March 9, 2012
Tradition and Innovation

Hand & Lock might be tucked away in Fitrovia on the other side of Oxford Street, but the remarkable hand embroidery it has been producing for 240 years is central to the workings of Savile Row.

The vast archive and work on display at Savile Row Bespoke Association associate member Hand & Lock exemplifies the traditions and history of the company. Inside the workroom you will find hand drawn embroidery drafts that date back to the 18th century, ceremonial epaulettes worn by the Queen’s bodyguards, and myriad hand embroidery samples overflowing from boxes, hang packed on rails and mounted in frames on the walls.

The atelier is equipped with Victorian era Cornely and Irish Machines, relics from the start of the Industrial Age. There are few craftsmen left who have the training to operate these machines, and Hand & Lock is adamant that these skills are not lost. The embroiderers employ a range of techniques to execute their work, all tried and tested through the centuries. The tools are simple, but the results are complex and varied, and always impeccably finished.

Hand & Lock is as motivated by consistent quality and respect for the process now as it was when M. Hand started the Company in 1767. But there is an equally important manifesto: promoting the use and appreciation of hand embroidery within the industries of fashion, textiles, and interiors. While Hand & Lock has, and always will, have one foot firmly rooted in the past, it has the future in mind.

The design team at Hand & Lock is constantly pushing the boundaries of what embroidery can achieve, and we encourage others to experiment within this vast medium through the Prize for Embroidery. This year, contestants must select one of three trends – Faded Summers, Association S’Ermites and Open Mind – predicted by the fashion analytics magazine Zoom and create a relevant piece of embroidery. Prize entry closes on the 31st March, 2012.

So in 2012, while Hand & Lock becomes involved with some of the exciting events of the year, like the London Olympics and the Her Majesty The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee—events firmly rooted in tradition—it is also moving inexorably forward.



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