Friday, 21 November 2014

Just Fashion, NOT Style. Is lumbersexual a real thing? Or is it a joke?

Lumbersexual is your Tinder date, sipping craft beer at an underground bar with his sad eyes and permanently unrealised dream of living in an isolated woodland shack.’ Photograph: Stockrocket/Getty Images

Out of the woods, here he comes: the lumbersexual
Though big of beard and clad in plaid, the latest male fashion hero has probably never been near a sawmill. But that doesn’t make him a fake
Holly Baxter

Just when we all thought we’d reached peak beard, a surprising development has happened in the fascinating world of male grooming. Yes, you guessed it (you probably didn’t guess it) – the lumbersexual is here, with his beard, plaid shirt, backpack and artfully scruffy hair barely contained by his sensible woollen hat.

He’s your Tinder date, sipping craft beer at an underground bar with his sad eyes and permanently unrealised dream of living in an isolated woodland shack. He’s your new boyfriend, who used to share a four-cheese pizza with you in bed after a long day, and who now looks like an extra who wandered out of the forest in Game of Thrones. Hell, he could even be the groom on your hipster wedding day.

We may have only just been given a great new portmanteau term for the type, but the lumbersexual has been here for a while. I know more than one urban-dwelling man who has suddenly acquired some sort of rurally themed weaponry in the last six months (axes, bows and arrows, tiny knives that they use to open beer cans at parties). And I’ve noticed that if you walk around certain areas for long enough, the proliferation of plaid (on plaid on plaid) will eventually make you feel as though you are living your life inside an optical illusion.

But the question on everybody’s lips, as with most new trends, is: guys, is this OK? Is it fine for my friend to adorn his walls with old bear traps he bought on eBay when he had to give up carving the Christmas turkey last year because it “looked too real”? Is there a problem with wrapping yourself up in a heavy duty woodsman’s jacket for your minimally hazardous commute from Peckham to the Apple store Genius Bar?

Is there something fundamentally wrong with calling yourself rugged when you actually spent 20 minutes of your morning delicately trimming your beard in the bathroom mirror? Or should we cut these guys some slack (preferably using a vintage hatchet from Colorado?)

Although I personally have spent too many dates fearing that the froth from the latest craft beer will get stuck in my lumbersexual admirer’s facial hair and make it look like a sponge, I find myself cautiously defensive of the trend. Posers they may be, but surely lumbersexuals don’t seriously think we believe that their pulled pork sandwiches are made from wild boar they slew in the communal garden behind their high-rise apartments. Instead, this so-called reaction to the unashamedly feminine metrosexual seems to me all about playing with gender stereotypes.

I like the poseur who sits beside me at a nauseatingly hip cafe with his cold brew, Barbour jacket and anchor tattoos – I can’t deny it. He isn’t telling me he’s anything but a freelance web designer who can grow an impressively bushy moustache. He isn’t sitting at home, crying over his laptop and wondering why he can’t just get out there and be a “real man”. Instead, he’s playing with the concept of what masculinity looks like and does. He is at the same time both aggressively attached to the traditionally masculine look and completely removed from the lifestyle that it advertises.

Men are given a harder time than women when they play with gender through style, since fashion still isn’t seen as their rightful domain. The metrosexual threw caution to the wind and started carrying his moisturiser round in his manbag; the lumbersexual now serves us up a hypermasculine aesthetic with an unashamedly ironic grin.

Did the lumbersexual, as accused, steal his look from the gay world of “bears” and “cubs”? It seems likely. As Tim Teeman at the Daily Beast says, “First, straights came for the smooth, pretty gay look … and now you have come for our hairier brethren.” Those who questioned straight culture in the first place were always better at laughing at gender, after all. Now that we can all share in the joy of metros, lumbersexuals and the “metrojacks”(who fall in the middle – yes, really), I am all too happy to laugh along.

Lumbersexual adorns his wall with bear traps despite being unable to carve a turkey because it looks ‘too real’. Photograph: Sunny Miller/Corbis

"Is there a problem with wrapping yourself up in a heavy duty woodsman’s jacket for your minimally hazardous commute from Peckham to the Apple store Genius Bar?
Is lumbersexual a real thing? Or is it a joke?

Rise Of The Lumbersexual | Wranglerstar

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

the Return of The Collar Pin.

A collar pin (closely related to the collar bar and collar clip) is a piece of men's jewelry, which holds the two ends of a dress shirt collar together and passes underneath the knot of a necktie. Functioning in a similar way as a tabbed collar, it keeps the collar in place and lifts the knot to provide a more aesthetically pleasing arc to the necktie.

 A collar pin is between three and five centimeters in length and is one of three kinds:

 a collar bar or barbell whose ends screw off and is designed to pass through specially made eyelets in each side of the collar

a pin, similar to a safety pin, that pierces each side of the collar (or passes through the existing eyelet)

a bar with clips on both ends that grasp each side of the collar

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Savile Row tailor fears overseas threat to rich tapestry of tradition. Dege & Skinner / Savile Row.

Peter Ward, production director at Dege & Skinner, Saville Row, making a suit. Photograph: Graham Turner for the Guardian
Savile Row tailor fears overseas threat to rich tapestry of tradition

Shirtmaker believes buyouts detract from street’s fashion cachet, with only two family-owned tailoring houses left on Savile Row
Karl West

Robert Whittaker traces his razor sharp knife around a paper template to cut a perfect shoulder panel for a cotton shirt.

Whittaker, 61, is one of a dying breed – skilled craftsmen who precisely measure and cut shirts for the rich, the famous and royalty.

He has been cutting shirts since 1968, leaving school at 15 to learn his trade on Jermyn Street in Mayfair, central London. He has worked at Dege & Skinner, the Savile Row tailoring house, since 1992 making shirts costing from £234-£450 each – and there is a minimum order of four.

Dege & Skinner is one of only two family-owned tailoring houses (along with Henry Poole & Co) left on Savile Row, which has been at the heart of London’s bespoke tailoring business for more than a century. Next year marks Dege & Skinner’s 150th anniversary.

This “golden mile of tailoring” has produced suits for Prince Charles, Winston Churchill, Muhammad Ali, Duke Ellington, Lord Nelson and Napoleon III.

“We are the only firm in Savile Row now doing bespoke shirt making. And I don’t think there are any left on Jermyn Street,” Whittaker mourns.

Like much of Britain’s once vibrant tailoring and textiles industries, most of these traditional skills have been lost as factories in China, Turkey and other cheap labour markets grabbed the work.

“It’s a bit of a dying art. But there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be kept going,” says Whittaker, who is passing on his knowledge and experience to apprentice Tom Bradbury, 20.

William Skinner is the third successive generation of his family to become managing director of the tailoring house and is committed to safeguarding the Savile Row traditions and keeping the business in the family.

It has three royal warrants – from the Queen, the sultan of Oman, and the king of Bahrain. About 25% of its business comes from military tailoring and it makes all the uniforms for princes William and Harry.

A browse through a rail of half made suits dotted with tailor’s chalk marks reveals a long grey coat with a poppy still in the button hole. A brown tag hangs from the lapel with the name Prince William scrawled on it. “Oh yes, that was the coat he wore on Sunday [for the remembrance service],” says Skinner casually.

He says the everyday customer is the core of the business, but these royal appointments are important “cream”.

Michael Skinner, William’s father and the company chairman, was at the Queen’s coronation in 1953 when he, his father and John Dege dressed the peers of the realm for the occasion.

There is concern that the overseas buyout of Savile Row firms, neighbours of Dege & Skinner, may have an impact on quality. Photograph: Graham Turner/the Guardian

But much has changed since. In the last 10 years several venerable Savile Row brands have fallen on hard times and been hoovered up by overseas investors.

Hong Kong’s Fung family, headed by billionaire patriarch William Fung, now owns four of the street’s best known names: Gieves & Hawkes; Hardy Amies, formerly the Queen’s official dressmaker; Kent & Curwen; and Kilgour.

Skinner is concerned that buyouts like these may affect quality. He is also worried about the use of the Savile Row brand for the sale of clothing that is not true bespoke.

“The fact that some firms up and down Savile Row are being bought is good to preserve the name,” he says. “But when that happens, sometimes the traditional values of tailoring can be diminished.”

Are some of these firms now making clothing in China? “I don’t know but I would guess that they are. Hardy Amies doesn’t do tailoring now and has no ladieswear [which is what it was famous for].”

Hardy Amies, which designed the dress for the Queen’s silver jubilee portrait, is now just a brand name to sell clothing to places like China, where the public have an insatiable appetite for British heritage products.

“Savile Row is world renowned for making clothes,” Skinner says. “So if someone can attach the Savile Row brand to a suit and knock it out around the world – it’s prestige, it adds a cachet.”

The Savile Row Bespoke Association was set up in 2004 to protect and promote the practices and traditions of the street. It has trademarked the name Savile Row Bespoke and takes legal action against those that infringe the brand.

“We could outsource tailoring to China, but then we wouldn’t be a Savile Row tailor,” Skinner says. “I believe in doing what we say we do.”

The Dege & Skinner boss is also concerned that the Fung takeover may encourage landlords to raise rents on the Mayfair street. “A bigger conglomerate, with deeper pockets, can afford to pay higher rents – so any rent rise would hurt them less than it hurts us,” he says.

The firm signed a 15-year lease on its base at 10 Savile Row in 2011 and has a rent review in June 2016. There is always a battle between tenants, the council and landlords about how to categorise Savile Row – is it a retail street, or not?

Skinner has no doubts: “Savile Row is not an A1 retail street (which command higher rents), like Bond Street or Regent Street. It’s a destination street. We are maintaining the rich culture and tapestry of this city.

“It could be quite easy for me to say ‘I’m fed up of paying rent here’ and move a mile away or wherever, but it wouldn’t be the same.”

Dege & Skinner is certainly preparing for the future. A tour behind the scenes at 10 Savile Row reveals a warren of rooms, stairs and corridors

Skinner proudly points out the young people – the next generation of Savile Row tailors – who are busily measuring, stitching and cutting. Some are already fully qualified tailors and cutters; others are apprentices who are learning their craft under the tutelage of more experienced practitioners.

“That highlights our belief in the future of the bespoke tailoring business. We have invested in the future of the trade, because we are confident about the future of the trade. We have a good business model; we make money and we reinvest it in the company. We are not a museum piece by any means.”

Preserving traditional skills is one thing. The bigger problem for the artisans of Savile Row is its brash, young neighbours on Bond Street, home to London’s designer brand elite.

A suit from Dege & Skinner starts at £3,800 and could take 10 weeks to make; a buyer could be in and out of Prada or Armani within 10 minutes with a suit that cost half that.

“Some people feel very at home with that and Bond Street has been very successful,” Skinner admits. “But if you have something made for you – that’s the ultimate luxury.

“A lot of people don’t want to go into a high street shop, they want the relationship and the service that we give. As long as we can maintain that, there’s every chance of surviving.”

The sharp-suited tailor recalls learning about well-known places in London when he was at school. The teacher asked the class which trade or profession was linked with areas such as Harley Street, Fleet Street, Hatton Garden.

“When the teacher said Savile Row, my hand shot up,” he smiles. “I felt immensely proud of that and I want to maintain that. We’ll do our damnedest to keep it going

Established in 1865, Dege & Skinner is one of only two family-run bespoke tailoring houses to remain in Savile Row and the only one to cut bespoke shirts on the premises.

In 2015, we celebrate our 150th anniversary as a bespoke tailor so would like to invite customers to contact us with any stories, recollections or anecdotes about the company. If there is something you would like to share, please contact Cass Stainton on +44 (0)207 287 2941 or

A new chapter of our company’s history started in 2012, as we moved our workshops into the basement underneath the shop at Number 10 and extended our Lease by 15 years.

Renowned experts in military uniforms, civilian and sports clothing, all ‘Made in England‘, the Skinner family has been dressing royalty, businessmen, professionals, the military and discerning individuals for almost a century and a half.

Current Chairman Michael Skinner was at The Queen’s Coronation at Westminster Abbey in 1953, when he, his father and John Dege dressed the Peers of the Realm for the Royal occasion.

"Robert Whittaker traces his razor sharp knife around a paper template to cut a perfect shoulder panel for a cotton shirt."

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Sherlock Holmes in London: 'The man who never lived and will never die'

The world-wide fascination in Sherlock Holmes' tweed cape
By Steven McKenzie
BBC Scotland Highlands and Islands reporter /

The organisers of a Scottish fashion event have announced plans to reinvigorate interest in the Inverness cape, a sleeveless tweed overcoat made famous by Sherlock Holmes.

Highlands Fashion Week will officially launch its Bring Back The Cape (BBTC) project on its website on 4 December.

Describing it as an "exclusive" and "secret" project, the organisers have said that they hope to revamp the clothing that is usually worn with a kilt and "make it current".

For hundreds of people across the world, the cape as worn by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's famous fictional sleuth, continues to have great appeal.
How the popular image of Sherlock Holmes' look came about is a curious case.

The illustrated monthly magazine, The Strand, printed many of Conan Doyle's mysteries in the 1890s, with the author's words accompanied by engravings by talented Finchley-based artist Sidney Paget.

According to The Sherlock Holmes Society of London, it was Paget who gave the detective his "now iconic image" - the "hawk-like features, deerstalker cap and Inverness cape".

Paget produced 201 Sherlock Holmes's illustrations between 1891 and 1893 and a further 155 between 1901 and 1904.

But Paget had been sent the commission for the artwork by mistake.

Pinacotheca Holmesiana, a website dedicated to Sherlock stories and illustrations, said the job was meant for his younger brother Walter.

Walter still managed to put his stamp on the sleuth. He modelled for his brother's illustrations for the magazine.

Decades later, in television adaptations of the stories, the cape and cap continued to be a key part of Sherlock's wardrobe.

More recent TV portrayals, such as BBC's Sherlock and CBS series Elementary, have since restyled the detective.

In Sherlock, Benedict Cumberbatch's character wears a Belstaff Milford Coat - a heavy, wool tweed overcoat first made in the 1920s and inspired by the late 19th Century great coat.

Yet the image of Holmes in an Inverness cape of more than 120 years ago endures.
Mister Antony (Inverness Cape Specialists) in Newton Mearns, near Glasgow, makes Inverness raincapes in various waterproof fabrics for pipe bands all over the world.

About 90% of the business's work is concerned with manufacturing this garment for pipers and drummers.

In 2003, the firm developed a new waterproof cape called the Bandspec Raincape. The company worked with Robert Mathieson, at the time pipe major with Shotts and Dykehead Caledonia Pipe Band, on the new design.

Sherlock outfit
The Museum of London has a new exhibition on Sherlock Holmes
Mister Antony is also one of the few business that makes and supplies traditional wool and Harris Tweed Inverness capes to "professional, discerning" customers.

The patterns on offer include stony blue fleck, grey herringbone and brown and tan houndstooth.

Antony Mistofsky, who has run the firm for 32 years and whose family has been making waterproof clothing for more than 100 years, said the custom-made items represented "a specialised, niche market".

He said: "It would be fair to say that they are not a big selling item.

"We sell hundreds and not thousands of them. They can cost upwards from £600 depending on what the customer wants."

Mr Mistofsky added: "We export them all over the world. Sixty to 70% of the woollen capes are exported, mainly to the USA.

"The customers who want these items are mainly professional individuals - lawyers and doctors, a High Court judge - and they buy either to wear with a kilt or as an alternative to a heavy overcoat."

'Global icon'
A few of those buying the woollen capes also have a keen interest in Sherlock Holmes, he said.

Other Inverness Cape enthusiasts include fans of steampunk, a genre that mixes Victorian-style clothing with science-fiction technology and draws inspiration from writers such as HG Wells. Various online retailers offer the capes in colours suited to steampunk aficionados.

Highlands Fashion Week's BBTC project, meanwhile, is timely.

Last month, Museum of London opened the exhibition Sherlock Holmes: The Man Who Never Lived and Will Never Die.

It features displays of Conan Doyle manuscripts, copies of The Strand and some of the 27 surviving original drawings Paget did for the magazine stories.

The museum also commissioned a new tweed of a design and colour inspired by the trademark deerstalker and cape.

Alex Werner, head of history collections at the museum, said: "Sherlock Holmes is a global icon indelibly linked with London, so it is fitting that we are able to host this major celebration of Conan Doyle's creation at the Museum of London.

"This exhibition is really about gaining a deeper appreciation of the stories and it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see such a diverse collection of Sherlock Holmes artefacts and material under one roof."

The museum exhibition runs until April next year, while Highlands Fashion Week takes place in Inverness next month.

Sherlock Holmes in London: 'The man who never lived and will never die'
A new Sherlock Holmes exhibition at the Museum of London looks at the life and times of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's eccentric creation

Sherrinford Holmes, consulting detective, and Ormond Sacker, medical doctor, sharing lodgings at No 221b Upper Baker Street. There they were in black and white, brought to life in a masculine hand on a sheet of paper now on display in the Museum of London.
'That’s the Holy of Holies for Sherlockians,’ murmured Alex Werner, the Head of History Collections at the museum, 'the first notes for A Study in Scarlet.’
Sherrinford and Ormond! What a lucky escape that was, chaps. But escape they did, only to reappear – now named Sherlock Holmes and John Watson and living in plain old Baker Street – in the pages of Beeton’s Christmas Annual 1887. They have gone on to enjoy stellar careers on the page, on the stage, in film and in television, right up to Benedict Cumberbatch’s Belstaff coat-wearing cyber-geek of today.
The exhibition Werner has created, Sherlock Holmes: The Man Who Never Lived and Will Never Die, examines the extraordinary longevity of Arthur Conan Doyle’s fictional creation and in particular the vital, filthy, teeming metropolis of Victorian London that spawned him.
He emerged when the London CID was about ten years old and New Scotland Yard was under construction, when forensic science was in its infancy and the concept of a detective, fictional or not, was still a novelty. People were reading as they had never read before. A few months later, Jack the Ripper started his grim work in the East End.
To enter the exhibition you push open bookshelves packed with the sort of tomes the Great Detective would have used for reference – plus one or two of his own works, such as The Tracing of Footsteps – to find banks of screens flickering with his moving image in black-and-white, later in colour.
A soundscape evokes London at the turn of the twentieth century and includes the voice of William Gillette, one of the first actors to play Holmes on stage. It complements a film of jerky omnibuses, their tops thicketed with bowlers, boaters and toppers, of horses, urchins and braziers, of Nestle advertisements and familiar, if smoke-blackened, buildings.
It’s worth going just for the prints and paintings, some released from private collections for the exhibition, revealing London in all its grimy glory. There are wonderful maps, including sections of Charles Booth’s 1889 poverty map showing Baker Street and its environs, which vary from red (well-to-do) to yellow (outright rich), and there’s a portrait of Arthur Conan Doyle in his prime; a vigorous-looking man, burly, with a fine waxed moustache and a challenging gaze.
Then there is stuff, lots of it, arranged to represent five Holmesian attributes: the analytical mind, the forensic scientist, the master of disguise, the Bohemian, and the model Englishman. You can find everything from a phrenology model – skull shape was thought to express character, especially criminal – to a fingerprint set from the Galton Archive, from an Ulster, or caped coat, to the deerstalker hat introduced by the definitive Holmes illustrator, Sydney Paget.
There’s a fiddle ('We decided not to source a Strad,’ said Werner, a little wistfully), a pair of boxing gloves, a syringe for the 7% solution of cocaine used by Holmes in his Bohemian, between-cases moods, stage make-up and a wig used by the actor-manager Henry Irving.
And finally, there is his last bow, the high-drama denouement with… but I don’t want to give the game away. Stride along and see it for yourself. As long as you’ve got a head for heights, that is.

"Sherlock Holmes: The Man Who Never Lived And Will Never Die" runs from October 17 2014 to April 12 2015 at the Museum of London (020 7001 9844; From £10.90 adults, £9 concessions and children aged 12 to 15 and £8.50 for family tickets (with at least one adult and one child). Friends and under 12s go free.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Prince Charles says people's connection with countryside is dying.

Prince Charles says people's connection with countryside is dying
Magazine column by heir calls for people to value ‘landscapes, farmers, villages and pubs’ or risk losing them

Press Association

Prince Charles has warned that the majority of people have “lost any real connection with the land” as he outlined his concerns about the future of the countryside.

The Prince of Wales, writing in a foreword for Country Life magazine to mark his 66th birthday this week, argued that many people were four or more generations removed from those who worked on the land and it showed in their attitudes.

Many only had a “vague understanding” of farming and were increasingly suspicious of it, the heir to the throne said.

Charles maintained that people still treasured the countryside and urged them to value it or risk losing its landscapes, farmers, village pubs and local foods.

“One of the things that strikes me most forcibly is the extent to which the majority of the population has lost any real connection with the land,” he wrote.

“Unlike in most parts of the continent of Europe, many people in the UK are now four or more generations removed from anyone who actually worked on the land – and it frequently shows in their attitudes.

“They have only a vague understanding of what farming is or does; and, as outsiders looking in, they are increasingly suspicious of it. At the same time, they treasure the countryside.

“The rich, natural tapestry that is the countryside we value so highly does not just happen by itself. But that delicately woven tapestry is facing unprecedented challenges.

“Start pulling out the threads and the rest unravels very rapidly indeed, and is very difficult to put back again – no farmers, no beautiful landscapes with hedgerows and stone walls; no thriving rural communities, no villages or village pubs; no local markets, no distinctive local foods. Somehow we need to find a way to put a value on our countryside, with all its facets.”

The Prince guest-edited the weekly magazine last year to mark his 65th birthday. He turns 66 on Friday.

Charles highlighted the importance of farmers, insisting: “I simply cannot see a viable future for the countryside that does not have the farmer – and the family farmer is a vital element in this – as food producer, at the front and centre of the picture.

“It would not only be a folly to lose agricultural land, it would be equally foolish to use it in ways that are not environmentally sustainable in the long term.”

He stressed the benefits to the wider economy of the countryside’s “ecosystem services” – with meadows and other grasslands storing millions of tonnes of carbon, providing homes for pollinating insects, supporting the agricultural economy and areas of beauty attracting visitors to boost local tourism.

Mark Hedges, editor of Country Life, said: “We are delighted that the prince agreed to mark his 66th birthday by writing a powerful leader on the importance of preserving the countryside and its way of life.

“The prince has a deep understanding and connection with every aspect of people working and living in rural Britain, from highlighting the hardship facing hill farmers who, last year, earned on average £8,000 to the 60,000 new entrants needed in the UK farming sector to secure its future, to the importance of preserving village schools, pubs and shops at the heart of country communities.”

The Prince’s Countryside Fund, which was established in 2010, has provided £4.4m in grants to those who care for the countryside.