Part One of Three Exploring the A Hume Heritage
Despite our cultural preoccupation with youth, sometimes being old is worth bragging about, as with age comes wisdom and experience, and at A Hume we’re inordinately proud to declare that we’ve been trading since 1929, that’s over 80 years of heritage and history.
We still occupy the same building in Kelso’s historic square, in which current owner Archie’s grandfather – also an Archie – first established the business. At this time Kelso was a market town, the focus for a region of traders, farmers, large estates and mills, the hub of a rural economy.
On market days the square buzzed with activity, money changed hands and deals were done. From his prime position in The Square, Archie Hume was well placed to tempt the country folk. A canny businessman he filled his windows with tailors, five in all, and they made a fine spectacle, knee deep in cloth, chalk and thread, bent over their Singer sewing machines in fugue of cigar smoke.
It must be remembered that domestic sewing machines were just entering their heyday in the 20’s and the sight of them whirring in the window was a novelty amongst the tethered beasts. It’s easy to imagine children’s faces pressed against the glass, tongues out intent on distracting the focus of the man-machines.
For their parents, Archie offered a rare chance to indulge, to spend their hard earned cash on the finest tweeds – clothes made to measure and finished to perfection. Archie knew everybody, he was naturally gregarious and his door was always open for a bit of a chat – shopping at A Hume was an event in itself.
In the beginning, all A Hume garments were made to measure, using Yorkshire tweeds and cloth from the local mills. The Reid and Taylor Mill at Langholm, who make our bespoke Bladen tweeds to this day, were one of Archie’s original suppliers. The woollens, of course, came from the mills at Hawick, again, just as they do today.
It took 4, or even 5 years to complete a tailor’s apprenticeship and each of Archie’s five tailors had his own specialism, one would do buttons, one trousers, jackets and so on. Nothing escaped Archie’s attention, he was a stickler for detail and a master of what we call today, customer service. He made sure that all his customers left happy, and this ensured they came back, thus guaranteeing the success of his business.
Many of the customers who shop with us today, have been buying A Hume for generations. We understand the need to innovate to sustain our business but at the heart of everything we do is an appreciation for tradition and quality.
Next: The Middle Years – Jock Hume inherits his father’s business and faces the challenge of ready-to-wear.