Bristol Pound for Pound

Having made the decision to make Bristol our home, and moreover, the home of Brown in Town, we thought it fitting that we not only support as much local business as we are able, which we have sought to do from our inception and was one of the principles of Brown in Town, but we have also joined some of our fellow tradesmen in accepting the currency which talks louder than money: the Bristol Pound!

What I love about Bristol is that there is a sense of community among traders: from the new wave of independent cafes such as Small St. Espresso, Full Court PressDidn’t You Do Well and Za Zu’s, to craft beer breweries such as Small Bar Bristol, pop-up bars like Bar Buvette, Harts Bakery – which began life as a pop-up – speakeasies like Hyde & Co. and Red Light and restaurants like Pata Negra, The Ox and The Star & Dove, to butchers like Rare on North St., vinyl record stores like Payback Records in St. Nicholas Market, barbers like our beloved Bangshanky on Colston St. and, of course, our very own Zip Pin Alterations in Clifton Arcade, there is a wealth of talent, craftsmanship and passion to meet the needs of an increasingly discerning customer.

I will confess to having reservations about Bristol being the latest in a succession of towns and cities that believes it is deserved of it’s own currency – I have some experiences of the Lewes Pound, which, for all intent and purposes, seemingly encouraged only elitism and not the desired effect of keeping business local and seeing local trade flourish – I learned recently of a friend who had to close her beautiful shop exquisite homewares owing to over-inflated rates affordable only to the larger chains. And more’s the pity.

Bristol, however, has always been industrious. When trade and commerce literally sailed across the seven seas, more often than not, those ships docked here in Bristol Harbour at what was once one of the busiest ports in the country – in fact, it is owing the the fluctuation of the tide of the River Avon, which gave rise (no pun intended) to the term ‘Shipshape and Bristol Fashion’, referring to a ships ability to securely lash it’s cargo in order to sustain being stranded at low tide during unloading. You couldn’t make it up, could you.

Nowadays, of course, the harbour is a hive of activity once more but now with the hubbub of cafes, restaurants, art galleries and museums all vying for waterside prominence – a great many of whom accept the Bristol Pound as payment for their services and wares. And, likewise, Brown in Town is also proud to accept the Bristol Pound as payment for it’s sartorial services, ney, we’d encourage it!

And for those deliberating whether or not to pay in hard-earned Bristol Pounds for their wedding suit, business dudds, sports jacket, tailored shirts or even their Fox umbrellas or Skibinski pocket squares, you might be interested to learn that there is a sweetener for those choosing to abstain from using the plastic just this once. Enquire within..

Keep business local.

The Imbibe Awards: A Musing

To say that we have been busy at Brown in Town these past few weeks would be an understatement, but it hasn’t stopped us accepting the odd invitation or two in order to see some our work in action, break bread with friends and generally enjoy the fruits of our labour – we may also have found the time to smoke the odd cigar, but more of that later.

Bristol is nothing if not a hotbed for young talent; pop-ups abound and our restaurant and cafe’s are some of the best in the world: I can say this as I traversed a large part of the globe in my ex-pat days and took my morning coffee, lunch and dinner out everyday. But an invitation to the Imbibe Awards to be Brown in Town muse and one of The Ethicurean founders, Jack Bevan’s, plus one, really was quite a treat.

Our Jack was up for an award and Brown in Town was commissioned to make something for the evening befitting of such a ceremony, but also in keeping with his own brand of town and country style – something that Ethicurean patrons will be only too familiar with, not to mention readers of the Independent who will have witnessed Jack between it’s pages when they featured the cream of today’s eateries and the clothes which these restaurants choose to wear for service. The Ethicurean, it is worth mentioning, was the only restaurant to be featured which is located outside of London.

To compliment Jack’s signature Brown in Town waistcoat, Brown in Town fashioned him a jacket to match. Cut from the same 15oz herringbone Harris Tweed cloth, we completed the look by replacing Jack’s navy blue fishtail linen trousers with some autumnal coloured 16 wale needlecord trousers instead. B.e.a.utiful.

And not only did Jack win the award for Innovator of the Year, both The Ethicurean and their recently launched elixir, The Collector Vermouth, being cited as reasons for his being nominated, but also his ‘eccentric style’ were all part and parcel of his crowning glory. Hoorah!

As if this were not excitement enough for one night, we were also invited to dine at the historical Quality Chop House by head chef, friend and Brown in Town patron, Shaun Searley. And what a dining it was too; bread crumbed bone marrow amuse bouche was followed by sole and chicken skin in onion tea – served from a glass genie lamp, no less – culminating with mallard – only the third bit of game one has been afforded this season but by far and away the best.

And perhaps this is why Brown in Town has chosen to partner the eateries which it patronises to promote its services. I find that they are filled with like-minded people, passionate about their craft and with an understanding of why presentation is of the utmost importance. They also know how to eat and drink!

But no evening and no meal of such quality and flavour would be complete without a cigar but, given the late hour, we decided that a saunter back to our digs at the immensely accommodating Hoxton Hotel, would provide just time enough to smoke one Davidoff robusto. And we were right, too.

And what could be a more perfect way to end a perfect evening than with a nightcap of The Collector Vermouth, naturally.


Roll Up, Roll up.. for The Chosen Vintage and Bespoke Wedding Fair

While the majority of grooms (those with any sense, anyway) are acutely aware that they they are only in attendance on the big day to make up numbers and that it is in no uncertain terms the brides special day, I meet an increasing number of grooms who have been afforded some portion of the wedding kitty to invest in what may be the only luxury no groom should be denied; to wear a tailor made suit on the most important day of his life.

And the vintage lovers know better than most that the best looking suits are those which our forefathers wore on their wedding day; invariably a three piece suit made of grey flannel or a tweed of some description. It is little wonder that such suits have stood the test of time, given they would have been tailor made and, ergo, would not have had the inlay trimmed out as off-the-rail garments do, meaning that they can be altered both by being taken-in or let-out, to suit the subsequent keeper.

However, the nature of bespoke tailoring is that a suit is tailored to fit the individual who has commissioned the suit and for whom the cloth is said to be ’bespoken for’. So, while we may be fortunate enough to find a suit which either fits first time, or can be tailored to fit future wearers, we may not be so lucky, or, indeed, unlucky, enough to have the same shape and proportions as the previous wearer – tailor made suits are not just a some of their made-to-measure parts, but are fashioned to the contours and shape of the customer.

Finding just the right colour, pattern and weight of cloth which we’re hoping to wear on what should be the best day of our lives, however, can also prove to be time consuming and disappointing. Moreover, it can often prove difficult to find a suit which has not had the life dry-cleaned out of it, which is not itchy, which does not lack lustre or which is not moth-eaten and not a little stale.

But, owing to the sartorial revolution of the past 10 years or so, British tailoring has been enjoying something of a renaissance and tailoring abounds, as do our wonderful cloth mills and merchants from Scotland to Huddersfield and even right on our doorstep here in the South West, which is home to none other than Fox Brothers\, makers of the some of the world’s finest flannel, and also Harrisons, H. Lesser and Porter & Harding to name but a few of the heritage brands housed under one roof at Lear Browne and Dunsford in Exeter.

So, if you are allowed just one luxury on your wedding day, please do seek us out at the Chosen Bespoke and Vintage Wedding Fair this Sunday 1st February.

Best of luck..!

Save the Date: The Bristol Vintage Wedding Fair, 8th March, 2015

What is it that makes the Bristol Vintage Wedding Fair one of the highlights of our calendar year? You!

Of course, the venue, the Clifton Pavilion, is beautiful. With it’s art deco architecture and view out over the Bristol Zoo, it is a wonderful place to while away a morning or afternoon perusing the wares of the wedding faire stallholders, and, perhaps, afterwards, to take a stroll around the historical zoo gardens.

But it is, for the most part, your love and appreciation of all things vintage which makes it such a hit for us exhibitors you see. We work ourselves into a frenzy preparing and fine tuning our displays for your delectation, because, unlike so many other wedding fair’s, the stallholders at the Bristol Vintage Wedding Fair enjoy exhibiting as much as you like attending.

In fact, I am still working on commissions I took following enquiries from last year’s Bristol Vintage Wedding Fair. So why do Brown in Town’s grooms favour a vintage look for their wedding suits: is it because they have always hankered after a suit that reminds them of the suits which their grandfather’s wore, most commonly a three piece suit of grey flannel, and in some instances, tweed? Or is it because they want to do something a little bit different (or, at the very least, avoid hiring).

And why not. Our forefathers suits were all tailor made for the individual using the best of British materials – which explains why vintage garments have stood the test of time – and were cut to flatter the individual and make them appear more elegant. Which they always did.

Ergo, because they were tailor made, there is generally to be found inlay within the garment which can be adjusted, both by taking the seams in and also by letting them out – which is so often not the case with todays off-the-peg clothing at it is so often trimmed out – you won’t find as many of todays off-the-peg suits available in your favourite thrift store or charity shop in years to come, as we do vintage suits.

Undoubtedly, there will be the question of ensemble: three piece suits are often considered to have vintage appeal, as, historically, we have worn waistcoats to keep us warm – waistcoats are also a great way for the groom to wear a fob watch, a popular family heirloom – but two piece double breasted suit were almost equally as popular, and are now enjoying something of a renaissance all their own in sartorial circles.

Once it has been decided if the groom will be wearing a two piece suit, or three piece suit, the next question is invariably one of colour. There are myriad cloths, and cloth colours, but those which strike a resounding chord with vintage lovers are tweeds for their autumnal shades i.e. brown or fawn. A herringbone pattern in the cloth is another popular choice.

Which colour is correct, however, is a cloth colour that flatters the wearer, one that compliments either the wearer’s skin tone, hair colour, eye colour, or, here in Bristol at least, one’s beard colour. Assuming the suit colour has not been chosen based on wedding dress colour or colour scheme, the reason that it is of the utmost importance that a groom look good in his wedding suit, is that those wedding photos will last for years to come, and wearing a suit colour which compliments the wearer, not just the event, is essential.

This will be Brown in Town’s second year exhibiting and we are honoured to be a part of the Bristol Vintage Wedding Fair. Moreover, we’re looking forward to the opportunity to wax sartorial with the discerning groom, for it is our experience that brides and grooms that appreciate all things vintage appreciate the fine art of bespoke tailoring.

And with only a few weeks to go, both myself and Brown in Town mannequin, Douglas (who adorns the window of Zip Pin Alterations in Clifton Arcade) are busy preparing our suits for this years event, wanting to be sure that we do not wear the same outfits that we wore to last years event, naturally. That’s our excuse anyway!

See you there..


A New Years Resolution: Be Inspired..

I don’t know about you, but I become positively ecstatic at the notion of lifting the blinds after the Christmas festivities, dusting off the cloth bunches and taking the first appointments of 2015; and I felt exactly the same last year, albeit a little more hungover.

We may never again enjoy that feeling of opening one’s doors for the first time, but availing one of Brown in Town’s discerning patrons our entire stock of Fox umbrellas first thing Monday will remain a highlight for the year to come; few things are as rewarding as meeting people along the way who appreciate craftsmanship in the way that we do here at Brown in Town.

And as for Douglas, no sooner have we dusted off his smoking jacket and he’ll be swapping his evening wear for day wear as he dons his tweeds and makes the pilgrimage up the hill to Clifton where he will take pride of place in the window at Zip Pin Alterations, home of Brown in Town’s very own seamstress, Helen O’Connor.

That is not to say that the culmination of 2014 was without it’s highs; our last commission before we pulled down the blinds was for a 3pc suit made of an autumnal coloured, coarsely woven herringbone tweed from Harris Tweed. One of my personal favourites.

Contrastingly, the first commission of 2015 was for a beautiful double breasted suit in charcoal grey (faded) chalkstripe from Fox Flannel’s classic range. Does it get any better for this renaissance man, we’ll have to see.

But possibly what excites me most is the revision of this New Year’s resolution, which for  has remained for many years: to smoke more cigars. Given our rather sympathetic surroundings here at Hotel du Vin, I think it safe to say that we achieved this many times over in 2014!

So this year, our mantra is simply to be inspired. I say simply, but in fairness, given it is a cognitive pursuit which takes time, may prove to be a more difficult undertaking than smoking cigars, which requires only time (and location), because time is something Bristol’s local tailor is not very good at affording himself – particularly when our patrons choose to commission suits, shirts, jackets, slacks and overcoats made from the worlds finest cloth. Hey ho.

And what with the advent of a trip to Tignes in order to celebrate the 50th anniversary of one’s  brother, and an opportunity to visit old friends at the Black Cats snowboard shop, things continue to look up, up, up the mountain of opportunity!

Happy New Year to you all..