Universal Works' Ltd. Store is here - a project of exclusives and firsts with one of our favourite labels, and something we could not be more excited about. We’ve worked with many brands in our project space over the years but we’ve never collaborated with a label to the extent where they’re designing exclusive pieces and branding for the space. Not only that, in reflection of our different retail departments, David and Steph (Universal Works' co-founders) also went and produced womenswear and homewares designs in addition to menswear, marking the label’s first offering beyond menswear. All of it, a cause for major celebration. So that’s what we did.
With the paintwork dry and the last spot vinyl in place, Rob hit the decks, Laurie, Amy and Alice set up bar and we welcomed the first of many guests that evening (including super star of the night, Cosmo the dog). We drank (super nice shorts, courtesy of Bruichladdich and The Botanist Gin; even better for the rosemary Alice nabbed from her mum’s garden and the tonic and ginger ale brought buy a lovely chap called Barry). We chatted (David, Steph, Martin and Jamie from Universal Works meeting many of our lovely customers). We shopped (a lot, and sold out of some sizes). And then, tired and happy, we shut up shop, went for a curry and toasted Ltd. Store and the very wonderful David and Steph who made it all happen. Cheers guys!
Universal Works has to be one of our favourite menswear labels; for their good quality, honest menswear, commitment to top-notch production, and because designer and co-founder David Keyte is one of the nicest guys in the industry. For all these reasons and more, we couldn’t be happier to welcome the label to our project space with Ltd. Store - a super exciting collab. featuring menswear, womenswear and homewares designed exclusively for the project. We took the opportunity to get David's take on it all.
This is a first for our project space; its own identity, branding and exclusive garments. How did the idea for Ltd. Store evolve?
Rob, The Hambledon's menswear buyer approached us to work on a pop up, and we liked the idea as we like the store a lot. We have done a series of Ltd. Stores, our own version of the pop up, in recent seasons; a couple in Tokyo, one in Paris, so why not Winchester! Each time we have made exclusive items and they have always been fun to work on and popular with the local customers.
Tell us a bit about the collection, its inspiration and references.
I based it all on one visit I made to a fabric supplier in Tokyo earlier this year. I had the Ltd. Store concept in mind for The Hambledon and bought a few really special fabrics, fabrics I thought would fit the store well, and work for both men and women. So they became the inspiration for the store merchandise; it's all about a crazy irregular spot print I found in Japan and and beautiful wool blend ripstop, a fabric that looks like old workwear but is more luxury.
Production values are hugely important to Universal Works. Where is the Ltd. Store collection made?
It all depends on the product itself really as we make in UK, Portugal and one supplier in India. The Ltd. Store special pieces were made in the sample room at our Indian supplier. Our Indian supplier has an amazing sample room and they make many of our trials and first pieces. They're also very good at making the fabrics we buy from Japan. At this facility we can make small numbers of very special pieces to a high quality. Weirdly, in our UK and Portuguese production we have to make greater numbers than we do in India.
Wherever we work, we are very keen to work with smaller suppliers as then we feel we have more control, but also a more positive impact. It means we really know the people who actually make, stich and knit our products. We try to have a very close relationship with everyone that makes anything with the Universal Works label in it. We want to make high quality product with people we like and respect; where were we know first-hand that our products are made by people who care about what they do and are paid properly, we don’t exploit anyone.
Finally, Ltd. Store stocks Universal Work’s first ever womenswear collection. How did the designs develop? Did the process differ?
Victoria had asked us before about some womens pieces and well, we just thought the time was right for this project and it felt truly collaborative as we could reach the entire Hambledon customer-base by including womenswear.
I can’t say we approached the design process any differently really. I guess my favourite womenswear is, and always has been, a sort of 'tomboy' look. Well, maybe not tomboy exactly, just not floaty, sexy, tight, glamorous style womenswear. I guess our vision is more unisex, more practical, more off-duty weekend wear. We have a couple of pieces that are solely womenswear - a dress and a shirt. We first made these styles a few seasons back, but only for Stephanie (my partner and co-owner of the company), as well as a few friends and supporters.
The dress is sort of based on a kimono. It doesn't look in any way like a kimono, it's more to do with the way the pattern was inspired; one size and just simple, straight cutting to achieve a relaxed fit. The shirt is an equally simple, if oversized fit, although it does come in sizes. The rest of the pieces are the same styles we make for men but refitted to make them work for women. We sell a lot to women already, they often just buy the smaller sizes and roll the cuffs on jackets and pants! Maybe it's long overdue as we have had many, many requests. Or maybe it will be a one off just for The Hambledon, let's see.
The Ltd. Store is open until 8 October, in-store and online.
In pursuit of all things nostalgic and decadent this season, we’re delighted to welcome one of Paris’s oldest confectioners to The Hambledon for AW17. Maison Boissier was founded by Bélissaire Boissier in 1827 to the delight of the ladies of Paris's high society and its reputation has endured for nearly two centuries since.
The first Boissier counter was located on the Boulevard des Capucines, but at that time good society was beginning to take quarters on the outskirts of the Place de l'Etoile and so the wise decision was hence made to open a ‘Boissier’ on four of Paris’ greatest streets - Champs-Elysees, Boulevard de Courcelles, Avenue Raymond Poincaré and Avenue Victor Hugo; counters before which one could stop his carriage to stock up on sweets. Paris’ high society clearly had a sweet tooth because Boissier soon became the confectioner of choice, wowing them with his fine creations.
The ingenouis confectioner is in fact responsible for inventing the famous ‘bonbon boule’ (favoured in his day by Victor Hugo himself), as well as developing the original recipe for glazing chestnuts (marron glacé) and delicately scented wafer-thin chocolate petals; the much-guarded recipes and artisan traditions of the company, as well as its beautiful branding and packaging, deliberately and lovingly preserved today. Here at The Hambledon we’re stocking the ever so delicate chocolate fruit petals, the original marron glacés, boxes of caramels and pretty tins of tiny fruit candies; all beautifully wrapped and almost too good to eat.
AW17 at The Hambledon has the feel of a different time, stepping back as far as the 19th century to a refined and ever so English affair. In fact, we like to think we’re at home with Jane Austen, taking tea and eyeing up her desk in the corner.
The furnishings are subdued; plush velvets and floral prints, punctuated by rich colours, glints of burnished gold and beautiful objects arrived from far flung shores: candles and confectionery, stationery and china, linens and trinkets.
Of course we’re dressed for the occasion, every occasion, always elegant and polished. Wardrobes laden with heavy velvet, fine knits, print jacquards, metallic stitching, lace trims, and all the colours of autumn; mossy greens, mustard yellows, rich browns and stormy greys.
Welcome to AW17 at The Hambledon.
Buying was underway for AW17 and the season was taking on a distinct feel – of days gone by, a time of elegance and refinement, where tea was taken and tables were laid. It called for beautiful porcelain, and so the decision was already made; the time had come to revisit an old favourite: Reichenbach, and their stunning ‘Taste’ collection designed by celebrated Italian designer Paulo Navone.
The company is world renowned for its quality and craftsmanship, with a history dating back as far as 1830. It starts in the German town of Reichenbach, where local tradesmen became know for their skill in hand-paining white porcelain. In 1900, nine of the local workshops came together to found a porcelain factory, laying the foundations for the Reichenbach factory, which still stands on the same site today. It’s a small business that has managed to navigate a successful balance between its traditional craft and modern production, while also prioritising modern design. Their motto (loosely translated!) is "old trade arts meets modern design."
Their collaboration with Paulo Navone is a designer meets maker dream team. Born in 1950 in Turin, Navone gained acclaim within the design world in the 1980s and was a major figure in the Italian post-modern movement, her iconic designs always looking to combine the best of the past and present. It’s a design ethic clearly seen in her Taste range for Reichenbach, in which she went back to their original archive and re-interpreted the pieces in a sleek and modern way whilst maintaining the broad, graphic-abstract, neo-baroque silhouettes. Porcelain doesn’t get any more precious than this. Welcome back, Reichenbach, we are very, very pleased to see you.
The magical world of Meri Meri: it’s been a source of much happiness over the past few years, stocking their partywares and hosting the brand in our project space; always fun, bright and cheerful, and always super exciting to see what they come out with next. So as you can imagine, the anticipation was running high when we discovered they were turning their attention to homewares and we’d be stocking the whole range in our latest Meri Meri project.
Organic cotton bedding featuring coral spots and neon stitching; blankets covered in constellations, rainbows and stripes; thick quilts and storage baskets decorated with pom-poms; knitted cats, dogs, mermaids and unicorns for cushions; and garlands, many, many garlands, bunting and dreamcatchers; all of it here in our project space until 23 July, and even more gorgeous than we could have imagined.
What’s more, to mark the occasion we have a bundle of the bedding worth £250 to give away for one lucky little guy or gal's bedroom. For the chance to win, simply follow the link below and enter your details. Best of luck!
We love cherries and we love cake, and right now we also have a thing for La Cerise sur le Gâteau, the beautiful French linen which, quite true to its name, is setting the tone for SS/17 in homewares. All washed out pastels and trails of gold polka dots. Here, founder Anne Hubert talks us through the La Cerise sur le Gâteau story and some of the highlights from the brand's Instagram feed.
Easter isn’t egg-shaped here. Instead we’re focusing on the best quality chocolate we can get our hands on, serious artisan bars through to fun flavour combos. Here’s a tempting and timely round-up of our current confectionery scene.
OCELOT: New for spring, this is the eye-catcher of the pack. The pretty packaging is just the start though; gorgeous flavour combos, great quality and a commitment to sustainable, organic and fair-trade production pack substance. Founded by a married couple of former chefs from Edinburgh, Ocelot’s chocolate comes from Peru and the Eastern Congo, where the farmers and environment are cared for as much as the produce. Bee Pollen and Mango, Raspberry and Vanilla, Porcelana with Salted Almonds; we’re struggling to narrow down a favourite.
LAND: Another new arrival. Slightly more serious in tone, this is chocolate for connoisseurs, created by Phil Landers, a former BBC Radio production employee turned master chocolatier. The transformation took four years, a lot of time spent in south and central America learning about harvesting, fermentation and new cacao varieties, and a stint back in London training as a chef. This is his resulting collection of single origin and single bean bars, and they are very, very good. Our taste buds may be in training, but we can definitely detect the strong floral tones and underlying berry notes in the Nicaragua Dark. And we’re certainly growing very accustomed to Venezuelan Milk, which develops into a stronger fudge flavour and ends with a slight nuttyness. This is where it’s at, chocolate enthusiasts.
CREIGHTON'S: Our fondness for Creighton’s and their chocolate granny gnashers shows no sign of waning. This small, family-run business, is headed up by mother and daughter team, Andrea and Lucy, who are just lovely and know how to have fun in the serious world of artisan chocolate. Their new spring collection of breakfast bars has just arrived, and we’re seriously wondering if we can get away with meal replacement. Coffee and crumbs, a spoonful of cereal and maple and bacon, surely a fine way to proceed any day.