Cripes! A techy new tailor making glow-in-the-dark tweed has opened just around the corner from the very discriminating gents of Savile Row. Alfred Tong suspects they won’t mind at all
What would a modern day, urban knight look like? Perhaps he would ride around the city on a bike instead of a horse. But what of his armour?
The latter is the question former fashion photographer, Guy Hills, and Royal College of Art trained textile designer, Kirsty McDougall , have set out to answer with their tailoring company, Dashing Tweeds, and its first store, now open just around the corner from Savile Row.
Their solution is a range of brightly coloured tweeds called Lumatwill that has all the wonderful properties you might expect of the traditional woollen fabric – warm, waterproof, breathable, tough. But woven into the tweed is a yarn made out of 3M fibres – the stuff that makes reflective strips on lifejackets. It makes the Lumatwill glow in the dark, and is therefore perfect for cyclists, and anyone else that needs to glow in the dark. Dashing Tweeds have used the new-fangled fabric to make everything from tailored suits to plus fours, hats and zip-up jackets, for the nocturnal dandy on wheels.
‘Tweed is the British denim. It is the original performance fabric. Menswear is all about function and purpose’ says Guy Hills, explaining the idea behind this groundbreaking fabric.
Hills and McDougall set up the brand in 2008, with a design studio in Dalston, and a roll call of British mills charged with weaving the company’s cloths. This pocket-watch sized store on Sackville Street sees the brand stepping up a bit, with the full collection of fabrics, as well as a ready-to-wear line of smart tailoring plus a sporty line of bombers and trainers made in collaboration with Boxfresh.
Previously, new brands attempting to encroach on the Savile Row patch have had a rude reception from the old boys’ tailoring club in residence there – Abercrombie & Fitch were faced with an (admittedly fairly foppish and well-mannered) protest when they opened a store for aftershave-overloaded teens on Burlington Gardens in 2013, with immaculately suited chaps sporting ‘Give three-piece a chance’ placards. But while Dashing Tweeds may have a techy twist to their get-up, they also supply many Savile Row stores with Scottish-made, top-notch fabric so this little store won’t be curling too many moustaches in the neighbourhood.
‘Our philosophy is to blend the creativity of the East End with the quality and craftsmanship of Savile Row,’ says Hills. ‘Everyone always talks about ’classic with a twist’ but there’s no innovation. That’s where we come in.’ Here comes the neighbourhood.