderfully, Tusting is still owned and run by the Tusting family after 140 years. The company started as leather tanners and traders and moved into high quality leather goods manufacturing. A genuine British manufacturer that employs traditional craftsmen who use skills derived from the local Northamptonshire shoemaking industry to work on exceptional leathers.

Tusting goods are most popular in Japan and the USA, where its English leather goods enjoy high renown. They are pushing to increase the domestic market and emerging markets eager for that Made in England label.

The Aston Martin Connection

Yes, that's a vintage Aston Martin next to Tusting's Black Atlantic Gladstone above. Loaned by neighbouring business Desmond Smail in Olney, Buckinghamshire, who restore and sell vintage Aston Martins.

Don't they look well together. And so they might, as Tusting actually makes luggage for Aston Martin. Aston Martin customers can choose from various standard luggage lines, or can have entire sets made in the same leather used in their car. A wonderful connection between British manufacturers. Tusting also collaborates with Range Rover and Jaguar on similar customer requests.

Tweedy's thought: I wonder if Tusting are thinking of producing any cycle accessories? Something to look well on my Pashley

Monday, 26 March 2012

Dunhill - Olympic Coverage

Olympic Preparations

Our preparations for the London Olympics are going well. We've noted the dates to avoid visiting London and we've watched Chariots of Fire.

I suppose we ought to think about dressing appropriately to welcome visitors to the UK. But what to wear? A sporting touch, perhaps. Obvously, we're not thinking of slipping into lycra ourselves.

Olympic Spectator's Uniform

To get into the Olympic mood, our friends at Dunhill have a couple of printed silk ties with an understated sporting theme - the Red Torch Print Tie and the fetching Red Cyclist Print Tie. Add a nice navy blazer, some white or red trousers, a gin-and-tonic in hand and I'd say you would be all set for some serious spectating.

Official Olympic Uniform

If you wish to avoid looking like an Olympic official, avoid grey jackets with fluorescent blue piping this summer. That's the official London Olympics uniform below. Sponsored by British high-street clothes chain Next, it's meant to reflect British sporting heritage, the likes of Henley and Wimbledon, with "British quirkiness and modern design."

I'm not sure about it. All looks a bit fire hazard and flimsy. Looking at the photograph, I'm trying to work out what it's saying about Britain in 2012. Maybe it will grow on me, maybe it's designed to come across well on mobile phone-sized screens. The charmless, over-designed logo never has though, and I've given it long enough. Lets compare and contrast with the Ralph Lauren Wimbledon effort. H'm. I'd be interested to know your thoughts.

Alternative Games #1 - World Alternative Games

If the actual Olympics all seem a bit lycra-heavy and serious, Llanwrtyd Wells - a Welsh town with the claim to be the smallest city in Britain - is hosting the World Alternative Games.

Here you will get a chance to be a competitor and take part in such sporting events as Man versus Horse and Wife Carrying.

World Alternative Games 2012, 17th August 2012 to 2nd September 2012

Alternative Games #2 - The Chap Olympiad

Spoilt for choice this year, there's also the annual Chap Olympiad in London organised by The Chap magazine. They offer the enticing opportunity of "pitting your finest trouser creases against another man's, or seeing who can hurl a plate of cucumber sandwiches with the most panache". 

The Chap Olympiad 7th-8th July 2012, Bedford Square Gardens, London

Friday, 23 March 2012

Prep in a Jar

Prep Cream - An Italian Classic

I picked up a few jars of Prep cream in Italy a couple of years back. I couldn't resist the jar or the name. They look lovely positioned on the bathroom shelf. With my rudimentary grasp of Italian, from the description on the jar I believed it could be used for post-shave soothing of the skin. It's heavy on the menthol and seems to work.

Since then I could find nothing on the company - I wasn't really looking - but little pieces of information are starting to appear. Apparently, it's common in Italian households and has numerous uses because of its healing and soothing properties. This includes shaving, where it can be used as an alcohol-free pre-shave and post-shave cream. I also read that it contains an antiseptic that calms rashes and stops nicks. All good then. However, I have also read that it's used to treat dry and cracked heels. Maybe that's what it's for? Perhaps I'm putting foot cream on my face? Not to worry, I'll continue to use it for shaving until I hear that I'm doing untold damage. You may think it's all Battenberg cake and Al Bowlly records at Tweed Towers, but we like to live dangerously.

Prep Cream - Originally an American Classic?

Stories abound that Prep was originally formulated in the U.S. in 1860. I'm not sure, but it appears that the brand was bought by Italian consumer healthcare manufacturer Coswell (1961) in 2009, who describe it as a classic Made in Italy brand. There's something winningly 60s and Amalfi coast about the design of Prep. I'll get young Mrs Tweed to find out more. Or, dear reader, you might be able to enlighten?

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Cecil Beaton Portraits Make Good Chocolate Wrappers

Queen Becomes Subject in V & A Exhibition

Linked to the Diamond Jubilee celebrations taking place in the UK this year, the V & A museum in London is currently exhibiting a collection of portraits of the Queen taken by society photographer Cecil Beaton. When he died in 1980, his collection was passed to his secretary Eileen Hose, who bequeathed them to the museum in 1987.

The photographs show the Queen from teenage princess through to young mother and Queen, with some fabulous photographs of the 1953 coronation.

Cecil Beaton brought a style and sophistication to his fashion photography that helped define the glamour of the twenties and thirties - and was an influence on later fashion photographers such as David Bailey. But he also had a sympathetic eye for the mood of his sitters and could strip back the varnish and playfulness when required to reveal aspects of their personality. This was never more evident than in the famous photograph he took of the Queen in naval cloak that shows her in wistful repose.

Beaton Snapped Everyone

Other notable portraits from Beaton include Churchill, Brando, Dali, Dietrich and Jagger. In fact anyone between the 20s and 70s famous enough to get by on a single name is likely to have been snapped by Beaton.

If you pop along to the V & A shop, there's a themed collection of Beaton gifts in the museum shop, including a bar of chocolate wrapped in a portrait of the Queen. I'd like a Jagger wrapper next, please.

Beaton the Designer

Let's not forget the work Beaton did in theatre and film set, lighting and costume design. He more than earned his Academy Award for Costume Design for the 1964 film version of Loerner and Loewe's My Fair Lady. The Ascot scenes from My Fair Lady are some of the most gorgeous images put to celluloid.

Queen Elizabeth 2 by Cecil Beaton continues at the V & A Museum, London until the 22nd of April

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Pantherella and Top-Drawer Socks

The Big Hitters of the Sock World

A while back I had young Mrs Tweed throw out a question on Twitter concerning socks. We don't ask many questions, admittedly, but I was expecting some forthright opinions. Socks need to be long enough to cover the calf. Socks have to be in a certain yarn. They need reinforcing here and there. Not too tight on the elastic. That sort of thing. Muted response to say the least. Maybe socks just don't inflame the passions as say a peaked lapel might. Or maybe people have better things to think about. Surely not?

Well, as fastidious is what we do, we're going to press on and consider some of the big hitters in the hosiery industry. On the British side we're thinking of the likes of Pantherella and CORGI. Over on the continent we have the classic Italian names, Bresciani and Pope's sockmaker Gammarelli, and the French Mazarin. Not forgetting the German sock giant Falke (the Falke knee-high Number 6 is a good sock). Not names to be trifled with.

So many socks, so little time. We might cover some or all of these sock makers eventually - we don't want to over sock you - but let's start with Pantherella. Come, let us take a journey into the world of the hosier.

The History of Pantherella - Fine English Socks

With over 125 years of sock-making experience, Pantherella has a reputation for making some of the world’s best socks. The company was founded in 1937 by Louis Goldschmidt and revolutionised lightweight hosiery for men. The original factory is still based in Leicester, England, and still uses British Bentley Komet machines from the 1950s, alongside more modern machinery, as well as employing hand-finishing to hand-link toes. The hand-linked toe produces an almost seamless join for extra comfort.

In 2001, Pantherella became part of the British hosiery company J.H. Hall, fifth-generation sock-makers.

Pantherella Yarns

Pantherella produces socks in the following yarns, which are spun in Italy and Switzerland:
  • Lightweight Merino wool
  • Cashmere (from Mongolian goats)
  • Silk and Sea Island Cotton (from the West Indies)
Tweedy's Stats: One goat will take a full year to produce the cashmere for just 3 pairs of socks. I have a couple of pairs of the cashmere socks and they're more robust than you would imagine. Thanks to the goats for the blissful comfort. 

The Icon Collection - 75th Anniversary Celebration

Pantherella celebrate their 75th Anniversary this year with the launch of their Icon Collection, which reintroduces key designs from their archives.

The Icon Collection includes Herringbone, Houndstooth Checks (below), Pin Dots, Retro Fair Isles and Patterned Ribs.

If your shoes read this, they'll be urging you to re-stock your sock drawer and will love you for it.

Tweedy's Thought: If only for the skinny-legged amongst us, it would be nice to see more longer-length socks. They stay up better. The alternative of sock suspenders is a bridge too far. 

Monday, 19 March 2012

Zara Biffed on Conk by Harris Tweed Authority

All Tweed is Not Born the Same

Red faces all round at Inditex, the world's biggest fashion group. The Spanish parent company of brands such as Zara and Massimo Dutti had recently been selling a blazer on its Zara website advertised as Harris Tweed. Not so. The cloth had been nowhere near the Outer Hebrides or the British Isles for that matter.

The Harris Tweed Authority, like a Celtic David against Goliath, was quick to act and the description of the blazer was withdrawn. Inditex, famous for sourcing production in the lowest cost-base countries it can find, manfully apologised and assured the authority that it won't happen again. Good on the HTA. This sort of action is necessary to ensure the integrity and respect of the name and the product, and to support the industry on the islands. No doubt it was a lazy generic appropriation of the name by Inditex, but it's the sort of thing that dilutes the image of Harris Tweed. All tweed is not born the same.

Harris Tweed Act and The Orb

Let's remind ourselves of the Harris Tweed Act of 1993, which defines Harris Tweed as "cloth that has been handwoven by the islanders of Lewis, Harris, Uist and Barra in their homes, using pure virgin wool that has been dyed and spun in the Outer Hebrides."

Only cloth that is woven using this process can be certified with the Harris Tweed Orb symbol and referred to as ‘Harris Tweed’.

Friday, 16 March 2012

Music to Button a Cardigan By: The Last of the Melting Snow

The Leisure Society

We'll be putting the clocks forward for Spring next week. This pasisng of time reminded me of two things: that warmer weather is on the way and that we've neglected the Music to Button a Cardigan By series.

Fitting perhaps (or convenient) that we choose The Last of the Melting Snow by indie-folk band The Leisure Society as our next tune. Lovely soft record. Perfect for buttoning an Aran cardigan with leather buttons.

The Leisure Society was formed by the singer of the band Nicholas Hemming from Burton-upon-Trent, Staffordshire. Burton is home of the mighty Bass beer, founded in 1777 but now owned by the people who produce that terrible American Budweiser beer - the one that has to be drunk almost frozen to disguise the taste. The pub close to Tweed Towers serves Bass straight from the barrel. Excellent beer when well kept. Anyway, I'm digressing wildly. We're here to talk about The Leisure Society. Last of the Melting Snow was released in 2008. Four years on and it's still getting airplay at Tweed Towers. Eminently cardigan fastening-worthy and a future classic. Tuck it away on your iPod and it will age beautifully.

A varied collection of sweaters in the video below. No cardigans.

Tweedy's Note: This might intrigue you - The Leisure Society made an interesting cover of Gary Numan's Cars. 

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Paul Stuart - Anglo-American Classics

Paul Stuart - Understated and Over There

Paul Stuart was founded in New York 1938 and remains a family business. Its original flagship shop remains at the corner of Madison Avenue and 45th Street in New York. It also has a shop in Chicago, and outlets in Japan and South Korea, but no footprint in Europe as of yet.

Similar to Brooks Brothers in a Good Way

Similar to Brooks Brothers, the company is known for its conservative Anglo-American style. Paul Stuart offers a refined take on traditional dress, whilst avoiding the clichés of mass-market preppyism that induce Ivy fatigue.

True to that Anglo-American special relationship with mummy (England), Paul Stuart sources pocket squares, braces, shoes, ties and accessories from old Albion. See below for samples - you might want to guess which company produced them.

A handshake to Paul Stuart. Do come to Britain.

Silk/Linen Plaid Tie - Made in England

Self-tacked and self-tipped, printed English silk and linen tie.

Suede Buck Shoes - Made in England

Storm welted Derby (Blucher), with crepe sole.

Monday, 12 March 2012

On the Carnaby Beat - Peckham Rye

Carnaby Street - The Scarf Pick-up

I headed to Carnaby Street in London the other day. No sign of John Steed or the Ace Face, but I was there to pick up a scarf from Peckham Rye. I was looking for one to wear with the coat above and below. I went with a classic Paisley pattern in the end. Paisley is the Victorian term for the Eastern-influenced 'teardrop' motif that derives its name from Paisley in Scotland where much of the domestic manufacture took place.

Friend of the The Tweed Pig, the genial Martin Brighty from Peckham Rye assisted with the selection. The scarf is an allover Paisley print on silk twill with blue background. Made by Peckham Rye it has their trademark long hand-knotted fringes. Handsome.

Peckham Rye -  Tommy & Charlie Mccarthy

Martin had some news for us. Peckham Rye has introduced made-to-measure suits to its range. Or rather, re-introduced them after a long hiatus. The suits are labelled Tommy & Charlie Mccarthy, after father and son family members who operated as military tailors 200 years ago. Tommy started as a tailor for the East India Co in 1813, his son Charlie joining the family business at the ripe old age of 9.

With the 303 suit block - 303 was Charlie’s regimental serial number - Peckham Rye aims for a "distinctive London flavour" and to bring a little sharpness back into dressing.

Mulberry for Men is No More

The blue overcoat with raglan sleeves (pictured) is by Mulberry. I need to be careful with that coat - Mulberry menswear is no more, gents. First it was furnishing, now it's the menswear. Mulberry now cater solely for women. I'm sorry to see them go. They had some nice things for men. I regret not getting that vicuña overcoat of theirs when I had the chance.

The cloth on the overcoat is a blend of paper and cotton. It feels pretty robust, and I was assured it was when I bought it, but I have my doubts about the longevity of a coat made of paper.

The Carnaby Street Incident 

I spotted this Japanese chap (below) walking around Carnaby Street shopping. He wasn't out to buy a Gap T-shirt, let me tell you. He was seeking out genuine British merchandise and there simply aren't enough shops to supply that need to the tweed-clad tourist.

This is where The Tweed Pig tries to help out.

Sensing an opportunity, and fighting my natural English discomfort at drawing attention to myself and approaching someone without introduction, I tried to offer some advice through his interpreter and to see if he would like to be one of our pin-ups. Lots of smiling, but it was tricky. He was happy to have the photo taken, but sadly no background information on the duds.

London Shrunk - W. T. Johnson

Finishing Cloth - W. T. Johnson

W. T. Johnson provide fine finishes to fabrics for tailors and designers, including fabrics from their own subsidiary suiting manufacturers John Foster. Their most famous finish is the London Shrunk, which they describe as the "ultimate suiting finish".

The London Shrunk Finish

The London Shrunk process shrinks and relaxes fabric so that it is easier to handle and work by tailors. The fabric is softer and drapes better.

Tailors appreciate the finish because the cloth will withstand the stresses of suit construction and multiple steam pressings and come out of the process with its characteristics intact.

Shrinking House 1950s

You can see a short film of work at a London shrinking house in the 1950s on the British Pathé site. I believe that the company shown on the stamp for the Invincible Finish featured in the film (below) -  Perrotts (Nicol & Peyton) - went out of business in 2009. I don't trust my own research, so it would be nice to hear that they're still making cloth invincible. What do you know British cloth-lovers?

Tweedy's Thought: We see the names of cloth makers in more and more jackets. Is a label for the finisher too much information?

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Small and Spicy - De Olifant Fantje Cigars

Dutch Puffs

Knowing I like to carry small 'espresso-sized' cigars around with me for that (rare) sunshine + outdoor cafe/pub moment, a friend passed on this dainty little box of ten De Olifant Fantje cigarillos.

De Olifant is a Dutch company that was established in 1826 and still makes its cigars at its original factory in Kampen, Holland using original equipment. My friend tells me that De Olifant has a fine reputation for making punchy little cigars. Not sure what fantje means in Dutch. It's Slovenian for boys.

Kampen looks very nice from what I've seen of it and it's only an hour from Amsterdam, gents, for when you're next in that city. Maybe we'll take a charabanc over from Tweed Towers sometime.

De Olifant Fantje is a flavour-packed little smoke, spicy and rich with a splendid aroma. One will last about five minutes. Nice enjoyed with a glass of La Trappe Dubbel outside a Dutch boozer in the sunshine, whilst tapping your brogues to the jazz playing inside.

Because of their size, the cigarillos can dry out quickly so get them in your humidor quick sharp.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

The Life and Times of Guernsey Sweaters - Guernsey Woollens

Guernsey Sweaters

A proper Guernsey sweater is the sort of no-nonsense classic sweater that every man should have in his winter wardrobe. It feels like woollen chain-mail - in a good way - it's so thick and robust. Fantastic. Wear one of these and then go and feel some of the excuses for sweaters that they sell on the high street. Pah! Built to last to say the least, these things can last for decades. This one of mine is in First World War green with the traditional 'boat' neckline.

The Sweater of Choice for Fishermen, Servicemen and Criminals

The Guernsey sweater originates on Guernsey in the Channel Islands as sweater of choice for fishermen because it was hard wearing, warm and could resist water due to the tightness of its weave. It has a claim to be an item of British national dress, apparently. (Could a similar claim be made for a Barbour wax jacket? I think so.)

Such a practical garment would find a use in Her Majesty's Armed Forces, and was adopted by the Royal Navy and British Army in appropriate colours. I believe RLNI boat crews are still issued with Guernseys.

Fishermen and servicemen, yes, but also criminals? Law-breakers need to keep warm too. Take James Williams (above). He wouldn't be seen committing acts of larceny in 1902 North Shields, England without his short-sleeved Guernsey. H'mm, short-sleeved Guernsey — there's a thought. I spotted that flicking through the pictures of Edwardian criminals put up by Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums. At a time when most men wore suits, shirts and ties, I'm always interested in the casual end of dress at that time. Remember the Criminally Nice Sweater?

History Spot: In the 19th century Nelson recommended Guernseys for the navy, and they were issued to a British garrison in Nova Scotia as part of their winter equipment.

I'm Convinced, But Where Can I Get Hold of a Guernsey? Answer: Guernsey Woollens

You'll be pleased to find that you can still buy an original Guernsey sweater made in Guernsey.
Guernsey Woollens have a workshop in the Parish of Vale on the island of Guernsey.

The company is run and owned by Phil Walker and Arthur Eldridge who met in the 70's when they worked for the same knitwear company in the UK. Watching a British textile industry battered by the low production costs of the Far East, their mission is to preserve the true Guernsey. The sweaters are knitted on machines, then hand-finished and steamed.

It's hard to break the seemingly insatiable consumer appetite for disposable, cheaply-made fashion, but the success of Guernsey Woollens means the tide can be turned. The company makes 200 Guernseys a week using a blend of traditional and modern manufacturing methods. Its biggest markets are the UK mainland, Europe, Canada, Japan and the United States.

Army Commissions

Such is the practicality of the Guernsey sweater that a consignment saw front-line service with the Desert Rats in Iraq. In 2006, the Brigadier of the 7th Armoured brigade commissioned Guernsey Woollens to make several hundred sweaters complete with Desert Rat insignia on the left arm for their campaign.

They have also supplied the forces in Afghanistan and regiments including the Mercian, the Royal Tank and the Intelligence Corps, who have recently reverted to their First World War green like the sweater above but with a higher neck.

Made-to-measure Service

Guernsey Woollens offers a made-to-measure service for individual size requirements.

Tinker, Tailor Passed Us By

A recent favourite film at Tweed Towers was the adaptation of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. (Old posts: Smiley's Aquascutum Trench Coat and Tinker Tailors - Timothy Everest and Huntsman). Gents, we missed a vital piece of intelligence. A Guernsey Woollens sweater was also used in the film. In case you haven't seen the film, we won't reveal the wearer. All hush-hush.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Black Dyke and Apple Records - John Foster 1819

John Foster (1819)

John Foster has been weaving suiting fabrics in and around Bradford, England for almost 200 years. The eponymous John Foster was a classic Victorian philanthropist who built a whole community around the original Black Dyke Mill in Queensbury - providing houses and facilities for his workers. At its peak in the late 1900s the Black Dyke Mills employed around 8,000 people.

Foster was an innovator in cloth weaving processes. At the Great Exhibition in 1851, the company won prizes for its alpaca and mohair fabrics.

At Stanley Mills, their current Bradford facility, British-owned John Foster continue to innovate and weave sought-after fabrics from wool, mohair, cashmere, silk, linen and cotton - 70% of which is exported. Every little helps our trade deficit. Your tailor may be interested to know that the fabrics can now be ordered online.

Below you can see:
  • 9.5oz black and white Puppy Tooth in super 120s wool and cashmere.
  • 10oz Birdseye in super 120s wool and cashmere.

Black Dyke Band and Apple Records

You've probably guessed that there is a John Foster connection with the Black Dyke Band. The famous brass band was formed at the mill in 1855, and John Foster was himself a member. He provided the band's uniform too. John Foster cloth, of course.

Brass bands like the Black Dyke Band provide a musical soundscape to northern English industrial heritage that is still evoked to this day, even though much of the associated industry may have disappeared.

One of the high points of the band has to be the recording of the Lennon and McCartney composition Thingummybob on the Beatles' own Apple Records label. The single was produced by Paul McCartney and recorded on location near Bradford in 1968. Look at the record label above and you'll see the artist labelled as John Foster and Son Ltd. Black Dyke Band. Not many companies can claim such a pop cultural legacy.

Friday, 2 March 2012

Saul Bass - A Life in Film and Design

Saul Bass - The Big Picture
Exciting times, chums. People have waited years for this book to be published and now it is amongst us. London-based publishers Laurence King, independent British publishers for 20 years, have released Saul Bass: A Life in Film & Design [Amazon]by Jennifer Bass and Pat Kirkham.

Saul Bass is one of the most striking graphic designers of the 20th Century. We all know his designs for the posters and title sequences of some of our favourite films, Hitchcock's Vertigo and The Birds, and Preminger's Anatomy of a Murder. All these designs are in the book and so many more less well known, such as his work on logos and corporate identities - Quaker Oats and Minolta to name a couple.

Smashing Preface
In his entertaining preface to the book, Martin Scorcese says of the graphic style of Bass that he "found and distilled the poetry of the modern, industrialized world."

The Book
Saul Bass: A Life in Film & Design is designed by Saul Bass’s daughter Jennifer and written by design historian Pat Kirkham, who has also written on Charles and Ray Eames. The book, which has 1,400 illustrations, many never published before, is a definitive visual record of the legacy of Saul Bass.

The Shame of The Tweed Pig
I'm pretty sure Saul Bass would have one or two things to say about The Tweed Pig logo we knocked up. Looking at it right now, I feel shamed into wanting to do something about it. But not enough to interrupt this cup of tea. Maybe tomorrow.

Saul Bass Gallery
The samples here include:
  • The 1956 album cover to Frank Sinatra's Tone Poems of Color.
  • The 1958 poster to the film Anatomy of a Murder.
  • The 1973 album cover to Japanese musician Stomu Yamash'ta's East Wind project Freedom is Frightening.
Music from the Man Who Fell to Earth
Wind Words from Freedom is Frightening (27' 52" in on clip video below) is an incredibly lovely and otherworldly tune. Do listen to it. It was also included, fittingly, on the soundtrack to Nicolas Roeg's film The Man Who Fell to Earth starring David Bowie. Much of Stomu's output in the 70s was recorded in England, so — according to our arbitrary rules — we can claim this track as a British classic. Hidden gem is a bit of catch-all though, so it would have sneaked in one way or another.

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