Monday, 31 March 2014

The Poor Can Only Afford the Best - 1906 Gents

The Poor can Only Afford the Best

The poor can only afford the best. Think about what that means. This astute aphorism has been adopted by our American chums at The 1906 Gents, whose mission statement is to "create heirloom-quality products that provide service and enjoyment for generations to come".

They make products with staying power, gentlemen. If there's one thing we should look for in anything we wish to live with, it is its intrinsic capability to last — form, function and materials. This is in diametric opposition to the fashion for the disposable and the media trend-driven that has permeated the culture of the 'Five Eyes' nations in modern times. A mindset that the poor could ill-afford to indulge in an earlier age.

About 1906 Gents

The 1906 Gents get their name from the United States Antiquities Act of 1906, which was passed to preserve natural and national landmarks. They are based in Springfield, Missouri and craft household products by hand.

Badger Hair Shaving Brushes

The 1906 Gents offer a range of badger shaving brushes. The Eliot has my attention, which uses silvertip hair (the softest and most water-retentive of the badger hair categories) and hand-turned handles made from exotic woods. You can select the wood and the shape of the handle. Being entirely handmade, the final product will be uniquely yours.

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Music to Button a Cardigan By - Goodbye Horses

Goodbye Horses - Hayden Thorpe and Jon Hopkins

Goodbye Horses [Amazon] is a contemporary art song recorded by Hayden Thorpe and producer Jon Hopkins in 2013. Hayden is the lead singer of the Wild Beasts, and bears a passing likeness to our famous Guernsey sweater larcenist in the photo above.

As regular readers will know, I'm a fan of the counter-tenor voice. Hayden sings in a pleasingly high and English-sounding register. Intentional — he has complained that too many of his British contemporaries affect an American-sounding vocal. I blame Mick Jagger.

We'll stick this song in the Music to Button a Cardigan By collection, but perhaps — with its chillingly confessional atmosphere — it would fit better in a Hitchcock-like Music to be Murdered By compilation. It's a song you might want to hear if you've just murdered someone, and now — as you're scrubbing the blood stains out of your pastel blue alpaca cardigan before the scene of crime officer arrives (good luck with that) — you're in two minds about what you've done.

The song was originally recorded by US singer Q Lazzarus.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

J. Alex Swift (1895)

Big Sock Hunting

In the daily dozen resolution I made for you at the start of the year I mentioned an obscure British sock maker called J. Alex Swift. I'm pleased to say that I managed to get some of their socks in my cross hairs and bagged them. (How's your daily dozen going, by the way?)

You can see some green Swift woollen ones above, with my dependable suede brogues. Don't let anyone tell you that suede shoes wear out quickly. The ones you see are teenagers and have had at least four 'sole transplants' in that time. They're still running well for a weekend gad about.

The other Swift socks you see below are of a Donegal wool, which I'm very keen on. They look terrific with my Cheaney country shoes with grained leather. They're in the wash, otherwise I'd have taken another photo to show you. More Donegal socks for next winter, please, sock people.

About J. Alex Swift

John Alexander Swift established his sock making business in the Leicestershire village of Hathern in 1895. The company remains family-owned — with 3rd and 4th-generation Swifts at the helm — and it is still based in Hathern making English socks as an independent company. Music to Tweedy's ears.

They specialise in the manufacture of mohair and alpaca socks, with hand linking. Do seek them out.

Monday, 24 March 2014

Tweed Pig Pin-Up - David Minns

David Minns - Bristol's Finest Tailor

We'll give London a wide birth this week. The pummelling to its reputation it is receiving as a 'pirate' city awash with ill-gotten foreign loot could reflect badly on all of us. Although, if any of that loot were to find itself stuffed into a paper bag and posted to Tweed Towers — no names, no questions — of course, ahem, we'll do our very best to help rebuild the good name of the city.

In the meantime, we head west to the scandal-free English maritime city of Bristol, where we find tailors and atelier Brown in Town.

David Minns (above) is the tailor behind the operation. You will find him, by appointment, at the converted Cigar Humidor at Bristol's Hotel du Vin; and he's now also offering tailoring services from the swinging Hoxton Hotel in London. If you're based in the West Country, seek out David to attend to your sartorial needs.

Thanks to fellow Fox Umbrellas enthusiast David for his contribution to our pin-up series.

About the Photo

David explains

"Brown in Town are Bespoke tailors and atelier; a comprehensive gents outfitters for both town and country, weekday and weekend, providing tweeds to tails, suits to separates also the essential gentleman's accoutrements; handkerchiefs, ties, pocket squares and umbrellas from Fox Umbrellas.

"And, as Bristol's local tailor, I take it upon myself to shine the sartorial torch wherever I go, and I never leave home without my trusted Fox Umbrella - whom I chanced upon during my tenure as an ex-pat living in South East Asia, where rain really is rain, and was perturbed by the slew of umbrella detritus in the streets each monsoon.

"During a visit home to blighty, I procured my first Fox Umbrella, and am now proud to be a stockist of this trusty 'Steed', if you'll pardon the pun!

"In this image I'm sporting a 3pc Vitale Barberis Italian flannel suit, complete with GT9 whangee handled Fox umbrella."

Saturday, 22 March 2014

The Gangster Lapel - Pépé le Moko

Pointed Lapels for Pépé

It's been something of a pointed lapel week at The Tweed Pig. I was watching the French gangster film Pépé le Moko [Amazon] and the American remake Algiers [Amazon] back-to-back this week, as is my wont, and it struck me that the lead characters both wore single-breasted jackets with pointed lapels. This was not the case with the supporting characters. Social historians may be able to glean something from this. Was this style saying something about the character? Was it the gangster lapel of the time?

I'd recommend both films. Jean Gabin is a slightly grubbier and more authentic Pépé that Charles Boyer — who was terrific in Gaslight — but Algiers has the delightful Heddy Lamarr.

What are the Films About?

The original French film is an adaptation of the 1931 novel Pépé le Moko by Henri La Barthe. He also contributed to the screenplay. The American version tries to replicate the vision of the original film as far as possible.

Pépé is a thief who has fled France and created a gangster fiefdom for himself in the Casbah of Algiers. A beautiful Parisienne called Gaby arrives in town and, by chance, they meet. He falls in love with her and what she represents — the promise of a French life beyond the Casbah. His exiled heart still belongs to France. The authorities have vowed to arrest Pépé the moment he leaves the Casbah. Is he willing to take the risk?

I think it's due a remake, actually.

Pepe le Moko 1937 - Jeane Gabin

Algiers 1938 - Charles Boyer

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Corneliani (1958) - Man as a Masterpiece


Corneliani began in 1930s Mantua, Italy, when Alfredo Corneliani set up a business making coats. The business was parked during the Second World War, but was re-started by his sons in 1958, when Corneliani S.p.A was founded. It remains an Italian-owned family business that manufactures in Italy. We're not just about British classics at The Tweed Pig, we are about heritage and authenticity anywhere. Mainly British classics though, truth be told.

The Corneliani house style is traditionally structured, although their more casual lines offer floppier jackets if that's what you're looking for. They also do made-to-measure, which incorporates 150 steps and 27 hand-crafted stages, stats lovers.

Single-Breasted Cashmere Jacket with Pointed Lapel

I couldn't resist this Corneliani jacket in cashmere birdseye cloth. Made in Italy. I may take the sleeves up a bit, but otherwise a pretty good fit. The cloth was the selling point though; it's very soft and of a pleasing thickness. We've been talking about pointed lapels on single-breasted jackets recently. These are of the 'go big or go home' variety.

The cloth reduces the formality of the style though; enough to be able to use it as a daytime jacket. There is something of the maverick cop from a 1970s series about it. A cop that doesn't go by the book, but still gets results. He'll probably have his badge taken away, but he'll continue with his investigation to expose corruption at the very top.

I'm patrolling the mean streets of ludicrously pretty Lacock, Wiltshire, below. I discovered an excellent tea rooms there — I must cover it.

Monday, 17 March 2014

Reach Your Peak - Paul Stuart

Jackets with Pointed Lapels

We are in transition. Tiny notched lapels on single-breasted jackets are being jostled aside by muscularly large pointed (peaked in the US) lapels on single-breasted jackets.

Popular in the early twentieth-century, and on dinner suits, the pointed lapel and single-breasted combination has been the subject of bitter debate in recent times (from those who have the time to bitterly debate such things). The anti brigade are troubled by the seeming lack of utility and drift from their original function: pointed lapels can only be folded in and buttoned properly on a double-breasted jacket they maintain. There's some truth in this evolutionary thinking, but the utility debate is little specious. If clothes were entirely driven by utility, we'd all be wearing boiler suits.

That said, one style doesn't have to dominate; it's always good to see more choice. If it suits the wearer, it suits the starer.

Masculine Silhouette

What do pointed lapels bring to the single-breasted jacket? I think Tom Ford, or somebody similar, reasoned that they can give a more grown-up and masculine silhouette; and perhaps they look a bit less 'high street'. What are your thoughts?

Evidence from Paul Stuart

Here we present evidence on this pointed lapel shift from our Anglo-American chums at Paul Stuart. They have some very smart offerings from their new Phineas Cole range right now.

With clothes like this available off-the-peg, we may look back at this time as some sort of golden age in men's clothing, eh what? Even if that doesn't quite equate to the reality of what we see on the street sometimes. Why is that pseudo-Japanese brand Super Dry so ubiquitous?

You really need to see the whole Phineas Cole catalogue. It's very inspiring. The jackets look so good with waistcoats.

If you know where to look (The Tweed Pig) and where to shop (the brands we mention) there is really no reason to dress head-to-toe in sweat-shirting day in, day out.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Armchair for the Six Nations Rugby - Lambert & Stamp

Victorian Gentlemen's Chair

Looking for a chair to watch the Six Nations Rugby from? What about something like the Victorian Gentlemen's Chair above from Lambert & Stamp?

Lambert & Stamp is a Cornish-based company that is best-known for restoring antique armchairs and upholstering them in Home Nations flags and classic book covers. They also apply their design work to new pieces.

The Union Flag is a very popular choice in design the world over. It's a bloody good-looking flag, but is that all? It maintains a youthful appeal — as a symbol of rebelliousness and individuality — as much as it conveys identity and tradition. Perhaps that has something to do with it?

Lambert & Stamp do commissions too. I'm not sure it's possible, but maybe other flags could be used on their chairs. I've been looking at what's out there, flag-wise, and there are some interesting designs. Did you know the flag of Mozambique has an image of an AK-47?

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Sherlock Holmes' Dressing Gown

The Investment Potential of a Dressing Gown

Heating bills being as they are, a sensible investment would always be a woollen dressing gown. Good ones are hard to find, but here are a couple from Derek Rose that would repay the initial investment many times over in terms of gross domestic comfort.

Sherlock Holmes' Dressing Gown

The world of The Tweed Pig has collided a few times with Benedict Cumberbatch. Purely coincidentally — or is it? — here he is again. This time he's back as Sherlock Holmes (above) as he's wearing a dressing gown from Derek Rose we'd like to recommend. If his mug helps bring in the traffic, I'm not complaining. He is one of our favourite actors.

The Kensington 1 camel dressing gown is made from a blend of wool (90%) and cashmere. It has piped seams and a tasselled belt that you can swirl around when in a 'brown study'.

Grey Herringbone Dressing Gown

This is another Derek Rose dressing gown, but I don't think it's currently in production. Either that or it was made exclusively for Woods of Shropshire. The cloth used for this is smashing: a grey herringbone wool — timeless. As with gown above, it has a shawl collar and patch pockets.

Monday, 10 March 2014

C.W. Dixey & Son (1777) - Specs Like Churchill

Dixey Eyewear of London
C.W. Dixey & Son was established in 1777 — that's right 1777, the oldest eyewear company you'll find — by William Fraser. It started out as company that produced optical and mathematical instruments, but is probably best known for supplying specs to the likes of Sir Winston Churchill and Ian Fleming.

You too can look like Winston Churchill with the round tortoiseshell Chartwell 01 frames (below) and the black half-eye Chartwell 02 frames (lower). Churchill himself 'designed' the white spots on the tips of the temples (arms). They're made in France.

Fleming's 'Bins'
I'm intrigued by the look of the Fleming spectacles below, and those bend-free temples. Is that a Dixey style? He looks a bit knackered in this photo.

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Swaledale Woollens - Tradcore not Normcore

What Was Before is Left Behind

If a lesser-known British clothing brand struggles, it is invariably picked up by a Hong Kong-based rag merchant or an Italian holding company. It then has its eccentric Britishness squeezed out and its products made more saleable to a global market. All but the (trophy) logo is binned and the marketing deception begins. At this point, readers, the battle is lost; we regret the brand's passing and dig deeper for a hidden gem that can fill the gap.

Swaledale Woollens

Thankfully, there is no lack of genuine British sweater-makers to fill the sweater gap. We may sometimes have to seek out smaller-scale operations, but that's where the real hidden gems can be found. Swaledale Woollens is a sweater-making operation on a micro scale.

Swaledale Woollens —  in the Yorkshire Dales, England — started life as a village cooperative in the 1970s. A shop was opened in the village of Muker. Locals hand-knitted in their homes to supply the shop with knitwear to sell; and this excellent enterprise continues today.

The wool used to make the knitwear is from the local Swaledale sheep, but also the neighbouring Wensleydale sheep (of cheese fame). The wool is spun in Scotland.

This is artisanal knitwear with excellent provenance. The Swaledale sweater above — the house style —is hand-framed and made from the local Swaledale wool.

Why not visit the shop if you're that way and give the locals (people and sheep) your support?

Tradcore Not Normcore

Too may words are being written about 'normcore', which seems to mean dressing like you couldn't care less about how you're dressed. If it's meant as a reaction to the fast-fashion-industrial complex, then a better bet might be to seek out the timelessness of the products we present on the pages of The Tweed Pig.

We'll call this philosophy 'tradcore'. Swaldale is a classic tradcore company: small, local manufacture; good provenance; timeless products; no deception. And featured by The Tweed Pig.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Fox Umbrellas - Vivat Vulpe

Fox - Keeping you Dry Since 1868

I finally got around to replacing my old Fox umbrella — with a new Fox umbrella. You can now buy directly from Fox and have a bit of a say on the colour of canopy, the handle and fitting you want.

Fox's colour chart has lots of nice plain colours and a few tartan ones too. American's are big fans of the Black Watch tartan; that one's available, for example.

I didn't want a black umbrella this time. I whittled down the colour choices to bordo (a wine/maroon colour), navy, dark green or dark grey. I went for the navy in the end.

Made in the UK, in Croydon, Surrey, the umbrella is a GT9, umbrella boffins — a Gents Tube (for lightness), with whanghee handle, gilt tip cup and matching navy case.

It's a beautiful thing to wield. Here I am practising a few defensive Sherlock Holmes-style bartitsu moves. Your umbrella should be like your right-hand man, always there when you need it.

With the choices available from Fox, I feel a collection of right-hand men coming on.

More Brolly Action


Monday, 3 March 2014

The Barbican Shoulder Bag - Brooks England

Built for the British Climate

For the rain it raineth every day. Or so it seems beneath the perma-cloud of Britain. The climate might inspire a certain lugubriousness, but you don't need to move to Hull and start writing introspective poetry, mulling a life of weather-related missed opportunities. All you need to do is to assemble the right kit to cope with the life aquatic — kit that can take a drenching — and then you can strut around like you're living in Luxor (very dry place) — oblivious to the wet.

Clouds can unload as much water as they want on the Barbican Shoulder Bag from Brooks England. It won't mind a bit. My Pashley Roadster Sovereign tipped me off about this bag. It's always on the look out for accessories. The bag is made in England from the same leather as the Brooks saddle my bike proudly sports, which is equal to pretty bloody tough. If it's blowing a gale, you can adjust the shoulder strap into a Sam Browne belt, as shown by the model below.

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