Monday, 30 September 2013

A Very British Teba - S.E.H. Kelly

Single Button Blazer

Remember we discussed Teba jackets in the mini-series on Madrid? A bit more to come on Madrid, by the way. I mention because the moment I saw the Rope-dyed Indigo One-button Blazer from good friends S.E.H. Kelly, I immediately thought: "A very British Teba." Made in the UK, with British materials, it echoes the Teba in the soft structure and the rounded shape of the lapel. Possibly.

It's always a treat to describe a Kelly product, because they go to so much trouble in sourcing the best British materials. The blazer is made from rope-dyed cotton woven in London, with a lining of natural linen from Lancashire. Rope-dying is the process of twisting the yarn into rope and dip-dying the rope until it is saturated with the dye. Don't think of this blazer as denim, by the way.

The left patch pocket on the front has some inner compartments to keep things handy. A cigar cutter and a tin of Simpkins Nipits have rights to two of them. I know you, you're thinking of something precautious. As long as it's tucked away, nobody need know.

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Bradley Wiggins' New Bike - Abici

It Still Exists

Back when a million visitors to The Tweed Pig seemed like an absurd notion, we showed the cigarette card above for an article about William Lennon cycling shoes. It was probably seen by six people, not counting my grandmother.

I'm pleased to say that we've passed a million very discerning visitors since then, but more importantly, the bike shown on the card — the Velocino — is still in production in Italy today.

Our Italian chums at Abici have re-created the Velocino from the original 1930s design, but using today's technology. All their bikes are hand-built in Italy.

It is now possible to re-create the picture in the card. Abici has the trouser straps too. It might be a struggle, mark you, to achieve that particularly Italian level of insouciance.

Gripping Wood

I have the self-awareness to realise that I'll never be the next Bradley Wiggins — our first mod sporting hero. Dressing me in day-glow lycra and putting me on a hand-built titanium racing bike will not change this. So give me the comfort and enjoyment of cruising in the upright position of a touring bike any day. And Abici has some terrific models to choose from, actually.

Take a look at the Amante Uomo Gold Edition below. It comes in British racing green or tasteful cream, with gold-plated details. The model has the obligatory Brooks saddle, and a handlebar with wooden handle grips and a newspaper holder. Perfect for a two-wheeled 'stroll'.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Pakeman, Catto & Carter - 1863

Tweed Cap in 19oz Tweed

Who's that person lurking mysteriously in a graveyard? Why it's old Tweedy, of course — out on his Pashley seeking likely targets for a spot of brass rubbing.

Let's home in on the particularly fine cap I was wearing that day.

The Bond Tweed Cap is by our dear friends at Pakeman, Catto & Carter. It has a good, long peak and is in 19oz tweed.

Gents, we have some tweed news...

Pakeman, Catto & Carter's 150th Anniversary Tweed

Pakeman is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year. How best for this esteemed Gloucestershire men's outfitters to celebrate? There's only one way. By creating a new tweed for us all to enjoy. The Pakeman Tweed is the result of a collaboration with Johnstons of Elgin (who celebrated their 215th anniversary last year).

Two British family firms with genuine heritage. Robert is the fifth-generation Pakeman to run P, C & C.

P, C & C has created a range of items in the anniversary tweed. All made in the UK.

My attention is drawn to the reversible gilet in tweed and red moleskin. With brass rubbing you need that freedom of movement in the elbow.

The Making of a Cap

Here's a photo of the cloth for the cap being cut. The pattern is chalked out.

A photo of the tweed being produced and the Pakeman anniversary selvedge:

The cloth being used in construction of the Pakeman range:

Monday, 23 September 2013

Mother's Tea Rooms & RAF Tea - Castle Cary

Mother Knows Best

For a small Somerset market town, Castle Cary punches well above its weight in terms of tea rooms. Three at the last count and one more on the way. Brew and I will come.

Mother's Little Tea Rooms has been open for a couple of years and offers many speciality teas. I forget exactly what's on offer, but rest assured it was a long list of teas, full of the intriguing, the familiar and the rare.

I normally go for a rose tea in these situations. Was it on the list? Again, I can't remember. Perhaps someone could clarify?

Anyway, a friend in our party recommended RAF tea from the Rare Tea Co, so we plumped for a pot of that. An excellent choice, William.

RAF tea is a blend to "keep you calm in times of national peril and fortified when courage is required". So you can drink it any time really. (See video from dear new friend Alexander Armstrong extolling its virtues below.)

Anarchy in the Tea Rooms

I was feeling a little anarchic that day. To the surprise of even myself, I selected rhubarb and ginger jam for my cream tea instead of strawberry. Some of you traditionalists out there may well be thinking I've taken leave of my senses.

All I can say is try it. Mind-blowing.

Alexander Armstrong on RAF Tea

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Choosing a Tie the Modern Way - Drake's London

Technology Meets Laziness

I was looking for a tie to go with the jacket being used for our holiday break photo. But it was late and I was feeling lazy. Would I have to haul myself off to London to find what I wanted?

This film noir-like inner-conversation went on for while until I realised a way of safely choosing a tie within the confines of Tweed Towers. The solution came courtesy of Drake's London. All the while I could continue watching I Am Love [Amazon] with the glorious Tilda Swinton. The film has some fairly raunchy scenes, actually, so you may want to look uncomfortably at your tea cup until they pass. I know I did.

Drake's provide a good-sized image of their ties on their web site. It struck me that I could display a tie on my PC tablet and hold it up as if wearing it. Hey presto! Worked like magic. I congratulated myself on my embrace of technology and put in an order for a green tie. (The mind boggles at what else you could display and pretend you're wearing in this way.)

The tie is a herringbone cloth of 60% wool and 40% silk. It is untipped and handrolled at the hems. Made by hand in London, England. I foresee many years of service.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Briefcases Imply Business - Lotuff & Tusting

Briefcase Options

Residual traces of summer remain inside our hearts, but the chill winds of autumn have begun. Tree branches tap at the sash windows of Tweed Towers, Wuthering Heights-style, taunting me to pull my finger out and really get back to work.

To be suitably dressed and create the right impression in the workplace — and we're only talking about impressions here  — all that we described in a previous back to work article still stands. Get it right and you'll come across as the industrious go-getter you might not necessarily be. This is to your advantage.

So you have your bowler hat, your brolly and all your classic work essentials, but you may want to tweak a little now and again. Let's consider a refresh of the bag you pack your FT, specs, holiday brochures, sandwiches and quarter of mint imperials in.

English Briefcase from New England

The English Briefcase above and below, from New England-based Lotuff Leather of Connecticut, has the craftmanship and materials you look for. Built to last in bridle leather, there are two compartments (or bellows) inside and a zip pocket. Brass fittings. Made in the U.S.A..

Buckingham Briefcase from Old England

The Buckingham Leather Briefcase, from old friends Tusting of Buckinghamshire, is a semi-rigid 'three-bellowser'. Available in black and various brown bridle leathers supplied by Miret of Spain. Nickel fittings. Cleverly, the briefcase has quick-release clasps behind those buckles. Made in England.

More on Tusting

Tusting's Oscar Wilde connection.

Monday, 16 September 2013

Fight Austerity with Decadence - Cognac Ring

The English Take Their Pleasures Sadly

With the West broke, and austerity being the watchword in Europe, any self-respecting sybarite has to fight for the right to take their pleasures. Fight austerity with decadence, whatever the 'roundheads' in charge say.

Designed for Seduction

Industrial designer, Merve Kharaman, responded to a design brief from Remy Martin to link the enjoyment of cognac to the art of seduction; the way brandy seduces the senses. As a result, she conceived the Seduction Series of glassware that is worn as jewellery. Seduction to the point of wanton, says I.

What a delightful sense of playfulness. The practicality is not immediately obvious, but you certainly won't need to worry about where you put your glass at a party.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Say it with Flowers - Beaufort & Blake

Our Little Secret

I know you're a no-nonsense plain underwear man as a rule, but come on, look at these floral boxer shorts from Beaufort and Blake. It could put a fair old spring in your step wearing them under your grey worsted work suit. Say it with flowers, old stick.

I don't know much about Beaufort and Blake, but it's commendable that these boxer shorts are made in England. They come with a nice little bag too. Everything should come with a nice little bag.

If I have a general aesthetic point to make. I don't think it's necessary to put web addresses on clothing labels. If we've bought you, we can find you.

They say they make a "perfect girl's pyjamas". But where's the top? Oh, I see. Tweedy's face starts to redden rapidly. Harrumphing, he lifts up his newspaper to cover his blushes.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

God Loves Hair - Murdock London

Murdock London - Demon Barbers of London

Debate may rage in the scientific community about the practicality and function of a thatch of hair that continually grows on the bonce. The philosophers may come to blows debating its importance in self-identity. What about nicely cut and groomed hair on the head just looking nice? That may be the only reason we retained it.

With the great social importance of the haircut you choose, you need to make sure you employ the right scissorman to maintain it. And the big talk in London barbering circles right now is of Murdock London. I have monstrously hirsute pals who are singing the praises of the service they receive.

Murdock is taking on the established Mayfair names with a classic approach to gentlemen's barbering in five London branches. For instance, you can get a traditional wet shave, have your moustache trimmed and waxed and your shoes shined on the premises. I see this latter offering as a rebuff to trainer-clad scruffbags. The wet shave is with an open razor and hot towels. Splendid stuff. I think back only a few years and these sorts of options were rapidly dying out in barbershops around the country.

Naturally, Murdock has added its name to many quality grooming accessories. That's their own-label moustache comb above (made in England by our friends at Abbey Horn). That's their Patchouli Cologne below. "A stimulating mix of spices inspired by the free-thinking style of the great British bohemian tradition."

Monday, 9 September 2013

Sunspel on Film

Footnote for Summer

I'm a big fan of Sunspel clothing and underwear, particularly their polo shirts. I'm slowly building a collection to rival my John Smedley knitwear collection. Classic and understated, with the finest, softest cotton. I believe the one above and below is made from long-staple Egyptian cotton. Feels like silk to wear. It performed extremely well during the heat of summer. Draped well and the collar sat nicely. The same could be said for Sunspel's classic Bond-approved Riviera polo shirts made from cooling mesh cotton. The range of flat colours for those is exceptional, and very wearable. I'd say the first stop should be the navy, then the sky, then the moss. Remember our oft-repeated mantra about not going wrong with military colours.

Two Minutes Later

They make some nice little films do our chums at Sunspel too. Remember the boxing one (Sunspel - At Their Fighting Weight)? Excellent.

In their latest release we see the efforts that go into making a t-shirt at their British factory. I never realised how much hand cutting and sewing goes into their production.

Monday, 2 September 2013

Loro Piana go to LVMH - Panic Ensues

Tweedy Shows His Metaphorical Underwear - Again

This article turned out to be a behind-the-scenes of a behind-the-scenes look at The Tweed Pig a few days ago, as some of you got to see the 'sketches' published prematurely before old Tweedy had properly put keyboard to pixel. I'd like to say this was the first time it's happened, but it's not. Being impossible to sack myself, let's look at these incidents, and any that follow, as endearing gaffes.

I'll put this particular mistake down to 'holiday brain' - it's a bit soft at the moment and needs warming up a bit. All it has needed to decide on for the past few weeks is what to choose from restaurant menus. And it managed to get that wrong on many occasions. Silly brain.

On with the article...

The Making of the Tweed Pig Break Photo #1 - Hackett Jacket

We're going to take you, ahem, on a behind-the-scenes journey to explain a little about the magic that goes into making The Tweed Pig and describe how The Tweed Pig break photo came about.

I've mentioned on several occasions that I live with a deep fear that brands I like will disappear through under-appreciation. In fact, that's how The Tweed Pig came to be. This means I buy more from these brands than could be deemed justifiable. Same too with cloth.

On hearing that LVMH had bought Loro Piana, my first thought was that all their lovely cloth would be going in-house for the likes of Dior, Marc Jacobs, Loewe, Givenchy, Thomas Pink and on and on. All lovely brands in their own right, I'm sure, but they don't tend to make it into Tweedy's hallowed wardrobe.

I knew Hackett currently had some summer jackets in Loro Piana cloth, so rushed out to panic-buy one. The cloth is lovely. It's a silk, wool and linen mix in just the right proportions - not much linen. The jacket needed some adjustments from my tailor, but it's a reasonable fit. On the whole pleased. The jacket, it was decided, would be used in the Tweed Pig break photo.

But what tie to put with it? Agony. We'll talk about the tie in part two. You won't want to miss it. And if you stay tuned, you might even see it before you're meant to.

Tweedy's Note: Hackett use the best British clothmakers too. We try and give coverage to cloth makers when we can. Please get in touch if you're small mill and you don't think we've covered you yet.

More: Indiscriminate articles that mention British fabricstweed and Harris tweed.
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