This weekend the 157th Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race will take place on the Thames, continuing the universities’ storied sporting tradition. Although nowadays the sculls are made of fiberglass and the clothes of Coolmax, in essence the event is largely unchanged since the days of wooden hulls and white flannels. In honor of the occasion, we bring you a look back at a Life magazine photo essay by Mark Kauffman from 1958 on the pleasures of life at Oxford, where “young Britons follow ancient ways of study and enjoyment” in ivy-covered buildings, on bucolic lawns and rambling rivers.
Seeing Dunhill’s new ad campaign didn’t make me want to buy luxury goods from London; it made me want a Miller. A Harland Miller. He’s the rather shabby fellow among the three fairly obscure Brits chosen as the brand’s new faces this season, the one trying to hide behind an $1,100 briefcase (below). That must be why I failed to recognize one of my favorite contemporary artists at first, but reading the fine print I found he was one and the same. The talented painter and author first caught my eye when his 2007 monograph International Lonely Guy landed on my desk. What he does best are atmospheric re-interpretations of classic Penguin paperback covers – and I know I’m not the only one around here with a fondness for those.
One of the great stores has no walls and, in fact, isn’t even a store at all. Consider the Andrews of Arcadia stall at Spitalfields Market in London. Every Thursday, John Andrews sets up his booth of vintage fishing tackle and it couldn’t be improved on by all the art directors on Madison Avenue. Antique angling wares—bamboo rods, cork floats, checkered sailing flags, restored reels, the odd canvas bucket—all laid out perfectly, priced fairly, and described with care and not a trace of snobbery. It’s a very sweet thing. Then lunch across the street at St. John Bread & Wine, and you’re enjoying the better part of civilized life.
If you are like me and you wear a lot of leather footwear, you use a shoe horn every day. Otherwise getting into your boots can be a giant pain. The way I see it, buying a well made shoe horn is a smart move, even if it costs you a few bucks. It is an especially good investment when you consider a well made device will probably last you a lifetime. Abbeyhorn of Carnforth, England has been making fine shoe horns using time-tested methods since 1749 and the company has become known as the gold standard of shoe horn makers. Any product that has been made in the same manner since 27 years before America was even founded can’t be too bad, now can it.
Being someone that likes to see how things are manufactured, I managed to find the above video from the Abbeyhorn factory showing how these fine shoe horns are made. In the video you can see Oxen horns be transformed into the most handsome of instruments. It is an amazing thing to watch, even if you can’t understand a word of what is being said during the process.
There are a few ways to get your hands on some of these beautiful shoe horns. Submit a catalog request and order direct from England the old fashion way, or if you are in New York City you can head over to Leffot and get them straight away. Even if you aren’t in town, I’m sure Steven at Leffot will be happy to help you over email or the phone.
Recently I have been sort of enamored by the British brand Toast. To be honest I wasn’t too familiar with the company, but the more I look at it the more I like what I see. I especially enjoyed this orange anorak jacket which I am seriously considering buying. I also am fond of the variety of accessories that Toast has done for fall. The wonderful wool blankets from Canadian maker MacAusland’s Woolen Mills, the flannel “hottie” covers, the Dietz storm lanterns, the chunky knit socks and the awesome glassware (like the bedside flask that is pictured below). Granted the brand is mostly womens and I don’t know if a guy should be wandering around town with a flannel-covered hot water bottle, but I appreciate the aesthetic. That or I am just a sucker for an orange anorak. [Toast]
If you aren’t up on the house of E. Tautz and the man behind the collection Mr. Patrick Grant, you are missing out. I first wrote about the resurrection of the label in January of 2009 and am delighted to see the line available in the U.S. for the first time at Barneys.
A few months ago Patrick held a trunk show in New York which gave me a chance to touch and feel the fall collection in person. I can attest to the amazing quality of make and material. Being one who appreciates craft (not to mention English tailoring) I enjoy the emphasis that Tautz has put on the range being sourced and sewn in Britain. Accordingly, the tailored clothing is done by the same craftsman that make the bespoke goods at Norton & Sons (Tautz’s mother label).