There’s a small town on the west coast of Wales called Cardigan where lots of really good stuff happens. Much of it is thanks to major do-ers David and Clare Hieatt, who returned to their native Wales after a stint in London back in the 90s. They founded (and later, sold) the original Howies clothing company (you might recall we stocked it for some time), moved to a farmhouse on the edge of Cardigan, dreamt up the Do Lectures (a lecture series which they still hold annually in their cow shed) and set up The Hiut Denim Company, which we’re really pleased to welcome to both menswear and womenswear this season.
Hiut came about after the David and Clare found out about Cardigan’s former denim industry; four hundred locals had been employed making jeans; 35,000 pairs of them a week, for three decades. Until, one day, the factory closed and the business went overseas. The discovery was a bit of a eureka moment for the couple and there and then, the seed for The Hiut Denim Company was sown; a means of bringing manufacturing back home, using the skill on their doorstep, breathing new life back in to the town, and making some really good jeans in the process.
Hiut’s whole ethos is ‘do one thing well’ and that’s what they stick to; using the best quality denims, cutting them with an expert eye, and letting their ‘grand masters’ at the sewing machines do the rest. Even with the music loud and the coffee strong, they can only make 100 pairs of Hiut's a week. But that’s ok, because they are really, really good.
This is the rigid denim we’ll all be wearing this season. For the girls, a classic slim leg style called Coda, a button fly mid-rise crafted from raw denim. Then there’s the Girlfriend, lower in the rise, sitting just above the ankle, made from 13.oz denim, rinsed once. Heading down to menswear you’ll find the Organic Slim, Slim Tapered and Selvedge Slim, all getting the seal of approval from Rob, our chief denim fanatic.
Only question is, will you be joining the Hiut No Wash Club? An elite club, where six months without washing means six months - no cold dip in the bath, no getting caught in the rain without an umbrella - all in pursuit of the most beautiful pair of jeans you've ever owned. The bar has just been raised, Hambledon denim lovers, say hello to The Hiut Denim Company.
If you’ve ever coveted a beautiful pair of vintage Levi’s, or found the perfectly frayed and faded pair only to be disappointed by a baggy leg and unsightly crotch, then you need to know all about womenswear’s latest arrival, Re/Done. We’re one of a very select few UK retailers, with limited stock available, and hugely excited because we think we just hit upon the holy grail of denim. No stretch, advanced dyeing processes, or strategically placed rips and tears here, just genuine vintage jeans, worn in to perfection, that also fit to perfection.
And here’s the secret. Re/Done actually take vintage Levi’s apart at the seams and re-purpose the fabric, cutting it to achieve a modern fit. Founded by entrepreneurs, Sean Barron and Jamie Mazur, the brand was born because "all the cool chicks we knew wore vintage Levi's but had them tailored to fit better". It took them almost a year to arrive at the process of taking apart Levi’s that were made for men and re-cutting them to fit women. Now they manufacture their jeans in Downtown LA, with quantities limited since each pair is handpicked, hand cut, and distinctly one of a kind. They like to think of Re/Done as a movement rather than a denim company; a movement to restore individuality in the world of mass-produced fashion, to keep heritage brands relevant and create sustainable fashion.
Here at The Hambledon, we’ve managed to lay our hands on two styles from both their Re/Done Originals line and Re/Done Vintage line. Re/Done Originals replicate the dye history and are created ‘in the spirit of’ vintage Levi's. We’ve got the straight skinny stretch and a high-rise ankle crop. The Vintage line is crafted from genuine, vintage Levi’s and we’re stocking the high-rise ankle crop as well as a relaxed crop. We’ve also got a few of their re-modelled Champion sweatshirts and Hanes Classic Ts to complete the classic Americana look.
A company, a movement, whatever Re/Done is, we're firm fans and followers of what they’re doing. And we’re not the only ones. Be quick, very quick, is all else that needs to be said.
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.