We're all about fine, un-fussy living this spring/summer. A bit French country, a bit lovely. It's about getting domestic in the best possible way; no upstairs starch or downstairs drudge, just green and beautiful household cleaners from Commmon Good, Redecker brushes and utensils, vintage willow pattern platters, pudding moulds from Bitossi, Variopointe table linen, cushions and throws. It's simple, soft and (mainly!) easy. Yes pleasey.
If Rob's excited about one thing this season, it's this. The arrival of one of Tokyo's finest heritage brands to the basement. Beams, which started out as a small shop in the Harajuku district in 1976, is a major retail force in Japan these days. They don’t just have a shop in Tokyo, they have a whole street. Here at the Hambledon though, we're running with Beams Plus, the company’s heritage- and workwear-inspired range, which "remembers the good-old American styles that Beams grew up on".
Rob describes SS15 as Tokyo goes to Harvard; all-American Ivy League meets cool Japanese styling (and of course their renowned production values). The answer is layer it up and keep it casual. So wear the button down Oxfords open over stripe t-shirts, with loose slacks and a smart mac. Maybe throw a cotton cable knit sweater or collegiate sweatshirt round your shoulders. Keep it fun with colourful madras checks under a sharp tailored blazer. Roll slimline chinos up at the ankle. You know how it goes.
Noses to attention please. Here's welcoming Bella Freud's fragrance range to the bath and beauty department. Created in collaboration with renowned ‘nose’ Azzi Glasser, the collection is inspired by Bella's signature slogan sweaters - Je t’aime Jane, Ginsberg is God and 1970 - and features both perfumes and candles.
On the perfume front, Je t'aime Jane is the 'free spirit with a guitar, a baby and long bare legs' - an ultra girly scent combining jasmine night flower, ylang ylang and orange blossom. Meanwhile, 1970 is 'the girl dancing til dawn on the beach', a heady blend of vetiver, frankincense, patchouli and sandalwood. Now we're never going to be that girl but we've got a nose for a good fragrance and we're always a sucker for a chic perfume bottle.
Over with the candles, the line-up continues with Ginsberg is God (a poetic, unisex aroma blending fig leaf and fresh tomato), Lion (fiery notes of Poivre, Star Anise and Nutmeg) and the Bella Freud signature candle (smoked Incense from Morocco with cedar wood, amber and myrrh). All natural poured wax, of course, and the matt black candle votives a deserving mantlepiece fixture.
Doing the rounds of the various shows over winter, Victoria and Lucy were feeling a bit of a French country vibe; a fine, un-fussy way of living, centered around the kitchen. Table linen and pudding moulds were taken care of, but then they came across Gien in Paris and the whole thing came together beautifully.
When it comes to fancy French china, Gien are the business. That said, the company was actually founded by an Englishman from Stoke-on-Trent called Thomas Hall. It was 1821 and Hall thought it was about time the French were introduced to fine English earthenware (they call it ‘faience’), so he set up shop in Gien, a small town on the banks of the River Loire.
Over the course of the 19th century, the company became best-known as the supplier of Europe’s finest bespoke dinner services. Thousands of aristocratic families across Europe ordered Gien sets adorned with family crests or monograms, and descendents continue to place orders today. While some of the processes have been brought up to speed, the company still manufactures 100% of its earthenware in Gien and honours traditional techniques such as paper printing and hand painting which gives slight variations between each piece.
Now we’re not so sure about fancy monogrammed china, but we do love a set of plates intricately decorated with curious French riddles. Especially when they come in orange, blue and pink, packaged beautifully in round wooden cheese boxes. We're stocking both dessert plate and biscuit plate sets, and the pink set is marriage themed (perfect gift alert!).
Daughter of Tony Lonsdale, the man behind the legendary Jean Machine stores, and denim model Chekkie Maskell, Chloe Lonsdale has jeans in her genes. She re-launched her godfather's denim label Made in Heaven in 2005 and we've long since been fans. Here's what life looks like as a mother of four at the helm of a major global denim force (who've just delivered another gorgeous collection for SS15); super busy, satisfying and all shades of blue!
Carhartt are celebrating an impressive 125 years in business and to mark the occasion we've given them free run of our project space. It is, as you'd expect, a full-blown workwear affair, clean and simple. On the rails we've got a really nice cross-section of Carhartt then and now; all-American workwear meets contemporary streetwear. Heritage bombers, classic work jackets and twill chinos sit alongside camo shirts, print slacks and their much-loved Ts, hoodies and sweatshirts. Say hello to your SS15 uniform.
A lot changes here. Things come and go. All the time. But some stuff, we've loved for what feels like forever. Pearl and Duralex glassware. Fridge jugs and milk bottles. Weck jars and Falcon enamelware. All of it has a home on the shelves we call the main run, slotted between our latest loves and finds - which are arriving thick and fast right now.
To start, we're taking spring cleaning very seriously with a gorgeous new range of household products from Common Good: dish soap, laundry liquid, all purpose cleaner, scented candles and hand soap. All sweet smelling, clean, green and worthy as can be.
Stacked next to them we're airing crispy white table linen from Variopinte; table cloths in two sizes, table runners and sets of napkins, all finished with classic grey or blue stripes.
Glassware also gets a new addition in the neat little Americano tumbler, we've got new stock of our favourite vintage willow pattern platters, and we'll soon be making space for pudding moulds and printed china. Spring at The Hambledon is here.
We survived Christmas. On a diet of wine gums and Michael Buble. Now we're a vegetable juice and reggae only zone. Really we are. Incongruant as Ska might be to Hampshire and the Cotswolds, it's the only thing that truly cheers a winter's day.
That and the arrival of spring in big cardboard boxes. Lucy and Victoria have been on a mega buying spree and we're literally stalking the local courier drivers in expectation. So much newness heading our way.
Mostly though, Shop Ban.do. Creative Director Jen Gotch is a major IG crush and the watermelon cooler is going to be the accessory of the summer. Mark. Our. Words.
Over at Cowley Manor, Laura spent twenty minutes talking to a customer called Cath about her career and love of shopkeeping before the penny finally dropped that it was the Cath, as in Kidston. The rest of the conversation went like this:
Laura: "Oh, what was the name of your shop? I might know it."
Eponymous owner: "Oh, erm...Cath Kidston."
Laura: "Never heard of it."
*jokes* - of course!
Back at the mothership, we took WinchQUAKE in our stride. Lucy thought it was her fridge rumbling. Rob thought it was his stomach. Not one single thing fell off the shelves.