Saturday, 29 June 2013

Stunning Sunglasses from Tender

Have you noticed the flimsiness of most sunglasses? Even from some of the more reputable brands. Leave them on your deckchair. Go off to buy an ice cream. Come back. Sit on them. Game over. We take an anti-flimsy and pro-substance stance at Tweed Towers (not to be confused with substance abuse).

Step forward the Hand Made Black Cotton Acetate Flat Top Sunglasses from our new, but immediately great, friends at London-based family business Tender.

Cripes, they're about as robust as is possible.

Tender Sunglasses - Made in England

The sunglasses are made in England from a single sheet of black acetate cut to a classic frame. The arms are cut to grip the head and have seven, count them, hinges.

About Tender

William Kroll, the founder of Tender, tells us how his company began, whilst wearing two pairs of the sunglasses. A difficult feat.

"I started Tender in the summer of 2009, and it's still a one-person (me!) company, run from home, in London. The idea started as a jeans brand, and denim is my professional background, although by now it's spread out to include all sorts of different clothes and products - which is a real privilege of doing your own thing.

"The tender on a steam train is the truck which carries the coal and water, just behind the engine. I like the robust, undecorated aspect of Steam Age engineering, and I've tried to bring something of this, along with its transparency of design and function, into the things I design. The other approach is that the when the owner takes on one of my products and begins to wear it in, they become its 'tender' and bring it to a higher level than when it was new, as one would tend to a flock of sheep, or a garden.

"In 2012, my wife Deborah and I started the Trestle Shop, selling experimental pieces (mostly objects and accessories) slightly outside the main clothing line, although there are crossovers.

If something has a good reception on the shop, like the sunglasses, then it becomes part of the main line offered to shops. In 2013 I'm also launching a new, second, line called SLEEPER. This will be made in Japan, as opposed to the main line, which is entirely constructed in England. While Tender stems from research into various different historical sources, and involves some experimental pattern cutting and construction, SLEEPER is based more directly on pieces from my own collection of 20th Century British Rail uniforms, which are reproduced in some beautiful fabrics. This will primarily stay in the Japanese market, but we're hoping that it will appear in some of Tender's international stockists as well."

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Linley's London Skyline

Leave it to The Experts

I thought I would have a go at re-oiling a mid-century teak cabinet we have at Tweed Towers the other week. The one I keep my scarves in at the entrance. Sporting my Old Town bib apron, with pencil behind my ear and mug of tea in hand, I set to work. Simple enough job you'd think, but the cabinet is now in intensive care at a furniture restorers who are putting right the mess I made. My scarves are without a home for the foreseeable future.

This is why I have utmost respect for the craftsman who works with his hands, for the man who spends years honing his skills.

Someone like the chap in the video below from our old friends at Linley, who will be exhibiting at the Masterpiece London art and design fair this week at the Royal Hospital Chelsea, London.

London Skyline Panel in 20,000 Pieces

Linley will be showing the incredible piece of marquetry you see in the video at the exhibition. Skyline Panel depicts the contemporary London skyline at dusk.

Let's consider the stats to create this unique work:
  • 750 hours of design
  • 800 hours of construction
  • 20,000 individual pieces of veneer in sycamore, walnut, maple, eucalyptus and ash

A similar technique is used for the Linley London Skyline humidor in the top image. The marquetry comprises cherry, Swiss pear, sycamore, walnut and wenge veneers, with a background of Macassar ebony. It comes with 70 Regional Editions cigars, which are made exclusively for the UK market by Habanos through Hunters & Frankau.

Tweedy's Plea: Are you a British master craftsman? Can I see what you do and show the readers? Put your tools down, turn off radio 3 and get in touch.

Monday, 24 June 2013

Fashion a Frock Coat - Judy R. Clark's Tweed Designs

Investing in British Design and Tweed

An interesting bit of tweed news, gents. Scottish designer, Judy R. Clark, has submitted an exciting project on the crowd-sourcing design-to-production platform Wowcracy entitled Fashion a Frock Coat. What a wonderful thing to be able to feel involved in clothing production from the design stage and have a dialogue directly with designers. (Maybe I should put my sketch for the 'ultimate cardigan' on there?)

Twenty-five ready-to-wear tweed jackets and two frock coats will be produced should the project get the funding. The jackets include the men's style shown above - still at the design stage until you get your wallets out. You commit a sum and when the project is successfully completed you'll receive anything from an honourable mention to one of the actual jackets yourself, depending on sum.

The jacket will be tailored in black Harris Tweed with gold buttons. The cuff details will include coloured buttonholes.

All the garments will be made in Scotland from Scottish textiles - Tweedy approved.

We're promised photos when the jackets go into production, so let's make it so.

Click here to support Judy's project.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Nice Rack - The London Underground at Home

Unique Shelving from the London Underground

Happy birthday London Underground. 150 years old this year, eh? Who'd have thought you'd grow so big.

London Underground opened in 1863, whilst the American Civil War was still raging and a good twenty years before Jack the Ripper started prowling Whitechapel. It remains an emblem of the classical period of modernity. Such history.

And you can own a bit of that history. It is perfectly possible to recreate the London Underground in your own home. And why wouldn't you?

First swathe your house in the distinctive moquette used for the seating through the accessories sold by London Transport Museum.

Next add some of the luggage racks, also sold by London Transport Museum, that Transport for London rescued from decommissioned trains from the Metropolitan line. The racks are available raw (as above) or with bold paint jobs. Practical, attractive and with a dash of history, there's plenty of space for your bowler and brolly.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Clapton on Wearing Tweed in Cordings

Clapton - From Street Style to Country style

Isn't Eric Clapton part-owner of Cordings? I might have written about the connection before. The information's likely a couple of clicks away. But I know me. I'll start clicking and end up watching some vintage footage of The Yardbirds. I'll press on.

What we do know for certain is that Eric's a massive fan of the shop and the clothes they sell. (Even if we only ever see him in t-shirts nowadays.)

Here's a little video of Eric (below) talking lovingly of Cordings as a place imbued with the tradition and heritage of England. By contrast, there's a super photo of his 60s mod styling with Harrington and cropped hair above. The Harrington redolent of the tradition and heritage of English street style rather than country style. Baracuta, the Manchester-based makers of the original Harrington, was bought by the Italian company Lavori late last year. If it wasn't an Italian company, I imagine a Japanese company would have got them.

In the video Eric reminisces about his first visit to Cordings when he tried on an emerald green herringbone tweed three-piece suit he had long been admiring in the shop window. The thornproof cloth was like "wearing a green wooden suit".

It would be great to have a photo of Eric in the finest Cordings attire so he can become our latest pin up. Cordings people - come on, let's make this happen. Do it for Tweedy.

Monday, 17 June 2013

Waistcoat for Ascot - Sir Plus

Dandy of the Racing World

Be the swell of the ball at Royal Ascot this week (18th-22nd) with this stunning waistcoat (or weskit, if you prefer) from our very dear and loyal friends at Sir Plus.

The green linen double-breasted waistcoat has slash lapels with white piping and mother-of-pearl buttons. The back is in cream satin. Perfect for summer, great with grey morning dress, and falls within Ascot's sensible rules.

Tweedy's Tip

We like to encourage gambling in all its forms whenever we can at Tweed Towers (and it's never to early to start). I'll be laying a wager on a horse for the Prince of Wales’s Stakes, but can't make up my mind between Camelot and Saint Baudolino. What do you think?

Our favourite bookie Victor Chandler has some reasonable ante-post odds. Might also be worth looking out for the Queen's horse, Estimate, running in the Gold Cup.

Use the pockets in the Sir Plus waistcoat for your betting slips and winnings. Good luck everyone.

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Condensed Madrid #2 - Day Trip to Valencia by AVE

Take a Trip to Valencia

When staying in Madrid, be sure to think of an excuse to hop on the RENFE AVE (Alta Velocidad Española) train network. They have a terrific train network in Spain. On the AVE you can hit speeds of over 180 miles-an-hour sitting in great comfort. All the while your glass of gin and tonic stays as steady as a rock (unless you have the shakes yourself).

I had the perfect excuse to head out of town. The Lead Soldier Museum in Valencia has a temporary Zulu exhibition displaying dioramas of the Anglo-Zulu war in Africa, including Rorke's Drift. I imagined most of my fellow passengers were heading to Valencia for the same reason.

Train from Atocha

Here's the Talgo 350 that took me out of Atocha, Madrid's wonderfully airy main train station (above), to Valencia:

The Lead Soldier Museum

I didn't see any of my fellow passengers inside the Lead Soldier Museum. They must have been visiting later. Anyway, above you can see a display of the RAF relaxing. A good depiction of an RAF moustache on the chap standing. He seems no-nonsense and he's politely feigning disinterest in the lady adjusting her suspender belt.

And we have couple of shots from the Zulu exhibition below. They have battle noises playing in the room. It's almost as if you are part of the "thin red line of 'eroes, when the drums begin to roll".

The Zulu exhibition is on till the end of August.

What Else to Do in Valencia, Tweedy?

After you've exhausted the Lead Soldier Museum, certainly take to time to stroll around Valencia's historic centre and enjoy an horchata (made from tigernuts) in one of the old horchata cafes, such as Horchateria el Siglo and Horchateria de Santa Catalina, both off Plaza de Santa Catalina.

Name That Bar

Basque pincho bars are in abundance in Valencia too. I forget the name of the one I was going to recommend, but they have a big barrel of refreshing Zapiain cider and delicious pinchos, or snacks, as we used to call such things in the UK. That's a photo of the bar and barrel below. Come on chaps, let's get a name to it.

Like Trains? More Notable Train Trips We've Covered

Madrid to Oviedo
Berlin to Prague
Vienna to Bucharest
Vienna to Budapest

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Matisse Makes an Impression - Herring Shoes

Landing a Herring

I've been scooping up loafers for the summer months. I'll be showing you some from ready-to-wear Lobb soon, but here are Matisse from everyone's best kept shoe secret, Herring Shoes.

I don't know what it is about these shoes, but I don't ever want to take them off. I also want to reposition all the mirrors at Tweed Towers to floor level. It might be the real thing, chaps. But I love them equally, Lefty and Righty. I'll need to be anaesthetised to have them removed.

And what an excellent service Herring provide. I won't go into the details of the saga I made for myself landing these Herrings -  in short I'm a dullard and they're a very understanding bunch. Based in Kingsbridge, Devon, I can see why Herring attract such loyal custom. I'm thinking about one of the wholecut styles next.

Herring Matisse 

The Matisse is made for Herring's Premier range by Cheaney of Northampton, England, "with 160 operations, from the hand cutting to the hand burnishing". A comfortable summer shoe in soft calf leather. And good travel companions. Watch out for their walk-on part in the continuing articles on Condensed Madrid.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Pierotucci of Florence

Pierotucci Leather Goods

Pierotucci is a family-owned business based in Florence, Italy, and has been making leather goods since 1972.

Currently headed by Marco Tucci, Pierotucci's products are all hand made in their factory on the outskirts of Florence. As well as making products for some of the big fashion brands, Pierotucci sell directly from their factory shop. They are happy to show you around the factory if you're visiting. And Florence is always worth a visit.

When You Visit Florence

After enjoying a bistecca fiorentina at Coco Lezzone, you may have to loosen this summer belt in burnished woven leather from Pierotucci (you've just bought it and couldn't wait to wear it) while you enjoy your espresso. An unusual round buckle, which is designed so you can see the whole glorious roundness when fastened. I'm seeing Keith Richards wearing this belt when the Rolling Stones decamped to the south of France in 1971. The mind's eye - a wonderful thing.

The Florentine Coin Purse

Pretending you're still in Coco Lezzone, you'll need money handy to pay for that steak you've just gobbled down. And when in Florence, why not a Florentine coin purse? A coin purse is one of the three wallets we all need, the other two being a breast wallet and bi-fold.

The Florentine coin purse is alleged to date back to Catherine de' Medici. The leather of the purse is shaped and hardened on a wooden last, as with shoemaking, and then painted to give the traditional patina. Pierotucci tell me they were invented by the Florentine monks to hold florins. The nickname for the purse is tacco, which, unless this is a local word that means something rude or blasphemous, translates to heel in standard Italian.

Rare (Steak) Footage of Tweedy Eating a Fiorentina at Coco Lezzone

Not seen on the photo, but my belt is on the verge of being loosened.

After the loosening, I managed to tuck away some afters.

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Why Appropriate Crockery Matters - Award-Winning Tea Places

Tea Champions

Congratulations to Davenports Tea Rooms of Bartington, Cheshire, on being named UK Top Tea Place 2013 by the Tea Guild of Great Britain.

The tea rooms has speciality teas on offer, as well as classic afternoon tea menus and the occasional themed tea, such as the highly-popular Mad-Hatter's Tea Party.

The Montagu Arms in the New Forest, Hampshire (Top City and Country Hotel Tea) and family-owned The Goring Hotel in London (London's Top Place for Afternoon Tea) were other notable winners and champions of the national drink.

The Montagu Arms was commended for the "appropriateness of the crockery" (see photo above for evidence of appropriateness) and all-important "tea knowledge". The Goring is noted for its décor and provides an "excellent selection of carefully selected and perfectly brewed teas".

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Augustus Hare - Cricketer Tie

Augustus Hare of Suffolk

A nice tie above and below from Augustus Hare in the radically conservative style we favour here at The Tweed Pig. Timeless colour combinations of navy blue, red and gold. The Cricketer is 70% wool and 30% silk, woven in Suffolk and handmade in England, and falls in the standard width range. It will go nicely with those Fox cricket flannels from Fox Brothers you have on order.

Augustus Hare is based in the beautiful English county of Suffolk and was founded by Sam Carlisle in 2011. Augustus Hare, like all businesses we like to feature, champions artistry, heritage and craftsmanship. It's terrific to keep coming across small new businesses rejecting the models of the multi-nationals and putting provenance and personality back into the equation.

Augustus Hare, whence the name derives, was an English writer of biographies and travel books, such as Walks in London, Walks in Rome and Wanderings in Spain. He liked a stroll.

Tying a Bow Tie - The Dance

In the video below, the nicely-spoken Sam Carlisle describes a project to film a choreographed dance piece "to illustrate the artistry of tying a bow tie". Sounds like fun. Augustus Hare now have the funding, so we're looking forward to seeing the results.

Monday, 3 June 2013

Good Enough for England - Fox Cricket Flannels

The Sights, Sounds and Trousers of Cricket

Cricket, the most English of sporting pastimes. Ah, the summer sights and sounds of leather thwacked by willow, the guffaws of Brian Johnston in the distance, snoozing spectators, W. G. Grace's beard flapping in the breeze, umpires piled with sweaters and grass stains on white flannel.

Grass stains are what you want to avoid on these beautiful Cricket White Fox Flannel trousers from dear Fox Brothers. They are made bespoke and measurements can be taken in London or Fox's Somerset base. Or you can provide your own. They are available in 10oz or 13oz flannel.

As you may recall, we first spoke about this desirable flannel in Navigating the English Flannel. And now we see it as God intended, the cloth of gentlemen in trouser form. Navy blue flannel blazer next?

I maintain that polyester on the pitch just isn't cricket. After donning polyester it's a small step to ball tampering and match fixing, mark my words.

>>> Previous on Fox Brothers.

Saturday, 1 June 2013

The Beautiful Game - Calcio Fiorentino

Forget the World Cup Try Calcio Storico

Corporate sponsors of the World Cup in Brazil next year are already making their associations known. The 'Inspiration' logo for the tournament - very uninspiring - can already be seen on the labels of international brands, emphasising the globalised, money-oriented nature of the modern game. In June 2014, the games will begin. Multi-millionaire players will feign attachment to the country of their birth whilst putting themselves in the shop window to encourage another bloated transfer deal to a Premier League club. With a samba soundtrack, commentators will try and build drama.

If all this sounds like a bit of a yawn, maybe you'll be seeking an alternative tournament that retains its roots in its community, something with more authenticity, integrity and punching. We've an idea: the Calcio Storico in Florence. The Calcio Storico is a sporting hidden gem that takes place each June by the people for the people.

Calcio Storico is a bit like the Shrovetide Ball Games or the Eton Wall Game in England, a ball game that pre-dates modern football with elements of rugby. Calcio Storico feels a bit more gladiatorial than its English equivalents - boxing is acceptable. Originating in the 17th century, four teams representing the old town districts of Florence compete in an arena in Piazza Santa Croce, using (almost) any means necessary to score goals by throwing the ball over a goal.

I wonder which corporate sponsors this game could attract?

I Calcianti by Stefano Lorenzi

The trailer for the film I Calcianti by Stefano Lorenzi below gives a flavour of the tournament. I'm not sure if this film was ever released. Do any Italian readers know?

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