Thursday, 28 February 2013

Keene on Allen Edmonds Shoes

Keene Discussing Allen Edmonds

Our dear friend Tom Keene has a wonderful surname for creating headlines. He can be Keene on anything. Do they say that in the US? I'm keen on something? I'm sure they do.

Anyway, I was watching Tom's excellent Bloomberg Surveillance on Bloomberg Television the other day, whilst chewing on some splendid salami for lunch (likely equine, likely withdrawn from shelves). Accompanied by the fragrant Sara Eisen, he spoke with Paul Grangaard, chief executive officer of Allen Edmonds.

We learnt that Allen Edmonds is shipping US-made shoes to China - customers are willing to pay a premium for the name and the quality. I'm sure the big Northampton shoemakers are getting a similar message out there.

Paul displayed a shoe made of the same leather used for baseballs. Interesting. Has anyone constructed a shoe of cricket ball leather? I'm faintly recalling something, but it's not coming into focus.

The Doubleday is made in the Dominican Republic. Bass Weejuns are also made there. Is it becoming a shoemaking hub?

Cordovan Dalton Designed by Jim Dayton

Ever the classicist, you may be more interested in this US-made brogue boot from Allen Edmonds. Designed by Jim Dayton, who also designed Edmonds' new shop layouts (bottom), the boot is made of Horween Cordovan leather, leather-lined with a double Rendenbach leather sole. Handsome boot.

When to Buy the Daltons, Tweedy?

As an armchair economist, if you're Brit, I'd say it might be sensible to wait for the pound to strengthen before taking the plunge. Best check in on Tom's programme to see when that might be - but you might be waiting a while.

Previous posts on Tom here, here and here.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Hype Specialist Luggage

Hype Specialist Luggage

Hype Specialist Luggage is a British luggage and accessories company based in West Yorkshire, England. It was started in 2010 by Paul Holmes.

Paul lived in South East Asia for around 10 years, where he was involved in the manufacture of shooting and hunting accessories, such as gun cases. A desire to move into the quality end of the market prompted Paul's return to the UK, that and an unfortunate experience with a rogue Chinese producer.

Living up to the Hype

Paul wanted Hype's luggage to have the subtle and unique design features he knew his customers were looking for, products with "character and soul".

Hype first developed a small range of shooting accessory products and then moved into travel luggage following favourable feedback on a travel case Paul developed for his own use.

From the outset, Hype's strategy has been a commitment to quality and materials so that they can offer their customers the best possible products that are built to last. All Hype luggage is manufactured in the UK and has a lifetime guarantee.

Hype source their leathers, fabrics and hardware in England, though some skins are imported. They have recently introduced deer skin locally-sourced in Yorkshire.

Chichester Cabin Bag

A nice example of Hype's quality luggage is the Chichester cabin bag. Designed for travelling, it has lots of handy external pockets.

The leather is best quality full-grain for strength, as with all Hype's products, and reinforced at stress points. The bag is constructed of textured, smooth and oiled leather. The stitching is double-backed with the ends tied-in, knotted and sealed - no loose ends, an attention to detail few manufacturers accomplish. The bag is lined with suede and has solid brass fittings. Riri zips of course. Absolutely no corner cut in construction. And when you think about a Rimowa case by comparison, it seems like a good investment.

Monday, 25 February 2013

Czech Pleased - Prague & Brno

Prague remains a favourite city despite the rapid changes. But after my last trip out I'm thinking I want to live in Brno. Reason: Villa Tugendhat.

The Marlborough World flask came in handy for a chilly day-trip to Brno, Czech Republic, which is south east of Prague sitting above Vienna. You can be there in under two hours on the E50. Bitterly cold that day. I went to have a gander at the recently restored Villa Tugendhat, the beautiful house designed by German-born modernist genius Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. This gasp-inducer was built between 1928 and 1930 and could be used in argument for those that think that civilisation has been in decline since the 20s.

I wish I'd planned the trip a bit more. They have special days there, such as a recent screening in the house of the 1933 Fay Wray version of King Kong with a live musical accompaniment. Could you want for a finer evening?

I'm not one to think I need to tweet every thought I'm having or photograph the whole world around me, but it was remiss of me to capture a few photos of the place. I was off-duty, what can I say? These photos come courtesy of David Židlický.

I'll return when it's a bit warmer.

Further Intelligence on Prague 

Cafe Lucerna

A cafe I've neglected to mention before is the Lucerna in the Art Nouveau Lucerna Passage off Wenceslas Square. Open till midnight, like all good cafes should be. It was almost empty when I was there, so I enjoyed a nice cigar and glass of brandy before wobbling back to my hotel. It's also got wireless internet access, so you can read The Tweed Pig in there too.

Cafe Europa, an old favourite nearby, was looking a little neglected on this trip. (Still has Christmas decorations in the windows.) I hope we're not going to lose it or they panic into a radical re-fit. Too many Costas and Starbucks in the city now, along with all the other multi-national brands that conspire to make everywhere look and feel the same. I fear for the old cafes.

Thomas's Barbershop

What about this one? At Thomas's Barbershop in the centre of Prague on Navrátilova ulice, again just off Wenceslas Square, you can enjoy a traditional shave, a drink and a cigar all in one place. I'm not saying you have any, but they can also burn away your ear hair in the Turkish style too. Next time you're in Prague, why don't you take a swim in 'lake you' and call in. You're probably worth it.

Friday, 22 February 2013

Barnsley Workshop 1923 - The Grosvenor Drinks Cabinet

The Edward Barnsley Workshop - Grosvenor Drink Cabinet

Handsomeness and Durability - The Edward Barnsley Workshop Grosvenor Drinks Cabinet

Imagine having the skills to make something with the level of workmanship and finish as the Grosvenor drinks cabinet from The Edward Barnsley Workshop. It must be immensely satisfying to take the best raw materials and fashion them by hand into something so handsome and durable. I feel an existential crisis coming on.

Th drinks cabinet was designed by James Ryan, manager designer at the Barnsley Workshop. The cabinet stands at 6 feet. The doors are made in Macassar ebony, which open to reveal an illuminated interior finished in rippled sycamore. There is a shelf that slides forward to provide a work surface for mixing your drink and whatnot, and below it is a drawer dovetailed together in the traditional hand-cut Barnsley Workshop way. There is storage space for wines, spirits and glasses. The cabinet was sold to a very happy customer, but the Barnsley Workshop are open to discussing the creation of something similar should you wish it.

About The Edward Barnsley Workshop

The Edward Barnsley Workshop makes free-standing furniture mostly for the private domestic market. Edward Barnsley established his workshop in 1923 in what is now a listed building. The workshop is set in beautiful surroundings near Petersfield in Hampshire, high on a ridge overlooking beech and yew woods with magnificent views towards the South Downs. The Workshop is open by appointment to visitors who can see the craftsmen at work and view completed furniture in the showroom.

Training Programme

As well as producing fine furniture, the Barnsley Workshop runs a renowned training programme for budding cabinet-makers. Excellent. As well as more appreciation for makers in the UK, we also need more makers.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Percival Origami Trousers - Welcome to the Fold

Origami Trousers from Percival Clothing

Origami, the Japanese art of folding paper. Beautiful things created from humble material. My folding skills never went further than making paper darts or folding restaurant napkins into tumescent shapes whilst waiting for pudding to arrive. But I appreciate the craft. Likewise with these origami-print trousers from Percival Clothing.

The trousers are made in England in navy canvas that has been hand screen-printed with origami detail.

Quite unique. I see you wearing these trousers on the coast, maybe tucking them away for a trip to Nantucket Harbour (US) - and giving Murray's brilliant embroidered 'pants' a run for their money - or Dartmouth (UK). Perhaps you could throw an Aran jumper on top.

Monday, 18 February 2013

William Morris Spectacles & the Harry Palmer Phase

Harry Palmer Phase?

I must be going through a subliminal Harry Palmer phase. Looking at the photo above, I realise I've just bought a pair of glasses and a raincoat strikingly similar to the ones worn by Michael Caine as Harry Palmer in the Ipcress File. I just need to locate a vintage British Sterling sub-machine gun to complete the picture.

William Morris Spectacles

I bought the glasses (above) as a pair of readers. Most happy with them. The glasses are in acetate with silver tips at the end of the frames. Good, solid hinges.

They're from the Black Label collection by William Morris, a London eyewear company started by Robert William Morris in the late 90s. William Morris describe themselves as "conservatively different". The Black label collection is 60s-inspired and makes for a very nice group of frames.

I was told by my optician that mine were made in the UK. Checking with the company, their frames are actually all made overseas. Naughty optician.

I could see myself wearing most of the collection, actually. A couple of nice examples follow -

More on the coat later. One from Mackintosh. Bought for the return trip to Madrid in Spring I mentioned.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Marlborough World Hip Flask Trial

The Hip Flask Trial
With the recent snow fall in the West Country I tried out my hip flask from Marlborough World. I'm away to Prague shortly (doing the usual things) and it can be awfully cold there. A drop of brandy helps keep the cold from the bones. The hip flask worked well and will prove a useful companion.

I could add some plum brandy (slivovitz) from Zufanek when I'm in Prague. Zufanek are a small, family-owned distillers based in Borsice u Blatnice in the district of Zlin, Czech Republic. They do an oak-aged slivovitz, which is rather good. They also distil a decent Absinthe, a bottle of which might return in my cabin bag. When in Bohemia...

4 oz Leather Hip Flask
The hip flask you see above is a 4oz, but Marlborough also do 6oz and 8oz versions. The flasks are individually produced in their workshop in England by master craftsmen who cut the leather, shape the steel into that familiar kidney-like curve and polish the finished product by hand.

The screw top is fixed via a brass chromed hinge to keep it secure. Mine is in tan leather, but take a look at the flask in stingray leather (shagreen) below. I agree, very nice.

About Marlborough World
Marlborough World was established in 1972. They operate from Walsall, England. Their 'British Guarantee' is an attractive proposition for anyone seeking out authenticity:

"From the hand cutting and hand stitching right down to the brass buckles everything we create is uniquely British, combining both our leather-working heritage with modern contemporary design. Our guarantee to you is that everything is Hand Made in England - offering the very best of British design and craftsmanship."

Mrs T shared a pot of Milky Oolong with Managing Director of Marlborough, Richard Taylor, and asked about Marlborough's future plans. He sees the fact that all of Marlborough World's products are made by them in England as a big selling point.

"We are aiming to develop awareness of our brand and products in other countries such as China where the demand for high quality English made products is really growing", he explained, whilst dunking a shortbread finger into his tea.

What to Put in Your Flask?
The flasks are designed for alcoholic drinks, acidic juice drinks will damage them (and your reputation). But what's the best tipple to add? Some say port, others sloe gin. Traditionalists might go for straight whisky or brandy to be gently warmed in the pocket. Perhaps you have other ideas?

Monday, 11 February 2013

Aubin & Wills - A Memento Mori

Goodbye Aubin & Wills

And so it is that we say goodbye to Aubin & Wills. The brand has been quietly put to sleep. It's a shame. Not everything they did appealed, but there was a sense of humour about what they did, and more goods were coming out from their collections that were made in the UK or produced directly by decent British heritage brands.

I grabbed this jacket as a bit of a spontaneous purchase before they shut up label. It was the cloth that attracted me. Extremely soft lambswool from our not-yet-friends at Mallalieus of Delph, the family-run mill in Lancashire. Very nice to touch and drapes well. A memento mori of sorts. Goodbye A & W.

As for its youth-targeted younger brother Jack Wills, I desire that we be better strangers.

Saturday, 9 February 2013

EVENTS - The Shotgun & Chelsea Bun Club

The Shotgun & Chelsea Bun Club 

How does shotguns with cake sound to you? The Shotgun & Chelsea Bun Club got in touch with The Tweed Pig to tell us a little bit about their association.

Founder and organiser Victoria Knowles-Lacks explains:

"It’s a very British little club, which provides the perfect occasion for ladies to get dressed up, learn to clay shoot with us and enjoy some scrumptious home-made cake and tea served in gorgeous old vintage china. It’s fabulous and fun and really unpretentious. Our thing is getting as many women involved in shooting as possible, this includes educating girls from towns and cities and showing them the delights of the countryside. Including expensive guns and gorgeous tweed clothes!"

We'll pop the details of this charming tweed-clad little club on our spanking new Events page.

The Tweed Pig Events Register

Do you have an event that you wish to advertise to our highly sophisticated and well-mannered audience? Drop a line to Mrs T for details. 

Friday, 8 February 2013

Bertie-approved Pubs Around Kew Gardens

Pubs Around Kew Gardens

The ever helpful Bertie Bainbridge got back in touch with us to provide the names of the pubs he mentioned in the Pin-Up feature.

Bertie's top four are:

The Botanist (naturally) [has its own micro-brewery]
The Coach & Horses
The Greyhound
The Rose & Crown

If you're flaked from traipsing round Kew Gardens, they might be worth seeking out for a reviver. You might even spot Bertie poring over a botanical manuscript.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Assembly Room - Designed in London, Made in Britain

Favourite Woods

What's your favourite wood? A nice oiled teak, or maybe walnut - perhaps the swirling effect of burr walnut in particular? I'll go out on a limb and say my favourite three woods are teak, Brazilian rosewood and walnut. That's probably put the cat amongst the pigeons.

I was thinking of burr walnut the other day. You know how these things pop into your head. True burr walnut comes from the wood of growths that appear on walnut trees. These growths form as a mass of compacted tiny branches that give that fascinating decorative swirl. Looks particularly well on the dashboard of a Jaguar E-type. Maybe we should get our dear friend Bertie Bainbridge to talk a bit about the the burring process sometime.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't believe burr walnut is used so much in modern furniture. Too rococo? Too rare?

Walnut Occasional Table from Assembly Room

Walnut still has its place at the table though, even if its fine tumorous growths aren't being used so much. For example, we have the Allesley Side Table in solid walnut from Assembly Room above and below. That centre is made from heat-resistant and waterproof Scottish-made linoleum for placing your martinis, tea cups or flower vases.

I don't want to overdo the trivia today, but linoleum is worth a little mention. Invented by Englishman Frederick Walton - so many things invented in Britain, be proud you Brits - linoleum is a natural material based on linseed oil. Kirkcaldy in Scotland remains one of the biggest linoleum producing hubs in the world.

Assembly Room's furniture business developed out of the interior design work of founders and designers Peter Wall and Cathy Spooner in 2010. They aim to create durable furniture that is "manufactured employing the best of British craftsmanship and using the highest quality materials that have been carefully selected for their function, aesthetics and sustainability". Which makes the products future classics and the company perfect Tweed Pig fodder.

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