Mostly harmless

A sartorial outlook from under the Northern lights

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The rise and fall of Holliday & Brown


The story of Holliday & Brown is a story that is unfortunately rather common these days, starting out with a few artisans producing high-quality items and ending in one of those multi-national fashion conglomerates.

The story of Holliday & Brown began in 1919, when a young Aubrey Brown opened a small shop to sell silk ties in the Burlington Arcade in London’s Mayfair district. Aubrey and his brother Basil also shortly thereafter started a factory that produced the silk ties that were being displayed and sold in the newly opened shop. The Brown brothers quickly gained a reputation for producing first-rate ties with rather unusual designs and colour combinations and they soon became the most popular tie makers in London.


In 1926 Aubrey partnered with a close friend to establish “Holliday & Brown Ltd” that continued to produce and sell ties. Brown was as a fairly innovative businessman and he, among other things, pioneered the practice of touring the US to display his ties and thereby created a vastly greater market for their ties. Ties from Holliday & Brown quickly became known both for their superb quality andy unique designs and the ties quickly became one of the most coveted accessories in London.

The decades following the Second World War saw a period of rapid economic growth with low unemployment rates and inflation and this period has often been viewed as a ‘golden age’ for the British manufacturing industry. For Holliday & Brown their early success continued through this period as they became an international symbol of style. in the 1960s, following their world wide success, the company store relocated from the Burlington Arcade to the Savile Row. The success did last through the 1970s and the early 1980s but like many other British manufacturing firms they hit hard times in the late 1980s and  daly 1990s.

In 2000 Holliday & Brown was bought by Italian luxury and fashion brand Mantero, thus severing the ties with Britain after nearly 80 year. The Holliday & Brown brand itself was of minor interest to Mantero, and the real gem in the purchase was the extensive archive of more than 100 volumes containing old silk patternsdrawings, samples and designs that had been created over the course of near a century. Mantero had it’s sights set on the archive with the hope of re-issue prints for their own lines of ties, scarves and handkerchiefs. However, Matero also tried revive the Holliday & Brown brand itself. Early on they issued a number of new lines of ties, the most well-known was perhaps those done in collaboration with an other Italian luxury brand - Prada. There was also a briefbut unsuccessful, attempt to brach out to other items beside ties, including tailored clothing, but this collection rapidly failed. 


Today the brand appears to be on life support, with a few departments stores in the US and Japan carrying the brand in their stores. However, vintage Holliday & Brown ties are relatively easy to find in second hand stores and on online sites such as eBay. Surprisingly enough the ties can often be had for rather modest sums, despite the fact that the quality is really top-notch, on par with modern British tie makers such as Drake’s. If you browse online fora focused on tailored clothing, you will find a few enthusiasts singing the paris of Holliday & Brown (yours truly included of course) but largely it is a brand that has fallen by the ‘sartorial wayside’. 

Personally Holliday & Brown will always hold a special place in my sartorial heart. I can trace my interest in tailored clothing back to a 50oz. silk H&B tie that effectively served as my ‘gateway drug’ into tailored clothing (I still own it, it’s the fire engine red with teal medallions in the top two photos). I found myself invited to an event that required suit and tie and was in desperate need of updating both tie and shirt. I stopped by an old haberdashery in the city where I live (that alas no longer remains) and asked to be fitted for a shirt and a tie that would work with my navy blue suit, a 10 year old piece that at the time was the only suit I owned. When I was about to pay I was stunned by the fact that the tie was more expensive that the shirt, something that was almost unfathomable to me then (I know better now :-) ). I was too embarrassed to say anything so I just paid and took the shirt and tie home. As it turns out, that was a real stroke of genius as I quickly realised what a difference it makes to tie and wear a real, high-quality tie. Then and there I was hooked and the rest, as they say, is history….

Filed under menswear ties holliday & brown

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The Friday challenge on StyleForum this week is “Summer ties” and I decided to throw my hat into the ring using a silk/cotton Mogador tie from Drake’s (via ExquisiteTrimmings). Mogador (or Mogadore) ties are classic summer staples and derive their names from the Moroccan city of Mogador (current day Essaouira) where this type of fabric has it’s origin. The Mogador fabric consists of a mix of silk and cotton yarns, with silk in the warp and cotton in the weft.

Mohair blazer by Dunhill | Belisario shirt | Drake’s Mogador tie | Turnbull & Asser cream silk PS | Oscar Jacobson cream linnen trousers | Tricker’s Kensington in beechnut calf

Filed under styleforum Friday challenge Drake's mogador dunhill belisario Turnbull & Asser Oscar Jacobson tricker's featured

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allthingsgentlemanly asked: Hi, thank you for taking part in my menswear research project, if you take a look at my blog you will find the links to the results. Have a great day 

Hi and thanks for sending me the results. I think that research into social media has the potential to yield lots of new and exciting insights. 

Filed under ask allthingsgentlemanly

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A rare opportunity

This week’s Friday challenge on StyleForum was “Heavyweight tag team championship” - pair up with another forum member and wear an outfit centered around a common theme. As someone noticed in the thread:

Do you guys know what this challenge reminds me of?

When my daughter was like 7 or 8, she would call her bestest friend at night before bed, and they would meticulously plan to be wearing matching clothes to school the next day. 

I usually don’t dress up too much these days as I am on summer vacations, but I really couldn’t miss this opportunity. So I paired up with cleav31, who just happens to be one of my favourite posters on SF, and above you see 50% of the tag team “Checkmates(s)”. For 100% see here

Ermenegildo Zegna silk and cashmere SC | Belisario shirt | Holliday & Brown repp tie | Drake’s wool/silk PS | Charles Tyrwhitt lightweight flannel trousers | Edward Green Chelsea in mink suede

Filed under menswear styleforum Friday challenge ermenegildo zegna belisario holliday & brown Drake's Edward Green Charles Tyrwhitt cleav31

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Tie too thin?  This poster thinks so, but I personally think that it looks pretty solid.  You can go debate tie widths (8 cm is now the standard for Drake’s ties vs the 9.5 cm from last decade) on the forum if that’s your thing.

Well that poster would be me 😊. I recently had that specific tie widened as much as possible, making it closer to 9cm. I actually like it better that way!


Tie too thin?  This poster thinks so, but I personally think that it looks pretty solid.  You can go debate tie widths (8 cm is now the standard for Drake’s ties vs the 9.5 cm from last decade) on the forum if that’s your thing.

Well that poster would be me 😊. I recently had that specific tie widened as much as possible, making it closer to 9cm. I actually like it better that way!

(via ineedmoreties)

Filed under menswear rlpl belisario berg & berg

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Re-creating an old David Evans pattern

There is a group effort on-going over at StyleForum to organise a special run of silk based on an old David Evans pattern. The pictures above show the the four patterns and colure that are under consideration. To get a pattern printed, a minimum order of 6m is required and thus far patterns 1 and 3 are close to the required 6m where as pattern 4 is about 2m short. 

The silk will be printed by the Macclesfield-based mill Adamleywho owns the licence for the David Evans archives, using the original silk screens. Once the silk has been produced it will be made into ties by Italian tie maker Patrizio Cappelli to each customer’s specifications - number of folds, length and width are all customisable - and for the usual pricing charged for bespoke ties (available at Cappelli’s website) . To read more about the special run and to possibly get in on it, check out this thread over on Styleforum. 

Filed under menswear styleforum eg cappelli david evans

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tangodancingphdcandidate asked: The fact that colors aren't showing up right is because the camera software isn't setting up the correct white balance. Try installing a photo editing app (I like snapseed) and fiddling with some sliders (temperature, brightness, contrast) to get colors looking the way they look to your eyes.

Yeah, I normally shoot with a DSLR and do post-processing in Photoshop but I was lazy yesterday and just grabbed my iPhone as I was unpacking the ties. I should, however, get a better photo-editing app for my phone and I will take a look at snapseed, so thanks for the tip!

Filed under ask tangodancingphdcandidate

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Anonymous asked: I appreciate your taste in combining colours greatly and would be interested to hear how you would wear the purple silk knit tie you recently posted! I've seen it worn around on occasion by people who either totally nailed it or really didn't. Thanks you!

Thanks for the kind comments! Unfortunately the colours didn’t really come out in the crappy iPhone photo I took of the ties, the tie is actually more burgundy than purple. I am planning to primarily wear it casually with odd jackets and burgundy should work with most colours - navy, grey or brown would all be fine, I think.

Filed under ask anonymous

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Personal sartorial inspiration #4 - Douglas Cordeaux

Douglas Cordeaux is the managing director of Fox Brothers & Co, one of the the premier cloth mills in England. Frox Brothers were the original creators of flannel suiting and interestingly enough, Fox Brothers held the trademark for the word ‘Flannel’ up until the 1950s. 

Filed under douglas cordeaux Fox Brothers featured