Tootal Blog

Tootal Blog
  • Council Meeting: Tootal Talks To Mick Talbot About The Style Council LPs

    The earliest TSC songs are almost 35 years old. Why do you think they have endured?

    Partly because of the strong songs, partly because they didn’t follow production trends of the era. Plus we were in Solid Bond Studios. They had been the old Philips recording studios. Paul really liked them so when they came on the market John Weller enquired about them and Paul ended up buying them. It meant the meter wasn’t running, we were less phased by being in the studio and we could relax a bit.

    You always gave the impression that it was hugely enjoyable. What’s your lasting memory of it now?

    It WAS hugely enjoyable. There was a nice mood about the place. Particularly in the early days it was a liberation for Paul, and that trickled down to the rest of us. Plus we tried to treat it like a job, going in Monday to Friday. People were waiting for Paul to be spokesman for a generation but he just wanted to relax and enjoy making music.

    Do you recall your feelings when you learnt that 'Modernism: A New Decade' had been turned down by your record company?

    It was hugely disappointing. We believed in it, we’d put a lot into it but it didn’t get its chance in the world. Listening to it now it’s like a diary of where we were at that time. We had always planned to call it a day after that album but we thought we had another 18 months. We were going to tour the album, perhaps put a few more singles out but the record company decision accelerated the process.

    The 5 TSC studio LPS, plus the 'Introducing' compilation, are reissued on coloured vinyl.

    These latest reissues are coloured vinyl only, and proving hugely popular with The Style Council fanbase. Are you a vinyl enthusiast?

    My brother-in-law recently gave us an old Dansette style record player. It’s only mono but the sound is so different. Back in the Sixties when they were recording some of those classic soul albums they thought Stereo was a passing phase and the stereo mix of an album would just be an afterthought.

    I can’t say I play vinyl every day but I’ve certainly played more this year than in the last 8 or 9 years.

    20 odd singles and 5 albums in six years, and each one seemed to arrive with a new wardrobe. An obvious question but did style go hand in hand with the music?

    Yes it did. When we first got together Paul and I had a lot of lengthy conversations about clothes, art, architecture, based on our common past. We were born in the same year, so we talked about things that had influenced us as kids, sartorially speaking.

    Did you ever look around the group and think “what is he / she wearing?!”

    There were a couple of occasions when the video required us to wear something a bit different, just to support our silly story. I know some people made a fuss about our clothes at that last gig but we were open-minded. I think Paul called it his Acid Surf Mod look. I was wearing shorts with braces but I was embracing a certain era. There was still a bit of Ivy League in that look.

    Do you recall the first time you were allowed to buy your own clothes?

    I think I do. I’d saved up for a pair of Chelsea Boots, either from Freeman Hardy & Willis or Saxone, one of those two. Around the same time I had a pair of loafers from Saxone called something like Wee Gee ‘Uns, obviously for copyright purposes.

    My Grandad gave me my first Tootal. It was a mustard paisley. What’s great about them is they look equally good on a coal miner or someone going to a ball. They don’t look out of place on the terraces.

    Paul Weller (L) and Mick Talbot, The Style Council, 1986.

    You’ve worked with some fantastic, talented musicians across your career. Is there anyone on a wish list you’d really like to work with?

    I’ve been fortunate in the last couple of years, I got to work with Roger Daltrey and more recently with Ray Davies. I got to play with a couple of The Faces – Ron Wood when I was playing with Jools Holland band, and Kenny Jones on a Small Faces tribute album.

    When we played one of our first gigs at Brockwell Park [May, 1983] we had a bit of a hostile reception from a small section of the crowd, so we did a runner. I was told later that Ronnie Lane was watching from the wings but I never got to meet him.

    Back in 1999, I was part of the house band for the National Lottery Show, Lulu was the presenter. One particular week Paul McCartney was the special guest but because he had just made a “back to basics” album of rock n’ roll songs he decided he only wanted an extra guitarist so I missed out again.

    I’ve worked in pick up bands, backing American soul singers when they come to tour the UK. I’ve backed The Velvelettes, Brenda Holloway, Candi Staton, Gwen McRae, Martha Reeves… even before I was in the Merton Parkas I can flashback to trying to play ‘Nowhere To Run’ at the Two Brewers pub in Clapham, and there I am years later playing with the woman who actually recorded it. Bizarre and enchanting.

    When I was working with Wilko Johnson [2014] we were recording in a residential studio, trying to get the album done in five days. At breakfast one morning I told Wilko that one of my all time favourite gigs was the Dr. Feelgood Christmas gig at Hammersmith Palais in 1976. Wilko told me that was his last gig with the band.

    According to website Discogs.com you played on a Janet Jackson single. Is that right?

    It was a remix actually. I used to do some work with a DJ called C J Mackintosh, who along with Dave Dorrell, was really big on the House Music scene back in the late Eighties / early Nineties. I worked on a Janet Jackson / Luther Vandross duet as well. I don’t think I always got credited. We’d do the graveyard shift at places like SARM East Studios. Go in after everyone else had finished, work ‘til six in the morning, then take my son to school.

    Mick Talbot, Soho, London 2017

    I believe the only time you’ve ever released a record as ‘Mick Talbot’ is a great instrumental ‘That Guy Called Pumpkin’, from 1990. Any particular reason for that?

    I’m not a singer, I just love great songs and great arrangements. When I worked with Candi Staton it was a real joy. I love all those old Fame Studio recordings. You listen to the arrangements on those old soul records and you imagine they are going to be very complicated but they are actually really simple, just very clever.

    What are you up to now?

    I’ve been working on a new Roger Daltery solo album. He’s doing that and an autobiography though he told The Guardian newspaper neither of them might see the light of day.

    Hopefully there will be a new Wilko Johnson solo album soon. Jeremy Stacey has asked me to get involved in a new project he’s working on; he used to be drummer with Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds. It will be in a residential studio again, which I really enjoy as it’s a chance to get to know people.

    Our Favourite Shop and The Cost of Loving are available on Limited Edition coloured vinyl from 18 August.

    Confessions Of A Pop Group and Modernism: A New Decade are available from 15 September.

    For more details visit www. http://shop.virginemi.com/paulweller/The-Style-Council/

    Thanks to Mick Talbot, Johnny Chandler at Universal Music and Bar Italia.

  • Nick Heyward Discusses His New Beginning With Tootal

    Tootal Blog caught up with Nick Heyward as he releases Woodland Echoes, his first solo album for 19 years. We discussed his inspirations, hiking boots and his love of a good strong cup of tea.

    It’s been nineteen years since your 1998 album The Apple Bed. What have you been doing with yourself?

    My last record label deal had run its course. Personally I was in a state of bliss. I wasn’t thinking about ‘Nick Heyward the recording artist’ in any way.

    It has been a long time, so much has happened. My parents passed away, I got through that, or I thought I was handling it but the truth is I wasn’t. All of that is in this album, or at least the last ten years is.

    Then the internet appeared and my son, Oli, said, “Here’s a MySpace page for you. Have fun”. Oli was really into his sound engineering. He gave me a laptop, some speakers and a microphone. I sat in our small bedroom with a guitar and Forest Of Love was one of the first things that came out. Even though the songs came quite easily it didn’t feel finished. People would tell me that will do, that’s good enough to be a Nick Heyward album but it’s not about the painter, it’s the painting. I’ve spent the last ten years colouring it in. Then one day a little voice inside me said “That’s it; it’s finished”. The time was right.

    At the same time there’s sense that this album could have followed straight on from The Apple Bed. Have you been storing songs up?

    I had about three million ideas I’d sung into my phone. They would come at the most inconvenient time. Always when I was in the garage, never when I was sat at home. When I started working with my friend [engineer and producer] Ian Shaw I told him to pick a song to work on. So, Ian said “I like Mountaintop” and we began there. Towards the end of making this record Oli had a job in a studio, so I saved up – I had a choice between buying some property or paying for this album - and Chris Sheldon gave the album the proper mix it deserved.

    As befits an album called Woodland Echoes it seems there is a pastarol theme running through the songs.

    Nick Heyward, the 2017 model.

    I love nature but it wasn’t until one morning around the age of 37 that I really connected with it. I couldn’t believe how beautiful it was. This album was made by that same invisible force that makes nature.

    I’d be out for a walk, inspired by something I’d seen and my phone would help me create record sleeves. I’d take a picture and think, “That’s a 7 inch or that’s a 12 inch”. I’d put some type on it and think, “That would make a great record sleeve!” It was back to my commercial artist days.

    You give the impression you are a fan of classic Pop music.

    Well, I owe a big ‘thank you’ to the people that invented downloading and streaming because I can get my fix day or night, anytime, anywhere. When I listen to an album like [The Beatles] Revolver, it’s a template that works.

    You just have to let it come. I haven’t done a lot of consciously thinking about a song subject. I remember thinking can I make a pop song about nature? Things like my Dad passing are in there but it might be a small moment in a song like New Beginning, which is an instrumental. I notice it but others may not.

    There seems to be a strong affection for England that runs through your music.

    I’ve spent most of my life here; I love it. There’s something very comforting about the culture and surroundings. I love the sound of a village green, or a cricket match. It’s bound to come out in my songs somehow. I’ve spent some time elsewhere but this is my home.

    For the first time since I Love You Avenue (1988) you have an album available on vinyl. Are you pleased about that?

    When I made the record I was thinking “Album; Side One, Side Two; Twelve Songs”. I’m glad people are buying vinyl again. I’m buying vinyl again and I don’t even have a record player! When the recording was being mastered I said, “Please make this sound like a proper album”. Mindful it was made in a small bedroom with one microphone and two small speakers that’s a tall order.

    If your favourite albums were recorded by [Atlantic Records legend] Arif Mardin, with amazing musicians, in amazing studios how do you make it sound like that? So, that’s what I was aspiring to.

    Where does your record label name Gladsome Hawk come from? 

    Woodland Echoes (Gladsome Hawk Records, 2017)

    Sara, my lovely fiancée, was going thrifting in America. She’s from Minnesota but her heritage is Denmark and Finland. We decided to set up an Instagram page to show off all these finds and we decided to call it Gladsome Hawk. Sara used to have a record label – ‘The Indie Goddess’ I call her. Like me, she’s a lover of all things music. The record companies decided to pass on my new album, we decided to put it out on our own label and needed a name. So… ‘Gladsome Hawk’. It’s very “us”.

     

     

    You recently spent time filming a holiday programme for TV. Tell us more!

    I spent two weeks in a camper van with Melvyn Hayes and Don Warrington. I’d look at Melvyn and think, “I used to watch you in It Ain’t Half Hot, Mum”! It was bonkers! I don’t know what it’s going to look like. I’d wake up every morning and make Melvyn tea and Bran Flakes. He called me Sunshine! He would talk about Chelsea and my Dad was a Chelsea supporter, so I’d close my eyes and it would take me back.

    I’d talk to Don about Rising Damp and Hamlet. I had to ask the actors for advice. The director would say “Can we do that again?” and I’d think, “I’m a musician! How am I supposed to do it again?!”

    It’s a long time since your ‘cricket jumper round the shoulders’ look. How would you describe your style these days?

    I’ve really got into outdoor gear, particularly since the camping programme. I’d be looking at all the old guys at these National Trust sites and thinking, “I really like his boots” or “I really like his backpack”. You go to a camping shop and you never look back. I had to do a TV interview with Sara Cox recently but I was so comfortable in my camping gear I thought I’d leave it on.

    If the occasion calls for it I’ll wear a tuxedo but… you know, horses for courses. Outdoor wear is definitely the current favourite.

    Nick Heyward, Reading, 2012.

    Do you remember the first time you were allowed to buy your own clothes?

    When I was a commercial artist my first pay cheque was £15. I saved up and bought some “trainer-ey” shoes; they were like white space shoes. They were £99, a lot of money but I had expensive tastes. Then I saw a guy who had similar shoes but with leather soles. Mine were rubber. I was so upset. I told myself I was never going to be in that situation again.

     

    Yours oldest records are 35 years old. Are you surprised they have endured and that there is still so much fondness for them?

    Not really because I know how meaningful these songs are to me. I totally understand; I totally get it. If I met a musician whose work I loved, I’d be the same. If these new songs become old songs and get invested with meaning I’ll understand it. There’s so many fond, nostalgic memories attached to those songs for me. Anyway, I don’t think of them as old songs, they are songs that happened in my lifetime. Everything can’t happen at once and they happened first.

    You once said your dream was to reunite all six members of Haircut 100 at Chalk Farm Roundhouse. How close is that to coming to fruition?

    Nick Heyward, Japan, 1984 [Official Fan Club Photo]
    It’s all about trying to get six people to want the same thing at the same time. For me it’s easy; “Where’s the gig? I’m there!” I loved what we had but there’s a reason some bands – Duran Duran or U2, for example – stay together and others don’t. If someone asked you “Do you want to meet up with your ex-wife?” you might like to catch up for an afternoon but not spend the next three months or a year with them.

    It seems almost impossible. We’ve all had a go at it. We’ve managed four of us. It requires everyone to give up their jobs. The last time it happened was for VH1 TV. I even asked the guy from the TV company, “Can you manage us?”

    Your website shop has ‘Nick Heyward Tea’. Discuss.

    I like a good strong brew like Yorkshire Tea but someone’s already used that name. My manager said, “You should sell tea, it is so you!”

    Maybe one day I’ll have my own shop – 'Tea & Vinyl'.

     

    Woodland Echoes is available now - including Deluxe formats and vinyl – from www.NickHeyward.com

    With thanks to Nick Heyward and Joe Stopps.

  • Tootal Gets A Lesson In Jazz From Trio Manouche

    We caught up with Ducato and Simon from “Gypsy Jazz” outfit Trio Manouche, to learn all about the roots of this fascinating music, and how the look is just as important as the sound.

    Tell us a little about Trio Manouche.

    Simon: My background is Blues and Classical but as a songwriter and guitarist I became fascinated by the Jazz Manouche style, made popular by Django Reinhardt in the Thirties. I was really smitten by his talent and his technique. Luckily I met Ducato, or “The Professor”, a real authority on this style of music. He became my mentor and introduced me to a wealth of Manouche tradition and style.

    Ducato: When I met Simon the trio already existed though musically I would say they were more Blues influenced, but we searched for a style that plays to all of our strengths. We forged a unique musical identity, though in all honesty Django was always the main guy. For us he is the Elvis Presley or Bob Marley of Jazz and Swing.

    We write originals together, we interpret the standards, and sometimes we might bring some guest musicians in – whatever it takes to keep this real music alive.

    Trio Manouche in the swing.

    So what is 'Manouche'?

    Ducato: Manouche is a term for Romani people in France, who trace their family roots back to Germany, Italy or – like Django – Belgium. You might use it as a form of address, “Hey, Manouche!” Musically it was a marriage of the Gypsy guitar style and Swing Jazz popular in Paris between the wars.

    Django was a unique guitar player, he had a dream. When he walked into a basement club and heard the violinist Stéphane Grappelli, the dream became a reality.

    And how do you keep this music alive?

    Ducato: As a trio we have a solid musical identity and because we are so comfortable with it we can go on diversions, add some variety. Sometimes it’s just for fun and other times it introduces a brand new influence. When we played in Cannes the film festival was on so we played Gypsy Jazz arrangements of James Bond themes.

    Simon: We keep it intimate so you can hear the detail but we’ve added clarinet, or drums where required. Not many Gypsy Jazz outfits have singers but we recently worked with the wonderful Tina May. We’re not trying to make a pure artistic statement. People tell us “I don’t like Jazz but I like what you do!”

    Trio Manouche putting on the style.

    You have a strong image. How would you describe your style?

    Simon: Well, we take pride in our image, and we want to do justice to the look as well as the music. It’s a little bit different; it is classy but not contrived. I think our image says we care about what we do.

     

    Ducato: And it’s practical. If the occasion calls for a suit, a cravat, no problem as long as we can play and enjoy ourselves. But, yes, our clothes make a statement about us.

    What’s next for Trio Manouche?

    Simon: We’ve just finished a video and we have plans for some exciting new collaborations, but ultimately we want to spread the Manouche style to a much bigger audience.

    And here is that new video.

    Trio Manouche are playing: 12/8 - Green Note, London; 21/8 - 606 Club, London; 26/8 - Rye Jazz Festival, Rye, East Sussex; 24/9 - Le Quecumbar, London

    You can find out more about Trio Manouche at www.triomanouche.co.uk

    With thanks to Simon Harris, Ducato Piortrowski and Live Music International.

  • Mod UK: Photographer Owen Harvey Talks To Tootal At The Launch Of His New Exhibition

    At the Subculture Archive in Carnaby Street, London, we caught up with photographer Owen Harvey. With the paint barely dry on the gallery walls, and the last black and white print only just hung we adjourned to a nearby café for tea.

    Tell us a bit about yourself.

    MOD U.K. © Owen Harvey 2017

    I’m 27 years old, I grew up in Watford, Hertfordshire, and I’ve been taking photographs for about 7 years now.

    How did you become a photographer?

    I had previously been playing in a rock band, did a few tours, played some festivals. It had got to a point where I wanted to do something different. I decided to go to college in part to avoid a routine “9 to 5” job. Photography seemed like a good option and though I didn’t know much about it I met some photographers who got me really excited. I knew I was hooked when my passion for it grew equal to my love of music.

    You previously exhibited at the Punk London Group Show, had a solo show with your photos of Skinheads & Suedeheads, now Mod. Why are Youth Cultures such an attractive subject for you?

    I get quite obsessive about things. As a kid I would play guitar for 6 or 7 hours a day but it wasn’t enough just to learn the tunes, I wanted to know as much as possible about the groups that made them.  That lead me to delve deeper into things like politics and class, and to think about how these movements fitted in. These people have an energy, be it the clothes or the music, and I’m an excessive person so I appreciate that.  Plus I’m just interested in people.  I’m a nosey person.  Photography is a passport into other people’s lives.

    MOD U.K. © Owen Harvey 2017

    For this Mod UK show you chose to work entirely in Black & White.  What is the reason for that?

    This has been a long-term project, five years so far and it might go on five more.  It’s got a special place in my heart. I’ve got very close to some of the subjects and they invest so much time and effort into their style.  They understand the heritage, the roots in Fifties Jazz and Italian styling.  I wanted these images to be timeless.

    Have you reached any conclusions as to why people align themselves with Youth Cultures?

    In the case of Mod I think it is looking like you own the world when your bank balance doesn’t necessarily reflect it.  Understanding the value and the tradition of what you have.

    Why do you think the Mod style in particular has endured?

    Some of the young people I photograph now don’t consider themselves part of a revival.  They spend so much time searching for the exact cloth or the exact haircut but they feel the whole point of Modernism is to adapt to the here and now.  Plus the music, the nights, the people – modern fashion takes regularly cues from it.  Mod is a fully formed style rather than just a passing fashion and that’s why it stands the test of time.

     

    What’s next for you?

    MOD U.K. © Owen Harvey 2017

    I’ve just finished photographing the Low Riders in America.  It’s a subculture with big Mexican / Latino heritage so it seems very relevant at this time.

    Owen Harvey: Mod UK is at The Subculture Archives, 3 Carnaby Street, London W1F 9QG, and runs until Thursday September 3rd.

    If you can’t make it there you can find more of Owen’s work at www.owen-harvey.com

  • Tootal Talks Manchester With Cherry Red Records

    At Tootal, we’re rather fond of Manchester – after all, we were “born” there in 1799. So when we learnt of the new ‘Manchester North of England’ 7-CD box set from Cherry Red Records, we were keen to learn more. We caught up with John Reed, the curator / compiler of this epic work, to ask what makes the city’s music scene so special.

    How did this project come about?

    When I worked for Record Collector magazine, way back in 1990, Inspiral Carpets were the first band I ever interviewed. In early 2014, double the age I had been at that first meeting, I was in a cramped side room of a small studio in Chorlton, watching that same band record a new album for Cherry Red Records. Conversation turned to a 1988 cassette entitled Manchester North of England. It featured local acts like James, Johnny Dangerously and Jean Go Solo. It had been put together by the writer / film maker Jon Ronson, then working for listings magazine City Life. What we found interesting was that many of the featured acts went onto make a career of it. Plus the front cover of a T-shirt wearing Morrissey lookalike was a statement in itself.

    Why did you decide to go with that same title?

    That cassette was the germ of the idea. There is no better way to describe it than this title. Mancs are plain speaking, no nonsense. They like stuff unadorned. It worked. Plus the photo sums up ‘80s Manchester. We managed to track down the photographer A.J. Wilkinson and everything just fell into place.

    Photo: A.J. Wilkinson.

    With 146 songs, each by a different artists, was it a long time in the planning stage?

    I started compiling the tracks after that chat with the Inspirals in 2014. I had come up with the idea ‘From Buzzcocks To Brit Pop’ and I knew it had to start with something related to Buzzcocks’ Spiral Scratch EP and finish with Oasis’ first-ever vinyl outing, ‘Columbia’. I mapped out the running order across 6 CDs but it ended up taking 7 to complete the journey, with help from suggestions from those at Manchester District Music Archive. I was going to stop circa 1990 and ‘Madchester’ but it would miss the fallout from that scene and, of course, Oasis.

    Why did you decide on 1977 as ‘Year Zero’?

    There had been big bands from Manchester before – The Hollies, Sad Café, 10cc – but they weren’t street level, whereas punk was very much an inner city thing, even if the bands were largely from outlying districts. Earlier trends like Pub Rock were diluted, without focus. None of it was synonymous with the city.

    With no disrespect to the ‘60s bands, you don’t really equate them with a Manchester scene (other than the Twisted Wheel). People think of Mersey Beat, Brum Beat, the London scene obviously. Pre-punk, there was a lack of iconic identity. When Punk came along, it was obvious something was brewing. The Sex Pistols played Manchester four times in 1976 but there was already a scene of sorts, like-minded people waiting for inspiration.

    The Electric Circus hosted the Sex Pistols 'Anarchy Tour' in December 1976.

    What makes Manchester such a creative hot bed?

    Mancunians have a different way of looking at the world, as Mark Radcliffe describes it in his (box set) introduction. There was a self-belief, the knowledge that no-one was going to do it for you. Catalysts like Tony Wilson and Richard Boon preached “a doctrine of self sufficiency”.

    A lot of the featured artists weren’t originally from Manchester but attracted by the creative atmosphere, they came and stayed. And no doubt The Hacienda was a hub but the Factory Club, the Electric Circus, the International, the Band On The Wall, these venues also mattered and were all in reasonable proximity of each other. I don’t think you could do that in London unless they were all packed into Hoxton. There was an opportunity to make this happen without the need to move to London.

    Why don’t we associate a particular fashion with this music?

    People didn’t have the money; it was done on the cheap. Manchester developed an ‘80s Indie look out of necessity, not because it was an art statement.

    There was arguably a Manchester look, though; the Joy Division ‘big overcoat’ was a necessity, born from budget as much as style statement. And the ‘baggy’ fashion broke out beyond the region. It fitted with the sense of a new psychedelia that was happening. Fashion was and remains intrinsic to individuals like Johnny Marr or Ian Brown, who always seemed in tune with certain fashions, though maybe not the most obvious ones. If you look at the early Stone Roses shots, they are wearing Desert Boots, narrow jeans, Fred Perry’s – Ian and Mani had been Scooter Boys.

    Oasis at Manchester City's Maine Road stadium, April 1996. Photo: Jill Furmanovsky

    Could you see this happening again?

    There is a contrast between instant recognition now and past eras of being allowed time to develop in isolation. It would be difficult to imagine local scenes happening again in the same way but then – in terms of what’s covered on Manchester North of England, we’re not talking about just one scene, of course. Essentially, these Mancunians defined themselves as not being from London – for today’s bands, now that everyone communicates via the internet, it’s arguable it doesn’t even matter where you’re based?

    What’s next for you and Cherry Red Records?

    I’d like to think we’ve built a reputation for lavish, well-curated box sets. Currently, we’re working on a Post Punk collection covering the era 1977-1981 and a similar set devoted to the independent music out of Liverpool. People are hungry for learning about musical themes/eras from the past and the stories associated with them. Current popular music doesn’t have the intrigue or cultural depth – or if it does, younger people aren’t buying into it. If people are smitten, if they have been touched by music, then it matters. Brit Pop was probably the last time it connected across the generations.

    Manchester North Of England: A Story Of Independent Music, Greater Manchester 1977-1993 is available to order from www.cherryred.co.uk

    With thanks to John Reed and the team at Cherry Red Records.

  • Tootal Takes Tea and Biscuits* With Adaptor Clothing

    We sat down with Paul, Phil and Graham at Adaptor Clothing in Hertford. Amongst their vast range of Mod, Skinhead, Rudeboy and Scooterist inspired clothing we swapped notes about who was buying what for whom, when and how.

    So who is the Adaptor Clothing customer?

    Predominantly male, around 30 to 55, with an interest in all things sartorial. They respect style and have good taste in music. A lot of them would have been Mods in their younger days. They’ve taken their love of that style and made it relevant to their age.

    And where do Adaptor customers come from?

    Literally all over the world. I’d call a lot of them Anglophiles. They love and respect the traditional British look, wanting to appear smart and sophisticated. They are equal measures cool and rebellious.

    Paul at Adaptor Clothing, Hertford

    What are Adaptor customers looking for?

    Most are buying for themselves. We get a lot of men coming to pick out a wedding suit, looking for inspiration, the accessories that turn their outfit into something very special. We see a steady stream of birthday present buyers and a lot of gift shoppers around Father’s Day and Christmas. You can’t go far wrong with a Tootal scarf as a gift. If the pattern doesn’t go with one of your jackets it’s bound to go with another!

    Are most of your customers shopping online?

    These days it’s an 80 / 20 split. Some of our customers will research online before making a visit to the shop. Others will have their instore experience first and having found a style and size that works for them their repeat shop will be via the Adaptor website.

    What the best dressed tables are wearing.

    So what came the first? The site or the shop?

    The shop started as a showroom, somewhere we could set up all our ranges to take some photos for the site. When we’d done it, we thought “this looks great, why not try it as a shop?” It’s one of the best things we’ve done, the site and the store support and drive each other, and they create customer confidence.

    Noticed any changes or trends recently?

    There are some unusual things that we took a punt on that have surprised us. And there’s a noticeable shift to smart casual sportswear again. The classic, timeless lines will never go away – things like lightweight knitwear, crew neck t-shirts, polo shirts.

    There's going to be some happy Adaptor customers.

    What’s the impact if this style crosses over to the High Street?

    It’s actually good for us. Our existing customers will want to put their spin on it, see how they can wear it a bit differently. Plus we attract new customers who like the style but don’t want to look the same as everyone on the High Street.

     

    You can find Tootal Scarves – and lots to wear them with - at www.adaptorclothing.com

    (*Shortbread Chocolate Chip, if you were wondering)

  • Tootal Scarves: A Brief History

    Nowadays it is common for any silk scarf, particularly the classic Paisley design, to be referred to as “a Tootal” but not all scarves are created equal. Not all scarves have over 200 years of British heritage, a fact of which we remain very proud.

    We trace our roots to 1799 and Robert Gardner, a textile merchant and no doubt the most stylish man in Manchester. With the arrival of steam power and canals Manchester – or “Cottonopolis” as it was nicknamed in the 19th Century – thrived as a centre of the textile industry.

    Roll forward to 1842 and Edward Tootal, “a merchant in silks and fancy dress materials” joined the rapidly expanding business. Edward proved so successful that in 1847 the company was renamed Edward Tootal & Co. (In fact Edward was SO successful that the London & North Western Railway named a steam locomotive after him). On his retirement in 1856 the business passed to his nephew, Henry Tootal Broadhurst, and Henry Lee, the latter originally an apprentice to Robert Gardner.

    No history of Britain’s textile industry is complete without mention of 1862 when workers at Lancashire cotton mills refused to handle raw cotton picked by US slaves, despite the impact on their own welfare. The following year President Lincoln would write to “the working men of Manchester” praising their “sublime Christian heroism which has not been surpassed in any age or in any country”.

    By the end of the 19th century Tootal had three large textile mills at Newton Heath in Manchester, Black Lane in Radcliffe and Daubhill in Bolton. A thriving business, with beautiful cloth and principled people was joined by beautiful architecture when in 1892 Tootal opened a large new brick-clad warehouse and office block, in Oxford Street, Manchester. In 2017 it was announced that the Mayor of Greater Manchester - obviously a man of good taste - would move his offices to this magnificent Grade II* listed building, now known as Churchgate House.

    At the outbreak of World War I, Edward Tootal Broadhurst, the company chairman, joined the committee organising the Manchester Pal battalions. Tootal Broadhurst Lee & Co offered to keep jobs open to any of their workers who volunteered.

    Steaming ahead to 1918 and Sir Edward was knighted for his contribution to the war effort. (Did we mention that Sir Edward also had a locomotive named after him? We had our own train set!) By way of thanks for local people’s efforts during the war Sir Edward donated 80 acres of land at Broadhurst Park, Moston to Manchester Corporation. The area now includes the home ground of FC United of Manchester, who play in the National League North.

    Tootal were on a worldwide mission to dress the dapper and the dandy, and by 1939 we had offices in Belfast, Birmingham, Leeds, London and Glasgow and overseas in Argentina, Australia, Canada, France, and New Zealand. In 1952 a new Tootal factory opened in Devonport, Tasmania and by 1973 Tootal Ltd was reported to be the 9th largest cotton firm in the world, 5th largest in the UK, with 25,000 employees worldwide.

    Today we operate from a slightly more modest facility in Derbyshire, still making our famous scarves and accessories from 100% silk, and still applying the standards and skills learnt over the last 200 years.

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