March — August 2015

The SB2 jacket is made with linen woven by a one-person mill on an island off an island off an island off the north-west coast of Scotland. Tweed country, in other words. The cloth is miles away from what most think about when they think about linen — and has much in common with the wool woven by every other mill in this part of the country. The built-for-tweed Hattersley loom, the small wooden warping mill, the woollen industry’s many outposts dotted all over the islands for the washing, drying, and finishing of tweed — they together make the linen made here what it is: a uniquely thick, open weave, writ through with texture and character.

The striped shirt is more of a hooped shirt: its dotted white lines going acrossways because of a serendipidous error in sampling. The cloth is “tumbled” linen, from the south coast of Ireland — a term which not only tells you how the cloth is finished, but is also the best description of its remarkably soft and pliable hand-feel.

Knitwear this spring is, once again, hand-framed and fully fashioned by the finest knitwear makers in these Isles or most others. Linen, this time around, with the three-ply crewneck showing what tuck-stitch looks like in flax, and the cardigan here proving so light and airy it’s a wonder it doesn’t float away when not being worn.

The linen suit comes but once a year, and usually around mid-March. It is the turn this time of the short and simple SB1 jacket, and the altogether standard standard trousers. The cloth is hopsack linen, from Northern Ireland: woven and finished in a way such that it isn’t prone to the creasing usual for this sort of get-up.

The balmacaan is a walking coat — or perhaps the walking coat is a balmacaan. In either case, a long coat, this, with a one-piece sleeve and a large almost-Eton collar. There are least two things about the balmacaan which don’t at first meet the eye: the jet pockets, hidden within the side welt pockets, which tunnel through to seam-to-seam inside pockets; and the throat tab, tucked away under the left side of the collar. The linen is from a mill on the south coast of Ireland: a herringbone, thick and steadying, made up of natural and off-white yarn of the softest calibre.

The spectacle frame is made with matted tortoiseshell acetate: the closest you can get to the outward aspect of a tortoise without robbing the animal of his roof. They are made by the last spectacle frame factory in Britain — a place which, in truth, to call a factory is a misnomer, since it is more a four-storey home to a troupe of master craftspeople, who work with hand-tools and mechanical machinery to bend and crimp and solder together a spectacle frame unlike anything else in the world. The sides are “rolled gold”: 14-karat gold wrapped around an alloy base, and a technique invented by the proprietor of the factory nigh-on one-hundred years ago.

The button-down shirt in desert cotton here — this one in pale blue. The Lancashire-woven cloth has a lot to say for itself: with a weft of linen and a warp of cotton, it is thick and rigid, but light and breathable. Over time, with wear and wash, the cloth becomes softer and softer, affecting the feel of an old treasure-map.

The same shirt as above, but this time in ecru, and worn with some proper trousers in cinnamon cotton-twill from last year.

The short jacket is, in short, a short jacket. But, with its deadstock cord from Lancashire and hand-framed linen cuffs from the south-west, there are great lengths about it, too. This is the wheat version; there is a navy blue one, too. Both are lined with light cotton and strive to tick the checkbox marked “spring jacket”.

What this is is a first: the first jacket ever made with the newest development from the hydrophobic-hammock-furnished towers of Ventile. Ventile Ripstop is its name, and Ventile Ripstop is what it is. On a base of no-water-shall-pass cotton is a grid structure which prevents this already outdoors-proof material from tearing up if snagged on barbed wire or bramble. The colour is a very dark blue, and the jacket is the tour jacket 4.01. It boasts a plethora of things which make for better cycling — such as shooting shoulders, an internal shoulder strap, brass eyelets under the armpits, two-way envelope pockets, and ecologically sound padding which functions like feathers, only a bit better.

The wheat-coloured SB2 here marries a body of plain cotton with judicious smatterings of deadstock corduroy on the top-collar and under pocket-flaps. The matching trousers likewise. Built to the most tidy and sturdy standards, they are made not only with this spring in mind, but the springs of many years to come.

Worn erstwhile

    • March — September 2021
      The debuts of the duster, the smock, the DB, and the knitted t-shirt make a mockery of the notion that less (clothing) is more in the warmer weeks of the year.
    • October 2020 — February 2021
      Many old-stagers from autumns and winters past — the duffle coat, the balmacaan, the peacoat, and the donkey jacket — made returns in refined form.
    • April — September 2020
      From the poolside (the popover) to the coast (the boatneck) via the railroad (the engineer) — the only way to travel (literally) during a pandemic lockdown.
    • September 2019 — March 2020
      The tielocken and peacoat found their feet in new heavy woollens from the south and north respectively, while the balaclava, gansey and cooks jacket made their debut.
    • March — August 2019
      The return of cotton airweave from east Lancashire, and a cloth from North Yorkshire that really puts the local into locally made two-ply tropical worsted.
    • November 2018 — February 2019
      The tielocken and parka joined the trench in the big-coats-with-belts aisle, while the bal returned in tweed from a mill whose loom was built by the local coffin-maker.
    • August — October 2018
      Weatherproof ripstop and tropical worsted, the debut of the field coat, and a cavalcade of cotton knits were the talk of the workshop in the warmer parts of 2018.
    • October 2017 — July 2018
      Heavyweight outerwear galore — with the old guard of trench coat, peacoat, duffle coat, and balmacaan, joined by the topcoat, donkey jacket, and flight jacket.
    • July — September 2017
      New textures for what are quaintly called the warmer months of the year — like a two-ply birdseye, replicating cloth of the 1920s, and a Flyweight flavour of Ventile.
    • September 2016 — June 2017
      Angora, peccary leather, melton, cotton and linen with some wool mixed in, even some blanketing — a melting of materials for an unusually warm end to the year.
    • April — August 2016
      Texture, let it be known, is a quality tricky to come by in the warmer months, here in the British Isles. But look — hopsacks, tuck-stitches, and herringbones galore.
    • September 2015 — March 2016
      The heavy Donegal tweed balmacaan made its debut, as did the heavy duffle coat and, indeed, the heavy fur-felt hat. Lots of heavy things, then, for the colder months.
    • March — August 2015
      New linens came to the forefront: linen from the south coast of Ireland; linen hand-woven in the Outer Hebrides; linen knitted into crewnecks and cardigans.
    • September 2014 — February 2015
      Cloth development came thick and fast: yarn-dyed Ventile at the start of the period, and tweed made with organic and heritage fleece in the Inner Hebrides at the close.
    • January — August 2014
      Along came the SB1 jacket in hand-woven indigo cotton, the link-stitch crewneck and cardigan, the porkpie Ventile cotton hat, and a brace of cottons from Lancashire.
    • September — December 2013
      The cotton-twill trench coat rounded the year off, but before that came the peacoat and SB3 in Donegal's finest, as well as lambswool knitwear both heavy and light.
    • January — August 2013
      The first half of the year began with the three-button Tetris tweed blazer and concluded with an assortment of corduroy and cotton numbers — plus some shorts.
    • August — December 2012
      Heavyweight tuck-stitch jumpers, the wool-tweed peacoat made with the one-man-mill, and the debut of both the reversible jacket and the Ventile mac.
    • December 2011 — June 2012
      Early spring was met by the British Millerain dry-wax and cashmere mac, and kept busy with the linen suit, new tour jacket, and two-button neat jacket.
    • August — November 2011
      The last few months of 2011 witnessed the release of the chalkstripe-wool seam overshirt, the hopsack tweed neat jacket, and the birdseye wool-cashmere blazer.
    • February — May 2011
      Spring and early summer saw linen semi-cutaway shirts, the horizontal cord blazer, panama stowaway overshirts, and the cycle-friendly brushed cotton tour jacket.
    • September 2010 — January 2011
      The work jacket made a first appearance in French navy cotton-twill and charcoal wool-cashmere. And, on the knitwear front, Shetland Isle moss-stitch jumpers.
    • May — August 2010
      Five mostly interchangeable garments were made over the middle months of the year: two semi-cutaway shirts, two cotton-drill trousers, and a corduroy overshirt.