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
Arpenteur (French for 'surveyor' if you're interested), was founded by cousins Marc Asseilly and Laurent Bourven in Lyon in 2011. Wearing its French heritage on its very neatly designed sleeve, inspired by traditional French workwear and with a commitment to keeping all garment production based in France, Asseilly and Bourven have grown a business with 98% of sales to international territories. Arpenteur is a brand which delights in its Frenchness (2% of sales within France suggest this is somewhat wasted on the French but enormously popular in other parts of Europe, the States and particularly Japan).
Autumn 2015 sees Arpenteur collaborating with Filature Arpin, a family owned business which has been weaving wool in Seez Saint Bernard in Eastern France since 1817. The Bonneval cloth, which is unique to the Arpin mill, is a dense, robust fabric, named in honour of a famous mountain guide of the 19th Century, Pape du Bonneval sur Arc. The cloth is traditionally used to make shepherds' capes and knickerbockers. But Asseilly and Bourven have a more modern interpretation with their waistcoat and overcoat. Homage to the region comes in the form of a mountain hat.
Martin Magnusson started making gloves for local lumberjacks in 1936. The early incarnation of the business was based in a workshop in Magnusson's farmhouse in the village of Hestra, Smaland (a province in the south of Sweden, known for lakes, dense forests and marshlands). In 1937, a ski slope opened nearby, Magnusson's sons Lars-Olof and Gote became keen skiers and the family identified a new market for their high quality, durable gloves. Today the company makes 400 different styles, still serving the early adopting lumberjack, the downhill skier (both the Swedish and the Norwegian ski teams wear Hestra) and all points between.
Although Hestra produces 2 million pairs of gloves annually, they still manufacture from their own factories in Smaland with hand making techniques on some models. The technical possibilities available in glove manufacturing today are great. However, making gloves for different needs and environments requires a special set of skills. The demands of mountaineers are different from the needs of a family of half term skiers. Fighter pilots have certain requirements, while kayak paddlers have others.This means that finding the right balance between aspects like durability, cold and moisture resistance and flexibility is extremely important. Simply maximizing the properties – durability, water resistance and insulation – seldom results in a good glove. Whilst we like to think of ourselves as elite athletes at The Hambledon, we're leaving the very technical gloves to the experts. We are all about the deerskin with the Primaloft lining.
Story 2 for our womenswear collections. Autumn Winter 15 is very strongly influenced by the 1970s. But we didn't want to take it into a flares and tie dye parody of the decade. We were looking for something more real and a bit more attainable for ordinary life.
Linda McCartney, with her effortless joie de vivre, her natural beauty and her sense of fun, is our muse for the season. We've taken inspiration from her Scottish rural idyll at High Park Farm in Kintyre. This is a life of fresh air, beaches, horses and children. Think fairisle knits, casual denim and chunky tweed and channel your inner Linda with MiH, &Daughter, Leon & Harper and Sessun.
Linda. We salute you.