Monday, October 17, 2011

The Men in the Gray Flannel Suits

One of my favorite stories involving Winston Churchill was recently recounted by Stephen Fry on the excellent British quiz show QI. An aide came to the Prime Minister to warn him of a potential scandal. A member of Parliament of their party had been caught indulging in homosexual conduct in one of Her Majesty's parks in London. Churchill thought carefully for a moment then said "rather cold last night, wasn't it?" The aide, not a little bit confused, agreed that it was. Churchill then cooly said: "makes you proud to be British." Presumably, the great statesman was himself warmly suited at the time in his favored Fox Brothers flannel.

We at Doyle Mueser are very happy to announce that we are now one of the few North American Bespoke establishments currently stocking Fox Brothers wool & worsted suiting fabric. Fox Brothers is most famous as the company which originated the ubiquitous fabric known as flannel. The company was established in 1772, and continues to offer the finest flannel in the world.

Fox Brothers fabric is made at the company's mill in Somerset, England. Perhaps most impressive is that Fox Brothers keeps an astonishingly comprehensive swatch archive, containing fabric samples going back over 100 years, allowing them to bring back older patterns, as they recently did with Winston Churchill's signature chalkstripe.

In addition to inventing flannel, Fox Brothers can also be credited with creating the sturdy serge fabric used by the British army which came to be known as khaki, even lending its name to a color. While Doyle Mueser doesn't get many requests for khaki, we do offer several beautiful varieties of Fox Brothers flannel in several shades of gray and blue: plains, chalkstripes, pinstripes, chalk windowpanes, houndstooths, and soft, warmly blurred checks.

The clip from QI can be viewed below.

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