The invitations went out, incredible brand displays were assembled, and the excellent staff at Mayfair’s Spencer House were ready to greet the press. The inaugural British Men’s Style Multi-Brand Press Day was a great success, with 120 media figures meeting with 13 of Britain’s top luxury brands (Ettinger, Aquascutum, Cheaney Shoes, D.R. Harris, Edward Green, Emma Willis, Floris, Iffley Road, Johnstons of Elgin, MULO, Seaward &Stearn, Tateossian and Tom Smarte), in one of London's most elegant and historic locations.
The event was organised by Ettinger, with sponsorship from Pol Roger champagne, Barnard & Westwood printers and bookbinders and Hildon water.
Here’s the Ettinger Journal's round up of what’s new for the great founders and makers in attendance.
The first British Men's Style Multi-Brand Press Day has, of course, been high on the agenda for principle organisers, Ettinger. “We have worked hard to identify and talk to a good number of great British men's style companies, both big and small, from all over the country,” explains Ettinger CEO, Robert Ettinger. “We must realise the potential to develop more interest in British men's style, alongside men's fashion. Collectively, we generate and receive much more interest than if we do this on our own,” he adds.
The Ettinger showcase included a live demonstration of the new bespoke service (customers can now choose from a range of leather styles and colours, stitch-work and monogramming options for a variety of products) launched to mark the company’s 85th anniversary (1934-2019). A beautiful limited-edition 85th anniversary notebook, featuring illustrations from renowned British artist, Rory Dobner, and created in conjunction with book binder, Barnard & Westwood in support of QEST*, the Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust, the charitable arm of the Royal Warrant Holders’ Association, was also presented on the day.
Press Day aside, exciting developments are in the pipeline at Ettinger’s Putney HQ. Later this month, Ettinger is set to introduce a new shade to its sophisticated goat leather Capra collection, Capra Tan; new travel accessories, including a travel pouch, passport and luggage tag, are also to be added to the range.
Johnstons of Elgin
“We were founded in 1797 and the first merino sheep was introduced to Australia in 1797, which is a wonderful coincidence!” explains Deputy Chairman and member of the Johnston family, Jenny Urquhart. Merino is a bit of a buzz word at the Johnston showcase, with the company working hard to create interesting merino blends and cashmere silks which work well for transitional dressing in spring and autumn.
Urquhart points out an elaborately patterned scarf from the new range and then brings out an old book. “This booklet was created by my late great grandfather, who was an artist as well as a textile designer, and as you can see, the illustration has been taken from there and transported onto these scarves,” she explains, of the border illustration inspiring the brand’s recent pieces.
“The Autumn/Winter collection is a really good nod towards our heritage,” explains Marketing Assistant and Artworker, Mark Gibson, taking us through another catwalk collection.
“We’ve dug deep into the archive and woven cloth inspired by our 1930s collection. We’re really lucky to have an archive that’s live. We have given this cloth [an orange and grey tartan] a new dimension, with modern techniques,” he adds. A grey arran roll neck and a giant orange scarf, are also part of the collection, as are athleisure pieces, in response to the rise in more relaxed working styles.
The Aquascutum team has some big news. “We are re-launching our iconic market product, the trench coat,” explains Digital and Marketing Director, Simon Jobson, mysteriously.
So, what’s new with this signature British piece?
Well, according to Jobson, very few of the brand’s famous designs had previously been made in England and were constructed using materials from all over the world.
“Now they are all made in England,” he explains, “The cotton is now spun in east Manchester at Duckenfield, with a company called English Fine Cottons – they were founded 16 months ago with the view to bringing cotton back to the heartland of Cottonopolis. They are the first company in 50 years to start cotton spinning in Manchester. Then the yarn is dyed in Blackburn and woven up in Burnley and it’s finished down in Oldham, from when the cotton is spun to the finished fabric, it’s about a 55-mile supply journey, which is brilliant. Then all the materials are shipped to Hackney Wick where each coat is cut, trimmed and shipped out.”
Tom Smarte started making hats in 1786, and his son also made hats,” explains Tom Smarte Creative Director, AllonZloof, “The fourth generation taught my great grandfather how to make hats,” he adds. Sadly, at this point the business waned, only to be revived by Zloof over a century later. “When I found out about the story five years ago, I relaunched Tom Smarte hats,” he explains.
The demand for premium contemporary hats in Britain really took off after the success of the TV series, Peaky Blinders, which has allowed the Tom Smarte team to indulge their creativity. The latest range of handmade hats on offer from the brand includes a flat cap with a concealed baseball peak, a hand-crimped fedora and a popular range of straw travel hats made from seagrass, with some coloured using vegetable dyes. Each hat takes two days to make.
The Tom Smarte team is now pushing the boundaries even further: "Normally with a felt hat you block it in one part, but one of our recent designs has been blocked in two parts - it’s the first time this has ever been done,” explains Aloof, with one of his Italian hatters demonstrating the process by his side.
Mulo’s Tobias Cox is on a mission to re-invent high-end casual footwear for men. So far, he has re-imagined the espadrille, the slipper and most recently, the sneaker, into sophisticated, smart-casual styles with leather uppers.
“We are addressing the challenge that the humble espadrille is everyone’s favourite shoe, but it only lasts as long as the week-long holiday,” explains the brand's Founder, Cox. “Inherently, going back to the 70s and Jack Nicholson, the espadrille has a cool factor. We have taken that charm and heritage and elevated it into a proper shoe that you can wear throughout the summer.”
The brand’s suede slipper is based on the same principle of elevation: ‘we’ve made a slipper in the same way as our espadrille. You can sort of dress it up and aren’t afraid to leave the house, pick the kids up or go to the pub for a beer on a Sunday.”
What of the sneaker? Well, the symmetry continues with this new shoe, smart enough to wear during the day and out to dinner.
Top Northampton shoemakers, Edward Green, showcased their new Autumn/Winter styles at the press day, but also gave us a glimpse of the new pieces for Spring/Summer 2020.
“So much of our collection are perennial styles, but we introduce new tweaks and new colourways,” explains, Euan Denholm, Head of Brand and Business Development at Edward Green. “One of the ones I’m most excited about here is London Grain. We are launching two of our classic shoes (the Dover Split Toe Derby and the Piccadilly Penny Brogue) in this lovely French leather. It is a soft, textured leather and it works really well with the soft tailoring fabrics we’re seeing coming to the fore at the moment,” he adds.
Edward Green has also created a new boot, the Cranleigh - a higher-cut version of their signature Dover shoe, and the brand has also re-invigorated pieces from its archive, including a calf leather and suede version of the Rochester (coming out next year) and a fresh take on the Duke (the two-toned loafer the company used to make for the Duke of Windsor).
A final word from one of the industry’s top shoe-men? “We are finding there’s growth in the casual market for boots and summer suede loafers,” Denholm adds. “The Shanklin desert boot is also an exciting option for Spring/Summer 2020.”
Given the great display of hand sewing on display at the Edward Green stand, it’s easy to understand why their timeless pieces have such a cult following.
“Our shoes are unambiguously made in this country,” explains the brand’s Head of Sales, Neil Kirkby, at the bustling CheaneyShoes’s stand, where a craftsman demonstrates how easy it is to repair and refurbish a pair of Cheaneys, making them a sustainable and value-for-money option.
“The shoes are stitched through the leather and the insole, which means that when they need replacing, you just take off the sole and rebuild,” Kirkby explains. “It's always the shoes you like in your wardrobe that you wear out, which can be frustrating,” he adds, knowingly.
What about new products? “We are launching the Imperial Collection, which is a new higher-grade collection, made with oak bark soles and calf leather.”
Cheaneys has also brought out a few seasonal summer pieces, including a lighter version of their original boot, the Derby, and a fisherman’s sandal, the Bertie, in a nod to colonial styling.
“I enjoy seeing women wearing shirts as enthusiastically as men at the moment,” says Emma Willis MBE before pointing to a cover-shot of Angelina Jolie in one of her shirts, “the boyish look is big at the moment.”
The Jermyn St. legend takes us through the winter collection. It includes fluid winter shirts in brushed baby corduroy; a smoking jacket in a handwoven paisley fabric; a cream silk shirt, and matching cream boxer shorts, ohh la la.
Fortunately for the general public, Emma Willis shirts, which are made in a beautiful Gloucester townhouse and normally sold from Jermyn Street, have now launched on Matches Fashion and Mr Porter.
Much-loved British perfumer, Floris, is launching a new men’s fragrance, and Perfumery Director and 9th generation member of the Floris family, Edward Bodenham, gives us his take on the new scent.
“Our new fragrance, Neroli Voyage, is a fougère,” Bodenham explains. “Fougère is a classic, masculine style of fragrance, with lavender, citrus and woody notes."
“We haven’t launched a fougère fragrance since 2002. We wanted to look at this kind of fragrance and completely re-invent it and re-interpret it for a modern audience and this is what we’ve done,” he adds. The finished product has taken Bodenham, and in-house Perfumer, Nicola Pozzani, two and a half years to create.
Pozzani hosted a workshop where journalists could make their own perfume using antique glassware. “We work in fluid ounces and fluid drams, so the journalists have to do the same,” explains Bodenham.
D. R. Harris
We were showered with new products by the brilliant team at classic English apothecary, D. R. Harris.
“In the last year we’ve brought in a few men’s grooming products,” explains Managing Director, Dr Alison Moore. “There are three new strengths of holding gels for hair now, and the beard oil (which has been around for a bit longer).”
Dr Moore’s team is also excited about the new synthetic hair travel shaving brushes on offer. “The original badger ones are lovely, but if you keep them wet in a sponge bag, they will rot. The new synthetic ones are very good quality,” she adds.
Sustainability is also high on the agenda: “our newest products are these bright wooden toothbrushes, which come in five colours,” says Moore, who is also keen to explain to us the sustainable credentials of shampoo bars, which last for longer than most bottles and involve limited packaging. For a traditional company, D. R. Harris is certainly moving in a progressive direction.
Seaward & Stearn
“This season's colours are predominantly pinks and browns, and we’re featuring bold geometric designs,” explains founder, Mark Stearn of the Spring-Summer wares on show. “Also, a new addition to this season has been more of an antique gold, which has been this warm, rich tone,” he adds.
“This follows through with the pocket squares, where we use strong colours and designs not normally associated with these pieces. There are also deep colourations within the angora range. There are lots of stronger, bolder colours and designs in reds and orange tones.”
Mark Stearn and Gary Seaward started their accessories business sixteen years ago with the aim of creating a unique and colourful menswear brand, using unusual tones and designs.
The ties, squares and scarves are handmade in London Bridge by Seaward & Stearn’s team of 25 craftsmen.
This husband and wife team (who, incidentally, met running) aims to make running kit that’s both technical and stylish. “For a long time, we’d felt there was very little kit available that we actually wanted to run in,” says Claire Kent, joint founder of Iffley Road (the other founder being her husband Bill Byrne). Fed up with ‘fast fashion’ and badly made kit, they also wanted to produce as sustainably as possible; Iffley Road now sources and manufactures in small batches, primarily in Europe and the UK.
Exciting new developments include the Bracknell polo shorts, which look far too smart to run in, but are designed in a technical fabric, perfectly suitable for pounding the pavements, and a great backpack collaboration with London-based company, Stolt. For active wear that doesn’t sacrifice style, look no further than the revolutionary Iffley Road.
Sponsor – Pol Roger
Pol Roger, whose Brut Reserve champagne was served at the event, prides itself on its strong relationship with men’s luxury brands: “It was inevitable that when asked to take part and support the day that we would agree happily,” says Pol Roger Marketing Director, Paul Graham. “The execution and planning that went into the day ensured it was the success it always could have been. The assembled press and the style in which the day proceeded only confirmed our belief that we were right to be involved,” he adds.
So, what’s new at Pol Roger? Winston Churchill’s favourite champagne house has recently released the Pol Roger 2012 Brut Vintage – a wonderful vintage full of structure and poise. The house is, of course, most famous for producing vintages like 1874 (the wine which gained Pol Roger its first Royal Warrant in 1877, supplying Queen Victoria), 1928 (Sir Winston Churchill’s favourite vintage) and more recently 2008.
Sponsor – Hildon
“It was very well organised, and in a great setting, with even the weather showing up,” said Alex Wall of Hildon, who provided the day with a much-needed supply of mineral water.
“It was a great location, perfect for the press day and what all of those attending were trying to convey, with excellent staff, who could not do enough throughout the day. The reception afterwards on the terrace, with the weather, was superb!”
“It was great to see everybody enjoying Hildon throughout the day, as it was definitely needed with the weather we had.”
There is lots going on at Hildon this summer, with the company supporting QEST (the Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust, the charitable arm of the Royal Warrant Holders' Association), Maggie’s Children’s Charity and various harbour cleaning initiatives; new sustainability projects are also in the pipeline.
Sponsor - Barnard & Westwood
This heritage London printing house (founded in 1921), produced the invitations for this great event and also collaborated with Ettinger on the limited-edition Rory Dobner-illustrated notebooks produced for Ettinger’s 85th birthday and launched at the press day.
Not many people see inside a printing house, so the Barnard & Westwood team brought along finished samples, as well as foil blocks and other tools used in the printing process.
“All the rest of our kit in the workshop is cast iron 1920s stuff which weighs two tons!” explains Director Alasdair Abrines. “This blocking machine’s a bit more portable, so we’re foil blocking and personalising little notebooks for the press here today,” he added.
This Kings-Cross-based printer and bookbinder (who was recently commissioned to print the invitations for Prince Harry’s wedding to Meghan Markle, works with a wide array of traditional institutions, such as Westminster Abbey and various livery companies. “And then we’ve got the more modern side with men’s fashion, where we are pushing the boundaries of what’s possible and that's keeping us on our toes a bit,” he explains.
So, there you have it – a run-down of what’s new in British men’s style. For more information on this, and future events, please contact Ettinger’s Head of PR, Zanny Gilchrist.
Ettinger CEO, Robert Ettinger was joined at the inaugural British Men’s Style Multi-Brand Press Day by 11 of the other 12 brands’ CEOs, founders and directors including: Edward Bodenham, Owner of Floris; Hilary Freeman, Managing Director of Edward Green; Toby Cox, Founder of MULO; Jenny Urquhart, Deputy Chairman and family member of Johnstons of Elgin; Allen Zloof, Creative Director of Tom Smarte; Simon Jobson, Digital & Marketing Director of Aquascutum; Alison Moore, Managing Director of D. R. Harris; Claire Kent and Bill Byrne, Co-Founders at Iffley Road; Gary Seaward and Mark Stearn, Co-Founders of Seaward &Stearn; Emma Willis MBE, Founder of Emma Willis; and Jonathan and William Church, joint Managing Directors of Cheaney Shoes.