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8 November 2010 No comments

Timothy Everest and the John Boultbee Jacket

Saddles, Bags, Etc. Style & Fashion
Timothy Everest and the John Boultbee Jacket
Tim fitting Simon Crompton of the blog Permanent Style Timothy Everest fitting Simon Crompton of the blog Permanent Style “Diversify! Diversify!” is what they’re all saying to us nowadays. Nearly every week, it seems to me, companies with a fine reputation for expertise in some field foist a “new” product bearing their name upon the market. Unfortunately more often than not, these products seem to have little or no concrete relation with that area in which the company is a supposed specialist, nor with the community which recognises this expertise. Thus I imagine such action must partly stem from a desire to wring as much as possible out of a brand’s strength or attractiveness for so long as it is “hot”. Perhaps this is just a necessary yet slightly melancholy truth for many companies doing business in the world today. But scatter-gunning products whose only questionable virtue might be the name attached to them is not a modus operandi to which we have ever subscribed in our capacity as producers of the finest cycling accoutrements money can buy. Our founder Mr J.B. Brooks laid down a clear marker when he wrote in the 1912 catalogue: “It is not the name of Brooks which makes the saddle good, but the saddle, and its excellence, that makes the name supreme.” And we have, after all, been around for a century and a half, so whenever we consider adding something to our portfolio, we can do so in full knowledge that there is little pressure - the high expectations from our customers notwithstanding - and even less rush. Inside Timothy's Spitalfields Atelier in Elder Street Naturally we don’t completely ignore contemporary developments, but most additions we oversee usually come about after looking at what our predecessors have done, and questioning how redesigns or reinterpretations of these can appeal to ourselves as cyclists and to our community. And so it was that we found ourselves a couple of years ago beginning to have thoughts about the possibility of some garments produced under the Brooks auspices. Motorcycle jackets? Lederhosen? Of course not. For one thing, we need most of the excellent leather we can find for our saddles and bags. The general idea remained, though, and so we started looking at the Brooks Catalogues of the 1920s and 1930s, when the product range of our company was at its broadest: saddles and bags for bikes and for motorbikes, cycling shoes, travel suitcases of all types, car trunks, picnic baskets, mudflaps, toe clips and straps… We even found some patents with drawings of braces, suspenders and body belts. Finally we spotted some other clothing accessories and a rail garment in a few old catalogues, which would give us a good excuse to enter this category: leggings, galoshes and a poncho! It’s a matter of fact that as cyclists we need something to wear on the bike. However clothes you can cycle in that are not so cycling specific that you look like you've been chasing the peloton are hard to come by. Should we refrain from wearing or even owning any form of “cycle wear” as the Danish Blogger and his followers suggest? Or should we rather look for clothing which is suitable not just for our needs as cyclists while on the bike, but also to our other needs when off it? So we kept our eyes open, without coming across any organization or person whom we thought suitable (no pun intended) to help us take this idea forward. Until this summer, when by the happiest of coincidences I met Stacey, who modeled for us at the Soho Shoulder Bag photo shoot we did in London last July. Stacey, apart from being extremely photogenic, also happens to be assistant to tailor Timothy Everest. We got talking. One thing led to another, and about half an hour later, we were all sitting around the table at Timothy’s premises in Spitalfields. I immediately realized we had our man and arranged a meeting between Timothy and Brooks. Timothy’s philosophy as embodied in his work mirrors closely that with which John Boultbee Brooks won his name in the 1860’s. Self-belief, patience, a passion for detail, and the successful marriage of form and function. A pioneer of what has become described as the “New Bespoke Movement”, he is well known for making such diverse British style icons as Mick Jagger, Jeremy Irons, Jarvis Cocker and David Beckham sartorially presentable. Further afield, his designs have found favour with American actors Tom Cruise and Matthew Broderick, and with the pop musician Jay-Z. One of his stated goals is famously “to be remembered as someone who made people take British clothing seriously”. We couldn’t think of any more boxes that needed ticking, other than perhaps to get a clarification of Timothy’s relationship to cycling.
Timothy is a keener cyclist than many of us at Brooks, and the round trip that he makes everyday between home and work sees him in the saddle for an hour and a half. Having recently joined us on the L'Eroica ride as well as racing from London to Lands End for charity it seems likely he’ll have good opportunities to test the garment himself, before any of us can try one on.
Ted, Timothy, Stacey and David. Which is all by way of saying that we are now hard at work together with Timothy on designs for a cycling jacket that we are looking to launch early next year under the name John Boultbee“, our new clothing label by Brooks England.