Tweed Profiles - Andrew Smith
This week we speak to Andrew Smith, Head Butler at the Howard Hotel in Edinburgh. The Howard is a luxury hotel which comprises three connected Georgian townhouses, making it a discreet yet convenient central city stay. Butler service makes the hotel unique, with any special requirements being taken care of with skill and perfection. We will let Andrew tell you more...
2. Tell us about your background and your role within the Howard.
I have worked in Edinburgh’s finest hotels since leaving school, starting as a part-time waiter at the George hotel (many years ago!) then moving to The Caledonian Hotel and Balmoral Hotel. I started working at the Howard Hotel 6 years ago as Head Butler which has graduated into a dual role as hotel manager
3. When did you first become a customer at Walker Slater and what attracted you to the store?
I started shopping at Walker Slater when my father dressed up his two sons for a special family event tweed suits. I loved the classic look and feel of the clothes as well as the uniqueness and timeless element of clothing. I have to say that I was instantly hooked. I remember the feeling of pride putting on the cufflinks in the shop and having the suit jacket tailored to fit.
4. How would you describe your style? And does work differ largely from down time?
At work I wear a very traditional and heavy butler suit with long tails but even in my down time I try to dress like a true gentleman should. I have dressed ‘smart’ for as long as I can remember. I even remember wearing a dressed white shirt and black tie accessorised with braces at primary school. At high school, I became interested in the swing movement and its music and started to experiment with some traditional 1940s accessories like the fedora and my favourite ‘gangster brogues’.
5. When looking after clients, how can a Butler help with the clients' fashion needs?
I can’t count how many times guests have come for my help, whether it’s just to tie their bow tie or to do up their Ghillie Brogues. Although I would not advise any of our guests on fashion (I leave that to the professionals), I am often asked how to wear traditional items of clothing.
6. Do you think the role of a Butler had a specific time where it was fashionable? Will it ever go out of style?
I don’t know if being a butler was ever fashionable! However employing one as a senior member of your household definitely had its fashionable moments. Even today we have seen a dramatic increase in demand for butlers in countries such as the USA, China, India and the Middle East. In these countries, a traditional British trained Butler is well sought after.
7. If you were choosing the playlist for a day of relaxing, what music would you put on?
As you can probably tell from my previous answers, I would definitely start with some jazz or swing from the 30s and 40s, building up to something a little more modern like Elvis.
8. Do you have a favourite garment you’d like to see made in tweed?
I think everything that can be made of tweed has already been done, but the two items that that I would love to own is a full butler uniform in tweed for special occasions and golf plus fours in my family's tartan.
9. What is your favourite Scottish word?
Having very Scottish parents and grandparents, I was often bombarded with slang and Gaelic words around the house. Most of the time I was unsure of their meaning, but my absolute favourite and the only one I can repeat to your readers is 'dreich'. I love using it and let’s be honest, with our weather, I get to use it often.
Andrew wears our Darcy Morning Coat (£295), Harry II Shirt in white (£68) and Edward waistcoat in charcoal Shetland Donegal (£85).