Wednesday, February 14, 2007

London in the 1950s: Brollies & bowlers

An enterprising AskAndy member (Doctor Damage) recently posted a photo series of 1950s London city gents. This should provide a nice visual bookend to my two recent posts on brollies and English icons (including the bowler hat).

It is remarkable to note the drastic change in dress in less than 50 years. Even more generally, why did men's dress loosen up so significantly in the 20th century? That denouement will be a side discussion in what will hopefully be a planned book project on men's clothing and style.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

English umbrellas

Today three makers remain of the classic English "brolly":
Brigg (now Swaine Adeney Brigg) appears to have the largest remaining manufacturing operation in the UK with two dedicated umbrella makers, a cover maker, repair personnel among the 30 people in Swaine's Cambridgeshire factory. As mentioned in my previous post, see this interesting interview of Michael Stevens of Swaine Adeney Brigg for further details.

I find the Brigg Prince of Wales Traveller model to be a nice fusion of form and function for the erstwhile visitor to London. But two choices remain. It should be noted that James Smith will cut the umbrella or walking stick to your appropriate size and reach.

A definitive list of English icons

Today I found this interesting site on English icons ( The site seems to be the kind of public-private partnership that one wishes would happen more often. Creating win-win scenarios should not be exclusive to the private sector.

There are at least two clothing related entries (see entry on the Bowler Hat) and an interview of Swaine Adeney under The Weather icon including tidbits about their business and clientele (

Notably missing is an entry on Savile Row. Perhaps someone would care to nominate SR? I think the Savile Row Bespoke Association would be happy to oblige with additional information and interviews.

For further discussion, see the associated AskAndy thread.