Havinden holding

Ashley Havinden illustrated Wolsey advert of sock as seal

There is a lovely Autumnal feel to the air now. Can’t wait for Autumn proper.

How many more opportunities for clothing there are as it gets cooler. And knitty-things come in to their own. Something you don’t see advertised much anymore is socks. No idea why. Not enough sex in an image of a sock I guess. At least not enough for your ordinary shopper.

Yet there are some classic historic brands still quietly making nice socks and knitwear. I came to Wolsey via my interest in the work of Ashley Havinden – a man of graphic action, particularly for menswear from the 1930s through the 1960s. There is a tasty book on Havinden, which accompanied an exhibition I’d have loved to have seen. It briefly mentions the Wolsey work as being part of Havenden’s output for the uber advertising agency Crawford’s.

I have a set of these 1950s Wolsey adverts in black and white. But the colour ones are so much better. These images were sent to me by a nice person at Wolsey, where they still have things pasted into scrapbooks from years past. The less is more aesthetic of this series of ads is striking and very Havinden. In each advert he has added just a few lines or a spot of colour and made it whole. They’re a bit Guinness, a bit Lewitt-Him. Havinden did the logo for Wolsey seen on these ads too. It’s very similar to his perky 1955 Script typeface.

Havinden also designed for Simpson’s and Jaeger in the 1950s, when they did some of their best campaigns and packaging. As I also love paper bits and pieces from those two fashion labels, for me Havinden really did produce the goods.

Ashley Havinden Wolsey advert of sock as giraffe

Foot note (couldn’t resist that one): Havinden seems to be one of the few London design hoi-polloi of the 1930s and 1940s not to have been commissioned to do a London Underground poster.  Is this true?  Is there anyone out there who might know why?



How could I resist? Especially when lured in with a seal sock… And I clearly need to have that book too.

It doesn’t look like he worked for LT, does it. I wonder if that was because he was employed by Crawfords, rather than being freelance? Not that I know much about their commissioning ways, it’s just a guess.

And he certainly did posters for other people; in fact a quick google has produced so much wonderful stuff that I think a fuller reply may be needed back on my own pages in due course.

But, as one question deserves another, why are the socks cardinal?

shelf appeal

Maybe it was the Crawfords thing, but lots of them worked there i think. Havinden knew Pick too. Intriguing. The ‘cardinal’ has to be for Cardinal Wolsey, surely? 🙂 The book is dirt cheap at that link I posted, tempted to buy another, for no good reason.


“hoi polloi” doesn’t mean “important” or “special” — it means “the common people”. Maybe you’re thinking of “hoity toity”.

shelf appeal

I take leave to leave it in. I refer to the ubiquitous design circles of the period in London. And I love the words. I also like the fact you noticed and commented.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *