The glen check, better known as the Prince of Wales check, is a staple suit fabric. For many men, particularly those who shun pinstripes, it will be their first foray beyond the basics of solid navy blue and solid grey cloths.
The name is derived from Glenurqhart in Invernesshire in Scotland, where the Seafield family has a sporting estate. In 1840 the Countess of Seafield adopted the large check as the estate tweed, which is how the Prince of Wales, later Edward VII came to see it – he regularly shot with the Seafields.
Bertie, the Prince of Wales, liked it so much he asked if he could have clothes made from the cloth, and his grandson, the Duke of Windsor, was just as keen on the check (it’s a common mistake to believe the pattern is named after him).
These days the Seafield’s estate check (see picture below) is still available from Johnstons of Elgin (albeit only if you order 60m of cloth) but given the weight of the tweed fabric (24 oz), and the size of the pattern, the original Seafield glen check is neglected these days in favour of lighter cloths with smaller patterns.
It’s this model that has influenced Henry Poole, Savile Row tailors to the Seafields since the 19th century, which has created a new version of the glen check with the blessing of the current Earl of Seafield (as we first reported here).
The new cloth, which is a worsted, despite being made by flannel specialist Fox Brothers of Somerset, is a very contemporary small glen check with a burgundy over check in an airy 10oz cloth (Poole’s house fabrics are created with an eye on the Californian market). The glen check might be ubiquitous, but Poole’s new version is the only one to carry a seal of approval from the people who devised the pattern.
Henry Poole, 15 Savile Row, www.henrypoole.com
Some of Lord Seafied's keepers wearing the original glen check, which was designed as the Seafield's estate tweed. Picture courtesy of Lord Seafield.