A Fine Man Once Said:

"Part of the 10 million I spent on gambling, part of it on booze, and part of it on women. The rest I spent foolishly."

- George Raft

Thursday, October 31, 2013

"Through These Portals Pass The Best Dressed Men In The World"

An excerpt from Volume One of the Gruppo GFT 3-volume set on Apparel Arts, which was most likely originally printed in the early to mid-1930s (before the Prince of Wales became Edward VIII or the Duke of Windsor):

"Nowhere else in the world are there as many fine - one might almost say superfine - men's apparel shops as are to be found packed side by side in that section London known as the West End. Here tailors crowd shirtmakers, shirtmakers crowd hatters and hatters crowd bootmakers - but with the dignity of century-old establishments, rich in prestige.

And the men who patronize these shops are no less pre-eminent as wearers of clothing than are the shops themselves as clothing purveyors. Through such stories streets as Old and New Bond, Conduit and Dover, pass men whose leadership in the world of fashion is second only to that of their most famous member, the Prince of Wales. 

Chief symbol of the prestige of the shops pictured on this and the opposite page is the fact that scarcely a one of them but possesses a Royal Warrant from the King, the Prince of Wales or some other member of British or Continental royalty. To be able to say that the Prince of Wales trades at your shop is to be able to say that you are in a position to purvey the exact clothes which he wears. And to Englishmen, as to Americans, that is saying a great deal.

 . . . Certainly, a shop like Tremlett's on Conduit Street, the birthplace of the necktie which bears its name, has something which money cannot buy. And the same thing can be said for Maxwell's the famous bootmakers, or Izod's, who specialize in fabulous furnishings."

The excerpted text included images of about two dozen store fronts of some of the more well-known haberdashers and shoe-makers of the day. While some names, such as Swaine and Adeney, Huntsman, Hilditch & Key, and Turnbull & Asser have continued to build upon their proud reputations, many of the other names have long since vanished. While Sulka persevered into the 21st century, I'm not sure what became of names like Winter & Tracy, Tremlett, Dare and Dolphin, or Morgan and Ball.

If any readers know the stories behind these once-proud British institutions, I'd certainly love to hear them.

[Also, with apologies in advance for my terrible photography]

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