Winchester skaters head this way. There’s a new label in the basement we think you ought to know about: Ben Davis, a U.S. workwear clothing line founded in San Francisco in 1935 by the actual Ben Davis and his father. Of all the workwear labels we’ve welcomed to the basement, this is probably the most credible and cool of them all.
For starters, the Davis family has been involved in the U.S. garment industry since the mid 1800s so there’s some pretty serious family heritage to the name. Ben’s grandfather Jacob was instrumental in the creation of the original Levi’s jeans, being the brains behind using rivets to hold pockets in place on heavy duty work pants. Realising he was on to something he contacted Levi Strauss, his fabric supplier, to help him apply for a patent, and the rest is history.
It's no surprise then that Ben Davis was founded in the same family tradition and spirit, producing garments originally worn by construction workers, known for their sturdy, rugged, high quality construction and affordability.
The original store was on Valencia Street in the Mission district, with San Franciscan locals soon embracing the label and wearing it as a badge of honor representing the city. Later, the clothing caught on in Los Angeles and other part of the U.S., and with this, the brand crossed over into streetwear, the iconic gorilla’s head logo propelling its popularity.
In particular, the label was adopted by West coast rappers, with Ben Davis shirts featuring in videos by Dr. Dre and Easy-E, plus mentions in songs by the Beastie Boys and Ice Cube. And because we're down with all that (and the clothes are actually really good), we'll be wearing them in Winchester too; the trim fit pants, the half zip shirt, logo beanies and t-shirts emblazoned with that cheeky chimp's head.
We did it! Independent Retailer of the Year at the 2016 Drapers Independents Awards. And Best Lifestyle Independent to boot. Announced at a special celebratory lunch in London on Wednesday, with Victoria, Lucy, Rob and Finn there to pick up the gongs. (Rob promptly broke one but ducked out of the ceremony to a bicycle repair shop over the road and got it fixed). In the world of fashion retailing, Drapers is the oracle and these the most coveted industry awards there are, so we couldn’t be more thrilled. Big smiles all round, and huge thanks to all our lovely customers, suppliers and staff who make it all happen.
We pretty much run on sugar at The Hambledon. Rifle behind any of the counters and you’re sure to pull out some sort of confectionary. So the AW16 return of Pastiglie Leone – Italy’s original & finest ‘king of sweetness’ - is something we’re all kinds of happy about. Mostly because they’re the prettiest candies we ever did see, plus we like anything with a good story, and this one is as old as the Italian Republic itself.
It begins in 1857 in a confectioner’s shop in Alba where Luigi Leone produced small, intensely fragrant candies designed to be eaten after a meal. The first flavours were peppermint, cinnamon and rhubarb; the candy dough kneaded by hand and carefully dried for more than 24hrs in the mouth of an oven.
It wasn't long before they became a favourite of the king, and so, in 1861, to better serve the royal family, Leone’s production moved to Turin, residence of the Italian monarchs and later, the first capital of the unified Italy. Already known as the ‘capital of sweetness’ thanks to its cafes and patisseries, Leone fitted right in and was soon renowned throughout the city for its irresistible flavours.
Following the death of owner Luigi, ownership passed to a family who handled the business for just a few years until 1934 when it was bought by Giselda Balla Monero. Nicknamed ‘Lioness’ because of her untameable temperament, she transformed the company’s destiny, relocating the factory to Corso Regina Margherita 242, and investing heavily in the beautiful packaging and advertising we're smitten with today.
Now in the hands of Giselda’s son Guido, the candy originals are still produced according to the traditional recipe of 1857, set in the same bronze moulds, and packaged in the prettiest retro tins. This season you'll find us secretly scoffing on all manner of flavoured pastilles, boiled sweets and fruit jellies, collecting the tins as we go, and generally running on a sugar high through 'til Christmas.
Here it is: the Patagonia Project Space, a shop in shop we’re housing in our Winchester store for the next five weeks; something we are absolutely delighted and chuffed about having worked with the brand in menswear for several seasons now.
We love the clothes. We love the ethos, to 'build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis'. And we especially love founder Yvon Chouinard and his whole intrepid thing. (We wrote more about him over here in case you’re interested.)
Expect the return of perennial favourites; Down Sweater (a jacket, not a sweater), Down Hoodie (it has a hood, yes, but it's a jacket), Down Shirt (a jacket, not a shirt) and the supremely waterproof and breathable Torrentshell Jacket. We’ll also be introducing Ts, sweats, fleeces, headgear and luggage. And for the first time, key pieces from the women's collection (the Down sweater and hoodie, as well as Nano puffas and vests).
All here until mid-October, so every excuse to get kitted up for winter. And in the meantime, all eyes on our Facebook page for the chance to win a down jacket and runner-up prizes.
In the early 30s in Milan, the Necchi family, rich industrialists and makers of sewing machines, commissioned a fabulous deco mansion, purpose built for partying. This is where we will be spending AW16 in spirit, celebrating all things opulent, decadent and fun.
Luxey homewares appear in muted tones and burnished golds; gifts, bath and beauty come beautifully packaged; womenswear features heavy silk blouses and fake fur coats; and in menswear, the finest Italian suiting and knitwear.
Watch this space for more. And if you watch anything else make it I am Love starring Tilda Swinton. Villa Necchi is the beautiful backdrop and Swinton is all time fabulous. More of our crushing over on pinterest here.