Mark Stevens

  • By Stewart Christie
  • 01 Oct, 2017
A welder and restorer of stained glass windows by trade, cycling enthusiast by heart. Mark Stevens is the quintessential gentleman ready and impeccably dressed for any jaunt, come rain or shine. 
Name: Mark Stevens
Profession: Welder and restorer of stained glass windows. 
Over the years, you've taken part in the Harris Tweed Ride, and this year you've commissioned a new cycling suit. Where did the ideas come from for it? And where will your future cycling plans take you in it? 

The new suit was inspired by my old 1930s suit. I found it in a garage sale in Notting Hill. I paid 30p for it, which was a fortune in 1983. I was delighted to find it fitted without any alteration. I thought that Stewart Christie would be the people to go to for a replica. Hopefully the new cycling suit will garner some orders from enthusiasts. We also have plans for a specific motoring suit for vintage car drivers. This will have a denser wind proof weave. The old suit was a major disappointment at first. I bought it before I had any enthusiasm for old bicycles. I thought I would cut a dash out on a New Year's Day shoot in the Highlands. I stepped outside and instantly regretted it as a bitter East wind roared around my nethers. I went in and changed and realised you could see daylight through the weave. Years later, someone gave me some old Holdsworth Cyclist Aid catalogues from the 1930s in which were pictures of smartly dressed cyclists in suits and plusses. The penny dropped, it was a Cycling Suit. I needed the opinion of a professional tailor, so I took it to show Vixy and Dan. Dan was able to point out various features that made it very likely. The extra width across the shoulders to enable you to reach the handlebars being one. Reinforced sides and back to the trousers with a deep sweatband. These features plus some modern twists will find their way into the new suits. 

I hope to ride Eroica Britannia in it next July. Perhaps Goodwood Revival too where we can show it to potential customers. 

The mustard hose and the printed scarf gave a wonderfully modern twist to a classic look. Was the scarf an eastern twist?

The mustard coloured hose were given to me by the Librarian at Christ's Hospital in Sussex. They are part of the school uniform. They are suitably oil stained. The neck attire is a Japanese 'Tenugui'. A piece of dyed cotton cloth. The history of Tenugui goes back to the Heian Period, AD 794-1192, when they were used in Shinto rituals. They are used as neck wear, head wear, wiping cloths, bandages, gift wrappings and as business cards. Go look at . I bought mine in Tokyo last year. My 1940s flying goggles have yellow lenses to match the socks...

We believe congratulations are in order for earning joint first place for your ensemble this year. Who shared the honour with you?

I was joint first with Hamish Campbell. Hamish works for the props department at Netflix, so I suspect he had a lot of outfits to choose from. He's currently on the Isle of Skye filming a series about Rob Roy Mcgregor. I was tempted to go and be an extra. He said that the poor devils were having a horrible time, out in all weathers, up to their knees in bogs, ticks and midges.

Did you have a favourite stop in this year's Glasgow ride, and were you supplied with interesting concoctions at each stop?

Oh yes, the favourite stop. We left the Barras and had a long ride along the River Clyde then cut up past the SEC. The Comic Con was on and there were lots of folk in Cosplay outfits, Iron Man, Batman, Beetlejuice, etc.. One stopped and looked at us Tweedsters and said, "Your dressed funny!"

The next stop was The Crabshack. I was hungry and had never really appreciated Oysters until that moment. Eating an oyster with a drop of Tabasco and a squeeze of lemon on a damp Glasgow pavement, wearing damp Tweeds has to be a defining gustatory moment.

What has been your most memorable ride? If you could choose the most ideal riding location and route, season and riding partner, what would you choose?  

Most memorable ride? I rode a Veterans Cycle Club event in the old suit and this ancient cyclist said, "Cor you've made my day you have! You're wearing the Crack dress of the 1930s." Back then the star riders were called "Cracks".

One of my favourite rides is along the north shore of the Beauly Firth, especially in the Autumn. The colours of the trees and the dry leaves crackling beneath the tyres. A small group of ten or less, all in suitable vintage outfits and on period correct bikes.

It's rumoured you have an impressive collection of vintage bicycles. Is there a particular favourite or rare marque you cherish?

I have a collection of 60-ish!? Classic racing bicycles. I specialise in the A.S. Gillott Marque which were made in Camberwell, South London. They employed some of the finest frame builders this country has ever produced. Their frames were beautifully constructed to the highest standards of craftsmanship and were not flashy or gaudy, but exuded class in a quiet, sober-sophisticated fashion. I have a penchant for original frames and bikes, preferring a few chips and scratches, denoting originality and authenticity over a flashy respray. It's also better for the environment and the wallet. Each of my Gillotts is like a time capsule and reflects the fashions for gears, finish and equipment of its era, whether from the mid 1940s to the early 1990s.  

In today's modern world, cycling has become less gentlemanly and more a fashion sport fad, with Lycra clad weekend warriors on mountain bikes, and those who have disregard for both pedestrians and traffic...what is your pet peeve when it comes to modern cyclists?

I lived in London for many years and cycled to work. I was one of those militant cyclists back in the 80s who would go on Critical Mass and Stop the City rides. Looking back, I was probably upsetting a lot of motorists. Nowadays, I go on a Veteran Cycle Club ride and the bicycles are wonderfully turned out, but most of the riders look like sacks of potatoes. Conversely, I go on a Tweed Ride and the riders are stylish and immaculate, but the bikes are rickety old crates that need their mudguards tying on with strips of Tweed. You know who you are!

You recently acquired an old cycling catalogue with an advert with a link to a local distillery. What was the full story? Is there potential for a limited edition cycling gin?

The recent discovery of two Blackrock Cycles catalogues was very exciting for me. The blacksmiths forge where they were built was not 200 yards from where I sit in Evanton, Ross-shire. The great Grandson of the maker, Kenneth MacKenzie has just opened a Gin and Whisky Distillery near Dingwall. More than that I can't say in present, but we are 'in discussion'. There is also a possible link to a cycle friendly Eco cafe on Cycle Route No 1, guided tours to the Blackrock itself and an off road cycle race called "Round the Ben". Watch this space.

You have spent much of your life working as a welder and a stained glass window restorer. You have had some very interesting jobs and commissions from rigs to working closely with artists on works such as the Giraffes outside the Omni Centre in Edinburgh. Tell us about one of your proudest creations?

I'm proud of the work I did on the 17th century windows of the East Church in Cromarty. They were a serious challenge, the old glass being so thin.

"The Stewart Christie experience is one to be savoured. From the discussions and analysis of the old suit with its unique features through the design of the new suit and its possibilities to the measuring, fitting and wearing of same. You are made to feel very special by Vixy and Dan's professional and attentive approach." 

-Mark Stevens

Photography by Laura Meek

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By Stewart Christie 01 Oct, 2017
A welder and restorer of stained glass windows by trade, cycling enthusiast by heart. Mark Stevens is the quintessential gentleman ready and impeccably dressed for any jaunt, come rain or shine. 
By Stewart Christie 24 Aug, 2017
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It was a complete pleasure to meet and dress the eminent actor, author and director Mr Richard E. Grant. Daring to be different and breaking away from the black tie, he cut a dash across the red carpet in our stone prince of wales check three piece in the light summer weight tweed. At the Edinburgh International Film Festival opening party. And of course, we asked him a few quick questions and cordially invited him to our prestigious Stewart Christie & Co Gentleman's Club.
By Stewart Christie 08 Jun, 2017
All garments and tailoring by Stewart Christie & Co in collaboration with Edinburgh based bridal designer, Rowanjoy.

For any special events, weddings, or the need for specialised tailoring, head to Stewart Christie for the best traditional service and expert consultation email

Photography: Laura Meek,  
Models: Abigail Gliksten and Tabitha Stevens
Gowns: Rowanjoy,  
MUAH: Mairi Gordon, http://mairigordon
Styling: Vixy Rae
Flowers: Kirsty Downie

By Stewart Christie 07 Jun, 2017
Francois and Nella, artists from France, friends of Stewart Christie and lovers of all things Scottish, had the dream to venture over to Skye for a timeless wedding at Dunvegan Castle. Dressed in fine tweed and tartan, of course.

From the finely crafted wedding ensembles, including a Victorian inspired bespoke gown to the immaculate and well preserved interior of the castle, the day easily alluded to what could have been experienced a few hundred years back for guests at a Lord and Lady's special day. Not to mention, the weather was particularly mild, unexpected, but happily welcomed by all, which led to a most exquisite sunset to polish off such a classic affair.

Nella wore a hand made Stewart Christie 'Inverleith' Cape, made from a beautiful soft lovat green herringbone tweed from the Scottish Borders. The Kilt Jacket and Waistcoat were tailored for Francois in a matching tweed to compliment his beautiful bride. He was proudly adorned in his Ancient Clan Farquharson Kilt and sash. The outfit was completed with a hand crafted sporan by McRostie in a chestnut bridal leather. We were proud there were a number of other guests dressed head to toe in our finely tailored tweed and tartan garments.

Following the wedding day, Francois and Nella strapped on their hiking boots along with their wedding outfits for a walk through the wooded Fairy Glen, just around the corner from Uig, for a romantic and equally magical morning, surrounded by inspiring nature to further embrace the beauty of Skye over their fairy tale wedding weekend.

By Stewart Christie 16 May, 2017

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

Profession? Novelist

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.

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