The glory of the Bri­tish game sea­son is here. And dress­ing the part is as im­por­tant as play­ing your part, says Emma John­son, as she meets some of the he­roes from the world of Bri­tish coun­try at­tire.

Exclusively British - - CONTENTS -

We talk to the lead­ers of the finest Bri­tish brands in coun­try cloth­ing and ac­ces­sories.

IT IS A MISTY MORN­ING in Scot­land, in mid-au­gust. The dew is still wet on the grass, parched from long sum­mer days, the early sun­light fil­ters through the trees, scud­ding clouds cre­ate a dap­pled light across the pur­ple, heather-clad moor­lands, and, in the dis­tance, tramp­ing through the mud and un­der­growth, comes a crowd of smartly-dressed men and women, shoot­ing ri­fles slung over their shoul­ders, tweed caps cast­ing long shad­ows across their brows, smart over­coats in­su­lat­ing them from the morn­ing chill. The sense of an­tic­i­pa­tion in the air is clear. This is The Glo­ri­ous 12th - one of the great­est sport­ing tra­di­tions in the world, and one unique to ru­ral Bri­tain. It is tra­di­tion­ally a day that her­alds the start of the 121-day grouse sea­son, but has come to rep­re­sent the start, not only of shoot­ing sea­son, but of the coun­try sports sea­son over­all. Racing, fish­ing, hik­ing, stalk­ing, shoot­ing – this is truly the end of sum­mer and the start of au­tumn. Red grouse is a na­tive Bri­tish bird, found nowhere else in the world apart from Scot­land and parts of North­ern Eng­land. The grouse nest in, and eat, heather and thrive in this cold, wild and brood­ing land­scape. With win­try weather, freez­ing tem­per­a­tures, rain, frost and bit­ing wind, the sight of a hunt­ing party, tramp­ing through the vi­brant pur­ple un­der­growth, clad head to toe in warm­ing tweed and wax jackets, with fur-lined hats and thick boots, has, over the cen­turies, be­come a truly quin­tes­sen­tial Bri­tish sight.

Dress­ing the Part

Tra­di­tion­ally, Bri­tish coun­try at­tire has favoured dark or nat­u­ral cloth­ing, de­signed to blend in with the sur­round­ings, and has been con­structed from ma­te­ri­als that are both wind- and rain-proof. Keep­ing warm and dry for a long day on the moors or in the fields is essen­tial, which means tweed, leather, wool, wax, fur and cash­mere in dark greens, browns and navy, have be­come a sta­ple of the coun­tri­fied wardrobe. To embrace the full coun­try ap­proach you’ll need the en­tire uni­form. Start­ing with a tweed flat cap and a pair of ear de­fend­ers (if you’re shoot­ing), fol­low this with checked shirts and wool jumpers in neu­tral tones and a padded or fleece waist­coat to make up the warm un­der­lay­ers for any coun­try pur­suits. Don’t for­get a tie – one of the mark­ers of the Bri­tish sport­ing sea­son is look­ing smart and proper. Team this with a pair of tweed plus fours or breeks (cropped trousers) and long knee socks and garters, and a thick tweed over­coat or wax jacket with large pock­ets and plenty of padded warmth. Fin­ish with shoot­ing boots or welling­ton boots, in a dark green or brown.

There are plenty of fan­tas­tic Bri­tish brands who have made their name supplying the Bri­tish sport­ing elite with all it needs for a good day tramp­ing about muddy fields. Hunter, Camp­bell’s of Beauly, Barbour, Orvis, Musto, Hunts­man, Alan Paine, Wil­liam & Son, Viyella, House of Bruar and Purdey are all renowned names in the coun­try at­tire arena, and where you shop de­pends of­ten on style and pref­er­ence. Even with thick win­ter jackets, get­ting the fit right is vi­tal, and if there was ever a time to fo­cus on qual­ity ma­te­ri­als and in­no­va­tive tech­nol­ogy, this is it.

Her­itage Names

Per­haps one of the most iconic names in Bri­tish coun­try at­tire has to be Barbour, whose dis­tinc­tive green brand­ing is a sta­ple of shoots and coun­try sports across Bri­tain and be­yond. Es­tab­lished in 1894 in South Shields, in North­ern Eng­land, this lux­ury la­bel has three royal war­rants and is famed for its weath­er­proofed waxed cot­ton coats, which are so iconic the Barbour name has vir­tu­ally be­come an epony­mous moniker for all waxed jackets. “There is an al­most class­less, es­sen­tially Bri­tish, ap­peal to these styles which has be­come in­ter­wo­ven with the cri­te­ria of what it means to be Bri­tish,” says cre­ative di­rec­tor Ian Ber­gin. “An un­der­stated and es­sen­tially prac­ti­cal el­e­gance. We are a real man­u­fac­turer of fit-for-pur­pose Bri­tish ap­parel.” Barbour’s de­sign aes­thetic is de­rived through a com­bi­na­tion of func­tion and ex­pe­ri­ence, and it is es­pe­cially known for its iconic de­signs - such as the Barbour Beau­fort and Barbour In­ter­na­tional A7 Wax Jackets, both of which are sta­ples of nearly every coun­try-dwelling man in Bri­tain. “Peo­ple want and have al­ways bought into Barbour’s prac­ti­cal­ity and dura­bil­ity, that doesn’t change,” says Scott. “We have how­ever changed our fits to a more tai­lored and re­fined sil­hou­ette as coun­try stores and cus­tomers alike want tra­di­tion, but they also want a lit­tle wit and fun in the cloth­ing and a nod to trend.” At over a cen­tury old, Alan Paine is also one of the most well­known names in coun­try at­tire, and the brand is un­der­stand­ably proud of its strong English her­itage. “We still hold the same tra­di­tional val­ues that were the back­bone of the com­pany un­der the lead­er­ship of both Wil­liam and Alan Paine over 110 years ago,” says owner James Hin­ton. This means pri­ori­tis­ing high-per­for­mance coun­try wear that stays true to its ori­gins - “Evo­lu­tion­ary style, not revo­lu­tion­ary fash­ion,” says Hin­ton. Its pop­u­lar Com­brook tweed – en­gi­neered with a 100 per cent wool wa­ter-re­pel­lent outer, and a wa­ter­proof and breath­able mem­brane - is amongst its most dis­tinc­tive col­lec­tion, while its weath­er­proof shoot­ing jackets and waist­coats are specif­i­cally de­signed with the sport in mind, with pad­ding for warmth, large pock­ets for stor­age and plenty of room for move­ment. “We are in­creas­ingly see­ing a de­mand for per­for­mance coun­try wear that’s not only stylish, but is fully func­tional and which of­fers pro­tec­tion too,” adds Hin­ton

Modern Meth­ods

And, while clas­sic dura­bil­ity and prac­ti­cal­ity re­main paramount, per­haps one of the most revo­lu­tion­ary trends we are see­ing is a move to­wards those tech­no­log­i­cal de­vel­op­ments that al­low for lighter ma­te­ri­als which still pro­vide ul­ti­mate pro­tec­tion. At Musto, another proud Bri­tish coun­try­wear brand - and one renowned for its shoot­ing col­lec­tion - prac­ti­cal pur­pose for a life

in the field is key. Its sig­na­ture High­land Jacket was an in­stant hit in the shoot­ing mar­ket when it launched 30 years ago, and tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vance­ments have en­sured it has stayed rel­e­vant with chang­ing needs and styles. Up­dated de­signs and an ex­panded col­lec­tion re­cently saw the in­tro­duc­tion of three weights - a heav­ier jacket for win­ter stalk­ing, a medium weight for chilly weather and an ul­tra-light jacket for shoots in mild, change­able weather. The brand also prides it­self on versatility, so tweed fab­ric has been de­vel­oped to be ma­chine-wash­able, while jackets – such as the Keep­ers West­moor Jacket - fea­ture wa­ter­proof Gore-tex lin­ers and breath­able mesh pan­els, en­sur­ing the rain is kept com­pletely at bay.

From Field to Favour

As coun­try at­tire has evolved, so too has its pop­u­lar­ity. The im­pact of The Duchess of Cam­bridge’s wardrobe, for in­stance, who so ef­fort­lessly teams tra­di­tional tweed jackets with jeans and a sim­ple t-shirt, has seen a move to­wards coun­try at­tire for the ur­ban­ite. In May­fair, the likes of Wil­liam & Son, Purdey & Sons, Wil­lam Evans and Hol­land & Hol­land all en­sure that even the most slick of city gents has a need for coun­try at­tire – and you can’t beat the ex­pe­ri­ence of be­ing fit­ted for your coun­try uni­form by a pro­fes­sional who knows ex­actly what they’re do­ing. If you’re fur­ther afield, then on­line com­pa­nies such as Fur, Feather & Fin and The Mer­chant Fox of­fer a range of modern coun­try pieces in unique styles and host of modern brands, in­clud­ing the likes of Fair­fax & Favour - whose dis­tinc­tive tas­selled suede boots can be seen in any ru­ral set­ting from Aberdeen to Aberys­t­wyth. As coun­try at­tire has risen in pop­u­lar­ity, style has changed rad­i­cally too. Tweed has be­come lighter, colours are bolder, cuts are more flat­ter­ing, jackets are more tai­lored, adorn­ments more pop­u­lar. “We have def­i­nitely moved on from the days when coun­try cloth­ing was purely prac­ti­cal,” ex­plains Tom Birk­beck, prod­uct de­vel­op­ment man­ager from House of Bruar, based in the Scot­tish High­lands for over 20 years. “Tweed suits, tra­di­tional tar­tans and equestrian cloth­ing - which were per­haps only seen on coun­try ladies and gen­tle­men - have now be­come essen­tial items in ev­ery­one’s wardrobe. These days it’s not un­com­mon to see ladies walk­ing through Chelsea in hand­made rid­ing boots, decked out in the lat­est quilted-down jacket.” Renowned for its ex­ten­sive tweed col­lec­tion, House of Bruar’s style is a clas­sic re­flec­tion of its sur­round­ings. In­spired by its Perthshire set­ting, the brand favours lux­ury nat­u­ral fi­bres paired with ex­cel­lent tai­lor­ing, and later this year is launch­ing a new la­bel en­ti­tled ‘Call of the Wild’. Blend­ing be­spoke de­sign with Bri­tish tweed, suede and leather, Birk­beck hopes this new la­bel will of­fer a younger style of coun­try at­tire. “No longer is coun­try cloth­ing lim­ited to the shoot­ing fields,” he says. “It has now be­come nor­mal ev­ery­day wear.”

"Keep­ing warn and dry for a long on the moors or in the fields is essen­tial , which means tweed, leather, wool,wax, fur and cash­mere in dark greems browns and navy, have be­come a sta­ple of the coun­try­fied wardrobe."" “Per­haps one of the most iconic name in Bri­tish coun­try at­tire has to be Barbour"

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