Wednesday, March 14, 2012

James Smith & Sons Umbrellas

Whangee Cane Fit-Up Umbrella

Along a good suit and well made shoes, a proper umbrella is a much needed gentleman’s accessory; practical for inclement weather, a fashion statement, and in the past a weapon. On my recent trip to London I purchased a James Smith and Sons whangee cane fit-up umbrella.  The shop steeped in history since 1830 is a throw back to the grand shops of the past. Impeccable service, selection, master craftsmanship, and history. While waiting for a correct fitting of my umbrella I marveled at the old ledgers of former clients including Prime Minster Gladstone and Bonar-Law and the well dressed gentlemen dropping in and out of the shop in the west end. As I perused the selection of umbrellas debating the type, fit-up, solid, handle material, and colour I decided on the eccentric looking whangee cane (a water bound sub species of bamboo). After finding the handle that "spoke" to me it  was cut to my perfect walking height while I waited in the shop discussing the weather, the lack of good umbrellas in Vancouver, and of noteworthy pubs to enjoy lunch after my purchase with the friendly and knowledgeable staff. My fit-up umbrella is made from two pieces of wood ( a spruce shaft and a whangee handle seamlessly connected together. The two materials are light weight yet still strong enough to act as a walking stick. The canopy is made from Italian nylon, a Fox frame, and a brass fenule as an end cap.  Attention to detail is the key to the craftsmanship, no Velcro here but two buttons to hold the canopy folds in place when dry and wet.  A brief tutorial on the folding and care of my umbrella resulted in a most delightful London shopping experience. Bespoke pricing $415 CDN but a lasting sartorial investment.

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