Some of our leading art galleries meet sartorial flair with Elliott Rampley and Simon Cranston’s range of dapper squares
Article by Rupert Watkins
With the profusion of gentleman’s pocket squares following the same geometric and paisley patterns, Elliott Rampley and Simon Cranston have struck a highly original note in putting some of our best loved museum’s art on silk and into our breast pockets. Rampley & Co has only been around 18 months but already has a fanatical following.
Having worked for Quintessentially, Elliott had founded a digital marketing consultancy with Simon, when he re-approached the initial idea about pocket squares he had had years earlier. Having worn them since his time with Quintessentially, Elliott was frustrated at many of the one-dimensional products available and was inspired by a number of vintage Hermes designs he had come across. The initial results – a collection of three squares – was launched in December 2014 using paintings from the Tate Britain and drawings by the early 19th Century artist, ornithologist and zoological illustrator William Swainson.
From the beginning, Elliott was keen to create the very best product available. The squares are made in the UK by Adamley in Macclesfield using 16 ounce silk. Macclesfield itself has been at the epicentre of English silk printing for near on three centuries and Adamley has been producing silks in its current factory for the past 50 years. Rampley & Co’s are large by pocket square standards at 16.5 inches by 16.5 inches and are hand rolled. Elliott designs the borders to complement and play off the colours and patterns found in the paintings themselves. He is always keen to ensure there are a number of fold opportunities highlighting the differing colours in parts of the painting in any one piece. From an embryonic three squares, the brand now offers a wide collection and has worked in collaboration with the National Gallery, the Wallace Collection, the Scream Gallery and designed a square for this year’s Waterloo 200 celebrations based on a portrait of the Duke of Wellington by Sir Thomas Lawrence.
So far, Rampley & Co have focused on classical pictures – possibly unsurprisingly as Elliott studied Egyptian Archaeology at university – though along with the partnership with the Scream Gallery there are plans to enlarge their offering of modern and contempory art based squares. So far though their best sellers have been firmly traditional; leading the charge is Rampley’s stylish and impressive square The Death of Major Peirson using an oil painting by the American artist John Singleton Copley depicting the death of Major Francis Peirson at the Battle of New Jersey in 1781. Other standout examples for this writer include The Battle of Trafalgar, as Seen from the Mizen Starboard Shrouds of the Victory by Turner that was done in collaboration with the Tate and Venice: The Basin of San Marco on Ascension Day by Canaletto which Elliot worked with the National Gallery to create.
Rampley & Co currently unashamedly specializes in pocket squares at this current time. As Elliott says, “an interesting item that tells a story” can gain a loyal and interested audience. He believes that in the current crowded marketplace, that focal point can lead to brand loyalty and therefore hopes to tell the tale behind the painting and artist used on any particular square. Whilst Elliott feels they have probably found their optimum silk type, he is looking at various linen and wool/ cotton mixes to add diversity to the collection. As part of this, the firm launched a small range of Harris Tweed squares; smaller at eight by eight inches these have overlocked edges rather than hand rolled ones. An innovative way to smarten a tweed jacket or adventurously add discreet texture to a suit, Rampley are looking to widen and re-launch this segment of their offerings in this material.
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From those first three examples, these pockets squares have been popular. Elliott comments they sell a lot to City chaps of all ages and they also have an enthusiastic American market. Currently, Rampley sees a 50:50 breakdown between UK and global sales where, alongside the US, they deal with customers from Australia and across Europe. Elliott hopes that over the coming year they will be able to make tentative inroads into the Japanese market. A substantial minority of the squares are bought by women as gifts. As such the monogramming service Rampley offers is very useful and popular. Working with Hand & Lock, the London embroiderers who have themselves been going since 1767, a refined selection of initialling options are available.
As one might imagine, there has been a fair amount of red tape to circumvent with the various institutions to bring these pocket squares to fruition but Elliott commented that all have been very helpful and keen to work with Rampley & Co. Currently, the only gallery that sells their squares is the Sainsbury Wing shop at the National Gallery – Elliott and Simon instead focusing on the online domain. The brand has done one pop up this year but currently has no other concessions though there are tentative plans for other stockists over the coming year. The obstacle the brand being online faces is with a product such as a pocket square is, as Elliot says, “you need to be able to handle the garment, to feel it and see the colours up close.”
The brand has begun to offer a bespoke service for their squares using an HD image or a picture before designing the appropriate border pattern. Recently Rampley & Co has begun a collaboration with the West End tailors The Cad & The Dandy and Elliott is working with the Museum of London on three squares with 18th Century designs that will be released next year. The brand is going from strength to strength and whilst they are, at £69, perhaps not the cheapest pocket squares a chap could find, for satorial pizazz and a hugely colourful talking point Rampley & Co are pretty hard to beat.
You can now buy Rampley & Co pocket squares on our Shop.