Eric Musgrave

Since 1980, menswear & fashion retail commentator, opinionated thought-leader,
event host & all-round top bloke. Contact me to discuss working together.

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On the silk trail in Sudbury, Suffolk

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

After many years of threatening and /or promising Julius Walters that I would go and see his family’s silk mill in Sudbury, Suffolk, I made it. It’s a very impressive business, employing 120 people, including 12 designers. Stephen Walters produces tie fabrics, apparel fabrics for men and women, and scarves. David Walters is the side of the business that produces interiors fabrics for upholstery, drapes, throws and so on. This is what I call a family business – Julius is the ninth generation. A great British success story. Keep up the good work.

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“Scholarly and entertaining”

Monday, October 29th, 2012

I was delighted to see that Susannah Frankel in The Independent was very impressed with MENSWEAR, Tom Phillips’ collection of vintage postcards. She very kindly said my foreword is as scholarly as it is entertaining – that was the general idea. I feature here my favourite image – No 73 of the 200 in the book – of a rakish blade from probably the pre-First World War era.

 

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Climbing my family tree

Monday, October 29th, 2012

Despite having a degree in history, until a few months ago I had never bothered to look into my family tree. Then I re-connected with my long-lost cousin in my home town of Leeds, Bernard Hare , who has the Musgrave family archive, and I was spurred me into action. My dad, Eric, and Bernard’s mam, Joyce, were siblings. In the archive box was a memorial ribbon for a man called Richard Walmsley Musgrave, who, it turns out, was my great-grandfather. That ribbon led us to Burmantofts Cemetery in Leeds (now called Becket Street Cemetery), and this Musgrave family grave. The man listed at the top of the headstone, William Musgrave, was Richard’s father and so was my great-great-grandfather. Richard’s son, Arthur, was the father of my dad and Bernard’s mam.

   

We did not know this grave existed until a few weeks ago. By a weird coincidence, Bernard lives right next door to the cemetery. And we were both born in the late 1950s at St James Hospital (aka Jimmy’s), which is across the road from the graveyard. Burmantofts Cemetery was the first municipal burial ground in the UK. There are 27,000 graves in its grounds and an astonishing 180,000 burials have been recorded as there was widespread use of common graves. Most of the 91 Musgraves in the burial index appear to have been laid to rest in these common graves.

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The Art of Taxidermy

Monday, October 29th, 2012

Full marks to anyone who knows that “taxidermy” is derived from the Greek roots taxis, meaning arrangement, and derma, meaning skin. You can learn this and much more from The Art of Taxidermy, a new lavishly illustrated book that was written and organised by my wife, Jane Eastoe.

For the recent launch party we borrowed a couple of fine pieces from David Leggett, who trained Jane in taxidermy. Here I am with a blue wildebeest and an impala. Check out more of Jane’s books at www.janeeastoe.co.uk.

 

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We are Leeds

Saturday, October 20th, 2012

The impressive Town Hall in my home town of Leeds was built between 1853 and 1858 to a design by a hitherto unknown architect called Cuthbert Brodrick. And it was in the Brodrick Bar of that fine building that I found myself on Friday, October 19, co-hosting another networking event on behalf of the Fashion Association of Britain (www.fashionassociationofbritain.co.uk) along with Samantha Bleasby (a daughter of Leeds!) and Louisa Valvano, my lovely colleagues from www.yourbrandspace.com.

We had cleverly planned our networking drinks session to precede the catwalk that would launch Leeds Fashion Week, so we had a fine turnout of fashion folk from the city and the surrounding areas. Thanks to Sam and Louisa at yourbrandspace.com for their hard work in getting people along and to all the fab people who made the evening a great success.

        

 

 

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Designing shoes with J M Weston

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

French luxury shoe maker J M Weston had an excellent idea to entertain, inform and educate journalists and stylists on Tuesday, October 16. About 50 of us were invited to attend a gathering at the Mayfair club George at which we met the senior team from the Limoges-based company and were invited to design our own versions of some classic J M Weston styles. Once we had finished our creative labours, we enjoyed a splendid supper.

  

I chose some loafers which are so good already that the only changes I made were to the colour of the stitching. The shoes are to be made in the Limoges atelier. I will report back when they have been delivered to me. The J M Weston shop is at 60 Jermyn Street. www.jmweston.com

  

Well done to J M Weston’s PR James Massey for his organisation. It was a fascinating evening at which I met friends old and new.

        

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Weaving Issues at Central St Martins

Sunday, October 14th, 2012

The rather splendid newish home of Central St Martins College of Art and Design near Kings Cross was the venue for a celebration of textiles design that had been overseen by bespoke tailor Timothy Everest, who is seen here on the right along with Anne Smith, dean of the fashion and textile school at CSM. Both are old friends of mine.

Three CSM textiles students designed impressive examples of contemporary men’s wear cloth, which were woven by English mills Fox Brothers and Joseph Clissold (part of Holland & Sherry), and then made into garments by Timothy Everest.

Irina Khadzhysvili came up with this striking horizontally-striped cloth, which was woven in Yorkshire by Joseph Clissold. The jacket is part of a suit by Tim.

He designed this neat Harrington-style casual jacket using cloth woven in Somerset by Fox Brothers to a design by Jane Brooke.

Timothy Everest’s softly construction jacket uses cloth designed by Yangzi Wang and woven by Fox Brothers in Somerset.

I was delighted to see at the event my friend Josephine Collins, who I started work with on Drapers Record in 1980, would you believe? Jo has given up journalism for the academic life at the University of the Arts (aka London College of Fashion to some of us).

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Cro’Jack ahoy!

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

I am always happy to toast another British success, so I headed down to 38 Monmouth Street, Covent garden for the opening party for the Cro’Jack store. The brand is the brainchild of my old mucker Dean Batty. It’s all made in the UK with lots of British cloth. It is well worth the attention of anyone who likes fashion with a heritage slant. All nautical historians will know that a cross jack or Cro’Jack was part of the rigging on a historic naval vessel. (This blog is the source of all manner of interesting info). For more, see http://www.crojack.co.uk/

  

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A super time at Superdry

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

After each Fashion Association of Britain committee meeting, I like to take my fellow FAB members off to see behind the scenes at a major retailer  This time our destination was the stupendous Superdry flagship store on Regent Street. Our welcoming guide was the charming store manager Rachael Alderson (in the centre foreground of the main pic). It’s a really impressive store, which, according to a recent stocktake, houses an astonishing 129,000 items…

 

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Bobbing around at BoB

Friday, October 5th, 2012

My congratulations go to Antony Wallis, the founder of Best of Britannia (BoB for short), a showcase of lovely things that are made in the UK. The event, which is aimed at consumers and trade buyers alike, runs from Friday Oct 5 to Sunday Oct 7 at the rather splendid Farmiloe Building at the Smithfield end of St John Street, Clerkenwell, London EC1. See http://www.bestofbritannia.com/for details.

I took the opportunity to catch up with some mates. I was glad to show off my beloved Cherchbi Black Sail rucksack to its creator Adam Atkinson (see www.cherchbi.co.uk).

Douglas Cordeaux of Fox Flannel was presiding over one of the best stands at BoB, representing both the Somerset mill itself and its related luxury British goods website The Merchant Fox – very desirable stuff indeed. (www.foxflannel.com and www.themerchantfox.co.uk).

As always, Gary Bott of Globetrotter had interesting new product to show from the British luggage maker, including a collaboration with The Merchant Fox in which Globetrotter’s signature cases are lined with Fox Flannel cloth. I suspect a lot more joint initiatives will come out of the networking at BoB.

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