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 did it! Independent Retailer of the Year at the 2016 Drapers Independents Awards. And Best Lifestyle Independent to boot. Announced at a special celebratory lunch in London on Wednesday, with Victoria, Lucy, Rob and Finn there to pick up the gongs. (Rob promptly broke one but ducked out of the ceremony to a bicycle repair shop over the road and got it fixed). In the world of fashion retailing, Drapers is the oracle and these the most coveted industry awards there are, so we couldn’t be more thrilled. Big smiles all round, and huge thanks to all our lovely customers, suppliers and staff who make it all happen.
We pretty much run on sugar at The Hambledon. Rifle behind any of the counters and you’re sure to pull out some sort of confectionary. So the AW16 return of Pastiglie Leone – Italy’s original & finest ‘king of sweetness’ - is something we’re all kinds of happy about. Mostly because they’re the prettiest candies we ever did see, plus we like anything with a good story, and this one is as old as the Italian Republic itself.
It begins in 1857 in a confectioner’s shop in Alba where Luigi Leone produced small, intensely fragrant candies designed to be eaten after a meal. The first flavours were peppermint, cinnamon and rhubarb; the candy dough kneaded by hand and carefully dried for more than 24hrs in the mouth of an oven.
It wasn't long before they became a favourite of the king, and so, in 1861, to better serve the royal family, Leone’s production moved to Turin, residence of the Italian monarchs and later, the first capital of the unified Italy. Already known as the ‘capital of sweetness’ thanks to its cafes and patisseries, Leone fitted right in and was soon renowned throughout the city for its irresistible flavours.
Following the death of owner Luigi, ownership passed to a family who handled the business for just a few years until 1934 when it was bought by Giselda Balla Monero. Nicknamed ‘Lioness’ because of her untameable temperament, she transformed the company’s destiny, relocating the factory to Corso Regina Margherita 242, and investing heavily in the beautiful packaging and advertising we're smitten with today.
Now in the hands of Giselda’s son Guido, the candy originals are still produced according to the traditional recipe of 1857, set in the same bronze moulds, and packaged in the prettiest retro tins. This season you'll find us secretly scoffing on all manner of flavoured pastilles, boiled sweets and fruit jellies, collecting the tins as we go, and generally running on a sugar high through 'til Christmas.
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.
It's been a huge pleasure having Creighton's Chocolaterie in our project space this summer, not least because we've got to hang out (and sample the range, and decorate chocolate unicorns) with the lovely Lucy, founder of Creighton's. We took the opportunity to ask her to compile her wishlist of Hambledon wares.
1. Paris Candle £22.50 | 2. Cat Pouch £9 | 3. Little People Big Dream Frida Kahlo £9.99 | 4. Lion Headdress £13 | 5. Multicoloured Festoon Lights £39.95 | 6. The Gourmand No7 £12 | 7. Gold Glitter Alphabet Bunting £2.25 | 8. Fart Whistle £1.25
Stella Nova has been a first floor favourite for a good few years now so we're delighted to be collaborating with them on a window takeover and competition this season. To mark the occasion we talked to founder Trine Skoller about her work, inspiration and life at the helm of Stella Nova.
Describe your typical working day?
It can vary a lot depending on where in the process I am. Sometimes I travel to seek new inspiration or to visit suppliers, sometimes I am drawing the collection and other times we are preparing for sales meetings and PR events.
Who or what couldn't you work without?
My lovely Stella Team.
What do you like most about what you do?
I feel very privileged to do exactly the thing in life that I like the most – to be creative and to create is something that is very satisfying. Every day is a new challenge and that is something I like.
Who or what inspires you?
Everything can be an inspiration and it is difficult to seek inspiration in a specific way, meaning that the more you look for it the less you feel inspired. For me, inspiration can be from reading a book, watching a movie, travelling etc. It is not possible to pin out where and from what exactly it comes from.
Who would you most like to see wearing a Stella Nova design?
I don’t have any specific wish, but I think that there are many women who are inspiring. For me it is important that it is a woman with a strong personality.
What has been your proudest Stella Nova moment to date?
Luckily I often feel proud and that is what gives me the energy to keep developing the Stella Nova universe.
What has been the most important lesson learned?
Not to listen to my own intuition.
What would you like to do in the future?
The same as I do today and many other things.
And finally, tell us a bit about your favourite pieces from the AW16 collection?
The collection is amongst others inspired by the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. I very much like the prints of the collection and I think the scattered floral artwork is one of the key prints and in a nice way reminds me of a modern take on Frida Kahlo.
We have a collaboration with a Peruvian association where women hand knit the most beautiful alpaca knitwear. These styles are also very close to my heart, and I have been so lucky to visit them several times and I feel happy to see, that our collaboration makes a big difference for them.
The Stella Nova AW16 collection is now available in store.