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Umbrella S T Y L E / C I T I E S / D E S I G N / C U LT U R E
Issue 14 – Spring 2016 Is Michael Portillo TV’s best-dressed man? Bang & Olufsen: their greatest hits / Brutalism in east London 36 pages of men’s style / The English town that thinks it’s Scottish
Umbrella: now available in print Order your copy here for just ÂŁ6 Umbrella is now available as a coffee-table enhancing 100-page print edition. It looks great, it reads brilliantly and it smells amazing. All for the price of a pint (in certain London bars). Go on, treat yourself.
Balfron Tower, London Architect: Ernõ Goldfinger Picture: Matt Reynolds
The apartment block is one of the civilising markers of the urban environment. But you’ve never seen one like Kowloon Walled City, the anarchic residence that appeared in post-war Hong Kong. Read its story on page 50. If you like tech, you’ll love our feature on Bang & Olufsen, while Michael Portillo, whose programmes on railways are required viewing here, is named by Umbrella as the best dressed man on TV – and rightly so. Enjoy the mag.
Tony & Matt, London, spring 2016
Issue 14 Spring 2016
On the cover
Anthony Teasdale email@example.com
Creative director Matt Reynolds firstname.lastname@example.org
Staff writer Elliott Lewis-George
Adrian Callaghan Peter O’Toole Ian Lambot Joe Rampley Mischa Gilbert
Online Dan Nicolson
Elizabeth Atkin AW Wilde
Based in London, but a proud Geordie, Elizabeth writes about films, travelling and lots of fiction. Her work has been published by FHM, Grazia, HelloGiggles, Closer and Company. Read about her obsession with street signs on page 98.
Advertising Jon Clements email@example.com
Printed by Buxton Press
Following his fixations has led AW from city to coast, down blind alleys and up greasy poles. He resigned as creative director of EMI Music Publishing to write fiction and blames the visceral power of Chuck D and the poetic dexterity of Joni Mitchell for this.
By day, Alexandra is a picture editor for smart women’s website The Pool. She’s also writes jokes, reads books she thinks she should to sound more intelligent and “dicks about” with her hair. She lives in Shoreditch, obviously.
Co-founder of art direction and animation company, Peepshow Collective, Spencer is also a keen cyclist. His book, The Modern MAMIL combines his two loves: illustration and bikes. Read an excerpt on page 23.
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4 Umbrella Contents
Contents Editions 06 The wild west
Field trip 23 Cycling
The history of Californian graphic design
Tips for the modern MAMIL
08 News Skinhead photo-book and brutalist map
Umbrella writers talk about the best bits of the UK’s railway stations
10 The Umbrella-ist
34 Brutal truth
Design man Aaron Draplin
Matt Reynolds visits the Robin Hood Gardens estate
12 Recipes From the Killingworth Castle, Oxfordshire
15 Simple pleasures Going for a stroll
28 Love on the tracks
36 ‘Bahn doors Snapper Rik Moran goes in search of the Vienna metro
Issue 14 Stories 40 The sound of the future
Style 62 Familiar face
A love letter to the design of Bang & Olufsen
64 Capital idea Kestin Hare profile
48 Michael, Montefiore and Mr Rhys Jones
67 The art of urban exploration
We pay tribute to the bestdressed men on TV
Tessuti and Umbrella team up for spring/summer chic
50 Crowded house
76 Our favourite thing
The incredible story of the world’s most anarchic apartment block: the Kowloon Walled City
Casio’s classic watch
78 Outfits Five looks for SS16
94 Money for old rope
Arthur Beale profile
Growing up in Corby
12 R ecipes from the Killingworth Castle
15 T he simple pleasures of a stroll
18 T he dark secrets of US military patches
Editions Consume with intelligence
Pacific state California’s graphic design is like the state itself: bright, shiny and just a little bit bonkers. A new book covers this work, from movie posters to record covers.
10 Sweet sensation This month, Umbrella travelled to Oxfordshire to try out the grub at The Killingworth Castle, a muchpraised gastropub/inn. We left inspired (and full) with three recipes for our readers to try out. Don’t blame us for any weight gain, though.
One of this mag’s design heroes, Aaron Draplin, is the subject our latest Umbrella-ist feature. He expands on his love of design that’s “functional and beautiful” in an illuminating interview. We’ve also got two great columns: one on US military patches and the other on growing up in the Scottish enclave of Corby. Only in Umbrella.
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Pictures Thames & Hudson Words Anthony Teasdale Further information thamesandhudson.com
The wild west The graphic art of California gets its dues in a striking new book If the USA is where Europe went to in order to start a new life, then California is where those on the east coast now decamp when they’ve had enough of New York, Philadelphia and Boston. The Big Apple may be a teeming hive of human existence, but it has winters like Siberia and attitude like a mafia don with heartburn. California is something else entirely – a coastal strip of heaven with year-round sunshine and acres of open space to stretch out in. Between the 1930s and ’80s, its population grew as industries like movie-making, technology and aeronautics made it their home. And with that came a new philosophy of graphic art that mirrored the optimism of the place. Something that’s covered in a fantastic book, Earthquakes, Mudslides, Fires And Riots – California & Graphic Design 1936-1986, written by Louise Sandhaus. As you’d expect, colour is at the heart of the work, linking pieces together that were made decades apart. Album covers, posters for gigs and even movie credits show a taste for abstract symbols, funky lettering and pop-art symbolism. In her introduction to the book, Sandhaus says: “California has no terra firma – earthquakes, mudslides, fires, and the occasional civil uprising cause incessant upheaval and change. California is fluid. It has a sense of humour. It is a place of boundless reinvention and innovation, where the entertainment, aerospace, and high-tech industries all found a cozy home. A mecca of consumerism, it is also a place of great creativity, freedom, and social consciousness, where the status quo undergoes constant renovation. Without solid ground, tradition lacks secure footing; old rules go out the door and new motivations rush in, resulting in new and vibrant forms.” Looking at the work – which coincides the with the state’s golden age – optimism and experimentation drips from every piece. This isn’t just America, this is the America we were promised: one of limitless freedom to match the never-ending blue skies. And leafing through the pages of this beautifully produced book will take you directly there. Earthquakes, Mudslides Fires and Riots: California & Graphic Design 1936-1986 is published by Thames & Hudson
+ Clockwise from top left, Bill Plate and Gene Howard, The Swinginâ€™ Eye!!!!!!!! album cover, 1960 + John Van Hamersveld and Victor Moscoso, The Who With Fleetwood Mac concert poster, 1968 + Rudi Gernreich and Layne Neilson, printed scarves, mid-1960s + Solomon, The Sea Ranch athletic club interior graphics, 1966-67 + Betty Brader, Cal Tjader Quintet album cover, 1956 + CBS, The Gale Storm Show interstitial cards, 1958 + Solomon, The Sea Ranch athletic club exterior signage, 1966-67 + John Van Hamersveld and Ed Thrasher, So Cal smog poster, 1971 +Solomon, monthly calendar for San Francisco Museum Of Modern Art, 1965 + Left, The cover of Earthquakes, Mudslides, Fires & Riots: California & Graphic Design 1936-1986, by Louise Sandhaus
8 Umbrella Editions Pictures Matthew Monteith, Taschen
Concrete evidence Modernism’s most controversial movement is featured in a smart map
Matters of interest from the worlds of style, culture and transport
High life A beautiful new book tells the story of New York’s High Line Few projects have improved a city more than New York’s High Line, the elevated park that snakes along the Lower West Side of Manhattan. Its story has now been told in a beautiful new book, also called The High Line. Originally a spur of the New York Central Railroad, the line fell into disuse as freight traffic moved to road in the 1950s. Disconnected from the national rail grid in the late-’80s, the line was due for demolition until activists began lobbying for it to be converted into a park, similar to Paris’s Promenade Plantée. The book takes up the story, using plans from the early days to illustrate the process. With beautiful photography showing how the project has helped revitalised the Meatpacking District, it’s the ideal gift for any urban planning fan. The New York Times said about the High Line: “Guiding you through a secret landscape of derelict buildings, narrow urban canyons and river views, it allows you to make entirely new visual connections between different parts of Manhattan.” No wonder we love it. The High Line is published by Phaidon, out now
+ New York residents take advantage of the views from the revitalised High Line
Architecture fans are in for a treat with the release of the Brutalist London Map. The guide features over 50 examples of brutalist architecture; from the National Theatre and Southbank Centre to lesser-known buildings like the Elephant and Rhinoceros Pavilion at London Zoo, Hyde Park Barracks and Keeling House in Bethnal Green. Details for each building include the location, date and architect or practice responsible, and listing status. The Twentieth Century Society’s Henrietta Billings said: “This map is a fantastic opportunity to highlight some of London’s boldest and exciting postwar buildings. Ten years ago this style of architecture was out of fashion, but now more and more people can see what’s great about these buildings. The map will help you find more examples than you ever knew existed.” Brutalist London Map, bluecrowmedia.com
A close shave Skinhead gets the book it deserves thanks to the work of photographer Gavin Watson
+ From buying up rare seven-inch singles to just hanging about, skinhead was allencompassing in late ’70s/early ’80s Britain
Has there ever been a more uniquely British subculture than skinhead? As mod split into two in the late-’60s – Small Faces-style psychedelia went one way, ‘harder’ lads the other – a look that combined Ivy League precision with Jamaican atttude and British workwear was born. This was skinhead. And the music that its adherents danced – or at least jumped about to – was ska. Fast-forward 15 years and on the back of the success of the Coventry’s 2Tone record label (and The Who’s Quadrophenia film) everything mod or skin came back into fashion, with lads sporting crombies and Dr Marten’s, while girls got their hair styled into that wispy-yet-brutal skin-girl cut. Growing up in High Wycombe, young photographer Gavin Watson documented this scene, capturing his mates larking about in their uniform of DM boots, Harrington jackets and sheepskin coats. Despite skin’s reputation for racism – and let’s be clear, plenty of skins were racist despite the culture’s West Indian influence – his mates were a multicultural bunch from every background. What they had in common was a love of clothing, music and larking about on public transport. Watson’s work has been collated into a book called Skins, which features all his best photos from the period. Here are young people pre-smartphones and social media, driven by boredom to find something – anything – to do. And in early-’80s Britain, with its high unemployment and pubs shut during the day, this wasn’t always easy. As well as providing a snapshot of a particular youth culture, the book also shows us how completely alien that era feels today. Young people, eh? You can buy Skins at johnblakebooks.com
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T HE UMBREL L A–IS T
No. 4: Aaron Draplin Quotes from people we admire Owners of the Field Notes pocket books will already be acquainted with the design work of Aaron James Draplin, the larger-than-life graphic designer from the Midwest. Those unfamiliar with Draplin should take time to watch his passionate TEDx talk on YouTube. You should also take in one of his videos set in Portland, Oregon, home to Draplin Design Co, and see him pick through underappreciated artefacts of beautiful American design. More than a designer or collector, he’s a man that harbours a contagious kind of passion that can inspire anyone. Especially us. “I loved Lego when I was a kid. Marvelling at the little graphics on the pieces. Hell, the boxes alone were enough – that big, beautiful Helvetica – so crisp and logical. That was my first taste of great design.” “I lock in on design that’s functional and beautiful, especially after seeing the bullshit in the mid-’90s with all the postpost-post modern scratchy, scritchity design shit that was going on. That was just fashion – frivolous and elite.” “Out of all my collections it’s the old stamps I keep going back to. I went to a big stamp show in 2007 and went nuts, dropping a couple of thousand bucks there. I can’t remember which ones were valuable, as I was looking at the graphics and graphics only. The colour, type and tiny spaces are all so inspiring. Just design everyone gets to enjoy.”
+ Designer Aaron Draplin at his studio in Portland, Oregon
Pictures Leah Nash, Draplin Design Co.
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Interview Elliott Lewis-George
“I like things that work, things that never go out of style. I don’t know if it’s a ‘style’ as such, as it’s a lack of taking the bait on all the new shit. Why do [famed US designer] Saul Bass logos still work? Therein lies what I’m trying to draft off.” “Design inspiration comes from junk stores, antique malls, online aggregator sites, record stores, libraries, estate sales, my nephew, dreams, nature, the city, whatever… I’m always on the lookout.” “European design always inspires me. There’s a certain refinement to it. The first time I went to Switzerland I didn’t care about the fondue and beer and shit. I was just excited to see the street signs and customs forms: day-to-day stuff that’s still beautifully designed. I’m going to Amsterdam in a couple of weeks and can’t wait to look for design on the smallest of items like a train ticket.” “You see the some of the greatest design in the simplest stuff; things that make things easier to use or understand. I hop over the pond from Portland and things get a little crisper in the UK, Scandinavia and Europe.”
“The internet has made the design world smaller. You make something at 9pm, show it on the web, and by the next morning, people are all seeing it and loving it and hating it and ripping it off. Before the web, it took time for people to get to stuff, if ever. Now, shit, it’s all out there.” “My mind is completely free on paper. You just sort of go with it. I don’t get that same buzz from my iPhone.” “My Field Notes pocket book is full of sketches, airline luggage barcodes, notes, lists, phone numbers, reminders, dead shit found on the ground, dreams, musings, poignant lyrics, logo iterations, how much I owe, how much I’m owed etc.” “The Field Notes ‘Workshop Companion’ is the colourway I keep going back to. The slipcase, the Kraft covers, the icons, the verbiage. I was so proud of those. Durable as hell! I’m using a ‘Snowblind’ right now and I love those, too. Really, it’s the latest ones we’ve made. I’m always blown away by what we come up with.”
“I’m not looking too hard into describing contemporary design anymore, I’m too busy doing my own thing. But I will say this much, I’m seeing an understanding of ‘good design’ out there more and more like on Pinterest. Seeing my little sisters finding reference points, and learning how to design their homes through it. That’s design.”
“Getting ahead keeps me designing. I know what it’s like to have no money in my bank account. I’m never going back to that. Even with all the momentum I have going: multiple jobs, Field Notes getting bigger and bigger and merch orders stacking up, I still feel the itch to make every hour. I know the value of a buck and will never take this shit for granted.”
“Designers are obsessive. What other way is there to be? I’d be freaked out if someone answered ‘no’ to this. It’s the little details that set so much shit apart.”
Visit draplin.com or visit ddcbook.com to pre-order Draplin’s forthcoming 256-page book, Pretty Much Everything, out May 17, published by Abrams Books
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For what it’s ’Worth Oxfordshire’s Killingworth Castle blends modern and traditional to create something very special
There’s something comforting about the idea of an inn. Despite the fact they’re often located in the countryside – somewhere this magazine tends to avoid – occasionally the pull of a roaring fire, cosy rooms and plates groaning with meat and gravy is too strong to resist. That’s certainly the case with Killingworth Castle, an ancient pub/inn located 12 miles outside Oxford – ie, not the real countryside. Husband-and-wife team Jim and Claire Alexander took it over in October 2012, and in just ten weeks transformed it into the sort of place you’d drool over in the travel pages of a Sunday supplement.
food & drink
“The pub was opened in 1637, and was used as a changing stop for horses on the main road from London to Worcester and Aberystwyth,” says Claire. “Later, Winston Churchill used to drive out from nearby Blenheim Palace to test out his cars and stop for a spot of lunch and, no doubt, a beverage or two.” Before Jim and Claire’s arrival, the Killingworth had been shut for a year. “It was in a terrible state, with cobwebs everywhere,” says Claire, who refurbished the entire place in just ten weeks. “I did the rooms up so now the beds are hand-crafted oak, while some rooms have roll-top baths and vaulted ceilings. If you want to get away, eat, sleep and relax, it’s a great spot.” Speaking of food, and that’s ultimately why we’re heading here, the menu’s in tune with the updated traditionalism of the pub. Claire: “Our food is modern British, so you might get a shepherd’s pie but hopefully it’ll one of the best you’ve ever tasted. Here, it’s all about the ingredients and we’ve got so many good, local suppliers.” For both visitors and people who just use it as a neighbourhood boozer, the Killingworth Castle is making plenty of friends. “It’s a proper pub with a nice atmosphere and good bunch of supportive locals. That’s the most important thing to us – to create an atmosphere that people want to come back to.” We couldn’t argue with that.
Words Anthony Teasdale Pictures Killingworth Castle
Mackerel with cucumber and horseradish 1 mackerel fillet 1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded, chopped 30g grated horseradish 50g samphire
50g seaweed 100g butter 200g purple sprouting broccoli
o plate â€“ place the samphire in a T small nest off centre of a bowl, and place the mackerel resting against the samphire. Pour the cucumberhorseradish sauce and garnish with radish slices.
100ml cream 20g freshly chopped dill
Soften the butter while blanching the seaweed for 30 seconds then cool in ice water. Finely chop the seaweed and mix through the butter and reset in fridge till hard.
200ml white wine 1 cod fillet Small potato
Umbrella readers can get ÂŁ20 off a two-night stay at the Killingworth Castle. Email email@example.com and mention Umbrella when booking.
Par-boil potato and dice. Reduce the white wine and fish stock by half, add the mussels, cook until open, remove and reduce sauce by a further 30 per cent, then add cream.
10 live mussels 300ml fish stock
100ml creme fraiche 1 radish
Blend cucumber and horseradish to a paste, slowly add creme fraiche, then pass through muslin to a smooth sauce. Char the mackerel to crisp and colour the skin, and cook in oven to finish. Blanch the samphire till tender. Thinly slice radish to garnish.
Cod with purplesprouting broccoli, seaweed and mussels
Salt the cod and leave for 30 minutes, wash off, brown the skin in a pan and finish in the oven for 6-8 minutes. Add the diced potato and dill to the cream sauce and cook till potato is soft.
food & drink
14 Umbrella Editions
Honey and bay panna cotta, poached pear, salted brown butter ice cream, peacan caramel Panna cotta 250ml double cream 85ml milk 30g sugar 4 bay leaves 50g honey 1 gelatine leaf
Ice cream 75g sugar 100ml water 250ml milk 250ml cream 85ml liquid glucose 8 egg yolks 50g demerara sugar 200g browned butter
or the panna cotta – Place all except F gelatine into a large pan and bring to the boil, take off the heat and leave to infuse for 1 hour. Soak the gelatine in cold water to soften, reheat the cream mixture and add the gelatine and mix. Pass the panna cotta mix through a fine sieve, divide into moulds and chill until needed. For the salted brown butter ice cream – Make a dark caramel with the 75g sugar and water. Bring the milk, cream and glucose to the boil and pour over the caramel. Whisk the yolks and demerara sugar together and pour over the hot caramel cream to make an analgise. R eturn to the pan and heat gently to 80°c using a temperature probe to make sure the eggs are cooked. Once cooked to 80°c add the browned butter and pass through a fine sieve. Chill in the fridge and then churn in an ice cream machine or by hand in the freezer.
Words Elliott Lewis-George
The simple pleasures of… going for a stroll I sat down to write this brief piece about four hours ago. Three solid hours fleeted by without writing anything other than a hackneyed tweet and a WhatsApp message explaining that I couldn’t possibly cook dinner because I was too busy writing – a massive lie. The clue to what cured my procrastination (that lofty term for bone-idleness) is in the headline, so yeah, a little stroll down to my local Londis was all I needed to get some words on the page. I’m not crediting overpriced ginger beer and some stale Maltesers as the cure to my writer’s block, instead the simple action of placing one foot in front of the other and transporting myself somewhere else – both physically and mentally – was all I needed to feel rejuvenated and inspired. I’ll swerve the patronising list of health benefits walking brings. On the contrary, I’d argue that even that post-pint mission to the kebab house is a rambling ritual that must never be struck off as a meaningless stumble. How many great
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ideas have you had on the walk home after four beers? Sure, I’m using the term ‘great’ loosely here but my guess is loads. To be honest, I’m not sure why I even pitched this piece in the first place. The chances are I’m preaching to the converted. As a reader of Umbrella you’ll be used to tripping on the kerb as you gawp at that beautifully designed building towering over you, bragging about spots you discovered during your last hike through Manchester city centre or just looking ace as you saunter down the shops in your favourite jacket. If you’re looking to justify the joys of walking to people who prefer to get taxis everywhere then refer to this cherished pedestrian activity as ‘psychogeography’ – another lofty term defined as “the study of the precise laws and specific effects of the geographical environment, consciously organized or not, on the emotions and behaviour of individuals”. In short though, whether it’s from the pub, around a new city or just to clear your head, don’t meditate, go for a wander. Walking is fabulous.
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“Corby is as culturally Scottish contingent children are brought in the football, and – anglicisation – the Glaswegian) shows Alexandra Haddow grew up in Corby in Northamptonshire, a town populated by migrant Glaswegian steel workers in the 1940s and ’50s. Here she examines Scottish identity and culture deep in the English Midlands When I was growing up, a fry-up was white pudding, tatty scones and flat sausage. My local churches were St Andrews, and the only place you could hope to get some decent practice at underage drinking were the Rangers, and Celtic supporters clubs. Where might you suspect I spent my youth? You’d be right in thinking the suburban town of Corby in the East Midlands, not – as I know was your second guess – anywhere at all in Scotland. Surrounded by the omni-dull Kettering, Northampton, and just close enough to Leicester that you can justify a night out there (don’t miss the only 2am bus home), you can say what you like about Corby (many do) but one thing it isn’t, is ordinary. I’ve always felt jealous of The North, with its strong identity; the Midlands is the Mark Lawrenson of regional personality. Corby, however, is a shining light in a characterless landscape, and you find yourself defending it whether you like it or not. The town is known as ‘Little Scotland’, despite its geographical distance from Hadrian’s Wall, due to an influx of thousands of Scots in the mid-20th century who descended on what was then a large village to work in the steelworks.
When steel-tube makers Stewarts & Lloyds opened in 1939, the west coast of Scotland was in the midst of an unemployment crisis. British Steel took over in 1954, which is when vast numbers of Scots migrated south, including my own family, in 1960. The socio-economic impact of a town expanding in population at this rate is that it doesn’t grow, it just suddenly is. My father was six when he moved, now 61 he’s still in possession of a Scottish accent, which to me sounded perfectly normal growing up. Anywhere else in England he might have lost it, I’m glad he didn’t. My grandfather worked as an electrician in the steel works, while dad was thrust from school at 16 into British Steel until he retired. The closure of the steel works (leaving just the tube works) in 1981 resulted in mass unemployment, with over 30 per cent of the population on the dole. Today, the town’s main employment still comes from manufacturing, (Weetabix, Avon, RS Components, Fairline Boats) and making up 38 per cent of employment, is double the surrounding area’s average. Corby is a town of statistics in a country where we love to out-do each other with how terrible our home towns are. We
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unique as ever. The is still strong, many up to support Scotland despite some creeping Corby accent (a diluted no signs of waning” boasted “the highest teenage pregnancy rate in Europe” (the Midlands), “the biggest shipment of Irn-Bru outside Scotland” (according to Asda), and were the largest town in Europe without a train station until 2009, according to QI, which did a section on us. One thing we didn’t invent was the trouser press. That was a man called John Corby, and we’re sick of explaining it. Corby was however, the home of the first drive-thru chippy, something I’m much prouder of. In the 2001 census, Corby was beginning to get back to the national average for unemployment, but still had the lowest percentage of degree-educated population in the whole of England and Wales. Since I moved away ten years ago, Corby has changed immeasurably. We now have a Nando’s, a Greggs and a Wetherspoons that’s known as the ‘airport lounge’ on account of it’s new-build, no-music expanse of shit carpet and glasswalled atmosphere. I’m mostly glad that the youth of Corby has more than we did, but part of me is sad that we’re homogenising with every other town. On a brighter note, there’s now an Olympic training pool, a cinema (beats travelling half an hour to be disappointed with the latest Transformers film) new pubs, fleeting clubs (some things never change) and the Corby Cube, a theatre and cinema with a varied weekly programme. A theatre! I’d have killed for that. Despite the town’s reputation as being a bit rough, the
people of Corby are as kind as they are passionate, fiery (a healthy dose of Glaswegian in the population will do that for you) and have a brilliant sense of humour. I once heard somebody from a neighbouring ‘rival’ town say that people from Corby were among the most generous around, they support and help each other, and there is a strong sense of community in most of the town. Corby in 2016 is as culturally unique as ever. The Scottish contingent is still strong, many children are brought up to support Scotland in football, and – despite some creeping anglicisation – the Corby accent (a diluted Glaswegian) shows no signs of waning. I wasn’t in Corby for the Scottish referendum, but there doesn’t seem to have been a strong prevailing sentiment one way or the other. After canvassing opinion I’d say that it was just as the results showed – extremely close, but erring on the side of staying together. After all, many probably didn’t want to lose a link between where they live and where they’re from. The oddest thing about Corby though is the dilemma you face when describing it: you have the trophy facts from your childhood ready: “Train station, pregnancy, shit hole, Irn-Bru” – but you’re also oddly proud of it, and God forbid anyone else disses it. Its reputation, good or bad, precedes itself, and in the Midlands, I’ll take that over anywhere else, thanks. It’s OK, I can say it, I’m from there, pal.
“I’ve got a thing for military patches; the weird mix of needlecraft and warcraft gets me every time” Despite their playful graphics, American military patches mark some of the darkest moments in US history, as collector AW Wilde reveals
I didn’t see active service in the Vietnam War. I was born in the wrong country and only turned two 11 days before the American troops withdrew. Make no mistake, I’m pleased about this. The drugs sounded fun but even the surfing in Apocalypse Now looked like way too much like hard graft to me. Now at the age of 41, I’m too old to be drafted and young enough to realise that I’m exceptionally lazy when it comes to killing people. But that hasn’t stopped an appreciation forming, not of the atrocities committed in the name of misspent ideologies, but of the regimental insignia that accompanies the grim mechanics of war. Put simply: I’ve got a thing for military patches. Like collectors of tut the world over, eBay is something I mainline. Yet my interest in items imbued with historic significance began at an early age. My parents had a concession at a countryside antiques centre around which I lolled aimlessly when it was too wet to skateboard in the car park. Picking up strange objects that’d had a life of their own before they’d arrived in my hands began to beguile me, but this was 1990 and my aesthetic eyes looked solely across the pond – not the one with ducks on it at the bottom of the aforementioned car park. America was somewhere from the movies. A youth culture tractor beam I could board anywhere, my fascination with it fanned by the pages of Thrasher magazine and The Wonder Years (which I watched every week with religious fervour.) As you may recall, Kevin Arnold’s first kiss with Winnie Cooper occurred shortly after her brother had been killed in Vietnam and this became a reoccurring motif of the series, itself an exceptional dramatisation of the Babyboomer generation. The use of knowing off-screen narration gave clarity to teenage thoughts the emergence of pubes did much to muddy. Not that I thought that at the time, my appreciation much likelier to take the form of, “Man, the chain-stitching looks cool on Kevin’s baseball jacket.” As I said goodbye to my teens, arable farmland and tractor beams, I said hello to the Real Thing by way of Heathrow, Terminal 3. It was on these trips to the engine room of capitalism that I really learned to shop, to seek out thrift stores in which to lose those yawny jet-lagged hours. On rails upon rails hung bargains between bargains. Vintage college sportswear was cheap as chips, M65 and varsity jackets sold by the weight, and there were vast selections of gaudy Hawaiian shirts made from withered Rayon and stained with the echoes of Mafioso powwows.
Pictures AW Wilde
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Hung high and out of reach were tour jackets from Vietnam, over-embroidered with eagles, tigers and names of places that’d felt the might of a US Navy with its tail between its legs. But over years a different displacement conflict began: the thrift stores were priced out of neighbourhoods by the multiples. And art galleries soon filled the hole in my schedule. It was on one such visit to the New Museum on the Bowery in NYC that I happened across a book with a patch on the cover that read: I Could Tell You But Then You Would Have To Be Destroyed By Me, written by Trevor Paglen in 2007. It’s a fascinating ad-hoc visual record of American military patches, especially those from ‘Black Ops’ (secret missions). The ‘Black World’ is so closely guarded, so sensitive and such a threat to national security that they produce emblematic patches detailing operational duties that any goon can buy on eBay. But any goon, however, can’t decipher the semiotics embroidered onto the patches – and that’s where it gets hidingin-plain-sight fascinating. When on a mission to decode the stars, lightning bolts, dragons or peering eyes accompanying such charming little epithets as ‘Nightstalkers’, ‘Goat Suckers’ or ‘NOYFB’ (None Of Your Fucking Business), Paglen interviewed serviceman who’d grown disillusioned with life in the Black World. He said, “I’ve seen that sort of thing a lot: they’re gang colours.” And so to Vietnam, the war that was never officially called a war. The patches from this era are filled with the same macabre connotations but combined with the popular imagery of the day. It just so happens that Felix the Cat, the Playboy Bunny, Yosemite Sam and The Joker were adopted by regiments who recast their meanings. After buying that book, I’d a target to aim for. The first one to arrive on my doormat was circular, bright red and gold with ‘VIET-NAM FAR EAST CRUISE’ embroidered around the perimeter. In the middle stood a cutesy Snoopy waving a Jasper Johns US flag. It has an undeniable charm and looks like a Disney kid’s club badge – but it’s not; Snoopy was semiotic slang for reconnaissance endeavours. It looked boss sewn onto the arm of a 1942 Deck Zip Jacket. I was hooked. I www-researched: it didn’t take me long to hit eBay paydirt. And now the postman looks at me funny if the mail doesn’t contain a flexible package from Wichita, Milwaukee or Toledo. With the embroidered history of someone else’s trouble emblazoned upon my sweatshirts, I look like a right clown wandering the streets of Liverpool. It’s fortunate that Scousers are accepting by nature. Cheers – to Vietnam: the world’s first and last Pop Art War.
23 R olling news 26 R obin Hood Gardens: a failed housing estate
28 R ailway stations’ best bits
34 V ienna metro
Field trip Transport, travel and exploration
32 Ride on time A beautifully illustrated new book pays tribute to the much-maligned MAMIL. If you’re looking for some two-wheeled inspiration, this is where to start.
40 Station masters A curved roof over a grand old station. A cosy pub on a platform. That square where people can drink and watch trains departing. Umbrella goes in search of the parts of British railway stations that fill us with joy. Read our list of the best on page 28.
34 Vienna is beautiful, but there’s one part of the city that doesn’t get quite enough recognition: its metro. Begun in the late 1960s, the network’s stations and trains are a modernist delight: bright colours, plastic seating and lots of signs using the Helvetica typeface. Photographer Rik Moran went along to snap the best bits for us.
Umbrella pin badges Limited-edition badges available now Show your allegiance to your favourite mag* with the discreet Umbrella enamel pin badge. Available from the website now for just ÂŁ3. *Thatâ€™s us.
Pictures Spencer Wilson
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Words Matt Reynolds
Further information spencerwilson.co.uk
A new book celebrates all that’s great about the middle-aged man’s approach to cycling e’ve got a lot of time for middle-aged men in lycra. Well, those on bikes anyway. Many are quick to judge so-called MAMILs – usually attributing their new-found interest in cycling to a midlife crisis – but with an appreciation of technology, a desire to wear the ‘right’ gear, and a fondness for exploring their surroundings we see kindred spirits. Cyclists Joel Rickett and Spencer Wilson clearly feel the same way. Their new book, The Modern MAMIL – A Cyclist’s A to Z, celebrates every aspect of MAMIL culture: everything from ‘Aero’ to ‘Base miles’ and ‘Cadence’ to ‘Zip ties’. Whatever they mean. Each letter of the alphabet is beautifully illustrated by Spencer and accompanied by notes on the obsessions, history, customs and rules of the scene. With a separate ‘Cyclist’s journal’ also available (for the true lightweightcarbon frame enthusiasts amongst you) to help record training details, race dates, targets and track notes, everything is completely covered. It’s just a shame we can’t say the same about some of the riders. Overleaf we’ve included illustrated highlights from four of the pages. No prizes for guessing what the letters spell. Cycle safe!
+ Above, Spencer Wilson created a series of illustrations for the book; Right, the front cover of The Modern MAMIL – A Cyclist’s A to Z
The Modern MAMIL – A Cyclist’s A to Z is available from Waterstones, priced £8.99
24 Umbrella Field trip
Bonk You’ve run out of energy bars and the tank is empty... each turn of the pedals feels like wading through treacle, and you can’t tell which side of the road you’re on. Yes, you’ve ‘bonked’. Your options are A) Man up and crawl back at a snails’ pace or B) Concede defeat, swallow your pride and phone home. What would Wiggins do?
K K ILOMETRES
Distances and speeds are always measured in km. Miles are for runners.
King of the Mountains. The title awarded to the best climber; a race within a race.
Cyclist unit of praise, made ubiquitous by Strava. The online equivalent of ‘chapeau’.
Italian When ordering cycle gear online, always remember that a large size Italian will only fit a very small boy in English. Size-up if you want to be able to breathe.
Espresso The only acceptable way to take your mid-ride caffeine fix (also see M for Machiatto). A true MAMIL will also invest in a high-end espresso maker, even if it leaves no kitchen room for a microwave oven or kettle.
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Brutal truth East London’s Robin Hood Gardens show that idealism alone isn’t enough to create decent housing Fifty or so years ago work began to demolish London’s – and other cities’ – architecturally unfashionable Victorian terraces. Many were in a poor state and inhabited by the lowest levels of society: the poor, the desperate and the plain unfortunate. Instead of investing in renovation that would have left communities intact and saved these (now much-missed) 19th century buildings, many were flattened. The same fate now awaits Robin Hood Gardens in east London, a block built in the late 1960s, ironically to replace the slum housing of the past. Despite the estate’s striking design, it’s not a desirable place live, and superstar architect Zaha Hadid, who once described it as her favourite building in London, is notable by her absence. The leaking roofs need to be fixed, the public spaces aren’t properly maintained, and more importantly, the wishes of the residents need to be addressed: a recent poll found that 80 per cent want the brutalist estate refurbished. The partregeneration of Park Hill Flats in Sheffield show what’s possible, but it seems that it’s too late for Robin Hood Gardens – demolition is due to start soon. The lesson of history is clear – although architectural styles come in and out of fashion, regeneration should come before demolition. Sadly, we’re making the same mistake again. Words and pictures by Matt Reynolds
Pictures Umbrella xxxxxxxxxxxx Words Matt xxxxxxxxxxxx Reynolds Further Reading www.xxxxxxx
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28 Umbrella Field trip
Pictures Joe Rampley Words Anthony Teasdale, Matt Reynolds, Elliott Lewis-George, John Mackin, SImon Cunningham
Love on the tracks Railway stations are often imposing places, but itâ€™s the details that make us fall in love with them. Here, Umbrella writers talk about the parts that other stations simply canâ€™t reach
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King’s Cross Square, King’s Cross
The sweeping roof curve, Newcastle
If ever a station symbolised all that was wrong about ’60s and ’70s architecture it was King’s Cross. And specifically the green veranda built onto the entrance. Today, everything has changed. King’s Cross, designed by Lewis Cubitt and opened in 1852, now has a beautiful, semi-circle extension to the side, while the veranda is no more, knocked down in 2012. In its place is King’s Cross Square. With Cubitt’s minimalist masterpiece as its focus, KQS has become that most unusual thing in London: a shared space. Train staff puff on ciggies, commuters jump aboard buses and – on summer evenings – people gather to chat, eat and drink. Then when it goes dark, the spotlights come on and the station is lit up in all its austere magnificence. AT
Railway victoriana is meant to be all soot-stained gothic with billowing smoke and steam asphyxiating the platforms. It’s a surprise, therefore, having traversed the Tyne from the south, to come across the airy, curving Grade 1-listed Newcastle Central Station, opened in 1850. It is, in effect, a monumental neoclassical greenhouse composed of three pioneering arched train sheds painted white and cream to accentuate a surprisingly modern, airy sense of space. While it’s no Grand Central you’ll still find yourself gazing upwards at the serpentine, arched magnificence. And the curve? All due to the East Coast Mainline, having crossed over the Tyne on Robert Stephenson’s High Level Bridge close to the station, needing to sweep round north again, and on towards Berwick and Scotland. JM
Station Approach, Manchester Piccadilly Ten years ago, at exactly 5pm on a Saturday, you’d find me dashing up Station Approach towards Piccadilly, protecting recently purchased records from the Manchester drizzle underneath the wavy modernist curve of Gateway House; a tired-looking ’60s throwback that was designed by the same architect behind London’s iconic Centrepoint tower. Nicknamed the ‘lazy S’, Gateway House is currently undergoing a bit of a refurb and now even boasts a decent craft beer boozer. To most, station approach is just another way of getting from A to B. But to me, it was, and still is, the gateway to the bright excitement of my favourite city. ELG
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The Buffet Bar, Stalybridge Recalling an age of British railways when waiting rooms were gas-lit and had roaring coal fires, this is a cosily perfect Edwardian pub. It’s won awards from CamRA and English Heritage – rightly so – and retains many of the original 1885 features. A more recent extension included the 1st Class ladies waiting room complete with ornate ceiling and fascinating railway memorabilia. If you’re up for it (and it always seems like a capital idea after a couple of foaming tankards) Stalybridge forms the starting point of the ‘TransPennine Ale Trail’, stretching up the nine stations to Batley, all with a real ale pub either on the platform or immediately outside the station. A perfect outing. JM
The North Concourse, Leeds station
The design of Manchester Oxford Road
Leeds station is an energy-sapping place. Travellers alighting are faced with a bewildering mix of platforms and stairwells (it’s England’s busiest station outside London), before exiting through a low-roofed concourse, home to the world’s most depressing WH Smith’s. But take a turn left and you’re suddenly in a light, airy space decorated with art deco touches and filled with tasteful branches of high street shops. This is the Northern Concourse. Originally a ticket hall, the concourse was part of the original Leeds City station, an amalgamation of New, and Wellington stations. Built in 1939, it connected the two termini. When Leeds station was rebuilt (ie, ruined) in 1969, the Concourse decayed, but its recent refurbishment has brought back its modernist glory. AT
Being raised on a triangular patch of viaducts, Grade II-listed Oxford Road Station is what would have been created had a firm of Helsinki sauna designers been asked to make a model of Sydney Opera House. What’s most striking is the extensive use of polished, laminated timber throughout. Timber was chosen as much for the fact that the station sits on weak Victorian viaducts as it was for the lobbying of the Timber Development Association in the late-’50s. The result is one the most striking, unusual stations in Britain. Curling, distinctive overhanging canopies – 1960s modernism par excellence, except not executed in brutalist concrete – protect passengers from incessant Mancunian drizzle, while the façade beams out like a bishop’s mitre made of teak. JM
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The Tap pub at Sheffield Enjoying a drink has always had a happy association with railway journeys. We all recognise the hiss of a tinny being opened (alongside those other BR staples – the ‘grab bag’ of Quavers and a copy of Viz). Yet most busy British railway stations are lacking somewhere decent to enjoy a pre-boarding pint on the concourse – which is what makes Sheffield so special. Tucked away on platform one is The Sheffield Tap – an Edwardian railway diner reincarnated as a craft-beer paradise. With an on-site brewery and plenty of sensibly-priced ale, it’s long since become a destination in its own right for locals and travellers alike. It’s so wonderful, you might just ‘accidentally’ miss the 18.29 back to St Pancras. SC
The view over the city from Durham station It comes as a joy to jaded travellers to come across the magnificent view of one of Europe’s best cityscapes. And it’s all included in the price of your ticket. The small station itself is nothing special, but the part-Victorian, partmodern cantilevered platform roof offers splendid views over this ancient city. Just by gazing up from your phone, you can feast upon the World Heritage Site of the millennium-old Durham cathedral and the equally historic castle, which dominate and frame the skyline like two bookends. Bill Bryson was fond of Durham, writing in Notes From A Small Island (1995): “Why, it’s a perfect little city. If you have never been to Durham, go there at once. Take my car. It’s wonderful.” Ignore Bill – take the train instead. JM
The façade at Huddersfield You can tell a lot about a town by its train station. Some places regard themselves in modest terms – inconsequential stops on the line between grander, more important locations. The functional yet uninspiring architecture of their stations reflects this. Other places, however, like to aim a little higher, declaring their position (or, as is often the case, the position they’d like to be in) with grand architectural statements. Huddersfield in West Yorkshire is such a place. Situated between Leeds and Manchester, its station, opened in 1847, boasts as an incredible neoclassical exterior once described by poet John Betjeman as “the most splendid station facade in England”. If that’s not enough, there are two pubs either side of the entrance. Bravo. MR
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Exchange Square, Liverpool Street Located in the City of London (the financial quarter), Liverpool Street doesn’t make too much of an impression because it’s surrounded by streets and skyscrapers. Happily, that’s not the whole story. Take a walk behind the station and you’ll come upon one of the most striking open spaces in London: Exchange Square. Hemmed in by the terminus to the south and a monstrous office building to the north, Exchange Square is a place of reflection in an overwhelmingly urban environment. Not only does it provide an incredible view of Liverpool Street station’s interior – check out the train shed’s arches – but the ‘fat lady’ statue on one side and the amphitheatre in the centre make it perfect for a post-work beer in the evening sun. AT
The Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway mosaic at Manchester Victoria Built in 1844, in recent years Victoria has felt a little forlorn compared to Manchester’s other mainline station, Piccadilly. Unjustly so, as the former’s tile and brickwork knock the late-’60s shopping-centre chic of Piccadilly into a cocked hat, especially as Victoria has just had a £44m refurbishment. The highlight of this work is not the vast glass roof but the tiled mosaic map that covers one wall opposite Platform 1. The piece shows all the lines of the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway which ran services in the north pre-British Rail, though with no sign of any competing lines, it’s less a map and more a piece of propaganda. Today, the L&Y Railway is gone, and the only thing that remains is its beautiful map – oh, and the works football club. You’ll know them better as Manchester United. AT
The roof at St Pancras What was once an unused oddity, St Pancras’ 2007 refurbishment has made us fall in love again with this most theatrical of London stations. While no one can deny the beauty of the fairytale-castle entrance, the station’s shining light is the roof of the train shed, designed by William Henry Barlow. When St Pancras’s modernisation was confirmed, engineers and architects pored over Barlow’s original drawings so they could reinstate its ‘ridge and furrow’ pattern. The work didn’t stop there: the train shed’s cast iron supports were painted in the original shade of pale blue, while 160,000 pieces of Welsh slate joined the 18,000 panes of self cleaning glass to make up the roof. The result is the brightest station concourse in London. AT
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Inside the Vienna metro Vienna’s underground railway is a delight for both commuters and lovers of 20th century design ienna is known for many things: its near-unbeatable architecture; its status as a cultural hub, and its reputation as a place where one can find excellent cakes. As the city expands – its population is now 1,826,000 – so its citizens need decent transport to get about. While its trams provide some delightful ‘Mitteleuropa’ eye candy (that deep red livery will never go out of style), the serious commuting work is carried by its two urban railways, the S-Bahn and the U-Bahn. And it’s the latter we’re concerned with. For an underground transit network, Vienna’s U-Bahn is comparatively youthful. Despite the fact there’d been talk of a subway since the late 19th century, up until the late-’60s the S-Bahn did all the heavy lifting. However, with the city’s expansion, it became clear that it couldn’t cope alone. Step forward the U-Bahn. Work began on the system in 1968, with the first line, the U1, opening a decade later. The U2 and U4 lines were quickly added (using some original S-Bahn lines), so that by 1982 a basic network was in place. Since then, the U-Bahn has expanded further with U4 and U6 taking it out to the furthest suburbs, while U5, scheduled to open in 2023, will be the first line to boast driverless trains. While this magazine applauds anything that makes the system more efficient (eg, the network runs a 24-hour service Fri-Sat/Sat-Sun), we’re hoping that the T/T2 trains remain on some part of the network, because they’re a beautiful example of 1980s carriage design. After all, in a city as beautiful as Vienna, looks really do count for a great deal.
Pictures Rik Moran
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Words Anthony Teasdale
+ Above, designer Spencer Wilson created a series of illustrations for the book, Right, the front
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“There’s lots of open space in the foyers and great signposting – plus it’s easy to get around”
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Vienna verdict Rik Moran Umbrella photographer Rik went to the Austrian capital to take our pictures of the U-Bahn – here’s what he thought… Umbrella: Hi Rik. What was your impression of the Vienna system? RM: Solid, reliable and clean. It felt pretty spacious compared to London and New York with lots of open space in the foyers and great signposting – plus it’s easy to get around. U: Does it cover the whole city? RM: It covers the majority of Vienna with good connections further afield. A lot of it was based on the earlier ‘Stadtbahn’ [S-Bahn] which was the metropolitan railway, so covers a fair stretch. U: What are the design of stations like? Any highlights? RM: They’ve got illuminated coloured lines that guide you to the relevant platform for that line – they were pretty cool. Lots of Dieter Rams-esque industrial porn as well – grilles, aluminum and Swiss typography. U: Was it easy to get on, ticket-wise? RM: Pretty standard (trusting!) European tackle. A lot of self service machines and validators when you head down to the platforms. U: The system was built in the 1970s. Does it look that way (does it need an upgrade). RM: Parts of it actually date back to the 1890s, and they feel pretty grand and akin to some of the Moscow stations, especially the Otto Wagnerdesigned ones. U: Finally, how did it feel to travel on it? RM: Compared to the London Underground, it felt like travelling first class! You can find out more about Rik’s urban photography at flaneurism.com and rikmoranphoto.com
40 B ang & Olufsen 48 U mbrella celebrates the best-dressed men on TV
50 K owloon Walled City
Stories Longer reads for broader minds
50 Has there ever been a more unashamedly urban structure than the Kowloon Walled City? Located in a no-manâ€™s land between Hong Kong and China, the city was home to 33,000 residents and workers, all squeezed into an unplanned complex of 350 buildings. Our feature lifts the lid on this incredible structure, telling the stories of the (legal and illegal) activities that took place there.
40 Umbrella Stories
Pictures Alistair Philip Wiper
The sound of the future A new book celebrates the output of every designlovers favourite hi-fi brand, Bang & Olufsen
+ Top, The gentlemen who gave the company its distinctive name + Opposite page, B&O Radio tuner
Everyone knows the Scandinavians have got the ‘form and function’ equation right. And no company embodies that better than Bang & Olufsen, makers of the very best audio and visual equipment. A new book, The Art Of The Impossible by Alastair Philip Wiper, marks the 90th anniversary of the Danish brand, taking in everything from its first radios to the futuristic speakers of today. Located in the port town of Struer in West Jutland, B&O’s story mirrors that of Danish design as a whole. When modernist architects like Arne Jacobsen and Hans Wegner began to produce beautifully designed furniture in the 1950s, the clunky radio cabinets of the day started to look very old fashioned. In response to this, in 1958 Bang & Olufsen – which had been producing radios since 1925 – began to collaborate with outside designers and architects, a practice that continues to this day. In the book, Wiper talks to designers past and present about their methods and how they work with Bang & Olufsen. Looking at models like the Beogram 900 record player and the BeoCom 6000 (a cordless phone), what becomes apparent is the company’s flexible, can-do attitude. As one designer, Øvind Slaato says: “At Bang & Olufsen the engineers are very open-minded. When you show a poor engineer something, he will say, ‘No that’s not possible’. At Bang & Olufsen, the engineers are the idea generators.” If you have any interest in design, architecture or music, then this is a book that should take pride of place on the nearest tasteful coffee table. With revealing interviews, enlightening behind-the-scenes photographs (the cardboard prototypes are off the hook) and a ‘greatest hits’ section of B&O classics, it’s fit to grace any fashionable flat. If that flat’s in Copenhagen so much the better. The Art Of The Impossible is published by Thames & Hudson, priced £34.95
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42 Umbrella Stories
+ This page, The inside of a B&O music system reveals the technology involved + Opposite page, From respirators to headphones, each piece perfectly balances form and function
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+ Individually testing speakers at B&O
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+ This page, Aluminium parts from the BeoLab 6000 on a special rack + Opposite page, Inside the Czech B&O factory; testing antireflective glass for the Beovision Avant 55 TV
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48 Umbrella Stories
Pictures Peter O’Toole Words Anthony Teasdale
Michael, Montefiore and Mr Rhys Jones Umbrella salutes the three best-dressed gents on British TV
eing a TV presenter – especially a male TV presenter in the UK – was once a byword for naffness. But while titans of old like Terry Wogan and Russell Harty dressed liked Cheshire freemasons, in 2016 things are a little different. Today, seemingly every talking head has a stylist and an account at Mr Porter or Topman. But a Supreme T-shirt and a toosmall suit does not a style icon make. Happily, there are some exceptions – men who put thought into their on-screen outfits, yet retain a sense of individuality that marks them out as
free-thinkers. Like Prince Charles – whose antique Barbour caused palpitations at Umbrella HQ when he wore it on Countryfile – they understand style without being slaves to it. The men in question will be familiar to Umbrella readers as they present the sort of programmes that we like – shows about trains, history, and travel (though not the countryside, which is a dreadful place). But even if they’re not, their sense of style is a lesson for all men looking to glide through life – delighting, inspiring and amusing everyone they meet. We salute them.
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Michael Portillo It’s hard to believe that up until his defeat at the 1997 general election, this son of a Spanish civil war veteran was one of the most hated members of the Tory government. But crushing humiliation did something to Portillo – it turned him into a human being. His journey to likeability has been completed with his BBC series, Great Continental Train Journeys, undoubtedly the best programme on TV (certainly better than the endless box sets we’re told to watch). Not only does it feature Portillo following in the tracks of Bradshaw’s 1913 Continental Railway Guide (and thus taking us to countless interesting stops along the way) but we’re given a weekly visual feast in the shape of the great man’s outfits.
“His colour palette is seemingly inspired by Mr Haribo’s range of tasty sweets” Combining the best of European and British tailoring – and adding some outlandish theatricality in the process – Portillo looks the epitome of the eccentric gentlemen wherever he goes. Forget the tracksuits and jogging pants that define modern travellers, Señor Portillo is always immaculate in his softshouldered blazers, well proportioned shirts and slim-fit trousers. The fact that his colour palette is seemingly inspired by Mr Haribo’s range of tasty sweets is just a plus point: seeing Portillo at Madrid’s Atocha station in a blue blazer and pink shirt was the best advert for the licence fee we’ve seen. A gentleman in every sense of the word.
Simon Sebag Montefiore Griff Rhys Jones
The wardrobe of the ex-Not The Nine O’Clock News comic has been something of a talking point for stylish chaps for some time. Like Michael Portillo, Rhys Jones makes programmes about two topics we adore: travelling aimlessly by train, and wandering around large cities in search of secret places. What marks him out is his style direction. While Portillo dresses like he’s on the way to a Spanish christening (a good thing, natch), Griff goes for a more casual look, favouring brands like CP Company and Margaret Howell. On his recent Slow Trip Through Africa programme he wowed us with an on-trend Fjällraven sun hat, coupled with a casual summer blazer and canvas trousers. However, to this magazine, Rhys Jones will always be linked with CP Company, particularly the red 2008 Mille Miglia coat he wore on ITV’s Greatest Cities Of The World. While his adventures piqued our interest in the likes of Rome and Paris, the ‘watch viewer’ on his left sleeve was even more intriguing – and he’s not let us down since.
OK, he’s not an obvious choice, but BBC Four’s favourite historian has an eye for style that chimes with the aesthetics of this magazine. Over the last few years, SSM – yes, we’re calling him that – has explained the incredible histories of Jerusalem, Rome and Istanbul. And each time he’s done it wearing the sort of outfit that wouldn’t look out of place in the members’ enclosure at Lord’s. There’s nothing fancy about Montefiore – his outfit choices remain almost static – but whether he’s wandering around an ancient Roman ruin or speaking to camera in the garden of an Istanbul synagogue, you can bet he’ll be wearing a crisp blue shirt, tailored trousers and a perfectly fitted Panama hat. It’s simple, unchanging and it works every time. Just like the places he explores on his TV programmes.
50 Umbrella Stories
The most densely populated city on Earth had only one postman. Kowloon His round was confined to an area barely a hundredth of a square mile in size. Yet within that space was a staggering walled number of addresses: 350 buildings, almost all between ten and fourteen storeys high, occupied by 8,500 premises, city 10,700 households and over 33,000 residents.
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An accident of history left Kowloon’s Walled City – located opposite the British colony of Hong Kong – to fend for itself, neither owned by Britain or fully administered by China. In this excerpt from his book on iconic buildings, Fallen Glory, James Crawford tells its extraordinary tale The most densely populated city on Earth had only one postman. His round was confined to an area barely a hundredth of a square mile in size. Yet within that space was a staggering number of addresses: 350 buildings, almost all between ten and 14 storeys high, occupied by 8,500 premises, 10,700 households and over 33,000 residents. The city’s many tall, narrow towerblocks were packed tight against each other – so tight as to make the whole place seem like one massive structure: part architecture, part organism. There was little uniformity of shape, height or building material. Cast-iron balconies lurched against brick annexes and concrete walls. Wiring and cables covered every surface: running vertically from ground level up to forests of rooftop television aerials, or stretching horizontally like innumerable rolls of dark twine that seemed almost to bind the buildings together. Entering the city meant leaving daylight behind. There were hundreds of alleyways, most just a few feet wide. Some routes cut below buildings, while other tunnels were formed by the accumulation of refuse tossed out of windows and onto wire netting strung between towerblocks. Thousands of metal and plastic water pipes ran along walls and ceilings, most of them leaking and corroded. As protection against the relentless drips that fell in the alleyways, a hat was standard issue for the city’s postman. Many residents chose to use umbrellas. There were only two lifts in the entire city. At the foot of some of the high-rises, communal and individual post boxes were nailed to the walls. But often the only option for the postman was to climb. Even several storeys up, the maze of
pathways continued: knotted arteries that burrowed into the heart of the city along interconnecting bridges and stairwells. Sometimes the postman would reach a top floor and climb out onto the roof. Gangways and rusting metal ladders let him move quickly from building to building, before he dropped back down into the darkness. While some alleys were empty and quiet, others overflowed with life. Hundreds of factories produced everything from fish balls to golf balls. Entire corridors were coated with the fine flour-dust used for making noodles. Acrid, chemical smells filled the streets that lay alongside metal and plastic manufacturers. Unlicensed doctors and dentists clustered together, electric signs hanging over their premises to advertise their services. Many patients came from outside the city, happy to pay bargain fees in return for asking no questions. Shops and food stalls were strung along ‘Big Well’ Street, ‘Bright’ Street and ‘Dragon City’ Road. For the adventurous, dog and snake meat were specialities of the city. Moving deeper, long corridors offered glimpses into smoke-filled rooms. The incessant click of mahjong tiles echoed along the walls. Gambling parlours lined up alongside strip clubs and pornographic cinemas. Prostitutes – including children – solicited in the darkness, leading clients away to backroom brothels. And everywhere there were bodies lying in the gloom. At Kwong Ming Street – known as ‘Electric Station’ – wooden stalls sold cheap drugs. Addicts crouched down to inhale heroin smoke through tubes held over heated tinfoil. Bare rooms, enticingly referred to as ‘divans’, were filled with prone men and women, all sunk in opium stupors.
Many of the city’s rats were addicts too, and could be seen writhing in torment in dark corners, desperate for a hit. There was no law to speak of. This was an anarchist society, self-regulating and self-determining. It was a colony within a colony, a city within a city, a tiny block of territory at once contested and neglected. It was known as Kowloon Walled City. But locals called it something else. Hak Nam – the City of Darkness. While police had begun to conduct irregular raids of Kowloon in the 1960s, making hundreds of arrests, many felt these incursions were barely scratching the surface. “The Walled City remains the vice centre of Hong Kong,” wrote the Hong Kong Standard in June 1968, “with an estimated 5,000 drug addicts. When another concerted police campaign was undertaken in the mid-1970s, 500lbs of heroin and nearly 4,000lbs of opium were seized.100 At the same time, the city became a magnet for evangelical Christian missionaries, who set up Salvation Army outposts and drug rehabilitation centres in the heart of Kowloon, often leasing properties and arranging protection from the same Triad gangs who were feeding the addicts’ habits. So many souls to save – and in such a small space – was clearly too much to resist. For decades the city had stolen electricity from the mains supply, yet in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the Hong Kong authorities approved official installation, probably as a safeguard against the extreme fire- risk posed by the makeshift wiring which riddled Kowloon’s infrastructure. Employees of ‘China Light and Power’ led cables into the city ‘inch by inch’: sometimes attaching them to alleyway ceilings; at other times being forced to dig below the pavements.
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“The city was just a maze of pipes and wires all over the place,” explained one engineer. “We had to invent many new ways of installing cables.” Even then, often the technicians could only lead the mains cables to the lower floors of the tower blocks, leaving it to the residents to connect the supply higher up the buildings. All the same, it was symptomatic of changing official attitudes towards Kowloon. Light was shining into the deepest corners of the City Of Darkness. At 9.20am on 14 January 1987, 30 trucks pulled up around the perimeter of Kowloon Walled City. Within the trucks were over 400 officials from the Hong Kong Housing Department. They were organised into 60 teams, each containing a police officer, and they immediately began to erect cordons around the 83 streets and alleys leading into and out of the city. At 10am, they entered Kowloon, on a mission to contact and survey every single resident. At 9am, the Hong Kong government had announced that Kowloon was to be cleared and redeveloped as a public park, and that all residents would be rehoused and compensated for any costs incurred. Of course, the city had been in this position before. The difference this time, however, was that an agreement was already in place with the Chinese government. Just minutes after the first notice, the Foreign Ministry in Beijing released a supporting statement. They backed the move as being essential “for fundamentally improving the living environment of the inhabitants of Kowloon Walled City”, and continued that they wished “to express our full understanding of the decision made by the British Hong Kong government to take appropriate measures to clear the Kowloon Walled City and build it into a park”. The city’s fate had been sealed just over two years before. On December 19, 1984, the governments of China and Great Britain signed a joint declaration, affirming that the transfer of sovereignty over Hong Kong would take place on July
book extract 1, 1997. The Chinese Foreign Ministry had always used Kowloon as a political pawn. With a diplomatic solution in place, the Walled City lost its special status. Almost instantly, this protected exclave, once praised by a high-ranking communist party official for “doing a good job in selfadministration”, was reclassified as an unhealthy slum. In the 1960s, the leader of the Kai Fong (a local aid organisation) had explained that, “as long as the Communist flag is flying here, Peking knows it’s their duty to protect us... This is part of China. The Walled City will never become part of Hong Kong. One day Hong Kong will become part of us.” And so it would, in a sense. Except that no Walled City would be there to see it happen. The plans for clearance and demolition were kept secret. Compensation was a key element of the eviction process, so there was the permanent danger of a sudden influx of people keen to grab a slice of government money. For six months at the beginning of 1986, Housing Department officials kept Kowloon under surveillance, working to produce an estimate of population numbers, and a record of the exact physical dimensions of the city. Once this initial report was complete, planning began for the door-to-door survey. The purpose of the operation remained under wraps until the last minute. It was only on the morning of January 14, as the Housing Department inspectors arrived for work, that they were informed of their task. The joint statement from Britain and China had stunned the residents of the Walled City, leaving many simply resigned to their fate. The Kai Fong had always presented itself as the champion of the rights of Kowloon citizens. Now it found it hard to argue against a governmentsanctioned, comprehensive resettlement package that placed residents’ welfare at its heart. Although a resistance movement did develop after the survey, its main outlet was a series of anonymous posters stating that Kowloon had been built with “blood and sweat”, and demanding
appropriate compensation. The demolition, it seemed, was inevitable. The compensation package for residents and business owners totalled $2.76 billion.On average, resident owners received $380,000 for their individual flats – the equivalent to around £430,000 today. Negotiations progressed over the course of several years, and by November 1991, only 457 households were still to agree terms. By this time, a large proportion of the 33,000 residents had already moved out. Some, however – described as “difficult clearances” – clung on till the end. Section by section, the Walled City was closed down and condemned. Demolition teams began to move through the emptied units, stripping buildings of hazardous materials – in particular, of huge amounts of asbestos sheeting – and removing all inflammable or chemical substances. Once the sweep of a block was complete, it was sealed with mesh windows and padlocked gates, to prevent residents or squatters from returning. During every phase of the clearance, police were required to break into flats to evict small numbers of residents. At the same time, pest control teams moved through the deserted alleyways, in an attempt to destroy Kowloon’s massive rat population before it decamped to other housing estates nearby. Finally, on July 2, 1992, riot police with shields and clubs forced out the last remaining residents. Already evicted from their homes, a group of 20 or so had set up a protest camp in a small Buddhist temple on the city’s kerbside. A tall wire fence was erected to encircle the whole site, following almost exactly the line once marked out by the old granite wall. Kowloon was closed and sealed up for good.
Fallen Glory by James Crawford is out now, published by Old Street Publishing, priced £25
54 Umbrella Field trip
Q&A Ian Lambot Umbrella talks to the photographer who documented Kowloon Walled City in his book, City Of Darkness
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Hi Ian. When did you first start taking pictures of Kowloon Walled City? Ian Lambot: I didn’t start photographing it until late 1988, making the most of Hong Kong’s cool and sunny autumn weather to photograph the city’s external elevations. Initially this was just for my own amusement, with thoughts of publication stretching no further than a few articles in architectural magazines. U: Did you just walk straight in? IL: Like everyone else in HK, I’d been warned that the city was a bad place full of Triad activity and drugs, but it became obvious this wasn’t the case and, in fact, that it was just like any other part of working-class Hong Kong, full of ordinary people just trying to get by as best (and as honestly) as they could. In the three and a half years I spent there, I was never intimidated by anyone. U: So, no big problems then? IL: Photographing there was little different to photographing anywhere else in HK. In fact, in some ways, it was easier as the many factories and shops along the main alleys – lacking windows and ventilation – kept their front shutters open, allowing me to wander in and take photographs. I always asked permission, and while most of the occupants were bemused, I was very rarely refused. I always returned with prints later which eased things.
+ Previous page, Railings and balconies on the external wall of Kowloon Walled City + Left, The network of damp, dark corridors + Overleaf, Residents of the anarchic block
U: You then decided to devote more time to the project… IL: From the summer of 1989, when thoughts of a book were beginning to materialise, I took on an assistant, a history graduate from Hong Kong University who’d been involved in an oral history programme there and so was used to meeting people from all walks of life and interviewing them. This helped immensely in getting access to the more private areas and also in reassuring the residents we spoke to that we were interested in the reality of
the city and not its myths of rampant criminality. If there was any reservation expressed, it was that most residents objected to being defined as somehow connected to crime. From the outset, I was determined that the book would be about the ordinary people living there and leading ordinary lives.
U: The place was a maze, how did you find your way around? IL: By the early 1990s I’d spent 10 years travelling in Asia and was entirely comfortable wandering around anywhere, following my nose and seeing where that would lead. And it was just the same in the Walled City. I just wandered around, turning down different alleys and up different staircases to see what I would find. What was unusual was the abundance of cross-connections between buildings at the higher levels, which made it possible to traverse the entire city without coming down to ground level. A couple of these I got to know and use irregularly, otherwise it was easy to get disorientated, but it was always easy enough to find a staircase and head down to ground level. Once there I could work out where I was. The one important thing I did work out quite early on, however, is that when I did come across something interesting I had to photograph it then and there, as the possibility of finding it again was unlikely. U: Were there any physical hazards? IL: The biggest problem was the continuous dripping from all the privately fitted water pipes, which made it advisable to wear a hat. This wasn’t a problem inside the buildings, many of which were clean and tidy. I don’t even remember it being particularly smelly, though by then most of the drainage had been linked to Hong Kong’s main sewer network. U: Can you give us a short history? IL: The Walled City’s curious legal status came about when the UK leased the New Territories from China 1898. China was
determined that part of the New Territories would remain under its jurisdiction and, under pressure to sign a deal, the HK authorities agreed that the walled military compound on the outskirts of so-called Kowloon City would be it. In reality, after a small military contingent had been evicted in 1899, the area was to all intents and purposes administered by the British without interference from China right up until World War II. Importantly, however, this was a unilateral act never ratified at any point by China. After the war, the HK authorities were in a quandary. The UK’s colonial power was clearly on the way out, Japan’s occupation of Hong Kong in 1941 made it clear that the territory could not be defended and no-one was sure
+ Kowloon Walled City – demolished in 1992 by the Chinese government – was an interconnected complex of blocks home to more than 33,000 residents
what Mao’s intentions towards HK might be once he took power. Having tried (unsuccessfully) to clear the area of squatters and refugees in 1948, the HK authorities decided to adopt a totally hands-off approach. The area was still patrolled by police officers and, indeed, arrests were made, but crucially no one was ever taken to court, in fear of the Chinese claiming jurisdiction. As a consequence, the Walled City did, for the first 10 years of its existence, become the den of iniquity that everyone imagines, full of opium dens, brothels, striptease joints and dog-meat restaurants.
U: Did you see many positive sides to the City? IL: In many ways I’m sorry it’s no longer there. Despite the often appalling conditions, you can’t deny that it fulfilled its purpose, providing homes and business space to those who had little
alternative. It required a high level of compromise, and living next door to some of the louder factories can’t have been easy, but everyone found a place that they thought acceptable. It’s that ground-up level of decision making, free of authority, that’s perhaps the City’s most enduring legacy and one that should be learned from. It’s interesting to see how the Dutch, in particular, are beginning to encourage such ways of thinking, erecting simple buildings fitted out with sufficient electric, water and drainage connections in empty, open-plan units which can then be fitted out by those who move in in any way they chose.
City Of Darkness: Life In The Walled City is available to buy now from cityofdarkness.co.uk
62 Casio’s classic watch 76 Our favourite thing 78 Outfits 90 C ubitts: the home of bespoke spectacles
96 Ministry Of Supply
Stone love We team up with retailer Tessuti to present a guide to urban exploration. If you’re new to the city – or just like upmarket menswear – then this is for you. See page 67.
62 Great Bretons If you’re familiar with London’s Covent Garden there’s a chance you’ll know Arthur Beale, the specialist sailing shop with a surprisingly good clothes section on the upper floor. Read about its 400-year old history on page 94.
Umbrella speaks to Edinburgh-based menswear designer Kestin Hare, whose clothes fit perfectly with the ethos of this magazine. We don’t stop there, though. There’s also a look at businesswear brand Ministry Of Supply, new watch company Sekford, and of course, our pick of the season’s best clothes.
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Words Matt Reynolds
Familiar face Umbrella has a lot of time for the world’s most ubiquitous digital watch Some design classics get all the love. The Eames chair, Concorde, Philippe Starck’s silver juicer, the Leica Rangefinder camera. Of course they’re all great, but how many of them do you actually own? Exactly. Step forward the Casio F-91W. Epitomising the phrase ‘function over form’, its no-frills appearance hasn’t been updated since its introduction in 1991. There’ve been no reboots, no re-imaginings and – thankfully – no Jeremy Scott special editions with leopardskin wings stuck on the side. It’s so uncool it’s become, well… cool. The watch’s charm lies in its basic features. The digits on the flat grey display march onwards with absolute precision (note the pleasing way in which the leftmost digit has been narrowed as it only ever displays 1 or 2). Then there’s the inadequate light that when activated uselessly illuminates only the left hand side of the display, and of course there’s the rubber strap that reminds us why the whole thing only costs seven quid. A Rolex this is not. The F-91W is also popular. Really popular. Although Casio don’t release official sales figures it’s rumoured to be the world’s best selling wristwatch – even Bin Laden had one. Turns out, that’s not so surprising. Records released from Guantanamo Bay state that the watch was “the sign of al-Qaeda”. Thirty-two of the detainees held there made reference to the usefulness of the black plastic F-91W as a reliable component in bomb-making, while a further 20 referenced the flashier, silver-cased version, the A-159W. Proof, were it needed, that oneupmanship among groups of men extends as far as international terror networks. So there you have it: the Casio F-91W. Functional, reliable, ubiquitous – and a little bit mysterious. Surely the definition of a true design classic?
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Pictures Umbrella, Kestin Hare Words Matt Reynolds Further information kestinhare.com
Capital idea Edinburgh designer Kestin Hare is bringing thoughtful design to casual staples
here are few better retail thoroughfares in Britain than Edinburgh’s George Street. The ‘high street’ of the New Town area, it boasts the sort of shops that tasteful people – that’s you, Umbrella readers – like to spend their cash in. One of the most gladdening arrivals is menswear boutique Kestin Hare. Named after its owner, a former designer at Nigel Cabourn, it’s stocked with clobber from brands like Edwin, Veja and Han Kjobenhavn, as well as pieces from its own collection – the prime focus of man behind the shop. “I’d always wanted to start my own label,” says Kestin. “After 15 years of experience working in the industry the time was right. I was keen to create a label that offers great products at an affordable price without compromising on quality or design.” The clothes are superb. Think soft-shouldered blazers (an Umbrella obsession), bomber jackets and club-collar shirts, as well as snug jumpers and luxury track pants. There’s no need for obvious branding – this stuff speaks for itself. Kestin again: “There are classic styles which we like to include each season but I try to source interesting and unique fabrics and use little design details that you might not find elsewhere. At the beginning of each season we usually have a loose theme which helps as inspiration for colour, print and texture and also inspires some of the silhouettes. “The AW’16 collection, titled The Living Mountain, draws inspiration from the tradition of mountaineering in Scotland – vintage garments are referenced and reinterpreted into a stripped-back, modern aesthetic. One piece, the Mountain Parka, has a built-in backpack.” In terms of the other labels his shops sell, a common philosophy is found with his own gear. “High quality and craftsmanship are important factors when choosing brands we stock,” says Kestin. “It’s important that they share a similar design ethos, and I try to go for products that complement the collections well.” If you’ve been in the shop in George St – or the other ones in nearby Stockbridge, and now London’s Shoreditch – you’ll know he’s got the balance absolutely right. Smart thinking all round.
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“I try to source interesting and unique fabrics and use little design details that you might not find elsewhere”
+ Top, Racing cycle by Freddie Grubb + Left, Knitwear and rucksacks from both Kestin’s label and other brands + Left, Self-assembly watch, designed in Scotland by Instrmnt
Follow us on Instagram Daily updates on stuff that we love Everything interesting that’s caught our eye, from brutalist Soviet tower blocks to expensive jackets with loads of pockets. Well you can’t look at David Beckham’s feed all day, can you?
The art of urban exploration Cities can be intimidating places for a young man. But follow retailer Tessutiâ€™s tips and youâ€™ll be alright
Get fit, look smart The city can be a treacherous place for the urban explorer, that’s why it pays to stay fit. This beautiful tracksuit by BOSS is just the thing for staying in shape around town. No ordinary sports garment, its soft, silky feel is combined with a tailored shape for a prime slice of ‘sports luxe’. On your marks!
Flexibility is key When you’re discovering a new city, it pays to be well prepared. This urban adventurer has opted for an outfit that will work in both sunshine and rain. His Antony Morato reverse puffer coat can keep out the chill, but if things warm up and he has to remove it, the BOSS polo will ensure he’s still super-smart. Easy does it.
BOSS green saggy tech zip-through hoody, £149 BOSS green Hadiko pant, £109 BOSS green gym knit trainers, £189 Antony Morato reverse hood puffer jacket, £165 BOSS green Paddy 2 polo, £109 Android Homme Getty trainers, £180
Uncover with style There are T-shirts and then there are T-shirts. This is most definitely the latter. We don’t need to tell you about Stone Island’s pedigree: what we do need to say is that this tee is one of the best pieces of the season. Not only is it made of a robust cotton, but the logo is reflective, meaning you’ll be seen when on after-dark explorations.
[First page] Z Zegna basic polo shirt, £105 Stone Island DNA pin T-shirt, £65 Stone Island crinkle reps overshirt, £325
BOSS green T-shirt, £50 D SQUARED bomber jacket, £685 Vivienne Westwood hand-drawn orb T-shirt, £95 Z Zegna packable jacket, £339
Boy in the hood You know those days when it’s sunny, and then ten minutes later you’re in a monsoon? This packable jacket from Zegna is for them. Not only does it look great on – witness the orange contrast hood – but it can be hidden away when the sun pops out again. Great with a white tee underneath, too.
Armani Jeans perforated faux-leather jacket, £319 Antony Morato long-sleeve T-shirt, £50
Don’t take chances! Armani Jeans has been the go-to casual label since its foundation in 1981. This – and we don’t use the word lightly – incredible jacket/ hoodie shows why. Thanks to its sturdy construction and sartorial fit, it’ll look as great in your favourite restaurant as it will at the gym. Go forth and explore!
Follow us on Twitter Weâ€™re more fun than the Guardian Links to stuff we love (usually engravings of Victorian railway stations or photos of Italian coats) and news about what Umbrella is up to. Pithy vignettes a distinct possibility after 11pm on Friday nights.
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our favourite thing
ohw? Backpack ÂŁ200, ohwshoes.com Made from wool and full-grain tan leather, this backpack from ohw? really is something to get worked up about. Sturdy, practical but exceptionally stylish, itâ€™s ideal for both office and gym use. Big enough for a weekend away, too.
+ We can confirm that the padded straps help sit the bag nicely on your back without any chafing. And who wants chafing? No one. Right?
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+ The bag features a fold-over zip-up ‘lip’, meaning that when the weather turns wet, your expensive laptop won’t get an unwanted wash
+ The reinforced leather base provides an extra layer of protection when you inevitably throw the bag under your desk
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Summer hols swot No one dreads July as much as our man here. While others look forward to days at the beach, this chap dresses like an Ivy League student and spends sunny days in the library dreaming of sums, exams and getting bullied in PE.
Manastash O.D. jacket, £190, oipolloi.com
Superga 2750 Cotu classic pumps, £50, superga.co.uk
Triwa Falken watch, £149, triwa.com
Gloverall blue striped button-down shirt, £79, gloverall.com
Cambridge Satchel Company satchel, £150, cambridgesatchel.com
Element sweatshirt, £55, us.elementbrand.com
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Divorced map lover After the wife and kids went to start a new life in Telford, (“In fairness, the transport options are very good, I can’t take that from her”) our hero devoted his life to cartography. Some might say he’s also improved his dating situation, but that would be a lie, obviously.
Ten C grey Snow Smock jacket, £495, cpcompany.co.uk
Ten C grey Snow Smock jacket, £495, cpcompany.co.uk
Geox Mattias B ABX boots (available August), £140, geox.com
IMDCo Liverpool map, £7, independentmap.co
Gymphlex 1906 sweatshirt, £80, gymphlex.co.uk
Aigle Midnight shirt, £65, aigle.com
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Part-time Picasso They told him he couldn’t paint, and for years he believed them. Not any more. Seeing himself as “more of a classically trained Banksy”, he’s just started on two new works: Dogs Playing Poker and Dogs Playing Snooker (In Sunglasses). Saatchi’s not phoned yet, but there’s time.
Albam Ocean striped T-shirt, £45, albamclothing.com
CP Company Burnt Red Goggle Jacket, £450, cpcompany.co.uk
Triwa Loch Lansen Chrono, £230, triwa.com
Albam alternate popover shirt, £135, albamclothing.com
Sperry Topsider pump, £55, sperrytopsider.co.uk
CP Company beach shorts, £85, cpcompany.com
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Retro reporter After starting a ‘vlog’, this plucky fella had designs on being “the next Zoella”. Sadly, his subject matter – the bins of England – didn’t quite chime with millennials, and he gave up. Now he’s using an old Super8 camera to document his neighbours’ anti-social behaviour. Media stardom – or at least a violent assault – awaits him.
Woolrich navy City blazer £295, woolrich.eu
Woolrich navy City blazer £295, woolrich.eu
El Ganso striped tie, £25, elganso.com
Gloverall button-down shirt, £79, gloverall.com
Base yellow chukka boots, £75, baselondon.com
El Ganso fine stripe trousers, £75, elganso.com
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LSD trawlerman Life on the boats is hard, especially when you’re up against Icelandic fishermen and angry haddock. The solution for our man has been to begin every voyage with a blotter of acid. When the North Sea’s made of marshmallow and you’re boat’s a giant strawberry, suddenly those quotas aren’t quite so important.
Gloverall waterproof duffle coat, £250, gloverall.com
Gloverall waterproof duffle coat, £250, gloverall.com
Chup Triphon socks, £24, goodhoodstore.com
Universal Works Ikat shirt, £115, universalworks.co.uk
ohw? Gatland boots, £160, ohwshoes.com
Universal Works Battle waistcoat, £85, universalworks.co.uk
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Pictures Sekford Words Anthony Teasdale Further information sekford.com
’Ford focus New British watchmaker Sekford is combining retro British design with up-to-the minute Swiss engineering A good crystal is a reliable sign of a quality watch. Any brand can stick a few numbers around a dial, but a domed crystal shows investment and a love of craftsmanship. Step forward Sekford. The new Sekford Type 1A watch has a beautifully curved crystal reminiscent of that found on the likes of Junghans’ Max Bill or Omega’s Speedmaster ‘Moon Watch’. Sekford may be new to horology, but the Type 1A shows it has a real future in the game. The brand is the brainchild of three men: Editor of Port magazine Kuch Swara; watch designer Cédric Bellon and industrial designer Pierre Foulonneau. With such a strong team it’s unsurprising that Sekford’s debut watch is such a star. Powered by a superior Ronda 702 quartz movement from Switzerland (which should last five years before the first battery change), the Type 1A comes in four flavours: three with a stainless steel case and one gold-plated version for those with playboy tendencies. The dial on all models is plain with subtle numerals around the edge, recalling mid-century clocks and watches. “Our team researched the history of watchmaking and acquired an appreciation for fine lettering and clarity of white space found on English pocket-watch dials,” says Sekford. “This led them to explore the traditional techniques used in their production.” With bridle, and shell-cordovan straps available, plus a beautiful wood-engraved logo, every part of the Type 1A watch has been carefully thought-out. Something you’ll appreciate best when one is peeping out from under the cuff of your shirt. Wear it well.
+ Sekfordâ€™s watches look to mid-century horology for influence
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We’ve been framed Cubitts spectacle-makers now offers a bespoke frame-making service. Owner Tom Broughton guided Umbrella’s Matt Reynolds through the process
ersatile,” says Tom. “Your face is versatile.” I’m taking it as a compliment. I’ve been called many things, and versatile is certainly one of the less offensive. It’s also a good thing when it comes to having bespoke frames made especially for me – courtesy of London spectacle makers Cubitts. Company boss Tom Broughton is guiding me through the whole process. “We want to find the ideal shape to compliment your face,” Tom says. “People with round faces should avoid round glasses – it just accentuates the roundness. Similarly, people with very angular faces should swerve square glasses. Your face is somewhere in the middle so we’ve got plenty of options”. He’s not kidding. The Cubitts workshop beneath its Marshall Street store in Soho is home to a mind-boggling collection of frames. “Round, oval, pantoscopic round oval – there are plenty of places to start,” says Tom, “and there are plenty of tricks we can use to find the best solution. For example, a keyhole bridge (think Persol sunglasses) will make the nose appear longer and slimmer than a regular
saddle bridge, and a thicker browline (think Ray-Ban Clubmasters) will draw attention upwards – so avoid that if you have a receding hairline.” “That’s the beauty of glasses, they give your face character, personality – they’re a statement.” So what statement am I making? “That’s easy,” says Tom. “You’re saying, ‘I care about the details’.”
Going way back A little history lesson. Once, all glasses in the UK were handmade. Spectacle-wearers would typically have their heads measured by optometrists and frames would be made to fit. All this changed after World War II when the NHS rolled out an unprecedented scheme that allowed spectaclewearers to receive free (or heavily subsidised) massproduced frames. Unsurprisingly in austere post-war Britain the scheme was a huge success, and although the frames were of good quality, the range available was tiny – with just seven styles available for adults. Britain’s love affair with NHS frames continued up until the mid-
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+ Left, Optical equipment and references to Cubitts’ King’s Cross heritage at the Marshall Street workshop + Above, Umbrella’s creative director Matt has his vital mesurements taken by owner Tom
1980s when the scheme was abandoned, leaving very few designers and specialist makers left. “Nowadays things are different,” says Tom. “People care more about craftsmanship – where the materials come from, the process, the heritage. And nothing says ‘I care’ more than having something made that’s unique to you. In the same way that a handmade suit will give you confidence, so too will a pair of bespoke frames. “What we wanted to do at Cubitts was to open this up to everybody. Some of the more established brands already offer a bespoke service – but it’ll cost you a couple of grand. Ours start at a quarter of that price, and include lenses. It’s not all about huge profits for us. We want to keep that spirit of tradition and craftsmanship alive – if we don’t, who will?”
Consultation time So what’s the first step? “I need to take some measurements,” Tom says, reaching for his notebook and a measuring device that looks like a spare part from the Apollo space mission. “This is an original LS Sasieni facial gauge,” he says. “We’ve developed a computer program so
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Pictures Cubitts, Umbrella Words Matt Reynolds Further information cubitts.co.uk
+ Left, Some of the technical drawings created for Matt’s bespoke frames + Right, Frames being carefully hand-sawn by one of Cubitts’ expert craftsmen + Opposite, The finished frames, featuring the recognisable Cubitts logo
we can do this for customers all around the world, but it’s nice to do things the old-fashioned way.” He rests the device on the top of my nose, adjusting the multiple scales and dials to take precise measurements. Then we look at the frame options. Tom lays out a selection from Cubitts’ men’s collection. “We currently stock 20 styles of frames for men,” he says, holding up each pair to my face. “I’d suggest we use the Brunswick model as a jumpingoff point. It’s a slightly-rounded style of frame so it should soften and compliment the angles of your face. There’s been more of a tendency lately towards lighter rims, and some customers are even choosing metal over acetate as it can be cut thinner. But for a frame like this I’d suggest a 1.8mm-width acetate with a 3.6mm depth. “For the temples – or ‘arms’ – we’ll go for a traditional angled hockey end as opposed to a straight paddle arm. That’s the sort that holds the frames in place by slightly pinching the sides of the head. “The next stage is to create an acrylic ‘mock up’ of the frames using these measurements. This is a machine-cut template in black acrylic that you can try on to check if the
fit is correct. Once you’re happy we can discuss the colour and material options.”
Design matters A few days later I receive an email from Tom. Attached is a technical drawing of the proposed frame design, as well as a mugshot of me with a computer-generated graphic of the glasses superimposed on top. I like them – a lot. The style is slightly different to the glasses I currently own – something I put down to Tom’s expertise – as well as the fact that my sole criteria for glasses-buying up until now had been that “they look like the ones that Morrissey wears”. Back in the workshop a few days later I try on the ‘mock-up’ acrylic frames – they fit perfectly. “That’s great” says Tom, “now we can choose the colour”. He picks up a piece of dark brown acetate from a pile of multi-coloured slabs on the desk in front of him. “I think this will suit your complexion. Some of our customers opt for a solid colour but the most popular finish is mottle, which has a strong contrast of tones
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“In the same way that a handmade suit will give you confidence, so too will a pair of bespoke frames”
and is what we’re using here, or havana – which is a lot more subtle. “We don’t have to use acetate of course – we’ve made frames from all sorts of things in the past: walnut, oak, copper, horn, a vintage piece of real turtleshell, concrete, rust, even hardened milk resin!” “I think I’ll stick with something traditional if that’s alright,” I say. “No problem. The next stage is to send these mockups along with the chosen piece of acetate to the framemaker to be hand-cut.”
Craft is king The process of hand cutting the frames with a hacksaw (not to mention the multiple rounds of grinding, filing, buffing and polishing) takes between three and four weeks. At any stage the brittle acetate can snap, or an angle mis-cut. “Years of experience ensures that doesn’t happen,” says Tom, “a lot of the framemakers we work with have been doing this for decades. It’s something of a niche skill and a lot of them are now in their 70s. Still, you’re in good
company – they’ve cut frames for all sorts of film and TV stars, including Dame Edna Everage. Don’t worry, I’ll make sure they don’t add any glittery wings.” After a couple of weeks I go into the store to collect my custom-made frames. The correct prescription lenses have been added, and the glasses packaged in a monogrammed leather case alongside a cleaning cloth (featuring a screen print by Radiohead sleeve designer Stanley Donwood) and an optical screwdriver for final adjustments. I open the case and take out the spectacles – they look fantastic. The dark brown acetate has been polished to a honey-coloured mottle finish. I stand in front of a mirror and try them on. “So how do they feel?” asks Tom. “Fantastic. They fit, and suit me, perfectly” I say. “Good. That’s exactly what we want to achieve.” says Tom. “Like I said before, when you’re buying a pair of bespoke glasses you’re saying, ‘I care about the details’. well, so do we.” Bespoke frames start from £425, available now, cubitts.co.uk
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Further information arthurbeale.co.uk
Money for old rope A specialist sailing shop in London’s West End is a magnet for mariners and fashion fans alike, as Elliott Lewis-George discovers
+ The clothing at Arthur Beale puts function first, but the form’s not bad either
rthur Beale is the kind of sailing shop you’d expect to find in Abersoch or Penzance – stocked full of ropes, pulleys and yellow fisherman’s jackets. It’s a bit disconcerting that it’s been on London’s Shaftesbury Avenue for over 120 years. A source of fascination for those of us drawn to the ocean-going life, this ‘yacht chandler’ has a well stocked upper level crammed with wearable goodies, from sailing caps to official French navy jackets. We had a chat with the shop’s co-owner and seasoned yachtsman Alasdair Flint to navigate the shop’s place in the modern world.
Umbrella: Hi Alasdair, Firstly, what’s a chandler? Alasdair: A real ship chandler sells everything for long distance shipping like food and oil, whereas a yacht chandler like Arthur Beale stocks the fixtures, fittings and clothing you need as a yachtsman. U: Arthur Beale has been on Shaftesbury Avenue for over 120 years. What’s its history? A: The shop was originally called John Buckingham and was a manufacturer of ropes for the ships on the then bustling River Fleet. We think the company is at least 400 years old. It specialised in climbing clothing and rope and actually stocked the preferred climbing apparel for Ernest Shackleton and his crew. U: So who was Arthur Beale? A: The first Arthur Beale changed the company name in about 1908 and saw that the interest around yachting was growing. The company was then owned by a second Arthur Beale who died in 1954. However, the store really boomed in the ’60s when yachting took off.
U: The shop sits in a pretty pricey spot, how’s it managed to stay, er, afloat? A: It was about to close two years ago when my colleague [Gerry Jeatt] and I took it over and brought it into the 21st century. The liquidators were just about to be called in, it was just very sad. However, we made the decision to rescue it before it became another coffee shop. U: Is yachting popular in London? A: A lot of Londoners own boats. City workers and bankers often spend the weekend with their yachts but there are also a lot of boats in London. For example, 2,000 yachts visit St Katherine’s dock each year, and there are numerous marinas dotted around the city. U: What’s the typical Arthur Beale customer? A: There’s quite a spread. Only about 50 per cent of the trade are into boats and the rest goes into things like shop displays, theatre work and even maritimethemed restaurants. We recently did a shop fit-out for Nigel Cabourn. The place used to appear a little formidable but now we get passing trade from people interested in the clothes. U: Why do you think there’s such an interest in the sartorial side of things? A: We don’t try to be fashionable. The clothes we sell are practical and durable. Sometimes we have no idea why things catch on. Sure, we sell thousands of Breton striped tops but then we also sell these little Miki hats, typically worn by crew on tall ships, but that also go to customers in Shoreditch. It’s the same with the Breton cap worn by Jeremy Corbyn.
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Pictures Ministry Of Supply Words Mischa Gilbert Further information ministryofsupply.com
Supply and demand Combining technology with high fashion, Ministry Of Supply is creating the formalwear of the future, as Mischa Gilbert explains hese are interesting times for menswear – a sector that’s growing faster than its female equivalent. A lot of this is driven by an increasing awareness among men of the importance of appearance. But beyond aesthetics, there’s also a recognition that the right clothes enable the wearer to get a job done better. And technical wear creates an opening for men who aren’t ‘into’ clothes. But walking around dressed as a hiker, mountaineer or personal trainer isn’t ideal for the man about town. Enter Ministry Of Supply, an American fashion brand which fuses technical performance materials with businesswear. Like many of the most interesting companies today, its crowdfunded beginnings attest to grassroots support. Back in 2012 when it sought $30,000 from the Kickstarter community to launch its first shirt, it found itself backed to the tune of nearly $430,000. A sock which resists odours followed, raising over $200,000. What makes this company all the more interesting is that the founders have engineering and business, not fashion, backgrounds – graduating from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. So instead of the usual apparel design process, which tends to be inwardlyfocused and self-referencing, MOS puts the ‘end user’ at the heart of development. Co-founder and chief design officer Gihan Amarasiriwardena explains: “MIT has an entrepreneurship centre, right between the business school, engineering school and the media lab which is this melting pot. My professor introduced me to two business school students who were working on the exact same concept; it was exciting because the three of us had been hacking in parallel for a long time.” Indeed, as a teenager, Amarasiriwardena had made his own prom outfit and experimented with Tyvek, a paperlike industrial material often seen on construction sites, and even launched an outdoor clothing company. His partner-to-be, Aman, who at the time was
travelling for work in the course of consulting for clients, found that he would often arrive at his meetings sweaty and crumpled. And while the outdoor market was already a competitive space, nothing was really being done make performance a focus in formalwear. They realised that there was a hook: the “functional alibi”, Amarasiriwardena calls it. Think of 007. His kit is absolutely focussed on getting the job done. Indeed ‘Ministry of Supply’ is named after the British government department where Charles Fraser Smith, the man said to be the inspiration for the fictional character of Q, worked. The action continues with NASA-developed technology. Astronauts are exposed to extreme temperature variations, and spacesuits incorporate a ‘phase change’ material which absorbs heat when the wearer is too hot and feeds it back to them when they begin to cool down. Here on Earth we have a less extreme version of this problem. “You shower in the morning, feel fresh, get on public transport and start sweating,” says Amarasiriwardena. “Then you arrive at an air conditioned office and get cold – that’s no way to start the day. So we’re incorporating this technology where instead of sweating, the material is going to absorb and store that heat until you cool down and then feed that heat back to you.” If you’re making formal [not space] suits, however, you’re definitely in the business of fashion and after initially concentrating on the performance of menswear, the MOS team refocused. Amarasiriwardena again: “We realised that we’re a fashion company and we really needed to merge the design, but also the aesthetic of the garments.” To this end they brought on board Jarlath Mellett, ex-Design Director of Brooks Brothers, to create MOS’s signature future-formal look. So there you have it: finally we get to wear chic clothing that not only performs, but also puts the wearer’s needs front and centre, as opposed to the fly-by-night whims of the fashion industry. And that really is smart thinking.
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+ The Aviator pant has been designed to enable movement and regulate body temperature
+ One of the companyâ€™s first products was a coffeeimpregnated sock which fought odour
+ The pants align fourway stretch fibres with the movement of the body to combat restriction
98 Umbrella Last word
Pictures Elizabeth Atkin
Obsessions: Street signs When abroad, Elizabeth Atkin focuses her camera on the most mundane of objects
became obsessed with street signs by accident. I began taking photos of them three years ago, when I started to go abroad regularly. I didn’t know anything about photography – or indeed, the rest of the world – and just took pictures of everything. The best signs are those you stumble across because your map is backwards and you’re lost. Or because you’ve taken a detour or a spontaneous trip to somewhere unexpected. Usually, they’ll be hiding in a side street. One of my favourites was in Dresden, a long walk away from the city centre. It’s probably one of the most boring: just a simple, small, oval-shaped sign with the number five written on in black. It wouldn’t mean much to some, because it’s literally just a door number. But this sign denotes the entrance to the slaughterhouse where American novelist Kurt Vonnegut was held as a prisoner of war during World War II, later documented in his novel Slaughterhouse-Five. That sign is a piece of literary history – the slaughterhouse itself is now a convention centre.
Another is in Burano, one of the islands off the coast of Venice, known for the bright colours of its buildings. I was strolling through and noticed a street name emblazoned on the side of a citrus-yellow and turquoise building. When you’re travelling quickly, it’s easy to forget about moments that don’t define the trip. But I remember that sign. You can tell about a place from its road signs, street signs, its billboards, its posters, its maps – because they reflect its design, architecture and history. Mostly, I like that they don’t change. Photographers often take photos of people in their natural habitat – for example, a man smoking outside of a Parisian café. There one minute, gone the next. They capture a moment. But I’m not a photographer, and I’m not looking to capture a meaningless second of a stranger’s life. The mood of a city can be altered. The residents of a place change. Gentrification happens, stores close and new ones open in their place. But the street signs guiding everyone and everything always seem to stay the same.
Next issue Defining Englishness; greatest medieval bridges; Argos catalogues; summer clothes you’ll actually wear
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