Traditional British countrywear has long extended its reach beyond its hunting, shooting and farming origins. Thanks to beautiful, natural fabrics and timeless styling details, modern country clothing is part of an everyday wardrobe that spans season, gender, age, occasion and location. Good-looking and practical, it works for town and country, for weekends, working and formal occasions.
Each July, country fashion is celebrated on the catwalk of the Great Yorkshire Show, in Harrogate. Making its debut this year is Cordings, the prestigious countrywear specialists which opened last year in Harrogate, now happily occupying a three-storey store in the town’s historic Westminster Arcade on Parliament Street.
Cordings has been outfitting country folk, town folk, explorers, rock stars and royalty in exquisitely understated British clothing since 1839, based at its flagship store in Piccadilly. That Harrogate was chosen as the location for the second shop in its entire history is testament to the demand from Yorkshire men and women for stylish and beautiful traditional clothing. Many of Cordings’ cloths are woven in Yorkshire mills and a number of pieces including caps and waistcoats are made in the county.
Cordings is part-owned by rock legend Eric Clapton, who helped with a management buyout in 2003. It made sense because he was a loyal customer who had been aware of the brand since his teens. “It stuck in my mind as a place of tradition, part of the heritage of England,” he says. And indeed it is. Denis Thatcher once described Cordings as his favourite shop. Then again, Damien Hirst is a fan too, so its appeal is certainly eclectic. The Harrogate store is even larger than the London flagship, and features all the elements for which Cordings is renowned – walls of men’s trousers, for example. Cordings is famous for its corduroy and moleskin trousers, which come in striking colours. Much coveted too is the Cordings covert coat, developed at the end of the 19th century and named because of the protection it afforded while riding through thick coverts.
The Harrogate store’s menswear department offers field and country clothing alongside city suits and wonderful accessories. Clever design details, many inspired by the practicalities of country pursuits, combine with quality cloth to create wearable yet special pieces. This season take a look at the polo shirts, beautiful quality and £49 each – my tip is the chocolate shade for all-year wear. Silk ties feature designs of dogs, ducks, hares and other animals. It’s the perfect place to go for panama hats too.
Womenswear, meanwhile, features gorgeous tweed jackets, waistcoats, blouses, handmade leather boots, coloured tasselled loafers and more. For the summer, look out for lightweight jackets and shirts in pastel and bright colours and striking prints. The Military jacket has contrast trimming and an elegant cut that will work as well with jeans as it does over a print dress for the summer. Jeans and trousers come in all shades and are cut to flatter and create a clean silhouette.
For autumn (the autumn collection is featured here and will be shown on the Great Yorkshire Show catwalk) look out for its new British tweed jackets, a focus on feminine checks and a new range of soft moleskins. Pheasant and hare prints feature in the shirt collection, as well as a range of immaculately tailored crisp white shirts, in equestrian-inspired styles. British-made velvet jeans are worn with Spanish knee-high boots, in rich colours, inspired by velvet brocades found in the Cordings archive. Look out too for unusual accessories including printed chiffon scarves, felt trilbies and British-made handbags.
Brook Taverner, which is based in Keighley, also offers a covetable range of country-style clothing alongside its stylish business suiting. Its autumn 2016 collection combines a traditional English look with a strong and distinctive European influence, for contemporary, cosmopolitan and timeless appeal. Seasonal shades and varied textures blend with classic styles featuring clean silhouettes and attention to detail. Jackets include tweeds, wool mixtures and brushed cottons in classic, tailored and slim fits, and a new, more relaxed jacket shape. The trouser collection includes cotton chinos and cords in seasonal shades, while outerwear includes waterproof and breathable casuals, stylish coats and wool-mix overcoats and cloth jackets. The Signature range has been revamped into a complete lifestyle collection including shirts, knitwear, jackets and casuals which all sit together. Many pieces are made using fabrics from Marton Mills at Pool-in-Wharfedale.
Brook Taverner also collaborates with Abraham Moon, of Guiseley, which has resulted this year in a new Yorkshire tweed in the green and gold colours of the Yorkshire Agricultural Society, organisers of the Great Yorkshire Show.
The jackets made in the tweed will be ready to buy this month at £250 each, and at the show. Scarves are expected to cost around £20.
Cordings of Piccadilly is at Westminster Arcade, Harrogate, and at Piccadilly, London; www.cordings.co.uk.
All Brook Taverner autumn collection clothes arrive in stores from the beginning of August. The YAS jackets are available from the end of June. Brook Taverner menswear is available from Clarkson’s of York, Eric Spencer of Ilkley, Harvey’s of Halifax; www.brooktaverner.co.uk.
The Great Yorkshire Show takes place in Harrogate from July 12-14 and there will be four shows a day in the Fashion Pavilion; www.greatyorkshireshow.co.uk.