Scottish retailer A Hume celebrates its 85th anniversary this year, releasing an exclusive anniversary collection to mark the milestone.
When it started in 1929, Kelso-based A Hume began primarily as a retailer offering a carefully curated selection of brands to its dedicated clientele (including Barbour, Dubarry, RM Williams) in 2014 it moved towards producing its very own line of garments and accessories. Its own collection is manufactured by heritage brand Bladen, using exclusive Tweed from the Lovat Mill in Hawick. The Lovat Mill in Hawick is one of the last remaining mills in the UK still producing tweeds, cloths and textiles of all weaves and weights.
The third generation family run business is headed up by Managing Director Archie Hume who took over in 1987 aged 23. Hume transformed the company from ‘dusty and old fashioned’ to a retailer that caters to all while still remaining loyal to its country wear heritage. The changes have been met with great success with A Hume winning Best Independent Multichannel Operator and Independent Retailer of the Year at the 2014 Drapers Awards.
Tweed and country wear has seen a resurgence in recent years with London Collections: Men filled with sharp tailored looks and tweed garments on show from Savile Row, St James’s & Woolmark. The Museum of London and chart topping rapper Tinie Tempah recently collaborated to make a unique and contemporary three piece tweed suit.
In a move towards the modern and new customer A Hume were also one of the early adapters in country wear to embrace online retailing and social media. Launching its online store (in addition to its 2 stores in Kelso) in 2007 putting it at reach to a worldwide customer base, which currently exceeds 30,000 worldwide form all corners of the globe.
The anniversary tweed collection will run until October this year offering classic menswear with contemporary pieces. In addition to its ready to wear lines A Hume also offers a made-to-measure service for that extra special touch.
Azzarenko caught up with Managing Director Archie Hume to discuss the brand and trend for country wear.
1) Can you provide further details on the 85th anniversary collection?
As we’re celebrating our 85th anniversary this year, we wanted to create something that truly commemorates our heritage. The Scottish Borders are our home and the home of tweed, so it seemed natural for us to create a tweed collection. We’ve tried to make something traditional, using a traditional fabric, to represent our past, and something contemporary, as we move into our next 85 years.
Our tweed collection was inspired by the Scottish countryside around us. The green represents the rolling hills; the blue signifies the coursing waters of the River Tweed. The hint of purple you see in our tweed is inspired by the heather on the hills.
Our limited edition collection has been so successful, but it is an anniversary collection and a limited edition, so we won’t be making any more. This way, the pieces retain their significance.
2) For those not familiar with A Hume or the whole country wear style how would you describe it?
Country wear is universal and timeless. We like to see that our customers come from every generation in a family: grandfathers, fathers and sons. Country wear can be worn in the country or the city, on the riverbank or at the theatre. Country wear is comfortable, useful and timeless, yet fashionable. It’s also an understated and distinctive way of dressing. There’s such a luxurious range of tweeds available, thanks to the experimentation with different colours, weaves and weights, that you can be as casual or smart as you want to be. Tweed offers a very individual way of dressing, like a signature.
3) Since you took over in 1987, how has the A Hume customer changed?
The A Hume customer has become much more aware of what’s out there. There are so many fashion images online and in magazines, and maybe because of this our customers seem to have a greater understanding of what they do and don’t like. They like to create their own style. Our customers are definitely experimenting more with their clothing, and so are we.
What hasn’t changed is that our customers want to look smart, distinctive and elegant. But before I took the reins, A Hume was very much a gentleman’s outfitter. Now we offer ladies wear as well. We offer a wide selection of iconic brands such as RM Williams, Barbour, William Lockie and Dubarry, as well as upcoming younger brands such as Pampeano and Eden Park.
4) For your own designs do you look to current trends (for example slimmer cuts) or do you prefer to keep a more traditional aesthetic?
We actually have a combination of both. We do have some traditional jacketing and tweeds in menswear, which tends to appeal to the older age group. For the younger market, we have designed tweeds with layers of rich colour, such as blues and pinks. Often, we find that men like to go down a size because they want that slimmer fit and a more urbanised aesthetic.
Although we’re a heritage brand, it’s important to us that we stay relevant. So we do our own research, discovering new trends and themes that we can subtly weave into our collections, without compromising our traditional roots. Again, there’s a crossover.
5) There’s been a trend for wearing country/utility wear in everyday city life, especially with the younger generation, particularly with waxed jacket and wellies… What are your thoughts on this shift? On taking country wear into cities?
I’m bored of the business suit; I don’t want to look the same as everyone else. So I think it’s brilliant that the younger generations are mixing it up and being a bit different. I think it’s great when you walk down Piccadilly and see Londoners wearing tweed jackets with chinos.
The Italians are experts at mixing it up. Whenever I’m in Italy, I always admire the way some men team brightly coloured ties and sweaters with tweeds, as street wear. I think smartly dressed people in tweed do stand out, especially when the detail and tailoring is impeccable.
6) What are your signature pieces in the A Hume man’s wardrobe?
A signature tweed jacket. A blue- or pink-checked shirt. A zip-neck cashmere jumper (made from Hawick’s beautiful cashmere yarn).
We actually work to integrate the tweed and cashmere collections; we use colour charts, and when we design the tweeds, we decide which knitwear will sit beside them, to work out what complements them.
RM Williams boots and trousers also look great with our heritage range of Scott Nichol socks; that’s a favourite A Hume look.
7) What’s coming up next for the brand?
We’re already starting to design our new tweeds for Autumn/Winter ‘15 and Spring ‘15/16. Our focus will naturally be our range of tweeds for men and women, but we’re also having fun designing our headwear line, and knitwear and cashmere lines.
We’ve been around for 85 years. We’re very proud of our history. We want to be able to weave our heritage with our future, to build something as timeless as a tweed.
More information on the brand is available online at www.ahume.co.uk
A Hume stores
A Hume Menswear, Ladieswear and Footwear
46, The Square Kelso, TD5 7HL
A Hume Menswear and Footwear
22, Horsemarket Kelso, TD5 7HD