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BARBOUR: Macs, facts and lots of wax

by Neil Summers

Now recognised on a global scale as a premium English sports and fashion brand, Barbour first came to the world’s attention via their iconic waxed cotton jackets. Prior to WWII Barbour was supplying oilskins and other outdoor garments to the surrounding North Eastern community of seamen, sailors and dockers to protect them from the treacherous North Sea weather. Though once their Ursula suit became standard issue for the Submarine service during the second world war their fame started to spread.

Already established as one of the leading suppliers of durable outdoor garments as well as being well-known for their innovation and high levels quality Barbour expanded its client base to a global audience. From landowners and farmers to buyers as far flung as South America and Asia the word was finally out that Barbour made some very impressive jackets.

During 1936 the first Barbour wax cotton International motorcycle jacket appeared and went on to be worn by almost every rider in the International Six Day Trials circuit from the 1950s through to the 1970s. With legendary film star Steve McQueen being just one of many famous faces to have sported this tough and iconic jacket.

Cut to the modern day and Barbour’s traditional jackets continue to be at the heart of the company where they’re currently produced at their 180 strong factory in South Shields. With three Royal warrants (the Duke of Edinburgh, Her Majesty the Queen and HRH the Prince of Wales) to their (globally recognised named) it perhaps no surprise that the order and process in which their factory works is second to none. With 36 people needed to make just one Barbour jacket from start to finish, each person being an essential part of the production process.

With approximately 50 styles of traditional wax jackets for men, women and children in production, the hand made pieces are produced like clock-work on a daily basis with a new garment being completed every three minutes. The South Shields factory produces approximately 3000 garments per week and 130,000 – 140,000 per year. They also have a world renowned re-waxing service, where each year approximately 13,000 Barbour jackets are lovingly repaired, reproofed or returned to their former glory.

With roots firmly in its heritage, the Barbour brand continues to grow and develop each year and provides a beacon for English craftsmanship and family values. The Sporting Lodge are proud to present the Barbour Autumn/Winter 2018 Barbour here.

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Country Jottings–The Glorious Twelfth

The British game season is nearly here, as is one of the great shooting traditions unique to rural Britain–The Glorious Twelfth marks the start of the game shooting season, declaring the Red Grouse as fair game.

To celebrate this Great British staple The Sporting Lodge has pulled together the 12 facts everyone needs to know about The Glorious Twelfth.

  1. The tradition of grouse shooting can be traced back over 160 years and gained popularity after the introduction of railways allowed easier access to the moors.
  2. It is illegal to shoot grouse on a Sunday in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Even though not illegal the custom has been adopted in Scotland and is strictly adhered to.  In cases where the Glorious Twelfth falls on a Sunday (like this year) it will be moved to the thirteenth of August.
  3. The Game Act of 1831 specifies the red grouse shooting season must run from the 12thAugust to 10th
  4. Red Grouse are not artificially reared for shooting, they are wild birds–gamekeepers manage the moorlands to maximise the number of available birds and conserve the biodiversity of the grouse moors.
  5. Red grouse is a native bird to the United Kingdom and are not found anywhere else in the world.
  6. A typical grouse can eat up to 50g of heather in a day, as well as berries and seeds. They eat the young green heather shoots and shelter in the older heather.
  7. There are around 459 grouse moors in the UK which is 75% of what is left worldwide.
  8. Red grouse can fly at speeds of up to 80mph, often low and can change direction at a second’s notice–a perfect challenge for skilled guns.
  9. Grouse shooters opt for dark colours, so they blend in with their surroundings and are not spotted by the birds. And traditional styles and fabrics such as tweed, checked shirts, breeks, moleskin and flat caps.
  10. Red grouse have a distinctive call that sounds like ‘Go back! Go back! Go Back!’ as they fly over the heather.
  11. By early evening on the Glorious Twelfth the red grouse shot that day will be on the menu at some of the finest restaurants in the UK.
  12. Grouse shooting generates around £150 million for the economy every year and supports approximately 2,500 jobs from gamekeepers and beaters to people within the tourism and hospitality industry.

Make sure you are ready for the season ahead with the extensive range of shooting clothing and accessories from The Sporting Lodge including Beretta, James Purdey, Dubarry, Fjallraven, Alan Paine and many more, shop here.

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Fjallraven – Greenland Updated

by Neil Summers

In 1968 a 32-year-old Åke Nordin produced his first Fjällräven jacket. He called it the Greenland Jacket. It was made with his new G-1000 material (“G” standing for Greenland) that was waxed with his own wax, Greenland Wax. The story starts two years previously where Greenland was the destination for a team of Scandinavian alpinists and researchers who were in need of some gear before setting off. Step forward the industrious Fjällräven founder, Åke Nordin who offered them his aluminium-framed backpacks and new Thermo tents. Though at that time he didn’t have any clothing to contribute, so the team relied upon the materials of the time, boiled wool and leather. The team survived and the mission was a success though their clothing had let them down having been heavy, slow-drying and lacking resistance to the harsh Greenland climate.

Åke saw this as a challenge to create the perfect all-round outdoor adventure jacket. A jacket that kept you warm and dry; that wouldn’t wear out or weigh you down. A material quickly presented itself. A material Åke had experimented with before when creating his tents. He’d originally ruled it out. But with some tweaking and treatment, it could work as jacket material. Åke went back to the drawing board and testd a range of materials and impregnations. Though initially stumped he suddenly had a brainwave. In his youth, Åke and his friends had tried ski jumping where they’d spend many an hour hanging out at the huge Swoosh-shaped slope in Örnsköldsvik (his home town on Sweden’s High Coast). To avoid freezing their behinds off, they waxed the backs of their trousers to keep the snow out, their trousers dry and their behinds warm. Åke used this idea to develop Greenland Wax. And this wax offered that wind and water resistance he was looking for. It even improved the material’s durability.

With the material and impregnation sorted, he then set about using creating his perfect outdoor jacket, complete with practical pockets and a relaxed, loose fit. In continued honour to the research mission that inspired it, Åke called this jacket the Greenland Jacket. The rest as they say is history. The Greenland Jacket, launched in 1968, went on to enable a whole generation of nature lovers to spend more time outdoors and is now one of Fjällräven’s most iconic products, second only to their Kånken backpack.

Having reached this landmark of 50 years Fjällräven are celebrating with the release of a brand new Greenland collection, inspired by the original jacket. The new collection builds on the classic range, staying true to the look and feel of the originals, but evolving even further to ensure that this new generation of garments and accessories are made in a sustainable and environmentally conscious way.

Browse Fjallraven SS18 at The Sporting Lodge.

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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 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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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.