The early part of January is a very dangerous time for making rash decisions which often involve commitments that just can’t be kept to. Last week I fell head first into this trap when I entered the newly organised York Marathon. I had just watched a news feature about the event, which had informed me that it was being run in the name of Jane Tomlinson who probably has inspired me in my lifetime more than anyone else. So I had to get involved and anyway York is pretty flat so why worry. Within three days of going live the event was sold out with over 5000 runners and at this point I pinched myself and started considering my actual circumstances. Being 50 isn’t that big a deal these days, but never having been a runner during these years is a little more concerning. Add the dodgy knee, the stroke and my current weight and the case was there to quietly cancel my application and let someone else take my place. The thing is that I like to do things that I am not supposed to do and this is definitely one of those.

My weight as of 13th January stands at 14 stones and 13lbs. I probably need to shell the best part of 3 stones to have a chance. More importantly I need to learn how to run, how to breathe and also what to wear. A training schedule will be required and if possible some running company. Over the next few months I intend to report on my progress via this blog and hopefully when anyone sees what position I am starting from it may encourage a contribution to my chosen charity (TBA) or even to do an equally silly challenge yourself. If nothing else I hope to keep it entertaining.

 

Through our highly regarded Ratcatcher brand, we have been kitting out Keepers and shooters with their tweeds for many years. Time and again the question has been asked if we made high performance garments to sit alongside the tweeds and up until now the answer was no. Tweed is a niche that can be made in small quantities to exclusive designs and as a medium size company we are able to undertake this ourselves. Working with high performance fabrics such as GORE-TEX is a different league and requires huge investment in product ranges and volumes in order that you can be approved to use such fabrics. With this in mind we are delighted to be offering the complete range of products from Harkila nd Seeland of Denmark. Both brands are well respected in the shooting and hunting world and have the size and expertise to continually move their product forward to embrace all that becomes new in technology. They have a superb product range that not only covers all you could need in hunt clothes, but world class footwear and a huge list of accessories. Over the next few months we will be building up these new ranges on our web site and you can also view and buy them from our shop in Baildon West Yorkshire. From March 2013 our show unit will start its journey around the best country shows in the UK and the full collection will be available there too.

Market leading quality from Harkila of Denmark

Having spent 30 years in the Yorkshire wool textile industry it is a real pleasure to design new tweeds and have them manufactured in the North of England. Over the last 6 months we have created some fabulous new designs which have been made into classic items for the country ladies wardrobe. To compliment our existing styles we have just created a new ladies shooting set which includes breeks, culottes and a shooting gillet. Whilst this new range has only been made in one tweed we offer the service of making these garments in any of our running tweeds as specials to order. This year has seen a huge increase in the number of private shoots ordering our mens tweed suits and it was fitting to build a range to provide the same quality,style and value for the lady shooter.

 

The high street has made life really difficult over the past few years when it comes to sizing. Most large brands will undersize garments in a bid to make customers feel better about themselves which then causes upset and disappointment when trying on garments that are sized more accurately. Obviously style is difficult to be precise with, but there are certain measurements which would benefit the customer if there was complete uniformity across all brands.

At Charles Wall we attempt to go by the ruler as closely as possible but accept that standard sizes will not fit everyone. As such we keep a large stock of trousers with an unfinished bottom in order to hem to inside leg measurements from 36″ downwards. And in order not to discriminate against even longer legs, we keep fabric available to allow us too fulfill all leg lengths and all waist sizes to order. To date our largest waist made was 56″ and the smallest 26″ for a couple of young lads whose father decided they were old enough to enjoy wearing their first Ratcatcher Moleskin trousers.

Over the last 2 years we have seen the volume of special make orders increase substantially which is probably as a result of larger brands refusing to hold the vast stock sizes of years gone by. You can understand what a financial headache this must be but equally how frustrating for anyone outside of the “standard sizes”

We have a small stock of 2013 calenders available at £15 +p&p. All monies go to GWT for the wide variety of work that they carry out. Just ring us on 01274 585272 or contact the GWT on 01677 470180. Over the next two months we will be talking to many of our customers who are employed as Keepers to learn more about what they really need from the clothing they buy for the job. Watch out for our full report in January 2013.

British tweed jacket from Charles Wall

Designing a new tweed is challenging but very satisfying, especially when the new fabric is presented back in the form of a well tailored shooting suit. For us the designing part is now over and we have come up with two new designs to add to the two we were already running. Our most popular suit has been Colour 7 as shown below closely followed by our new green tweed. As the suits are light and dark green it was felt that an influence of brown would spread the range well.

British tweed shooting jacket

Of the two new designs, the first is a wide herringbone with a subtle mix of earthy heather shades. In the true tradition of what tweeds were designed for, this fabric will hide itself on many a moor. Our second tweed takes the same overall shade but has an elegant check woven within it.

All four shooting suits will be stocked from 38 to 52 in short regular and long sizes in the form of jackets, waistcoats, shooting vests and breeks. We will be holding fabric to make plus 4’s, field coats, caps, full length trousers and other items. In 2012 we have been able to fit at least 95% of our customers from our stock selection without having to do expensive special measures.

We think our offer is unique in that we have designed it all ourselves, woven it in England from genuine British wool and then sold it on for the garments to go back to the fields that the wool came from! On a commercial note we are offering these very high quality products at a fraction of the cost of made to measure and with an almost immediate delivery!

Our two new suits will be available from April 2013 although we should have samples available to view from December this year.

Safe shooting

Jon Wall

 

We are delighted to be opening our first retail store on the 29th October 2012. Whilst this is only a factory shop and has no high street presence, we feel it is perfectly situated on the busy A650 between Bradford and Leeds/ Ilkley to be a convenient stop off for lovers of quality country clothing. The shop will be open three days a week being Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10am to 6pm. As the warehouse is manned all week for internet deliveries, we will also accept visits on the other days by appointment. We would recommend the latter for anyone looking for a new Shooting suit or a made to measure garment where undivided attention is required.

To give the shop the feel of a country show, we have erected our show Marquee which works perfectly to separate the stock room and office from the retail unit. The new shop address is as follows-

Unit 7
Tong Park Industrial Estate,
Otley Rd,
Baildon,
BD17 7QD

Appointments can be made by ringing 01274 585272

As well as all our usual quality products we also have a hugely discounted sale rail where we are selling off discontinued styles and shades. We hope to see you soon.

Best regards,

Jon Wall

After a cold and wet Thursday, the weather took a welcome turn and provided great conditions for both horses and visitors. We were informed by the organisers that a crowd in excess of 100,000 were present for Saturdays cross country which really was a credit to the organisation of the event.

Our own show unit enjoyed steady customer traffic and we were indebted to my daughters, Katherine and Jennifer for turning out and helping with the selling and modelling of our ladies jackets.

welcome help from the family

Our best sellers included our new full length skirt cut on the bias, which will be going on line when new stock arrives shortly.

After a couple of the worst months on record the sun has finally begun to shine on the British Isles. Whilst tweeds were invented to blend in with the relevant hillside and heather, it is amazing how bright sunshine brings out the rich mix of colour found in the twist of the yarns. Our country garments often have over 20 colours blended and spun to create beautiful country fabrics, rich in quality and tradition. As a fabric designer there is nothing more rewarding than creating a new tweed that can sit comfortably on the shooting fields of  Britain or turn heads on Saville Row.

As we come to the end of July our mobile business heads north of the border to show our countrywear at the Border Union show in Kelso, before pushing into the Highlands for the Moy Field Sports show near Inverness. We finish our Scottish adventure at the Turriff show near to Aberdeen. Avon So Soft, is a must for Moy, where the midges take a free breakfast and evening meal at our expense if not well covered.

Highlights from June and July involved any completed trading day! Our thoughts go out to traders, organisers and of course all of you who made plans to travel to events only to find them cancelled. We did have a sunny weekend in mid July near Thetford where we were invited to an army charity open day which involved the Household Cavalry doing their famous musical ride. We had seen it briefly at the Royal Norfolk but this time it was a real ringside seat. What a treat to the eyes and a real “hairs on the back of the neck” moment. They really do make you proud to be British.

See you in Scotland, and best wishes to all our Olympians for the next three weeks.

Jon Wall

The sun was just rising as our Iveco box van pulled out of its Bradford compound at 5.30am this morning the 10th May. Having just got over the disappointment of Badminton being cancelled last week for the mother of all floods, it was a relief to be back on the road in the direction of Chatsworth Horse Trials. We had heard that several late entries had been taken from riders desperate for action having also suffered with the weather the previous week, and this had led us to believe that the dales of Derbyshire would be the only destination for all serious horse enthusiasts and country folk. The journey took less than two hours and conversation in the cab had been a heated argument over the outcome of last nights Apprentice, and on a more serious note whether we would have enough stock to satisfy the hoards of customers who had already made provisions for serious country tweed retail therapy.

“Cancelled” said the man on the gate. “What” I replied, knowing exactly what he had said but somehow hoping he was perhaps just having a bit of a joke with me! ” I really am so sorry but the decision was taken only 30 minutes ago” was the saddened reply from the Chatsworth employee. Two quiet hours later our Iveco limped gingerly back into its Bradford compound.

Next week we travel to Devon and look forward to seeing anyone who tried to find us at either Badminton or Chatsworth!

In fairness after the wettest April on record we have done pretty well to get through so many shows.  We started in April at Thame near Oxford and finished the month in Norwich at the East Anglian game fair where we had to be towed off the site having sunk at least six inches into the sodden ground. The visitors really deserved the medals, especially on the Sunday when the site turned into something of a swamp and the rain never really stopped, until that was after the show finished. Infact as the last few folk shiverred their way back to warmer and cleaner places, the sun suddenly appeared to give us a chance to clean our Marquees and pack them away in a slightly better state.

Throughout all of our weather woes we have been DELIGHTED with the reaction to our quality products from new and old customers. There seems to be a general trend to move back to a better quality product, especially where in our case we are manufacturing in the UK. Value for money is a combination of great quality at a fair price rather than just “Cheap” and the Ratcatcher brand is delivering this quality in an expanding range of products and designs.

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