Sunday, 20 October 2013

Season of Lists and yellow t-shirtfulness

This might be something of a random compendium of a round up as I got my panic on noticing it is a month since the last posting. Still, if I get in the zone a themed thread may emerge. In our last edition, you will recall, we featured the yellow "God Save the Queen" bee-shirt.

We made them specifically for Apple Day at the Roots & Shoots eco centre at the other end of our road that also houses the London Beekeepers' Association. Local events such as these are an opportunity to introduce ourselves to our neighbours and remind those that have not come good on promises to stop by! We take along our swatch books and this time included the shirting material (Lancashire cottons) to promote our new bespoke shirt service. One of our first customers announced that it was the finest shirt he has ever had made and that female admirers had flocked to compliment him on his uncommonly well turned out demeanour. We were proud and delighted to be told.

On this gloriously sunny day, one gentleman paused by our table and wagged a doomy finger, intoning as he did, "You've given yourself a thankless task, up against the internet!"
I pointed out that ours was a personal, bespoke service and he countered that HIS shirts were bespoke, delivered to his door and on time. With confidence I parried that we too delivered, if required, to the door, and on time. "But I pay £30 a shirt!" came his coup de grace.
"Well done," I conceded, "and I'm sure the children of the East are grateful for your business. Should you ever wish to give work to your local community then you know where to find us."
I had been standing up for sometime in the full sun without refreshment by that point so in retrospect it was lucky that was all I said.

One bad apple didn't spoil Apple Day though, as everyone else was friendliness personified. Oh, actually, there was one lady d'un certain age, who ruffled everything on the table before commenting she had seen our poster in the coffee shop and thought, "Ooh what a terrible name! Fancy choosing that!"
I remarked that it has worked well for us, once heard not forgotten.
"I'm sure it isn't!" she harrumphed. "Who would want to be associated with madness?!"
Some terse explanation about free thinking and creative imagination was offered through clenched teeth. In the week that saw the rumpus about Asda and Tesco withdrawing their "Mental Patient" Hallowe'en costumes it did behove some explanation more than usual. Aside from the association we are proud to have, there is the issue that if Elton John chose to call his clothing line, say, "Big Poof Designs" or Jay Z launched, er, "Nigga Ragz", no one could say nicht about it, so the same applies with "Earl of Bedlam". You can't take offence on behalf of the party appropriating the questionable term with due authority. Is that sufficiently comprehensible?

Back to the shirt heckler. It still seems that people disable their basic mathematics when buying clothes. Or anything for that matter. Since being involved in the chain of production I cannot understand why a pint of milk doesn't cost £73.00. Perhaps without EU subsidies it would. The universe gave the consumer a brusque shoulder shake when the Rana Plaza factory in Bangladesh collapsed the week Primark (one of the brands that used it) announced its climb-on-climb record profits.

The article above was written in June, at which point Top Shop had not joined those signing up to the Accord for safe working conditions. Disappointingly, this list of names posted last week shows they are still yet to join up, but you can see those who have:

Another recent over sight of the chain was to forget to ask Rihanna if she minded having her face on their t-shirt. She did.
The ruling in her favour was returned the same day we finally - you know we like to draw out our stories - heard back from Keith Richards to say we had the blessing of the Stone to proceed with our silk scarf. Patience and good manners (and some cracking connections, thank you to Bill & Marcela Curbishley and Scott Rodger) won the day. The law aside, it does just seem good manners to ask.

Sample of Keith's silk pocket square. The border will be more scarlet than orange, now we are allowed to make more.

Correspondence ensued between our camps regarding terms, and what seemed like a casual enquiry regarding a copyright line. Did we have one? Might as well, I thought, and replied, yes, we could add that to the design, thinking (oh simple girl!) they meant "(c)Earl of Bedlam". The deal memo duly arrived with the copyright line spelt out - "(c)2013 Keith Richards".
And we are happy to grant that. More than happy. Thrilled and relieved!

This last week I had the great pleasure of being treated to Eggs Benedict at the Royal Garden Hotel at a very grown up (and very early) breakfast meeting with Norman Perry, the man who oversees licensing for Pink Floyd. Not only did we get their OK for scarf Syd but they would like to offer it on their website. Norman asked about fulfilment of orders. I was ready with my answer, saying we'd talked over whether people would be prepared, in this age of instant gratification, to go back to the old school "Allow 28 days for delivery" terms. We, and Mr Perry, decided that they would.

Syd below Zelda with a strip of the Clink Street Gaoler's handcuffs

Syd Barrett atop Mr Wesley

If something is worth having, it should be worth waiting for and that is also crucial to the understanding that these are limited edition works of art, involving a team of skilled people. Namely:

Anna Mcneil created the original paintings which in turn were photographed by Ben Amure
Those images were then given their borders and text by Mr Wesley before being sent to
Dan and Louise Hatley in Sussex
The roll of silk then comes to us before being sent to Nicola in Hull who hand rolls the hems.
We met Nicola at the Best of Britannia exhibition in London two weeks ago, at the Age of Reason stand - generous as ever, they shared their golden contact with us. Funny how you picture people, I imagined an elderly lady sewing scarves and pocket squares, not the strapping young blond that greeted us.

So that's a chain of talented artists working on the finest materials, and hence a 90 x 90cm silk crepe "Fool'ard" costs £250; a 60 x 60 cm neckerchief costs £120; and a 30 x 30 cm pocket square can be yours for £50.

If we're spared, check back tomorrow for more of last month's news.