Thursday, 31 January 2013

Japanese Beer in Spain - Asahi Kuronama

Asahi Kuronama with Sushi

In many ways this post goes wholly against the editorial brief of The Tweed Pig (snigger). We are talking about a Japanese beer sampled in a sushi restaurant in Madrid. Not the Tweed Pig way, old boy. We don't 'do' restaurants and we only cover local food on our forays abroad, like the club philosophy of our friends at Berlin's Chelsea Farmer's Club: to wit, "Prefer regional cuisine and the British wardrobe."

But the beer was delicious and I was the guest of hospitable friends. It was also a good fit for the food - all being de Japon - so we'll publish and be damned. Kuronama is the name of the beer, based on the dunkel type, and brewed by Asahi in Osaka.

A ruby-coloured medium-bitter beer, made from three roasted malts, its sweetness went exceptionally well with the sushi it accompanied.

The restaurant is the Kabuki in the smashing Hotel Wellington, in Salamanca, Madrid. Try the sashimi de toro.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Spanish Cordovan - Carmina 1886

Spanish Leather Shoes

Aqui estoy in my favourite Spanish city of Madrid (after cider-soaked Oviedo). Coverage of Spain has been woeful on The Tweed Pig so far, but I'll try and drip-feed some intelligence out. I'm returning in Spring, when I'll see if I can deliver a little more on this city of southern Habsburgian elegance.

Carmina 1886

We all know the fine history of Spanish leather, where the famous Cordovan horse leather originates. If you're going to buy genuine Cordovan shoes, then Spain's a good place to do it.

Carmina the shoemakers was established in 1886 in Mallorca. The company aims to compete with the best of the English shoemakers.

The family business has a shop in Gran Via, Madrid, that includes a line of Cordovan leather shoes. The Cordovan shoes are available in ready-made and bespoke. Examples below - a brown tassel loafer and brogue, in a very attractive oxblood colour. The Cordovans are lined in calf leather.

Smell Like Spanish Leather or the Skin of Spain

And why not smell of Spanish leather too? Spanish leather is one of the classic scents for gentlemen. The name derives from Peau d’Espagne (Skin of Spain), a perfume once used to scent leather. Many of the perfumers we cover regularly offer varieties of this spicy, musky, leathery scent, such as Truefitt and Hill, Floris and Trumpers.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Absolute Beginners - Page One of Mod History

Absolute Beginners - The Novel

If the Anglo-Saxon epic poem Beowulf is page one of English history, then the 1959 novel Absolute Beginners by Colin MacInnes might be considered page one of mod history.

Absolute Beginners contains the first account in literature of the burgeoning British modernist movement. The book is set in the summer of 1958 London and written from the perspective of an unnamed teenage photographer living in a run-down part of London. The photographer is our narrator and he epitomises a forward-thinking mod mentality, seeking out the best that popular culture has to offer in clothes, scooters, coffee bars and music, notably jazz. MacInnes uses his mod narrator as a device to introduce characters at the margins of society, but personifying the changing cultural landscape of London. Not much by way of plot, but a vivid depiction of time and place, language and sensibility.

Page one of mod, but, of course, the book of mod continues to be written...

Publishers Allison & Busby has a current print edition.

Absolute Beginners - The Film

The film version of Absolute Beginners didn't get a good reception when it came out in 1986 and was a box-office failure despite heavy promotion. Staging the novel as a musical was a brave approach that failed to ignite interest.

Director Julian Temple - known for the many engaging pop promos he's made for the likes of The Sex Pistols and The Rolling Stones - brought across the freshness and youthful energy of the novel (to me at least), but it's certainly his own interpretation, giving the story the colour and expression of a Columbia Records jazz album cover.

It's diverting if you anticipate the stylized approach and West Side Story dance-fight choreography. I enjoyed a recent re-watch. It may have been for the wrong reasons? Are there wrong reasons?

Absolute Beginners - The Soundtrack

The film may not be everyone's cup of tea, but it's hard to take a disliking to the soundtrack with its original songs by David Bowie, Gil Evans, Sade and The Style Council. Sade and a tap-dancing Bowie (with a shudderingly strange mid-Atlantic accent) also appeared in the film.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Abbey Horn - Taking Horns by the Bull

Making a Shoehorn

As promised in our previous piece on Abbey Horn, we're giving an overview of how horn is worked to make a shoehorn.

As indicated by the name, shoehorns are traditionally made of horn. Made well, a proper shoehorn will last a lifetime. And they look so much nicer than a plastic equivalent. If you take your footwear seriously, then one of these is an absolute pre-requisite.

Shoehorns are typically made from cow horn and the natural grain of the horn is utilised to provide the strength required.

The models from Abbey Horn you see here are the 18" Shoehorn With Stag Handle above and the 10" Tip End Shoehorn below.

Stages of Manufacture

A piece of horn is specially selected in its natural form, with no prior heat treatment or shaping. It is then split into two pieces.

The horn is treated under a soft gas flame and shaped to make it straight. It will appear charred on the surface, but the underneath is untouched.

The shape is formed in a metal vice and the tip is straightened; it may take several treatments with heat to get to this stage.

The shoehorn is formed by hand on abrasive discs. It then goes through a smoothing process using emery cloth of increasingly finer grade.

Once shaped and formed, the piece becomes more recognisable as a shoehorn. All that’s needed is a polish to bring out the natural beauty and colour.

The shoehorn is finished with its leather loop and tag.

Thanks to Abbey Horn for providing this information.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

London Cloth Company - Bespoke Cloth for Lauren

British Micro-mill Produces a Cloth for a Lauren Waistcoat

The London Cloth Company is single-handedly bringing manufacturing back to the heart of London. We applauded loudly when we first wrote of their venture. All done without government interference or initiatives, as with all worthwhile undertakings.

Ralph Lauren is never slow in spotting an opportunity to splice a bit of British heritage to their brand. The London Cloth Company created a woollen twill on one of their antique looms for them. The twill is made from Shetland wool from yarn spinners R. Gledhill of Oldham, England and was used to create a waistcoat.

We don't have images of the cloth yet - ahem - or the waistcoat. Our people are working feverishly with their people to bring relevant photographs to you people. We'll whack them on if we get them.

LCC's adventure in small-scale manufacturing is refreshing because it shows that there are entrepreneurial alternatives to boring old technology startups. The future doesn't need to be about sitting on brightly-coloured beanbags in offices that look like nurseries dreaming up intangibles we can live without, it can be about getting hands dirty and making real things.

Monday, 21 January 2013

George Cleverley Shoes - In Great Shape

Cleverley - The Name

George Cleverley. Such an English-sounding name, one that feels so well-fitted to the fine English shoemaking for which G. J. Cleverley is famous, like it was crafted on one of their famous chiselled lasts. But where does the name originate? In 1898, George Cleverley was born into a family of London shoemakers. He got into the shoe trade at an early age, finishing his apprenticeship at 15.

After serving in the First World War he joined Tuczec, the Mayfair shoemakers and worked for them for 38 years. In 1958, he left to start G. J. Cleverley, his own business on Cork Street, Mayfair, London. The name and business soon became known for the quality of the shoes and the elegant chisel-toed 'Cleverley shape'.

George died in 1991, almost with an awl in his hand so much was his love of shoemaking.

He made sure the business was in good hands and the name could continue. John Carnera and George Glasgow, who had joined Cleverley's in 1978 and learned their craft directly from George, continue in the business that is now located in The Royal Arcade, Old Bond Street, London.

The two men have 90 years experience of shoemaking and ensure that anyone joining the business has enough training to maintain the high standards that make the name so highly regarded.

Cleverley - The Shoe

G. J. Cleverley offers three ranges: Bespoke, Anthony Cleverley - Semi-bespoke and Bench Made - Ready-to-Wear. All shoes are made with the best materials, such as Freudenberg calf leather and oak bark tanned soles.

Bespoke, of course, gives you a shoe that is handmade precisely for your foot in whatever design you choose. The ideal. Your ideal, in fact.

Semi-Bespoke shoes are machine-stitched and hand-finished and are available in many popular lines made famous by illustrious clients. The semi-bespoke is hand-lasted and hand-welted, as for the fully bespoke, to create a more defined shape. To achieve the shape, the waist is cut and bevelled and the heels worked by hand. Semi-bespoke can also be made-to-order for slight modifications to achieve a better fit.

Bench Made shoes are available in many popular styles. They are made with Goodyear welted soles and are hand-lasted.

I'm pointing out a couple of the styles that take my eye here. We have the Matthew in tan calf from the Bench Made range at the top. You'd need to get the right shade of grey, perhaps a burgundy or raising green, for the trousers to show those off well. We've also got the Park in dark green calf above and below. Lovely. (I'm still looking out for green shoes.)

World of Shoes: I'm thinking of a new feature, as always, called Love of Shoes (sub-title Sole Mates). If you're a Cleverley's bespoke customer and would like to show your unique creation to our politely appreciative audience, please get in touch. Tell us all about the shoes. We respect any requests for anonymity or we can splash your fizzog front and centre - we don't mind. Same applies for shoes from any of the other shoemakers we feature. Click the Footwear tag for more info.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Folding Socks the Tweedy Way - The Zagreb Technique

Don't Be a Ball Man

This feels like a bit of an overspill from our recent Corgi Hosiery Week, (because it is), but all that recent sock talk made me think about the importance of sock care.

I don't know about you, but for many years I was a ball man. I would take my laundered socks, pair them and then roll them into balls. Wrong.

A few years back my life was turned upside down by the laundry service of a hotel in Zagreb, Croatia. I'd been gleefully balling my laundered socks up to that point, blithely unaware of any alternative. I handed over my socks to the Zagreb hotel's laundry and expected them to be returned un-paired. I picture a wise, old laundress as I think about this. Blimey, was I wrong. They were returned paired in a strange flattened tube shape. In this new pairing the socks looked neater, were easier to stow and there was no undue stretch on the fabric. I never looked back.

Vowing to learn this method, after many attempts I eventually mastered it. For those who are not familiar with the 'Zagreb technique', I demonstrate it below on a pair of Pantherellas.

Keep it Flat and Long - the Zagreb Technique

1. Take your pair of socks and bend at the heel.

2. Turn the second sock inside out and put your hand inside to the heel - to the same length as the other bent sock.

3. With the socked hand, hold the bent sock from one end and pull the sock on your hand over it.

4. You're done. Just straighten out any kinks and place in your sock drawer.

Not sure why I took off my watch and rolled up my sleeves for the photos. Maybe I was approaching it like a surgical procedure. That's how much I care about socks.

Tweedy's Thought: Perhaps you think balls are best? Or maybe socks should be handled as little as possible, like a baby-leaf salad? Feel free to share your thoughts on this burning issue.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Bone Idols - Abbey Horn 1749

The Horn Age

Give me horn over plastic. Many products that are made in plastic lend themselves very well to the older, more natural material of horn. It's a very versatile material.

Anyway, our good friends at Abbey Horn are exemplars of the traditional craft of horn-working, a tradition that goes way back to a time when, actually how far does it go back? We have a Stone Age and Bronze Age, but no Horn Age? When did man first pick up the horn? I'm no anthropogenist, but this seems like a gap.

Horn-working has moved with the times though, and Abbey has many useful horn products that our early ancestors may have balked at using or used inappropriately (to our amusement). Silly ancestors.

Abbey Horn Items

Abbey Horn has a long history as a family-run business, tracing back to 1749,  and is currently owned by the Cleasby family. The company is based in Carnforth, Lancashire, England.

Abbey's products are manufactured in the UK with horn from trusted suppliers. The horn is typically a by-product being put to good use rather than discarded.

Gentlemen, may I interest you in the following from Abbey. 

First of all, the Money Clip (above). An unusual and attractive item for keeping your pounds, dollars or yen together. I won't say euros in case it's all change on that front.

Next, the specialist Beard Brush for keeping whiskers trim. Wooden brush of natural bristles with a veneer of horn on top.

Finally, the Oxhorn Clothes Brush. Poilshed horn with natural bristles. You can have your monogram carved on it too.

As you see, versatile.

"What about shoehorns, Tweedy?" you ask in chorus. We'll cover shoe horns from Abbey soon, including a fascinating description of how they're made. Stay connected horn lovers.

Monday, 14 January 2013

Tweed Pig Pin-Up - Davide Taub

Davide Taub Senior Cutter at Gieves & Hawkes

Davide Taub is Head Cutter at Gieves & Hawkes. Imbued with the history of Savile Row, Davide is renowned for the quality and craftsmanship of his work. Not to mention innovation.

Davide's career path in the tailoring trade has taken him from Kashket and Partners, then Maurice Sedwell and Edward Sexton before his move to Gieves.

About the Photo

Davide explains:

"This photograph, taken at home, it's Saturday night and we're going to see Hype Williams. On the way we stop to eat at Lalibela, a great Ethiopian restaurant in Tufnell Park.

"I am wearing my patchwork sports jacket that is made up of black, grey and dark red tweeds and flannels, in Herringbone, Prince of Wales check, Dogtooth and Donegal. The design is not at all as random as it might at first seem. It took some working out to arrange the different cloths so they would, in certain areas, match to create intricate patterns. I was inspired, partially, by the 'Dazzle' camouflage designs painted on the British ships in the Great War.

"The cut of the jacket is becoming a signature for me in terms of showing off how sculptural tailoring can be. I love the curves and slopes and rolls that can be made by manipulating the cloth to create a flowing waist, chest, shoulder line and sleeve-head. I get a lot of inspiration from women’s wear, as much as I do from artists and architecture and music.

"I love to attach little trinkets... On this coat, under the lapels, I have a silver skull I found in a Brighton flea market when I studied architecture there in the early 90s. On my shoulder I have a silver lizard from Haight-Ashbury and a little silver Pinocchio with moving limbs from a junk shop in Florence!
Beneath the jacket I made a quilted brush-cotton ‘bib’ that has a zipped front and is attached to the inside of the facings with Mother-of-Pearl buttons.

"This is the first jacket I made intentionally for a casual look. Before this, I just used to wear old suits that I felt were no longer good enough to wear for work any longer. I might have mixed these pensioned jackets with striped mohair jumpers, skinny curved-seam jeans and ‘kicked-in’ white brogues or army boots, for example.

"My approach to cutting and tailoring is to primarily consider the function of the suit over fashion. By this I mean, it’s purpose, the environment it will be worn, the body shape of the wearer, their personal demands and of course, comfort and movement. If these are used as my guide, then a timeless elegant and stylish suit can be created, that perfectly responds to the wearer’s character and needs. To me, it is important to learn from the traditions handed to us from the past. But it is essential that they aren’t just blindly copied so they do not relate to our age and end up appearing like some kind of pastiche. Savile Row is unique because of the close proximity of so many tailors of different ages in the many close-knit workshops. It enables the trade to remain constantly vibrant and open to innovation, which keeps bespoke tailoring relevant beyond the passing trends of high street fashion."

Davide's Work

Davide's delightful description of his photo tells us much about his creativity and his love of tailoring. He seems to live and breathe his craft. His contribution to keeping the bespoke suit trade of Savile Row relevant, but without relinquishing its heritage, is one reason it continues to thrive.

Here are a couple of photos of Davide's patchwork jacket. A work of art in itself. Note the zipped pocket that hides under the lapel.

Tweedy's Thought: Do you work in Savile Row? Do you have a story to explain its unique place in men's clothing? Don't be an unsung hero, be a sung one - get in touch.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Never Sing Louder than Lovely - Andy Bey

Ballads, Blues and Bey

I'm going through a jazz phase right now. Always happens as we get into winter. I tend to dress a bit more trad in the cold months too. Not sure why that might be the case. Same with you? Anyway, Andy Bey's been figuring on many playlists, particularly tracks from the album Ballads, Blues and Bey.

Bey, an American jazz singer and pianist, has been performing and recording since the early sixties. In 1996 he brought out Ballads, Blues and Bey on the Evidence label, a stripped-back collection of standards. His heartfelt vocals given a tender, low-key almost world-weary piano accompaniment.

"Never sing louder than lovely" was the oft-repeated maxim of the Scottish singer Isobel Baillie, and also the title of her biography. (Must feature her in some way.) That's the feeling created by Ballads, Blues and Bey. Intimate is the word and a very personal listening pleasure it is.

Like Bey's Tie?

If you're liking the look of Bey's jazzy horizontal-striped tie in the top picture, New York might be your best bet to find similar. David Hart & Co., New York based tie-maker and retailer, has quite a few horizontal numbers in its collection. Thanks to our New York operative for the intelligence.

The Red Multi Stripe (below) in silk catches old Tweedy's eye. Hart's ties are hand-tailored in New York, many from the best English silk, tweeds and wool.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Walker Slater - Scottish Tweed Specialists

Walker Slater - Heritage from the Loom

Walker Slater produce ready-to-wear and made-to-measure tweed clothing. They live and breathe tweed. Tweed in all its weights, colours and textures. And in twenty years their love of tweed has taken them from the Highlands of Scotland to the opening of shops in Edinburgh’s Old Town and Fulham in London. They recently branched out into women’s clothing too.

A refresh of their website is coming soon, from which they will be able to better serve the global network of tweed lovers, both wholesale and retail.

Intelligence on the Clothes
The clothes shown in the photos are available from Walker Slater shops and by Walker Slater, unless stated.

Very Scottish-looking gent in car (above):

Hat: Bond brown red check by Olney
Tie: Red wool
Suit: Edward brown lambswool Shetland tweed three-piece suit

Chap on chair (below):

Suit: Patric brown windowpane check wool tweed three-piece suit
Shoes: Curtis oak brown calf leather by Cheaney 
Watch chain: Gold-plated rhodium
Silk Square: Brown silk

Fellow in bowler hat (below):

Suit: Wool & cashmere brown and yellow check three-piece suit
Shirt: Cornflower blue double cuff cotton
Tie: Brown and red wool tweed
Hat: Brown wool bowler from Christy and Co.

Notes on Manufacture

Everything from Walker Slater is inspired by and designed in Scotland. Mostly U.K made and sourced. For some of the larger-scale production runs, cloth and designs are sent to top-notch Portuguese factories for finishing.


Walker Slater made-to-measure is all handmade in-house.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

London Undercover Umbrellas

The Wet and Happy Breed

So 2012 was one of the wettest years in the UK since records began. As I've said on more than one occasion, it never fails to amaze me how ill-prepared for the cold and wet climate of the UK people seem to be. We'll never have the climate of California. This is the United Kingdom of umbrellas and macs, not the republic of flip-flops and cargo shorts. We may get a couple of sunny weeks in summer when the sun pokes out, but generally we live under a permanent blanket of cloud that could precipitate at any moment. And if you dress accordingly, it's perfectly feasible to live a long and happy life in those conditions. And not have to grumble about the weather constantly.

Get Undercover

The golden rule of UK living is always carry an umbrella. And a good one. Do not waste time with poor quality umbrellas. They will perform badly and look terrible. If you're going to be carrying one around almost constantly, it makes sense to buy one that looks good and will last.

I favour full-length umbrellas. As you will witness in The Avengers TV series, the character John Steed (above) demonstrated how a full-length umbrella can also serve as a useful tool for self-defence. So you can be dry and safe with a good umbrella. (Remarkable sleeves on Steed's coat.)

Saving the City Gent

London Undercover was established in 2008 by a possibly drenched Jamie Milestone. His aim was to re-invigorate the British umbrella industry. This makes sense. If one place is more associated with umbrellas, and has the greatest need, it is the UK. The industry couldn't be allowed to disappear.

The London-based company keeps materials and manufacturing UK-based as far as possible and produces a fine selection of British-made umbrellas. The Navy City Gent Lifesaver above has a Malacca handle, beech shaft and gunmetal tip and spokes. The 24" frame will keep you and a loved one dry in a downpour, as long as you hold tight.

Doing a Full Steed

It might be worth thinking about doing a 'full Steed' and getting a bowler hat too. London Undercover has collaborated with Christy's the hat makers for their Pigeon Bowler Hat. The hat is handmade in fur felt with a charming silk pigeon-print lining

Monday, 7 January 2013

New & Lingwood - Shirtmakers, Hosiers and Shoemakers

Happy New Year 

Sticklers for convention, we always stretch the Christmas celebrations to Epiphany at Tweed Towers, squeeze in another little feast. But there's no denying it now - Christmas is over for another year. The party hat needs to be removed and the party blower furled. Happy New year, by the way.

Back to business. You may remember we featured a neckband shirt (as above) from New & Lingwood in our extremely popular Back to Work post? We received some typically well-mannered correspondence about it. People are curious about neckband or tunic shirts and are wondering whether to have a bash at wearing one.

Shirt Intelligence - Simon Maloney,  Product & Marketing Director for New & Lingwood

Mrs Tweed Pig shared a pot of Harmutty Assam from Whittard's and a plate of Fortnum's rose biscuits with Simon Maloney, Product & Marketing Director for New & Lingwood, to get the gen on tunic shirts and a bit of general shirt collar advice for good measure.

The shirts are made from two-fold 120s fine Italian cotton. The construction is non-fused, which is the traditional method of construction.

The shirts have their fans. "Tunic shirts have a loyal but small customer base – usually barristers or true aficionados of English style," explained Simon.

New and Lingwood offer many different styles of collar to attach to a tunic shirt, but Simon says of N & L's collar styles generally that popularity is split between the Milan collar on Tailored shirts and the Classic collar on their Classic shirts.

Shirt Collar Advice

Simon's advice on choosing shirt collars:

"To some extent, collar choice is personal but there are a couple of guidelines:

"A cutaway or extreme cutaway collar is best avoided if you have a rounded or fuller face as it tends to accentuate it. It would be best to opt for a more forward pointed collar to balance the overall effect. Equally, a person with a thin, long face should look at a semi spread collar, a Classic or Milan, to accentuate the profile rather than exaggerate it.

"When choosing a tie knot, make sure your choice fills the ‘tie-space’, that is, a Windsor knot for a cutaway – a small knot can look lost. And vice versa for narrow tie spaces."

Pigs can carry any style, I'll wager.

New & Lingwood's Website

Simon thinks we're in for a treat with N & L's new website which is going live soon. (Whisper: there's a fairly extensive sale going on right now to make way for it.) When it goes live, we'll let you know and maybe we'll speak again with Simon and pick out some choice items.

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