The everlasting and enduring appeal of a Barbour wax jacket

by Neil Summers.

There can be few things in life that are as hard-wearing or reliable as a Barbour jacket. Designed for all manner of healthy outdoor pursuits from bailing hay to wiping out wildfowl. It’s a timeless British icon loved the world over as much by country folk as it is city-slickers and whose level of appeal (just like the jackets themselves) seems to only improve with age. This was proved by my recent visit to the Pitti Uomo trade show in Florence where I noticed amongst all the fur lined parkas and woolen overcoats that the Barbour Bedale and Beaufort wax jackets are both still the jacket of choice for Italy’s fashion elite. Which is pretty incredible when you try to think of another genuine outdoor that’s as popular with urbanite peacocks as it is with those who wear Barbour jackets for the type of outdoor pursuits that don’t involve drinking prosecco or being papped.

Whilst other jackets have come and gone since its inception back in 1894, thanks to its combination of practicality and timeless style the Barbour wax jacket is now a permanent fixture in our wardrobes. Worn by everyone from festival goers to royalty and even our household pets the Barbour wax jacket remains a uniquely British fashion statement too. It’s an iconic institution as synonymous with our sceptered isle as red buses, steamed up chip shop windows, foaming pints of beer, complaining about the weather and the wonderful crack of leather on willow.

Long may Barbour continue, here at The Sporting Lodge we are proud to be working with such an iconic brand.

Brady Bags – Made in England

by Mark Smith and Neil Summers

The Brady brothers John and Albert started their company in Birmingham in 1887 having begun making leather goods in the 1870s. While they eventually made their name in fishing and game bags, it was their leather gun cases which first announced them to the outdoor community.

John’s son Ernest and Albert’s son, Leonard both joined Brady Brothers later and in 1928 Ernest took over the business.

The business grew from strength to strength under Ernest’s tutelage and in the 1930’s Ernest and Leonard moved to larger premises in Shadwell Street in the heart of Birmingham’s gun quarter. It was there Ernest first designed and personally made a range of fishing bags all named after English rivers. These bags came to personify the brand and gave them a strong identity on which to foster a prosperous future.

Brady gun cases became another mainstay of the brand and were coveted by the great and good, from the Sultan of Oman to the Duke of Westminster.

In what would seem an unlikely turn of events, Leonard sought to make his name in Hollywood and perhaps unsurprisingly his keen craftsmanship helped him establish himself as a prop maker in the film industry.

In the middle part of 20th century, the war effort meant the focus of Brady shifted and the entire business suffered serious upheaval. Ernest moved production to his home where he worked alongside a stitcher and machinist. Eventually, heavy bombing of the region meant another relocation was necessary and roots were put down in Halesowen in the Black Country.

As Brady sought to reestablish itself as the leading bag maker in post-war Britain, Ernest took the unusual step of building a caravan and taking his family on a road trip which led to London. While there he took his products into as many retailers as he could find and took orders which would prove to be a tremendous boon for the business.

With a fine tradition for using the best materials, including canvas and leather, Brady continue to be based just north of Birmingham in Walsall. Their values hold true and when many brands are transplanting their production overseas, Brady remains steadfast in its belief in British manufacturing. While the family took a step back in the 1990s, they kept the same ethos key to the future of Brady by passing the company into expert hands, based in the same region.

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Brady still make some of the bags they did years & years ago using the same traditional methods they always have.

The Sporting Lodge have long been proud members of the Brady Bunch, having had a working relationship with the brand for more than half a century. Long may that continue. If they keep making great bags there’s no reason why not.

Filson – A New Introduction

by Mark Smith and Neil Summers

Filson may have been around for several lifetimes, but it’s a new introduction for us here at The Sporting Lodge.

Clinton C. Filson spent the early part of his working life as a railroad conductor, before moving to Seattle, Washington in the 1890s. It was here where the real roots of Filson began, when Clinton set up a small loggers outfitting store. In a scene which was mirrored in many parts of the U.S in this era, Filson made its name meeting the needs of prospectors passing through Seattle on their way to the Klondike Gold Rush. The brand eventually got itself on a solid footing in 1897 and although the gold rush was relatively short-lived, it cemented the brand as a reliable supplier of clothing and accessories which would stand the test of time. After the gold rush ended around 1899, Filson shifted to providing gear for outdoor oriented activities and occupations including hunting, fishing and logging.

In the modern day, Filson continues to enjoy an unrivalled reputation in its field. In the early 90s, its heritage in canvas luggage was revived, while more recently in 2010 it fittingly partnered up with another brand born of the gold rush to create Levi’s Workwear by Filson. While the brand may be rooted in 19th century values in some ways, it’s very much a modern entity. They keep things close to home by manufacturing in the U.S more often than not. Indeed, some of their materials are source in the United Kingdom, too.

With slogans such as ‘Unfailing Goods’ and ‘Built to Last’ running through their veins, Filson have a unique confidence in the gear they make. It’s perhaps their best known tagline which sums them up most accurately though – “Filson – Might as well have the best”.

“The goods we quote must not be confounded with the cheap and vastly inferior grade with which the market is over-run. Such goods are not only useless for the purpose for which they are intended, but the person wearing them would be better off without them.”

— Clinton C. Filson, 1914 catalogue

 

Over the years, Filson’s philosophy has never changed: Make sure it’s the absolute best. Clinton Filson spent a lot of time talking to his customers and refining his designs to their specifications. So it’s not surprising that the items that worked then still work today, over 100 years later. Comfort, protection and durability never go out of style.

We hope you love our new Filson range as much as we do at The Sporting Lodge.

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