Words by: Andrew Williams

The English are a crafty people –in every sense of the word.

A case in point, yesterday I went to the Cockpit Arts open day for Christmas shoppers. Cockpit Arts is a local authority run set of workshop spaces for London’s craftsmen, and aspiring new design talent. This space is unique not only because of the vast array of talent working there, from bespoke shoe makers Deborah Carré and James Ducker, screen printers and jewellery makers to cashmere weavers, it’s also in central London –not a place known for cheap rents.

Not everything on offer was to my taste but aside from picking up a little pottery, I also bought these wonderful screen printed handkerchiefs from Thornback & Peel. Made by hand in their Cockpit work space, they’re not flash but they did appeal right away.


I like to wear a white handkerchief in my top pocket and while, likely as not, the world will never see the pattern on them, I like knowing it’s there. And if ever called into service it’s certainly more distinguished and individual than monograms. I picked up three for £10.


While my purchases won’t be to everybody’s taste, it is illustrative of a broader point. When purchasing items of clothing or apparel it’s common to think that hand made individuality can only be achieved by engaging high cost bespoke tailors, shoe makers and the like. We often neglect that other category, the aspiring hobbyist/craftsman. Up and down the country you can find craft fairs and exhibitions going on. And I doubt the UK is alone in this.

You may think this all sounds a bit too folksy, naff even, for aspirant men of style and flair. But such people and events can provide a low cost means for acquiring hand crafted individuality.