Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Tails Talk - Tweedy Bares All in Heartfelt Interview

Tweedy Pulls No Punches in Incendiary Interview for Tails Clothing

I was recently interviewed by the charming Natalie from Tails Clothing.

Take a gander and prepare to gasp as I slam the fashion industry and men who dress like Californian children. Learn how The Tweed Pig started and why Joan Crawford influences my tie choices. Discover why you need to put in an order for cashmere socks from CORGI pronto.

You can read the hard-hitting interview here.

About Tails Clothing

Tails is a Welsh company, like Corgi, and is based in Penarth, Glamorgan. Tails source and sell men's clothing and accessories, niche items from around the world with provenance and pedigree  — products that fit their concept of 'Place of Origin'.

The Tails concept incorporates British brands we know and love: Albert Thurston, Alfred Sargent, Christy's Hats, and, of course, Corgi. (Remember the Corgi Hosiery week?). Tails also stock reputed continental brands and items that you would have difficulty tracking down. The Moroccan Tassel Fez above, for example. Perfect for an end-of-day cigar.

And they sell own-brand clothes too. Take a look at the Tails Moleskin Trouser with fishtail back below.

Monday, 28 October 2013

Parachute Webbing Belt - Chapman Bags

Brass Buckle and Canvas Belt from Chapman

What to say about a belt? You slide it into your belt hoops and it keeps your trousers up. Big deal. Wrong. There's so much more to contend with.

We'll side-step the comparison of braces, belts, waist-adjusters and 'Daks tops' for bespoke and off-the-peg trousers. A vocal minority disagree, and it's a matter of personal taste, but trousers with belt hoops look fine to me. Even when switching to braces. I had a pair of trousers made once with belt hoops, brace buttons and side-adjusters — the youthful Tweedy wanted options. Without hoops, for certain you're not going to be able to wear a belt. And then you're missing out on some very fine accessories.

Some say the buckle of a belt should always be brass, never silver metal, and the strap in leather, boxcloth or cotton canvas depending on the level of formality required. A cotton woven belt with surcingle buckle won't be good with a chalkstripe suit, as you'll be aware.

If you're looking for something on the casual side, how about this fine Parachute Webbing Belt from new friends Chapman Bags? You won't get a more manly-sounding belt than one made from English belting leather and cotton parachute webbing. (Richard Francis Burton would find this sufficiently robust for one of his adventures.)

The belt has the traditional brass buckle, so you won't offend any belt purists. It's available in different colour combinations, but I'm very keen on the one in khaki with a red stripe.

The belt is hereby awarded a Tweed Pig rosette for being handmade in Chapman's workshops in Cumbria, England.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Music to Button a Cardigan By - Oh, Noble Youth Who Has Left Me

Mar a Tha Mo Chridhe

If you're wondering about the title, it's in Gaelic. Can't speak a ruddy word of it? I can assure you that it won't get in the way of your enjoyment of the beautiful music of Julie Fowlis.

Julie was born on the Hebridean island of North Uist, a Gaelic-speaking part of the British Isles. Gaelic is a lyrical language, as is Welsh. If Anglo Saxon, then English, hadn't become the predominant language of these islands, how might the Anglosphere be different? President Obama addressing his nation in Gaelic. There's a thought.

Hand-Made Music from Harris Tweed Country 

I first heard Julie singing at the Cambridge folk Festival in 2007. Or was it 2006? I'll go for 2007. No matter, her performance was terribly good. Mesmeric even. Like a bewitched seal, as soon as her performance ended I clapped with hands and feet for more. When no more came, this seal shuffled over to the trestle table where they were selling her recordings and bought Julie's debut album, Mar a Tha Mo Chridhe (As My Heart Is) [Amazon].

Music to Button a Lambswool Argyle Cardigan By (If You Can Find One)

It's been an embarrassingly long time since we added to our Music to Button a Cardigan By series. An Argyle cardigan probably works best with Julie. Sadly, it's hard to locate a classic Argyle-patterned cardigan right now. Let me know if you spot a belter.

Let's assume the cardigan situation is resolved and don our tweed breeks, pour ourselves a scotch, and sit back to hear Julie sing the wonderful Oganaich Uir a Rinn M'Fhagail or Oh, Noble Youth Who Has Left Me in sassenach. The title suggests a sad theme to the song, but it all sounds rather joyful to my monolingual ears.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Abraham Moon - Donegal Tweed

Abraham Moon - Donegal Tweed Jacket by John Lewis

One of our Abraham Moon posts is very popular. Three years later, I still wear that jacket. Still indestructible. I deduce from this popularity that you chaps are fond of the cloth produced by Abraham Moon and Son. And you're fans of Dirty Harry.

How about this then:

It's a cloth of flecked Donegal tweed Moon has produced exclusively for a jacket by John Lewis — the JOHN LEWIS & Co. Abraham Moon Donegal Blazer. There's a lot of Donegal tweed around this winter. Not to worry. It's a classic. When it disappears from collections it doesn't matter. We shall continue to wear it.

Nice chambray lining.

Tweedy's Request: I still don't get enough correspondence from British Mills telling me about the wonderful cloths they produce. Come on. Speak to Tweedy.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Made in Manchester - Private White Jeep Coat

The Jeep Coat

Not many British war heroes have cartoon strips written about them in The Victor.

Private White did. And what's more, he's been mentioned in The Tweed Pig on more than one occasion. At least the family-owned clothes manufacturer and retailer bearing his name has. This isn't mere heritage window-dressing and appropriation. The original Private White established a clothing factory in Manchester, England. And Private White's grandson, James Eden, runs the current incarnation of the business, which is still based in Manchester.

The military associations don't end there. Many of the menswear pieces they produce are influenced by the British military. Currently being made to order is the incredible Jeep Coat (above and below). Constructed of cotton drill made in their own Lancashire backyard, with a shearling fleece collar and lining. If you do your research, you can see how close it is to an original jeep coat.

I hereby declare the jeep coat as much of a timeless classic — with military background —  as a duffle (duffel) coat (beloved of Welsh poets) or trench coat (beloved of mods, spies and gangsters).

Manchester is the Background

"Manchester is the background. The time is today."  Well today as in 1959. So says the trailer to the Hammer-produced Hell is a City, based on the the novel by Maurice Procter.

Starring the brilliant Stanley Baker (or is it Morrissey?), it was filmed in the mean streets of Manchester. I pondered how to link this clip to the jeep coat. Frankly, it's impossible. But I didn't want to drop the clip. So I flimsily offer it here as an unreliable insight into the city that gave us Private White. Enjoy the accents.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Great British Beards

Gallery of Great British Beards

We're catching up on a couple of requests from bearded readers here. Basically, they want to see more beards. 'What about a Great British Beards gallery?' we thought. So here it is. Beards in the public eye, but our type of beard. By no means definitive and intended as a rolling project. In fact, we need more red beards - the most exotic of all the beard colours (something like this). Wasn't George Bernard Shaw red-chinned?

If you have a suggestion for a Great British Beard, pop it in the comments below.

Beard Care

If you want to keep your beard in tip-top condition, perhaps a rub of First Olympian beard oil should be part of your daily routine and a spot of sculpting with Mr King’s Marvellous Moustache Wax.

And if you don't want to look like a Sadhu, you'll also need a comb and scissors to keep your beard tidy.

Might we recommend the (made in the UK) Kent moustache and beard comb, and the Ernest Wright & Son traditional moustache scissors — made specifically in Sheffield, home of the finest British blades.

Kent Moustache and Beard Comb

Ernest Wright & Son Moustache Scissors

Beardies Top to Bottom

Prince Michael of Kent (For my money, the best beard in the business.)
James Robertson Justice
Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton
Oliver Reed

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Shoes are People Too - Roullier White Shoe Reviver

Good News for Shoes

I suppose, from time to time, we all wonder what our shoes would say if they could talk. They'd probably ask why they're not looked after better, and not without merit, I'd wager. Why don't you cheer up your possibly glum shoes with a refreshing blast of Mrs White's Good News for Shoes?

Mrs White's is the home and beauty range of products from Roullier White of London.

Made in England, Good New for Shoes contains essential oils of cedar wood, frankincense and patchouli to put a goodyear-welted spring back in the step of the most jaded brogue, the most fagged out desert boot. The properties of the spray are naturally anti-bacterial and moth-deterring.

I tried the spray on my black oxfords. It may have been the light, but I swear I saw a little smile appear on the toe cap, and perhaps a little tear of joy.


Previous articles on Roullier White.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Vickermann & Stoya - Wunderschuhe

Vickermann & Stoya of Baden-Baden

We may count Vickermann & Stoya amongst our very dearest German friends. Remember them from Bespoke Germany? Our German operative considers their handmade shoes the best in the Bundesrepublik.

'Tell me more about them, Tweedy. I know very little and my schoolboy German is a little rusty and lacking in technical shoemaking vocabulary,' asks A. Reader.

Proud to Mr. Reader.

I've been in touch with V & S and we now have a little more gen. The photos that accompany this article may attest to the level of craftsmanship you should expect from their shoes. Look at those boots above. I think I'm developing a 'thing' for hook fasteners.

The Vickermann & Stoya Way

Established in 2004, Vickermann & Stoya wish to be seen as craftsmen, their business a welcoming workshop. They produce 25 pairs of shoes a month tailored to the wearer.

Their intensive procedure to create a tailored pair of shoes:
  • An orthopaedic impression is made of the foot to accurately represent the contours, outline and pressure points.
  • The heel, ankle, instep, ball and toes are measured.
  • The profile of the foot is traced.
  • The customer chooses a a model for the shape of the last and the material to use.
  • The last is built and strips of the material are cut and built around the last.
  • A leather lining is added.
  • Hemp yarn is used to sew the upper layers and create extremely tight seams.
  • A cork insole, leather mid-sole, outer sole and heel is added to complete the structure.
  • The shoe is finished with polishing and waxing.

Shoe Care Course

V & S also offer shoe care courses. Shining shoes and drinking beer seems like a jolly nice way to pass the time. I want one of those green aprons.

Exotic Footwear

Vickermann & Stoya offer an extensive range of exotic leathers, including ray (above) and the pimply ostrich (as seen on the gloves below).

Vickermann & Stoya's Shoe Tips

V & S offer some tips for keeping your shoes in tip-top condition.

  • Use a shoehorn so you don't knacker the heel.
  • Use shoe trees to draw moisture from the shoes after wearing. Must be unvarnished cedar or beech.
  • Lay shoes on the sides to dry if the leather soles are wet. (I read that rubbing a 1/2 potato on a leather sole would stop you slipping in the wet. Anyone tried that?)

Matching Gloves

Francis Bown would approve of this: V & S also make gloves to match your shoes. Some nice tan ostrich numbers here.

Tweedy's Germany

More articles on Germany.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Falcon Enamelware (1921)

Falcon Enamelware (1921)

A bone china cup and saucer are going to be the default for your tea drinking. One with Made in Stoke-on-Trent, England stamped on the bottom, I'm hoping. But there will be times you need something a bit more robust.

Perhaps you're out on a day's fishing (see Passion for Angling for bucolic scene setting). Here a classic Falcon Enamelware mug or tumbler will fit the bill. You could pop one in your Brady fishing bag. Hell, you could even pop in one of their teapots too. Less susceptible to breakage than the fancy one Morrissey carries around with him.

The Falcon brand is owned by Sheffield-based Nimbus.

Keep an eye on Falcon, they're introducing vibrant new colours — the enamelling process is well-suited to capturing them— and increasing their range. The teapot is a new development. Or is it a re-introduction from their archive? The range of tumblers you see below are being extended with additional limited edition colours. The two on the right as you're looking at them.

(We received a heated comment on the appropriateness of metal teapots here. I'm generally pro. Feel free to join in.)

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

British Sweater Hunt - John Tulloch Where Are You?

John Tulloch

Can anyone help? I've had a couple of enquiries from Anglo-American readers asking if I know what happened to the Scottish sweater brand John Tulloch.

My feeble research has revealed that the label is still available in Japan. Under the auspices of whom I know not. They seem to refer to them as 'shaggy dog' sweaters over there.

I think I know what they mean. They look a good wintery sweater. One you'd put a smooth two-fold cotton shirt underneath to keep the scratchiness at bay.


I know you, but maybe you shouldn't get too bogged down in capturing another obscure label to add to your collection. There are plenty of coarse sweater alternatives to be found around the British Isles. We're looking for natural colours and knits designed for warmth in a wet and wind-swept landscape.

Anderson and Co of Shetland we've featured before and are good for Shetlands and Fair Isles. Hand knit or knitted on home knitting machines in Shetland.

And Hawick Knitwear do a grown-on-neck sweater in guaranteed coarse yet comfortable, indestructible British wool (below). That sort of neck does well with a button-down collared shirt of adequate depth, or maybe tuck a silk scarf in there.

No trouble finding information on this sweater. They even have a high-definition video of it:

Over to Ireland now. Our respected friends at Magee do a Donegal sweater (below). I think they're right when they say it's perfect for chilly winter days.

Tweedy's Request: If you are a thick sweater knitted from coarse wool in the British Isles, get in touch. We'd like to feature you. And we'd be happy to road test you too. 

Monday, 7 October 2013

Joules Ales - The 30 Mile Zone of Excellence

Joules Ales

"A wonderful thing is happening in Britain, we are re-discovering our ale heritage." So says Joules, a beer maker whose famous pale ale has a history that dates back to the brewing habits of 12th century monks.

Joules disappeared in the 70s when it was acquired by Bass and they decided to retire the name and the beer and pulled down the original Joules brewery. Thanks big business.

And that might have been the end. But you can't keep a good beer down. (I should re-write that.) Joules was resurrected ten years ago when the present owner, Steve Nuttall, acquired the name, the recipes, the yeast and and all that was needed to bring Joules back properly.

I visited the Joules brewery in Market Drayton on your behalf this week. Much impressed by their keep it fresh and local philosophy. They only deliver their beer to pubs in a 30 mile radius from the brewery — their heartland of Cheshire, North Shropshire, North Staffordshire and North Wales — where'll you see the famous red cross trademark of Joules. The cross is one of the oldest beer marks in the world.

And that's not all. They use the best quality whole hops and mineral water drawn from a local source. They only make draught beer for transport directly to local pubs and never sell bottled beer or beer to supermarkets.

How refreshing to find a company that operates to serve the needs of its local community and is not set on world domination at any cost. In a world of increasingly bland uniformity, this helps give the area a unique character and a reason to visit.

The Beer

You might know the name, but for geographical reasons you may not have tasted the beer. It's good.

The Joules brewery encompasses The Red Lion pub in Market Drayton, which dates back to 1623. Here you can enjoy the legendary Joule's Pale Ale, recreated with the assistance of one of the original brewers, Anthony Heeley, who worked on the last batch in 1974.

Understanding the importance of scale in retaining quality, Joules only produce three types of beer. Slumbering Monk is their premium bitter and they also make the continental-style Blonde. Attracted, as always, by the heritage, I was happy to keep to the pale ale this time around.

The Pubs

Joules has a commendable outlook on pubs too, or brewery taps as they call them, which also considers scale and sense of place. "Our interest has always been in old English style pubs, pubs which have served communities for centuries, which connect us to our fellow countrymen, and also to our past, a reminder of simpler times and the bonds we share."

Look out for their red cross if you're in that part of the country.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Condensed Madrid #4 - The Food Special

I can't believe the shoes from my last Madrid trip have sneaked onto another photo. They're such exhibitionists.

Anyway, here we come to the final installment of Tweedy's Condensed Madrid — The Food Special.

After doing the 'Salamanca Square' and having your elevenses at Mallorca, your stomach's rumbling and you're looking for something more substantial to eat.

Suggestions: Daniela for cocido madrileño and the Mercado de San Anton for quality Spanish food.

Daniela for Cocido Madrileño

If you're a fan of robust, un-frenchified food — and not fashion food — look no further than the Madrid institution of cocido madrileño. It's a meat and vegetable stew, with chick peas and chorizo and black pudding. An unpretentious and unchanging part of Madrid's food culture. Extremely filling.

Daniela, another Madrid institution, do it best. Go on Sunday and sit amongst conservatively-dressed Spanish families taking time to enjoy long mealtimes together. They have four taverns dotted around the city. I prefer the one nearest the Bernabau stadium. A good place for a meal after a Real Madrid game too.

You're served — by uniformly matronly waitresses — the soup that comes from the stew first and then the stew.

Chueca - The Soho of Madrid

Let's now send you somewhere that was something of a local's secret on my last trip. The Mercado de San Anton is in the Chueca district — the Soho of Madrid. A more casually-dressed part of town. You can probably leave your tie at home today.

The Mercado de San Anton is a food market with food stalls arranged over several stories. On the top floor is the La Cocina de San Anton, a bar and restaurant. Excellent hams. What was the delicious thing I ate there? I think it was oxtail with something. Sorry, can't remember. It was superb though, I can assure you.

The market has nice ambience and the best local and Spanish produce to be had. I'd suggest you go here for a vermouth and bite on Saturday lunchtime.

Links to Previous Condensed Madrid

Do exactly as instructed in these articles and you'll have a smashing time in Madrid.

Snacks in Mallorca
Day Trip to Valencia
Doing the 'Salamanca Square'

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

British Brollier - James Smith & Sons 1830

One of the Oldest Names in British Brollies

I finally left my brolly on a train. Goodbye, sweet friend. Here he is out and about with some brown shoes. Francis Bown wouldn't approve of that combination. He recommends that the umbrella should match the shoes. He's very strict on these matters.

Flicking though the older pages of The Tweed Pig, ignoring the typos and grammatical license taken, I was struck by how little we've covered brollies (considering we live in the dampest set of islands in the Northern hemisphere).

And we haven't yet mentioned one of the biggest names in British brollydom, James Smith & Sons. Family-owned — not by a middle-eastern sovereign wealth fund or a French fashion conglomerate — they remain a little piece of old England.

About James Smith & Sons

James Smith & Sons was founded in 1830. Their current shop has been at New Oxford Street, London, since 1857. It is Europe's oldest umbrella shop. I don't suppose there are many competitors.

Think of a type of brolly, or walking stick, and they sell it. Most items are made in their workshop, with parts sourced from around Europe.

Buy the Right Size

You can buy solid wooden stick or metal tube-shafted umbrellas from James Smith.

The thicker solid stick umbrellas can be used for support, but can also be ordered to a particular length. The tube-shafted umbrellas gain on lightness and slimness, but have a standard length. You'll need one of each type. Obviously, go for the sterling silver lapband to put your initials on.

Here's the Plank Ash Solid with Silver Lapband:

The solid sticks are measured and cut according to your height.

Here's the Whangee Cane Crook, with needle end:

A classic British, slim city style. Steed's favourite.

The 'Bulgarian umbrella' used by the 'umbrella assassin' was probably adapted from a similar type of umbrella.

Unusual Canes and Walking Sticks

At times it may be useful carry a cane, if only to thrash footpads bartitsu-style. And if you're looking for something unusual in the stick/cane department —and we're hoping you are — James Smith & Sons supply made-to-order drinking sticks that hold two slim glasses and a flask. You can also choose a cane with a handle that untwists to become a corkscrew or a briarwood pipe. A cane with a pipe handle still available in Britain today — doesn't that make your heart sing?

I feel an umbrella song coming on. Rhianna? Come off it.

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