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Hamtastic! The Story of Carharttt

by Neil Summers

In 1889 the Hamilton Carhartt & Company started for business with its namesake (known affectionately as “Ham”) at the helm, using two sewing machines and a half-horsepower electric motor in a small Detroit loft to create overalls. After a few less than successful attempts Ham decided to talk directly with railroad workers in order to design a product that would fit their needs. As a result both the motto, “Honest value for an honest dollar,” and the Carhartt bib overall were born and swiftly became the standard for quality workwear.

By 1910, Carhartt had grown to include mills and sewing facilities in South Carolina and Georgia,Atlanta, Detroit, Dallas, and San Francisco. Not to mention international outposts in Toronto, Vancouver,Liverpool.and Paris All of which came in handy for after the outbreak of WWI which saw Carhartt supplying the troops with uniforms during WWI.

It was during this era the legendary Carhartt Chore Coat (known historically as the “Engineer Sack Coat” or simply the “Coat”) was born and somewhat remarkably has remained unchanged and a staple piece of their collection 100 years on.

Despite coming close to collapse during the stock market collapse of 1929 Ham & co managed to weather the storm of the great Depression, even finding time to proactively support workers rights. The brand continued to grow and by the 1970s received massive orders for the construction of the Alaska Pipeline which helped to grow the brand as well as prove the gear could survive in the harshest weather conditions on earth.

By the 1980s Carhartt become very popular within the US hip-hop scene which took the brand beyond its workwear roots and into a much wider global audience. Which brings us up to modern day where the brand has earned itself iconic status and has never been more popular. thanks to the ongoing involvement of the Hamilton family and their knack for well made workwear that looks the part whether you’re building a stage or performing on one.

We’re pleased to announce SS18 is now online.

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The Magic of Sunspel

by Neil Summers

In 1860 Thomas Hill opened up his textile factory in Newdigate, Nottingham, a place that was to become the centre of the British lace making industry. Under the name Sunspel he used his fabric expertise to make lightweight, soft clothing in very fine cotton and pioneered the development of luxury undergarments, as we know them today. Some of the earliest garments they made also included tunics and undershirts that were some of the first t-shirts ever made.

By the start of the twentieth century Sunspel had built a significant export business across the British Empire and was one of the earliest British companies to export to the Far East. Company records even show that a shipment of Sunspel garments due for Hong Kong and China was aboard the N.Y.K Hirano Maru, which was sadly torpedoed and sunk by a German U-Boat in the Irish Sea in 1918. It was also during this period that Sunspel developed its unique Sea Island cotton fabrics sourced from the West Indies and used in the most luxurious of its products. It was also a particular favourite with Ian Fleming who not only dressed himself in Sea Island cotton but also his literary creation James Bond.

After surviving the great depression the factory relocated to Long Eaton where it remains to this day. Though primarily focusing on their premium line of Sea Island cotton underwear during WWII the brand turned their hand to utility clothing to aid the war effort and continued to lead the way despite suffering a direct hit from the Luftwaffe on their Bruton street offices in London.

Soon after the war John Hill left the gloom of Britain for the glamour of boom time America and was soon inspired by the ideas and innovations of New York. It was here that he saw the opportunity to bring the boxer short to the UK which he did whilst perfecting it’s design along the way. The first Sunspel boxers were cut with a unique back panel to avoid a middle seam and made from Sea Island cotton and designed for comfort. Now recognised as the industry standard for the best boxer shorts out there, in 1985 a pristine pair of white Sunspel boxer shorts appeared in a game-changing advert for Levi’s 501s. The award winning advert saw model Nick Kamen casually stripping down to his boxers in a launderette to a Marvin Gaye soundtrack and changed the underwear buying habits of a nation overnight.

Since then the brand has continued to provide clothing for a wide range of costume designers, actors and musicians. With the name Sunspel being respected as much for their menswear and womenswear collections nowadays as it is for their iconic and incredibly comfortable underwear.

Browse the fantastic collection at The Sporting Lodge

 

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The Weatherill Report

If you’re not familiar with Bernard Weatherill, Neil Summers digs into the history.

The name Bernard Weatherill is one that is synonymous with the world of bespoke tailoring. Starting life a family business in Sunninghill, Berkshire within two years they had their own shop on Savile Row and by 1920 had acquired a royal warrant to King George as riding clothes outfitter and livery tailor. Over the past 100 years the brand has continued to maintain its reputation for excellence as well as attract a number of high profile customers which includes a continuing royal warrant for the current Queen. Though by the 1950s the brand merged with Kilgour their suit-making neighbours on Savile Row who at that time were famous for creating Fred Astaire’s morning coat for the film Top Hat.

When the swinging sixties arrived famous faces such as Jackie Onassis and Sean Connery were regular visitors to the Savile Row shop. The reason for James Bond dropping by being to be fitted up for his Weatherill designed tweed suit made for his role in Goldfinger. As well as movie stars, sporting celebrities have also been regular customers at the store over the past century, with Weatherill being given the honour to make riding coats for the entire British equestrian team at the Olympic games in Atlanta in 1996.

Although their high quality products are now sourced from around the globe, Bernard Weatherill’s outerwear, breeches and accessories continue to be manufactured and hand crafted in the UK. As recognised experts in their field Bernard Weatherill continuing to make the finest in traditional civil and sporting tailoring with a modern outlook.

For a limited period only The Sporting Lodge have an exclusive 50% off introductory offer, must end Friday 9th February. Browse the collection.

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The Grenfell Cordings Shooter Jacket

by Neil Summers

Though Grenfell’s origins can be traced back to 1923, their iconic Shooter jacket first came about during the 1940s and has changed very little since. Essentially it’s a shooting jacket that’s smart enough to be worn around town this new version differs from the original thanks to a waterproof backing alongside the rain resistant Grenfell Cloth and has also been treated to a gentle garment washing process to compliment the jacket’s heritage look.  Created for Cordings of Piccadilly this version also features three external pockets as opposed to the usual four with an additional game pocket on the inside that can be taken out and cleaned as and when required, with the bellows pockets featuring eyelets to let any unwanted water escape.

As with all Grenfell products it’s the attention to detail that really makes this Shooter jacket stand out as well as it’s timeless, functional design. For example the sturdy collar can be turned up to keep the wind out, with both a top button and a throat tab to batten things down whilst the bellow pockets feature eyelets to allow water to escape. The jacket’s cuffs are elasticated to avoid the wind billowing up the arms whilst you’re taking aim or just out walking the dog. Vintage versions of this stylish yet practical field jacket have been going for hair raising prices at auction recently, I can see this version destined to be one of Grenfell’s most highly prized jackets in years to come.

The Grenfell shooter is now online at The Sporting Lodge.

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Pendleton Woolen Mills – The Legendary Blankets

by Neil Summers

Over the past 25 years, Pendleton Woolen Mills have developed a series of Legendary blankets all of which are based on the beliefs and traditions of their original and most valued customers, the Native American Indian. Though founded by British weaver Thomas Kay back in 1863 it was only after the purchase of a mill along the Oregon Trail in 1909 that their blankets, robes and shawls became highly prized by the Native American population.

One of the reasons for the popularity of these products is thanks to the care taken by the pattern designers to learn about the native mythologies and design preferences of their customers. In the earliest years, Joe Rawnsley, who was considered a gifted talent on the jacquard loom, took time out with the local natives of northeastern Oregon to develop and understand their preferences of colour and design. Which he would then interpret the ideas gleaned from the native peoples into blanket designs using modern technologies that could express pattern ideas in much greater detail and in more vivid colours that could be expressed by traditional weaving methods.

Local business men during a Pendleton Mill tour in 1910.

Wiith the success of these first designs, Mr. Rawnsley went on to spend a further spent six months in the native Southwest developing ideas for designs that would specifically appeal to the tribes of this region. He returned with hundreds of designs to be interpreted into his weaving processes and also entering Pendleton blankets into the ‘Indian trade’. Meaning that local natives started to take the blankets down from Oregon to the Southwest tribes in order to exchange them for silver jewellery, wool or other items of value. The colourful blankets were also integrated into everyday and ceremonial uses; part of a dowry, weddings, gift giving, pow wows, dance prizes, naming ceremonies, funerals and memorials. With blankets often being placed into coffins to keep loved ones warm on their journey.

Today, Pendleton blankets continue to play a significant role in Indigenous communities across North America with the tradition of wool and textile innovation established by Thomas Kay and his family underlying all Pendleton products. Though the good news now is that you don’t have to belong to a Native American tribe in order to own one as The Sporting Lodge are now proud stockists of this incredible American brand.

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Introducing Poler

For those who enjoy the unique sense of happiness and freedom that outdoor living provides then Poler is the brand that you’ve been looking for. As rather than setting itself out as a technical brand focussed on surviving sub-zero climates and extreme weather, Poler has a more laid back and pragmatic approach to its product design.

Created in Portland by Benji Wagner with two of his friends, Poler sprang to life in response to the sheer lack of outdoor brands that Benji and mates wanted to wear. Whilst the outdoor gear that already existed may have been perfectly good suited for camping, hiking and travelling in, it just weren’t up to scratch aesthetically.

Using Benji’s home as a base the brand made their debut in 2011 with a range of tents, tees and bags with the aim of bringing surf, skate and snowboard culture into the world of outdoor adventure. Six years later and Poler is now something of a cult brand amongst a different type of adventurer who  can be spotted everywhere from the middle of Mediterranean music festivals to hanging out on the Ho Chi Min trail.

Browse the new Poler collection at The Sporting Lodge.

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Wigwam – Let’s Talk Socks

by Neil Summers,

In 1904 in Wisconsin USA a devastating fire at the Sheboygan Knitting Company resulted in the sad demise of a company that had previously thrived thanks to the continuous demands of the lumber industry. From the ashes of the fire rose the Hand Knit Hosiery company, a family business that would later be become WigWam, a world leader in outdoor, athletic and active sock production.

Being pioneers in what was at the time a totally new concept of athletic socks, by the 1920s they were being asked to produce products for various outdoor retailers such as Abercrombie & Fitch. It was during this time that they also started to produce woolen bathing suits in keeping with their athletic innovation as well as sweaters for dogs in the 1940s would you believe? Though by 1945 their entire output was dedicated to the war effort, providing wool socks for the army & navy.

In 1957 the company name was changed to WigWam the origins of which are not known with most people assuming it is because their original crossed knitting needles logo resembled the top of a native American teepee. The only record the company have of a name change is a letter from the company president Robert Chesebro Senior to his staff which read:  “But only our name changes. Our people, our quality, our sales policies – and above all, our desire to work with you – remain the same.”

Since then WigWam have continued to flourish thanks to their high standards of comfort and quality performance socks. In 1978 Robert was even inducted into the Sporting Goods Hall of Fame in recognition of his work utilizing nylon in athletic, hunting and ski socks. By the late eighties WigWam became a global brand and is now sold in over 30 countries where it has become a firm favourite with everyone from aerobic instructors to alpine climbers.

View the range here at The Sporting Lodge.

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There’s something in the Air….

by Neil Summers.

Patagonia’s Nano-Air technology is a classic example of their ethos, to improve, innovate and refine everything that they do. Thanks are also due to a design team who live the outdoor life as well as create products for it. Who’s passion and high standards of quality have resulted in a unique form of fabrication that is breathable but still maintains warmth through a unique mix of full-range insulation with nylon fabric.

Whether experiencing varying temperatures on the commute to work or on the side of a mountain, we all know that swapping or removing layers on the move can often result in large amounts of sweat and general discomfort. But working up a sweat in a garment made using Nano-Air technology allows a certain amount of air to pass through the clothing and evaporate to avoid the body getting overheated.

The magic has happened thanks to Patagonia managing to somehow incorporate incredibly warm synthetic ‘fill’ alongside a fabric weave that doesn’t make the insulation clump together and lose durability whilst letting out air. Though exactly how they do it is still a trade secret, this advancement in making a breathable but incredibly warm synthetic fabrication has been a real game-changer in the world of mountain climbing and outdoor sports in general. It’s also stopped a lot of people from getting all hot and sweaty on crowded trains back home from work too!

Shop Patagonia, brand new range, at The Sporting Lodge.

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Introducing – Patagonia

Introducing Patagonia, brand new to The Sporting Lodge. If you’re not clued up on Patagonia, the lads Proper Mags dig into the history. 

The name Yvon Chouinard is one that’s synonymous with the great outdoors and has a legendary status in the worlds of climbing, surfing and fly fishing not to mention his ecological and philanthropic work. For those of you unfamiliar with his name then you may be more aware of his outdoor brand Patagonia.

Having moved to California from Maine as a child,  Yvon developed a love for climbing after being taught to abseil at a local falconry club. He instantly fell in love with the sport and soon learnt how to ascend cliffs as well as to get down them. Soon he and his friends would be regularly hopping freight trains to the west end of the San Fernando Valley and to the sandstone cliffs of Stoney Point. Before long Yvon had become part of a group of maverick climbers that had moved on to Yosemite and it’s big walls. Which is where in between hiding from the park rangers that Yvon first started to develop his own outdoor equipment. Initially starting with reusable climbing pitons Yvon then expanded into clothing after importing British rugby shirts whose sturdy collars provided perfect protection from rope burn.

Along with some like-minded friends Yvon set up the brand Patagonia as it’s named  conjured up “romantic visions of glaciers tumbling into fjords, jagged windswept peaks, gauchos and condors.” It also helped that the name could be pronounced by in any language.

Alongside climbing Yvon’s other two great loves of surfing and fly-fishing are also an important part of the Patagonia product range. They also reflect the strong environmental ethos of the company and their anti-corporate stance. Which may sound like something of a paradox for a global clothing brand though they give millions away to NGOs around the world and encourage people to repair their clothing rather than replace it. Such is their level of commitment to reducing waste that on Black Friday2011 they printed a full-page ad in The New York Times encouraging customers not to buy their products!

It’s pretty difficult not to buy Patagonia products though when they’re incredibly durable whether you’re river deep or mountain high as well as being made from organic/recycled products wherever possible. Not only that but their choice of colours and designs really make them stand out from the crowd and have ensured their popularity with the fashionistas as much as alpinists.

View the range now at The Sporting Lodge.

Neil Summers and Mark Smith.

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Shooting Instructor’s Day Off To The Royal Cheshire County Fair

by Brett Davies.

It’s a bad sign when your day off work starts with an early morning. But, if you are planning a visit to The Royal Cheshire County Fair, I highly recommended that dreaded early morning start. After a quick Starbucks stop off we still had a long wait in show traffic before we reached the ground. Wishing I hadn’t ordered the Large Coffee we swiftly headed towards the gates.

The Royal Cheshire County Fair, with the familiar smells of cows to your right, pigs to your left and sheep straight ahead. We have been coming to the show for a good few years on the run, no map was needed as everything is well signposted.

We started with the livestock, a good idea considering it was boiling hot and all the tents that featured animals were nice and cool. An impressive display of the sheep shearing gave me some good knowledge to try out on the dogs later at home. The young lads worked quick and precise before educating the audience on the age old tradition.

The Royal Cheshire Show is a good place to look at cars, yes cars (?). As always there was a stronghold of auto-mobiles in the middle of the show ground.

Instead we headed to the main ring and the always exciting Pony Club Games. I highly recommend looking at the games, they are full of energy, some impressive speed and competitive spirit. For those who don’t know what The Pony Club Games are, it is like a sports day for kids on ponies. With games that include passing items to other rides, collecting items and placing them in set places all whilst on a pony and travelling at high speeds. The teams receive points for completing the challenges first, the winning team won a memorial trophy at the end of the games.

Being proud owners of a LOT of poultry, one of our favourite parts of the show is the poultry tent. Which if you are like us and like seeing the different arrays of chickens, ducks, turkeys and geese, I would recommend you visiting the show on the first day. The second day leaves only the winning birds, pigeons and rabbits. Unfortunately, at this point Mrs Davies noticed the Pygmy Goat Club sign. Luckily for me she couldn’t fit the goat she had gotten attached to under her shirt, though I’m sure if my back was turned, she would have tried. But, I would like to say a big thank you to the lady who took the time to convince Mrs Davies that the best dog to own is an Irish Wolf Hounds. The dog show provides an array of dog breeds from the great to the small but equally great.

The Show arenas hold all kinds of attractions, from the Scots Guard Association Pipe Band, Falconry Displays, The parade of the cattle and one of my favourite attractions, the Huntsman and Hounds.

We took a trip down to the have a go clay pigeon shooting, with good incoming targets for first timers, they also had an air rifle range and archery. It was nice to see a wide variation of people having a go at the shooting stand. Talking of shooting, back to work I go with a full week of lessons ahead. The Cheshire show is a good county fair and a good day off. But we are, as always, excited for the year’s supply of Game Fairs.