Royal Warrant Round-up

Thursday, September 27, 2012
Last week's post about Penhaligon's reminded me of an interesting aspect of choosing a supplier: the Royal Warrant. Described (by the Royal Warrant-holders Association, to be fair) as the 'Peerage of Trade', it is the stamp of approval by one of the three senior royals (The Queen, Prince Phillip, or Prince Charles) and therefore seen as the ultimate product endorsement by many retailers.

Of course, it's only a mark of quality or taste insofar as you assume that the Royals are supremely aware of quality and arbiters of taste. We might point out that companies as diverse as Coca Cola, DHL, and Carphone Warehouse all have Royal Warrants (though some choose not to display them, depending on how they believe it will be viewed by their target market).

All the same, I still believe that most Royal Warrant-holders are legitimately somewhere close to the best in their particular field and, if nothing else, it may give some satisfaction when your own tastes align with those of the Royal Family. Penhaligon's is one, of course, but here are a few more suppliers who get not only the Royal Warrant but also the highly prestigious St James Style Seal of Approval.

Ede and Ravenscroft
Still my favourite source of most things non-bespoke, although their tendency not to produce their beautiful short-run seasonal suits and jackets in sufficiently small chest sizes does mean that I mostly restrict myself to shirts, trousers, ties, pocket squares and various other odds and ends. The shops are beautiful, the staff are generally excellent, and the quality is terrific.

Ede & Ravenscroft actually hold their warrants (all three) as Robe Makers, which is their speciality. They are still the premier supplier for not only academic and court gowns and robes, but for the more obscure pieces of finery sometimes needed by Royalty and the Peerage.

Probably my favourite gin. Gordon's (also a warrant-holder) is terrific, and a little cheaper, but Tanqueray makes a slightly better martini and is still cheap enough to put in a gin and tonic. And, if you're feeling flush (or its on offer) you can spring for Tanqueray no. 10 which makes a still better martini albeit, at 47% abv, a slightly more lethal one.

Loake Shoemakers
Arguably the cheapest of what I'd consider the 'real' English shoe manufacturers, even pipping Barker to the post, Loake manufacturer an incredibly wide range of proper classic Goodyear-Welted shoes, along with a few more modern options, and sell most of them for less than £150 a pair. That is the way to my heart, and clearly it is the way to Her Majesty's heart as well.

Paxton and Whitfield
Churchill supposedly once said "A gentleman buys his hats at Locks, his shoes at Lobbs, his shirts at Harvey and Hudson, his suits at Huntsman and his cheese at Paxton & Whitfield". Three of those five hold Royal Warrants, and Paxton & Whitfield is one of them. Of course, in reality, I mostly buy cheese from supermarkets but, for dinner parties or other special occasions you simply cannot beat the expertise, range and quality of Paxton and Whitfield. And nothing quite makes Christmas-time feel Christmassy like joining the long queue at the Jermyn Street store to pick up some cheese to take back for the family.