October 3rd is Buy British Day. Over the years we’ve had the pleasure of going behind the scenes of some great British brands, getting a real insight into what makes them special.
Firstly, many of these companies have been around for hundreds of years, and that in itself is a huge testament to esteem and affection in which they’re held, both in the hearts of their customers, and also the craftsman and custodians who work there.
To us, British made goods conjure up images of the countryside, rolling hills, of something romantic and everlasting. Better, simpler times and greener, natural, longer lasting products. Think of Mulberry in Somerset, John Smedley in Derby, or shoemakers such as Crockett and Jones in Northhampton – each of these brands is situated near to natural resources such as springs and grazing fields which provide the raw materials for their products. Their history, culture and traditions are woven into the very fabric of the country.
And as such, you rarely associate sex, glamour or high style with ’Made in Britain’. On the whole, the ‘Made in Britain‘ brand is one which seeks to reassure with quality, practicality and longevity. British brands have long been practicing a kind of prototype sustainability by offering to repair items for their customers; rewaxing Barbour jackets, resoling shoes, re-collaring shirts – long before ‘sustainability’ became a trendy buzzword.
This kind of luxury frugality is born out of deep affection. Made in Britain clothes and products get better with time, and when time gets the better of them, their owners and makers believe they are worth saving and repairing. They are built to last a lifetime.
And finally, perhaps there’s a sense that ‘Made in Britain’ is inherently trustworthy, that the people who make the products are treated well and that the price you pay for those products is a fair one.
That’s why we at Egelnick and Webb wholeheartedly support Buy British Day October 3rd 2015.
Here’s a small selection of behind the scenes photos of brands and factories we’ve visited.
Anderson and Sheppard
Savile Row’s Anderson and Sheppard is known for its ‘drape cut’, a style of tailoring which is so soft and comfortable to wear, that one of its most famous customers, Fred Astaire, was said to dance around the fitting room, turning and landing in front of the mirror, to check that the collar of the jacket stayed perfectly in place.
Locke and Co
Established in 1676 Locke and Co is the oldest hatmaker in the world. The main shop has been in its current location since 1765. It was here that Nelson, a terribly vain man, with an oft stated fear of dying badly dressed, commissioned the famous cocked hat with specially stitched in eye patch in 1805.
James Smith and Sons
James Smith and Sons was founded in 1830 in Foubert’s Place, off Regent Street, where umbrellas were made in the workshop at the back of the shop. It likes to think of itself as democratic operation, selling umbrellas from £15 to £500, any of which can be taken in for repairs.
In 1893, a 21-year-old Alfred Dunhill inherited his father’s saddlery and leather goods business and quickly transformed it into a designer and maker of motoring accessories. One of the company’s original mottoes was ‘Everything but the car’. He believed that, ‘Compared with quality, price is relatively unimportant.’
Founded in 1894, Barbour, which specialises in waxed canvas jackets, is one of Britain’s best loved clothing companies. The affection in which their jackets are held by their owners can be seen in the factory in South Shields, where countless beloved Barbour jackets are sent to be repaired and re-waxed.