We are love, love, loving costume jewellery this season. Welcome to our new friend Pieter Louis Erasmus from St Erasmus who is all about crystals, sparkle and colour. He was born in Pretoria, is based in London, has a degree in fine art and painting but we particularly love that he has worked on one off pieces for runway shows for Dries van Noten, Alexander McQueen, Givenchy and Matthew Williamson. This is a man who knows his fashion onions. But maybe his art background chimed with us because we have got a little carried away with 18th century French and English portrait engravings. How good does Lady George Freeman look in the Pink Bauble Pendant? And we love the Duchesse de Berry in the Crystal Drops. And Marie Antoinette has bagged the blingiest for herself. Check her out in the Crystal Choker.
The curtain is down, the tree is up and the lights are on. Yes people, it’s time. Christmas Shop 2017 is here and it’s more beautiful than ever; our take on Christmases past, as traditional as we’re ever going to be. On one side, shelves glittering with baubles; pears, pinecones and a menagerie of creatures great and small. On the other side, crackers, wrap and all the trimmings, a flurry of gold stars and candy cane stripes. In the middle of it all, our very first Hambledon tree, decked to the nines and truly resplendent. The countdown starts here.
At last, there’s a nip in the air and with it comes a very nicely timed drop of knitwear from basement newcomers Country of Origin. Against the backdrop of soulless mass production, this is a label doing things differently and producing truly beautiful knitwear in the process.
Founders Ben Taylor (a filmmaker) and Alice Liptrot (a University of Brighton fashion textiles graduate who previously worked for Donna Karan) started out determined there had to be a better way to produce contemporary clothes that are honestly made, highly desirable, and made in Britain. They wanted to produce clothes that lasted longer than a season, and for there to be transparency about where things come from and how they are made, hence the brand name.
All of this proved easier said than done, however. The pair scoured the country looking for manufacturers and found large minimum orders stacked up against them. So instead they turned to 19th-century textile technology: hand-powered, hand-framed knitting machines, the happy halfway between mass-market, computer-controlled machines and hand knitting with needles.
Today the label occupies a small strip of land between two train tracks in South London, a none too salubrious setting where they design and make bespoke orders on a hand-framed knitting machine, with their ready-to wear collection hand-framed in Hawick, one of Scotland’s specialist knitwear centres. Inspired by modernist art and design of the twentieth century, this is a subtle Mondrian on a beautifully crafted jumper, a good knit with an interesting primary colour stripe or trim. All the stuff we really, really like.
Our friends at Meri Meri can always be relied upon to have plenty of party tricks (and treats) up their sleeve. And Halloween 2017 is no exception. Mini witch hats, ghost napkins, skull garlands, glittery bat stickers and honeycomb spiders; everything you need to create a truly frightful scene.
In the few seasons we’ve been stocking Portuguese Flannel the label has proved a massive hit with our menswear customers. So Rob was there in a heartbeat when the brand recently invited him out to Porto to see their shirt-making in action. Heritage brands don’t get any more authentic than this; the Magalhães family have been making shirts for four generations with the business headed up today by brothers António and Manuel who were on hand to give Rob the guided tour.
Rob’s visited quite a few factories in his time as menswear buyer for The Hambledon but never has he seen a production line quite as smooth and spotless as that at the Vermis factory. In his words, it was almost hypnotic watching the flow of garments through production. While he was there, AW/18’s samples came off the line, and he got to explore the company’s amazing archive of fabrics dating back as far as 1930 (watch this space for an exclusive Hambledon flannel in seasons to come).
With the serious work out of the way, it was on to the vineyard next door for lunch and a wander round beautiful Old Porto (a UNESCO world heritage site), taking in a Dieter Rams exhibition and the local record shops, of course. A few too many Pastel de natas later, and it was on to Lisbon, but that’s a whole other story. This one ends with a massive thanks to Mark at Brand Progression, António and Manuel and Damien and Alessandro for their amazing hospitality and making the trip happen.
Japan has been making waves in the menswear world for a good few years now with Tokyo seen as a breeding ground for emerging talent, and the industry out there fast earning a reputation for impeccable quality and attention to detail. And as the noise has hit our shores we’ve been steadily turning our attention in its direction and finding ourselves increasingly impressed with what we’ve been seeing and buying.
While they may take their references from different places, what resonates from all of these great Japanese labels is a commitment to producing high quality, hugely wearable and timeless pieces; an approach that is forward thinking and respectful of heritage in equal measures.
As Rob says, the fabrics are second to none; theirs are the pieces that will still be hanging in your wardrobe when everything else has faded and died. And while first impressions reveal beautifully simple and functional garments, look a bit closer and soon you notice heaps of personality and loads of great little details.
AW17 offers shining examples of all these things from menswear’s Japanese gathering. Beams drawing inspiration from Ivy League America, this season exploring texture with beautiful mohair and Melton pieces. A Vontade, referencing US and European military, workwear and sportswear, excelling in clever detailing for AW17. RoToTo socks, classic as they come in appearance, crafted from a fabric that regulates temperature at the skin’s surface using NASA technology. Made in Japan, these are the labels to look to for something that little bit extra.
Our feet are set to be exceptionally well dressed this season with thanks to our favourite French sock suppliers, Bonne Maison.
This is the brand that has taken sock making to the next level, each season presenting a series of brilliantly inspired and whimsical designs that are produced to the highest of standards; using the best quality Egyptian cotton, spun in Italy and dyed to Bonne Maison’s exacting colour palettes; then manufactured in France, double thread knitted for optimal strength using fine gauge machines which allow them to accurately reproduce the intricate patterns. All of it resulting in by far the most beautiful socks we ever did sport.
For A/W'17 we’ve got monkeys, peacocks, trails of flowers, abstract waves and bold block camo in super lovely colours. Forget the hats and scarves people, accessory of the season right here.