Walpole British Luxury Brands at Somerset House.
Part 1: Walpole Luxury Brands of Tomorrow
From a men’s style perspective Walpole are an interesting subject. Walpole promote, develop and represent the British luxury industry. Walpole is part think-tank (their seminars on luxury goods are amongst the best), part English brand champions and a forum for British luxury Brands. Their roster of members include the magnificent English leather goods company Ettinger, Savile Row tailors like Henry Poole and Co and classic Whisky house Glenmorangie. These brands and 180 more like them, form a kind of nucleus of English craftsmanship and service which defines English luxury.
One other thing they do is provide a mentoring and support service for new brands, brands they call “British luxury brands of tomorrow”. So if you have a yen to see what adventurous new brands are doing, you can go to the Walpole website (here) and find out who those brands are. We are going to touch on a couple of them in this article.
The event at Somerset house was a celebration of British luxury brands for Queen Elizabeth 2nd’s Jubiliee. Here are those (men’s) brands that we met on the day.
Here is the first part of our article, the brands of tomorrow. The second part focuses on established brands.
Elvis and Kresse.
This is Kresse Wesling, of the wonderfully named Elvis and Kresse (Elvis is her partner). Elvis and Kresse are one of the Walpole’s Brands of Tomorrow.
Elvis and Kresse are an amazing brand. They make men’s bags, accessories and jewellery (cufflinks). They make everything from reclaimed materials. In particular, they make bags from decommissioned fire-hose. So they use fire-hose that will no longer carry water under pressure and has no other use, to make their stylish bags. If you look at the picture above you can see some samples of the hose, to the right of Kresse.
Now this is something else. For a start Kresse and Elvis are the only people who know how work fire-hose as a fabric. So, rare craftsmen indeed. In fact they had to invent their own super-heavy-duty sewing machines, in order to work the hose.
But also they have such a great eye for design. Here is their messenger bag, made of fire-hose and reclaimed fabric. It has such up-front style! The colour, texture and pattern of the fire-hose gives it a unique look. It manages to be both hip and showy at the same time. A real conversation piece and incredibly hard-wearing. When I handled it, the bag felt like a real man’s bag, with a feel and a heft that no other bag can match. If you have a rugged natural style, this is the bag for you, above all others.
Here is another picture, Kresse with the bag.
I also liked the cufflinks, shown here, with Elvis and Kresse’s wallets, which have a kind of retro-alligator feel about them. The cufflinks were very tactile, and felt great, fun jewellery. Again, great conversation pieces.
Actually, I messed up here, because I should also have taken a close-up photo of their overnight bag. You can see the bag in the first picture, to the right of Kresse’s head. When I got back to the office I realised that I had not taken a shot.
I want that bag.
The Elvis and Kresse overnight bag is a combination of wonderful things. It is rugged, elegant, manly, striking. Close-up, the styling, with the bold stitching in the fire-hose, makes the bag look part-bag, part-trunk, in a clever and original way. Not in the least old-school but incredibly stylish.
The way I see it, is, you are on your way to a country house weekend, in your sportscar, top down, skinny chinos on (Ralph Lauren or Norse Products for preference), driving shoes on the pedals (New&Lingwood or Tods for preference), a blue and white striped dress shirt (Truzzi or Emmett for preference), open at the neck, sleeves rolled up, your overnight bag on the back seat. The Elvis and Kresse bag is a perfect choice for that overnight bag, the prefect match.
Now officially on my shopping list.
Oh, and 50% of the profits from their products go to the Fire Fighters Charity. There are so many reasons why you would be mad not to buy from them.
Elvis and Kresse sell their bags and accessories from their website here
Fair Isle Knitwear
Another brand of the future, which sells an important craft from the past, and one which many men look so good in. Fair Isle Sweaters. The only place in the world where you can get real Fair-Isle sweaters is Fair Isle itself.
I know this to my cost. Years ago, when I was a martial arts instructor, I went through a rugged phase. Jeans and sweaters featured. I bought a “fake” Fair-Isle sweater where the pattern had been “machined in”. It was cheap, looked awful, I looked awful, it was one of my worst style decisions ever. You have to have the real thing.
So, let me introduce you to someone who can make you a Fair-Isle sweater without you needing to go to Fair Isle.
Mati Ventrillon is a crofter and knitter on Fair Isle, who is passionate about Fair Isle sweaters and makes beautiful sweaters. Mati makes hand-frame knitted and hand finished sweaters, in the traditional Fair Isle way. Her sweaters are truly beautiful.
Here is a picture:
All of Mati’s sweaters are made to measure. She does this by having an internet made-to-measure service, direct from her website. You go to her website and pick a pattern, a style, a colour, put some measurements into the box and you are started. Mati will then email you to ensure that you are getting exactly what you want and the sweater is made.
This is a wonderful service. I love that the internet makes it possible for people all over the world to buy such a rare and precious thing as a Fair Isle sweater. It helps Mati support a precious craft that is loved the world over but which is a very difficult product to get to market.
Mati also makes stylish accessories, socks, scarves, hats, in classic Fair Isle patterns, using the same traditional methods. You can see them on her website, along with a picture of Mati shearing a sheep. Go look, the site is here
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