Hello all kinds of newness. New clothes, new labels and totally new territory for us. Never before have we embraced pre-collections in such a big way. And how exciting it is. To be mid-November, nearing the end of the season, immersed in Christmas, and suddenly be whisked away to new shores.
Collette and new label Lemlem take us to tropical climes with their gorgeous resort collections. Womenswear favourites Chinti & Parker, MiH and Custommade hit us with fresh instalments of what they do best; knits, shirts and dresses ahoy. Meanwhile newcomers Markus Lupfer and Studio Nicholson up the fashion stakes; Markus with his crazy sequin knits and uber party dresses, and Studio Nicholson with impeccable wardrobe classics. Accessories get a refresh too with new styles from Hudson and Beck Sondergaard. Get on board.
The curtain of ultimate secrecy (well, it would have been if you weren't such a bunch of nosey parkers. Honestly, putting a partition up in the shop is the equivalent of a big red button saying 'do not push'!) is down, which can only mean one thing. Our 2014 Christmas Shop is open and ready for holly-jolly business!
Our newest jeweller on the block is the lovely Phoebe Coleman. Fresh out of Shoreditch, the collection is part rock and roll and part whimsy and supremely pretty. There's a piece on every Hambledoner's wish list. Here Phoebe gives us a little peek into life in the studio.
We love a family-feel independent, so are super excited to be stocking menswear brand, Arpenteur, run exclusively by two cousins (and a certain pattern maker they admit they couldn't work without). We hear from founder Marc Asseily on their lessons learned, brand inspiration and Arpenteur's guilty pleasure. Bibimbap, anyone?
Describe your typical working day.
If we had to sum things up, we would say there is a bit of design and pattern making, a bit of production and factory visiting, and a lot of e-mails and phone calls.
Who or what couldn't you work without?
Our pattern maker, a lady with a long experience [in the industry]. She is the one who understands and translates our intentions into shapes.
What do you like most about what you do?
We are an independent company (the brand is just the two of us, and we are cousins). The best thing is making our own decisions and being able to work without any compromise on our values.
Which project, collection or achievement are you most proud of?
Every season we develop original fabrics, in partnership with French knitting and weaving mills. We try to get fabrics with a good balance between rugged quality and comfort. This is something we're always proud to achieve and show.
Who would you most like to see wearing an Arpenteur design?
Anybody who likes the story we try to tell, gets the feelings we try to comunicate through our products, and maybe shares the same values of independence (and style!)
What has been the most important lesson learned?
Always try to ask ourselves the right questions to make a product better from one season to another. There is always room for improvement.
Who or what inspires you?
French folk culture, clothes and art are a very strong source of inspiration. We also try to translate personal feelings about things we see and like. It may come from various media or random observations in our daily life.
What would you like to do in the future?
We are always looking for new people with specific skills we can use to make better garments, and we would like to keep it that way for as long as we can.
What is the Arpenteur team's guilty pleasure?
There is a Korean restaurant not far from the office, serving the best bibimbap dish in town. We could eat there every day of the week.
And finally, tell us a bit about this season's collection...
The AW14 season tries to focus on simple but strong styles, with a focus on outerwear. Our ideas stay pretty much the same from season to season. We just try to find new fabrics, improve and reshape things we previously did. As with every season, there are a number of classic gallic sportswear fabrics: wool melton, moleskine, boiled wool and corduroy.
With the arrival of our Pies and Tarts recipe book and our long love affair with a Falcon pie tin, this was an idea that was first mooted last year. Finally, with pie eating season upon us and the need to bid a fond farewell to two members of the team, we had the perfect excuse to make it happen.
So for a fortnight we talked about pies incessantly; favourite recipes, how to make the perfect pie crust, piccalilli or mustard on the side. Lucy turned to her trusty Nigella's bacon and egg number, Victoria opted for pecan, Finn slaved for hours over a mascarpone cheesecake and Rob pulled off a spectacular dark chocolate torte. It was pies aplenty for all, and a perfectly Hambledon send off for Kate (now fully ensconsed as a lecturer up at Winchester University) and Rich (now managing the new Nigel Cabourn store in Covent Garden), who we wish only good and great things.
Condiment lovers take note. We've expanded our Makers & Merchants range to include sauces, pickles and preserves. All handmade here in the UK by small, artisan producers, then given the full Makers & Merchants makeover. All bright red and bold type. Which we love. Not that we're swayed by the fancy packaging. They hapen to taste really, really good too. Especially on the side, next to a big wedge of pie.
There's been a lot of talk about these jeans, a lot of papped celebs seen wearing them. So expectations in womenswear were running high with the arrival of Frame, a denim label founded by four London and California-based friends back in 2012.
Their aim was to create the perfect pair of jeans by bringing together the quality and heritage of denim manufacturing in Los Angeles, with the influence of a London style, cut and fit. Perfect jeans is a serious feat, but we've tried and tested and we conclude that Frame are right up there.
Come and see what all the fuss is about. Here at The Hambledon we're stocking Le Garcon, a skinny boyfriend, in the Exmouth wash, and Le Skinny de Jeanne, their classic skinny, in Film Noir and Culver.
We've all been unashamedly looking forward to the end of this uncharacteristically hot weather and it's all down to one woman, Buffy Reid, the knitwear entreprenuer behind &Daughter. Guernsey knits, ribbed sweaters and chunky cardigans are just about the only things on our mind right now so we were super excited to talk knitwear inspiration, working with her dad and how she acquired the name Buffy.
What was the original inspiration behind &Daughter?
&Daughter was originally inspired by a hand knit Aran I found one Christmas that my Grandmother had made. I was working in fashion in London at the time and my friends and I all lived in knitwear but found it hard to find the type of pieces we wanted to wear- a simple crew neck in a perfect shade of navy or a chunky cable knit but in a modern shape.
My Dad had worked in knitwear his whole career and growing up we were surrounded by boxes of amazing things and that somehow felt missing from what I could find and it felt relevant.
Describe your typical working day?
Coffee about 6ish, emails and customer orders start the day. We dispatch from our studio (which is in my house) so we pack each order that comes in and then a courier comes to collect later that day. After that I usually spend the morning working on the new collection that's in development. At the moment that's AW15, so it's mood boards and sketch reviews, Skyping with the factories to catch up and feed back on prototypes coming through as well as checking on progress for the forthcoming Spring season.
The afternoon is usually lots of meetings: appointments with press or our web and production teams to discuss the site design or any upcoming campaign shoots. Then, if there’s still time left in the evening, hopefully a
glass of wine and dinner with friends.
What do you like most about what you do?
&Daughter wouldn’t be possible without the amazing skill and knowledge of the craftspeople we work with, working with them and learning from them is incredible.
How has it been going into business with your father?
It's allowed us to get to know each other and it's a lot of fun which is probably a bit of a surprise. Of course we disagree sometimes but when I go home to Donegal we visit the factories together which are in amazing parts of the countryside where my Dad grew up, it's beautiful and I feel really lucky to be able to do that with him.
Who would you most like to see wearing an &Daughter design?
I most enjoy seeing how our customers wear it. Everyone I see in &Daughter wears it slightly differently and gives it their own take, that’s exactly our intention and it's exciting to see.
Who or what inspires you?
Miuccia Prada and Phoebe Philo: two strong, intelligent women creating clothes for strong, intelligent women. They have changed the way we get dressed.
Which jumper will you mostly be wearing this winter, and how will you be wearing it?
We design &Daughter to work as a wardrobe of knitwear pieces so I tend to wear different styles for different days. I've been wearing our stripe collar t-shirt a lot at the moment as it's a great transitional piece while the weather is still warm and then I layer our boyfriend cardigan over instead of a jacket.
As it gets colder I have a feeling I’m going to be always in our rib collar tunic knit in navy - it’s incredibly versatile, for meetings in the week I’ll wear it with an A-line skirt and a chunky loafer and at weekends with some skinny jeans and flats.
What has been your proudest &Daughter moment
A customer wrote us a thank-you letter recently to say she’d lived all winter in the two pieces she’d bought from &Daughter. It was such a kind and unexpected gesture.
What would you like to do in the future?
We are taking things intentionally slowly, we want to focus on doing one
thing but doing it brilliantly well.
And finally, can we be cheeky and ask where the name Buffy came from?
Of course. My older brother couldn't say Elizabeth (my real name) when I
was born so he used to call me Buff and so for as long as I can remember I thought that was my name. It gets a little sillier as you get older but it's too late now!
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.