It goes without saying that Christmas is a huge deal at The Hambledon and we embrace it heartedly. To the extent that several members of staff have multiple trees to accommodate varying decorative schemes. And they might need one more this year because our Christmas shop is open and it’s more fun, colourful and kitsch than ever before.
The tree is decked with a sparkly, neon-trimmed menagerie: winter hares in velvet collars; racoons carrying tres; birds wearing earmuffs; glittery swans, polar bears, bambis and parrots; dogs from Scotties to corgis, and for cat lovers out there (we hear you!), we're introducing your furry friends encased in beautiful glass globes. We’ve also thrown metallic rainbows, unicorns and pineapples into the mix for good measure.
Cards, wrap, advent calendars, crackers, garlands and balloons come courtesy of Meri Meri so the profusion of glitter, neon and fun continues; the foil balloon garland reading 'jolly' saying it all really. Let the festivities begin.
Former anthropology student, native of Montpellier, inveterate traveller, lover of Japan, William Eggleston fan; it's fair to say we're a bit taken with Emma François and the label she started back in 1997. Here's a closer look at the very lovely world of Sessun.
In 2011, French entrepreneurs Boris Gratini and Lilian Monnier focused their attentions on nail polish, and the idea of “leaving the world of cosmetics and getting closer to the world of fashion”. They wanted to be kind to the environment and make their products in France from start to finish. They wanted great colours free from nasty chemicals. And first and foremost, they wanted to sell their nail polishes from vending machines.
And so started Nailmatic, and probably the most fun, friendly and fashion forward nail polishes out there. We haven’t got one of their cool vending machines but we do have shelves stocked with their grown-up polishes (great colours, solvent free, phthalate free, formaldehyde-free); a nail polish remover that actually smells nice (lavender and 100% natural); plus their kids range featuring polishes (removable with just warm, soapy water) and rollerball lip-glosses (glittery and made from apricot kernal oil). A whole lot to love right here.
Knitwear. It has to be one of our favourite things about autumn/winter. We’re perpetually on the lookout for the next best jumper. And this season Rob’s found it courtesy of Italian knitwear label GRP Firenze which he discovered on his annual buying trip to Florence earlier this year.
One of a small cluster of textile companies based in and around the small village of Carmignano about an hour outside of Florence, GRP started out back in 1973 as a production resource for other companies. It wasn’t long though before they decided to step away from the supply business and establish their own line, focusing their business on creating something superior. They used better yarns and raw materials, as well as a combination of different weaves, applying innovative solutions to traditional techniques.
In an area dominated by historic textile businesses, it was this artisan approach that meant the relatively young company managed to establish itself in a relatively short space of time. People were quick to notice the quality they were turning out, and turned to them.
Over the years GRP have worked with some of our favourite labels including Engineered Garments, Beams and Svenson. That’s how good they are. They're the unsung hero, the brand you didn’t realise you already knew. But you do now. And they’re a label really worth knowing. Because that sweater still in your drawer ten years from now, loved and worn every winter, it will be GRP Firenze.
We love Halloween. But we hate spiders. And bats. Just as well they only arrived in the shape of balloons, tattoos, garlands and cookie cutters.
Currently resident in our project space, we’ve got a lot of time for this brand; their clothes, their ethos and especially their founder, "reluctant businessman" Yvon Chouinard. Here are some of words of widsom, taken from his book Let My People Go Surfing.
One of our favourite reads for obvious reasons, so we're super flattered to be featured over on The Shopkeepers, a website dedicated to celebrating "shops that delight" all around the globe. Have a read. Victoria spills all the secrets on shopkeeping at The Hambledon; who designed the building, where she buys the wares, the lessons she's learned, the shops she loves...
As far as we’re concerned, AW16 can throw all the weather our way because we’re kitted out like never before; down jackets from Patagonia, heavyweight knitwear, and now we’re proudly welcoming Mackintosh to menswear, the ultimate in outerwear for when things turn torrential.
As coats go, this is as classic as they come. Few fashion brands out there that can claim to have an entire genre of clothing named after them, but Mackintosh is one of them; the brainchild of Charles Macintosh (it's not a typo, the k was added later), who pioneered and patented a new process of rubberizing cotton in Glasgow in 1823. Waterproofing material with rubber was nothing new, and was practised as far back as the Aztecs, but Macinotsh’s process involved sandwiching an impermeable layer of a solution of rubber in naphtha (derived from tar) between two layers of fabric, rendering it suitable for garment production.
In 1830 Macintosh's company merged with Thomas Hancock, an established clothing company based in Manchester that had also been experimenting with rubber-coated fabrics since 1819. Production soon ramped up and rubberized coats became increasingly popular. That said, the early mac was by no means perfect; the smell, the stiffness, plus a tendency to melt in hot weather were common problems until Hancock patented a method for vulcanising rubber in 1843 which overcame the issues.
With the new and improved fabric nailed almost every kind of coat was made out of rubberized cotton for a while; it was the government go-to, supplying coats to the British army, railways workers and police forces.
Over the 19th century, the company weathered its share of ups, downs and different owners (Dunlop at one point), facing near closure in the 90s until a group of senior staff bought it out and turned its fortunes around, formally re-naming the company ‘Mackintosh’ and establishing it as an upmarket brand in its own right. The term ‘mac’ may have made its way into our lexicon as the generic term for waterproof, but only the real deal will do for us; the original Mackintosh mac (in navy, olive and stone) - with taped seams and guaranteed 100% waterproof - still handmade in the company’s long-standing Cumbernauld factory in Scotland. As Rob says, it's without doubt the best mac out there.
After many deliveries and much rearranging, we’re pleased to say our AW16 Villa Necchi party is in full swing, celebrating all things opulent, decadent and fun. (Read more about Necchi and our inspiration here.)
We’re setting the table with gold plates, marble coasters and vintage-style champagne saucers. In the centre, coloured glass vases with mauve hydrangeas, pineapple jugs and flamingo s&p shakers, co-ordinating candles and a beautiful bottle of the finest balsamic from Medina.
Recipes for our feast are taken from Florentine, The Italian Baker and Venice Cult Recipes. And after we’ve dined, we’ll be retiring to the drawing room where we’ll be lounging on velvet cushions and throws, sipping from delicate liquor glasses and nibbling on beautifully packaged Leone fruit jellies, amaretti biscuits, nougat and Coco chocolates.
And what are we wearing? Grown-up and ladylike velvet dresses from Mascob, gold jacquard and soft chiffon from Baum und Pferdgarten and tweed suiting, and more chiffon and jacquard from Graumann. For the boys, it’s jacquard tailoring and heavy wool jersey jackets from Barena and the finest Italian knitwear from GRP Firenze.
The venue, Villa Necchi, was purpose-built for partying so it's open house, more the merrier, no need to RSVP.
1. Coloured Glass Vases from £5.95 | 2. Flamingo Salt & Pepper Shakers £16 | 3. Coloured Wine Glasses (coming soon) £6.95 | 4. Marble Cork Coaster Set £8.95 | 5. Porcelain Jug Pineapple £34.95 & Porcelain Jug Parrot £34.95 | 6. Imperfect Gold Plates from £6.95 | 7. Baum Und Pferdgarten AW16 | 8. Stars Champagne Saucer Set £68 | 9. Barena Venezia AW16 | 10. Permanent Botanicals from £3.75 | 11. Blue Candlestick £4 & Set of 6 Short Dinner Candles £2.95 | 12. Set of 2 Gold Cup & Saucer Set £39.95 | 13. Velvet Cushions (coming soon) £24.95 | 14. Italian Balsamic Vinegar from £14.95 | 15. Coloured Wine Glasses (coming soon) £6.95
Rob says it feels like it's meant to be. And it's no wonder, this one's been a long time in the pipeline. Six years ago, when Rob first started at The Hambledon, he wrote to Alistair Rae to enquire about stocking Albam's 'timeless British Menswear'. They were the brand that encapsulated much of what he wanted menswear at The Hambledon to be. It didn’t work out at the time (they weren’t wholesaling), but we kept on talking over the years, and now here we are, delighted to be one of just a few stores in the country stocking Albam.
Established in 2006, Alistair was a "frustrated consumer" whose founding mission was to discover which clothes could be designed and produced locally in Britain; his belief that 'clothes should make you look great, get better with age, and be great value'. It's not rocket science but it's not necessarily a common aim in the fashion industry.
To start, they went up and down the country talking to factory owners and the people working the machines, figuring out what could be manufactured where. The result is a brand with a distinctly British design sensibility; casual tailoring, great denim and shirting and beautiful knitwear; well-made, wearable and classic.
This season we’re stocking the cotton travel jacket, selvedge denim, Shetland knits, a lovely chunky fisherman’s rib, as well as socks and luggage. And now we can see for ourselves why Rob is so excited. It’s all very, very good.