Swellboy on… spywear

Our man contemplates card holders with hidden powers

Image: Brijesh Patel

I have yet to see Kingsman, but I may soon be wearing it.

Let me explain.

As you may know, I have been occupied with curating the Savile Row and America exhibition, one of the highlights of which was seeing Buffalo Bill’s frock coat, which had been made in the early 20th century by Henry Poole and been flown in from Wyoming for the show to preside in its moth-eaten splendour and climate-controlled glass sarcophagus. Getting hold of Buffalo Bill’s coat was the realisation of a long-held dream, especially as, rather like the Loch Ness Monster, I had heard of this coat but never seen it. 

Anyway, the fact that the show seemed to go down well was in no small part due to the sponsorship of the event by Huntsman, and on the same evening as it opened in DC, No 11 Savile Row was hosting a party for the DVD launch of Kingsman.

And the house seems to be getting into the Kingsman spirit, as was demonstrated by the small deerskin card holder that Huntsman owner Pierre Lagrange presented me with on my touchdown in DC.


Currently I have a very nice carmine card holder in alligator made by Ethan Koh. It has provided years of loyal service and has the benefit of being highly visible. However, as is the way of modern man, I have distorted it by cramming it full of coffee-shop loyalty cards that do nothing but demonstrate my promiscuity in matters of caffeine, swipe cards that allow me to enter buildings I seldom visit, and all manner of indispensible card-sized detritus, until it resembles the liver of a Strasbourg goose. So this overflow holder came at just the right time

I like deerskin – it is supple, durable and has a nice grain – and I immediately set about stuffing it, but then I was told of its hidden powers. Alas, it does not convert into a flying speedboat with rocket-propelled grenades, but it is apparently equipped with an inner membrane that renders its contents impervious to cyber attack. I am a bit concerned about identity theft, having had my Amex card cloned. The card issuer soon cottoned on to the fact that the spending was unusual when it registered large amounts of money being spent at Next: the criminal mindset has clearly moved on since Ronnie Biggs took his ill-gotten gains and fled to live the high life in South America.

Electronic pickpocketing is clearly on the rise, as when I bumped into Roland Iten in Basel earlier this year, he showed me his latest metal credit card holder, which is apparently equipped with similar crime-foiling powers. Roland delights in constructing highly intricate mechanical accessories. For a while I tried one of his belt buckles (and spent half an hour at Key West airport explaining to the perplexed security staff that it was not a weapon), and I enjoyed using a pink aluminium card holder (I enjoyed it so much that I even forgave it for cutting a hole in the back pocket of a pair of trousers). I have long since returned that card holder to its maker, and it has only now struck me how I should have used it. Instead of placing it over my right hip, I should have located it (secret agent style) in my breast pocket above my heart to stop bullets and deflect blades.

Accordingly, I have resolved to call in at Huntsman at the earliest opportunity to bespeak a deerskin card holder that, in addition to repelling e-pickpockets, incorporates the material from which body armour is made. My only concern is that it not be too bulky, as that would distort the silhouette of my suits. If it comes to a toss up between deflecting bullets and destroying the line of my clothes, I would not be sure which is the lesser of the two evils.

For more of Nick Foulkes’ meditations on Savile Row and his US exhibition, see Savile Row tailoring.


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