For vintage cool hunters, April showers sometimes bring with them a little vintage umbrella goodness. And while we’re talking umbrellas, let’s just admit our British cousins have more than a passing acquaintance with how to make them. Brooks Brothers knows this. Or used to know it. That’s why, at least back in the day, they would contract out some of their brolly business to firms from Dear Old Blighty.
Our most recent VCH find was made in England for Brooks Brothers by Fox Umbrellas. It’s their Paragon model—the same one used by Mr. Steed in The Avengers. If you don’t know anything about umbrellas, trust us. It’s a very nice example.
It has a nice malacca wood handle for one thing, and if you were in any doubt about where it was made, Fox takes care of that with a discrete Made in England tag inset into the handle.
It's also on the frames that support the canopy.
The frames themselves are metal, and very sturdy. No plastic here.
We like that. One of the other things we like, that tells you it wasn’t made last week in a sweat shop somewhere by underpaid labor, is the neat way the canopy is secured. There is no velcro or even a snap on the little strap…it has rather a neat metal loop that fastens securely to a button to keep the whole works closed. It’s an elegant solution to a mundane problem, but it shows the care that went into the design.
Back to discrete branding: Brooks Brothers put their logo in the top of the canopy. The user will be the only one who sees it.
Fox still makes very nice umbrellas at their factory in the UK. (Their slogan is: Keeping You Dry Since 1868.) They also offer a restoration service for their wares, which is very cool.
Like your better shoe companies here in the States, such as Alden and Allen Edmonds who offer re-crafting services, Fox stands by their products. They don’t expect you to throw them away at the first signs of a little wear.
They know a little character never hurt anybody—or a well-made shoe or umbrella; that well-made goods shouldn’t be disposable. We couldn't agree more.