In recent months we have tried to shine the spotlight on the members of society that we have huge respect for, the independent store owners. Britain used to be described as 'a nation of shopkeepers'. Whether it was the eighteenth century economist Adam Smith or Napoleon who described this group of islands as such matters very little, what does matter is that this nation has lost its retail heart. Over the years the retail landscape has changed from busy, bustling stores to empty, with boarded up shop fronts being the norm. That said, there are a few individuals leading the way throughout the country who suggest that we could once again be crowned a nation of menswear shopkeepers. Up until now our A Visit to series has concentrated the spotlight on London stores but all that changes after a trip to Newcastle. Last week, just as the snow began to fall on the northern half of the country, this southern fairy made its way to unchartered (cold) territory. The purpose of the trip was to explore Nigel Cabourn's studio (an amazing experience but more on that later this week) but I could not resist a quick nosy around the city's flagship menswear store, End.
End was born in 2005. Located on High Bridge, the store brings the best brands from around to world to the city. The two floor space is relaxed, informal and its staff have no attitude. The shopping experience is a pleasant and productive one. However, I'd like to focus your attention on their second store. In the Autumn of last year, End unveiled their sophomore concept with 'End hunting Co.' Inspired, as the name indicates, by hunting and outdoor pursuits, the hunting lodge spaces draws on the opulence and luxury of many twentieth Century gentleman’s clubs, with wooden clad walls and ornate antiques and a fusion with rustic Americana influences. The space makes perfect sense. As the snow fell heavily outside there was much protective temptation inside. The astute buying of the founders, John and Christiaan, still only in their late 20s, is hugely impressive. Highlights includes Bleu de Paname's denim, Our Legacy's heavyweight shirting, Heritage Research's Modified Longline Parka and Visvim's Luminaria backpack. Now, the best way to get a feel of the place is to explore it so rather than rabbit on about the stock, lets show you...
The mannequin stands confidently in front of the Levis Vintage rail and wears Norse Projects, Kitsune and Visvim.
Started in 1924 Calabrese is produced and designed today by the great-grandchildren of founder Eugenio, to the same exacting standards in their small Neapolitan factory. The Cenito zip wallet sits in front of Comme des Garcons Play shirts and accessories.
Anderson belts sit in front of Calabrese bags. Anderson's are regarded as one of the best belt makers in the World. The Italian company have been emulating Parma's leather artisans since 1966, creating belts that are as durable and good looking as any you will find.
This heavyweight hunting inspired overshirt from Our Legacy embodies the store perfectly. Made from 100% virgin wool, with a classic indigo flannel style check, the shirt is perfect for keeping out the cold winter winds.
Our Legacy have become synonymous with quality shirting, and for good reason, these button down check shirts are prime examples.
Long sleeve button down shirt from Norse Projects. The Scandinavian brand love to reference heritage design and the canvas work shirt is one of the most enduring of silhouettes around, given some typically modern details. Wonderful basic.
Founded in Germany over forty years ago, Burlington are the pioneers of the Argyle patterned sock. They make the ideal Christmas gift for any male family member.
Norse Projects Husavik scarf. 100% wool scarf from the Danish label. Made in Italy, perfect for the cold north. I was sorely tempted as I watched the snow fall rapidly from the cold, grey skies.
Nigel Cabourn Army Satchel. The combination of canvas and authentic bespoke Harris Tweed construction makes this multi use shoulder bag something very special indeed.
The show-piece in the Quoddy collection and certainly the style everyone instantly recognises as Quoddy is the Grizzly.
A row of Abingtons. The Guide Boot is based on vintage hunting moccasins, one of the most enduring footwear styles to come from North America. While, The the Hiker Boot is based on a classic outdoor silhouette, with the addition of Gore Tex uppers to this already incredibly finished boot.
Thankfully Band Of Outsiders returned for another seasons collaboration with Sperry Topsider.Using the finest materials and adding their own unique features Band Of Outsiders have created some interesting make-ups for the iconic brand. For example the middle pair is constructed from corduroy and lined with cotton Oxford.
The quintessential hiking boot design, Fracap are handmade in Italy, and until recently solely for the Japanese market. Now they can be seen on the feet of many (few of which are worn anywhere close to a mountain).
This is the original Trickers Brogue, a timeless style that is yet to be surpassed. The Malton is handmade, using only the finest leather, meaning these should last you a lifetime.
The snowy High Bridge street scene.
End Hunting Co showcases products with a level of quality and craftsmanship rarely seen in the UK and the fact that they are housed in a unique environment, makes this a special store indeed. My trip up north has inspired me to escape from the bubble that surrounds the capital more often.