Something old: a piece of British tailoring history

What’s this about an antique cabinet?

We are proud owners of the below piece of tailoring heritage, in the form of an antique cabinet.  Spotted at an antiques fair in Newark, Lincolnshire, there was no doubt that it would make a fine and appropriate addition to our London workshop, and we were very lucky to find it in such exquisite condition.  However, this wasn’t the first time we had come across the name, and it inspired us to do a little research on the origin of the piece, and the company that commissioned these cabinets and wardrobes, Chas Baker & Co.  This led us on a journey to explore not just the history of the Chas Baker & Co stores, but also to contemplate the evolution of mens fashions during the 17th to 19th Centuries.

heritage-cabinet

We first spotted a wardrobe at the Town Hall Hotel and were struck by the familiar name – Charles Baker & Co, Gentlemens Outfitters.  You may wonder where you have heard the name Charles Baker – well, it is not too dissimilar to Henry Herbert‘s very own founder, Charles Baker-Collingwood. We have often wondered if it was fate, or co-incidence that led us to acquiring this particular piece of furniture.

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Antique Chas Baker & Co Wardrobe at the Town Hall Hotel

Their entry in the 1913 “Whitaker’s Red Book of Commerce or Who’s Who in Business” describes  Chas Baker & Co as specialists in men’s tailoring.  The British Library was a fantastic source and we managed to locate a number of advertisements, as it were, dating from around the 1800s on their online archives.  Colourful illustrated leaflets were used to encourage customers to Chas Baker & Co stores.  The British Library notes that fashions changed significantly from the 17th to 19th centuries, starting with brighter suit colours (greens and reds).  By the mid 19th century this had evolved to the greys, blues, browns and blacks that are perhaps more familiar to us today.  At the same time, new sporting activities such as cycling, fishing and boating were impractical in the starched shirts and highly formal attire of the 18th Century – and so lighter clothing that permitted more movement like soft collared shirts and short jackets, became increasingly popular and were sold at stores like Chas Baker & Co.

We particularly noted the importance of the waistcoat: “Waistcoats were an essential part of a gentleman’s wardrobe in the 19th century. They were worn to the waist, could be worn with or without a collar and single or double breasted. Materials were usually in contrasting colours from the coat and trousers and usually plain however more formal waistcoats were decorated embroidered patterns.”

Chas Baker & Co advertisement from the 1800s

Our little piece of British tailoring history is now firmly installed inside our workshop on Gray’s Inn Road and serves as a daily reminder for us (not to mention a useful, and stylish storage unit).  As the modern gentleman’s outfitters, and bespoke suitmakers, we at Henry Herbert hope uphold the traditions and standards of British tailoring and Savile Row.  I hope you have enjoyed the journey of discovery behind this humble cabinet, and will enjoy its history the next time you are at our workshop.

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New York Bespoke Tailor: New York, New Suits!

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New York, British bespoke tailors are coming your way.  The Henry Herbert tailoring team is visiting you!  From October 10th – 13th 2013, we will be based at our “workshop/fitting rooms” away from home, at the King and Grove, 29, E 29th St, New York, NY 10016, United States.  For these dates, we are swapping our Vespas for the iconic New York cabs (or our trusty feet).

For new suits and old friends, or old suits and new friends / fittings! If you would like to meet our tailors to hear more about how we work and what we do (naturally there is no charge for this!) or to have a coffee, to say hello. To brainstorm bespoke menswear ideas, to feel some fine fabrics, to have a discussion about British tailoring and Savile Row.  No query is too big or too small.  Book an appointment with us in New York.

How does it work?

We meet, we greet.  We bring with us a trunk full of suiting fabrics – British wools of the finest kind, and patterns of all sorts (checks, dogtooth, stripes, windowpane, tweed to name a few).  Our experienced tailoring team is here to advise you on making a suitable (pun not intended!) choice for your bespoke suits (or overcoats, waistcoats, sports jackets, dinner suits) and shirts.  We return to London with your bespoke order details and most importantly, your measurements.  We order your selected fabric and cut the cloth into your specific pattern.  We make the foundations of the suit, ready for a baste fitting.  Then normally 8 weeks later (depending on availability) we return to NYC for your first fitting, a key part of the process.  We come back to our London base, to make any major fit adjustments, rework the suit as needed, and a further  8 weeks later return to NYC for your final fitting. All made with British cloth, and handcrafted in England.

Introducing your Henry Herbert tailor in New York, William Field

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Q: What is your favourite suit style?
A: My favourite style leans towards tailored, slim-fitting suits that at the same time respect the tradition of elegance in British suit making.

Q: What is your favourite accessory?
A: At the moment a nice bold boutonniere as it can add so much to a solid coloured suit, without a particularly striking pattern.

Q: What bespoke trends are you seeing customers ask for this Fall/Winter 2013?
A: We are noticing more ‘broken suits’ made popular by the modern Italians and the original British dandies.  People are increasingly mixing and matching jackets and trousers which is always fun especially if the textures and colours are interesting.  Despite what you might expect, they can go together quite well!  It is not as hard a look to pull off as you might have thought, and it gives you even more options to draw from your bespoke suit wardrobe.

Q: How would you describe your personal style?
A: Hmmmm a tough one! A modern British gent, currently enjoying double breasted suits, who has always been inspired by an array of snappy dressers like the helplessly cool Marcello Mastroianni, or the effortlessly regal Miles Davis or the care free Mick Jagger!

Questions, concerns, comments? Drop us a line, we would love to hear from you!

 

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A touch of luxe: the velvet jacket.

We have been working on a number of men’s velvet jackets, dinner suits, sports jackets and wedding suits in recent weeks.

Velvet is a type of tufted woven fabric, with a particular finish that is remarkably tactile.  It is often noted by wearers, and admirers, as being very inviting to the touch.  Though traditionally made from silk, velvet can also be made from fibers such as linenmohair, and wool

This rich fabric is associated with nobility.  Inspect any painting of Henry VIII, or similar from the 16th Century and there are many shades and textures that represented in those oil paintings that are likely to be velvet.  King Richard II of England directed in his will that his body should be clothed in velveto in 1399.

Today, we see a more modern use of this plush fabric.  Due to the tufted nature of its weave, the fabric traps air and helps the wearer to stay warm.  As such, we often see it requested in time for  the cooler months of autumn and winter, such as this velvet jacket (below), which is at the forward baste fitting stage.  (You can just about see the large white stitching.)  This will typically be followed by a final fitting where any last (usually minor) adjustments are made.

velvet jacket forward baste fitting

 

We are frequently asked to accent a jacket lapel or collar with velvet trim such as in the example below, on the collar of the brown three-piece suit.  Another example is a black velvet collar on grey overcoat, which we think is luxurious accent that will easily differentiate an overcoat and distinguish its wearer.   Black velvet trim or piping on black jackets, tuxedos, dinner jackets and overcoats work well – the contrasting textures of velvet on wool add subtle but interesting detail.

Brownsuit

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Spotted on the streets of London: a velvet-covered Ferrari. An interesting use of what must be many metres of this tactile fabric.

velvet ferrari

 

 

Will you be adding a velvet touch to your jackets and overcoats this autumn?  To discuss these and other options with a member of the Henry Herbert tailoring team, book a consultation at a time that is convenient for you.

 

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Red – not so dead? Introducing the red suit

Dare we say, red is not so dead?  It is just appearing elsewhere in gentlemen’s attire: introducing the red suit!

Red is a strong colour, and one that often has powerful meanings and emotions attached to it.  It symbolises happiness, joy and fortune in Chinese culture. It is often called the colour love.  Of  Christmas.  Of blood.  It certainly is a statement colour, a bold and daring choice for any wearer.

Red came to attention on the carpet (fortunately not also red) at the recent premiere for the movie The Lone Ranger, as modelled by actor Armie Hammer.

armie hammer red suit

 

It was the jacket colour allegedly preferred by the Queen for Prince William’s military uniform on his wedding day in April 2011.  We think she was quite right!

It was also the colour of choice on one of the most striking bespoke pieces that we at Henry Herbert have had the great pleasure of crafting: a red tail coat.  On its own, the tail coat is already a particularly elegant formalwear choice, one that we are always hoping more people will choose.  Coupled with a stand-out colour, a lovely true red, it makes for a remarkable, striking, yet elegant piece.  It is one of the most unusual commissions we have seen in recent times, and it certainly does stand out.

Finito! A Bespoke Tailcoat by Henry Herbert

Finito! A Bespoke Tailcoat by Henry Herbert

Bespoke tails - you can just see the black inside lining

Bespoke tails – you can just see the black inside lining

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What hue would you choose?  Would you dare to wear red?  We always say to give it a try, and enjoy getting creative with colour.  Last but not least, at Henry Herbert, there are no rules: just preferences. We think a bespoke suit should only do one thing: make you feel good.

 

 

 

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Great British Bespoke Summer: Seersucker Suits

Few things remind us more of summer than seersucker suits.

First, a look at the fabric itself under the microscope (from our What Cloth Am I series, where we asked readers to identify various fabrics, from these microscope close-ups) – it is breathable, lightweight and natty (which, despite the misleading manner in which it sounds similar to “tatty”, is actually a term that means “smart in appearance or dress; spruce; dapper”).

Seersucker 2

Seersucker 3

First steps:  At this stage  the first thing a cutter will normally do is to lay the fabric like so  (see below).  This will enable him or her to  scan the entire fabric for any imperfections.  This is a necessary process which can be very time consuming.  An eye for perfection and attention to detail is required.  The cutter will then draw out the customer’s pattern on paper, lay it on the cloth and best decide how to fit things before cutting the cloth.  We see a “sea” of seersucker as a blank canvas, ready to become whatever a customer wishes.

photo (ready to cut)

Seersucker can be used not just for suits, but for shirts (an example of which is below) and shorts are quite popular as well.  Your Henry Herbert tailor will be happy to talk you through all the possibilities – that is the beauty of bespoke.

Seersucker shirt detail

Henry Herbert bespoke seersucker shirt

Detail on a bespoke seersucker suit lapel by Henry Herbert below:

Seersucker Wedding Suit Seersucker The Coolest Cloth

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Bespoke seersucker suit by Henry Herbert

To see our seersucker suits in action, watch our video.

 

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The navy blue suit for life’s most important occassions

Prince William is a big fan of the slim cut, single-breasted navy blue suit.  He has chosen this colour and style for a number of important events, not in the least, the announcement of his engagement to Kate Middleton.  The timeless, elegant and ever-sharp navy blue suit will never let its gentleman wearer down, on the most daunting or momentous of professional or personal occasions.  At Henry Herbert, our navy blue suits are work hard for their wearers every day, but also rise to special occasions.  See examples of our work below:

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The Henry Herbert take on the navy blue blazer:  a soft merino wool from the historical Holland and Sherry Mill in Scotland. It features working cuff buttons made from real horn and has been made in such a way that the lapel ‘gorge’ is slightly higher than usual and the jacket nips in a touch at the waist all working together to create a taller,slimmer silhouette.

navy blue single breasted suit

Click here for other example of our navy (and other shades of) blue suit work.
Henry Herbert Bespoke Suit Nick Cookson SuitHenry Herbert Bespoke Suit Kalps de Silva Suit Detail Henry Herbert Bespoke Suit Nick Cookson Suit Detail

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Great British Bespoke: Double Breasted Suits for Summer

In our last post we mentioned the double breasted suit for summer.  The Prince of Wales, Prince Charles, is a staunch supporter of the elegant double breasted suit.  He was recently spotted sporting several summer-friendly styles, on visits to Cornwall, and we think the boutonniere is a particularly nice touch.

We are big fans of the style at Henry Herbert.  You may remember our December 2012 “DB-day – The Campaign to Wear the Double Breasted Suit“.  There is no bad time to be sporting a double breasted suit, and in fact, the summer is a great time to show one off.

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Double breasted suit by Henry Herbert, as worn by a gentleman customer

 

Double-breasted jackets have their origins in English sportswear and the classic double-breasted jacket originated with the frock coat, worn in the early Victorian era, in the 1820?s and 30?s.  Most double-breasted suits have two rows of buttons, three on each side. The middle button on the left is usually buttoned, as is the inner button, called the jigger button, which keeps the jacket flaps in line.  Double breasted jackets are more complex in their construction than a single breasted jacket, but we feel the results are worth the effort!  Just ask a Henry Herbert tailor, who will happily guide you through the details and differences.

 

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Great British Bespoke Summer Suits: Hot Weather Style by Henry Herbert

Heatwaves Call for Cool Styling:  Bespoke Summer Suits by Henry Herbert

Summer has well and truly arrived in England.  Explore bespoke summer suits and shirts by Henry Herbert in linen, lightweight cotton, and seersucker, all ideal for summer events, holiday wear and work-wear.

Linen is an excellent choice for staying cool whilst looking sharp in the warmer months.  A common concern is that linen can crease easily – as long as you look after the linen jacket, it will look after you.  Our experienced tailors will advise you on linen care best practices.  Below an example of a navy blue linen sports jacket by Henry Herbert.

Bespoke summer suits:  blues and pinks by Henry Herbert

Bespoke linen sports jacket, with bespoke shirt and Bengal striped pocket square by Henry Herbert Tailors

Seersucker is another excellent lightweight option.  The gentleman on the left is sporting a very summer-suitable ochre striped seersucker trouser, by Henry Herbert Tailors, and a bespoke shirt in pale pink Egyptian cotton, which wears extremely comfortably on the skin, especially in hot weather.

Bespoke summer suits: seersucker trousers and cotton shirts by Henry Herbert

Bespoke striped seersucker trousers and bespoke Egyptian cotton shirts in pale pink and blue by Henry Herbert Tailors

Summer is an excellent time to choose bolder colours even for workwear.  A subtle way to brighten your wardrobe is to select a lighter or more intense shade of blue, such as the gentleman below.  A double-breasted style looks sharp, whilst keeping its wearer cool at the office.

Bespoke summer suits: the double-breasted style! By Henry Herbert

Blue double-breasted suit and trousers by Henry Herbert Tailors

For a true injection of colour, may we recommend the Henry Herbert colours range of bespoke summer suits.  Watch our bespoke summer suits video for more.

Bespoke summer suits: seersucker blue by Henry HerbertBespoke summer suits: true blue cotton by Henry Herbert


Bespoke summer suits: lime cotton by Henry HerbertBespoke summer suits: ochre seersucker by Henry Herbert

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What makes Savile Row so special?

Henry Herbert Tailors interviewed by The Toronto Standard

What makes Savile Row so special?

Savile Row is a short stretch of road, only a mile long, but that mile contains the most skilled trouser makers, suit makers, cutters, seamstresses and tailors from around the world. It is quite simply the home of bespoke tailoring. It is the standard that all other tailors around the world work to. As a result, it attracts people from all over the world to create a world-class environment. However, it is a place that is constantly changing too, with a mix of traditional firms and younger firms such as Henry Herbert. As much as we can learn from the old masters, hopefully they might be able to take some food for thought from our novel and innovative ways of delivering customer excellence today.

Tell us a bit about the unique Savile Row service you/Henry Herbert provides:

Savile Row in London is the golden mile of bespoke tailoring.  Henry Herbert himself used to be shirt maker to King Charles I in 1630 and today, in 2013, the firm Henry Herbert Tailors is a London tailor, making bespoke suits and bespoke shirts. We wanted to offer a competitive edge and bring the traditions of Savile Row tailoring into the 21st century. And so the ‘Savile Row by Scooter‘ service was born: located in the heart of Savile Row, but meeting customers around the clock with our fleet of custom-built Vespa scooters. Our trained tailors, who are also qualified motorcyclists, work around the clock to meet customers wherever they may be to make perfectly fitting suits and shirts.

 

An extract from an interview with Charlie from Henry Herbert Tailors, by Voula Monoholias.  See the full interview at the Toronto Standard.

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Great British Bespoke Summer: Wimbledon Essentials by Henry Herbert Tailors

Bespoke Suits for Gentlemen by Henry Herbert TailorsOur tailors cross London in wind, rain, snow (carefully) and sunshine, whatever the weather, to meet our clients.  We like to think that there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad preparation.  Should you be attending Wimbledon this year, ensure you are not caught short when the court covers come out by having a Henry Herbert signature umbrella to hand!

But they can be elusive to get hold of – we only send our classic blue Henry Herbert umbrella out as a thank you with every suit that we hand-make.  Although for the moment, there just might be a few residing at our online shop, where you can also browse other mens’ accessories.

umbrella

 

 

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Morning Suits for Weddings: Saturday Appointments

First fittings are ready for  a number of our gentlemen customers who have chosen to don a morning suit at their upcoming weddings this summer.  Henry Herbert Tailors are privileged to be their wedding tailor of choice.

You can just see the elegant cream waistcoat, also a bespoke piece,  that this gentleman has chosen, beneath the morning suit coat.

morning suit first fitting

Saturday appointments:  Henry Herbert tailors are available Monday to Saturday 8am-8pm, and can scooter to you wherever and whenever is convenient, or you can visit us at either our Savile Row (Mon-Fri only) or Gray’s Inn Road premises.  Book an appointment here.

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Great British Bespoke Summer Suits at Henley Royal Regatta

Not long now to go the  Henley Royal Regatta, one of the highlights of the British summer sporting calendar.  We hope all the Henry Herbert sports jackets and bespoke summer suits we have recently finished will do their owners proud at such events.

Below is an example kindly sent to us from a customer, wearing a Henry Herbert bespoke suit and bespoke shirt, whilst en route to the Regatta in 2012.  For something a little more adventurous, may we suggest a striking colour!

Bespoke Summer Suits by Henry Herbert Tailors

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