The appeal of a certain British way of life has long captured our collective imagination, especially that of the fashion world. Witness jodhpurs jockeying up and down city streets on the new wave of ladies who lunch, or the waxed field jacket that’s become de rigueur for any acceptable male wardrobe on the Upper East Side. When it comes to fall, the endless appeal of the British countryside calls to the most stylish corners of our hearts.
This season, for those in the know, there’s no better way of dressing the part than in the classic new threads from the house of Purdey. James Purdey & Sons was established in 1814, when James Purdey opened his gun- and rifle-making business in Prince’s Street, close to London’s Leicester Square. Mr. Purdey quickly gained the reputation as the finest gunmaker in London, and, within a decade, he had established premises at 314 ½ Oxford Street, in the former gunshop of the “King of Gunmakers,” Joseph Manton. The company faced a rapid change and development in the design of guns and rifles when James Purdey fils took over the company from his father in 1858. Purdey the Younger oversaw changes to the company, including advancements in the making of guns, down the patents for technical innovations.
By 1838, Queen Victoria had already come calling, ordering a pair of pistols as a royal gift to the Imam of Muscat. The Royal Warrant was officially granted in 1868 by Victoria’s eldest son the Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII, and every succeeding monarch since has remained a patron. Today, at 57 South Audley Street, where Purdey has proudly stood since 1882, the company, led by chairman and CEO James Horne, is part of the luxury goods holding company Richemont. The brand has evolved to stand for—and offer—so much more than guns themselves; Purdey has grown, rather, to be an embodiment of the shooting life itself, from fine-leather footwear and gloves to full ensembles that are emblematic of its storied past.
For Purdey’s Autumn-Winter 2017 collection, there is no shortage of classic favorites, or of new ranges of clothing and accessories. The label has all aspects of the shooting weekend covered, from a stylish arrival in the countryside, to practical clothing one might need in the field, to social gatherings—even an elegant luggage collection for carrying your wardrobe along. There is a range of technical wear—weatherproof and well equipped for braving the autumnal elements—as well as purely fashionable threads for mealtimes and feasts. Some items, like a men’s leather coat with shearling lining or tweed covert coat, work handsomely in both town and country. Same goes for the ladies’ Ellis tweed coat with fitted tie belt or Wyvill dress coat, offering the same warmth, comfort, and style.
The chic appeal of the shooting lifestyle does not end at field coats, grouse jackets, breeks, or fleeces. Purdey’s offerings of everything from flasks and tumblers to tankards and a walnut travel bar make elevenses in the field an exercise in epicurean delight. When all’s said and done, and the weekend comes to its inevitable close, sporting quilted outerwear back to the city is always a good look, but what might be taking the prize this fall is the luxurious Panerai for Purdey watch—by which we’ll be keeping time for both city calendars and country sports alike.