Walpole British Luxury Brands Part 2
Here is the second part of our article on the Walpole best of British Luxury Brands. This article is about established British brands. The first article, about Walpole’s British luxury brands of the future, is here
Henry Poole and Co
Henry Poole are the founding tailor of Savile Row. Back in 1806, Henry Poole setup their then revolutionary tailoring shop. Still one of the finest upholders of the bespoke tradition, Henry Poole are legendary for their clientele (famous names both past and present) and their fine work as ambassadors of Savile Row. Simon Cundey, the current MD, still leads Poole and Co’s trunk shows (travelling presentations) to the USA. It was with this in mind that I approached their stand at the show.
Here in this first picture is Tom, who is a journeyman tailor at Henry Poole. Tom was doing a great job, in explaining Henry Poole to the young woman in the shot. The difficult thing about great tailoring is that some aspects of it are not immediately apparent. So Tom was patiently and entertainingly explaining the secrets of bespoke suiting. It was great to listen to him talk about tailoring, which he is clearly passionate about. Tom showed me the most beautiful Lovat Tweed fabric, a rich green, with a texture that alternately captured and reflected the light. It is in the next shot and though I did not do it justice with the photograph, it is simply beautiful. In the earlier picture you can see Tom chalking the tweed (on its reverse side) prior to cutting. This is going to make the most beautiful jacket for some chap. It is the sort of fabric you can only get from a Savile Row tailor.
Simon Cundey, MD of Henry Poole
In the picture below we see Mr Simon Cundey. Simon is the fifth generation of Cundey’s to head up Henry Poole and is a master tailor in his own right. That blue pinstripe suit he is wearing is perfection itself. It fits him perfectly and in doing so, turns him into an icon of bespoke style. It is hard to describe just how much he stood out from the other presenters at the exhibition. He was immaculately turned out and the eye was drawn to him. Simon is also a very charming man and a great ambassador for Savile Row. He has an ability to talk about Savile Row, its place in the world and the wonderful clothes it produces, which is both informative and inspiring.
Henry Poole’s tailoring is timeless, they really can produce unique and individual clothing for any man. At their shop they have their accounts and records of all their illustrious customers. When I was there recently they showed me the ledger containing the account details of the suit they made for Buffalo Bill Cody, when he was in Europe with his Wild West show. And they have a photograph, of the suit itself. It is an extremely stylish suit, in a late Victorian style. If you are in Henry Poole, you should ask them to show it to you.
Making the old new
Henry Poole has many beautiful articles of clothing to its credit, but there is one old but very new piece that we must mention here. To celebrate London Fashion Week Savile Row and Burlington Arcade joined forces to hold an open house event. Henry Pool played a major part in this, please read on. Burlington Arcade is a Victorian arcade of shops, in London’s Piccadilly, originally opened in 1819. It is a beautiful arcade, full of Victorian glass and fine woodwork, beautiful shops. The Arcade is protected by the Beadles, liveried cards wearing Edwardian frockcoats and gilded top hats. These gentlemen are the courteous soul of the arcade. To celebrate the London Fashion Week event, Henry Poole made a new Chief Beadle’s uniform and presented to the Arcade. Only master tailors of Henry Poole’s calibre could make such a complex and beautiful uniform. Here is a picture.
Henry Poole’s website is here
Classic ready-to-wear menswear brand Daks was also at the exhibition. I have huge amounts of time for Daks. They are inventive, stylish and confident in what they do. To me they seem to tread a path between classic, well-priced English menswear and some very stylish pieces which put a twist on English casual style. You can always find something interesting and different in Daks. They are full of surprises. For example, in the 2011 season, they had some gloriously stylish double-breasted suits, which could have come straight from the Tom Ford collection. Not that they were copies biut they had that glamourous elegance, at a competitive price.
I personally swear by Dak’s knitwear which, seasonal variations aside, is always of superb quality, lightweight and more than a touch Euro-chic. Their men’s shirts can throw up some very pleasant surprises too. They often re-work retro-patterns in smaller, more elegant pattern-schemes, in colours that are outside the standard seasonal palette. If I wanted a shirt to liven up a suit, Daks would be one of the places I would look. Similarly, last winter season saw Daks produce a modern re-interpretation of the Seventies padded blouson and, you know, they were really stylish pieces.
Claiming the middle gound
Right now, it is hard to be a menswear retailer in the middle ground, neither high design nor mass market brand, but Daks are doing it really well. It seems to me that they are mining their design past and combining that with a more edgy modern take on classic styles. If I was a man in my thirties, looking for clothes that were really wearable but with some colour and edge, I would start with the Daks collection. Daks (like all the exhibitors) were having to contend with the odd shapes and sizes of the rooms of Somerset House. This is by way of apologising for not having many photographs to put into this article. Here is a classic Daks look, with more than a touch of Eighties verve. I would recommend visiting Dak’s Old Bond Street store, which is a work of art in itself. The staff are good here too, very discreet, polite and do not press you. For a man, Daks are a very easy store to browse in.
Daks are here
If ever a brand represented true luxury and craftsmanship, Ettinger is that brand. Ettinger make luxury leather-goods and accessories and have done so since 1934. All Ettinger products are hand-made by their own craftspeople in their workshops. As a brand they are amongst the best in the world, their leather-goods are beautiful examples of the leather-workers craft, perfectly finished in immaculate detail. Ettinger leather has a sheen and a quality unlike any other. If you own an Ettinger product then you truly have good taste. Ettinger sell their products in luxury retailers around the world, in Britain they sell in such stores as Harrods and Harvey Nichols. They also sell their goods from their own stores. Here is a picture of Ettinger’s stand at the event.
Ettinger and Monocle
If you look closely you will see a copy of Monocle at the far left of picture. Ettinger and Monocle have collaborated on a Monocle-branded leather luggage tag, which can be bought from the Monocle store. There is a timeless quality about Ettinger leather-goods that appeals even to the ultra –cool Monocle reader. Below is a picture of an interesting Ettinger service. At the show, a professional tattooist (apologies, I did not get her name) was tattoing designs onto the fine high-quality leather Ettinger uses for its products. This is a new Ettinger service, whereby Ettinger can customise leather goods with individual tattoos. In this way Ettinger’s bags and accessories can become even more personal. Ettinger continue to go from strength to strength, long may they continue to do so.
Ettinger’s website is here.
Links of London
I recommend Links of London to men, especially youngerr men, looking for stylish jewellery. From a design perspective their men’s jewellery has a modern look, so their cufflinks, cuffs, studs and pins have simple clean lines. For me, they seem to target the younger, prosperous male market. So their designs have a lot of flair and zip and their precious metal preference (for men) seems to be for silver, rather than gold. It is really good jewellery and their prices are competitive, for what is some of the best men’s jewellery around.
If you are going to browse a Links store my personal favourite is the one in Jermyn Street, which is very attuned to male customers (though I also like their Canary Wharf store, where the service is superb). Here is a picture of a collaborative set of pieces, designed in association with Mclaren (as on our homepage). I really like men’s jewellery with a harder edge, darker colours and some tactile emphasis and this collection ticks all of those boxes. I like the “machined car-part” look of this collection, very masculine. It has a nice heft to it as well, which I feel is important in men’s jewellery. I particularly like the silver/black metal cuff at the back-left. However I think that they should do a second version, even wider than the first. It is such a good piece and would bear the size increase and it would be rock-star spectacular.
One particular jewellery range that I really must credit Links of London for, are their tank watches.
In a word, superb.
They deserve all the superlatives I can muster. Elegant, manly, simple, slim. Stylish without being oversized or over-embellished. These watches are both good timepieces and good jewellery. They are priced in the hundreds of pounds rather than the thousands, but they have a refined luxury style about them that is quite eyecatching. Below is a picture of Gemma Douglass of Links showing off one of the watches
If you want to browse Links of London, their website is here.
That is all for this piece on Walpole. More mens’s brands, old and new, in future articles.
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