The English are notorious for our love of animals. It is well known that our Queen even prefers the company of four-legged friends to that of humans. So, it's hardly surprising that one Mrs Eliot decided back in 1969 that she had had enough of substandard horse blankets and so decided to begin making her own using revolutionary quilting techniques and nylon fabric combinations. Mrs Eliot (as she was always known) would oversee her factory workers in the quaint Suffolk village of Lavenham with Marlboro in one hand, G&T in the other. Not conventional by today's standards but she had nevertheless caught onto something in the psyche of horse owners who were soon requesting coats to match their horses' blankets- matching clothes with our horses, now that IS English. And so, in 1972 the first Lavenham jackets went into production- complete with nifty back flaps for easy riding- and a star of the English country clothing market was born.
|The original Lavenham jacket, for horses (image from www.lavenhamjackets.com)|
|The Lavenham tag being added to a jacket at the Suffolk factory|
|A portion of the factory's swatch wall|
|The rolls of fabric ready to be made into Lavenham x Eley Kishimoto|
|Panels of quilting|
The best-selling festi classic from Lavenham "Southwold" £110
Back to rainy Suffolk and the factory is everything you'd expect from a homegrown, resolutely British enterprise. Nicky doesn't drink and smoke as she strolls around but everyone knows everyone's names and there are generations of the same families all employed under the same roof. The factory makes everything from heavy duty horse blankets to edgy fashion collab coats but it's all done with the same attention to detail and slick procedures, from the giant quilting and pattern-cutting machines to the myriad of pieces to be sewn together, sealed and buttoned.
|Fearne in her Lavenham Holbrook windcheater- get yours quick before they sell out again (image from sanecommunications.com)|
My Lavenham jacket keeping me warm on Brighton Beach...
Make mine a Lavenham "Boxford" £144 (also below)
I expect these jackets - as well as Hunter boots and micro denim shorts - will be staples at this weekends Latitude Festival and next week's Port Eliot Festival. If not, why not? Rain is forecast EVERY DAY for the next three weeks! Oh joy...