The gentleman behind the brand: Patrick Grant and E.Tautz
Following my post about E. Tautz back in February, label owner Mr Patrick Grant was kind enough to offer me a talk through collections past, present and future (via a glimpse of the sketches for Spring Summer 11) at their new Savile Row space, yesterday. It’s not every day you meet a Fantastic Man poster boy (see pages 66-73 current issue), but I have to say that Patrick was every bit as affable as Steve at Style Salvage documented in his interview and label profile last month.
What’s more, Patrick proved to be an absolute font of stories and knowledge about the production techniques and origins of the items in his collections. So, as we went through the garments I heard about intrigue on the isle of Harris (home of the legendary tweed), the precise meaning of the term ‘hand framed’ (as opposed to ‘hand knitted’), how the worlds best silk weavers reside in Sudbury, Suffolk and the part a certain Wendy in South Wales and her team of hand knitters plays in the quality of E.Tautz socks and mittens. In other words, just the sort of details I find fascinating.
What impressed me, apart from Patrick’s knowledge and passion for British heritage production and the amazing materials themselves, is the clear thread of good taste that runs through it all. In my original post I said how I loved the inky blues, the emphasis on pattern, splashes of fiery autumnal orange and the clear inventiveness of Harris tweeds-with-a-twist used in that collection – which was so much more the case when viewing the collection as a whole. Elsewhere, my eyes fell on textured ties, both bows and otherwise – a long-standing favourite of mine, adding something informal and tactile to an otherwise formal getup, and such refined finishes as real horn buttons. E. Tautz is a brand that brings home the diversity of the British Isles and what it can produce, or more often, sadly, has been known for producing in the past.
As with any design studio/atelier, one’s attention is drawn to the clues to inspiration and influence as well as what’s on the racks. A quick scan of the moodboard (I decided against another grainy iPhone snap) showed the inevitable Duke of Windsor, but also Noel Coward and a very finger-on-the-button Pete Campbell (from Mad Men) in a cricket sweater. As anyone who works in fashion will tell you, much can be learned from the vintage pieces brought in, disassembled and used as inspiration, all the more fitting for E.Tautz as a heritage brand. I noted an original bow tie here, an amazing 60s Savile Row suit there, a creamy summer cashmere there.
In theory, I may have been daunted about visiting a venerable institution on Savile Row but what makes E.Tautz different is that it’s not just about suits. It’s also about knitwear, accessories and separates which makes it very modern. Google E.Tautz and you’ll find it described as a ‘sporting and military tailors’. How very timely given that both military and sportswear are once again major themes in men’s fashion.
In terms of their current SS collection, available in store at Harrods in London, at Barneys in New York and and also online at Matches, beside the perfectly judged summer weight Breton style striped sweaters, what really caught my eye were the blazers. I’ve been looking for the perfect double breasted summer blazer and I have to say my eyes were drawn to E.Tautz on the pages of Matches site and now even more so having seen them in person. There’s something about the cut, the amazing fabrics (linen provides coolness but is blended to avoid the crumple) and above all (again) the perfect shades of blue. A special mention must go to the dressing gown Patrick showed me, in winter cotton (a diagonal cord) with matching knitted swimming trunks (sadly neither is likely to make it into production) that were pure Cary Grant.
All garment images above from Matches: E. Tautz selection
Its probably a sign of my age that when deciding on a new wardrobe item I now instinctively look for something that will last. Whilst E.Tautz is a luxury brand with prices to match, the perceived extravagance of an £800 blazer can be measured against a pair of £500 Lanvin trainers.
I’m really looking forward to what the E.Tautz brand does next, given a very sensible shift towards separates. Glimpses of the future included lovely jackets of the blazer and harrington variety, some amazing knitwear and ongoing verve with colour and pattern. This shift in emphasis suggests that E.Tautz pieces will be making their way into many a discerning man’s wardrobe, be he of the Fantastic variety or simply appreciative of good taste and authenticity.