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Dashing Tweeds and the serious pleasure of dressing well.

Updated: May 29, 2023

There has yet to come a time when we hold court in London when we do not try our utmost to carve our way to Marylebone to check out the latest shop openings around the neighbourhood of Chiltern and Dorset Street.

Being Savile Row aficionados, it was fantastic to have a chance to visit fashion photographer’s and style icon extraordinaire Guy Hills’ shop incarnation of his brand Dashing Tweeds.

Having established himself firmly on the firmament of fashion designers that artfully marry traditional sportswear with new designs with its biannual collections, Dashing Tweeds is modernising the use of tweed by working with technical yarns in combination with wools, thereby creating a whole new concept in tailored wear.

It was fantastic to not only experience the man in his element natural habitat where he offers inhouse bespoke and made to measure tailoring services, but to see and touch the outcomes of Dashing Tweeds’ numerous joint projects and collaborations, which include but are not limited to Pharrell Williams’ brand Billionaires Boys Club, Fred Perry, Box Fresh, Hudson Shoes and the fantastic bespoke reimagination of Nike’s Air Force 1s, in the third dimension.

Needless to say, we could not resist to ask Guy a few questions in a bid to shed light on how he channels his alchemy:

From what we can tell, it appears that Dashing Tweed's appeal is based on both throwback styles as well as integrating new materials and boundary-pushing production techniques. What kind of questions do you ask yourself before the design process begins?

Guy Hills: Yes, the whole concept of Dashing Tweeds is to fuse heritage tweed sportswear, the original hunting, shooting and fishing looks with modern urban technical wear for biking or skating.

We do this in several ways.

Firstly, we design using more vibrant and interesting colours than those found in country camouflage tweed.

Secondly, we weave technical yarns with tradition wool.

We use fine picks of retro reflective yarn for our raver designs, the overall fabric still drapes beautifully but as soon as a light from a passing car or even a disco light hits the cloth it reflects right back, often causing a gasp of excitement.

The hub of Dashing Tweeds is our weave design studio with hand operated sample looms on which all our new fabrics are conceived.

The question we ask ourselves every time we create something new is, ‘is it interesting, original and relevant to life today?’.

Our clothing is designed for longevity and sustainability but also has wit and vibrancy.

We work mostly with wool, using British wools for our heavier winter tweeds and Australian Merino wool for our lighter weight summer worsted designs.

Rather than recolouring old designs we love to explore new weave structures, there are tens of thousands of ways of warping up a loom to define new patterns but lots of people just stick with simple tried and test twill structures.

We love to push the boundaries and explore unusual ways to weave a design creating novel patterns not just by using new colour combinations but also by inventing novel weave structures. As there are so many possible combinations we set ourselves a design brief such as inspiration from my world travels or ideas based on astronomical photography and the history of sci-fi films

When it comes to innovation, how much are you driven by the performance element of the garments you create? Does form follow function?

Guy Hills: What I love most about menswear is that form is almost entirely dictated by function. Much of the function of what people consider to be classic tailored menswear is in fact from equestrian wear. Before cars, horses were the main form of transport and so features of jackets for example take this into account.

The vents on the back are design to flare out when on horseback, button holes on the lapel are for securing the collar tight and even ties have an origin as stocks, lengths of fabric worn tightly around the neck to give protection during a fall.

The function of modern tailored clothing has to change with the times. I ride a bicycle around town most days and have features to make this easier such as fasteners on the bottom of some trousers to stop them getting stuck in the chain, additional phone pockets, reflective cuff straps and stretching shoulder seams to make it easier the hold onto drop handlebars.

The great thing about having a shop and working with an array of tailors is that we can cater to customers’ needs and actually encourage them to think how their clothes can perform better in everyday life. Recently one customer wanted to have trousers with turnups that could easily be let down so no one would see their socks when they crossed their legs during meetings. We invented a turned up cuff at the bottom of his trousers with hidden flat magnets sewn in so the turnup could be let down when they sat but then snap back into place when they stood up.

Other customers have had trousers that turn into plus fours, special leather lined pockets for holding more shotgun cartridges and special pockets in seams for hiding things. It’s a great exercise to consider every aspect of your dress and how it can perform better. This is what the military have been doing for years and was ones the main driving force of most menswear.

Is there a particular material you love working with apart from tweed? What are determining factors when it comes to sourcing of materials?

Guy Hills: In my view wool is pretty much the best possible material for clothing. We source wool yarns from all over. In the winter we weave traditional wool tweeds using locally sourced British wools and in the summer we use finer Merino wool yarns which mainly come from Australia. We do like to add fancy and technical yarns as well to our designs, these can be dyed cottons from Japan, rubber yarns from Italy or the reflective and shiny yarns supplied by 3M or Lurex.

For the linings of our suits we tend to use viscose/rayon mixes and for super luxurious orders we sometimes use silk. I love the very technical fabrics that the Swiss firm Schoeller produce and we have used these for panels in our cycle blazers. Wool is breathable, temperature regulating, fast drying, fairly wind and water proof and absorbs smell amongst other wonderful properties so it’s hard finding other materials which match up to this.

What is the process when it comes to the ideation of aesthetics, do you sketch out what garments should look like or is it more of a hands-on approach, toying with materials and building prototypes?

Guy Hills: I worked as a fashion photographer for over twenty years as so developed a good ability to visualise creations before they are made. I also love studying historical cuts of menswear and have a good library of reference books. It’s always exciting when one of our new fabric designs comes back from the Scottish weavers on a large roll.

I usually get sudden inspired to make an outfit for myself with new details that take my fancy, from extra wide legs to interesting double breasted shawl collared jackets. I’m not great at sketching so I do little doddles and write down all the details I have in my mind. I then have a range of tailors I work with who can make my sartorial ideas a reality and it’s interesting discussing the end result I want with them as they know from experience the best way to cut and tailor the cloth.

Working as a fashion photographer is all about collaboration, it’s my role to have an idea and inspire others to work together and make the outcome a success but you also have to listen to the stylists, makeup artists and models to see what they can add to the shoot and work to everyone’s strengths. This is exactly the way I work with Dashing Tweeds, we are a whole team of designers and makers starting from the basics of creating cloth to the final forming of new items of clothing.

The interesting thing is that we all seem to absorb the zeitgeist and know what direction our new products should go in. I try not to follow trends, in fact I like to go in the opposite direction and make things which I don’t see around. The funny thing is, I feel that we are then leading garment aesthetics ourselves and are often find we are copied.

What kind of experiences are you incorporating into your work?

Guy Hills: I have such a love of clothes and feel they are often not valued enough, especially by men. If people put more time and consideration into getting their cloths tailored then the whole problem with waste and pollution of the fast fashion industry would be alleviated.

With this is mind, I put my experience of having thought about clothing for as long as I can remember into my work at Dashing Tweeds. My wardrobe at home has clothes I bought over thirty years ago as well as some vintage pieces well over a hundred years old.

All the details of these items and the way they have worn contribute the my work at Dashing Tweeds. However, there is one overriding experience I incorporate, and that is one of dressing for sheer enjoyment. There has been a trend now for several years of people wearing work wear of various sorts, these are by definition the antithesis of amusing clothes to wear for pleasure.

Many people take the wearing of clothes far too gravely and forget that the serious pleasure of dressing is to have fun.


Words by AW.

Photos courtesy of Dashing Tweeds.

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