Creative Urgency: James Allen & Elliot Hammer

As you may be able to tell, James Allen and Elliot Hammer, owners of Birch creative agency, do not dress like your stereotypical creative types. The Rake discovers why.
Creative Urgency: James Allen & Elliot Hammer
Messrs. James Allen and Elliot Hammer do not dress like your archetypal creative types. Though they run a London-based creative agency called Birch, there’s seldom a flowery shirt, wooly hat or nose stud in sight. Retaining a well-tailored appearance has always been “an important point of difference” for them, and it moreover gives them the opportunity to step out the door in the mornings faithfully clad from head to toe in the creations of their clients. How’s that for brand loyalty? Birch specialises, amongst other things, in catering to the creative and design needs of traditionally rakish brands; including The Armoury, Emmett and Liverano & Liverano to name but a few, so its safe to say that James and Elliot have an impeccable taste in both clothes and clients. The Rake caught up with the pair last week at Mayfair’s most fashionable spot for a morning coffee, George on Mount St, to learn a little bit about their style and their passion for championing traditional menswear brands.
Both wear suits by Florentine master Antonio Liverano. “These are the first suits that Liverano made us” explains James, “when we started working with Liverano & Liverano, Mr Liverano just turned round to us and said, ‘if you’re going to work with me, you’re going to need to understand what I do. You need a blue suit and a grey suit, end of story. These are the cloths he chose for us, in the cuts he chose for us. That’s what’s special about Liverano; he knows exactly what you should wear, for what purpose, the colour, coordinating with the tone of your skin, your eyes, hair – everything. He creates clothes with a sense of harmony to them.”
“I found this tie in Drake’s and fell in love with it” says James, “I love the thickness of it and the way it feels – it’s a Drake’s 50oz foulard so its got some real depth to it.”
Elliot rather curiously wears a Swatch, “I think it says a lot about me – I break things quite often” he jokes. “And there’s just something about Swatch, it has a simple charm. It’s kind of a classic in its own way; these have always been the alternative to a big watch and the whole rigmarole of having to maintain a watch.”
Elliot’s chosen source for ties is Liverano, who’s seven folds are particularly beguiling and cut in soft washed printed silks. Elliot explains, “this is one of my favourites, its just a lovely thing to wear – I try to wear it sparingly for fear that I’ll end up destroying it in a couple of months”.
True to form, both James and Elliot wear Liverano’s quirky clip-on braces to complement their trousers. “Elliot bought an amazing pair back when we first started working with Liverano” quips James, “Taka talked Elliot into these fluorescent orange braces and he couldn’t get his head around them. But, Taka knew best and he wears them all the time now”. Elliot expands, “Taka said to me ‘if you’re wearing braces, you want everyone to know that you’re wearing braces’”. He’s certainly got a point.
When it comes to shoes, Elliot doesn't mess about.
Morning coffee on the terrace.
James is the proud owner of an old-school Rolex Daytona. “I was very, very fortunate to be given this,” he explains. “My dad always wanted one and searched high and low. It’s a Rolex Daytona in stainless steel but it’s got a Zenith movement so it’s super-rare. He found one after years of searching, and handed it down to me on my 21st Birthday. When the recession happened a few years ago, everyone was skint, we were just trying to establish our business and he told me to sell it. I told him that it’s the last thing I’d ever do.
James's matt tortoise-shell round-framed spectacles are the de rigueur choice of the moment, from Oliver Peoples.
For shirts, the boys are confirmed Emmett loyalists. “There’s just something lovely about Emmett,” says James, “generally they only make around 25 of each style, and the quality of construction is very high. We like their tall spread collars.”