That Dapper Chap Meets Patrick Grant

Craig meets business man, designer and TV personality Patrick Grant

With five successful business and a number of awards under his belt along with a BBC television series, Patrick Grant is a force to be reckoned with in men’s fashion. What made him buy failing business Norton & Sons, Did he really work as a nanny? Can he knit? What’s his favourite piece from the current Hammond & Co collection and will The Great British Sewing Bee move to Channel Four? Find all this out and more.

Myself and Patrick Grant with some of the new collection for SS18

After browsing what Debenhams has on offer for next year while Patrick finished his coffee and a phone call, it was time to pose some questions.

TDC “We’re at the Debenhams SS18 press day to see the latest collection from Hammond & Co, but before Hammond & co, you’ve had a few other jobs: Ski instructor, model and Nanny?”

PG “I actually wasn’t a ski instructor, I worked at a Ski resort. I worked at the hotel and at the bar in Vale in Colorado”

TDC “I was thinking that you must have been great at Skiing to become a Ski instructor!”

PG “I was pretty good at Skiing. I started skiing about seven. In Edinburgh there’s a dry slope just up the road from where my parents lived so all Edinburgh school kids learned to ski at an early age. Yes, I was a Nanny, I worked at a kids summer camp during the summers, so I spent two summers working at Santa Cruz in California on a kids summer camp and after my second summer there I got a job nannying for one of the families whose kids were at the camp”

Patrick Grant wearing Hammond & Co

TDC “So was menswear a mistake? Did it happen by accident? Did it just come to you?”

PG “Basically I studied engineering and worked in a series of different engineering companies and then went back to University to do a post grad, and while I was there I came across an advert in the paper that Norton & sons was for sale and I bought it, because I’d always loved clothes, I’d always loved handmade things and I’ve always loved old brands, and this was all of those things rolled in to one”

TDC “so you weren’t actively looking for a fashion business to buy?”

PG “No, absolutely not. I’d never considered working in fashion, ever. I love fashion but never thought about working in it”

TDC “At University you wrote a thesis about the revitalisation of Burberry. Did you apply anything you’d learned from that to Norton & Sons?”

PG “I think Burberry’s story was particularly predicated, basically they were very lucky that they hired some particularly good people at the right time, and they did a lot of things right. But no is the honest answer. What it did do, was give me an opportunity to think very hard about all of the ways which other people had attempted that, and the way which we wanted to attempt it. But Norton’s was a completely different business, Norton & Sons was a very small bespoke tailors operating in one shop in one street. At Norton & Sons we did nothing but go back and do the basics,- and be the best bespoke tailors that we could be”

Patrick Grant wearing Hammond & Co

TDC “When you purchased Norton & Sons were Hammond & Co and E.Tautz already in there? Were they part of the deal?”

PG “Yes, they had been bought by Norton & Sons in the 1960’s. They were still on the letter head but they didn’t exist in any other form. They’d just been sitting dormant”

TDC “I wondered if you’d just swooped in and bought up a load of old businesses”

PG “No, I mean, most Savile Row houses that still exist, they exist as a result of various mergers of other houses. Some of them are 5, 6 or 7 different houses, some of them are just a couple. Almost none of them are just one house. Many of them merged in the early days. Some of them merged much later and some of them purchased businesses that were failing post war. A hundred years ago there were a couple of hundred tailors working in and around Savile Row. 200 tailors a century ago, and now about a dozen, but many of those dozen are made up of the other houses that existed, so it’s not unusual at all. So when I wanted to do ready to wear, I didn’t want to do it as Norton & sons because I liked the fact that they were just a bespoke tailor, and we would be appealing to a different person.

TDC “And Hammond & CO?”

PG “When Debenhams spoke to me about doing a line of menswear for them, I thought here we have an opportunity again to use the history of the Hammond & Co house which was a fantastic sporting tailoring house which dates back to the 1770’s. They’d made for all sorts of fantastic people over the years and had a story that everyone in the design team could get behind and understand. What the history of a house like Hammond & Co does is provide a very clear frame of reference for everyone who works on it. In it’s day it was a modern sporting menswear house and they had Royal Warrants for four successive English monarchs”

TDC “That’s crazy how they can be so successful and then almost disappear”

PG “Well, it was the same with E.Tautz. Hammond & Co had  shops in London, Paris and Vienna. E.Tautz had a shop in London and a shop in Paris. The [london] shop was a huge thing on Oxford Street opposite where Selfridges is now. It had been a big thing, but like many British tailoring houses, post second world war, business disappeared. From the start to the finish of that war it changed everything in menswear. A large proportion of a generation of men were lost and it changed everything. So many excellent London tailors disappeared from London between 1950 and 1980”

TDC “How would you describe the modern Hammond & Co look?”

PG “It was always abut a progressive luxury sportswear, so we have beautiful checked tweeds and all of this stuff, it’s about being on the right side of a particular line . We have a history and we don’t want to turn our back on that, but we do want to keep nudging things forward. If Mr Hammond was alive today he would be looking at lightweight luxury fabrics, he would be looking at the most incredible technical fabrics that are available, and we do all of that as well. At our heart there is a simple elegance . It’s about the beauty in the fabric and the simplicity and design, and that’s really it. It’s not about thousands of bells and whistles, it’s about the effortless chic of the well dressed British man.They are fun to wear, interesting clothes, and you can wear them all together. You can stick a seersucker blazer over a crazy Japanese inspired Shibori block print shirt, it looks good, but sometimes people can be too stuffy about these things and we wanted to break that down a little bit so that people can enjoy it. Like the fox and duck prints, there’s a sort of old man chic about it that I really like, they’re cool!”

Clothing by Hammond & Co, available from Debenhams

TDC “Yes, like the sweaters with the fairisle pattern, or the sleeveless sweaters and button up sleeveless sweaters”

PG “These are beautiful things, and tank tops! who knew we’d do tank tops. I mean when I suggested button through tank tops there was a lot of [sharp in take of breath], but they’ve been great”

Hammond & Co button through tank tops

TDC “What would you suggest from the current range in stores now. What do you like?”

PG “There’s some technical rain wear that I really like in some really cool fabrics in a really nice olive drab, but nobody calls it that. I think on the website it’s called forest green or something. I enjoy working on the technical pieces. And I like working with hats”

TDC “Yes! Hammond & Co is great for hats. Flat caps, Bakerboy hats”

PG “I always used to love wearing hats. We have some really nice shapes in the baker boys, but we’re always trying to introduce new fabrics in to those so we’ve got linen mix bakerboys [ss18} with you can wear in the summer. We also did some boaters, and working out the stripe patterns was really fun. I was trawling through thousands of old pictures of British regattas trying to find the stripes that I thought would look best. That stuff is really fun and I’ve also really enjoyed working on the pyjamas and dressing gowns”

Some of the range of caps available from Hammond & Co

TDC “What about Spring Summer 2018, what can we expect?”

PG “I really like it. In E.Tautz we’ve been referencing the 80’s for the last two and a half years, the shapes are a lot looser and softer, tailored jackets and trousers with more fullness and pleats and a bit tapered, and we’ve started to move that a little but into Hammond & Co, particularly for the summer, a drapey, lightweight unconstructed jacket is really nice to wear. There’s a very soft casual elegance about the tailoring which is great. We’ve done a lot of really knocked back colours, like the early 80’s sportswear colours, like the slightly wrong but perfect peach, and a mintyish green. For high summer we’ve brought loads of that colour in. We’ve also done some quite odd stripe settings, that you will look at and go [pulls a curious face] but they’re great”

Some of the items available for SS18, and those striped shirts!

TDC “I saw some shirts out there, like bowling shirts”

PG “Yes, with two lines of big stripes. That’s a very 50’s set, that idea of the two bold stripes sets down the front of the shirt.

TDC “And I cannot leave you without talking about the Great British Sewing Bee”

PG “Yes, and I wish I could tell you more, but we literally don’t know. It’s still in discussions”

TDC “Don’t tell me that you’re going to do a ‘bake-off!'”

Patrick on the BBC series The Great British Sewing Bee

PG “who knows, but I thought Bake Off on Channel Four was brilliant. Pru was lovely, just so perfectly pitched. And if we did go to Channel Four I’d be perfectly happy, but at the moment the BBC are discussing it”

TDC “Why did you get involved with it? Was it to inspire people to get sewing again?”

PG “Yes, mostly, I thought it would be a good thing for our industry if people rediscovered the joy of making clothes. We need a pipeline of talent. We need young people that want to make clothes for a living, and we need people coming to us as an apprentice. We want them to love it and to have basic skills, know how to cut, know how to sew, know how to handle fabric. There have been well over a million sewing machines sold since the Sewing Bee first came to air, so that’s definitely a lot of people sewing who weren’t sewing before. Also part of the reason we did sewing Bee was because there was already a sewing resurgence”

TDC “Yes, like knitting as well. Can you knit?”

PG “I have never knitted. I have tried crochet once. Well I say I’ve never knitted, I did a thing for Channel Four which was a series about British villages, which is probably out in the new year, but I had a go at knitting on that. I wasn’t great at it!”

TDC “I can’t believe that”

PG “Well, I don’t know about knitting. It doesn’t wholly grab me, and I don’t know why. We do use hand knitters at E.Tautz, we have needle knitted jumpers in our collection which are absolutely some of the things I like most out of what we do, because there’s something just so lovely knowing that it’s been entirely crafted by hand”

Hand Knitted sweaters from E.Tautz

A huge thank you to Patrick Grant for speaking with me and for the team at Debenhams for arranging it. I’ve been a huge fan of Patrick for a while, not only because of the great clothing available in the Hammond & Co range at Debenhams, but because of what he has done for the fashion industry, tailoring, and British business as a whole.

I hope you’ve enjoyed learning a little more about Patrick. Drop me a line and let me know what you think. Are you a fan of Hammond & Co? What do you think about sewing? Are you any good? Could you be Patrick’s next apprentice? Thanks for stopping by

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1 Comment

  1. Katy Hammond-Holian
    November 28, 2017 / 7:14 pm

    How amazing meeting Patrick Grant!

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