Ultimate Cars, Watches & Hi Fi S02 ep16 : Patrick Lamb, James Lock Hats, [?????]
Interview with Patrick Lamb
The warrants of the Duke of Edinburgh and his son hang on the walls. Of other current customers the firm is discreet, but past notables such as Lord Nelson, Charlie Chaplin, General de Gaulle, Oscar Wilde, Beau Brummel, Laurence Olivier and the Duke of Wellington all covered their heads the Lock's way.
What is James Lock?
Lock: In fact it’s a hat shop, you can still trace the family lineage. It came down on the female
side, Mary Lock inherited the business.
And where was the shop located back in those days?
Lock: Opposite this establishment here, in those days the upper class used to work up and down
this side of the street, they still do because the sun shines more on this side than the other side so
people gravitate towards the sun.
Lock: Originally it was a pub called “The Cock Inn” and it became vacant in the late 1600’s so it
was modernised in 1764 and we haven’t touched it since, except for electricity, if Lord Nelson
came in today he’d recognise the shop.
Lock: I was a banker for 25 years.
You were a banker and you decided to get into hats
Lock: I decided, well yes because I like dealing with the public.
When a gentleman or a lady for that matter comes into a shop like this, how do you know what
suits them or doesn’t suit them?
Lock: Well the first thing to do is we talk with them and make them feel at home, we’ll ask them
about their background, where they come from and we also ask them what they want and if they
don’t know what they want, we tell them what we think will suit them. With men, it’s a question of
getting the balance right between the actual shape of the hat and the physique of the person. You
wouldn’t want a small gentleman who is about 5’ 2” going out in a wide brimmed fedora, because
he draws attention to himself in the wrong way because people look at him and think, what’s that
little guy with the big hat?
What a moron.
So what would you recommend for a 5’ 2” chap, wanting a fedora?
Lock: I would recommend a very small trilby hat, with a narrow brim which will give balance to
his overall physique so that they look at the whole image, not just a hat on top of a head.
What is the significance of the bowler hat?
Lock: The bowler hat originally was invented for land owners who had these beaters used to work
the land, they kept having their hats knocked off in the undergrowth, not only that, they kept
having their head scratched by briars so they wanted a hard fitting hat to the head, that was the
origin of the bowler it was called a co… in those day.
Yeah but you mean to tell me that a cap that looks as elegant as that, used to be worn by someone
plodding along in the bushes?
Lock: Yeah because it was practical. If it’s shellac you see
Right I see.
Lock: And they gave protection to the wearer.
What was the next step up from, in hat-wood.
Lock: A top hat.
A top hat?
Lock: Oh yes.
So you’ve got a top hat to show us? But you wouldn’t wear a top hat everywhere would you?
Lock: Well you would to work, oh yes, the stock brokers wore them up to the 1970’s, the
governors of the Bank of England used to wear them every day to work.
If the bowler hat came from people beating around in the bush, where did the top hat come from?
Lock: The top hat came from France. It landed on our shores in 1798, it started off in an area
called Sherring Cross which is in the heart of London about a mile from where we are now and it
was brought to us by a gentleman called John Headlington. Caused a great fuss when it was first
worn, even the horses were … by the sight of it.
Lock: They’d never seen anything like that on their head.
??: And a few women
Lock: And a few women fainted in the street. That’s right.
Lock: Yeah, small boys ran away in terror.
Lock: The top hat predated the bowler hat, 1798, 1851.
So these are the two staples of British hat-wood?
Lock: They were the two staple British hats but then they had younger siblings which came along
in the 1920’s and 1930’s such as the trilby and the fedora. Thank you Janet, that’s the trilby hat,
it’s usually worn by the every day public because it’s an ID hat, it travels very well and it’s got
certain little advantages like you can crush it up, if someone sits on it, it’s not the end of the world
as we know it, if you want to carry it on an aeroplane or travelling you can roll it up and put it in a
tube or put an elastic band around it and stuff it in your pocket, so it’s the most practical hat we’ve
got. Also very popular among war correspondents because after about three or four wearings with a
bit of dust on it, it looks as if it’s been, as if they’ve been through hell and back. And it was also
Really, so it’s an Indiana Jones type of hat.
Lock: It is the Indiana Jones, it’s got very, very good street cred and it looks good.
What is the psychology of the hat?
Lock: The psychology of the hat originally was it was a badge of office, people wore different hats
for different causes, or a different job, especially in the army, the higher the rank the more
elaborate gold and lace you had on your hat. Then they became practical and people just look good
in a wig, it seemed to complete their dress, the kiss of death for the hat was the car and President
This is the trilby?
Lock: That’s the trilby hat.
And then this is the fedora?
Lock: The fedora, thank you Janet.
So this is for the dandy right?
Lock: This is for the dandy, also thanks, also the guy who’s got a bigger physique like 6’ 3” he
wouldn’t look too good in a trilby although we do have a wide brimmed trilby to cater for that sort
of customer. But this, sometimes you get a guy who’s an artist or he wants to make a statement.
Well why isn’t Prince Charles wearing a hat then?
Lock: Um, he wears caps.
Oh yes, he does too.
Lock: He does wear caps yes.
Well what is the psychology of a cap versus a hat?
Lock: The cap is usually more of a traditional item, a lot of people who are going shooting wear
What about the, things like the panama hats and stuff like that?
Lock: Again, we have a very wide range of panama hats, ones you can roll up, the super fine, of
which are very, very exquisitely made, we have those as well.
But what is a panama hat, what is, how does that work, is that for bankers when they’re going for
holidays or what’s
Lock: It’s for everybody.
So the panama hat’s like the normal, the every body hat.
Lock: Everybody’s hat.
When they’re in a tropical place.
Lock: Exactly because we cater for every taste from say £79 up to £500.
Lock: These are panamas, that’s the …
The duty stripe right?
Lock: That’s the best one you can get.
Lock: Because it’s made so finely, you’ve only got 11 guys in the world who can make these and
everybody who makes them.
When you say make them you mean the weave of the actual hat?
Lock: The weave is so fine, yeah it is a family art and everybody who makes them is so proud of
his work, rightly so, he initials it so you know that authenticates it.
How much is a hat like that?
Lock: A hat like that would be £475.
Right and what about a top hat?
Lock: A top hat, a silk one, depending on the size of the head, start at about £600, create you can
reckon about £1,200-1,400 the reason they’re so expensive or appear, may appear expensive is
they are a dying breed, they were phased out in the 1960’s, the French people who made the silk no
longer made it after 1964, so there were fewer of them around and in their hey day, people were
smaller therefore the physiques were smaller so the smaller head sizes around and very few were
large sizes around so we have to pay more to restore the larger sizes to standard.
Lock: And Sir Paul McCartney comes in.
And what does Paul look for in a hat?
Lock: He looks for a cap.
Lock: But he’s a very relaxed sort of guy and his daughter Stella comes in and she buys caps as
well, she buys corduroy caps and she looks stunning in them. We’ve had Pierce Brosnon in, he
bought a very nice black fedora and also Harrison Ford’s a customer in his own right, Sir Winston
Churchill bought all his bowler hats here, Sir Anthony Eaton bought all his hats here and Salvador
Dali was a customer, Frank Sinatra was a customer.
Gee Salvador Dali must have been an interesting customer.
Lock: He was a very interesting customer, he was before my time, James Cagney was a customer
and Larry Hagman was a customer, he bought his bowler hats here.
Lock: We have a customer who bought two hats for his cat.
For his cat?
Lock: For his cat, I have photographs of his cat.
Lock: Ah, no bowler hat, it’s an English cat. Bowler hat for the winter and a straw hat for summer,
a boater for the summer.
Why doesn’t that surprise me in England?
Lock: He came in last week because he’d bought a new car and he’s bought a leather helmet for
himself, he wants a leather, he’s bought a special seat for his cat and he wants a leather helmet for
his cat, with little holes for the ears. And I said I’d be delighted to do it.
Yeah but did the cat have to go to university to become a lawyer or banker to do this.
Lock: No, no we fast tracked him.
OFFICIAL WEBSITE: Patrick Lamb, James Lock Hats, ????