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J.Crew Goes to Italy, GQ Dives into Spring and Predicting the Papal Conclave

  • Kempt Staff


Crew Love: J.Crew visits the legendary family-run Vitale Barberis wool mill—suppliers of their finest Ludlow suit fabrics—and rounds up 10 more historic mills.

Slideshow and Tell: And now, for the 211 spring trends that matter, according to GQ’s Jim Moore.

Insta-phonogram: Gizmodo contemplates the staying power of the vinyl LP and how their unique sound is derived by how they’re made.

Dark Horse: In case our papal conclave predictions weren’t as rooted in history as you’d like, here’s a rundown of which past scenarios could predict this one.

The Loud, Rugged Pocket Square

We can never have too many handsome squares of fabric.

This batch comes from Michael James Milton, a small shop stitching together 14-inch pocket squares in San Francisco. They specialize in Japanese and Korean prints, all firmly in the Hill-Side mold but a little more adventurous than you’d find on the East Coast. It’s too rough-and-tumble to wear with your interview suit, but if you’re looking for a way to spice up your winter tweeds, it’s a good place to start.

They haven’t made the leap into ties yet... but it’s only a matter of time.

See a few more from Michael James Milton»

Of All Trades


With the level of plaid in your closet set to reach eye-popping levels, it may be time for a new trick. Naturally, we’ve got one in mind.

It’s time to reacquaint yourself with jacquard.

It's a weaving trick that lets you work bumps and ridges straight into the cloth, resulting in seersucker-style ventilation. You may have seen the shinier silk version on ties or some of the world’s flashier tuxedos, but we’re thinking of something a little earthier.

This Engineered Garments shirt puts a simpler fabric through the same intricate weaving to end up with a texture that looks like something you might have seen onstage at the Fillmore East in 1971. Not a bad place to find inspiration.

My Hands are Tied


Other than periodic sea changes—most recently from silk to wool and from wide to narrow—the tie world doesn’t have much in the way of innovation. Which makes the exceptions all the more interesting.

C. Chauchat is a tie line based around one of the more interesting fabric innovations we’ve seen in quite some time. The pictures don’t quite do them justice, but here’s the gist: classic fabrics like seersucker and checked poplin covered up by a sheer layer of cotton voile. The result is an item that looks a little different every time you glance at it, and probably one of the more compelling fabrics in your closet.

So far it’s only at two shops—Bblessing in New York and Creatures of Comfort in L.A.—but we won’t be surprised if that number starts growing before the winter’s up.

Jumbled Up


The high-tech fabric game can be a tough one. It rules out any retro influences off the bat, leaving designers to more or less fend for themselves. And, when you’re splitting your time (and your fabrics) between clothes and bags, the risk of looking like Matrix castoffs is real.

Acronym manages it as well as any we’ve seen, mostly by sticking with a somewhat baggier take on clothes that are already staples. It looks like the fabric reacts badly to being tucked in…but we’re not complaining. It’s hard to focus on the perfect drape when you’re building rainproof, wearproof, and all around indestructible weaves.

And, unlike most of what you see on this site, these clothes are best appreciated in the midst of a rainstorm.

See more from Acronym»



This bit of raw denim got us thinking. As with most high-end jeans, the main selling point here is the material: the finest Japanese denim, guaranteed keep getting better for decades to come.

Since the fabric warps to fit your body, there isn’t much point in bragging about the cut or the skills of the designer. What you’re buying is the fabric; everything else is secondary. It’s an attention to material you don’t see much outside of bespoke houses, but by now it’s second nature to the streetwear crowd.

Why raw denim still matters»

Acting Tough


These are rugged times. Rugged materials are called for.

But hopefully we can keep them confined to garments that won’t actually touch your body. After all, it’s all fun and games until somebody gets a rash.

This burlap tie may be the first good item we’ve seen to make use of rougher fabrics, but we’re pretty sure it won’t be the last. (Hat tip to UD Chicago.) A good contrast of fabrics can make a whole outfit, and burlap is pretty much guaranteed to set off whatever texture your suit is. Plus, it’s tough enough to last until the next bubble.

Golden Fleece


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.

Rags and Patches


We’ve seen a lot of suit fabrics, but we’ve never seen them quite like this.

This bedspread was made from sewing together old suit fabrics, so if you’ve ever felt the need to sleep under Italy’s finest threads, you just got your chance. The full set includes a bed cover, a duvet cover and a pair of pillowcases, and they only have as much fabric as they can scrounge up, so each piece is one of a kind. Of course, that also means a single set will run you upwards of three grand, but it’s not too much more than you’d pay Paul Smith for a few suits.

The origins of this fascinating creation»

And The Fabric’s Easy


With summer in full force, you may be looking for lightweight suits. Aside from the Wolfen white suit, your choices are mostly going to depend on your knowledge of the fabrics involved.

In that vein, allow us to repeat a bit of wisdom from A Suitable Wardrobe. Instead of putting stock in the weight of a fabric, you might do better paying attention to the weave. Woven properly, even heavy cloth can be allowed to breathe. Summer fabrics are likely to have “fresco” in the name, or something similarly breezy-sounding, and they can be made heavy enough to avoid too much flapping.

Not to mention the dreaded crumple.