Traditional Luxury English Accessories
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Swaine Adeney Brigg: A Biography
Swaine Adeney was founded in 1750 as a producer of luxury leather goods and equestrian supplies. The product range expanded to include luxury umbrellas, when in 1943, the brand merged with Thomas Brigg & Sons to form Swaine Adeney Brigg. Both brands had a strong tradition of handcrafting products with the greatest of quality – a tradition that still remains at the heart of Swaine Adneny Brigg Cambridge based workshops. The product range has expanded over time to include leather-goods, luggage and business cases, as well as Brigg umbrellas. Additionally, the brand undertakes special commissions for bespoke leather pieces including chests, trunks and furniture.
As of 2011, Swaine Adeney Brigg products are sold at the flagship store in St James’s London, on the brand’s e-commerce site, and are retailed in the finest stores throughout the world.
Timeline: Important Dates
- 1750: The foundations of the Swaine Adeney Brigg brand were set when John Ross set up a whip making business in London’s Piccadilly.
- 1798: James Swaine takes over John Ross’ whip making business, having himself been the foreman of a successful whip making business in Holborn.
- 1835: Royal Warrants and improving successes of the brand allow James Swaine to move his business to larger premises in Piccadilly.
- 1836: Thomas Brigg & Sons was established on London’s James’s Street, specialising in the manufacture of luxury umbrellas, walking sticks and riding crops.
- 1845: Business continued to flourish so Edward Swaine brought his nephew into the partnership and Swaine Adeney was born.
- 1851: The Swaine Adeney brand shows its products at the London Exhibition held at Crystal Palace. At the time the exhibition was the largest the world had seen, attracting over 6 million visitors. Swaine Adeney wins several prize medals at the exhibition.
- 1900: Swaine Adeney presents its products once again, this time at the Paris Exhibition, again winning several prize medals. The brands reputation as a producer of luxury leather goods was growing internationally.
- 1943: During the Second World War, Brigg & Sons loses their Paris store when France was occupied. Swaine Adeney stepped in to help and the brands merged to from Swaine Adeney Brigg & Sons Ltd. The brand branched out into equestrian goods, which they were soon to become well known for.
- 1963: The brand creates a brief case for Agent 007 (alias James Bond) for the movie, ‘From Russia With Love’. Swaine Adeney Brigg continues to make the model known as the ‘Q Case’.
- 1980: The brand creates the iconic Indiana Jones hat for Steven Speilberg and Harrison Ford, produced from a modified Herbert Johnson hat.
- 2008: The Swaine Adeney Brigg e-commerce site is launched.
The Royal Seal of Approval
During her 64 year reign, Queen Victoria issued over 2000 Royal Warrants, including Thomas Brigg & Sons first Royal Warrant in 1893, becoming the first ever umbrella manufacturer to be honoured with a Royal Appointment. Before Thomas Brigg & Sons merged with Swaine Adeney, further Royal Appointments were issued by Her Majesty Queen Victoria and by His Majesty Edward VI.
Before the merger, Swaine Adeney were also prolific receivers of Royal Warrants. The brand received Royal Appointments to His Majesty King George III and to his sons, The Prince of Wales and the Dukes of York, Clarence, Kent, Cumberland and Cambridge. These Royal Warrants were renewed during the reigns of His Majesty George IV and His Majesty William IV.
As of 2011, there are approximately 850 Royal Warrant Holders, which continues to be a prestigious symbol of recognition to those who are regular suppliers of goods and services to certain members of the Royal Family. With a long history of receiving Royal Warrants, the brand continues to supply goods to the Royal Family.
As of 2011, Swaine Adeney Brigg is appointed as whip and glove makers to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and suppliers of umbrellas to HRH The Prince of Wales.
Indiana Jones Hat worn by actor Harrison Ford
A Star is Born: The Indiana Jones Hat
In 1980, during the days when Swaine Adeney Brigg was located on London’s Old Burlington Street, two American gentlemen walked through to doors; a seemingly innocuous event that would spark the creation of one of the greatest cinema icons of the 1980’s. Those two men were movie director Steven Spielberg and A-list actor Harrison Ford, and the icon was to be the Indiana Jones hat.
Spielberg announced that he was about to make an adventure film, ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ with Ford cast as the leading character, ‘Indiana Jones’. A hat was to be pivotal in Ford’s role, turning Indy from archaeology teacher to bold adventurer. With no specific time period mentioned by Spielberg, they were presented with the oldest hat style the brand had in stock, The Poet. Made since the 1890’s and deemed ‘ageless’, The Poet is a tall crowned, Herbert Johnson wide brim fur felt hat. Since, in the movie Indiana Jones would be depicted wearing the hat in different terrains, a sable-brown was chosen.
Of course the hat needed to be distinctive to make it the signature symbol of Indiana Jones. The brim was shaped into an ovoid shape to give protection to the eyes and neck and allow a better camera shot from the sides. The brim of the hat was pulled down to give the explorer/safari look and the original ribbon was changed from 50mm to 39mm to make the crown appear even taller. Spielberg was so impressed with the modified Herbert Johnson hat that just a week after his and Ford’s visit, Swaine Adeney Brigg received an order for 45 Indy hats in various sizes for Ford and the stunt actors for ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’.
The brand still makes the original Indy hat and after the success of the Indiana Jones movie franchise, Swaine Adeney Brigg has made dozens of the hats, both for fans and for Harrison Ford himself. Each Indy hat is still carefully hand-rubbed and cut by hand using the original patterns created on the day of Ford and Spielberg’s visit. Since the creation of the iconic Indy hat London milliner Herbert Johnson has joined the team at Swaine Adeney Brigg.
Visit the official Swaine Adeney Brigg website here.
007 James Bond Suitcase