Reincarnating classic country style with the contemporary customer in mind is the simple secret to A Hume Country Clothing’s continued success. This evolution of heritage branding, together with a continued commitment to craftsmanship, impeccable customer service and an outlook that incorporates the contemporaneity of current trends, ‘twists’ the traditional and distinguishes A Hume as an awarding-winning global brand.
With tweed – one of the most traditional and iconic of British of cloths – as the constant within the company, Archie Hume, its third-generation owner, explains here how the quality and application of this magnificent material, with its luxury, as well as a combination of comfort, subtlety and vibrancy, has taken A Hume into the 21st Century.
Firstly, for those readers that aren’t familiar with A Hume, please can you tell us about the company and what you do?
A Hume have been around for over 85 years, so there is a fair bit of history.
My grandfather, also an Archie, but known as Arch, founded A Hume, Gentlemen’s Outfitter, in 1929, He ran an entirely made-to-measure tailoring business and although we continue to offer made-to-measure service, he could never have envisioned how his business would grow.
We are a niche independent retailer focusing on providing premium lifestyle country clothing for both Ladies and Gentleman. We specialise in ready-to-wear and the A Hume label of clothing, bespoke to ourselves. A Hume opened a second store in 2012. Our brick and mortar stores sit alongside the A Hume online business, allowing us to cater for customers both around the corner and around the world. It is a worldwide business.
Traditionally, demand for country attire in the Scottish Borders, and by extension many of your customers, would have been associated with country sports, such as grouse shooting, deer stalking and salmon fishing on the famous Scottish sporting estates. Is that still true and is there a typical A Hume customer today?
Traditionally we have been and to some extent always will be country. We are not high fashion but people feel good wearing A Hume clothes and to me that is important.
The A Hume customer does not want to be a sheep; he or she has their own style from wearing a tweed jacket, their RM Williams boots and William Lockie cashmere to the girls sporting their Dubarry boots and smart Anna Lascata tweeds.
There has been a great increase in the popularity of country clothing in recent years, which has inspired the likes of Dolce & Gabbana and Ralph Lauren in some of their designs. What do you put this resurgence down to?
People today have more choice and they like their own style. They can find looks on Pinterest to Instagram featuring people like David Beckham to David Gandy to Mumford and Sons, all stylish but you can see the country influence in their wardrobes.
What are your thoughts on the more modernised variations of traditional country attire with their contemporary twists – do they appeal to you?
The modern twists are great, nothing stays the same. Always evolving, always changing, that’s great. Look at tweed jackets, shorter more tailored at the waist, funky coloured lining, contrast coloured buttonholes, same jacket different age profile.
The A Hume brand is synonymous with tweed; particularly those produced in the famous Scottish Borders tweed mills. What are the qualities of tweed that make it so special?
Tweed just feels warm and comfortable. The colours are all so vibrant and just ooze luxury.
You decided a couple of years to bring out your own A Hume tweed collection, manufactured by Bladen. What was the rationale for bringing out your own design and choice of Bladen as manufacturer?
Quite simply the reason we brought out the A Hume collection was to be different from other brands. There is an A Hume look that customers like and when you go out to dinner or go to the pub you will not see others wearing the same thing. We work with Bladen and Magee to make limited edition jackets for us. We have long standing relationships with both companies and they are great manufacturers.
You used fabric from the exclusive Lovat Mill in Hawick, renowned for its exceptional quality tweed, supplying the likes of Purdey and Chanel. How important is the quality of cloth that you use and what is it about Lovat Mill tweed specifically that influenced your decision to select their fabric?
The quality of the cloth is very important and we are very lucky to work closely with Lovat Mill. They are a truly world class company. I trust Lovat Mill. Their knowledge and experience, combined with just common sense, makes for a great fit for A Hume.
…And from where did you draw upon your inspiration in designing the fabric?
My inspiration for designing tweed comes from the local area. I am hugely proud of our heritage and have been inspired by the beautiful Scottish countryside that surrounds us. I recognise the need to bring the wonderful colours and textures of the Scottish Borders to the fore in our exclusive Tweeds. I am inspired by the blues from the river, the earthy tones from the hills and the purples from the heather and wild flowers that surround us every day. I just love the great colours of the Borders.
The A Hume menswear brand includes a range of caps made in Saxony tweed and cashmere made from cloth produced by Johnstons of Elgin. Why did you choose these fabrics specifically?
Johnstons of Elgin are a great company. They offer a great range of cloths that we feel are different. They are continually introducing new cloths allowing us to introduce new tweeds so we remain fresh and move with the times.
A Hume has gone from being a traditional Scottish Borders gentlemen’s outfitters to achieving global success with almost 30,000 worldwide customers per year and winning numerous retailing awards. How has that been possible and what do you put this success down to?
The reason we have been successful is quite simply the team we have at A Hume. There is no hierarchy; everyone can have an idea/opinion. There is a high amount of passion and talent always striving for the brand to be the best. I am very proud of my staff and I hope my grandfather and father would be proud of us.
For those people that like the appeal of country clothing, but don’t really know how it should be worn, do you have any general advice or tips for someone considering purchasing country clothing for the first time?
Country people don’t judge what you wear. Be confident, mix those colours, mix those styles. These are your styles so be confident!
Finally, what plans do you have for the future of A Hume?
At A Hume it never stops. At the moment we have painters and carpet fitters in the store refurbishing the first floor. February is always the time for these sorts of projects. We have a huge photo shoot to plan for in April, lots of trips to see companies for our Autumn/Winter 16 collection, the Scottish Game Fair in July. Honestly it never stops, from the young and not so young there is passion. If you have passion nothing is impossible, everything is possible.
Thanks to Archie Hume for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions. All images courtesy of A Hume Country Clothing.