This week’s most stylish intel from our brothers-in-arms at UrbanDaddy.
By now you’ve heard of renowned NYC haberdasher Freemans Sporting Club, but you probably haven’t heard of their secret bespoke suiting studio…
Usually only discussed in hushed tones among the well-informed—and well-dressed—the studio is hidden behind a faux bookcase upstairs, somewhere above their eponymous restaurant (sorry, we can’t tell you any more than that). Concealed within: a menswear dream world of bench-made bespokery, cigars, scotch and a master tailor ready to make you a fully canvassed made-to-measure suit.
Consider denim. It’s sturdy. Loyal. Cleans up nice. So we’re giving denim—in all of its forms—the credit it deserves by declaring it Denim Week here on Kempt…
Fall is so close, we can taste it (very spiced-cider-y this year). So, in anticipation of the monumental shift in your wardrobe, leisure activities and general state-of-mind, we’re dedicating this week to preparing you for all of your upcoming autumnal endeavors…
If you haven’t heard, menswear is a boomtown right now, and the real movers and shakers are building their brands from the ground up on sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo. Herewith, this season’s brightest crowdfunding stars: »
That’s right. This beautiful specimen of Italian linen and American handcrafting is going to set you back $2,005—and thanks to our friends at UrbanDaddy Perks, it’s worth every penny. (A price tag well under retail—that is, if this were sold anywhere else.) If you’ve heard of Commonwealth Proper, the bespoke outfit hailing from Philly, you’ll already know what they’re about: the finest materials, dedication to craft and making clothes that aren’t British-leaning, Italian-feigning or anything other than good old American no-nonsense tailoring. And you might also know that they don’t make RTW suiting. Except for this exclusive blazer.
It’s usually just suits and shoes getting the bespoke treatment, but the process can do great things to a briefcase as well. Take this briefcase from cobbler G. J. Cleverley’s bespoke program, which combines a trad-friendly design with a material you’re more used to seeing on pimp boots. The result is one of the cheekier pieces of British luggage we’ve seen. Nicely done.
If you’ve had a custom suit made recently, you may have noticed a mind-boggling number of choices piling up in front of you. Would you like contrast threading? Two or six-millimeter pick-stitching? How do you feel about buttonholes?
The decisions are easier to handle with a trusted tailor, but with Web shops opening up left and right, it can be a genuinely befuddling moment. Unless you’ve spent the last few years studying StyleForum, you might not know the coded sartorial meaning of kissing buttonholes or the dozen other affectations swirling around the edges of a custom suit.
So we’re going to explain it all, here and now. The good news is, it’s simpler than you think.
This is Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., the first Zorro and one of the original well-dressed gentlemen of Old Hollywood.
He was also the owner of a pretty spectacular wardrobe, including 34 shoehorns, five ascots and three matching velvet tuxedos in ruby, sapphire and chocolate colors.
And now, it’s all going up for auction…
We were figuring it would take a while for the giants of the old guard to find their way to the new technologies, but we may have underestimated them.
Alan Flusser, for instance, is wasting no time.
The sartorial sage’s latest work is Bespeak, an iPhone app that determines the specs of your perfect suit based on your height, coloring and body shape. The impressive thing is how natural it feels, since so much of his work points men towards exactly this kind of choice. It’s shinier, but the basic wisdom hasn’t changed.
Now we just need to introduce him to these guys.
There’s something about the single-minded obsession of an audiophile that commands respect. So while we’re not personally ready to drop more than a thousand dollars on the perfect earbud, we have to admit that these are pretty awesome.
CrunchGear dug deep into the world of high-end earbuds—the kind of stuff discerning musicians wear on-stage to check the mix—and came away with three fantastic pairs of in-ear devices, each decked out with more audio-tweaking gadgetry than we can possibly hope to understand. This is what the very high-end looks like.
Here’s one bit we did follow: the process of picking one up starts with the artisans making a mold of your ear. The resulting device is perfectly fitted to your body, and it won’t fit anyone else quite as well…kind of like those suits we’re always gushing about. And about as expensive.
We’re always glad to see signs of men getting a little more educated about their clothes, so this Observer piece was what we call in the business “a very good sign.”
Here’s the gist: New York tailors are starting to get customers who aren’t afraid to get into gritty technical details like ankle measurements, tapering and shoulder pitch. In short, they know what they’re doing.
The expansion of bespokery is old news by now, but it’s reaching to areas that never occurred to us. For instance, that maple wand in your closet could probably stand to be a bit more customized.
The Hanger Project is making a play at setting up the luxury wooden hanger market by offering wooden suit hangers made to measure. It’s a familiar idea to anyone versed in the art of the shoe tree, but it’s still a welcome addition to our sartorial arsenal.
They’re a bit expensive, but so was your suit, and there’s no point in letting it spend its days on shoulders that are narrower than yours.
We’ve always thought bespokery was the answer to most of the worlds problems (think about it, Geithner), but we never would have thought of it for the sporting world. But the Brits can only do soccer and tailoring for so long before they put the two together…
Umbro recently paired with Aitor Throup to produce a line of bespoke jersey for England’s national soccer team. Of course, Throup being Throup, that came along with a lot of high-minded anatomy and material design research, but the result a team with a set of well-shaped jerseys—and an Imperial sales bonus for Umbro.
For the unfamiliar, they’re tailoring seams, and they go a long way to explaining why the cut is so trim, and why the item looks as much like a lapel-less blazer as a cardigan.
Ever since the new bespoke movement took off, we’ve been seeing tailoring toucheslike this sneak into casual clothes. This is as good an example as we’ve seen so far—but we’re hoping to see far better before the year is out.
Is anyone out there brave enough to put a set of buttonholes on the cuffs of their hoodie?
eCommerce and Flash media have developed together to the point that it’s possible to customize just about anything—with the right site, naturally. But we’re a little unsure of whether taking on tailoring was a good idea.
Shirtsmyway.com is a customizable shirting site that lets you enter your measurements, select a style, and generally oversee your oxford from conception to completion. Then it’s stitched together in China and shipped to your doorstep, just the way you imagined. Of course, we would never speak ill of tailoring, but something about this setup just doesn’t seem right…
Naturally, versatility can be a mixed blessing, but if you’ve got the right tailor on board things tend to turn out ok. And it’s hard to make bike clothes uglier than they are already…
Rapha Performance Roadwear recently commissioned traveling tailor Timothy Everest to make a suit designed for bicycling, and the result is surprisingly palatable. The jacket’s lower flaps can be fastened to the pockets to keep them from flapping, and an extra length of sleeve can be rolled down to keep the wrists covered when the rider leans over the handlebars. Best of all, the pattern is a simple gray check that won’t announce itself too loudly. (Don’t be fooled by the zebra stripes; that’s just the camera).
Think of it as just one more example: tailors can do anything if they put their minds to it.
In general, the world of custom tailoring is small enough that there isn’t room for big ticket items. But if you come across the right materials, it can be hard to resist…
Luckily, Vicuna wool may well be the most valuable fabric on earth, and the Savile Row firm Holland & Sherry is feeling inspired. A vicuna can only be shorn every three years, so harvesting a usable amount of wool took a solid five years, combined with a year and a half to develop the cloth into a usable worsted pattern. So far, they’re charging $50,000 a piece, and they should have enough cloth for 18 suits—provided there aren’t any sumo wrestlers out there with a taste for bespokery.
It’s hard to find a good cobbler this side of Florence…but maybe we just haven’t been looking hard enough.
Our old friends at Michael Andrews Bespoke are starting up an eponymous cobbling line, with 30 styles, 50 leathers and a fit molded to the unique shape of your hoof. It’s the kind of service that’s a lot easier to find in Savile Row and Hong Kong, but surprisingly thin on the ground in the states. It’s also a lot easier to find if you’re willing to drop a few thousand dollars, but this time around the damage is limited to six to eight hundred dollars, especially useful if you’re a banker with a new budget.
The latest F/W line from Craig Robinson confirms what we’ve long suspected: a good tailor always wins out.
Robinson comes out of the bespoke world, so he’s got an appreciation for clean lines and the occasional pair of suspenders, but it doesn’t stop him from throwing in some intricate paneling when the mood strikes him. Shuffling between through British sophistication and military precision, this line isn’t exactly on-trend, but it’s so well done that it doesn’t matter.
Good design is still good design, and good timing is no substitute.
*Photographed by our fearless lensman, Patrick McMullan.*
Manolo Blahnik‘s name is of course familiar to shoe fetishists and *Sex & the City* slatterns. Quite apart from that however he is also one of the world’s best-dressed men. The dapper designer has both the panache and gravitas to pull off the old school double-breasted suit and bowtie look in a way that few men really can. Note that he does not look remotely silly even when clutching a satin stiletto (he’s about to sign it for some Bergdorf Blondes, not try it on).
Note also the ticket pocket and turned-back cuffs on the jacket which fairly shout “bespoke”; the jacquard bowtie of perfect proportion, disheveled just enough so that there can be no question of its being one of those horrific pre-tied affairs; the natty tortoiseshell specs; and the bodacious boutonniere, a nice Wildean touch. Whether he chose the suit to match the shoe we wouldn’t venture to say.
For all the bespokery surrounding shoes and suits, there’s remarkably few limited edition operations on the tie front…which is why we’re so happy we’ve actually found one.
The tie-maker’s name is Vittorio J, and it turns out we’ve been admiring his work for much longer than we’ve known his name. He’s a staple of the shirt-and-tie boutique 20 Peacocks and takes appointments for bespoke tie service at Michael Andrews Bespoke, two of our favorite Manhattan outposts that just happen to be neighbors.
As you might guess from the name, Vittorio favors Italian styling over the British flair that’s currently popular, but most of their stock won’t look too familiar anyway. They specialize in exclusive designs and very small runs, sometimes making as few as two ties.
In other words, you can be sure they haven’t seen it before.
With ties trending British, it’s a good time to have an overseas source.
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