2016-04-06 09:49:19 GMT
One of my favorite things about Drake’s is their ability to design things that feel contemporary on the one hand, but also classic on the other. It’s easy, after all, to produce ties that are classic and boring. Also easy to make ones that are trendy and awful. Steering a line between those two worlds, however, that takes skill, which is why Drake’s is so impressive. For a company that ventures beyond your typical Macclesfield silk prints and basic rep stripes, their batting average is very high.
Some of that is due to how closely Michael Hill and his team work with mills. “I’m hesitant to take all the credit,” he tells me. “We’ve been working with the same mills since the 1970s, which means every collection is a collaboration. I often sit down with them and pour over their archives to figure out what to design today.” Those new designs will draw from a color here, maybe a weave there, but then be updated in ways to make them feel current. “There are few better ways to design than by looking at what’s been successful for us and the mill in the past,” Michael says.
2015-10-22 19:06:04 GMT
Even with a closet full of neckties, I’m always drawn to picking up a thing or two from Drake’s every season. It’s said that the company offers English taste in the way the Italians or French might imagine it – classic English designs reinterpreted with a bit more verve. Not too unlike how an Italian or French man might wear his British clothes. It might just be a marketing line, but it’s not a bad way to describe the company. In a world where everyone offers of the same Macclesfield prints and silk foulards, Drake’s successfully walks the line between classic and novel, which is why guys like me keep coming back.
This season, they have their regular stable of wools, madders, and rep striped silks, but also some new and interesting things – such as Shetland yarns woven on grenadine looms, and wool-alpaca blends that offer unique textures. In addition, there are some new re-colorings of old, archive pocket square designs, such as those birds of paradise and unicorn prints that were originally made for Holland & Holland, as well as a colorful Navajo-inspired square taken from a scarf they used to sell in the 1970s. The growing line of knitwear, shirts, and sport coats also make the brand into more than just an accessories label. (Fun fact: the sport coats are made by Belvest, which is something of a return-to-history, as Michael Drake used to travel the world selling Belvest before he started his own company).
Drake’s website is worth a browse if you want to be inspired by some new things to wear this fall, but here are also some selections from a few of my favorite stores.
2015-04-23 18:03:17 GMT
Weaving in its most basic and elemental form, is a method of fabric production that interlaces two distinct threads (a thread is a yarn made specifically for use in a machine. Yarn itself comes from the Old English Gearn ) at a right angle.
The longitudinal threads are called the Warp and the horizontal threads are known as the Weft or Woof. This is important…if you only learn one thing…this should be it!! The word Weft comes from the Old English wefen meaning “that which is woven”.
manner in which these threads are woven affect the qualities that the
fabric has and its is this (the way that it is woven) that is known as
the weave. The drape of the cloth , that’s is how the fabric lays
and conforms on complex or uneven surfaces is primarily determined by
the weave used. Another outcomes of the weave style include smoothness, its susceptibility to crimping and the level of porousness.
Although there are many methods for weaving, the coming of the Industrial age introduced the loom (a machine which holds the Warp threads and interweaves the Weft threads). In a Loom, one Warp thread is called an End and one Weft thread is called Pick.
The Warp threads are held in place through an eye called a Heddle. The Warp threads are raised and lowered using a harness which controls the heddles. The harnesses themselves can be regulated via various systems such as Cams, Dobbies or a Jaquard head. This raising and lowering of the Warp threads via a mechanised system allowed for many more types of weave, most of which were developed in the 19th Century in Northern English Mills…which leads us nicely into a brief history of Weaving!!
Although evidence has emerged suggesting that weaving may be as old as 9000 years old, by 3600 B.C.E it had become commonplace within the Fertile Crescent, with Flax (a linen) being the dominant yarn. By 2000 B.C.E Wool had replaced Flax for other cultures using a weaving system.
The Weaving of Silk had become a developed skill first in China around 2700 B.C.E before moving onto Korea around 200 B.C.E and finally Japan as late as 300 A.D.
By 700 A.D. weaving had spread around the globe, including Islamic innovations such as tread peddle loom, which allowed for a peddle to operate the heddles. In Africa, the politics of fabrics began to appear, as the light Cotton was for wealthier people and Wool for the poorer.
Medieval Europe also had distinctions of class denoted by cloth. Due to the colder climes of Europe it was the diametric opposite of Africa, with wool for the richer person and linen and nettle cloth for the lower classes.
Introduction into Europe
introduced to Sicily and Spain in 800 A.D. Cotton diffusion to the rest
of Europe via Northern Italy came with the Norman conquest of Sicily
in the 11th century. With the introduction of horizontal looms into
Europe in the 10th and 11th Centuries and the proliferation of weaving,
the art moved away from a family based rural practice to a specialized
urban product. Guilds were developed to regulate the craft and trade,
such as London’s oldest company, the Weavers Guild which was founded in
In the 13th century a systematic change came about with the introduction of the ‘putting out’ system. Under the new system merchants would provide wool to the weavers who would then sell it back to the merchants. The supply of wool and the industry as a whole became dominated by the merchants. In East England this prosperity was reflected in the emergence of wool towns such as Norwich and Burt St Edmunds. Wool had once again become a political issue.
Flanders had established itself as a centre of the fabric trade by dint of its merchant prowess, with certain Flanderers moving to England as early as the 11 Century setting up the Wool business in Worstead. Louis XI had designated Lyon as the centre fro the silk industry in France by Royal Decree in the late 15th Century. With the religious persecutions of the late 17th Century, 50,000 Huguenots moved to Britain, move specifically to Spittlefields in London and the traditional home of silk weaving in the UK - Macclesfield - a tradition which remains intact today, bringing with them their superior weaving skill and international trade links.
A Huguenot weaving from 1830
The Industrial Revolution
It is hard to overstate the importance of the Industrial revolution to the weaving process. In 50 short years, the fabric industry went from being a niche, craft based product to a mechanised large scale behemoth, with towns and cities of unprecedented scale growing up around the industry.
The History of Industrial weaving needs its own in depth article….but we will do our best to present a concise overview here.
first innovation came in 1733, with John Kay’s flying shuttle. Before
this, wide looms often needed an expensive apprentice to help the
shuttle get to the end of the loom. This allowed for not only a
reduction in staff, but also a vast increase in the size of the loom.
Other key figures and innovations included The Cartwright Brothers, who mechanised the actual weaving process between 1785 - 1792. By the early 19th Century the process power weaving had become commonplace and by the 1850′s it had become semi - automate, and Joseph Marie Jacquard who developed the Jacquard Loom.
The new scale of
production was a catalyst for the growth of the mill towns in the north
of England such as Stockport and Manchester, as well as further
technical and scientific progress, via the necessity of metal works for
the looms and chemical alternatives to expensive natural dyes which
drove the burgeoning chemical industry of the latter 19th Century (and perhaps even the computer. Charles Babbage was much inspired by the system used in the Jacquard loom).
The Industrial Revolution took Weaving from this
Basketweave also known as Panama
An all round fabric, it is known for its distinctive chequered patterning, formed by a basic criss-crossing of more than one thread. This method is also known as a Panama weave and is used for light/mid weight woollen suiting.
after the eponymous label, this fabric is known for its striped double
ribbed texture. Traditionally made from silk, its has a very soft handle
and shiney appearance. In the USA the term has an expanded meaning to
include any silk shirtings.
Dobby (see also Pique - also a dobby fabric)
The derivation of the word Dobby is a corruption of Draw Boy - the boy who used to control the warp thread. Dobby cloth refers to the loom upon which it was produced. Often containing a geometric pattern, this fabric is also commonly used in Polo Shirts as well as shirting.
often seen any more, this luxury fabric is often woven in silk. The
background weave is often Taffeta (from the Persian for Twisted Fabric),
with a supplementary pattern laid on top.
A common casual shirting material made with a basket weave, the Oxford is often gets it checked appearance via the use of a white thread. The Oxford can be further categorised into three styles, from least to most formal as below:
Plain Oxford - The least formal it has a coarse texture and often uses a heavier thread and a looser weave than the more formal versions of the Oxford.
Pinpoint Oxford - Similar to the plain Oxford, the Pinpoint commonly uses a finer thread and a higher thread count.
Royal Oxford - This Oxford does not use the simple basket weave of the other Oxford cloths and has a distinctive elaborate weave. This cloth like the other Oxfords irons well and is also resistant to creasing.
technique actually encompasses many textiles in use within the garment
industry today, including Velvet and Corduroy, but employs the same
basic idea throughout. The basic method employs looping the warp thread
over a metal rod. When the rod are removed the pile can either remain
(as in a Terrycloth) or be sheared (as in Velvet or Corduroy - essentially a
in Lancashire and using cotton, the Pique weave was an attempt to
imitate quilting from Marseilles (hence its alternative name of Marcella -
a corruption of Marseilles). Often associated with white tie attire,
its ridges hold more starch and therefore produce a stiffer front.
Poplin - an example of a plain weave
of the three most fundamental weaves (along with Twill and Satin), a
balanced plain weave (as opposed to a basket weave which is a riff on a
plain weave) is a fabric in which the warp and weft are made of threads
of the same weight and the same number of ends per inch as picks per
inch. Fabrics made from this weave include but is not limited to Poplin,
taffeta, grosgrain and chiffon. Plain weaves generally have good
stability but are prone to crimping.
name Satin is a derivative of the the Chinese town Quanzhou via its
Arabic name Zayton. In essence a modified Twill (see below), with Satin
produces a very flat, very well draped fabric. The satin weave also
allows for a very tight weave and has a very shiney lustre to it.
is one of the primary weaves of garment construction, and encompasses a
wide range of fabrics including Denim, Tweed, Chino and Gabardine. The
Twill weave is formed by a series of diagonal ribs formed by the Warp
thread being passed under then over two or more Weft threads. A step is
employed to create the characteristic diagonal orientation. Due to the
method of construction, Twills have a front and back side, unlike a
Plain weave that has the same finish on both sides.
This technique produces a sheer but durable fabric. Manufactured by entwining two Warp yarns around the Weft, the technique also encompasses the Japanese Karamiori cloth.
Thus concludes our basic guide to weaving. We do hope you enjoyed. Look out for further posts elucidating the qualities and etiquette’s of different fabrics, as well as a closer look at the many facets of wool. See you next time!!
2015-03-30 12:18:08 GMT
I dare say nothing says Britain in fashion terms quite as much as Tweed. From sporting jackets and trousers, to caps and ties, tweed sums up our Isle of style like no other apparel. Firmly rooted in the Heritage camp, events such as the ‘tweed run’ are testament to the fabrics longevity and popularity.
In this post we aim to give a brief run down of the ins and outs of the fabric, from its history and construction to some of the more popular patterns.
A good place to begin is the story of how Tweed got its name. Tweed was originally known as Tweel, that being Scottish for Twill. Then, in around 1830, a London merchant received a letter from Watson & Sons, Dangerfield Mills regarding the fabric. Misreading and believing it to be a trade-name taken from the nearby River Tweed, the cloth was advertised as Tweed, and has happily stuck ever since.
The tweeds themselves are divided into two sets, an Estate Tweed which is area based and Clan Tartan which is family based.
Many of the estates created their own tweed designs,and the fabric became associated with the gentry. Gaining popularity throughout the 19th Century, by the early 20th Century Tweed had been adopted by the aspirational middle class. Seen primarily as a performance material, it became a popular fabric choice for hunting, shooting, fishing, golf and racing…as was memorably displayed by Toad of Toad Hall.
The concept of Tweed being for outdoor sporting pursuit meant that muted tones and natural hues played very much to the fore. Resembling the grounds upon which they were created, helping to camouflage when on a hunt, the Tweed can be seen as a reflection of the natural landscape. To this end, muted greens, beiges and greys play a large role in the Tweed palate.
Types of Tweed
At this point, just a quick note regarding the construction the Tweed, that being a Twill. Unlike Plain or Satin weaves, Twill is made up of diagonal parallel ribs. This is achieved by passing the weft thread over one or more warp threads and then under two or more warp threads and so on. Twills in general are more durable, and less likely to stain. The Tweed is characterised by a closely woven wool, with a rough unfinished texture. Tweed comes in either a Herringbone or Plain fashion, with its dappled colour effects coming about via the twisting of two or more strands into a yarn.
Beyond the basic construct of the tweed, the fabric can be further distinguished by geography, such as Donegal:
manufactured in County Donegal, Ireland. Best known for it plain coloured flecked pattern, this gives the cloth a distinctive heathered effect.
For a top notch video of how the Donegal Tweed is made watch this excellent post by our good friends Put This On HERE
Alternative types can be distinguished by type of sheep such as Shetland or Cheviot, function or Brand name - giving rise to perhaps the most famous Tweed, Harris Tweed from the Isle of Harris.
Characterised by a rough texture, and due to the wool being dyed before being spun, unique and complex colour designs are a signature, which are often dyed using local natural dyes such as lichen. In 1993 Harris Tweed became protected by the Harris Tweed act, which outlines the conditions under which the cloth can be made.
So named due to the texture looking like Barleycorns, this course fabric of often multi flecked colours blends to look monochrome when viewed from a distance.
Estate Tweed (also known as Overcheck Herringbone)
A check overlaying a herringbone weave pattern. Traditionally from the Highlands Each estate would commision its own check to suit its won landscape and vegetation to blend and camouflage.
As opposed to the Estate Tweed this is made from a plain tweed (not herringbone) and is made up of large checks (as opposed to the check pattern which are made from smaller checks).
As you may image…has vertical lines that give it a distinctive striped pattern!!
Houndstooth (also known as Dogtooth)
Originally a Lowland pattern, this well known pattern can be called Puppytooth when done on a smaller scale.
Comprised of small checks in two colours, this is often enhanced by an Overcheck in a third. One of the most popular is the Guncheck (pictured). Originally known as “ The Coigach ”, this Estate Check was adopted by the American Gun Club in 1876 and has been popular ever since.
Future of Tweed
The good news is that after a dip in demand, tweed is firmly on the rise. Harris tweed produced 1 million meters of tweed in 2012, compared to 450,000 meters in 2009. With heritage and quality once more at the forefront of fashion, the future of Tweed looks bright, and we say long may it continue!
2014-08-13 15:01:28 GMT
This week I had the pleasure of visiting Robert Keyte in his factory in Bodiam, East Sussex.
I am always filled with tremendous excitement when going to visit the factories I deal with, to get a behind the scenes look at how the products are made and the people behind them. Robert Keyte was no different, he has been producing silk for some of the finest brands in the world for decades.
Robert is a very charming and down to Earth chap, he has tremendous insight into the silk printing industry and is a true pleasure to speak with.
One of my favourite parts of the trip was rummaging through the old David Evans archives, some of which can be seen below, they provide the building blocks for all the modern collections we see coming from many famous brands, and the rolls of luxurious silk, of which there was no shortage!
A range of Robert Keyte pocket squares are available online now at www.ExquisiteTrimmings.com - However, there will be a more extensive collaboration including Madder silk ties, bow ties, pocket squares and scarves available on the webstore in the coming months.
From his website:
Robert Keyte’s family has been producing the highest quality men’s neckwear and accessories since 1936.
Our tie portfolio features the Classical English look (also known as ‘Macclesfield Neats’) as well as fully contemporary designs. Yet all our silk ties and handkerchiefs share the same hallmarks of traditional quality and craftsmanship.
Robert Keyte’s mill in Macclesfield is probably the only remaining producer of ‘Real Ancient Madder’ prints, and is one of the few surviving printers capable of the classic dye and discharge method of printing.
Our woven silk ties are Jacquard-woven using exquisite silk thread from China. In the traditional de-gumming of the thread, some weight can be lost and many competitors compensate for this by adding mineral salts. Not so at Robert Keyte, where every product is genuinely 100% pure silk.
Both printed and woven silk fabrics are produced in Macclesfield, with accessories then crafted entirely by hand in the picturesque village of Bodiam in East Sussex, overlooking the famous castle and the Rother Valley steam railway. In addition to a range of exquisite ties, Robert Keyte also offers a selection of elegant silk handkerchiefs again made from Macclesfield silk, with the same obsessive attention to detail.
All Robert Keyte ties and handkerchiefs are guaranteed to have been manufactured using only 100% Pure Silk, printed or woven in the Borough of Macclesfield, Cheshire, England. Look forward to many years of pleasure from proudly wearing any Robert Keyte tie or accessory, reassured by the pedigree, heritage, and craftsmanship which have defined the brand for generations and is respected by those who appreciate genuine excellence.
2014-02-12 01:23:22 GMT
My friend Réginald-Jérôme de Mans - who’s a weekly contributor to A Suitable Wardrobe’s blog - is remarkably good at finding menswear-related items on eBay. Or anywhere on the web, really. In fact, he was a guest on A Suitable Wardrobe’s first podcast episode for just this skill. It aired almost a full three years ago, but is still available for listening here under the title “Browsing for Bargains on the Web.”
What makes RJ’s finds exciting is that they’re often things of exceptional quality, such as leather goods from Hermes; stuff from the heydays of “once were” companies such as Old England and Arnys; or items slightly off the beaten path, such as intricately designed ties and the occasional … riding whip. When I can, I try to include some of his links in our eBay roundups over at Put This On. Except for the few times when I want something for myself.
2013-10-20 20:01:24 GMT
If “shoe porn” means a spectacular visual presentation of shoes, then let me show you one of the greatest shoe porn sites of all time: Centipede. A Japanese site started by a semi-anonymous blogger in 2002, and left untouched since 2009, it remains better than most of the dozens, if not hundreds, or classic men’s footwear sites that have come after it.
Much of the focus here is on English firms, including long-gone bespoke makers such as Wildsmith, Peal & Co., and N. Tuczek. For fans of Edward Green, there’s a nice sample of old historic lasts, such as the 88, 32, and 33. Here’s a pair of split toe Dovers, for example, built on the 32 and made from an unusually hairy Maple Stag suede. There are also special photo sets for J. Amesbury bespoke, A. Harris’ collection of rare shoes, and one enthusiasts’ tour of British stores. There’s no text to accompany the last bit, but the photos are enough to entertain.
2013-10-01 21:40:00 GMT
2013-07-24 20:33:01 GMT
It’s great to have nice friends. A few months ago, StyleForum member Unbelragazzo (who does the excellent blog Ivory Tower Style) posted a photo of himself wearing a cream linen suit, light blue shirt, Rubinacci Victory pocket square, and Rubinacci burgundy knit tie with a slightly broken-up, cream chevron pattern. I liked how the tie looked so much that I ask if he could proxy me one next time he was in Europe. He was in Naples last month, kindly picked me up one, and sent it to me last week. I get ties with a little help from my friends.
Rubinacci has this design in a dozen different variations. The tie seems narrow at 5cm, but it doesn’t feel too thin when it’s actually worn. Once you have a jacket on, the proportions between your shirt, jacket, and tie are actually quite pleasing (at least to my mind).
2013-05-17 12:31:03 GMT
It’s still a bit chilly in San Francisco, but in anticipation of summer, I went ahead and picked up a raw silk grenadine by Drake’s last week. Michael Hill and his design team seem to be getting more adventurous these days, but I still think they achieve great success. This new design, for example, has a bit more texture than their regular raw silks – adding the slubbiness of raw silk to the textured weave of grenadine. This makes it look something like a summer version of boucle, which I really like.
Alexander, that reader who kindly introduced me to the New York cloth merchant, explained to me last year that raw silk is simply silk that has not been chemically processed. You see, every silkworm extrudes two filaments when making its cocoon, and these fibers typically undergo a chemical processing to strip them of their bonding sericin. As a result of having their sericin left on, raw silk lacks the full luster and richness associated with the kinds of processed silk used for neckties. There also tends to be an unevenness in the yarns, as the two strands of filament are left bonded together, rather than being stripped and separated, which would yield an ultra-fine filament yarn that can be densely woven.
2013-01-16 19:33:09 GMT
With Pitti Uomo being a menswear trade show, there’s surprisingly little coverage on actual products and brands. Most of what you see is street style photos of the attendees. If you want to read about products, there’s Men’s Reverie, StyleForum, Esquire’s Style Blog and GQ Italy. Nick Sullivan also sometimes leaks product shots through his Twitter account. But outside of that, there’s not much being said.
Shaya Green, the proprietor of Exquisite Trimmings, attended this year, and was kind enough to share some of his photos with me. These are all from the trade show’s floor. Brands featured here include Vienna shoemaker Ludwig Reiter; one of my favorite knitwear companies, Inis Meain; Alexandra Diaconu and Michael Rollig’s relatively new company, Zonkey Boot; Spanish shoemaker Carmina; and the Neapolitan ready-to-wear line of Orazio Luciano.
2012-08-18 21:44:04 GMT
2012-07-25 13:50:28 GMT
Hard Graft produces some of the most beautiful cases, sleeves, and bags available on the market today. I was lucky enough to get the chance to talk to James, founder of Hard Graft, and learn a little more about the construction, materials, and make-up of these insanely beautiful goods. Enjoy:
When was Hard Graft created, and what led to the creation of the brand?
The spirit of Hard Graft began in 2006 were we created our first leather laptop sleeve, we officially founded the business at the beginning of 2008.
What type of products does Hard Graft produce?
We design all kinds of lifestyle and tech accessories, from small goods, which include felt and leather iPhone cases, iPad cases and Laptop bags. Our newest venture is larger travel luggage made from British heavyweight waxed cotton canvas and Italian vegetable tanned leather.
Where are your pieces produced?
Our complete range of goods are handmade by a family run workshop in Italy. We’ve been producing with “The Brothers” and their artisans for such a long time that we’ve created a really strong bond. There exists a mutual understanding and big respect for each other’s skills. The Brothers take our designs and develop them with us, whether it’s on one of our several visits to the workshop or through Skype. Together we make sure that every single rivet is reinforced inside and there are no critical points which could break. We work very hard to make sure your hard graft product will accompany you for years to come.
Is there a certain type of person that would buy Hard Graft?
All our handcrafted felt and leather goods are sold through our online store, therefore we hardly ever meet our customers face to face, making it quite difficult to categorize our customers. As a quick rule we would say: design conscious, quality loving, young creative online shopper. But we see a big variety of people who see different things in our goods visiting our site.
2012-07-25 08:37:31 GMT
2012-07-24 19:35:08 GMT
I’ve been searching for someone to make me a nice, handcrafted leather belt, and in my quest, I came across Bertrand Montillet - a highly talented Parisian who learned his trade through technical school and then perfected it while working for Hermes. Monsieur Montillet makes every kind of accessory you can think of. Bags and cases for musical instruments and eyewear, card holders and wallets, and, of course, belts. These can be made from your regular run of fine calfskins, or something from the exotic side of the market, such as crocodiles, ostriches, and stingrays. Since everything is custom, the client’s imagination is the only limit.
I came by Montillet’s work through this thread at StyleForum, where member T4phage reported on a blue sharkskin belt he commissioned from Montillet. The Parisian craftsman was kind enough to document how he made the piece through a series of photos.
2012-07-23 14:48:51 GMT
Untipped Real Ancient Madder 8cm Silk Tie
Navy with blue and green motif
Was £105.00 Now £75.00
Seahorse and Starfish Print Cotton and Silk Handkerchief
White with orange motif and yellow border
Was £45.00 Now £40.00
Hand Printed Finest Cotton Voile Scarf
Khaki with ecru print
Was £125.00 Now £90.00
2012-07-19 11:23:03 GMT
2012-06-15 11:56:41 GMT
2012-06-08 13:58:52 GMT
2012-05-18 21:15:46 GMT