Gosport is not somewhere you would associate with premium Japanese selvedge denim. But sure enough, here it is we find the unlikely outpost of Iron Heart, one of Japan's most iconic denim labels - and our latest basement addition.
Why Gosport, then? Well, it's home to Giles Padmore, a denim nut since his early teens who accumulated a collection of Levis that ultimately led him to Iron Heart and its founder, Shinichi Haraki.
Haraki-san, mostly referred to as 'Boss', is basically a denim sensei. His 20-year career started at age 23 with Edwin where he progressed from pattern maker to designer to producer/director in just three years. He launched Iron Heart in 2003, focussing on heavyweight 21oz denim that was originally aimed at the Japanese-American motorcycle community.
Giles and Haraki-san met in Los Angeles after Giles contacted Haraki-san via e-mail with a proposal to distribute Iron Heart globally. And the rest is a story of one of the most unlikely yet most successful pairings in the denim business - their market size has increased almost fifteen-fold since the partnership started out; Haraki-san at the heart of Iron Heart's aesthetic and Giles bringing his expertise in international markets.
What they do share is an absolute passion for denim; and knowing those that share that passion is the reason we had to bring Iron Heart to the basement. As far as Rob's concerned, for the denim heads and purists out there, nothing betters Iron Heart.
100% milled, designed and manufactured in Japan, this is heavyweight denim that is surprisingly soft. They use the highest quality long staple cotton which means the warp and weft don't have to be overly spun to keep their integrity. The result is jeans that will develop their own unique patina over time.
As Giles' puts it, "A pair of jeans is an extension of your personality and soul. Buy a pair that you feel great in, then wear them as much as possible before washing them, that way they will mould and fade uniquely to your body shape and the way you live. They will become part of who you are."
Here at The Hambledon we're stocking the 634s in a 21oz selvedge denim and the the The Devil’s Fit 666 slim cut jean and in an 18oz selvedge denim. Jeans for people who take denim seriously.
Never was a truer word spoken than when Laura Brown recently declared "we do a good birthday". Presents beautifully wrapped, fizz by tradition and cakstands and confetti on hand. It also helps that we have a master baker among our ranks: Victoria's daughter Mercy (a future bake off contender we think) whose expertise is called upon on ocassion. For 15 she whipped us up a Hambledon favourite - classic coffee and walnut topped with an espresso-infused buttercream (recipe below). Happy birthday to us!
For the cake:
225g/8oz unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
225g/8oz caster sugar
4 free-range eggs
50ml/1¾fl oz strong espresso coffee
225g/8oz self-raising flour
For the buttercream:
125g/4½oz unsalted butter
200g/7oz icing sugar
50ml/2fl oz strong espresso coffee
12 walnut halves, to decorate
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.
In a bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until very light and pale.
Add the eggs one at a time to the butter and sugar mixture, beating well to completely incorporate each egg before adding the next egg.
Add the espresso to the mixture and stir well.
Add the flour and walnuts and stir well to completely combine.
Spoon the cake mixture into two lined and greased 20cm/8in cake tins.
Transfer to the oven to bake 25-30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean and the cake is golden-brown.
Remove the cakes from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack.
For the buttercream topping, beat the butter and icing sugar together in a small bowl until pale and light.
Add the espresso and mix well.
Spread the buttercream over the top of each cake, then place one cake on top of the other.
Decorate the top of the cake with the walnut halves (or sprinkles in this case) and serve in generous slices.
We've long been wanting to work with the lovely ladies at Betty Magazine (one of our favourite reads) and finally the perfect opportunity arose in the form of our 15th birthday. So we asked them to compile a wishlist of their fifteen favourite Hambledon wares. And then we thought, what the heck, let's celebrate this occasion with a giveaway. Yes, people, this impeccable selection could be all yours.
1. Falcon Serving Tray £19.99 | 2. Mint Skyline Fountain Pen £17.95 | 3. Nail Polish Paprika £12 | 4. School Milk Bottles Crate £9.95 | 5. Where Chefs Eat £14.95 | 6. Double Star Gold Earrings £38 | 7. Popcorn Holder £2.95 | 8. Chiaverini Apricot Jam £5.95 | 9. Birthday Candle Card £3.50 | 10. Pink Love Salts £9.95 | 11. Pearl Tea Cup & Saucer £4.95 | 12. Classic Strong Mint Toothpaste £5.50 | 13. Rose & Vanilla Tinted Lip Blush £9.95 | 14. Nail Enamel Remover £10 | 15. Vintage Bouquet Long Socks £19.95
As fun as last year's traffic stopping honeycomb ball bonanza was, we decided it might be an idea to go out on location to shoot this year's lookbook. Much googling and many phone calls later we wound up back in Winchester, just down the road at Milner Hall. And what a backdrop it turned out to be, complete with all kinds of perfect props snaffled from the broom cupboard - tea urns, trestle tables and Hampshire Antiques Society signs - plus a great balcony from which to fire balloons up into the beautiful vaulted ceiling.
By the end of the shoot Victoria's son Hal had run countless errands on skateboard and bicycle, Finn was as proficient as a removals guy shifting stacks of chairs with a trolley; everyone had overdosed on the potent coffee from Black, White Red and photographer Michael had listened to way too much country music for his liking. Not that it mattered. Got the job done and we couldn't be happier with the results.
Welcome to The Hambledon Parish Hall Lookbook for Autumn 14. It’s a little bit WI, a little bit tea party, a little bit village fete but we hope it’s fully lovely. And it’s all available in store and online.
Two things are clear following the success of last year's Hudson project. Winter shoes are a matter of great importance (in black, in brown, with heels, with buckles and without). And Hudson have all the answers. So we decided to invite them back.
Welcome to our AW14 Hudson shoe shop. Ankle boots remain a big fixture this season. Look out for Tatham (a fleece-lined take on a biker boot already proving very popular), Wistow (a classic Chelsea with a chunky commando sole) and Jilt (our directional option in lizard skin with zig-zag zips). Also note the Mirar returns, now known as Kiver and retailing at a straightforward £100.
In addition we are giving you a chance to win a pair of shoes of your choice. We are good to you!
High summer spells an episode of birthdays at The Hambledon. We cooed over a weeny horse and carriage destined for Lucy's royal cabinet. And discovered that gin and tonic cupcakes really do work.
Afternoon tea breaks became gelato runs. And Sturgill Simpson's Meta Modern Sounds in Country Music won soundtrack to our summer. Just listen.
We cheered on Victoria's son Theo in the Winchester Criterium as he whizzed by our front doors, and welcomed back Laura Brown aka 'Best in Town' as manager of The Hambledon at Cowley Manor. A matter of much delight.
Purbeck farmer Benjamin Hole made hay while the sun shone. Watching his perfectly formed hay bales take shape over on Instagram has had us seriously life lusting. Olivia has bagsed him as her future husband.
An acquaintance of Steve McQueen's called by. No joke. He worked with him as a set designer before Steve made it big. Steve was dating a girl from the chorus line and they all used to go for drinks at Louis' bar. Much comfort to know the man was as nice and cool and decent as we always imagined him to be.
Meanwhile over at Cowley we were most intrigued by a lovely lady, master quilter, embroiderer and maker-of-own-clothes who has only worn blue and shades of, for the past 25 years. Laura sold her the neon yellow Custom Made cardigan.
Also, Outlander. We're obsessed.
The blurb talks of wild honey, big bunches of herbs, crunchy salads, smoky lamb, old fashioned stews and bread straight from the oven. It asks you to grab a chair, squeeze in, enjoy the noise and leave room for dessert. OK. Sounds good to us.
Then you're introduced to two chefs who fell in love over their passion for food; whose early dates took them on a gastronomic tour of their homeland; whose infactuation with a cookbook bought them to London. Two chefs who last year made their dream their day-to-day by opening Honey & Co on London's Warren Street.
Google it and you'll see five star reviews about a buzzy little joint serving up no fuss, homey food packed with flavour. And you'll probably also clock that they won the Best Newcomer Award at last year's Observer Food Monthly Awards.
This is their first cookbook, and we for one are sold.