Pope & Bradley - As Worn in London

The New Mayfair Edwardians (photo Norman Parkinson)

Nothing could epitomise the image of the English City Gent more than "The New Mayfair Edwardians" photoshoot by legendary British photographer Norman Parkinson.

One of the images was used by Vogue magazine to illustrate an article entitled "As Worn in London" investigating the post-War London fashion movement that had adopted styling cues from the Edwardian era.

"As Worn in London". Vogue (15th March 1950)

Had he lived to have seen the photographs taken outside Pope & Bradley's premises gracing the pages of Vogue magazine, there is no doubt that H. Dennis Bradley, the founder of the company, would've been pleased but not necessarily surprised by the publicity.

Pope & Bradley Ltd. 13 Southampton Row, London

Founded in 1903, Pope & Bradley soon became one of the most prominent and influential tailoring houses in London. The company's extensive archive of advertisements and written publications illustrate the historical development of the gentleman's wardrobe throughout the first half of the twentieth century.

H. Dennis Bradley was not only an accomplished designer and businessman, he was also a successful author whose communication skills clearly influenced the prolific advertising campaigns that ran from the early 20th century until his death in 1934.

"Dinner Suit" advertisement. The Tatler (June 1910)

To research the Pope & Bradley advertising archive is to take a journey through the history of the evolution of men's clothing, guided by the inimitable writing style of H. Dennis Bradley and illustrated by some of the most accomplished artists of the time.

One of the earliest examples (above) was featured in The Tatler magazine in 1910. It outlines the cornerstones that laid the foundation for the success of the business: Modernity as it focuses on the vogue for the Dinner Jacket replacing the Dress Coat, Counsel in offering best advice through their publication on men's dress, Value as a function of quality and price, and a sense of Humour with reference to a woman's scorn.

Pope & Bradley Ltd. 14 Old Bond St. (20th March 1913)

By 1913, Pope & Bradley had opened a second London store at 14, Old Bond Street. They had also introduced a new font to their identity, which continued to describe them as "Tailors & Breeches Makers", plus an additional strapline defining the company as "The House Which Sets The Vogue" to further emphasise their position as tastemakers.

"Lounge Suit" advertisement. The Bystander (June 1913)

Whilst, at the turn of the century, H. Dennis Bradley and his team had helped London's smart set to navigate the changing course of fashion (out of tails and frock coats in to dinner jackets and lounge suits), the advent of the First World War was to dramatically change the dress code of the entire nation.

"Officers' Kit" advertisement. The Sketch (August 1915)

In response to increased demand to supply uniform to the British Armed Forces, Pope & Bradley's identity was again reworded to read, "Civil, Military & Naval Tailors". The company continued to advertise profusely, but H. Denis Bradley's copywriting adopted a more serious tone:

"I regard the reputation of Pope & Bradley at stake over every individual military garment produced by the House during the War". H.Dennis Bradley.

To further endorse the reputation for quality, Bradley also changed the strapline below the company's identity to read, "By Royal Appointment to H.M. the King of Spain", following the receipt of a Royal Warrant in 1914. 

"MAN OF TO-DAY" advertisement. The Tatler (January 1916)

As the war years rolled on, the style of Pope & Bradley's promotional activity changed markedly. By 1916, H. Dennis Bradley had begun to commission some of the country's most important commercial artists to illustrate the advertisements. He also clearly thought it timely to remind customers that "Mufti" (clothing worn when out of uniform) was still available.

The dramatic illustration on the 1916 Tatler advertisement (above) is a reproduction of a painting by celebrated artist William Henry Barribal that was commissioned by H. Dennis Bradley to assist First World War recruitment... the subject temporarily leaving his Mufti behind as he strides into battle. 

A caption, "THE MAN OF TO-DAY", was also introduced for the first time. It would go on to become an important phrase that perfectly defined (then, as now) the Pope & Bradley customer.

 "Flyers" advertisement. The Tatler (July 1916)

In June, 1916, mid-way through the Great War, H.Dennis Bradley clearly thought it was time to entertain his audience again. He commissioned a celebrated commercial artist, who worked under the name of "Rilette", to paint a series of picture to "visualize the lighter side of a drab war". 

Rilette was the professional pseudonym of Charles Sykes, a celebrated sculptor, illustrator and painter who was born in Redcar, Yorkshire and studied at Rutherford College in Newcastle before gaining a scholarship in 1895 to attend the Royal Collage of Art. He lived and worked in London and in 1911 was commissioned to design the "Spirit of Ecstasy" mascot for Rolls Royce Motor Cars.

Reproductions of the wonderful series of paintings "in colour on art paper" were available on application "free to officers of H.M. Forces".  

 "Torpedoed" by Rilette (1916)

 "British Warm" by Rilette (1916)

 "The Cult of the Kilt" by Rilette (1916)

"The Propeller" by Rilette (1916)

Following the end of World War One, H. Dennis Bradley was keen to advise his customers on how "The Man of To-Day" should dress for a new age - The Jazz Age.

Bradley commissioned a fresh series of illustrations by an artist named Jacques d‘Or (another pseudonym of Charles Sykes). They continued the romantic theme of the artwork produced during the war-years, but were flavoured with fun to suit the times.

"The Interrupted Jazz" advertisement. The Tatler (February 1920)

"Victory" advertisement. The Illustrated Sports & Dramatic News (June 1920)

"Masters and Mistresses" advertisement. The Sketch (October 1920)

"Boomer-anger" advertisement. The Sketch (January 1921)

"Man Overbored" advertisement. The Bystander (December 1924)

"Help" advertisement. The Tatler (July 1927)

The effects of the Great Depression beginning in 1929 meant the party that had roared throughout the 1920s was suddenly over. 

H. Dennis Bradley continued unabatedly to promote his business, offering the whimsical style of advertising that had become a trademark of the brand, but now, more than ever, the value proposition became the focus of communication.

"Golden Calves" advertisement. The Tatler (April 1930)

Despite the challenges of the era, Pope & Bradley continued to expand, opening another store at the Royal Exchange in Manchester. In 1932, they acquired the Hunting, Civil and Sporting Tailors, "Allports", adding a new dimension to their business as the party-revellers of the city began to follow quieter pursuits in the country.

"A Famous Hunting House" advertisement. The Tatler (November 1932)

By the end of the decade, the world again found itself at war, but on this occasion Pope & Bradley was to face battle without its leader, H. Dennis Bradley, who had passed away five years earlier.

Throughout the Second World War, the company continued to provide uniform and Mufti to its loyal clientele, but in 1945, just a few months away from the end of conflict, the business fell victim to the times and placed itself into liquidation.

Pope & Bradley was soon reincarnated (as evidenced by the opening paragraphs of this article) but missed the guiding hand of its founder and eventually ceased trading.

Mason & Sons believe that the story of H. Dennis Bradley deserves to be told, and the legendary Pope & Bradley brand should live to see another day. With reverence to the man who founded the company, and in service to The Man of To-Day, we are honoured to reintroduce a label that is simply too good to die.

H. Dennis Bradley (1878 - 1934)

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