A stone’s throw away from the Savoir flagship showroom in London is the Dashing Tweeds shop. With an extensive array of colourful modern tweeds and a collection of the finest tailoring, it’s a space that celebrates heritage and modernity. With craft and innovation at the heart, Dashing Tweeds were the perfect partner to discover the fine art of tailored sleep.
We went on a journey with Guy Hills, Dashing Tweeds founder, to create a new collaborative design. Combining tweed, a traditional fabric synonymous with the British gentleman, and handcrafted sleep to create the new TWEED bed.
Like many ideas which give birth to a brand, Dashing Tweeds was conceived after a long gestation period. After university I followed my dream and started working as a freelance photographer. Based in London, I spent my time cycling around town to magazines, model agencies and clients. I enjoyed wearing distinctively tailored clothes on my bike especially fashionable tweeds by designers like Vivienne Westwood or interesting vintage pieces. Always interested in clothing, especially the form and function aspect of menswear, I was continually keeping my eye out for ideal pieces. A magazine commission sent me to shoot portraits on Savile Row and this gave me a chance to visit tailors I had previously been far too daunted to meet.
By chance, I bumped into a friend who needed a photographer for a vast marketing project with Savile Row. I ended up working almost exclusively with the tailors for over three years. Recording the archives as well as capturing the current tailoring work of the major Savile Row houses was a huge eye opener. I understood the extensive choice of fabrics and designs gentleman used to have. Fascinated by the colourful tweeds in the old ledgers, they were simply so much more interesting than anything currently available. I became so keen on finding modern versions of these quality fabrics that when I met weaver Kirsty McDougall at her degree show in the Royal College of Art. I leapt at the chance of working with her on new designs that I wanted to create. After the first successful design we created together I wanted to develop more and so suggested we set up our weave-based brand Dashing Tweeds.
We wanted to create modern tweeds that have all the quality of the finest British fabrics but are relevant to life today. Tweed is synonymous with having a good time, it’s the traditional leisure, sportswear of the British gentleman and we wanted to update it. One of the key ideas of Dashing Tweeds is to combine heritage quality with the best of modernity. This is summed up particularly well in our Raver designs. We combine technical retro reflective yarn with the finest quality Merino wool. The resulting tweed has an almost ethereal reflective character that works so well at night. It really defines what we are all about and is the perfect choice of fabric to feature on a Savoir bed.
The more I have researched wool the more I realise just what at an incredible material it really is. At university I studied biology and have always been fascinated with the natural world. As we learn more about the devastating effects of plastic pollution globally, it just seems so obvious that we are much better off living with natural, sustainable non-polluting materials. My love of wool is not just that it is probably one of the most energy efficient fibres to farm but that it also produces the most ideal cloth. Wool tailors fabulously, dries faster than cotton, wicks away moisture, absorbs odours and regulates your temperature. There are also numerous health benefits, it’s been proven that being close to naturally hypoallergenic wool makes you calm and lowers your heart rate. So there really is no downside to wool.
From my personal point of view a hand tailored British suit is the zenith of craftsmanship. The fact that the suit, the national dress of the English has become the most widespread fashion item in the world says it all. Just looking at the hand sewn button holes of my suits fills me with pleasure, and I delight in the perfection of a craft that has evolved over hundreds of years. Few people appreciate the work that goes on inside a tailored suit. The skilled hands of tailors shape a mannequin filled with horsehair to create the perfect canvas beneath the cloth, with the dimensions reflecting the physique of the client. I believe that the overall effect of easy elegance belies the incredible work behind the properly made suit.
Interestingly, the one thing I’ve found most surprising when working with weavers, tailors and craftsmen of the highest order is their keenness to continue learning and to be happy to try new things. Makers who have learnt just one way of creating something are often scared to try something new. But when you meet craftsmen at the top of their trade they seem happy to experiment and innovate. Once Dashing Tweeds was up and running, I started working with a few innovative students from St. Martins and The London College of Fashion. They had new ideas for tailored cuts using our cloth, but not necessarily the experience to execute their ideas. One particularly skilful tailor, Alan Bennett at Davies & Son was extraordinarily helpful with his many years of talent, together we created some incredible new designs. I do feel that it’s time to once again re-join bespeaking customers with bespoke tailors. It is up to customers to come up with new ideas of things they need and commission craftsmen to innovate.
I cannot express how much a good night’s sleep means to me. I am one of those people who really needs at least eight hours of sleep to be able to function. I’ve been lucky enough to be able to shape my personal effects as I wish and for me this extends to every aspect of my life, most importantly to ensuring my night is as good as my day.
We are always interested in new projects and have several on the go at any one time. Right now, I’m excited to be working with a sheep farmer in Lancaster and his single flock of Swaledale and Bluefaced Leicester sheep for a sustainable and incredibly modern clothing collection. On the tech side, I’ve been reading about the incredible physical properties of graphene and wondering how I can get hold of some to experiment weaving in with a matrix of wearable wool. I believe that no matter what new technologies are invented when it comes to clothing there will always be a place for tweeds and preferable Dashing ones.
I just can’t function without a good night’s sleep. For me a decent bed is the most valuable item of furniture possible.
To uncover all of Savoir’s collaborative beds designs visit the design page.