‘Because It’s There’ Commission for Fortnum & Mason




  ‘…because it’s there!’ G. Mallory

 This stitched garment explores the history of Fortnum and Mason and the 1924 Expedition to Everest.

The 1924 expedition to conquer Everest was the third and last fatal attempt for George Mallory(1886 — 1924).  In an age of idealistic British conquest and travel, Fortnum and Mason provided everything the intrepid explorer might need at its Export department.  It is little wonder then that the 1924 Mount Everest Expedition headed to Fortnum’s.  Headed by a Colonel E.L Strutt he purchased several items, having firstly negotiated a 10% discount.  This revealing invoice items cutlery, crockery, tea infusers, ski mitts, mattresses and of course ‘Fortmason’ hotwater bottles to keep them warm! These provisions travelled miles with the team across continents in wooden crates evidenced in the extraordinary photos of the expedition.  From these documents researched at the RGS, I have chosen the most visually attractive invoice which shows the total amount spent as being to the amount of £77.19 pence. As well as heading a stylistic F&M trademark name so typical of the time it also includes the ever enduring royal warrant — this time belonging to George V and Queen Alexandra.  This is symbolized by the inclusion of a gold plated military button bearing the royal insignia.

In 1999, 75 years after he was last seen, Mallory’s body was discovered on Everest adding to the speculation as to whether he and Irvine had actually made the summit.  Much of his clothing and personal artefacts were found with his extraordinarily well-preserved body including his watch, notebook, altometer and handkerchief.  A 1920’s tweed pair of men’s mountaineering trousers have been sourced as the canvas on which to tell this story.  A folded red silk handkerchief bearing the initials G.L.M rises from behind a horizon made from one of the legs.  Onto this is stitched a diagram drawn by Edward Norton (one of the 1924 team) showing Mount Everest and the heights reached by various team members including Mallory and Irvine.  A ‘clock-face’ full moon is pinned near the summit of the mountain.  Although, the passing of time shows the ridiculous inadequacy of the clothing they wore and opulence of the style in which they travelled compared with today’s modern standards, we can only stand in awe of the valour of these men and furthermore the unchartered territory they travelled which informs the way we climb mountains today.