History and Heritage
The history of Harry Hall reveals humble beginnings in the 1800s, and an evolution into the advanced designs which are now being created in the 21st century. Harry Hall is a name which strikes a chord with every equestrian. Regardless of the era, the conclusions drawn are always the same: quality British clothing, steeped in heritage and history.
The son of a tailor, Henry Hall, later known to friends as Harry, was born in in 1856 in the parish of East Grinstead, Sussex. He grew up to marry a local girl named Alice, where the two continued to reside in East Grinstead with their four sons and two daughters. Liz Prowting fondly reminisces about the time she spent around Hall as a child, due to the great friendship Hall held with her grandfather. She recalls him being a ‘kindly man who gave her first pair of jodhpurs’.
Hall began tailoring in the 1870s and in 1891 he founded Harry Hall Esq, Bootmaker and Tailor. The original clothing was a small collection of suits and dress suits, which were tailored to each individual’s needs and shape, but one of the key aspects to expanding the brand was the advertising which supported it. This prompted Hall to begin using the slogan, ‘Hall marked clothes are the best’. He had this printed on brass letter openers, barometers and button hooks which he distributed for free around England. Hall's talents as a publicist led to publically admired window displays, and the promotions offered appeared in the ‘Tailor and Cutter’ a highly respected publication. The editorial noted that ‘he made a special feature of riding outfits generally’ and ‘they were often the focus of the gentleman’s calendar throughout the summer months’. With such high praise for the store so early on, the foundations for a hugely successful brand were set.
The evolution of Harry Hall is clearly detailed in the advertorial pieces which were presented to the public. After being established for over 25 years, gentlemen’s suits and overcoats were the core pieces offered in the collection. Alongside breeches the brand firmly planted its roots in being the best ‘coat, breeches specialist and habit maker’ on the market. At the point the firm surpassed 35 years they were resolutely acknowledged as being a quality, trusted tailors. However, the progression of Harry Hall was beginning to pick up pace and the eventual diversification of the brand came in the form of sporting wear, including golf and riding clothes. Despite the continued availability of suits and dress suits, Harry Hall was moving in a new direction.
The development of Harry Hall as a brand with a primary focus on equestrian clothing came shortly after World War II. The original store was bombed during the blitz and this encouraged the opening of new stores on Oxford Street and initially one on Liverpool Street before moving to Cheapside close to St Pauls. This expansion provided the company with a much needed base, whilst still allowing for the opportunity to broaden the products to customer’s farther away.
The 1960s brought Harry Hall onto the international stage, with its feature in the iconic Sports Illustrated magazine. They noted that Harry Hall had hand tailored clothes for figures including, Pat Smythe, Anne Townsend, Raimondo D’Inzeo, Nelson Pessoa and the stables regiment at Buckingham palace. At this time the firm also made saddles to order and were said to offer one of the most varied selections of bits in England.
The word soon spread about the legendary Harry Hall name and a Mr Pearce was employed to send customers from much further away than London a detailed self-measurement form. Once this was returned he would tailor the suit to the exact measurements and have the suit with the customer within six weeks. At this time the tweed being used included Harris Tweed, Cheviot cloth and Yorkshire tweeds, with the biggest seller for over 30 years being the Herringbone jacket. This move to target customers from farther away, whilst still retaining the principles of high quality tailoring and materials, marked the start of a movement into providing clothing on a national scale.
The 21st century opens up a new beginning for Harry Hall, whilst the old values and heritage are ensconced into the very core designs; the modern edge is at the forefront of each piece of clothing. Safety becomes of paramount importance and the range expands into new realms of clothing and accessories crafted for both horse and rider. The overarching theme, however, the one which is engrained into each and every product remains the same, Hall marked clothes are the best.