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Field Report: Bespoken Fall/Winter 2013

Bespoken Clothiers

NYFW barrels into another day. Once again, we traipse across the city to see it, in an indefatigable quest to keep you informed (and show you how stylish future-you could be). Hence, a series of quick-and-dirty posts on as many of the shows as we can get to.

Up next: Bespoken Clothiers.

The Background: Bespoken Clothiers is designed by a couple of buddies who met playing rock and roll—and then went and earned their Savile Row tailoring cred. You can see bits of it in this year’s show, which took place in the dark and dusty library room in the impossibly hip, downest of the downtown venues, the NoMad Hotel (in a room that seemed like a better place to meet your archnemesis than to look at clothes).

The Formula: Formula

Degree of Difficulty: High if you live in a town with less than 100,000 people; low if you go to a lot of independent film premieres.

The Showstoppers: Updated black tie, some beautiful cap-toe boots.

More looks after the jump.»

Princess Leia, Savile Row and How to Know Your Tweed

  • Kempt Staff

Leia to Rest: Carrie Fisher pens a not-terribly-tearful farewell letter to the character who brought her fame—and to that “foolish, focus-pulling hairstyle.”

Misplaced Nostalgia: Fresh off their stint at Pitti Uomo, Fashionista begins to question the use of the word “heritage.” Or, rather, its overuse.

One for the Kippers: A tale of two tailors—on Savile Row—as told by Bruce Boyer.

Tweed Is Good: A useful, and timely, primer on how to choose your tweed blazer wisely, courtesy of Vanity Fair.

Olga Zueva Is in Need of a Blanket

Going Barefoot: Your long-form excursion of the day: a look into life on the lam for the Barefoot Bandit, Colton Harris-Moore, a teenage airplane thief and federal fugitive apprehended in 2010. [Outside]

Blogger Blue Personified: An exhaustive rundown of every last royal-blue item available for purchase in the world today. Collect them all. [A Headlong Dive]

A Thing of Beauty: An Aston Martin parked in front of Gieves & Hawkes on Savile Row. It speaks for itself. [Driven]

The Instant: A photographer’s ode to the Polaroid SX-70, from a friend of Richard Avedon’s. [The Smithsonian]

Anderson & Sheppard’s Greatest Hits

There’s a fantastic piece on Anderson & Sheppard in this month’s Vanity Fair, presumably inspired by Graydon Carter’s book on the same. It gives a view of the Savile Row tailoring house from their beginnings in 1906 as a civilian reaction to the military styles that dominated men’s tailoring at the time. Over the next few decades, they more or less invented the modern business suit.

One particular surprise: just like Band of Outsiders and (gulp) Ed Hardy, their path to the top ran through Hollywood. They converted Fred Astaire and a few of his friends, and have never wanted for business since.

So to show you that British drape up close—we’ve put together a few of our favorite pics from Anderson & Sheppard’s first generation of fans, including Gary Cooper, Rudolph Valentino and Laurence Olivier.

See pictures of Anderson & Sheppard at their best…»

Regina Feoktistova Is Stretching

London Calling: Bridesmaids director Paul Feig (who apparently is starting an e-commerce store) takes a factory tour of Savile Row’s Norton & Sons. [GQ UK]

The Florentines: Video from Pitti Uomo, showing off more plaid than you’ve ever dreamed of. [Dreams of Perfection]

On the Chin: An ode to the bearded men amongst us, and the style they cultivate. [Men of Habit]

Denim Wins Again: An up-close look at a Levi’s and Pendleton trucker jacket. [Simple Threads]

Valerie van der Graaf Has Lost the Pillow Fight

The Coat of Coats: James Fox’s guide to the covert coat. (It’s not actually all that covert.) [Details]

Energetic. Intelligent. Smart Appearance: The tale of Savile Row’s Richard Anderson, as told by Sadie Stein. [Paris Review]

The Badger Hair Wins Again: A tour of Edwin Jagger’s shaving gear. Quality stuff, by the look of it. [Mister Crew]

In Design: John Cho Moore makes great bags, as this video can attest. [Free/Man]

Seamstress Stimulus

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Here’s a quick primer in international relations, courtesy of the Wall Street Journal: The U. S. bails out banks, and France bails out tailors. We’re not going to say which we prefer…

Motivated by a sartorial sense of culture and the rising tide of ready-to-wear fashion, France’s prime minister is currently pondering sending a little aid to the ailing fashion houses of France. Most of them specialize in extremely specialized womenswear, so we won’t see any of our favorite brands on the dole, but if it catches on, it may mean good things for Savile Row.

Unfortunately for the old fabric houses (and the old tailors), style has moved on from the times when well-heeled customers spent their wardrobe money on a few personalized big ticket items. Bringing a little government cheese into the mix isn't going to make them any more up-to-date...but that might not be such a bad thing. Like Savile Row, they'll end up frozen in a particular moment—probably around the time they were stitching up ball gowns for Grace Kelly. It's a museum piece, but a pretty good one.

And maybe Carla can get a few new dresses in the bargain.

The Rules of the Game

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Formalwear has a lot of unspoken rules, and as you get into the thorny, European end, they can get downright confusing. For instance, blue suits and brown shoes are now entirely acceptable—provided you’re outside of Germany. Just so you know…

For a guide, we suggest a tome called Gentleman, which recently received a new cover and a revised edition. It’s got a few hefty predecessors, but it’s definitely worth a look. A few other insights contained within: if your tie lifts your collar tips off your shirt, it’s time to change ties, and if you’re wearing a club tie around London high society, you’d better belong to the club.

Golden Fleece

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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.

Cobbled Together

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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.

Get the address here»

The Loafers

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Collaborations between classic masters and younger brands are thick on the ground these days—yes, Moscot, we’re looking at you—but there aren’t many as well suited as Duckie Brown and Florsheim.

Duckie Brown has been mining Savile Row-style classicism for a while now, so it’s no surprise they finally brought some real cobblers on board. The real surprise here is the subtle shifts they bring in, like adding blues and greens to the leather-dyeing palate, matching the sole rubber to the color of the shoe, and putting out a whole line of cap-toes fastened with metal studs.

Best of all, they’re pricing the bulk of the line at $295, as a gesture to modern times.

See the shoes up close»