In the heart of swinging London, in the midst of crowds of miniskirted, kinky-booted girls, or "birds," right smack on Regent Street (No. 235), old Mr. Fredericks of Harry Hall Ltd. quietly measures, cuts, stitches, glues and shapes soft leather into some of England's finest saddles. He will make you a jumping saddle with a pigskin seat for $154—made to measure, "a perfect fit for both horse and rider.... Please state if the horse has wide or narrow withers and advise the height and weight of the rider." Your child's handmade saddle will cost you $48. Mr. Fred will make you a bridle for $12, a nylon girth for $3 and offer you a choice of "the most varied selection of bits in England" (the best in nickel at $3). Once your horse is taken care of (and he can offer it nosebands, reins, whips, brushes, blankets, oils and vitamins, too), Harry Hall Ltd. will guarantee to dress you as elegantly as they have your horse.
The business was begun by Harry Hall, Esquire, Bootmaker and Tailor, in the 1870s. He advertised with the slogan, "Hall marked clothes are the best." The slogan appeared on brass letter openers, barometers and buttonhooks that were distributed free throughout England. The original shop was bombed out during the blitz of London. Currently the store handtailors clothes for such international riding figures as Pat Smythe, Anne Townsend, Sheila and Mary Barnes, Italy's Raimondo D'Inzeo, Brazil's Nelson Pessoa and Australia's Peter Winton. It has had an occasional order from the stables at Buckingham Palace as well. If you send a letter to Mr. Pearce at Harry Hall and ask for a self-measurement form, in something under six weeks he will have you dressed with all the chic of a Sunday rider on Rotten Row in Hyde Park. A glance at the form will give you confidence in the exact fit of your coat, vest, breeches or boots. For example, you are asked to measure around your calf in six different places. Hacking jackets, made to order, start at $70, but the best readymade jackets in sizes 34 to 44 are available for about $40. The latter are made of handwoven Harris tweeds, Cheviot cloth, saxonies or Yorkshire tweeds and styled with slant side pockets, an outflap ticket pocket on the right and a nine-inch center vent. The biggest seller is a fawn-colored herringbone jacket, and it has been the biggest seller for 30 years. Carnaby Street boutiques may invent new mod fashions for the discothéque crowd weekly, but every true English horseman knows that the In dress for the rider is the one that's been In the longest. Tradition and conservatism are still his bywords.