Umbrella season is time to make one of those defining style decisions. Do you wait until it rains and grab a cheap umbrella on the street that you won't mind tossing when it inevitably fails nor fret leaving on the train, nor losing to the office mooch? Or do you invest in serious rain gear that bespeaks your impeccable taste and won't go chute-up in a mild breeze?
The latter path suggests the Brigg. Made in England, where umbrellas are constant companions, this is earnest rain protection with British imperial swagger built in. This is a lifelong umbrella that virtually will never turn inside out in the wind. The frame is of fine oil-tempered steel. The inner spring is nickel silver. The cover is hefty nylon or waterproof English silk. The lacquered metal tips that secure it are sewn on by hand.
Strong as it is, the Brigg bends to aesthetics. It's available in a range of exotic woods, including tulip, apple, malacca and whangee canes, and hickory. The handles may be covered in leather or have silver or gold appointments. The sharpest option may be to have the shaft and handle made from one piece of wood. (Or course, each umbrella comes with a metal ring indicating the firm's royal warrant.)
The Brigg accommodates differing customer heights through its selection of shaft sizes, guaranteeing that you'll cut your most dashing figure as you use it for a cane on the boulevard. It's just as sturdy in that regard. Jonathan Cline, who sells the Brigg at New York City haberdashery H. Hertzfeld, recalls a customer who fended off a mugger some 20 years ago with his. The same umbrella recently came back to have a new chute installed.
Brigg once made a real weapon -- an umbrella that doubled as a shotgun. Alas, it is now outlawed. Still, the company has tricks up its chute, like the two-piece that unscrews to reveal a flask or the travel umbrella, with detachable handle and end to fit into luggage. And, as Cline points out, if you want to forestall the office mooch, you can unscrew the handle when you leave it in the cloakroom. At prices from $200 to $950, that might be a good idea.
Inquire at 800-353-9004 for stockists.