How to Solve Your Countrywear Conundrum
Riddle chewed the fat with A Hume about creating the perfect country wardrobe
Article by Rupert Watkins
Riddle enthusiastically donned its tweed and headed to Burlington Gardens to chat with Archie Hume – the owner of the eponymous countrywear brand A Hume. Begun by Archie’s grandfather in 1929 as a pure tailor, the firm has expanded, especially with the arrival of the internet, to the point where A Hume was awarded the Shooting Industry Award for best website earlier this year (to go with a slew of other awards such as the 2014 Draper’s Award for Independent Retailer of the Year).
Archie took over the family business aged 23 and has never looked back. The firm works with some of the oldest (and newest) suppliers of tweed and country accoutrements in the UK – including amongst many others Johnstons of Elgin, the Lovat Tweed Mill and Dubarry. Archie described climbing through the archives, attics and hundreds of old bunches of tweed at various mills both here and abroad finding patterns and weights stretching back to the 1930s to be re-invigorated and re-designed for a modern audience.
He also raised the interesting point, as his international business has expanded, that there are very definite patterns and tastes across various countries. Whilst European customers adore the traditional English look, they veer far more towards brown based – more brackish coloured – tweeds rather than the green based colours so popular here. Given the drier, more scrubby countryside in which they shoot though this is logical but an interesting point for a supplier to monitor and be aware of. Sadly though as well, Archie did say he has seen many mills wither and die over the years – despite the huge resurgence of tweed over the past decade with people from David Gandy, David Beckham to Mumford & Sons being pictured in it.
A Hume hugely revamped and expanded their women’s wear three years ago but it already makes up a third of the shop-based business. As well as their own label clothing, A Hume stocks stylish day at the races type coats by clothing firms such as Schoffel, Bladen, Dubarry and Anna Lascata. Though he does not handle it online, a small amount of genuine fur lined coats, headwear and mufflers are stocked by their actual two shops in the Borders.
The firm is a major UK stockist for RM Williams garments and footwear for both men and women. Funnily, Archie mentioned it’s not unusual for the firm to receive orders from Australia itself – due to the fact Antipodean retailers are a season ahead and thus many ranges and colours can no longer be found there. Major international boot and jacket manufacturers are of course stocked as well – Barbour, Loake, Le Chameau – but the company also stocks a number of smaller traditional British firms such as the cufflink makers Deakin & Francis. A bespoke and made to measure service is still offered at their Kelso shop for tweed suits and kilts.
So what of your rural clothing conundrum? As Archie stressed, it is about simplicity – there is no need to break the bank for a weekend away. The focus should be on a good tweed jacket – regardless of gender – that can see you from the race-side paddock or ramble to your host’s dining room. A good shoe or boot and a classic coat to take on the vagaries of the British weather and you’re away.
Enquiries: A Hume, 46 The Square, Kelso / 01573 224620 / www.ahume.co.uk/