Continuning on theme this week, we have another unassuming basement hero - US heritage brand Red Wing. Founded by a Charles Beckmann from Red Wing, Minnesota, the company has a long standing reputation for making heavy duty work boots, excellent for mining, logging, farming and alike. They even kitted out US soldiers in both world wars, and as you might expect, have gained a major cult following in all these years. But we admire their lack of song and dance. They just continue to make seriously good boots, like the iconic 875 workboot, lightweight chukka and 8 inch 879 muleskinner we'll be going to work with this season.
John Smedley is like the grand old master of the basement labels. Older than the hills and quietly going about business from season to season, the label very much defines the production values we've come to expect from our brands. They've been turning out their excellent knitwear from the same premises in Derbyshire since 1784, employing a long lineage of local families whose years of experience and craftsmanship would be hard to match. Indeed, Rob insists there isn't a finer merino knit going. They wash and wear like all good wardobe basics should.
New this season, the Belvoir rollneck, joins old favourites the Cavendish cardi, Bower v-neck and the Hunter crewneck. And alongside the navy and charcoal, appears a great new colour called 'soot'.
There was a small space to fill on the womenswear rails, reserved for something a bit unique, slightly rock but everyday kind of wearable. Turns out that space was made for Leon & Harper. Slotting right in, the Parisian label is our favourite new go to for great jerseys and lovely, cosy oversized jumpers.
Hats, people, hats! Beautifully made, beautifully priced hats courtesy of Christys'. Cute cloches, tomboyish trilbys and the ever sohisticated 'Safari', all wool felt and plenty of ribbon. And just a taste of the wonderful things to come later in the season.
You have to admire the pea coat. The enduring classic with dual purpose. Standard issue of the US Navy since about 1881, the 32oz wool, extra tall collar, broad lapels and double-breasted fastening, are ideal for fending off the bitter chill in a howling gale at sea. The fact they also happen to look extremely good, especially on a moody winter photoshoot, is a very happy coincidence we think.
To create a similar look we suggest the Fidelity version seen here. Suppliers of the pea coat to the US Navy, it’s as original as you’re going to find. Everything from the stand up collar to the anchor buttons and lining are exactly as they were back in the 1900s, and still cut stitched and pressed under one factory roof in Boston, MA to this very day.
Samantha Sung and The Jacksons are like old friends to us, but this season we suddenly realised they were meant to be together, so.....
Audrey, meet Lexi, a classic knee-high with a crepe sole. Your perfect match for smart, daytime wear.
Lexi, meet Audrey. You'll soon be devoted to her perfect tailoring and wearability, day and night.
Sabrina and Laudine meet Tatty. In no way tatty and in fact, one ever so elgegant stiletto, and most definitely your equal when it comes to party going.
Tatty, meet Sabrina and Laudine, both supremely smart like yourself, but eminently more comfortable in their beautiful print stretch cotton.
You're all going to get along famously.
Peter Jensen has us totally captivated. Each collection, while quite different from the last, always carries a distinct quirkiness inspired by his chosen muse for the season, typically some wonderfully wayward famous or infamous female who captures his imagination. In the past it's been Sissy Spacek, identity-teasing New York artist Cindy Sherman and disgraced Olympic ice-skater Tonya Harding.
This time it was Thelma Speirs, the idiosyncratic DJ and milliner who has done work for Jean Paul Gaultier, Madonna and Karl Lagerfeld, among others. The result is a steer towards sixties 'lady' dressing - structured knee-length dresses with lurex, cropped plaid jackets and print blouses. And for a more dressed down look, an oversized knit branding a fox's head. It has us thinking we can totally channel some Thelma.
If ever a collection was to prompt the drawing of breath and the dropping of jaws in womenswear, it would surely be this one. Queene & Belle for AW12 is quite simply exquisite. The signature stars are out in force again, falling over gorgeous cashmere cardigans and woven into beautiful cotton shirting. The impossibly pretty lace dress returns with subtle refinements and we're especially loving the new command of colour; a palette perfectly placed somewhere between subtle and bold and best exemplified in one utterly stunning wrap.
The subject is Edwin so pay attention now because it means talking denim and it can get technical. All ounces and rinses. But if you're a denim man then this is your territory and Edwin are your jeans. To start with (and very important if you're a denim man), they've got great heritage. We love how Mr Tsunemi was responsible for taking American style denim production to Japan in the 60s and pioneering 'old wash' and stone wash techniques in the 70s and 80s.
Second (and this is where it does get technical), they turn out a superb pair of jeans. This autumn, the classic straight leg ED47 returns in a red listed 14oz dry denim as well as a new primo rinse wash. It's also our first season carrying the tapered ED55, again in red listed14oz primo wash denim. Sorry if we lost you there. We'll finish on a more straightforward note, but with equal enthusiasm, saying Edwin also do great knitwear. The cable knit made from recycled yarns is well worthy of some attention too.
Just as we're finding our way back into our winter uniform (jeans, boots and jumpers), James go and deliver a mighty handy second instalment. Twiggy looking sleek in black and a smoke velvetine. And Hunter as flattering as can be in a black needle cord. Everyday A/W dressing made easy.