A few words about a perhaps the classiest event I was ever invited to.
The invite for the British Style & Grooming Reception stated the event would happen in the British Ambassador’s residence in Warsaw. Since it was the Ambassador’s home, and not the Embassy, I wondered if regular house party rules applied and I should bring a bottle of something. But then, nobody sends out such fancy invites with golden British coat of arms on top for a regular house party, and also one of the presenting brands was supposed to be a gin distillery, so I thought that’d be redundant.
No dress code was specified either, and I wore my grey flannel Prince of Wales suit. Perhaps not the most appropriate for an evening event. To my relief, however, the Ambassador himself wore a grey Prince of Wales suit, so I realized I was in the clear and could concentrate on the event itself, not bothered by incessant thoughts of not knowing anything about the rules of an official reception. Just winging it worked out fine.
There were four brands, two of them British, and two others British-inspired to some degree, presenting during the event. Mr. Jonathan Knott, the Ambassador, introduced them as great examples of British spirit of appreciation for quality and style. Representatives then gave short presentations on their respective brands, and afterwards everyone was free to get some gin and tonic, talk, learn to tie a bow-tie, shine their shoes, see how a professional barber does his magic with a straight razor, and get some more gin and tonic.
I’ll start with the gin, because of course I will. Trevethan is a Cornish gin distillery, rooted in family tradition starting in 1929 with one Norman Trevethan, who decided to perfect family recipe during the time gin cocktails were en vogue in London. The mantle was picked up only in 2015, by Norman’s grandson, Robert Cuffe, who decided to revive the idea with his friend, a chemist named John Hall. The result is a range of premium gins, tasting fantastic. I particularly liked their Chauffer’s Reserve, 57% ABV. It’s so-called Navy strength, because in the olden days, when British sailors had barrels of alcohol on their ships to help them deal with the dangers of the sea, this strength ensured that if the barrel ever leaked the alcohol onto the black gunpowder used for their guns and cannons, the gunpowder would still burn. Despite being strong as hell, it tastes great with some tonic, and the alcohol doesn’t overpower the flavour.
Trevethan Gin isn’t available in Poland – yet! But hopefully those guys will find someone to help them sell their product here, so that I can have more.
I believe Loake needs no introduction – it is perhaps the most well-known British classic footwear brand, offering pretty great quality for their price. Elegant, conservative, but well-polished lasts, Goodyear Welted construction, good quality leather – you know, all you need for your everyday smart shoes.
They have a few brick and mortar shops in Poland, including one in Kraków, one of few interesting places on the map of the sartorial desert that is this city.
I really appreciated that their representatives were not shy about the fact there are better brands than Loake, quality-wise. But they concentrate on a good quality to price ratio, and they’re doing a fine job at that. This is a fantastic, honest approach I wish I saw more in menswear.
Maciej Zaremba’s Warsaw tailoring shop should be well known to any Polish menswear enthusiast, and is gaining more and more international recognition. While their style is more Italian-inspired, they certainly didn’t feel out of place during this event, as a lot of the fabrics they use come from British mills. At their store one can also buy accessories by Albert Thurston and Drake’s, and that’s some British heritage right there.
Zaremba Bespoke was started by Maciej’s great-grandfather back in 1894, and out of the brands presented during the reception, only Loake boasts longer history (by not much, only fourteen years or so). This tradition blends well with new ideas Maciej has, and their evolution to become not just a bespoke tailor, but also a high-quality brand with casual, but invariably stylish RTW.
The Warsaw House of Lords
If you’re doubting the British inspiration that the owners of this barbershop show – it’s in the bloody name!
The Warsaw House of Lords tries to distinguish itself from other hipster-tatooed-checked-flannel-shirt-wearing barbershops that’s been cropping up here and there by creating a more classy, elegant and grown-up place. They use British hair and beard products, as well as British-made barber chairs, so that you can feel appropriately lordly when a guy holds a sharp razor to your throat.
They also do events – like this one! – and are able to give you a haircut, beard trim or traditional wet shave even out of the bounds of their barbershop. That’s a nice idea, which might add a little fun and fear for your jugulars to a party.
I enjoyed the reception a lot, despite my regular feeling out of place in such fancy environments. The selection of brands to present was great and I would like to see more of this kind of thing in the future. It’s always good to see someone’s good work being appreciated and promoted, especially if there’s passion clearly showing in this work.