Friday, 28 March 2014

Ardour Brand I V Bear line...

As we prepare for the new Ardour collection to be finished we wanted to give some background as to why we have designed and manufactured the items we have for our I V Bear line. 

I think for the most of both of our lives growing up and going into our adult years we have spent a lot of time crossing over in terms of styles, with heavily rooted values in British sub culture we have both always ventured outside of these styles looking elsewhere for inspiration and also curiosity and bringing in different ingredients from other culture's.

One such ingredient is Ivy League and Ivy sportswear, already close to home as a smart look it houses the main properties of what we love in clothing, harrington's, knitwear, oxfords, loafers, sweatshirts, sportswear and cagoule's to name a few and they are all items we have lovingly adopted into our wardrobes over the years while keeping a rugged British rogue tone with it, character, something that feels less preppy and more underground as we wear it differently than those stateside and is more about some working class lads dressing in a way that we probably shouldn't and mixing it up a bit.

Looking back and seeing the similarities of traditional Ivy style compared to modern day styles you can almost chain the links from Ivy and Mod to Suedehead and Casual and other cultures with a lot of similar styling still present in places if ever so slightly updated, maybe it's something that only lads from a certain background notice, especially in Britain where throughout the 1900's up to the present day scenes and cultures have always been formed from a different outlook and from a predominantly working class background and that's always evident when browsing old photos whereas Ivy was born through very different circumstances.

Traditional Ivy Leaguers might turn their noses up at our point of view probably in the same way they turn their noses up at others who take Ivy into their own hands, less Brooks Brothers more Mark Mcnairy, but that's what makes it exciting and with the values being slightly different of why we dress that way there will always be a slight conflict of interest.
In terms of Ivy Styling today we think it's evident that it's at a strong point in fashion, albeit slightly twisted but then we've never been one for complete traditional values because I think at some point you do have to move on slightly but the core character of Ivy style is as cutting edge now as it has always been and browsing through collections from the likes of Margaret Howell, Our Legacy and Mark Mcnairy (to name a few) it shows that Ivy styling is in a firm position and not just within the core labels that we expect it from. 

Going back to Ardour and how we vision things, from our point of view we are always drawn back to the letterman's and jackets, in particular coach jackets and rubber rain jackets so this is the route we have gone into for the first part of this year.

Last year we started a sub line up under Ardour called the I V Bear range (Ivy Bear range) where we wanted to bring out Ivy inspired clothing and accessories starting with our collaboration with Ebbets Field Flannels and also our own AB college sweatshirt. 
Continuing with this line we have a new range of college sweatshirts that will be on sale soon, plus two coach jackets and also a rubberised rain jacket collaboration which is in the making. 

We have used our sportswear AB logo in cream on the bottle green sweatshirt, and also a traditional looking Maroon sweat with our mustard Ardour Hornets logo. 

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Ardour Brand Bengal Scarf and Pocket Square set…

We are slowly starting to receive our new stock for 2014, and we are very happy to offer our latest heavy linen scarf and pocket square, now available to purchase as a set, the first of our styles comes in the form of the 'Bengal'.

The Bengal set is produced from imported heavyweight Japanese linen, a natural beautifully woven fabric with a navy spot throughout.

As always they are manufactured locally in Birmingham, England.

Ardour Brand Bengal Scarf and Pocket Square set

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Ardour Brand Inspiration: Ivy Style

When the fashions and styles of previous generations cascade through to the modern day wardrobe, reborn, revived and celebrated in equal measure, it’s easy to see where the saying ‘fashion goes around in circles’ comes from. However, rummaging around vintage clothing shops or flicking through old photographs to see the things being worn by our ancestral cohorts is not necessary, as so many classic garments from our not so distant heritage are being worn today and are as popular as ever.

If we take the archives of Mod fashion for example, it’s clear to see that the styles of that era are constantly being drawn upon for inspiration for use in a more contemporary guise, with specific items such as the obligatory parka jacket now an everyday item of clothing, with its original template being adhered to and reworked by a multitude of designers.
Of all those important and charismatic looks that flourished here in the UK, passed down through time, forgotten and then rediscovered, often adapted for a more up to date look, it’s perhaps overlooked that one of the most important and influential styles that still holds a strong presence to this day actually originated in the United States rather than here in the UK.
From the mid 1950s and throughout the 1960s, there was a fresh new look that gripped America, encompassing a vibrant social outlook that encapsulated music and an appreciation for quality made clothing. Males from a varied spectrum of professions and backgrounds become totally committed and engrossed in this autonomous scene that oozed a refined confidence and an appreciation for a new found modernistic philosophy. This independent and detail conscious existence was termed The Ivy look and is as evident today as it was in the days of Miles Davis and Steve McQueen, both iconic figures to the advocates of this most elegant and stylish lifestyle.

With its name originating from the college campuses that were the birth place of this charismatic scene, it’s no surprise that the look held an almost scholarly complexity, yet was carried off with an edge of sophisticated cool. Jazz music played a synonymous part in proceedings with an array of artists wearing the clothing that was associated with the style and the likes of John Coltrane and Quincy Jones were often portrayed on understated yet chic record sleeves that were a valued part of Ivy culture, sporting the get ups of the everyday dandy.

Cut, design and quality were the essential elements longed for by the followers of the Ivy look with J Press and Brooks Brothers being the favoured purveyors of this much revered and sought after clothing. The typical day to day look held a strong resemblance to a number of styles that are currently prominent in modern day wardrobes with archetypal items such as the classic chino, long sleeve button down shirts, tennis court sneakers and the loafer all featuring predominantly.
The anatomy of any self respecting wardrobe was formed from a selection of essential items, all important in there own right and chosen for their respective qualities. However, the wearer’s choice of footwear was perhaps the most scrutinized aspect of the Ivy get up and was deliberated over with as much sartorial vigour as possible. Bass Weejun loafers were the shoe to be seen in, a beautifully crafted and classic piece of footwear that was a symbol of ultimate integrity when it came to being well turned out, which was a paramount aspect of Ivy style.

Together with Bass Weejun, a standard protocol was followed regarding applicable footwear and clothing, with both Converse all stars and desert boots being heavily favoured as an alternative to the loafer. To compliment the footwear and depending on the season, leg wear varied from chinos or khakis to slacks, and when dressing for a more non formal and laid back occasion, a pair of Levi 501 XX denims were more than an acceptable.

Tab collared or long sleeved button down shirts were the all important item for the upper part of a well chosen get up with the Oxford cloth and checked variations being the most typical of selections. These were sought after with great aplomb, with the cut and details of each individual shirt often being discussed and debated with much fervour and enthusiasm. To complete the perfect ensemble, the jacket or coat was as important as the rest of the outfit and a number of choices were available in an array of different guises and styles, yet the cut had to comply with the adamant demands of the wearer with only a superlative amount of detail attracting the most passionate and obsessive of considerations.

Attention to detail and the sharp rhetoric in which the way Ivy style was adhered to held an unmistakeable correlation to ambitiously minded and talented individuals, exemplified by the likes of the Kennedy brothers, numerous musicians and film screen actors such as Paul Newman who were all keen patrons of this most refined and sharp lifestyle.

The Ivy look has been one of the most consistently seen silhouettes over time, from its heyday in America to the undeniable influence it had on Mod culture in the UK with its similar outlooks and ethos. Fast forward to the modern day and Ivy style is arguably one of the strongest influences present on the modern day wardrobe, lending itself to the quite charming thesis that although fashion may go around in circles, style, in fact, will always be timeless.

Monday, 17 March 2014

The Sunday Times Style Guide...

We were privileged to get our second feature in the much coveted Sunday Times Style Guide yesterday.

Our Lewis Satchel looking nice in a pretty tasty product grid.

Big smiles at Ardour HQ.

Friday, 14 March 2014

Wheels On Toast Interview on Ardour Brand...

I think the only time we've ever been interviewed was either by Jonny Law or for a job, so it was nice to be asked by Brighton based design and culture stalwarts Wheels on Toast to answer a few questions for their profiles page.

You can view this through the link below but we have copy and pasted it below too.


"Its not very often you get to witness the birth of a brand right before your eyes, but thats whats happened with Ardour. Having been a regular visitor to Saul and Shauns music / fashion blog for years its was brilliant to discover they've taken the intrepid leap into creating their own garments, we caught up with them below to find our a little more."

Q1 - What was the catalyst for starting Ardour and whats the long term goal?

Ardour came about through a culmination of years growing up together as friends, following an almost identical path with regards style and social circles and putting into practice our shared passion for clothing. We met over a decade ago and although it sounds funny, I think we were always destined to do something like this together. The long term goal for Ardour is to become a firmly established brand here in the UK and to eventually have our own store. That’s the dream, and there’s no reason why we can’t make it a reality – we’ve come this far.

Q2 - What or who are a few of your most inspirational brands or people?

Saul – Since an early age I was always interested in sub cultures and the styles associated with them. My parents were original 60s skinheads, so the tales of their sartorial and social forays were something that resonated with me greatly. I found my own feet through growing up going to football and become immersed in the whole culture that goes with it. Like Shaun, I was infatuated with the whole thing, especially the clothing side of it, and that has never left me and never will. There are too many labels that have passed through my wardrobe over the years to pick just a few, from the likes of Mandarina Duck through to Margaret Howell. There’s also the added element of a vested love for the original Ivy look, something that has influenced both myself and Ardour, and will continue to do so. As regards individual people, I’d have to say Fraser Moss of YMC and Simon Spiteri of Anthem Store. Both hail from my home town, a place that doesn’t really strike high on the list as most style concious or culturally active place in the world, but I look at what both of these have done and achieved through following their passions and I take note of that, and that’s my inspiration.

Shaun – Saul has summed up both our very similar upbringings and the paths taken during our early lives. We take inspiration from various outlets but as rightly pointed out our football background can’t be shaken off and although evolving is obvious, a certain element will always be present in the way myself and Saul dress and also how we vision clothing. Personally speaking and as we move onto bigger projects my love for natural dyes, finishing and fabric progression will play a big part in the future of Ardour. The dyeing and ageing processes are something we enjoy and are currently working on a natural indigo range of clothing, so without using cliches and names dropping I would rather focus on the materials and see where we can go as Ardour as opposed to looking back and saying “Mr X did this and we liked this”, it’s more a case of we love British tweed, we love natural tanned leather, we love heavyweight denim and the inspiration comes in the form of seeing what we can create with the materials we love, to pinpoint our direction as a whole is quite hard to do and our focus can change from classic British wear to work wear to Ivy wear, mod, casual, clean lines and vibrant fabrics especially where our scarves and pocket squares are concerned, so to answer the original question I think inspiration comes in many forms and not just from other labels/people.

Q3 - Are you guys from a fashion or design background?

Saul – I’ve worked both freelance and employed as a fashion writer for a number of on line and print publications, but apart from this my background lays in engineering.

Shaun – As with Saul my background is within engineering and I have no previous within fashion or design. Clothing has always been a passion, another expression and it’s nice to be in a position to throw as much of my spare time into it as possible.

Q4 - Is it important for Ardour to retain Britishness or are you happy to draw from other places with a strong style aesthetic such as America, Japan or Scandinavia?

We’re both passionate about British manufacturing and keeping things UK based as much as possible, but we also have a strong affinity to American and Japanese product, and what’s not to admire and love about Scandinavian design? However, I think it’s important to aide the growth of British design and economy, even at a small level, and we’re both encouraged and proud to be part of a growing number of small independent British brands that are of a similar ethos. I think my favourite items from your current range are your wallets, what was the design process involved with these? Like with all our products, we start with an initial idea and we gradually develop it through the medium of drawings and discussion, we enjoy leather goods and being able to see our sketches turn into products is an extremely satisfying process especially with the un-dyed natural veg tanned leather goods, starting out as an untouched blank canvas and being able to see them develop with their own individual patina through wear and tear is a much more personal experience, the hand stitching again is a personal preference and we feel that it gives a more natural look as a whole. We use 7-8oz leather (roughly 3mm thick) on most of our leather goods (aside from pocket build) with a thicker leather in store for the enthusiasts amongst us. One thing that’s probably worth mentioning here is that each individual product we run at Ardour is something that we would personally wear and use ourselves, so it’s both enjoyable and invigorating to let our ideas flow to the eventual culmination of having the product in hand.

Q5 - Whats the biggest lesson you’ve learnt so far?

That it’s the little things that count, the small details, the genuine courtesy and making our customers know that we appreciate their business. Our customers satisfaction is and always will be paramount and the most important thing for us.

Q6 - You’re still manning the helm at Sinister Delicious blog which is ace, in fact theres a clip on youtube with Steve Hall taking about Junior Boys Own Records and he uses the term ‘Headonism in a nice shirt’. I always think of that quote when I visit. So what the future for Sinister now Ardours gaining momentum?

Saul – Sinister Delicious has always been an outlet for our passions, whether that be style, music or culture and we’ve built it up steadily over the years, having had nearly a quarter of a million visits, which is a bit mad. Sinister is an important thing for both of us and although it’s always been written in a very tongue in cheek manor it remains something we both love doing as it’s somewhere to share the things we love with like-minded and not so like minded people. So although Ardour takes a lot of our time where we might once have been writing for the blog, we still like to update it when we can.

Shaun – I think we both feel that a blog is personal and we have always tried to keep it as that, we do write about our Ardour goings on but as rightly pointed out it’s a great source for us to talk freely about what we are into, what we are buying into, what we are listening to, sharing mixes and it’s not about to stop anytime soon, where else could Saul post photo’s of himself in such poses ?

Q7 - I know from reading Sinsiter that you’re both are as obsessive about music as your clothes, give us your current top 5 tracks.

Saul – To avoid a scene straight out of High Fidelity I can’t think about this one too much, so in no particular order :
The Essence – 92 Bluh: I’ve been digging this for a little while now, quality release on Flemish label On Point records.
Tierra – Sonya: This hasn’t been out of my record bag since I bought it and usually finds its way into my sets. Proper Bass line driven boogie funk that’d make the biggest square in the world get down.
Son of Sound – Nightshift: This shady character has been bringing out some ace stuff and this moody cut on Basement records is just the ticket for when you’re feeling a tad debauched. Probably best listened to with a bird and some amyl nitrate.
Freekwency & Ale Chambers – Living in a Lie: Freekwency, AKA Benny Badge produces some of the best modern boogie and funk around. This is a favourite of mine with a great vocal from Ale Chambers.
Les Femmes – Thrill Me: Another record that never leaves my bag. Just go and youtube this one, it’s timeless and killer in equal measures.

Shaun – You say to yourself “don’t be anal, just put 5 down” but it’s never as easy as that and I’m trying to not to put too much thought into it because I would change my answers every 10 minutes, the only way to do it is to list the 5 records that I’ve listened to most this week:
Fantastic Man – Zero 12″ recent(ish) purchase and a beautiful B side.
LCD Soundsystem – 45:33 part2 12″ is a very special record to me, I play it as much now as I have previously.
Evans Pyramind – Never Gonna Leave You 12″ is an absolute gem of a record, beautiful.
Freekwency feat Charli James – By My Side is a modern boogie lick unfortunately only available on d/l but one of my most played tracks this past 12 months.
Rahaan – Disco Fantasy edit 12″ is another recent pick up, bags full of soul, good feeling and disco. If you like boogie/house/disco we hold a residency down in London with a night we put on called Boogie Cartel, you should drop by.

Q8 - My personal sartorial weakness is t-shirts (I’ve got way too many), whats yours?

Saul – Jackets and coats without question. No matter how many I have hanging in my wardrobe I always want more – I think the word’s addicted.

Shaun – Jackets and Denim. I have evened my wardrobe out over the last few years so I’m at a good level of equal share at the moment.

Q9 - Worst haircut you’ve ever had?

Saul – I used to race cycle speedway when I was younger and got selected to represent Wales in the world cup, so in my infinite wisdom I decided to get a chequered flag shaved and bleached into the back of my head, which was ironic because we came last. Either that or a skinhead.

Shaun – Probably when it was at it’s longest, I’m not talking Marc Bolan long, just shaggy and pointless.

Q10 - Last great pub you frequented and why?

Saul – It’s always been more clubs than pubs, but one that holds a special place for me growing up in Newport was called The Angel. It was a complete dive but we used to have some proper moments in there, all off the rails, bossing the Juke box all night and enjoying life. I think we all got barred eventually but I learned some pretty important facts of life in and around that pub.

Shaun – Again as Saul points out it’s always been clubs over pubs that I have spent most of my time in but if I had to choose a pub it would be The Anchor in West Bromwich (long shut down now) which is now a lap dancing club but I spent many a good day/night in there over the years, just the right amount of wrongness.

Monday, 10 March 2014

Disco Monday... by Shaun Dangerfield

I've not posted up some proper in depth sounds for a little while, and seeing as I have a spare ten tonight I thought I would post some of my favourite Disco licks.

Starting with an uptempo game changer, an absolute classic that takes apart the dance floor whenever I play it out, it builds, it mellows, it builds up again before exploding into a glitter ball of energy.

Released in 79' on the ace Tabu Records, Brainstorm 'Hot For You' -

Next up is another love of mine in the form of Sylvester... voice, character and love are the three words to describe him best.

There is no best time to play this, it's good any time of the day or night.
'Over and Over' was released in 77' on San Francisco's Fantasy records, it's 9 and a half minutes of pure joy, drop the needle on it and set it alight then spend then next 9 minutes watching it burn…

Next up is the one record that I can't find, and if I could I know it would cost me £500 plus, it's as rare as hens teeth.
I have a digital copy to listen to but it's not good enough to play out unfortunately, a boogie funk monster that is pure synth joy and if there's one thing that get's us here at Sinister towers it's a female vocal, myself and Saul are smitten with a great female vocal and at 34 seconds it turns into an absolute face melter that I know would devastate a dance floor at the right time, I will 100% get this 12" one day, at whatever cost that may be and when I do I'm going to lock myself away for a good 12 hours and play it continuously to myself until I'm physically drained.

Subway's Ten Toes Up e.p, this being the track 'Whats In The Dark'….

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Ardour Brand Coach Jacket's...

We are just waiting on a sample of our first piece of outerwear for Ardour in the form of a coach jacket.
Available in Burgundy and also in a Mustard/Yellow. 

What would in general be a very lightweight fabric we are making our version more substantial and heavier to suit the season's of Spring, Summer and Autumn, but keeping things traditional in design. 

We should have a Burgundy sample in hand within the next week or so to post up.

Thursday, 6 March 2014

On Rainy Days, Always have a Mackintosh at Hand...By Saul Wilks

I haven't really had the time to be posting latest purchases like the days of old, but here's a nice snap shot of a juggernaut of a coat that I obtained in the last few months.

The 104 line of Mackintosh is produced for a Japanese market and is as rare as rocking horse manure. I was lucky to get my hands on this, sported here with our Ardour 11oz hickory stripe denim shirt.

Made in collaboration with Golden Fox, this is without doubt the jewel in my jacket Arsenal - a truly colossal bit of kit.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Ardour Brand X Made in These Isles

National pride and enthusiastic passion for our heritage can somewhat be misconstrued and taken out of context, but look deeper and you'll find that special fervour that drives these emotions which should always be celebrated and cherished. This is one element that drives the ethos of both of us as individuals and is the culminating factor that created Ardour.

With these sentiments in mind, it's easy to understand why we feel both privileged and honoured to have produced a limited collection of carefully designed and constructed pocket square and scarf sets for Made in These Isles, a staunch bastion of British craftsmanship that encourages, nurtures and promotes a variety of hand picked and quality made products from a wide spectrum of outlets, all made on the shores of Albion.

We wanted to create a quintessentially classic feel with this limited edition line, focussing on the finest materials while paying homage to a cache of traditionally British patterns and style. Taking inspiration from Victorian street fashions and with an evident nod to the archetypal patter of the roguish gent, we hope these beautifully crafted garments denote the passion that not only drives Ardour Brand, but also encapsulates the avidity that we feel towards domestic craftsmanship and the expertise of British manufacturing.

With this in mind we are happy to present;

The Digbeth - A hand woven slubby fabric full of character and natural charm.
The Nelson - A premium navy heavy linen with a bold spot.
The Ancoats - A khaki green polkadot in a silk-like cotton.
The Crompton - A beautiful mid-blue chambray.

Limited to 6 sets per style, available soon at Made in These Isles,

Saul & Shaun

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Against modern football... by Shaun Dangerfield

I am fully aware of how football has gone in recent years as are most lads of a certain background but it's gone much deeper than that now.
This past few weeks has ruined whatever I had left for the game, watching Wayne Rooney spitting his dummy out of his pram year after year and getting rewarded for doing so was the final nail in the coffin for me, 300k a week for a decent player that gets lost on international duty and was at one time contemplating a move across to City, he deserves nothing in my eyes and the obscene money that he's now on for kicking a ball just shows that the game has finally gone.

After a few years out I bought a season ticket this year for the Albion, players on 30k a week playing out their half hearted performances while striving to stay up purely for the board to be rewarded with more big money from Sky that we will never see put back into the team in the hope that maybe, just maybe we might finish 10th.
No thanks.

I started watching them in 87 seeing the full demise of West Bromwich witnessing us enter the old third division for the first time in our history, cutting my teeth going from ground to ground seeing the sights of Darlington and Southend, Exeter to Torquay and watching some of the worst football matches in the cup that anyone could ever witness, losing away at Halifax and getting knocked out the cup by Woking, I won't lie it was grim at times but it was the best time I've had at the football comparing to what I have to see and try to be part of now.
Seeing the same faces week in week out, it was our game, a working class release paying 8 quid and seeing some absolute dumps, Wigan's old Springfield Grass bank away end, Stockport away on a midweek night match pissing down, I miss it, I miss those days, no expectations just simply going out and whatever happens, happens.

We brought a new manager in from Spain 5 weeks ago, Pepe Mel, known for his love of attacking football with which he is trying to bring into play, except this week the players have hit out saying they don't like his tactics and they can't play this way, that they are not willing to try and play his attacking football. Really ? And they want me to support them and pay my money to enjoy that attitude while they earn a ridiculous amount of money. Do they even care ? each and every one of them when they have a good season starts speculating their future in the papers, maybe they could get a better deal and move elsewhere, maybe get a better club on more money because they can't survive on 30 thousand pounds a week, not comfortably anyway…. makes me sick.
The jokes on us really isn't it.

This past year watching Cardiff's heritage ruined in a few short months and seeing Hull going through similar, while protesting continuously against the club they love to not get it renamed because the modern day owners are so far up their own backsides they can't understand why a fan base wouldn't agree with changing the heart, soul and history of the club.

Name changes, Colour changes, Kit changes, Town/City changes, Crest changes, no commitment, no pride, no loyalty.
Bored of it.