Wigwam – Let’s Talk Socks

by Neil Summers,

In 1904 in Wisconsin USA a devastating fire at the Sheboygan Knitting Company resulted in the sad demise of a company that had previously thrived thanks to the continuous demands of the lumber industry. From the ashes of the fire rose the Hand Knit Hosiery company, a family business that would later be become WigWam, a world leader in outdoor, athletic and active sock production.

Being pioneers in what was at the time a totally new concept of athletic socks, by the 1920s they were being asked to produce products for various outdoor retailers such as Abercrombie & Fitch. It was during this time that they also started to produce woolen bathing suits in keeping with their athletic innovation as well as sweaters for dogs in the 1940s would you believe? Though by 1945 their entire output was dedicated to the war effort, providing wool socks for the army & navy.

In 1957 the company name was changed to WigWam the origins of which are not known with most people assuming it is because their original crossed knitting needles logo resembled the top of a native American teepee. The only record the company have of a name change is a letter from the company president Robert Chesebro Senior to his staff which read:  “But only our name changes. Our people, our quality, our sales policies – and above all, our desire to work with you – remain the same.”

Since then WigWam have continued to flourish thanks to their high standards of comfort and quality performance socks. In 1978 Robert was even inducted into the Sporting Goods Hall of Fame in recognition of his work utilizing nylon in athletic, hunting and ski socks. By the late eighties WigWam became a global brand and is now sold in over 30 countries where it has become a firm favourite with everyone from aerobic instructors to alpine climbers.

View the range here at The Sporting Lodge.

Introducing – Patagonia

Introducing Patagonia, brand new to The Sporting Lodge. If you’re not clued up on Patagonia, the lads Proper Mags dig into the history. 

The name Yvon Chouinard is one that’s synonymous with the great outdoors and has a legendary status in the worlds of climbing, surfing and fly fishing not to mention his ecological and philanthropic work. For those of you unfamiliar with his name then you may be more aware of his outdoor brand Patagonia.


Having moved to California from Maine as a child,  Yvon developed a love for climbing after being taught to abseil at a local falconry club. He instantly fell in love with the sport and soon learnt how to ascend cliffs as well as to get down them. Soon he and his friends would be regularly hopping freight trains to the west end of the San Fernando Valley and to the sandstone cliffs of Stoney Point. Before long Yvon had become part of a group of maverick climbers that had moved on to Yosemite and it’s big walls. Which is where in between hiding from the park rangers that Yvon first started to develop his own outdoor equipment. Initially starting with reusable climbing pitons Yvon then expanded into clothing after importing British rugby shirts whose sturdy collars provided perfect protection from rope burn.

Along with some like-minded friends Yvon set up the brand Patagonia as it’s named  conjured up “romantic visions of glaciers tumbling into fjords, jagged windswept peaks, gauchos and condors.” It also helped that the name could be pronounced by in any language.

Alongside climbing Yvon’s other two great loves of surfing and fly-fishing are also an important part of the Patagonia product range. They also reflect the strong environmental ethos of the company and their anti-corporate stance. Which may sound like something of a paradox for a global clothing brand though they give millions away to NGOs around the world and encourage people to repair their clothing rather than replace it. Such is their level of commitment to reducing waste that on Black Friday2011 they printed a full-page ad in The New York Times encouraging customers not to buy their products!

It’s pretty difficult not to buy Patagonia products though when they’re incredibly durable whether you’re river deep or mountain high as well as being made from organic/recycled products wherever possible. Not only that but their choice of colours and designs really make them stand out from the crowd and have ensured their popularity with the fashionistas as much as alpinists.

View the range now at The Sporting Lodge.

Neil Summers and Mark Smith.

Wigwam – Brand New to The Sporting Lodge

by Mark Smith,

Founded in 1905, Wigwam was the creation three men – Herbert Chesebro, Robert Ehany, and Lawerance Bentz. This trio had previously worked for the Sheboygan Knitting Company but when it burnt down, they quickly combined to fill its place.

In a town benefiting from diverse immigration, Wigwam rose to prominence quickly, supplying the various lumbermen of the area. Sheboygan had originally been officially founded 49 years earlier but prior to that it was inhabited by various Native American tribes.

By 1936, Chesebro had taken full control of the company, but like many businesses, the war effort led to a shift in production, with 75% of their capacity being used to make socks for troops overseas.

In the post-war years, Wigwam used its strong reputation to branch out into all kinds of hosiery, with a forward-thinking outlook which has kept the company at the forefront for more than a century.

Today, Wigwam make some of the finest, most hard wearing and hard working socks on the market.

We are pleased to now be stocking Wigwam at The Sporting Lodge, browse the range!

James Purdey – The Best in the World

by Neil Summers.

James Purdey, the best gunmakers in the world for over 200 years.

In 1814 James Purdey established his gun and rifle making business at premises in Prince’s street just off Leicester Square and within ten years was regarded as the finest gunmaker in London. By 1858 his son took over the running of the company from his father. Being at forefront of change and advances in the design and building of his guns and rifles James the Younger improved on his father’s legacy by taking out several patents for technical innovations, many of which went on to be adopted by other gunmakers such as the Purdey bolt. In 1868 Purdey received its first Royal Warrant by appointment to the Prince of Wales, who later became King Edward VII with Queen Victoria also granting an additional warrant ten years later such was her love of their prestigious guns. Shortly after this time Purdey moved to new prem­ises at 57 South Audley Street where they offered gun-making workshops and cartridge load facilities and is where the company is still situated to this day.

At the turn of the century Athol Purdey took over from his father, James Purdey the Younger with his two sons James & Thomas joining the firm after recovering from serious injuries sustained fighting in France during WW1. The two brothers later took over the business though due to the economic downturn caused by WW2 sold the majority of their shares to Hugh & Victor Seeley though continued to establish Purdey as the as the best gun makers on a global scale with the help of expert gunsmith Harry Lawrence.

After Richard Beaumount took over the business in the fifties his wife the Hon Mrs Richard Beaumont went on to set up the Purdey accessories shop in adjoining premises on Mount Street in the early Seventies. The shop sold a range of exclusive high quality shooting clothing and was the first London gunmaker to ever do so. Since then Purdey have celebrated their bi-centenary in 2014 and are firmly established as an iconic name synonymous with unrivalled gun making craftsmanship as well as having forged a reputation as suppliers of excellent outdoor attire and accessories.

We are so proud to work with Purdey, long may that continue, browse our extensive range at The Sporting Lodge.

Tricker’s – British craftsmanship and quality

by Neil Summers,

Since 1829 Tricker’s have been providing their timeless classic footwear to an extensive and loyal customer base that includes ranges from the farming community to members of the royal family. Founded by James Tricker in Northampton the company developed a unique welting system that created a waterproof protection for boots offering a warm and dry solution to those who’d been previously spending their days out in the fields with wet feet. Though initially a functional boot designed specifically for country pursuits, word soon spread and before long the iconic Tricker boot was being worn in both town and country. The reputation was so strong that Tricker’s were also charged with with providing boots to officers during both World Wars with many soldiers choosing to wear them long after conflict had ended thanks to their high quality. Over time the Tricker’s name has become synonymous with British craftsmanship and quality. especially overseas where it’s particularly popular in the two most style conscious countries in the world, Japan and Italy.

Though now playing to a global and fashion based audience as well as several generations of loyal customers, little has changed in their production methods. Almost 250 individual processes are required to make a single pair of tricker’s shoes in their busy factory where workers move between stations checking leathers, welting shoes and forming the shape of boots over bespoke lasts. Many of these unique foot shaped wooden moulds are kept in a designated client room that is something of a Brogues gallery such are the famous names attached to many of them. Alongside HRH the prince of Wales you’ll find lasts belonging to politicians, captains of industry, soldiers, sailors and airman, explorers as well as leading figures from the arts. In fact Tricker’s were even worn by Sir Edmund Hillary on his successful 1953 ascent of the Himalayas as well as by Lord Carnarvon when opening the tomb of Tutankhamen. 007 is also a fan of the tricker’s brogue with everyone from the originator Ian Fleming right up to the current Bond Daniel Craig being customers of Tricker’s Jermyn street store.

Few brands create as high a level of loyalty as Tricker’s do, with many owners handing their beloved brogues down to their children who in turn keep the tradition and continue to pass theirs on. Proving that these classic British shoes in many ways become a part of the family rather than just a way of keeping your feet dry!

Spring Summer 2017 collection has just landed at The Sporting Lodge, it’s well worth a look!

Private White V. C. – The great design

Private White V.C. takes its name from the decorated WW1 hero Private Jack White. Drawing inspiration from the all-action life of its namesake, PWVC produces classic, timeless clothing with military and functional characteristics.

Taking the best items of clothing from the 20th century, Private White V.C. expertly evolves its designs to create something new for the modern man.

Still based in the hard-working industrial heart of Manchester, Private White V.C. keep production close, with all garments constructed in their factory, using locally sourced fabrics wherever possible.

On design duties is Nick Ashley, who utilises a lifetime of experience garnered from spells with Kenzo, Tods and Dunhill, not to mention the creativity in his family’s DNA. His mother is the celebrated interior designer Laura Ashley.

If you appreciate great design, a keen eye for quality and a Boy’s Own background, Private White V.C. ticks all boxes.

SS17 has just landed at The Sporting Lodge, we hope you like the new range as much as we do!

Fjällräven: Born and raised in the great outdoors

When it comes to truly authentic outdoor brands there can be few brands credentials as impressive as the Swedish label Fjällräven. Their origins can be traced back to 1950 when founder Åke Nordin was a 14 year old boy-scout and took issue with the uncomfortable backpacks of the time. Being a practical type he decided to do something about this problem and in a lodge adjoining the family’s holiday home he made a wooden frame and fastened a cotton bag to it that he’d sewn together using leather straps. The new design worked a treat as it distributed the load across his back and increased the ventilation between back and the backpack. Allowing for a more comfortable fit, enabling heavier loads to be carried and heralding the start of something special.

After leaving the scouts Åke went on to do his military service  at the newly founded and extremely demanding FJS Parachute Ranger School in Karlsborg. It was during his time there that he discovered that even the equipment used by the most elite unit in the country was not fit for purpose. Recognising that there was clearly a market for functional and hard-wearing outdoor equipment, Åke set up his own company in 1960.

The first registered Fjällräven office was the family’s one-room flat just outside Örnsköldsvik. Whilst the workshop was situated down in the cellar and is where the first backpacks with aluminium frames were created. They were gradually followed by the condensation-free, lightweight tents, functional outdoor clothing and revolutionary sleeping bags that would come to be loved by a growing corps of outdoor enthusiasts the world over.

Though now a global company with many employees Fjällräven continue to be a brand with a love of the great outdoors still very much at it’s heart. Which is why they remain completely committed to continually developing their high quality products whilst also promoting the outdoor life and acting responsibly towards wildlife and nature.

View Fjallraven’s fantastic outdoor range at The Sporting Lodge.

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.

brady1

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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