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Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Newly Arrived: Custom Cricket Sweater from Rochford Knitwear

There's hardly a more iconic item of sportswear more identified with classic British style than the Cricket jumper (tennis sweater for us Yanks).  These wonderfully colored sporting items were ubiquitous in the first half of the 20th century (my personal favorite period of men's wear.  Given their ubiquity in the period, It's a bit shocking that well-made cricket jumpers seem so difficult to find these days.   The Gentleman's Gazette has a very interesting history of the Cricket Sweater on their website, which I would encourage you check out for more background.

This photo from the great movie 'Chariots of Fire' from 1981 being a film that had a huge effect on my own love of men's wear when I saw it while in high school.  In it, the cricket jumper was featured heavily:

As a fan of British style, I have increasingly had the good fortune to find British brands (often little know), that provide simply outstanding customized/made-to-measure services.  Spencer's made-to-measure Trousers and Ryder & Amies collegiate stripped scarfs being just two that spring immediately to mind.  Well, I have recently discovered another great brand, which provides custom 100% wool knit cricket/tennis sweaters and slipovers (pullover vests) as well and I honestly couldn't be more thrilled: Rochford Sports knitwear LTD.  Here is what it says on their website:

'Rochford Sports Knitwear has been Successfully trading and marketing First class traditional cricket sweaters For over 30 years.

All cricket sweaters are traditionally hand framed and hand finished using best quality pure new wool. Cricket sweaters are made to the highest standard, using strong pearl strapping on neckbands and armbands on sleeveless sweaters.

Our sweaters are widely distributed throughout England to hundreds of schools, cricket clubs and major county cricket clubs

Having just received my first custom sweater from Rochford, I can tell you that I am very much more than satisfied.  Firstly the design app on their website is really fun to work with and after you get the hang of how it works the various combinations of possible strip combinations are endless!  I spent about 2-3 fun-filled hours mulling over the many combinations I would like for my first customized sweater (I'm sure this will not be my last) and decided upon the Navy/Red/Green strips you see here.  I went with a bit deeper color combo for this sweater because I intend to wear it with my fall/winter tweed and flannels.  And the first combination I've chosen is my navy flannel blazer and Chinos that you see here.  I think it looks smashing.  

It's hard not to absolutely love the service that Rockford provides - the icing on the cake is that from the time of order to delivery to me here in Germany was only 18 days - this for a fully bespoke design is frankly astonishing!  As you can see from the photos, the V is nicely beep which is a very traditional design element and I chose to have my strips added to the neck, the cuffs and the waist, however, Rochford will be happy to do any combination of these or none if you prefer a plane Ecru cable knit (Other base color options are Navy, Green or Sky Blue).  These together with the nearly limitless strip options results in thousands of possible custom sweater designs!

Monday, January 28, 2019

Grenson 'Ryan' Boot My All Time Favorites

A trusty pair of boots is a lifelong companion that is a blessing indeed.  These Ryan boots from Grenson are a perfect case in point.  As I recall, I purchased this pair from Coggles.com back in July of 2014 in a rather plane light cognac color, that I thought looked pretty smart when I ordered them but was not a huge fan of the color upon their arrival.  No matter, a bit of leather dye and burnishing has really brought out their potential.  These boots are extremely versatile in my wardrobe looking equally great with denim, tweed, Corduroy and Tweed trousers.

Sadly, the Ryan boot appears to have been discontinued by Grenson.  I do hope they bring it back, because to my reckoning, it's about the perfect low boot.  Modeled after the WWII service boot, it's got a larger toe box that typical, giving it a great profile on the foot and offering supreme comfort and the fact that it's only got a height of 5 inches with 5 eyelets, make getting them on and off very easy indeed.   Shown in these photos with Olive Nylon indestructible laces from Bondi laces, which I wear on most of my shoes and boots because they not only look great, but really, really last. 

The first thing I do when a new pair of leather soled shoes or boots arrive is to deliver them to my shoemaker to add some non-slip rubber caps on the sole and heal.  This, I find especially crucial here in Germany with all our wet weather, leather sole shoes are sorely tested.  But with rubber sole caps and consistent care of the uppers, my shoes and boots will essentially last forever.  The occasion for this review is my getting these back from my shoe maker having replaced the non-slip rubber sole caps for the first time since they were initially installed back when new in 2014.

These boots are the ones my feet find their way into most regularly, resulting in some very large miles indeed.  Equally great looking for in town or country walks as well as for work, these boots have held up remarkably well over the past 4 1/2 years of steady wear.  And while the calf leather uppers are thin for a boot - more what one would expect on calfskin Oxfords, they don't scuff easily as you can see from the accompanying photos.  Also, the leather is quite supple providing great comfort with no break-in period needed.  These boots as with all Grenson boots are Goodyear welted, so comfort does get better as the cork footbed takes on the impression of your feet. 

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Top of the Mark: Rugby Shirts from Kent & Curwen

I've been a fan of Rugby shirts since the 1990s, but for quite a while this most masculine of casual shirts has sort of fallen out of our consciousness.  However, in the past year or so, that has changed and I'm sure glad that it has.  Part of that change has been the new idea to use the rugby not just as an entirely casual shirt but also over a shirt and tie and pairing it with a sports jacket (especially Tweeds and Navy blazers) similar to how one would wear a traditional V-neck sweater. I had been struck with this look recently and decided that I would have to give it a try and in so doing add a bit of this rather youthful, collegiate look to my wardrobe. Some of my dear readers might wonder if  I'm a bit long in the tooth to be adding a youthful, collegiate look to my wardrobe?  To which I would say: 'It's never too late to have a happy childhood' or more conventionally: 'Youth is wasted on the young'.

Hunting for suitable, High-quality rugby shirts, I was happy to discover Kent & Curwen.  Since its founding in 1926, this traditional purveyor British sportswear has been making ties, cricket sweaters and of course, Rugby shirts for sports clubs throughout Britain and the UK.  Recently, having partnered with superstar footballer David Beckham, the brand and been revitalized under the creative direction of Daniel Kearns making some of the coolest sportswear in the business by drawing on traditional British sportswear themes and Kent & Curwen's own history in new and fun ways.

BTW: Kent and Curwen are having a huge season sale, which I strongly recommend checking out for some killer deals!

Here are some unboxing photos of my two recent K&C purchases, which I am very, very happy with.  The overall packaging and presentation are all in keeping of what one would expect from a high-end/luxury sportswear retailer with great attention to detail, etc:

Here are some of the ways that I've been incorporating these great looking and extremely well-made rugby shirts into my rotation - they really do add a level of versatility and sportiness that is hard to beat:

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