Blog

  1. On the Cutting Table: the Shooting Gilet

    With the Glorious Twelfth fast approaching, our bespoke commissions of late have mainly been aimed at the shooting season ahead. Reflecting the mood of our shop, where the joyous colours of linen and cotton summer tailoring are being slowly replaced by earthy, sombre tones of autumn attire, so too have the shelves of the cutting room become laden with tweeds, moleskins, and corduroy.

    There is, however, one cloth which stands out as one which we have never seen in the shop before. Although there are certainly favourites amongst our customers (fuelled, not least, by the fact that commissions in progress hang temptingly behind the cutting table causing some clients to ask for the same cloth), it is rare to find a material with which we have never worked.

    The gilet pictured above does not particularly stand out as far as the cutting and styling are concerned. When finished, it will have the same attributes as our classic ready-to-wear gilets: a five-button closure, Nehru collar, three ample welt pockets for cartridges, and a full lining.

    Our client sourced the cloth for his commission himself from a small mill in Burma. It’s made from the Lotus flower which is dried and spun into cloth. The cloth is made on a hand-operated loom which produces a more narrow bolt than we are used to using, so the cutting has had to be cleverly done in order to match up to the pattern desired.

    This is a good lesson in bespoke tailoring. If one wishes to make a statement with the styling of a garment, choose a plain cloth. In other words, let the details that only a bespoke garment can have speak for themselves. However, if one wishes to have a bold cloth, keep the details simple. This cloth will certainly draw the eye—we only advise that when in the field, keep the grouse in one’s sights, not the sartoria gloriosum!

    To book your own bespoke appointment with our in-house, third generation master tailor, please email [email protected] or telephone +44 (0)20 7259 9494.

  2. 5 Things to do in August

    Bristol International Balloon Fiesta

    1. Picturing Forgotten London, London Metropolitan Archives, 1 August – 31 Oct:

    Check out long-gone landmarks, vanished streets and neighbourhoods that are no more at the London Metropolitan Archives' exhibition 'Picturing Forgotten London'. Through drawings, photographs, engravings, maps, films and contemporary recollections, discover pieces of London that have been lost over the years, from 'The Devil’s Acre', which used to lie next to the Palace of Westminster, Columbia Market in Bethnal Green, London’s first Chinatown in Limehouse, the Great Wheel in Earl’s Court and Wyld’s Monster Globe in Leicester Square.This is the story of London’s forgotten buildings.

    2. London Craft Beer Festival, Tobacco Dock Wapping, 3-5 August:

    If you can name us a trio of habits more commonplace in the capital than drinking craft beer, eating street food and getting stuck in an east London backstreet after missing the last train, you win a bottle of beard oil. The London Craft Beer Festival is moving into a bigger, badder venue at Tobacco Dock so you’ll have more breathing space in between the 65 breweries you’ll be jostling for.

    3. Film4 Summer Screen at Somerset House, London, England, throughout August—See link below for times:

    Every summer, the beautiful Fountain Court at Somerset House hosts a most impressive open-air cinema: Film4 Summer Screen. The series features a range of films, all showing on a state-of-the-art screen with full surround sound.

    4. European Championships 2018, Glasgow, Scotland, 2-12 August 2018:

    Glasgow 2018 is part of a brand new multi-sport event combining the existing European Championships for aquatics, cycling, gymnastics, rowing and triathlon - plus a brand-new Golf Team Championships. During 11 days of exhilarating sporting action, 3,000 of the best athletes on the continent will compete. At the same time, Berlin will host the European Athletics Championships.

    5. Bristol International Balloon Fiesta, Bristol, south-west England, 9-12 August 2018:

    Europe's largest hot air balloon event sees more than 150 hot air balloons take to the skies at dusk and dawn from Ashton Court Estate's beautiful grounds. The free event is an incredible spectacle and attracts hundreds of thousands of people each year. Visitors can also enjoy helicopter and balloon rides and family entertainment, including acoustic music and fairground rides.

  3. Oliver Brown Style Files: Richard Fuller

    1. What’s your first fashion memory? 

    I remember getting a pair of ‘soul jeans’ when I was younger with a red stripe and matching red belt. It was probably the first instance where I knew that dressing well can make you feel great and definitely piqued my interest in the fashion industry.

    2. What is the most stylish item you own?

    An action-back tweed jacket with bellows pockets and a half belt. Now that we’re nearing the shooting season, I look forward to putting this back into circulation!

    3. What is your most valuable item?

    My ‘millionaire’s’ cashmere sports jacket in a gun club check from Kilgour.

    4. What is the one look you wish you could pull off?

    A double-breasted suit in the style of the Prince of Wales. It’s a wonderfully classic look.

    5. What is one item that nobody should wear?

    Aubergine-coloured shoes with a square toe… there was a trend for these some years ago, and I don’t think they have any place in a gentleman’s wardrobe.

    6. What is your view on accessories?

    What Cary Grant said: ‘simplicity, to me, has always been the essence of good taste’. In other words, a few, good accessories can add to a look rather than take charge of it.

    7. Who would you say is the most stylish man ever to have lived?

    Incidentally, Cary Grant. He knew how to wear a suit and make it look effortlessly good.

    8. What is the one item you can’t live without?

    A plain navy tie. It goes with everything.

    9. What do you like best about your job?

    The people I encounter and work with. Working in fashion is all about developing relationships with clients.

    10. How do you feel about the industry today?

    We’re at a challenging moment in the fashion industry. Especially with online retail, its changed a lot since I began years ago. The foundations of what we do remain the same: you can never replace working with a bespoke client in person. However, we also have to embrace multiple retail platforms in order to move forward.

    11. If you weren’t in the fashion industry, what would you be doing?

    I’d love to run a hi-fi business. It’s a great passion of mine.

  4. 5 Things to do in July

    AELTC/Ben Solomon


    1. Henley Royal Regatta – For five days from 1 July:

    For a quintessential British summer event, don't miss the 175th anniversary of the Henley Royal Regatta – a rowing event steeped in tradition. See teams from across the world compete in over 200 exhilarating races on this picture-perfect stretch of the river. Bring a picnic blanket and choose a perfect spot, within the Stewards’ Enclosure if you’re lucky, to sip some pop of your choice.

    2. Wimbledon – 2-15 July:

    ‘Wimbly’ always has and always will embody and evoke the English summertime. The oldest tennis championship in the world combines the joys of lawn tennis on a grand scale with the languid delights of Pimms and (fingers crossed) long, sunny days. Ticketless? Into the queue with you. It's currently sold out, but camp in The Queue for the show courts, or by day for ground admission.

    3. BBC Proms – First Night of the Proms, 13 July-September:

    An all-British concert launches the 2018 season. Vaughan Williams atmospheric Whitman settings and Holst’s ever-popular 1918 suite The Planets sit alongside a new collaboration by Anna Meredith and 59 Productions. Tickets begin at a modest £14 but are likely to sell-out quickly, so buy now!

    4. Explore the Green Spaces of Town – All summer long:

    London may be a big city but there are plenty of green, open spaces where you can see an abundance of wildlife or enjoy a range of sporting activities.

    You can spot birds and otters at the London Wetland Centre or visit a London City Farm; go cycling, walking or horse riding through Epping Forest; or the perfect way to beat the heat: an afternoon swimming in the natural ponds located at Hampstead Heath!

    5. Glorious Goodwood – 31 July-4 August:

    Hats and binoculars at the ready! Sitting somewhere between Royal Ascot and the Derby in terms of the formality, the Earl of March's summer race meeting is in an estate in a gorgeous setting on the Downs. Ladies' Day is on Thursday, July 29, and don't miss The Stewards' Cup – a 28-horse cavalry charge – on the last day; jolly good horsey fun.

  5. What to Wear: Henley Royal Regatta

    G. K. Chesterton once said that while Royal Ascot is ‘Britain at its triumphant best’, Henley Royal Regatta is ‘Britain at its leisurely rest’: a time when the country joins together ‘in one great garden party’.

    True, the dress code is more relaxed than Ascot. Straw panama hats replace silk toppers, and colourful boating blazers replace black or grey morning coats, but the sporting endeavour is just as great and every bit as exciting. Top squads of rowers will descend upon a sleepy stretch of the River Thames in just over a week’s time to pull-pull together towards victory.

    As always, Oliver Brown is ready to dress gentleman for every eventuality in the social calendar. In the Steward’s Enclosure, gentlemen are required to wear a lounge suit, or a jacket or blazer with flannels and a tie or cravat. Many people will be wearing jackets emblazoned with their college or school boat club colours, ranging from sober crests and piping around jacket edges to outlandish displays of striped cloth.

    From our spring/summer 2018 collection, we recommend wearing our un-lined mesh blazer, white linen trousers, and folding panama hat (all pictured above). To complete the ensemble, these items pair well with brown loafers, cheerfully coloured socks, a polo belt or braces, and a white shirt. One’s tie or cravat, if not bearing the colours of one’s boat club, should be bright and summery, perhaps, as we would suggest, with a stripe. Alternately, any of our linen suits would be equally as appropriate.

    For the revellers attending, we wish for jolly boating weather and for the British men’s and women’s crews, sweeping wins on the river!

     

  6. Royal Ascot 2018: Highlights

    This year’s Royal Ascot was one of exhilarating surprises and triumphs. We at Oliver Brown were proud to outfit many of the attendees of the Royal Enclosure in what was a whirlwind of a week for the shop. Opening hours were extended from 8.00am to 8.00pm in order to facilitate the needs of countless race-goers, and everything from footwear to silk top hats were galloping off the shelves to produce the finest sartorial show of Britain’s social and sporting calendar.

    Records were broken in racing and fashion. The weather was stunning. The eighteen Group races over the course of the week, eight of them Group One, have made household names of Royal Ascot winners like Black Caviar, Frankel and Yeats. Each year the meeting is broadcast to audiences around the globe, yet to experience it in person is something altogether more special.

    Our tips at OB were a great success as well. Customers, and staff alike, studied the hand-written boards behind the till for the chance to extend their fortunes, and after dashing off to the betting shop, the days were punctuated with brief, pregnant pauses while eyes were glued to the televisions which were tuned in to each day's proceedings.

    A very brief rec-cap of the week is set out below:

    TUESDAY

    Accidental Agent, with odds at 33-1, opened the races by winning the Queen Anne Stakes. From there, the excitement continued (and in four races on Opening Day, our tips predicted the winners!).

    Crowds were delighted to see The Duke and Duchess of Sussex as a part of the Royal Procession in one of their first public appearances. The Royal couple are pictured here presenting a trophy to Frankie Dettori following his big win.

    WEDNESDAY

    As the gates opened for the second day of Ascot, guests were welcomed with the beautiful harmonies of the ‘Tootsie Rollers’, and Sir Mo Farah was seen again wearing Oliver Brown.

    The day saw huge wins for Aiden O’Brien and Signora Cabello came in at 25-1 in the Queen Mary Stakes.

    THURSDAY

    Ladies Day takes place on the Thursday of the annual event each year, coinciding with The Gold Cup, Ascot's longest surviving race. The term ‘Ladies Day’ was coined in 1923, by an anonymous poet who described the day as ‘Ladies’ Day... when the women, like angels, look sweetly divine’. Thousands of impressively-dressed people turned out to the races showcasing, as always, some of the finest millinery and tailoring in the world.

    In racing we saw an epic Gold Cup, a thrilling finish to the Norfolk, and some standout Aiden O’Brien performers.

    FRIDAY

    Friday was a day of more surprises and upheavals. Alpha Centauri smashed the track record, Godolphin won again, which overall caused some bad results for the bookies.

    SATURDAY

    The final day of the races was no less exciting than the rest. Arthur Kitt won the opening race, and Bacchus at 33-1 stole the day with an unexpected victory. Soldier's Call provided fledgling trainer Archie Watson with his first winner at Royal Ascot with victory in the Windsor Castle Stakes.

    Now that Royal Ascot is over and we have a moment to draw breath, we should like to thank all of our patrons for their continued support. June is the busiest month of the year at Oliver Brown. People from all over the world visited our corner of Chelsea last week and were united in a common love of racing and exceptionally fine morning wear, and what a pleasure it was.

  7. On the Cutting Table

    A great deal of our time over the past few months has been dedicated to morning dress. Customers in their hundreds (if not thousands) have descended upon our little sartorial outpost in Chelsea to dress themselves for Royal Ascot. Evident from the fact that the first of these focus on Bespoke posts in March was about morning dress, our bespoke clients too have been commissioning many morning wear pieces.

    With Ascot now here, our finishers are busy with the fine details of their work: sewing button-holes, hand-stitching lapels, and ensuring every part of the garment is crafted perfectly.One of the more interesting items to come across the cutting table in preparation for Ascot is the waistcoat pictured above.

    The official Ascot dress code states that, in addition to morning dress, overseas visitors may wear traditional national dress, and those serving in the military may wear dress uniforms.

    A tartan waistcoat is a superb blending of Scottish national dress and morning dress, bringing a Caledonian flair to traditional, formal day wear. This one is traditionally cut with a wide wrap and sweeping peak lapels.

    What better way to showcase one’s individual taste than to commission a waistcoat that will stand out in a sea of buffs, greys, blues, and yellows? And what better way to showcase Oliver Brown’s bespoke style than to create a piece that is at once bold, traditional and elegant?

  8. Oliver Brown Style Files: Kristian Ferner Robson

    With Ascot upon us, it is fitting that this month’s style files turn to Oliver Brown’s proprietor, Kristian Robson, to find out more about the personality behind the brand’s style and success.

    1. What is your first fashion memory?
    I remember working in my family’s clothing store at a young age and being strongly influenced by how my uncle worked with customers.

    2. What is the most stylish item you own?
    An Oliver Brown bespoke suit made by our head-tailor Juan Carlos. Perhaps I’m a bit biased, but I think our bespoke clothing is the most stylish available today.

    3. And your most valuable item?
    My father’s silk top hat. Besides the fact that it’s a very fine hat, the sentimental value is enormous.

    4. What is the one look you wish you could pull off?
    A seersucker suit. I wear linen quite a lot in the summer, but I’ve never tried seersucker. Maybe an idea for our summer ’19 collection.

    5. What is the one item that nobody should wear?
    Poorly fitting morning dress. I always, for instance, advise people to wear braces to avoid a gap between trousers and waistcoat. It’s a different style of dress than what we wear day-to-day now, and you have to wear your trousers a bit higher to avoid a gap that shows your shirt.

    6. What are your thoughts on accessories?
    Very important for finishing an outfit. A tie, pocket square, or cufflinks can all be ways to show individual style.

    7. Who would you say is the most stylish man to ever have lived?
    My uncle Christian Robson (not to be confused with me!). He always looked effortlessly stylish.

    8. What is the one item you can’t live without?
    A watch—I don’t particularly collect them, but I’d be lost without one.

    9. What do you like best about your job?
    I never grow tired of selling and working with customers. It’s the most crucial, and for me enjoyable, part of the trade.

    10. How do you feel about the industry?
    It's an exciting time to be a part of the bespoke world.

    11. If you weren’t in a fashion industry, what would you be doing?
    If I weren’t in fashion, I would want to be involved in some aspect of horse racing. I’ve always enjoyed every aspect of the sport.

  9. Focus On: Lightweight Morning Coat with Shawl Collar and Gauntlet Cuff

    Not so many years ago, almost all men wore a jacket (and indeed a hat, but that is a matter for a different blog post) on a daily basis. Clothing, then as now, existed for practical purposes—the staving off of cold, protection against the perils of one’s work, etc.—and as a symbol of wealth or status as with regards to military uniforms or ceremonial attire.

    Many of the details of tailoring today evolved from this spectrum of form versus function. For instance, an apocryphal origin tale for buttons on jacket sleeves is that Lord Nelson had them added in order to keep his midshipmen from wiping their noses on their sleeves. Sleeves could thus be rolled up in order to keep uniforms looking pristine. Decorative cuff buttons became similar to the pips of military rank—indeed uniforms during World War One showed an officers rank on the sleeves—and continue to be used by regiments and clubs to distinguish membership. Whatever the origins, ‘working cuffs’ began very much for that their name suggests as a way to roll up one’s sleeves, literally, without having to remove one’s jacket.

    A cuffed sleeve is a slightly different feature. It has an extra length of fabric folded back over the arm. This was popular in the Edwardian era, as a feature of formalwear (most notable on frock coats as pictured above), but is now rarely seen, which makes it an especially unique way to add a touch of the unordinary to one’s clothing.

    Shawl collars differ from peak or notch lapels by having an uninterrupted, rounded line from down the shape of the lapel. This type of collar was first incorporated on smoking jackets that evolved from the 17th century robe de chambre, or dressing gown. As goods from the Far East began to flow into Europe via the great seventeenth-century trade route known as the Silk Road, spices, tobacco, coffee, and silk became highly-coveted possessions of the wealthy and powerful. Long, silk damasque gowns were worn as an outward sign of one’s status, or as recorded by Samuel Pepy’s in his diary, they were hired to give the illusion of status. By the nineteenth-century, these robes evolved to a short-fitting jacket, worn over evening clothes as a form of protection from falling ash from cigars, earning the name ‘smoking jackets’.

    The illustrious Dennis Price is pictured here from the film Kind Hearts and Coronets wearing a smoking jacket with a wide, quilted shawl collar. Owing to its relation to a dressing gown, this type of collar was initially viewed as less formal than a peak lapel (used on tailcoats and frock coats) or notch lapels (used on sporting jackets and tweeds). However, today this type of collar is equally as popular as its counterparts and is employed on many types of garments.

    Oliver Brown’s coordinating grey morning suit is an attractive alternative to the black morning coat, which can similarly be worn to race meetings, and formal weddings and funerals. Classically cut, the morning coat is crafted from pure wool worsted and finished with four button working cuffs. Designed with the customary addition of a secret tailcoat pocket, and available in short, regular and long fittings. Originally made for notable customer Mr Beresford, the shawl collar and gauntlet cuff has been incorporated into the style of the spring and summer 2018 Morningwear collection.

  10. Stable Talk: Behind the Scenes at Herridge and Everleigh Racing Stables

    Horse racing has occurred in Britain since Roman times. While the components of the sport have varied (obstacles, particular breeds, and distances have been added or altered), the main premise remains the same: that of judging the fastest horse and most skilled riders together in competition. In 1750, the formation of The Jockey Club by a group of gentleman who shared a passion for horse racing formalised the now internationally renowned Rules of Racing. The ‘sport of Kings’ is firmly a part of the English sporting and social calendar to this day. Owners, breeders, trainers, jockeys, and the horses themselves achieve, from time-to-time, legendary status, and indeed, all thoroughbred horses today can trace their foundation back to English sires of the 17th/18th centuries.

    Those who do not normally take an interest in horse racing emerge to watch the thunderous displays at Britain’s most addicting events of the sporting calendar: Cheltenham, The Epsom Derby, The Grand National, and of course, Royal Ascot. However, for some small part of the country, horse racing is a daily part of life. The trainers who coach the horse and jockeys toil daily to provide the first-class displays we watch at meets around the world. At Herridge and Everleigh stables, in a quiet part of Wiltshire, Richard Hannon and his team are no exception.

    The Hannons have been based there since 1968, and Richard Hannon is a third-generation trainer with a sterling, and prize-winning, pedigree. With over one hundred and fifty horses to be exercised every morning, dozens of entries to be made, owners to be contacted, jockeys to book, visitors to be entertained, horses to be saddled at the races and around seventy five staff, the training groups operate at a constant gallop.

    With the most prestigious week of horse racing in the world nearly upon us, the stables are as lively as ever. Last year, ‘Barney Roy’ won the St James’s Palace Stakes over ‘Churchill’, gaining satisfaction on a long-standing rivalry and providing one of the largest wins for Hannon’s career.

    This year Hannon’s first chance at victory comes on day one of the Royal Meeting when ‘Oh This is Us’ will be running in the Queen Anne Stakes. With a total of seven wins in 25 runs over the course of two years, this 5-year-old charger is a assured start to this trainer’s entries at this year’s Ascot.

    At Oliver Brown, we will certainly be watching with bated breath to see if ‘Oh This is Us’ is a winner.

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