Amelia Rope's first foray into making beautiful chocolate came in 2007, with handmade truffles and chocolate dipped in crystallised flowers, decorated with gold leaf. Since then, she has refined her brand – creating unique flavours and simple, bold designs.
From pocket-money potato harvester to Masterchef contestant to practice manager, Amelia has pretty much done it all. Living abroad, studying herbal medicine, nutrition and massage therapy have all helped on her journey to super chocolatier. And if you're wondering where that talent for alchemy comes from, that'll be her training as an aromatherapist.
Stained-glass windows, mosaics and pencil nibs – all the things that have provided inspiration for the foil and kraft paper packaging. Behind the prettiness, Amelia has built strong and ethical business. She won't compromise on the quality of the end taste and insists on a sustainable single origin for her couverture (that's cocoa to you and me, we can test you later). Most of the product where possible is made in England and she works with a company that sources cocoa fairly and supports and empowers farmers through education. Cocoa from different regions adds a distinctive edge to the products. A rich chocolate pudding taste from Tanzanian beans, notes of caramel from Ecuador and dark spicy citrus from Madagascar.
And in a question probably asked 1000 times – yes she loves them all, 'crushes' on certain flavours (grab one of her current favourites, Dark Honeycomb & Sea Salt here). She'll always have a soft spot for both her Pale Rose and Pale Lemon and Sea Salt, her first award-winning flavours. As she says, her name is on the product so it has to be good!
Amelia Rope chocolate bars are available instore and online now.
Photo Credit: Tim Booth and Mary Wandsworth
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.
Yvon Chouinard, Patagonia's founder, got his start as a climber in 1953 as a 14-year-old member of the Southern California Falconry Club, which trained hawks and falcons for hunting. He was taught how to rappel down the cliffs to the falcon aeries. He soon started hopping freight trains to Stoney Point and eventually learned to climb. From there he moved on to the big walls of Yosemite..
In Yosemite, multi-day ascents required hundreds of placements of soft iron pitons which were placed once, then left in the rock. In 1957 Chouinard decided to make his own reusable hardware. He went to a junkyard and bought a used coal-fired forge, a 138-pound anvil, and started teaching himself how to blacksmith..
In the 60’s Chouinard began his business by forging and selling steel pitons to sustain his climbing. He could forge two of his in an hour, and sold them for $1.50 each. Since most of his tools were portable, he’d load up his car and travel the California coast from Big Sur to San Diego, surfing and forging pitons. By 1965, there was enough demand for Chouinard's gear that he couldn't keep making it by hand. He had to start using tools, dies and machinery. He began redesigning and improving almost every climbing tool, to make them stronger, lighter, simpler, and more functional.
In 1970, Chouinard Equipment had become the largest supplier/manufacturer of climbing gear in the North America. But as climbing became more popular, it also remained concentrated on the same routes. The fragile cracks had to endure repeated hammering of pitons, both placement and removal of pitons caused severe disfiguring of the rock face.
After an ascent of the degraded Nose route on El Capitan which had been pristine a few summers earlier, Chouinard decided to phase out of the piton business. In 1972, pitons were discontinued and an editorial was written for the catalog advocating “Clean Climbing” the use of aluminum chocks and slings instead of chrome- molybdenum steel pitons. Within a few months of the catalog's mailing, the piton business had atrophied; chocks sold faster than they could be made. It was at this point that he began to see a correlation between the environment and business.
Clothing became part of the Chouinard Equipment catalog with the introduction of Rugby shirts to be used for climbing. The soft goods line expanded to include polyurethane anoraks and bivouac sacks from Scotland, boiled-wool gloves and mittens from Austria, and hand-knit reversible "schizo" hats from Boulder. Chouinard believed that clothing must be as efficient as climbing equipment: an alpinist on a bivouac needs to stay warm when it is cold and feel comfortable when it is warm. In 1973, the name Patagonia was founded. The name was chosen because of Chouinard’s love of the region, it would broaden the appeal beyond climbing and it can be pronounced in every language.
Patagonia A/W15 is now available in our Winchester store.
We wanted to write a provenance all about the history of Ban-do. But then we went and found this on their website and it was way more fun and a whole lot more entertaining than waffling on about the Founder (who incidentally is Jen Gotch, who incidentally everyone at The Hambledon thinks is brilliant).
'Oh hey. We're Ban.do. Let's be BFFs. We can stay up late watching 80s rom coms and eating pizzas with everything on it (except anchovies, grooosss!). Cool. Now that it's settled we should probably tell you a bit more about us. We're a gift, tech, stationery and fashion accessories company designed by a pretty spectacular group of girls in sunny Los Angeles. We love bright colours, irreverent patterns, quirky sayings and kittens. OMG we love kittens so much. Forever inspired by Champagned soaked, all night dance parties, we are serious about fun and so thrilled you are here.'
Enough said. Get your Ban-do here.
This sure doesn't help our summer diet plans. The arrival of Creighton's - a seriously lovely little company from Bedfordshire who make the most irresistable chocolate.
The team is headed up by mother and daughter, Lucy and Andrea Huntington, who started out in 2010 with just the knowledge of an Italian confectioner, a marble slab and a handful of moustache-shaped chocolate moulds. Soon after they opened their first chocolaterie in the small town of Leighton Buzzard, named after their Great Granny Creighton. The moustache lollies flew off the shelves, they opened a second store and more quirky lollipops and edible gifts were added to the range.
And that's what we like the most - in the serious, artisan world of chocolate, Creighton's know how to have fun. So this summer we're scoffing chocolate ice lollies and fish and chips, pulling pranks with a set of Granny's gnahsers and gifting their beautiful bars flavoured with sea salt, peanuts and ginger - all made in the traditional way with the best Belgian chocolate.
Doing the rounds of the various shows over winter, Victoria and Lucy were feeling a bit of a French country vibe; a fine, un-fussy way of living, centered around the kitchen. Table linen and pudding moulds were taken care of, but then they came across Gien in Paris and the whole thing came together beautifully.
When it comes to fancy French china, Gien are the business. That said, the company was actually founded by an Englishman from Stoke-on-Trent called Thomas Hall. It was 1821 and Hall thought it was about time the French were introduced to fine English earthenware (they call it ‘faience’), so he set up shop in Gien, a small town on the banks of the River Loire.
Over the course of the 19th century, the company became best-known as the supplier of Europe’s finest bespoke dinner services. Thousands of aristocratic families across Europe ordered Gien sets adorned with family crests or monograms, and descendents continue to place orders today. While some of the processes have been brought up to speed, the company still manufactures 100% of its earthenware in Gien and honours traditional techniques such as paper printing and hand painting which gives slight variations between each piece.
Now we’re not so sure about fancy monogrammed china, but we do love a set of plates intricately decorated with curious French riddles. Especially when they come in orange, blue and pink, packaged beautifully in round wooden cheese boxes. We're stocking both dessert plate and biscuit plate sets, and the pink set is marriage themed (perfect gift alert!).
Gosport is not somewhere you would associate with premium Japanese selvedge denim. But sure enough, here it is we find the unlikely outpost of Iron Heart, one of Japan's most iconic denim labels - and our latest basement addition.
Why Gosport, then? Well, it's home to Giles Padmore, a denim nut since his early teens who accumulated a collection of Levis that ultimately led him to Iron Heart and its founder, Shinichi Haraki.
Haraki-san, mostly referred to as 'Boss', is basically a denim sensei. His 20-year career started at age 23 with Edwin where he progressed from pattern maker to designer to producer/director in just three years. He launched Iron Heart in 2003, focussing on heavyweight 21oz denim that was originally aimed at the Japanese-American motorcycle community.
Giles and Haraki-san met in Los Angeles after Giles contacted Haraki-san via e-mail with a proposal to distribute Iron Heart globally. And the rest is a story of one of the most unlikely yet most successful pairings in the denim business - their market size has increased almost fifteen-fold since the partnership started out; Haraki-san at the heart of Iron Heart's aesthetic and Giles bringing his expertise in international markets.
What they do share is an absolute passion for denim; and knowing those that share that passion is the reason we had to bring Iron Heart to the basement. As far as Rob's concerned, for the denim heads and purists out there, nothing betters Iron Heart.
100% milled, designed and manufactured in Japan, this is heavyweight denim that is surprisingly soft. They use the highest quality long staple cotton which means the warp and weft don't have to be overly spun to keep their integrity. The result is jeans that will develop their own unique patina over time.
As Giles' puts it, "A pair of jeans is an extension of your personality and soul. Buy a pair that you feel great in, then wear them as much as possible before washing them, that way they will mould and fade uniquely to your body shape and the way you live. They will become part of who you are."
Here at The Hambledon we're stocking the 634s in a 21oz selvedge denim and the the The Devil’s Fit 666 slim cut jean and in an 18oz selvedge denim. Jeans for people who take denim seriously.
The story of Andersen & Andersen is like a case study in low key Danish design. Founders Cathrine Lundgren-Andersen and Peter Kjær-Andersen had spent their careers working in the fast-paced fashion and advertising industries so when they founded their family run business back in 2009 they resolved to work in completely the opposite way; focussing on just one thing and setting their sights on perfection; a fisherman's sweater that would outshine all others.
Gathering the best details from maritime knitting history and adding new ones, theirs is a fully fashioned knit inspired by an old navy sweater. This means the stitches are increased and decreased to form the shape, all seams linked together meaning no sloppy cut and sew. The wool too is as neat as it comes, 100% new worsted with uniform length fibres combed so that they all face the same way. To top it off the construction is symmetrical so no worry of wearing it back to front.
Yes, we think they've nailed it. Fisherman's sweater perfection.
All the credentials of a fine heritage brand - and the sweet, sweet smell of leather. That's Tanner Goods, the company responsible for the impeccable leather accessories that have found a home in our menswear department. They're the kind of wallets, belts, camera straps and cardholders that become like old friends through years and years of faithful service.
The nicest thing about the Tanner story has to be their commitment to honouring leather-working traditions and passing on a dying craft. Working from a small studio in Portland, Oregon, each piece is produced by hand by a small team of craftsmen who have learnt everything they know from mentor, L.P. Streifel, a master saddle-maker who started out as an apprentice in the industry in 1964 after his bronco riding career was cut short by injury.
The designs are kept simple (they believe in having less, and better versions, of the things we need) and the leather is the best quality you can come by in the whole of the US, vegetable tanned English Bridle American leather, renowned for its ability to age beautifully and gain character over years of use. As they put it, these are goods "worth holding onto", and given we love a piece of beautifully bashed up old leather, we'll be happily abiding by that.