EXCLUSIVE: Fine English Company Founder Benedict Wormald's Ten Essential Luxuries
The Fine English Company is a recently launched line of luxurious furniture, luggage and lifestyle accessories reminiscent of Britain's colonial past with a contemporary flair, founded by former financial consultant Benedict Wormald. The company was born out of a desire to trade in his City lifestyle in London and turn a lifelong passion for classic British design and antiquities into a business. The Fine English Company's products combine traditional craftsmanship with detailing of exotic animal skins, rare and native woods and veneers to create a range of collectible and desirable objects betokening the best of bespoke British luxury. "I am a great devotee of simplicity and pared down restraint in luxuries," Wormald tells Luxist, "simple items that are executed very well. Luxury to me is not necessarily about adornment or precious materials for vastly inflated prices. I demand a very tactile and aesthetic element from the things I deem to be 'above par'. There is a very definite trend for this that we are seeing in bespoke commissions where people are making much more considered purchases and investing in the construction and execution of the item and not just materials."
Wormald is very passionate about exquisitely made goods and those that are true to the term bespoke, which is increasingly taken in vain. "If you choose to go bespoke from an early age, the lifetime cost is more than borne out in comparison to a larger number of machine made and mass produced brand led products," he notes. "I only wish someone had told me that aged 18! I have Savile Row suits that are as good now at 15 years old as they were new and a good pair of bespoke shoes, a made-to-measure shirt and a bespoke suit will feel more comfortable than any other choice all day and every day - suits only irritate if they don't fit properly and a good suit and shoes will help your posture and the way you comport yourself." Wormald points out that "bespoke need not necessarily be expensive. The power is coming back to the customer to demand something different, something unique to treasure for generations." In the gallery are images of his essential luxuries; continued below you'll find his fulsome explanations about what makes them a must.
2. Washington Tremlett made-to-measure shirts – "A very well kept secret in shirt making since 1870 with a trademark wide placket and actually a very reasonable price structure. Once you have worn a truly well fitted shirt, you will never venture back. I have sent many clients their way as they complain about worn elbows (a hedgefunder's / screen based trading casualty) or tails that constantly slip out of trousers. Mickey Smith who has now sadly retired made shirts for all of the Hollywood greats including Frank Sinatra and Rex Harrison. He could keep you fixated for hours with discreet tales of many icons but you never got the impression that you were any less important to him."
3. Vertu Ascent Ti mobile phone – "I have been a Vertu devotee since 2004 when I had an early Ascent. I was very skeptical about a product that occupied a previously non-existent sector but I am now a full convert and my Vertu probably gives me more daily pleasure than any other single item that I own. You have to keep an open mind nowadays as there are so many innovative products out there but I have never been one for gadgets and so this one was lucky to slip through the 'net'. It does exactly what I expect - it's a phone firstly with a few choice additions (Including a very simple to activate and use camera). For anyone who proffers that 'they would not last 5 minutes in daily use' you are missing the point - I kept my early Ascent for 6 years and it did not show a single mark from new."
4. Hoyo De Monterrey Epicure No. 2 Cuban cigars – "I do not drink and so my cigars are my guilty pleasure. I bought a delightful garden tractor just to have some 'alone time' with the contents of my humidor. The Hoyo No. 2's could command double their price but it does make the odd box of 25 justifiable once in a while. Many of my most unique products have been planned whilst smoking one."
5. Turnbull & Asser ties – "I have never been a fan of very slim and thin continental silk ties; I like a good solid Turnbull & Asser and their prices have remained very competitive. An afternoon in Jermyn Street can leave you cross eyed with the remarkable colors and textures. I have some classics in navy and white that I buy five of at a time when the pattern comes around. It's probably fair to say that I have an addiction to Turnbull & Asser Ties and also silk knot cufflinks!"
6. The Lugger Hotel in Portloe, Cornwall, UK – "A pure escapists dream in an original smuggler's cove. It's impossible to get anything bigger than my vintage Aston Martin down there so that sort of mandates the type of weekend. The food matches the scenery and it's the perfect place to escape and collect your thoughts."
7. Antique Jaeger LeCoultre pocket watch – "I lost track of the latest 'grand complications' and oversized diver's watches many years ago and have settled on some beautiful mechanical classics from the early part of the last century. I have a Jaeger LeCoultre rose gold pocket watch that I had a jeweler attach sympathetic matching lugs onto and a Hirsch Strap and Deployment buckle to match. I think after the pursuit of accuracy for a centuries and that goal finally being met with quartz movements that people have come back to products that demand respect and need nurturing. My Jaeger LeCoultre cost 1/10th of the price of this year's 'must have' Baselworld masterpiece and has the best part of 100 years of history to tell."
8. Parker Duofold Centennial pen – "I love fountain pens and actually this was out of necessity as my handwriting is unreadable in any other form. In staying patriotic I eschewed the Montblanc and have a fairly rare Parker Duofold Centennial in white metal and 24K gold. It has a very similar tactile quality to my Vertu and gives me great pleasure to own and carry. I do have the obligatory collection of classics but the Parker is my daily pen."
9. Holland & Holland Gunmakers – "My love of Holland's is founded in being a double rifle shooter and many decades ago Holland's focused on making the very best 'back' action which is inherently stronger for double rifles than the more common 'bar' action typically found in shotguns and favored by other makers. Their Double Royal in 470 Nitro Express is the pinnacle of aesthetic and function. I draw a lot of inspiration from the world of gunmaking because they combine so many variable natural materials into one finished product. Patents that were granted 130 years ago have never been bettered and yet a best London Sidelock is as beautiful as any renaissance masterpiece. I am a great believer in putting your money into practical investments that can be used and enjoyed - classic cars and quality guns. I do have a pair of 1935 Holland & Holland Royals from the heyday of British gunmaking and the grand estates. They are the first thing that I would save in a fire and I am currently working on a worthy bespoke cabinet for my burgeoning collection."
10. Aston Martin – "I have 'flirted' with most of the luxury car brands but always seemed drawn back to the eccentric and patriotic British classics - Austin Healey, Bristol and of course, Aston Martin. I had the pleasure of working with Aston Martin for the launch of the Rapide and have to say that the concept hits the mark. It would pass as a spine tingling supercar aesthetically but allows you to get four 6' foot adults home as and when required. I have to admit to keeping a 1969 DB6 Vantage in Silver Birch as my weekend transport, it drives my accountant mad and they are a labor of love but a solid investment if you get the correct specialist advice and support. My goal for the coming few years is to restore a classic shooting brake (probably a DB6) as the ultimate gentleman's indulgence."