08 March 2011

Off My Back: Vintage from Hornets

Hornets: 2&4 Kennsington Church Walk, London (photo: Not Mine)

Out of the way but worth it. (Photo: Not Mine)

A Shirt Valise (Photo: Not Yours. Mine)

from the 1920s according to Hornets. (Photo: Not Yours. Mine)

I'm guessing hog skin (Photo: Not Yours. Mine)

Anachronistic luggage, (Photo: Not Yours. Mine)

where purpose & style are served... (Photo: Not Yours. Mine)

for 25 Quid. (Photo: Not Yours. 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.


francis jones said...

I'm going to look for this place this week. thanks for sharing

Yankee-Whisky-Papa said...

Nearly certain that it's pigskin. I have one for collars with the similar snaps. I like the one that just says "Studs".

TRVS said...

That is wonderful...I'd love to find one for lingerie. No wise cracks, please. I'm quite serious.

Anonymous said...

Hey, I'd say your $50 was worth it. Those nylon packing envelope things from Travelsmith and others are already up to half that cost. And they're so not old-school cool like yours.


Easy and Elegant Life said...

And why exactly must I travel to London or Boston to find these places? Argh!

$50 for the valise was a bargain. You'll never find another. Had J Peterman or Ralph gotten there first, it would have cost $350.

As for the A&S suits, are the shoulders a bit extended? or are they bang on?

tintin said...

francis jones- You'll have a blast. Unless too many people have learned about it.

Yankee- Wish I could change 'Links' to 'Terkel.'

DB- Yeah, it was a steal. Unlike the suits which, after alterations, ran a little high. Actually, a lot high.

Chris- I've debated using it as a brief but decided it was too old and I didn't want to lose it. All anyone has to do is follow me around and they can pick up a lot shit I leave places.

Chris Despos (Chicago), who usually doesn't do alterations, did both suits. I don't know why Chris doesn't do alterations 'cause he charged me an arm and a leg but I thought it best to have them done right. And he did.

Anonymous said...

Hey Tintin,

Are there any shops like that tucked away in NYC or Philly or Boston ?


tintin said...

Fred- No.

Alice Olive said...

"The shirt's out of the valise" - perfect! Love the story of how you discovered this place, too.

tintin said...

Alice- You'd love it. A photog's dream of close up color and texture. And there's not a ladder to be found.

Barima said...

The charming Italian fellow that works there used to model in the 1990s. We exchanged Tommy Nutter memories and trivia recently, after I told him about the provenance of the leather duster I was wearing that day

All best,


NCJack said...

I absolutely did NOT need to know about that place, nor that they sell on the web.

Like you, I'm nuts for the "gentlemen's accessories" in leather, canvas, etc. I have a 1920s leather'n'brass suitcase, can barely hold a weekends' worth, and weighs about 325 pounds, but it goes in the trunk more often than the more efficient vinyl bags.

Brummagem Joe said...

London is definitely boy's town. From the pubs via Jermyn Street to the clubs l'homme all the the way. The best men's food in the world. Simpsons. The Beef, the Dover Sole, good but not flashy French wines, and the steamed treacle pudding to round it off. Nuclear fuel for guys.