On the 14th of August 2015 there will be a change in ownership of Edinburgh's oldest bespoke tailors.
Established in 1720, the company evolved over time, finally amalgamating to form Stewart Christie & Co Ltd. in 1933.
For the past 44 years the business has been owned and managed by Mr Duncan Lowe, who is the fourth generation of his family to work there as a merchant tailor. Mr Lowe was brought into the business by his father when in his early twenties, and has driven the business forward over time, carefully maintaining the company reputation as the premier Edinburgh bespoke tailor, country outfitter and supplier of sporting clothes and highland wear.
Ensuring the future of the business has been of chief concern to the owner, and this has now been achieved with the sale of Stewart Christie to Edinburgh based trio Dan Fearn, Vixy Rae and David Bassett - after an initial introduction made through the Incorporation of Edinburgh Tailors. Continuing to serve as a director of the firm will be Terence McClelland – head cutter and tailor who has been with the company nearly 20 years. “Continuity within the company through retaining skilled and experienced staff is important for all of us”, assert the new owners, adding “so too is the fact we can continue to call on Mr Lowe during the inevitable period of transition.”
Formerly lead designers at Walker Slater, both Victoria and Daniel with over 20yrs experience, have admired the heritage and reputation of the company for many years,
"It is a once in a lifetime opportunity to take on and grow a businesslong established as Edinburgh's premier bespoke tailors" enthuses Daniel, "we all feel an immense sense of pride embarking on this journey, together with support from Mr Lowe, and it is an honour to be custodians of such a long respected company."
The new team will be taking the company forward into the 21st century, by enhancing the store, establishing online retail, and developing a luxury own label brand.
"We all have a very similar work ethic and a common vision," comments Vixy, "developing Stewart Christie as a luxury brand, using local fabrics and British manufacture, we will celebrate and support Scottish and British craftsmanship in as many lines as we can." Existing brands will be balanced by increased own label product and new niche brands sought, to create a unique emporium for both ladies and gentlemen.
The company, housed in a Georgian building in the heart of Edinburgh’s New Town (a UNESCO listed World Heritage Site) offers two floors of retail space in addition to the all important workroom, cutting bench and offices. The lower ground floor sales area will undergo a complete renovation and refit, and when ready, will accommodate the new ladies wear collection and bespoke service. The ground floor will be reconfigured over time to encompass the classical ideas of a gentleman's tailor and outfitter. "We will retain as much of the character as possible, and reference the origins of the company, making full use of the archives we possess" adds David, "the historically important archive resources will also be used in the development of the Stewart Christie brand and will be a source of inspiration for us all. It is important to update the company, whilst remaining faithful to traditional techniques and craftsmanship and embracing the unique heritage Stewart Christie boasts."
Ian was brought up in Fife, but finally settled in Edinburgh, with his wife and two sons. Before becoming a full-time novelist, he had a rather wide variety of character building jobs, such as a grape picker, taxman, alcohol researcher, hi-fi journalist, college secretary and punk musician-to name but a few. Now his immense passion and knowledge for music and writing go hand in hand. We had the great pleasure of Ian's company in the Oxford Bar for a quick pint and a catch up, after measuring him up in the store for his first Stewart Christie bespoke three-piece, in a soft grey lambswool tweed to be completed for the Edinburgh International Book Festival, where he will present various events in true Scottish style.
Name? Ian Rankin
Do you usually complete your work and then get it published or have you got some novels that you’ve secretly shelved that you may finally release at a later date?
I've only got one unpublished novel - my very first. Unlikely ever to see the light of day. It was a not very funny comedy set in a Highland hotel. There is one novel, Westwind, which was published, but I was unhappy with. I've never allowed it to be reissued.
Very interested to know what you are currently working on that we may look forward to?
This is a sabbatical year. I am tinkering and pottering, but not doing a novel. A few short stories, meetings about film and TV. Travelling to festivals far and wide to promote Inspector Rebus' 30th anniversary.
It’s incredible that Rebus has been translated into 22 different languages, have you ever read them in other languages? We understand you resided in France for a while. It must be quite a strange feeling to see them in French, not that you would read it, but is there anything that would make you read any of your novels again once you've written them?
Translated into 35 languages - I need to update the information available online! I lived in France for six years but it wasn't translated into French until after I'd moved back to the UK, which was a bit annoying. I only ever reread my novels when asked by my publisher to provide the introduction to some new edition.
Where do you find your inspiration in Edinburgh for such crime stories? Do you have a few "favourite haunts" you like to go to and write, or are you one of those writers who is constantly inspired throughout the day, like Alexander McCall Smith, who is forever writing?
I write seldom. I'm certainly no McCall Smith. The man is a machine. I hang out in pubs, especially the Oxford Bar. I eavesdrop on conversations. I go for drinks with retired cops. I am also a news junkie, and often get ideas from newspaper reports and such like.
We know you have a great passion for music. In a recent interview with Tim Burgess at the book festival, we experienced your immense knowledge of artists and albums, it was an interesting talk. Would you host or partake in more of them this year?
Like most crime writers, I am a frustrated rock star. Putting so much music in my books has led me to form friendships with a host of musicians, which is a lovely bonus. I will be interviewing at least one musician at this year's festival - but it's under wraps at the moment.
We spent the day with Dominic Le Moignan, a London based Actor and Creative Director up Arthur's Seat to test out the performance of his bespoke three-piece in a rifle green barathea.
Scottish comedian and formally BBC Radio Scotland presenter, of 18 years', Fred MacAulay is a long standing and valued Stewart Christie customer. We spent the afternoon asking him a few questions about the comedy circuit and his lesser known passion for outdoor pursuits.