Welcome to SS17 at The Hambledon. We’re calling it Miami Nice. Womenswear, menswear, homeware, it’s all feeling a bit ‘80s coming-of-age summer in a good way; endless sun-soaked days, beach loungers and pool parties. Basically, all the fun without the bad hair and shoulder pads.
Saturated pastels, metallics and strong prints feature across the board in Womenswear. Accessorised with turquoise and yellow Nailmatic, a rainbow of plastic baskets by Sun Jellies, and all kinds of ban.do attitude. Meri Meri and Rice flood Homeware with summer colour and everything to get a party started. And the fun and colour carries on down to Menswear too with pastel Ts, shorts and beach accessories. Game of frisbee anyone?
Now here's a very pleasing thing. Opening a parcel permeated by the smell of really good leather to find these beautiful wallets and cardholders - handmade in the UK for one of our favourite menswear labels, and a Hambledon wholesale exclusive. Delivery of the week goes to our friends at Universal Works.
Made to order in small batches, each piece is designed with paper and pencil, fashioned from English veg tanned leather, hand cut with traditional knives and finally sewn together using vintage hand cranked machines for an authentic stitch quality. No electricity required; a proper little ‘cottage’ business run by a lady who’s been everything from a scrap vehicle dismantler to an award winning packaging designer. This we like a lot. Thanks Universal Works, you know us well.
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.
As far as we’re concerned, AW16 can throw all the weather our way because we’re kitted out like never before; down jackets from Patagonia, heavyweight knitwear, and now we’re proudly welcoming Mackintosh to menswear, the ultimate in outerwear for when things turn torrential.
As coats go, this is as classic as they come. Few fashion brands out there that can claim to have an entire genre of clothing named after them, but Mackintosh is one of them; the brainchild of Charles Macintosh (it's not a typo, the k was added later), who pioneered and patented a new process of rubberizing cotton in Glasgow in 1823. Waterproofing material with rubber was nothing new, and was practised as far back as the Aztecs, but Macinotsh’s process involved sandwiching an impermeable layer of a solution of rubber in naphtha (derived from tar) between two layers of fabric, rendering it suitable for garment production.
In 1830 Macintosh's company merged with Thomas Hancock, an established clothing company based in Manchester that had also been experimenting with rubber-coated fabrics since 1819. Production soon ramped up and rubberized coats became increasingly popular. That said, the early mac was by no means perfect; the smell, the stiffness, plus a tendency to melt in hot weather were common problems until Hancock patented a method for vulcanising rubber in 1843 which overcame the issues.
With the new and improved fabric nailed almost every kind of coat was made out of rubberized cotton for a while; it was the government go-to, supplying coats to the British army, railways workers and police forces.
Over the 19th century, the company weathered its share of ups, downs and different owners (Dunlop at one point), facing near closure in the 90s until a group of senior staff bought it out and turned its fortunes around, formally re-naming the company ‘Mackintosh’ and establishing it as an upmarket brand in its own right. The term ‘mac’ may have made its way into our lexicon as the generic term for waterproof, but only the real deal will do for us; the original Mackintosh mac (in navy, olive and stone) - with taped seams and guaranteed 100% waterproof - still handmade in the company’s long-standing Cumbernauld factory in Scotland. As Rob says, it's without doubt the best mac out there.
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.
Here it is: the Patagonia Project Space, a shop in shop we’re housing in our Winchester store for the next five weeks; something we are absolutely delighted and chuffed about having worked with the brand in menswear for several seasons now.
We love the clothes. We love the ethos, to 'build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis'. And we especially love founder Yvon Chouinard and his whole intrepid thing. (We wrote more about him over here in case you’re interested.)
Expect the return of perennial favourites; Down Sweater (a jacket, not a sweater), Down Hoodie (it has a hood, yes, but it's a jacket), Down Shirt (a jacket, not a shirt) and the supremely waterproof and breathable Torrentshell Jacket. We’ll also be introducing Ts, sweats, fleeces, headgear and luggage. And for the first time, key pieces from the women's collection (the Down sweater and hoodie, as well as Nano puffas and vests).
All here until mid-October, so every excuse to get kitted up for winter. And in the meantime, all eyes on our Facebook page for the chance to win a down jacket and runner-up prizes.
In the early 30s in Milan, the Necchi family, rich industrialists and makers of sewing machines, commissioned a fabulous deco mansion, purpose built for partying. This is where we will be spending AW16 in spirit, celebrating all things opulent, decadent and fun.
Luxey homewares appear in muted tones and burnished golds; gifts, bath and beauty come beautifully packaged; womenswear features heavy silk blouses and fake fur coats; and in menswear, the finest Italian suiting and knitwear.
Watch this space for more. And if you watch anything else make it I am Love starring Tilda Swinton. Villa Necchi is the beautiful backdrop and Swinton is all time fabulous. More of our crushing over on pinterest here.
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.