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My last ‘reflections on bespoke’ post back in January was very popular. Readers seemed to respond to the assessment of bespoke commissions with the wisdom of hindsight, and I have to say I sympathise.

Here, then, are five more, with the items selected by those readers.
 

Steven Hitchcock bespokeTweed jacket from Steven Hitchcock

It was interesting that most readers’ requests were for reflections on bespoke tailoring. The mid-blue tweed jacket I had made by Steven Hitchcock in 2012 has only improved with age in terms of fit, but perhaps less so in terms of material. 

Steven, having trained at Anderson & Sheppard, cuts jackets in a drape style. This adds chest to the wearer and is wonderfully comfortable. I commissioned this particular jacket in a two-button stance, and I would recommend it over the 3-roll-2 variety. My other drape jackets were cut in that latter style (by Steven’s father, John) and I’ve never quite liked the way it rolls, which is somehow compromised compared to the Italians. The top button naturally sits half-turned, and pushes out the lapel where it does so. 

Style-wise, the blue tweed is wonderful – the least old-mannish tone you will ever find. But the gauntlet cuffs were probably a mistake (nice, but they don’t really fit with the style) and I should have chosen darker buttons (must get those changed…).

J Panther luggage ruc tote 2RucTote from J Panther

J Panther is a New York company that makes beautiful bags with often innovative details. The RucTote is a good example, as it can be carried in the hand, on the shoulder or as a ruc-sack, all with different permutations of the handles. 

It is also very well made. Luke (Carby, photographer) has used his far more than me – perhaps punished it, rather – and it has held up very well. The bridle leather has softened nicely, the canvas worn well and the hardware and zippers never failed.

The only design issue on the RucTote is that the long strap on one side (where it can be pulled through to make a backpack) rather suffers from pulling on the bottom of the bag rather than being secured at the top. A minor irritation, not a major fault. 

Cifonelli-navy-suit-buttonhole-shoulderNavy suit from Cifonelli

The navy suit I had made by superlative French tailors Cifonelli is a thing of beauty. I can understand why someone wouldn’t want that in a day-to-day suit – or rather, be prepared to pay extra for it – but that’s what it is and how it should be seen. Beautifully fitting and exquisitely made. 

I would make a general comment on the Cifonelli cut, however, which is that it is better suited to more formal clothing. It is perfect for my navy suit, or cashmere coat, but worked less well with my first commission – a Harris tweed jacket. Despite Cifonelli’s soft chest and shoulder, the roping of the sleevehead always gives its tailoring a touch of drama, which doesn’t necessarily sit well with informal clothing. 

Tom Davies frame designsHorn glasses by Tom Davies

I had two pairs of glasses made by Tom Davies, whom I got to know through my neighbour, Jake. They were both very well made, and I am a big fan of his process. He is a great example of why Made in China can actually mean the very best quality, rather than the worst. 

My word of caution, however, would be to stick closely to Tom’s existing designs and models. We didn’t really do that with either of my bespoke commissions, and I regretted it. A change of just one millimetre in a frame can transform a look – there is perhaps less margin for error than with anything else I write about. And while I love my horn glasses and my sunglasses, I don’t wear them as much as my Francois Pintons.

Sartoria VergalloCashmere suit from Vergallo

Vergallo, a small tailor from the town of Varese in Italy, makes a lovely suit and – at £2000 at the time – a very good value one. I wouldn’t say that I would select it over other favourites from Italy, such as Elia Caliendo or Ferdinando Caraceni, but then they are a lot more expensive. 

I wouldn’t recommend using 100% cashmere in a suit ever, however. The jacket still works beautifully as a blazer, but the trousers immediately lost any shape and refused to get it back. They’re more akin to tracksuit bottoms than suit trousers. The next hot thing on the catwalk, perhaps?

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Mac

Hi Simon,

The top button on a roll-through lapel has to sit on the roll of the lapel. Surely that’s the whole point of it? If some tailors avoid this, I can only assume that they are putting the buttons very close together (which almost defeats the object). How does the Italian version differ?

Bradley

Simon
Great post – thank you
In terms of horn glasses, what is the approximate cost for Tom’s horn frames over those at Meyrowitz? I ask because i had horn glasses made at the latter and although good, after 4 attempts at getting the actual lens prescription right i walked out and will not return. Do you also know if Tom will work with other makers horn frames when replacing the lenses?
Cashmere trousers – have you tried the new steam generator irons to try and bring back some order to them? I have just purhcased such an iron and am astonished at the results it produces without a shine being made. Worth a mention i thought.
Regards
Bradley

MD

Hi Simon

Great post as usual. Slightly off topic, this question, but what do you think of trouser presses? Would or do you own one?

Jeff Dahlmer

Hi,
You mention above that your Stephen Hitchcock blazer has improved with age in terms of fit, but not material; does this mean that the fabric itself is showing signs of age? Would a heavier fabric (13-15 oz) have been a better choice? I am thinking of commissioning a similar jacket myself, and I am wondering if 11oz is too thin a fabric.

Thanks,
Jeff

Frank

Simon wrote: “Cifonelli cut, however, (…) is (…) better suited to more formal clothing.” Would you say the same about Chittleboroug & Morgan? They seem to have very structured jackets too, but then M.Brownes seersucker jacket you once showed, looked amazing.

Lawrence Gordon

Simon – I thoroughly enjoy your musings on the world of bespoke, but have always wondered one thing in particular. Being that you are a journalist (at least that’s what I assume you are), are you charged for all of the beautiful and costly things you have made? One would have to have quite a significant amount of disposable income to afford such costly things. Obviously if you would rather not divulge this information, I understand. Just curious….

Stephen

Thanks for this Simon, great to know how these items wear and adapt over time. With all of the bespoke it would be great to see more pictures, particularly of the smaller details and items such as linings. I ask for this as some of the real beauty of bespoke and indeed of the crafts involved are to be found in the details that in RTW are machined or part of a production line; the beauty of a button hole, the selection of lining colour, button choice, hand stitching, detail on seams etc. The small touches can speak volumes about the makers art and the owners style.

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Matt S

Those links would work better if you linked to the pages:
http://thesuitsofjamesbond.com/the-hacking-jacket/
http://thesuitsofjamesbond.com/tick-patterned-suit/
http://thesuitsofjamesbond.com/the-hacking-jacket/

George Lazenby’s three-piece suit is intended to look old-fashioned since it belongs to the man Bond is impersonating. Connery’s tweed jacket doesn’t look young by today’s standards considering its full cut, but if it were slimmed down a little I don’t think it would have any problem looking modern.

Matt S

To add to this, I find that American-style tweed jackets have a much more old-mannish look than anything in an English or Italian cut. But that is coming from an American perspective.

Dan Ippolito

Is Connery’s jacket really that full? It still emphasized his V-shaped torso without pulling and gapping. Lazenby’s suit matches the color and pattern of the man Bond is impersonating, but certainly not the cut. Dimi Major took a conservative tweed pattern and turned it into something trim-fitting, with high armholes and a nipped waist and, in my opinion, fairly youthful (if by “youthful” we mean form-fitting.

Nicolas Stromback

Hi Simon,

Can you recommend a good value tailor for shirts in London for a first time bespoke? I spoke to the gentlemen at Graham Browne and they dont offer shirts at the moment, so I need to go elsewhere. Preferable someone who offers the same value as GB does in terms of suits.

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And how about the London tailors then? Since I will only be in London for a short while this time, I probably need to find me a British one.

twitter_NicoStromback

I know, unfortunately Im only in town for 2 days. But I have been in contact with Simone now, so will set up a meeting with him in New York instead. I think I can hold off for a couple of months!
Interestingly the guys at GB has offered to have to have the first fitting ready in only two days. Now thats what I call customer service. Thanks for that recommendation!

Anonymous

Hi Simon,
Perhaps the wrong post to be asking my question on but since another reader has queried bespoke shirts I’d be grateful if you could advise on whether €200 is Luca Avitabile’s average price, or starting price. I’ve ordered shirts that are in the region of €230-€240 for cloths including Thomas Mason and Caccioppoli. Does this sound reasonable?

BespokeNYC

Another very interesting article Simon! I’m surprised to hear you are planning on darker buttons for the SH jacket as I thought the light ones looked rather good. Is the goal to “tone down” the jacket?

Mac

The best bespoke shirts that I’ve seen anywhere are Roger Moore’s Bond shirts by Frank Foster. I wear bespoke shirts and know many others who do. His are the best I’ve seen. Immaculate. Not sure, but I think he’s still in business.

In my opinion, handwork’s not important in shirts. It adds nothing of substance. A good shirt’s really all about a decent fit and a good collar. Neat stitching.

A shirt doesn’t require a close fit and it’s worn under a jacket mostly. I don’t understand why anyone would want to go to Italy or France to order a shirt!

J

@Mac

All the shirtmakers I’ve tried in the UK, admittedly not T&A pricing levels though, seem to have a heavier feel around the collar than the Made In Italy tailors. For me they always tended to feel uncomfortable around the collar when worn with a tie.

Mac

Hi J,
It depends what you want. A formal shirt requires structure in the collar. I’m sure we all agree on that. There are varying degrees of stiffness in collar interlinings. You can request what you prefer. Stiffness and structure gives cleanness and a softer collar will have a more messy look. A stiff (starched) collar (white tie or morning dress) is the ultimate expression of formality. That’s why we wear stiff collars on those occasions. A tie with a soft collar doesn’t look right to me.

Simon is perfectly right to buy Italian shirts as he like the handwork. I’m simply saying that, for me personally, it’s not necessary to have handwork on a bespoke shirt. It’s made of thin cotton, is not canvassed and is very soft already in the body. Who needs softer than soft?

I’m not necessarily saying Simon’s wrong to buy Italian. I’m only saying that machine-stitching is the industry standard and doesn’t imply lower quality.

Anonymous

Simon,
Can you advise on when and where Fiorenzo from d’Avino visits London, if he does? Also does he have a minimum order?
I thought your denim shirt from him was stunning.

Philip Stewart

Simon, I think you mentioned before that you had a bespoke shirt made by Cleeves via Drakes? I’ve ordered some myself and would be interested in your opinion.

Mac

Simon,
You know people who wear Charvet. How are they constructed in comparison to D’ Avino’s?

Anthony M

Dear Simon,
If, like me, you are someone who tends to gain or lose a little weight depending on the season, what type of fit do you recommend going for in terms of trousers?