The Finest Cloths Known to Humanity: A Road Trip to Lear Brown and Dunsford
As a matter of course, we like to visit our suppliers once a year, to say thank you for services rendered and to take a look at what’s new. Last Friday, we took a drive down the M5 and visited cloth merchants Lear Brown and Dunsford in Exeter, to do just that – and what an exciting day we had to boot!
Located just at the end of the M5, not only is Lear Brown and Dunsford easily accessible for Brown in Town, it is also central to a number of Brown in Town’s patrons and so we took the opportunity to conduct some fitting appointments in LBD’s boardroom (thank you Carole), replete with historic tomes featuring some of the original cloths which formed the foundations of the Lear Brown and Dunsford business.
Founded in 1895, Lear Brown and Dunsford are the largest family owned cloth merchant in the country and are to many tailors from Savile Row to Brown in Town, a one stop shop for the finest cloths known to humanity.
Following the acquisition of some of our most renowned cloth mills and merchants, they have kept the age old tradition of weaving alive, not only in Huddersfield (England’s weaving mecca) but also further afield in Edinburgh (Porter & Harding) and also North Wales (W. Bill).
Harrisons of Edinburgh – founded in 1863 by one George Harrison, they would be the most renowned of all the cloths which LBD supply and, ergo, is the banner under which LBD now trades. And, if you are looking for a suiting cloth that is a little different, I can highly recommend Harrisons Frontier plain weave in 11oz.
Porter & Harding – also north of the border, P&H are responsible for commissioning the Harris Tweed which Brown in Town’s patrons have been enjoying so much this past year including Brown in Town muse, Jack Bevan of The Ethicurean.
Pederson & Becker – whose cloths include the wonderful ‘Fine Classics’, which Brown in Town used for the suits of Bonhams auctioneers at last years Goodwood Revival, is now produced under the LBD name.
Smith Woollens – founded in 1921 by Herbert Smith and Claude Graham, was one of very few merchants to have offices and a warehouse spitting distance from Savile Row and continues to be one of the most sought after cloths in the industry.
W. Bill – with over 150 years of tweed and cashmere weaving under it’s hip-adjusters, LBD have not only acquired a stalwart of British tailoring but are offering new cloths to boot. Together with a re-brand – which just happens to be our favourite logo and colourway – W. Bill fills a gap in Brown in Town’s range with a lightweight, soft-handle cloth full of vibrant colour and pattern which we look forward to sharing with our patrons in due course.
And there is something quite romantic about conducting a fitting at the merchant’s who have provided the cloth used for the garments in-hand and all of those fitted that day were intrigued to see the cloths literally at our fingertips and Brown in Town were subsequently commissioned to make a waistcoat from the new W.Bill ‘Phoenix’ range of patterned 11oz cloths, not to mention a three piece in W.Bill’s 11oz ‘Super Fleece’. Super!
We also had the privilege of meeting fourth generation owner, James Dunsford. And, like the rest of the team at LBD, he extended a very warm welcome and was very supportive of Brown in Town’s sartorial efforts.
We were also treated to a tour a of the warehouse and introduced to new cloths and historical classics alike; imagine, if you will, visiting a tailor who, instead of keeping his cloths in bunches and books, kept the entire piece (60m) rolled and displayed on a shelf for all to see! Among some of the gems was some Irish Donegal tweed from W. Bill, as worn by Dr. Who and some used for the remake of The Great Gatsby, no less!
And as if this wasn’t enough excitement enough for one day, the highlight would have to be setting eyes on the most exquisite oatmeal coloured woollen cloth from W. Bill, which, I think we might be fashioning into a three piece for this years Goodwood Revival..