In 1837 Augustus Siebe, German born but living in England, developed a Diving Helmet which sealed airtight to a rubber suit. The closed suit connected to an air pump on the surface and thus became the first effective standard diving wear of its time. Rewarding Siebe with the moniker “father of deep sea diving”.
Founded by Augustus Siebe and his son in law Gorman, Siebe Gorman and Co. were a British company that developed diving and breathing equipment designed for commercial diving and marine salvage projects. The Augustus Siebe helmet gained a reputation for safety during its use on the wreck of the Royal George in 1840. The combination of safety and design features became the standard for helmet construction throughout the world, some of which were incorporated into the design of modern-day space suits.
Slightly obsessed with these first generation of deep sea divers – in our minds every bit as courageous as those later men and women that would take on the challenge of Space Travel. It was with great pleasure that a recent buying trip to France uncovered this fine collection of diving wear. Dealing with the bends, poor visibility, restricted movement and the fear of unknown sea monsters and giant squid – the experience of the sheer claustrophobia of a 19th century diving suit was in some small way improved by the matching Submariner knit, scarf, long johns and sea socks – all bearing the Siebe Gorman helmet logo.
To be brutally honest, we were ever-so just slightly stumped when it came to these. They look like slippers, but hard leather heel and soles didn’t seem right – who would wear hard leather soles around the house? Well, having consulted our historical shoe oracle and stylist phenomenonata David Nolan, it would appear the Greeks are who wear their hard-soled slippers around the σπίτι (house). These are indeed house shoes, also known as a ‘Grecian’ slipper, and a nice example in tan too. £poa.
What can be more appropriate at this time of year than the autumnal shades of a Harris Tweed two-piece gamekeeper suit. A traditional Scottish design it features distinctive styling such as the cut away front, a shorter body length and the scalloped and glove stitched pocket flaps. Partnered with a kilt and sporran it conjures up images from the film Mrs. Brown or The Shooting Party.
Interestingly the jacket shape is not too dissimilar to some of Vivienne Westwoods House of Mud designs, even some of Christopher Nemeth’s creations. Very Buffalo!
A recent Vintage Showroom find – A 1940s running vest and wool warm-up sweatshirt from the University of Washington.
Before the expression Type II became fashionable, denim afficionado’s and those in the know simply referred to this classic Levi’s 507XX jacket as a Number Two. Number One being the first model and having one pocket, Number Two being the second and having, you guessed it, two pockets.
Simple as that, 1,2, 3, bish bosh.*
Established in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, in 1866 by Civil War veteren Charles Masland – the business was making carpets, including, throughout the 1920s, carpets for the groundbraking Model T Ford cars. Carpeting remained the primary business until 1940, a year before the US joined WWII, when its mills were turned over to the war effort and the production of various canvases and foul weather gear for military use. For this, it even scooped the Board of the Army and Navy’s Excellence Award.
Post-war production eventually returned to carpeting (mid-1950s) but not before Masland successfully turned his looms to the making of outdoorswear, a continuation from the war featuring military touches – the cotton duck fabric is reinforced using leather and suede patches on all the usual ‘heavy-wear’ area’s (cuffs, knees, elbows etc). The mid-1950s saw the company start to trade outdoors-wear under the name of Wood + Stream.
This recent cache of the complete volumes of The West End System of Cutting offers a fascinating insight into the ins and outs, the do’s and dont’s, and pitfalls of late Victorian tailoring. Informative engravings guide you through the difficulties of cutting for ‘disproportionate figures’, the corpulent body and those of a ‘large seat’!
Some of these late Victorian styles of cutaway jackets are now making a comeback thanks to Mister Freedom and the Victorian Gaucho-cum-street urchin look, riding on the tail coat of Steam Punk.
(Look out for an Oscar Wilde lookalike in Engraving V looking particularly Aesthetic in a double breasted lounge suit type affair).
Here’s a nice Sealed Pattern Royal navy jumper, smock, crackerjack top dating from the First World War, or to give it it’s proper name ‘Jumper, Duck’, referring to the heavy linen sail cloth it is made from. This is the garment template, the quality standard from which issued items had to adhere to, and seems to originate from ‘Experimental Establishments, Woolwich and Shoeburyness’. It bears the large linen labels and wax seals of the Clothing Inspection Department and judging by the dates it stayed in War Department stores from 1920 to 1961.
Founded in 1791 by Samuel Peal, Peal & Co. were shoemakers of great repute with a far reaching global client list that included crowned heads of Europe, Presidents and Hollywood royalty, such as Rudolph Valentino, Fred Astaire, Mr & Mrs Humphrey Bogart, Cary Grant and Steve McQueen amongst others.
These Second World War private purchase officers boots have the original Peal’s “S.P.” shoe trees, gold foil blocked logo inside and hobnail soles, and have taken on the patina of polished prize-winning conkers.
Cashing in on the topicality of the film release of the seminal Beat book On The Road, here is a ‘Hobo’ Beatnik classic. Based on the wartime Royal Navy short shawl collared duffle coats, this civilian ladies version dates from the 1950s and has a very aptly named label. Often seen sported by Soho Beats, Sorbonne students, poetry reading peaceniks, CND marchers et al…
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