Out of the way but worth it. (Photo: Not Mine)
London is a man's city. I'm not the first to say it and as long as there are places like Hornets, I will not be the last. It's hard for a visting American to find. Maybe that's intentional. I first heard of it from a claims man who worked for a Lloyd's of London syndicate. Whispered over pints on a Friday night in the Lamb, "Mate, you've got to check this place out, yeah?" As he offered me a Silk Cut he added, "But tell no one."
I have great respect for claims people. They know a bargain when they see one. They have to. I'll spare you the search. My poor sense of direction combined with a poor map (never get directions from claims people) are best left to history. But when I finally found it. It was worth it. A hundred times over.
Savile Row suits are crammed tight onto racks with new old stock shirts falling off shelves. Hats from St James, bespoke shoes, cricket bats, public school blazers, tweed sport coats, shooting jackets...it's almost too much. Any vintage hunter would shoot off a flare at the discovery of one item. In Hornets, there are thousands of discoveries. This was mine.
I bought a couple suits (Anderson & Shepard) and shirts (Airey & Wheeler) but the hog skin valise up there was my signal flare. The exchange was almost 2 to 1 but then it almost always is when I'm in London. $50 was steep but, like so many things in Hornets there was real authenticity. Even history. Who owned it and where had it been? I didn't need to hear I was recycling from the gentleman helping me but it didn't hurt.
I didn't tell anyone. Well, not many. And while its been almost 10 years -- I figure the shirt's out of the valise.