Bellerose can always be relied on to freshen up the rails, and here they are again, hitting us with the perfect antidote to winter right when we need it. Spring '17 is classic Bellerose, just the right mix of everything. There's a good print. Bright stripe jumpers. Varsity-style tops. A cute rain jacket. Pretty embroidered blouses. And our favourite linen Ts. Everything we're going to be craving as soon as the 25th of December has been and gone.
'Tis the season so every excuse to go all out in the glitz and glam stakes. Heavy sequins, intricate lace, showy frills, metallic leather; our Christmas collections from Custommade, Mads Norgaard and Stella Nova have hit the rails along with plenty of other party pieces. Standouts include a gold leather miniskirt and heavy sequin dress from Mads Norgaard, sparkly clutches from Beck Sonderagaard, sheer lace tops from Custommade and pointy silver snakeskin boots from Hudson.
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.
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.
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've always taken denim very seriously at The Hambledon. But probably never more so than right now with Edwin making a big entrance for AW16; returning to menswear, debuting in womenswear, plus they're taking over our Winchester window and giving jeans away.
And it's serious because Edwin is the denim man's (and gal's!) denim, the stuff that gets denim fans really excited. We've got a resident buff here in Rob, whose substantial collection of jeans in varying degrees of distress basically begins and ends with Edwin.
The company was founded after WWII by Mr Tsunemi who was determined to match US denim production in Japan. He played boggle with the word 'denim' to come up with Edwin and by 1961 had created his first pair of jeans. By 1963 Edwin had produced the world’s heaviest ring-spun 16oz denim, creating a pair of jeans that could stand up by themselves and featured the rainbow selvedge which is still in use today. Throughout the 70s and 80s the company pioneered 'old wash' and 'stone wash' techniques which properly revolutionised the industry worldwide and cemented the reputation they continue to earn today.
Edwin have been a longtime favourite in the basement, their regular tapered ED55 the fit of choice for many of Winchester's menfolk. This season it's here in red listed 14oz, alongside the slim tapered ED80 in black and the brand new ED45 which, for want of a better description, is a carrot leg, sure to win many fans.
And Edwin's fans won't be confined to the basement this season. We've been keeping a close eye on the women's collection for a while and now is the right time for some serious Japanese denim on the first floor. We're starting out with the EW70, a classic skinny leg in a red listed selvedge; EW60, a classic straight leg with a relaxed fit through the hip and thigh; EW30, a great boyfriend fit in night blue denim; plus the cropped, wide leg EW25.
Swing by the Winchester store and you'll see them all in our Edwin window. Snap 'em (in the window or on the shop floor), instagram them (following us and tagging #edwin and #hambledon) and you could win a pair for yourself. We've got a men's and women's pair up for grabs. Simple.
Orslow, our latest addition to the basement, is a homage to Japanese design, quality and construction. Which is no surprise as designer Ichiro Nakatsu is meticulous about combining traditional techniques with contemporary style. Ichiro built his career in the world-famous denim production centre in Kojima Okayama. He started Orslow in 2005, naming it to reflect the slower (clever, huh), careful way he made jeans, rebelling against the frenzied pace of modern fashion production.
His passion for denim started at an early age with a pair of dark overalls given to him by his mother. Wearing them everyday, he was fascinated by their fade and, as he puts it, the “ colour and texture of worn clothes; and the atmosphere they exude.” He began making his own jeans at home by taking apart old clothes and mirroring their construction.
The same careful craftsmanship is applied today and all the sewing machines in his atelier are in full use - from 1940's vintage models to the latest digital machines. Most of his collections reflect his casual take on traditional workwear and military garments from the 19th and 20th century. Contemporary clothes for those that love that extra bit of attention to detail.
Founded in 2011 by surfing friends Andre Bastos Teixeira and Jose Miguel de Abreu, La Paz is a menswear collection from Portugal. The collection is in part a study of traditional clothing and production techniques but also a celebration of place. Classic marine styles are reinterpreted for a contemporary market and there's a real Atlantic feel in the colours and detailing. We asked Andre and Jose to give us a flavour of their enviable life in Porto with an Instagram edit.
Menswear brands for Spring/ Summer 2016 at The Hambledon:
AnonymousIsm, Arpenteur, Baracuta, Barena, Beams +, Buzz Rickson's, Carhartt, Champion, Champion by Todd Snyder, Converse, Edwin, Engineered Garments, Engineered Garments Workaday, Filson, Gitman Vintage, Grenson, Hawksmill, Howlin', Iron Heart, La Paz, L.V.C., Merz b. Schwanen, Moscot, Norse Projects, Novesta, Oliver Spencer, Orslow, Our Legacy, Patagonia, Portuguese Flannel, Rains, Red Wing, Sunspel, Tanner, Trickers, Universal Works, Woolrich