As we sit out another lockdown, I want to extend a huge thank you to all our customers for your continued loyalty and support. As our shop closes temporarily again, we’ll be doing all we can to keep in touch and continue supply your sartorial needs with our online swatch and accessories service. I hope you are all having as happy a new year as possible in restrained circumstances.
Despite all our common trials and tribulations, Henry Poole & Co has a remarkable amount to celebrate as we embark upon this strange, grey January. First, my warmest congratulations to our senior cutter, Philip Parker, who has been with us 40 years. Shortly after he arrived, he interviewed Therese Callow, who joined as a trouser finisher and I’m delighted to stay she remains with us too. We also celebrate ten years for Thomas Pendry, who arrived as an apprentice, became a senior cutter and later Director and now looks after our UK clients and heads Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Singapore and Hong Kong. Scean Abgoten, one of our trouser finishers, has also made it to a decade with us and Kimberley Alsleben, who joined 12 years ago as an office assistant, is now a director and our head of communications. Karen Jones who works in the accounts office has also been with us 12 years. Nothing thrills me more than to see a generation of apprentices rise to become board members while I watch new apprentices begin to learn their trade. I see it as reassuring evidence that Savile Row’s oldest tailor has a promising future, and I am acutely aware of how lucky we are to have such a talented and loyal team of craftsmen. I am confident all our customers, who have met Philip, Thomas, Therese, Scean, Kimberley and Karen will agree. We can’t have a party and rejoice as we’d like to, but nevertheless I wanted to state my appreciation and I’m sure our customers will join me in doing so.
In that spirit of positivity, I’d like focus on all the good that emerged from 2020. The first really pleasant surprise of last year was on the 21st January when we won the Only in Mayfair Award at the fifth Mayfair Times Community Awards, in recognition of Henry Poole’s positive contribution to local life. 550 guests attended the glamorous dinner and event at Grosvenor House and actor and comedian Alexander Armstrong presented the awards. Judges included model David Gandy, GQ Editor Dylan Jones, consummate restaurateur Jeremy King, Lilly Newell of Caprice Holdings and The Birley Group, the Earl of Snowdon and designers Amanda Wakeley and Anya Hindmarch.
Our shop might be currently closed but Henry Poole is here to do all we can to make sure you carry on looking your best. As we’ve said before in these newsletters, you can make a far greater impression on Zoom in a really good jacket – preferably from Henry Poole & Co, of course! In the summer Alex Cooke, co-managing director and master cutter, reiterated the merits of the super lightweight suit. Not necessarily known for its lightweight garments, Henry Poole has been quietly making superb lightweight clothing for years and it’s now even more in demand due to the marked swing away from rigid, formal suits. It might be the season for warm clothing but so many of us are stuck inside and so a lightweight jacket is ideal for all face-to-face internet transactions. Without ever compromising the signature Henry Poole silhouette or having a flimsy off-the-peg look, the jackets are stripped down, breathable and utterly comfortable. Plus, the subtler shoulder line makes it look as if you’re not trying too hard and delivers an effortless elegance, perfect for today’s WFH (working from home) culture.
It was while our cutters and tailors were making scrubs, PPE and laundry bags for the NHS charity ‘Show Love with Colour’, set up by Victoria Townsend, during last year’s spring lockdown, that we came up with the idea of making some really beautiful masks. It should come as no surprise to hear that Henry Poole was way ahead of the game. Just as the House is renowned for having created the world’s first Tuxedo in 1865 for the Prince of Wales, future Edward VII, so we created Savile Row’s first ever elegant mask to match and complement a gentleman’s suit or dinner jacket. Today I am sending those masks around the world to clients as far afield as Japan and Australia. The masks come in either a pleated or plain sports version. They’re made with robust coloured elastic and all are lined in breathable, cotton-based silica, which will never cause irritation to the skin or mouth area. We also have an autumn range in Harris tweeds and cashmere, still with the same soft silica mouth coverings. It gives me great pride to see so many of our customers automatically ordering a mask to match a new suit. It was an innovation that really chimed with our customers.
Our trunk shows were obviously severely compromised by last year’s travel restrictions. But we thought outside the box and became more flexible about our schedules. This meant we had the opportunity to visit countries without restrictions and see customers that we would normally see in London. We visited both Dublin and Stockholm, which proved a great success. We also returned to Vienna, due to client demand, which followed our updated and vastly improved website and enhanced online outreach. It was a pleasure seeing current and meeting new customers.
We also made it to the States just before March 23rd, which gave us a chance to finish ordered garments. This meant our workshops could stay open, despite our shop being forced to close. We took our trunk shows along the East Coast from Boston, down through New York and Washington to Palm Beach. As soon as we’re allowed to travel again, we will take the same route but hope to bolt on a bit of a Grand Tour to take in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago.
In September we celebrated and took great delight in our longstanding partnership with RangeRover. As the RangeRover car model turned 50, we made a limited edition of 50 special jackets with fabric created in collaboration with LandRover’s Chief Creative Officer, Gerry McGovern OBE. We launched the beautiful jackets at our stand at the 2020 Concours d’Elegance at Hampton Court Palace. The fabric was inspired by the original paint colours of 1970 RangeRover – Tuscan Blue, Davos White and Bahama Gold. The jacket is smart enough to pair with grey flannels but also looks perfect with denim jeans so we were so proud to be purveyors of the ultimately adaptable smart-casual jacket that can be worn anywhere. People were drawn to our stand to see the jacket and we spent a very happy weekend enjoying the one early autumn occasion when people were able to gather in the open air in a majestic setting and really enjoy themselves.
So it wasn’t all bad and we hope to see you as soon as we’re allowed to. In the meantime, please do keep in touch with us. We’re constantly updating our website, where you’ll find so many attractive offers. If you’re a new customer, our masks alone should lure you there but I’m very confident we have everything on offer for discerning gentlemen from cufflinks and ties to our classic Henry Poole bespoke suits and jackets.
Best wishes for 2021 and we look forward to seeing you soon.