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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The Ivy Look in print x5

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

One of the best menswear genres ever to emerge from the USA was The Ivy Look of the 1950s and 1960s. It is a masculine, neat and largely unfussy style that really appeals to me. Recently I was asked by Yale University Press to review its book Ivy Style, which is edited by Patricia Mears, deputy director of The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. Where it’s good, it’s very good – two of the three essays by Ms Mears are excellent. All the contributions by the eminent G Bruce Boyer are superb. The interview with Richard Press, whose family owned J Press, one of the great retailers of The Ivy Look, is fascinating.

Ivy Style 001


Alas, the visuals are weak in parts of Ivy Style, which is not a criticism you can level at the marvellous Hollywood And The Ivy Look (Reel Art Press, 2011) by Tony Nourmand and Graham Marsh, two very well informed UK-based fans of the style. If you like the Steve McQueen cover, you’ll like the book. There are nearly 300 inspirational pages in this production – grab it if you see it as the RAP website says it’s sold out.

Hollywood and The Ivy Look 001


Hollywood is a lavish coffee table book. The Ivy Look (Frances Lincoln, 2010), which Graham Marsh compiled with J P Gaul, is a great little pocket-sized scrapbook of the genre. Again, I wholeheartedly recommend it. J P Gaul used to work for John Simons, the best British retailer of Ivy Style.

The Ivy Look (2010) 001


For reasons that escape me, Take Ivy, a Japanese photo study of Ivy League colleges in 1965, is very well regarded. It finally was released in an English version in 2010. I find it over-rated. Many of the photographs by Teruyoshi Hayashida are in black-and-white, which is a shame as Ivy often uses colour, and many images in the modern re-print look as though they were scanned straight from the Japanese book of 58 years ago.

Take Ivy (1965, 2010) 001

Also looking very dated these days is The Official Preppy Handbook, which was edited by Lisa Birnbach for Workman Publishing of New York in 1980. It’s an affectionate send-up of the WASP wardrobe and lifestyle. Pity that the pix are all b&w. Copies are widely available on the internet. Mine is signed by Lisa Birnbach (but not to me!)

The Official Preppy Handbook (1980) 001

If anyone reading this knows of any other good books on the Ivy Look, let me know.

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The internet in one window

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

Who needs Google searches when you can still find proper menswear shops like Vic Kimpton Menswear, in Herne Bay, Kent? Despite the appearance, I took these pictures in December 2012, not December 1962.


I have not had the pleasure of meeting Mr Kimpton, but clearly he appears to be a man unfamiliar with the term “less is more”.


As a pal of mine observed: “He has the whole internet in one window.” There is so much that cheers me about Mr K’s classical approach to outfitting, but I especially like his informative flyers that impart product knowledge and benefits in a compelling manner.

DSC09241 DSC09242

One day, when I have a couple of hours to spare, I will return to 158a Mortimer Street, Herne Bay, to try and count just how many items are in this window.

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The flaps are down

Monday, January 21st, 2013

My little corner of deepest Kent usually escapes the worst of British weather but we have just had a real helping of snow. The biting cold called for drastic action – it was time to unleash the tweed deerstalker.


This 100% wool model by Failsworth is called, predictably enough, the Sherlock. It might look a bit odd, but it sure keeps one’s head and ears warm. My wellies are from Aigle, the jacket is by Barbour, the tweed trousers are from Gurteen and the rabbit fur-lined leather gloves are by Dents. Unseen are several layers of Scottish cashmere sweaters from Johnstons and a cashmere scarf by Begg & Co.


Jimmy the lurcher, who bizarrely enough loves the snow, was feeling snug in his tweed coat, which was made for him by H Huntsman of Savile Row. This venerable firm, renowned as the most expensive tailor on Savile Row, has yet to offer to make me a winter coat, but I live in hope.

Christmas Day 2012 13

Jimmy is still mystified why he didn’t make this year’s lurcher calendar. He is such a handsome dog.

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A bespoke website for Meyer & Mortimer

Sunday, January 20th, 2013

Savile Row bespoke tailor Meyer & Mortimer can trace its roots back to the late 18th century, when Beau Brummell was a client. Today it makes beautiful clothes from its premises at 6 Sackville Street in Mayfair. Recently I have been helping the firm to update its website, which has now gone live on

Home page cropped

I urged directors Brian Lewis and Paul Munday to make their superb current work and their amazingly talented craftsmen central to the site.

Our Work page cropped

The ideas were made reality by Jan Rust and the appropriately-named Luke Taylor at Brighton-based Pixeldot Creative. Jan also designed my website. 

Our People page cropped

The excellent photographs on the site were taken by my old chum Ian Macaulay, with whom I have worked for well over 20 years.

Contact page cropped

The new Meyer & Mortimer logo is modelled on the logo that decorated the window of the firm’s long-lost branch in Paris. It too was developed by the boys at Pixeldot. I heartily recommend a visit to the site and, if you are in the market for bespoke tailoring, a visit to 6 Sackville Street, London W1.

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Holdall & Co’s handsome folio

Saturday, January 19th, 2013

Holdall & Co is a new Made-in-England brand that sells only online. Smart bridle leather folios are the offer from this company, which has been set up by an enterprising 24-year-old called Raimonda Navickaite, who is based in east Northamptonshire. Rai kindly sent me an example to test drive.

Holdall & Co 1

I am not a fan of internet shopping – I never used to buy anything in the days when it was called mail order – but I was impressed by Holdall’s packaging. The printed straps on the box are a witty touch.

Holdall & Co 2

I can’t fault the inner presentation either. Very neat indeed.

Holdall & Co 3

So here we have the 14-inch folio itself. In Rai’s words: “I have designed and have had made a 30’s -inspired under-arm leather folio bag, a product for the Modern Professional, who wants a robust and durable under-arm bag that is both stylish and professional. The folios are made from 100% leather (high-quality top grain bridle) and are manufactured in England by highly skilled case makers who have decades of experience.”

Holdall & Co 4

This is the London Tan option; the alternative is in Chestnut. I really like the simplicity of the design. There is a loop at the back that acts as a handle, or a loop for a newspaper or umbrella. Note the arrowhead that goes into the snap lock.

Holdall & Co 5

This is so much nicer than a black nylon carrying case. It accommodates my laptop very well, although I can’t get much more in besides the computer. I am looking forward to using it very much. The 14-inch folio retails for a very reasonable £210.

I’ll leave Rai to conclude this post: “This is a new business that I have launched from my home, with no business experience (apart from a recent Princess Trust Enterprise programme). I don’t have an investor or a business partner and have funded the whole thing myself, but I am very passionate and driven to see this work because I want to see these skills around for the next generation.”

Well done, Rai, I am very impressed.

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Sharp Suits Mk II is near!

Friday, January 18th, 2013

Yippee! The reprint of my book, Sharp Suits, is nearly with us. The new version has eight extra pages pf pictures, I’ve changed a few others, added some info to several captions and I have corrected two mistakes from the first edition, which appeared in 2009.

Sharp Suits Version II cover Sharp Suits Version II back cover

The reprint is a tad smaller, we have lost the paper cover and we have changed the front and back covers. Timothy Everest has provided a fine new foreword, for which many thanks, Tim. I am really pleased with this update, which is due for publication on February 22. It can be pre-ordered via the Anova Bookstore on

Sharp Suits, published by Pavilion. ISBN 9781909108257

Fabulous Frocks Version II cover Fabulous Frocks Version II back cover

And on the subject of lovely books, the companion volume to my book, Fabulous Frocks, has been similarly updated. This one was written by Sarah Gristwood and Jane Eastoe, who is my wife.

Again, it is available to pre-order from the Anova Bookstore on

Fabulous Frocks, published by Pavilion ISBN 9781909108264

The cover price for each book is a modest £14.99. Please feel free to buy many copies of both titles.




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At the new Panorama show

Thursday, January 17th, 2013

It seems an age ago that the UK menswear mainstream crowd had to visit the Herren-Mode-Woche show in Cologne, while their equivalents in mainstream womenswear made a twice-yearly pilgrimage to CPD in Dusseldorf. Both these once-huge fairs have disappeared and the German industry has been trying to find a suitable platform to replace them. The latest attempt is Panorama in Berlin, which made its debut this season.

Panorama Berlin 17 1 13


The venue is a new exhibition complex close to the Schoenefeld airport to the south of the city. This comprises three very large sheds in the middle of nowhere. As one might expect, the show was laid out impressively and the debut had attracted the support of big hitters like the Steilmann Group, Oui, Betty Barclay, Mexx, Marc Cain, Meyer, Benvenuto, Stones and Einhorn.

Panorama catalogue cover Jan 2013 001

I can’t see this fair attracting the crowds of UK and Irish buyers as HMW and CPD once did, but I suspect the domestic market may be happy with it, although Berlin is a long way from the populous and prosperous settlements of western Germany.

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Like father…

Thursday, January 17th, 2013

My travelling companion to Berlin for the second successive season was my son, Teddy, who has set his sights on a career in the fashion biz.

With Teddy at Bread&Butter Jan 2013

Hot from an 11-week stint teaching at a school in rural Uganda, he was soon checking out the latest trends and desirable goodies around the fairs and the shops of the German capital. Having passed his driving test a while ago, Teddy was intrigued by the possibilities of this Smart car that has been re-designed by nutty American stylist Jeremy Scott.

Teddy and Jeremy Scott Smart car


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Sportswear International pals old and new

Wednesday, January 16th, 2013

I spent almost 10 years working for the jeans mag Sportswear International, first as the UK correspondent and later as the deputy editor in Milan. Founder in 1975 by Peter Schindler, who sadly died last year, Sportswear will have its 250th issue published in March, which is a great achievement. Now part of the Frankfurt-based trade publisher Deutscher Fachverlag, SI threw a party for “family and friends” at Bread&Butter.

I was delighted to catch up with my former colleagues, Lisa Dartmann and Kiki Pavarini, who are part of the “old school” Sportswear clan.

Sportswear party 1

I was great also to spend time with Panos Sofianos, one of my favourite denim nerds, who heads up design development for Royo, the superb mill in Valencia. A Greek working in a Spanish mill? That’s why the mag is called Sportswear International!

Sportswear party 2

Bread & Butter is a great place to make new friends, like Maria Hustig, an editorial trainee on Sportswear, who cheered me up no end by pointing out that she wasn’t even born when I started working for the mag in 1987…

Sportswear party 3


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What you’ll find at SEEK

Wednesday, January 16th, 2013

Around 75 progressive fashion brands have been gathered at the SEEK show by organiser Oliver Saunders, whose day job is running the Our Legacy label in Stockholm. The show used to be run as an adjunct to Premium, but it has now re-located across three floors in a disused building right next door to Premium.

SEEK Jan 2013 Oliver Saunders

British labels like Universal Works, Common People, Fred Perry Laurel Wreath, Raf Simons x Fred Perry, YMC, Folk, Farah Vintage, Farah 1920 and Dr Martens are featured in the line up. I was particularly taken by these DMs that use silk from Stephen Walters in Sudbury, Suffolk, and Harris Tweed.

SEEK Jan 2013 Dr Martens with Stephen Walters and Harris Tweed

There is a lot to commend the no-nonsense layout and presentation at SEEK. It is well worth a visit.

SEEK Jan 2013 floorplan


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