Simon Jacobs, MrQuintessential’s founder, explains, “Fashion is at its best when the pieces are stunningly exclusive yet completely inclusive and that’s what we have achieved with this collection. It looks great, it’s really wearable and not at a ridiculous price point.
“We have really considered this collection as creating solutions for our client’s wardrobe that they will want to wear over and over again. These are timeless pieces with a modern twist which is what we are starting to be known for.
Left - Family affair - Simon Jacobs & Sons
“In my late 30s, I realised that nothing I owned fit my age. I was too old to wear the street clothes with large logos that I’d worn before, but I didn’t want to wear the standard, lifeless clothing available for middle-aged men. Instead, I wanted to show that life is only just beginning – being 40 is just like being 20, only you are a little older and a little wiser.
“Finding clothing that matched my attitude and approach to life was a difficult task. So, in 2016, I decided to start my company, MrQuintessesntial, with the aim that no other man needed to face the same dilemma I did. I wanted to provide comfortable and stylish men’s cashmere sweaters in different styles and designs, but I didn’t want to put a luxury price tag on them. So that’s what I did.
“This collection is the epitome of that timeless style. Pieces that you will love to wear but that wont wear you.”
Mr Quintessential is a men’s cashmere specialist marrying purposeful design, ethically sourced and sustainable luxury and handcrafted finishing touches to create pieces to wear for years to come. Each piece is crafted in a blend of the finest sustainably sourced Mongolian cashmere and fine Merino wool, to create a comfortable fit that is breathable and soft.
Left - MrQuintessential - Sloane Detail Cashmere Sweater - £250
TheChicGeek says, "While I'm a massive fan of Scottish cashmere and knitwear, it is always worth remembering the exceptional quality produced by the Chinese - cashmere is their home fibre after all. They produce some of the finest and best value for money cashmere and knitwear in the world. MrQuintessential offers plenty of styles and colours, with a few subtle design touches, to update this timeless mesnwear staple."
Prices from £50
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A stylish man never tires of quality basics. The skeleton of any man’s wardrobe, we all have our reach-for favourites. Hand and Jones is a new British men’s lifestyle brand specialising in premium men’s basics. Founded by Graham Hand, it is inspired by his life living between London and Rye in East Sussex.
Left - Inspired by life between Rye & London - Hand and Jones - Cashmere Intarsia Lion - £350, Colour Block - £245
Launch products include knitwear, accessorises and T-shirts with underwear following in the new year.
As part of the debut collection they have collaborated with Nicola Rowsell, an artist and illustrator based in East Sussex, to feature her striking lion and leopard illustrations on two styles in 100% 12-gauge intarsia cashmere sweaters.
TheChicGeek says, “What’s ingenious, and a really simple idea, each piece of their knitwear comes in a branded, clear, 100% recycled plastic zip lockbag with a cedar wood block. Not just packaging, they recommend storing your knitwear in the bag, along with the block, at all times when not wearing to keep those pesky moths from devouring your favourite fibres.”
Left - Keeping those hungry moths at bay - Hand and Jones - Cashmere Intarsia Leopard Sweater - £350
Disclosure - A leopard sweater was gifted by Hand and Jones
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Part of Floris’ ‘Private Collection’, Vert Fougère, a lighter reimagination of a traditional woody fougère fragrance has green top notes of galbanum, grapefruit and bergamot, blended with a heart of lavender, neroli and ginger, on a base of smoke accord, amber and cashmere.
Master Perfumer, Nicola Pozzani, says, “Revolutionary in its composition, fougère to me is a marriage made of opposites: crisp, smart freshness versus sensuous, indulgent warmth. It’s sparkle and mystery, light and shade, it’s citrus herbal notes mingling with the woody oriental. Our new fougère had to be simple yet vigorous.
“I envisioned a garden at twilight, so I took lavender, but wanted it to be moody with the dew of the evening, so added patchouli and dark green with galbunum - green notes were my first love in perfumery. A slight citrus tone shines in the background reminiscent of our roots. Fougère stands for endurance so I boosted the scent with cedarwood, a nearly immortal red wood. Finally I created a sense of cosiness with cashmere woods and touch of vanilla and smoke.”
TheChicGeek says, “There’s almost something medicinal about this at first. The green element is coming from the galbanum, which is from an aromatic gum resin derived from the plant genus Ferula, chiefly Ferula gummosa and Ferula rubricaulis. It’s part of the carrot family and looks a bit like cow parsley or fennel.
This fragrance has a cooling, almost menthol quality, but it’s not cold and then goes slightly powdery. This isn’t a spring green type vert, but rather a damp, fernery undergrowth type green on that perennial favourite fougère but there’s also a sweetness that makes this very easy to wear and far from dark.”
Left - Floris - Vert Fougère - 100ml - £120
Disclosure - A sample to test was provided by Floris
Charlie Bucket spent his last coin on a chocolate bar in the hope that it would contain a golden ticket and gain entry behind the guarded gates of Wonka’s magical factory. If Roald Dahl were to write the story, today, Veruca Salt, the spoilt brat with the "I want it NOW, daddy!!!" attitude, would probably want to see behind the walls of Louis Vuitton or Chanel rather than Cadbury’s or Nestlé.
Her wishes were granted, last month, when LVMH expanded the fourth edition of its ‘Les Journées Particulières’ open days event. Seventy six venues across four continents held 'open days', with 38 never having been open to the public previously.
The event saw 56 fashion houses, including Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior, Givenchy, Tag Heuer and Nicholas Kirkwood, taking part. New experiences included the opening of the Les Fontaines Parfumées in Grasse, the perfume creation workshop shared by Parfums Christian Dior and Louis Vuitton, the Louis Vuitton prototype workshop in the centre of Paris and the Louis Vuitton workshop in Ducey, Normandy. It was also possible to reserve an exclusive tour of La Colle Noire, Christian Dior’s last residence in Montauroux.
Left - Inside Private White V.C. in Manchester
‘Les Journées Particulières' launched in 2011 and is a LVMH marketing exercise in harnessing the desire and interest from people to see the inner workings of brands they admire and respect. It’s this element of being able to see things you feel aren’t usually on display, demystifying the processes and laying bare the inner workings of these brands that gets people to make the effort to visit.
Watchmaker, Vacheron Constantin, recently tapped into this enthusiasm by auctioning the ultimate watchmaking experience by putting two VIP tours of its workshop in Switzerland up for sale. The brand hired Sotheby’s to auction the experiences, which comprise two separate lots that it claims represent a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” to witness its work up close. Each involves a behind-the-scenes tour through the Vacheron Constantin Maison, accompanied by style and heritage director Christian Selmoni.
It’s this ‘magic’ that people want to see and the attraction and interest in seeing how things are made and a celebration our industrial history is expanding as more brands open up their factories to the public. It gives products a halo effect of ‘special’ and really cements the brands into people’s minds and memories in a positive way.
I always say, when you go to a factory, it’s a bit like going to a friend’s house for the first time: you really get a fully rounded and immersive experience and a lasting memory. It’s a familiarity you can’t get in a shop or by simply wearing the product.
Solovair produce their shoes in Northampton under their parental badge of The Northamptonshire Productive Society (NPS) founded in 1881 by five men in Wollaston, Northamptonshire. Ashleigh Liversage, Online Marketing Manager, NPS Shoes Ltd. says, “As more and more brands move their manufacturing outside of the UK it is important to us that our customers can come see for themselves how their footwear is made by our skilled workers in our factory in Wollaston, Northamptonshire.
Right - Exterior of the Private White V.C. factory in Manchester
“Our Managing Director takes the group on a tour through the factory offering an exciting insight into all areas of shoe production,” says Liversage. “The NPS Factory tour follows specific content-related criteria, giving guests access to all shoe production technologies: the ‘Clicking’ or cutting Room, Closing room, Levelling / Making Room, Shoe Room, while machines have made production more efficient, the fundamental process has remained the same at our factory for over a century,” she says.
“The feedback from our customers is why we continue to offer the tour, they love to see how and where their footwear is made and hear about the history and heritage of NPS Shoes,” says Liversage. “Even those with no particular interest in footwear have commented how interesting the tour is. We have people come from all over the UK to attend our tours and even had visitors from Canada once!” she says.
Over in Manchester, Private White V.C., has the last remaining clothing factory in the world’s first industrial city. Mike Stoll, Factory MD, says the reason they have a factory tour is, “To raise awareness: we actually are real and make our special garments near Manchester City centre.”
“Most people that make the tour either make a purchase or send someone who does. It spreads the word,” says Stoll, but, “It only works if you have something to see. This building is unusual and the way we currently manufacture is unique.”
North of the border, Johnstons of Elgin produce some of the world's finest knitwear and blankets. George McNeil, Johnstons of Elgin, Retail Managing Director, says, “Rarely does the public get an insight into how their products are made, and the entire craft behind the process, and so this is a chance to see quality in the making and also to understand our rich and unique history.”
Visitors get to see “Everything!” says McNeil. “Our cashmere goes from raw fibre, through dying, teasing, carding, spinning and hand finishing by the latest generation of craftsmen, all in our Elgin mill.”
“If a brand has the personal touch to each and every product, like ours, it is hugely beneficial to educate the consumer,” says McNeil. “We are in fact the last remaining vertical mill in Scotland to take raw fibre to finished product – from goat to garment – making this traditional process unique in current times. As consumers continue to prioritise where their belongings come from, and become more curious about the work that goes into them, they will demand to know more and brands will answer.” he says.
Not all brands can offer this openness though. Brands often produce for other people, called ‘Private Label’, and many brands like to keep their producers and suppliers out of the public domain.
“As a manufacturer for over 160 different brands, we actually don't allow factory visits because of the issues they can cause,” says Rob Williams, Founder & Chief Financial Officer, Hawthorn International, who produce apparel for various brands. “Many fashion brands prefer for their manufacturer to keep their identity private, so that their costs cannot be revealed and so that their designs can't be shared between brands who all use the same manufacturer,” says Williams.
“Because privacy and confidentiality is so important to our clients, we found that it caused a huge logistical problem to organise factory visits without the visitor seeing any intellectual property of our other clients,” he says.
Left - Johnstons of Elgin's mill in Elgin, Scotland
Factory tours work because of a growing niche of people’s fascination with being educated about the things they buy. It works for brands who want to tell their story and, often, explain why you are paying a premium for the products. Admittedly, you get shown what they want you to see, but, it's this openness and sharing that creates an atmosphere people want to buy into.
This is the National Trust for the fashion geeks amongst us and it’s growing in popularity. Johnstons of Elgin has tea shops and restaurants attached to their mills which can also be a revenue maker for the company.
The tour makes the product come alive, you can picture what you’re buying being made and this really is the ultimate souvenir. People love a factory tour with a final stop at the factory shop for a bargain. Who needs a stately home when you can have a Victorian shoe factory?
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Good things coming to those who wait goes against everything modern retail has taught us. To test this theory, Patria is a new website crowdfunding made in the UK products in aid of Armed Forces Charities. All employees of Patria are veterans and 10% of profits go to the brand’s chosen charities which include The Royal Navy Charity, The Soldiers Charity and the RAFBF.
"Patria is a uniquely British company. We were founded by veterans, employ only veterans and 10% of our profits go to the main armed forces charities. All of our luxury pieces are 100% British made. We wanted a name that ties this together. Patria is derived from the Latin 'Pro Patria' or 'for one's country'," says Founder, Richard Thackray.
Left - Patria’s Cordwainer or shoemaker has been hand-making the finest footwear in Northamptonshire for over 130 years - £275 (Takes 12 weeks)
Launching on Remembrance Day, Patria hopes to deliver the best price in the market and have zero waste. Patria only makes onshore in Great Britain using the best materials and works with leading UK artisanal manufactures - leading to less impact on the environment and a better value product.
Patria prides itself in being a non-seasonal brand. Not about trend led pieces, but staple quality and timeless garments that are built to last. The brand even offers mending services to their customers.
Right - Patria ‘Jack’ Sweatshirt - £120
Daniel Todd, Buyer at MRPORTER.COM
“I am a huge fan of Prada’s knitwear for this fall with my favourite being this Shetland Wool Sweater; it's bang on trend as graphic knitwear is key for the season. Made entirely by hand in Italy, this loud and chunky piece is as much an art form as it is knitwear. An eye-catching jumper not for the faint hearted, I’ll be wearing mine with jeans or corduroy trousers.”
Left - Prada - Shetland Wool Sweater - £1375
“Wanting to purchase a plush pair of feel-good corduroy trousers immediately indicates that autumn is here, time for the shorts to be packed away! My choice is this black number from Our Legacy, made from exceptional fabrication of soft and durable cotton-corduroy, its minimal design is versatile enabling it to be worn with simple knitwear and shirting.”
Left - Our Legacy - Wide-Leg Cotton-Corduory Trousers - £225
“Slogan t-shirts and jerseys have been huge for a few seasons now and continuing into this winter. Featuring a quote from Mr Benjamin Franklin, “Lost time is never found again”, I’ll be sporting this jersey on cold winter days when needing that little extra motivation to get things done.”
Left - Takahiromiyashita Thesoloist. - Printed Cotton-Jersey T-Shirt - £270
“A padded overshirt is a genius alternative to a jacket this autumn from Balenciaga's Creative Director Mr Demna Gvasalia. Quilted and padded for insulation and volume, this piece has to be my favourite must have. Ticking the 90s sportswear trend box, I’ll be wearing mine layered over knitwear with retro sneakers.”
Left - Balenciaga - Oversized Padded Checked Cotton-Flannel Overshirt - £815
“A great coat is essential for winter, after all it’s the item of clothing that you will be seen most in the coming months. My pick of statement outerwear is this double breasted overcoat from Gucci. Crafted from pure cashmere in a timeless shade of tan, this really is one exceptional coat.”
Left - Gucci - Slim-Fit Double-Breasted Cashmere Overcoat - £2840
The jacket is dead, long live the jacket! Well, not quite. But brands or designers who produce rails and rails of coats and jackets are realising, to their cost, that people don't really need or wear them that often. What we want is something easy and warm that transcends seasons and can be used as a layer.
Enter the 'cardigan bomber'. I've championed this before, but when you find a cashmere one by Johnstons of Elgin, one of the best Scottish knitwear specialists, you know it's going to be good and goes straight to the top of my seasonal Hot List.
Left & Below - Johnstons of Elgin - Cashmere Mens American Navy Zip Cardigan - £425