With the CLA Game Fair taking place at Harewood next weekend, Stephanie Smith celebrates the eternal appeal of countrywear.
Timeless, practical, made to last and cut with real dash – what’s not to love about countrywear? The key looks of course derive from country labours and pursuits – farming, fishing, shooting, gamekeeping and horse-riding – and have always combined natural materials with the best technology available at the time. The aim is to protect or keep warm, allow ease of movement, offer ways and means of carrying and keeping safe, and look good. Style and performance go hand in hand.
For many years now, countrywear has been making headway into mainstream fashion, mixing with it in often surprising ways – the evening gown with waxed jacket casually thrown over is an up/down dressing classic, as is the full chiffon or shimmery evening skirt with boyfriend jumper. It’s fair to say that each brings something to the other. High Street stores have been getting in on the country act for quite a while now too, offering their own versions of the classic waxed and quilted jackets and coats, the tweed jackets and caps, wellington boots and so on. But for those in search of authentic quality, country wear specialists are a better bet.
Next weekend, starting on Friday, the CLA Game Fair comes to Harewood House on the outskirts of Leeds. Run by the Country Landowners’ Association, country style plays a major role with key specialists exhibiting their wares. Northallerton-based Montana Country Collection this year celebrates 21 years of providing country fashion, offering a wide range of exclusive clothing and headwear especially made for the company, including men’s and women’s jackets and coats in Yorkshire and Scottish tweeds, women’s tweed, felt and velvet hats, men’s trilby hats and a large range of tweed caps. Montana will also be launching a new range at Harewood.
Based in South Shields, Barbour is of course an internationally renowned country clothing company that has achieved more than any other in popularising classic countrywear, bringing it up to date with contemporary styling and technology, and making sure its designs become must-have pieces for all ages.
Barbour will be on Brocklehurst’s stand at the CLA Game Fair, so that’s where to head to check out some great styles, new and classic, from the brand.
There are some excellent small companies and designers taking part in the Game Fair too. Sarah Garbutt Accessories will be in the Rural Crafts Marquee. A farmer’s daughter from North Yorkshire, Sarah makes wonderful Yorkshire tweed snoods and men’s ties, available in both classic tweed colours and in vibrant shades. She says: “I have been developing a new classic tweed snood for the summer and have also produced a lighter weight floral snood, which again features Yorkshire tweed teamed with lovely cotton fabric from France. This is proving really popular with country folk who love tweed all year round.”
Saturday has been designated Ladies’ Day at the CLA Game Fair, so women are encouraged to dress up for the occasion and perhaps be scouted for the Best Dressed Lady competition which will be judged on the Welligogs stand (the winner will receive a British tweed jacket worth £350 and a pair of adult entry tickets to the 2016 show).
The CLA Game Fair 2015 takes place from Friday, July 31 to Sunday, August 2, at Harewood House, near Leeds. For more information, visit www.gamefair.co.uk. For tickets go to cla.org.uk/gamefair2015