Yorkshire’s fabric mills – a brief history

October 26, 2012 | Posted in Cloth | Leave a Comment   (0) | Jasper

 

 

 

Yorkshire fabric mill, English milled fabric

Black Dyke Mill, Yorkshire

 

 

From Cobbles to Catwalk – The Incredible Fashion Journey of Yorkshire Fabrics

Yorkshire has long been synonymous with fabric mills, even before industrialisation made it the nation’s – and for a while the world’s – biggest fabric producer, there was a well-established cottage industry.

Despite most of the UK’s past industrial glory dwindling to a shadow of its former self, the Yorkshire fabric industry is still going strong. According to statistics from Arap, a technical consultancy firm based in Leeds, 10% of all jobs in fashion manufacturing and design in the UK are within West Yorkshire and, according to the firm, 40,000 of West Yorkshire’s residents are employed within the textiles industry.

When industrial textile mills began to spring up all over Yorkshire in the late eighteenth and early 19th century, they provided something that the average man could not have got his hands on before – affordable fabric. This meant that people were able to have more clothes made, for the first time giving them an albeit limited choice as to what they wore.

At the higher end of the scale Yorkshire fabrics became a sign of quality throughout the world and have been a popular choice amongst tailors and fashion designers for hundreds of years. In 2011, an exhibition held at Leeds Armley Mills Museum showcased the incredible legacy of the Yorkshire cotton mills. A clothing collection from the Sunnybank Mill Woven Textile Archive gave a flavour of how the use of Yorkshire fabrics has developed since the dawn of the industrial revolution.

The exhibits included the handiwork of Henry Poole, Savile Row tailor, as well as examples from world class fashion designers Mulberry and Bower Roebuck, demonstrating that Yorkshire fabrics are still considered amongst the best in the world and are just a as popular in 2012 as they were in 1912.

 

 

English milled fabrics

Salts Mill, Yorkshire

 

Jasper Littman’s Tailoring Tips: How to Choose a Fabric for a Bespoke Suit

October 24, 2012 | Posted in Cloth | Leave a Comment   (0) | Jasper

 

Fabric for bespoke suit

Navy subtle pin stripe woven exclusively for Jasper Littman

 

When ordering your bespoke or semi-bespoke suit (the fabric selection is the same for both) you’ll be guided through the process but you may want to consider these factors before your first appointment:

 

  • What will the suit be used for? Is this a business suit or is it for a wedding?
  • During which season will the suit be ready? Would it make sense to order a summer weight suit, a winter weight or a year-round medium weight? Click here to read about fabric weights
  • Will this suit be used for overseas travel to hot countries?
  • What colours do you already have in your wardrobe? If you already own five navy suits, then maybe it’s time for a grey?
  • Which colours suit your skin tone, hair colour and size, and which are appropriate for your profession?
  • What’s the clothing policy at your place of employment? Do you always have to wear conservative colours or can you get away with being more adventurous?
  • Is durability the most important factor for you or are you more interested in comfort?
  • What is your budget? The price of a Jasper Littman suit is determined by the quality of the fabric.
  • Do you prefer pure wool or would you consider a blend e.g. wool & mohair, wool & cashmere etc?

 

Fabric Tips:

 

  • Medium weight and heavier weight fabrics will always drape better than light weights but of course they will be warmer to wear as a result. Take into account the temperature of your working environment when considering the weight.

 

  • Consider whether you’re the type of person who feels the cold, or whether you’re more likely to overheat in an office situation.

 

  • Always try to choose a fabric that’s more interesting than the colours and weaves you usually find with off-the-peg suits.

 

  • Ask your tailor about how the quality and performance varies between different fabric merchants e.g. Holland & Sherry, H. Lesser, Smith Woollens etc. They all have their strengths and weaknesses and this should be taken into account when making your decision. Their prices also vary considerably.

 

 

Inside Jasper Littman’s wardrobe

October 22, 2012 | Posted in Cloth | Leave a Comment   (0) | Jasper

When visiting clients my own suits often draw a lot of curiosity. People want to know why I chose the fabrics and styles that I chose, and what someone who works with fabric every day considers to be good quality. For that reason I thought it might be interesting to talk through my own suit collection.

In the vast majority of cases, when I order a suit for myself it’s not simply a case of choosing a pattern that takes my fancy and going with that. Instead, I like to use every opportunity to test new fabrics and styles as well as improved construction methods that we’ve been working on.

These are some of the suits currently in my wardrobe:

 

Charcoal hopsack one-button single-breasted from the Holland & Sherry 13oz Classic Worsteds bunch.

 

I ordered this plain dark grey suit because at the time the Classic Worsteds bunch was brand new, a revised version of the old Perennial bunch. The patterns and colours were more or less the same, all the classic pin stripes, herringbones and plains. But the quality of the yarn had changed giving the new bunch a softer feel without compromising any of the durability.

I wanted to test this new bunch because the old Perennial bunch was rock solid, but a little too coarse for some. I’m pleased to report that the changes Holland & Sherry have made have been successful, so you can now enjoy the best of both worlds at a great price. The Classic Worsteds bunch is one of the cheapest in the Holland & Sherry range but you wouldn’t know it to look at it.

I’ve deliberately given this suit a good battering* and it’s come through completely unscathed. I would highly recommend this collection for the autumn/winter season. The 13oz weight is perfect for those who have to stand on cold station platforms.

*please do not try this at home.

 

Chocolate brown one-button subtle pin stripe from the Holland & Sherry 9oz Cashique bunch.

 

Single breasted one-button brown pin stripe suit

Single breasted one-button chocolate brown stripe (wool, cashmere & silk mix).

 

 

This was a good opportunity to test a summer weight fabric that combines a very fine Super 160’s wool with silk and cashmere.

As you can imagine the result is an incredibly smooth and ultra-comfortable suit. It feels a bit like wearing silk pyjamas and I was impressed with its ability to withstand creasing as well. For a lightweight suit it never really looked crumpled.

Why chocolate brown? I’m a fan of that colour and it breaks up the monotony of every suit always being navy or grey. Not everyone can get away with wearing brown suits to work but if you can I would recommend you try one.

Tip: Brown suits work particularly well with men who have darker hair and olive/dark skin.

Click here to read about the Cashique bunch

 

Mid-blue two-button pin stripe from the Holland & Sherry 6 ½oz Dragonfly bunch

 

Single breasted two-button mid blue pin stripe (ultra lightweight).

 

Another experiment, this suit gave me the chance to test two different theories; firstly, in hot weather, how cool is a suit made from 6 ½oz fabric? Secondly, what happens when you coat a suit with Teflon?

Firstly the weight; before this bunch was issued the lightest weight fabric I’d heard of was 7 ½oz, and that was very light. To see a bunch come out that was even lighter was surprising. I was excited to see if it was cooler to wear in summer than my other lightweight suits. No-one likes having to wear a suit in 27 degree heat so the lighter, the better in that situation.

From the first day of wearing this I was impressed at how cool the suit was. It was even breezier than the mohair suit that I had. However you have to take into account that the ultra-lightweight nature of this fabric means it will not drape or tailor as nicely as say, a 9oz fabric will. Consequently I wouldn’t recommend this fabric to everyone.

As for the Teflon, those ground-breakers at Holland & Sherry devised something called Nanobloc which is a stain-proof system using Teflon and tightly woven wool. As a result you can pour water over your Dragonfly suit and watch the beads roll off like water off of a duck’s back! Amazing stuff.

Coincidentally on the first day I wore this suit I was caught in a burst of hot summer rain. The suit was battered by rain but after a quick shake off, the jacket showed no signs of absorption and recovered completely within minutes. I’m only left wondering why this Nanobloc technology isn’t applied to all weights of Holland & Sherry fabric?

Incidentally this was my first ever two-button suit. For some reason I’ve only ever ordered either three-button suits or one-button. I liked the two-button style but ended up going back to one-button afterwards.

You can read about the Dragonfly bunch by clicking here:

 

Plain mid-blue one-button from the Holland & Sherry 8oz Escorial mohair bunch

 

I’m a fan of blending mohair with wool, click here to read why.

This particular weave is different however because mohair is usually mixed with a Super 100’s wool but in this case it was mixed with a super-soft Escorial wool. Mohair is coarse to the touch so the idea behind that is to try and soften up the suit, and the Escorial wool certainly helps.

I hadn’t used this bunch before so, again, this was another experiment to see what’s possible with mohair. The colour is deep and rich so this particular suit draws a lot of compliments from clients and colleagues alike.

Mohair comes with its own unique sheen and although it’s not for everyone, personally I quite like it.

You can read about the Escorial wool bunch here:

All of these suits were made using our semi bespoke service but of course I have had a few bespoke suits tailored. Here’s an article about my favourite fully bespoke suit.

The next bunch to be tested will be…. The Holland & Sherry Intercity bunch.

Watch this space for the results.