Craft / June 2016

The Huntsman Tweed Project, Part I: The Islay Woollen Mill

Introducing the Huntsman urban tweed project, a unique collaboration between The Rake and Savile Row’s undisputed champion of tweed.

Huntsman, perhaps more than any other English tailor, has traditionally taken ownership of the art of tailoring in tweed. The house’s extraordinary 150 year history is inextricably interlinked with this most aristocratic of materials; when the eponymous Mr Henry H. Huntsman founded the house in 1849, he did so by incorporating a defunct hunting and shooting tailors, and his very own Victorian riding breeches still take pride of place in the centre of the Savile Row shop today. Huntsman went on to cut riding clothes for Prince Albert and was awarded a royal warrant from Queen Victoria, so pleased was the Prince with his commission. For much of the early twentieth century, Huntsman remained the undisputed tailor of choice for the riding and shooting aristocracy, and Hollywood’s glitterati, including the likes of both Cary Grant, Clark Gable and most notably Gregory Peck have been famously photographed in Huntsman’s equestrian tailoring, to name but a few of the rather impressive list of film stars, politicians, power-players and aesthetes who have subscribed to the iconic ‘Huntsman cut’.

Even today, our own experiences with the house, and those of our friends and contributors, attests to Huntsman’s unique position as a tailor of extraordinarily elegant, functional, contemporary tweed garments – appropriate for all manner of environments and social situations. Of course full on shooting suits, complete with plus-fours and action-backs are the backbone of Huntsman’s tweed related arsenal, but the house has also been making waves when it comes to presenting tweed as a contemporary fabric, suited to modern tailoring for the urban environment. Says Huntsman’s Creative Director & Co-Head Cutter, Campbell Carey “Its paramount for us that we retain the history of our tweeds but modernise through the use of contemporary colour palettes better suited to the surroundings of today. The finest tailoring will always draw upon traditional methods, particularly for bespoke houses like ours on Savile Row. Even so, its important we don’t neglect the way that the world is moving.” As a result, lightweight, luxurious cashmere tweeds, contemporised archive designs inspired by the tweeds which the house made for Gregory Peck and the possibility to commission your own bespoke tweed (and have a limited meterage kept in store, for you to call upon to dress family members or subsequent generations) are all initiatives being pioneered by Huntsman at the moment.

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Aleksandar Cvetkovic

Aleks is Deputy Editor at The Jackal and former staffer at The Rake. He’s long harboured a passion for fine menswear, well-timed dramatic pauses and stiff drinks.