Colhay’s is founded as a nod to the lessons passed down by my father and grandfather. Growing up, they taught me that a man should invest in a few good things that last, know where and how they are made, take care of them, and pass them on to the next generation. As men who lived during the British colonial era in Hong Kong, they naturally came to view British made clothing as the pinnacle of quality menswear - the kind you would save up for for months and invest in for a lifetime. And they were right. Goodness, did these clothes last.
My grandfather always dressed immaculately and had a simple, classic English wardrobe, as most men from his generation did in British colonial Hong Kong. He would proudly wear his Scottish tweed flat cap and his English made Morley's knitted shirts, carefully wrapping them up and storing them after each wear, keeping them in pristine condition for decades.
My father's taste was more contemporary, a young man in the 70s and 80s, but he had a similar love for British craft and a habit of caring for his things. It was always “shoes from Northampton”, “a suit from Savile Row, when you can afford it one day!” and of course, “knitwear from Scotland”. He would say, "when you are older, get a pair of shoes made in Northampton and polish them yourself; they'll serve you well for many years", before adding, "a man should always iron his own shirts and polish his own shoes." He always led by example.
Both men knew their clothes inside out, down to the finest detail.
There is virtue in appreciating the artisanship behind what you wear and looking after them over a long time, making them personal to you.
Neither of them were men of means, but both are from a time when this discipline was the norm. In fact, they used to say because they were poor, they couldn’t afford to buy cheap.
As a result, I became the beneficiary of some much-treasured items, including the burgundy striped tie worn by my grandfather in the picture below, which he had passed on to me. My father passed onto me two pieces of much loved and heavily worn Scottish made knitwear he bought with his first pay check in the late 70s (made in the same town of Hawick, that Colhay’s knitwear is now made), in perfect condition even now, after some 40 years of wear.
In our disposable culture of today, much of the quality in the clothes that my father and grandfather enjoyed had been abandoned in favour of things that are quick to make, but quick to break; along with the discipline to nurture your belongings and make them last.
My passion is in bringing back clothes that stand the test of time and making them relevant to the men of today, by championing skilled heritage makers who have tenaciously committed to the highest standards of craftsmanship over the years and continue to create the world’s best garments - the kind of garments that my father and grandfather would have been proud to wear.
What’s more, I hope to restore the relationship that once existed between craftsman and wearer by bringing to your attention the quality, care and expertise that have gone into every stage of manufacture - from the fibres used, to the skills of those who have created your garment. I think that you deserve to know, and the makers’ stories deserve to be heard.
Through this, I hope to once again instil the satisfaction that comes with investing in a superior garment that lasts, that carries a proud story of workmanship and that you will cherish as a deeply personal item for a lifetime.
The norm in ages past, but an exception today.