Reflections on bespoke: Stoffa, Richard James, Camps de Luca

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One thing readers asked for in our 'We are 10' post was more reflections on bespoke pieces.

When covering bespoke, I tend to write both an initial piece giving the background and approach of the maker, and then a fuller review when the piece is ready.

However, a third piece a year or so later can be very helpful. There are some things you don't realise about a suit until you've worn in many times, and acquiring other pieces can often give valuable perspective on something else.

Examples of previous posts in this vein are:

Today, I am going to reflect on three bespoke or made-to-measure pieces from recent years - made by Richard James, Stoffa and Camps de Luca.

I've picked those three because I feel my appreciation of them has moved on since they were made, in different ways.

 

1 Richard James cashmere sports jacket

Background: Richard James bespoke tailoring

The process of bespeaking this sports jacket with Ben Clarke at Richard James was highly interactive.

Ben is a very curious professional, and was interested in making something closer in cut and construction to my Neapolitan jackets than the Savile Row versions he was trained on.

This he managed to do, helped by the fact that he is also a coatmaker, and so could both cut and make every aspect himself. The shoulders were very lightly padded, the sleevehead inserted 'spalla camicia' and the fronts more rounded.

However, my key reflection on this piece since it was made is that, lovely as it is, it is not really that similar to a Neapolitan jacket.

There are simply too many subtleties to how a jacket is cut and made. Neapolitan style is a lot more than just light canvas and patch pockets.

For example, those rounded fronts were never quite the right shape. Still too straight, still too angular. And if they had been changed more, they would have been out of balance with the lapels.

Do not ask a tailor from one tradition to make something from another, completely different one. Unless they take an example and completely reconstruct it, it's not going to be the same.

 

2 Stoffa navy-suede aviator jacket

Background: Stoffa: Beautiful, refined made-to-measure

Original review: Stoffa suede flight jacket - Review

I picked my Stoffa aviator jacket for this list largely to confirm and emphasise my original thoughts.

At the time, I said that while brown or tan are more common colours for a blouson-style jacket, navy is perhaps just as useful in a modern, dress-down office.

That has been born out in time, as the jacket has been frequently worn on those in-between occasions, often with smart trousers.

I also said that I would have preferred non-cotton lining in the sleeves, and that continues to be an issue.

But most importantly, I've found that my suspicions that the style wouldn't suit me proved correct.

Although I love Stoffa's distinctive style points on the aviator - the oversized collar, the oversized pockets - it is a little too bottom-heavy for me given its length, creating an impression of bulk around the waist.

I still wear it, but largely open rather than zipped up.

I should probably have gone for the asymmetric style instead - and it's a mark of how much I like Stoffa overall that I'm considering buying one, probably in taupe.

 

3 Camps de Luca grey suit

Background: Camps de Luca

Original review: Final Camps de Luca grey suit

This 13-ounce worsted suit, which I had made by Camps de Luca in 2015, has become in the intervening years my favourite business suit.

At the time I reviewed it positively, but without the perspective to say how well it would fit into my wardrobe.

It has done so fantastically, for three reasons.

First, the cloth, which I guess has nothing to do with Camps. It is heavy for most modern suits, but never feels it. The shade of grey is perfectly serious and professional, but versatile enough to go with a wide range of accessories.

And the pick-and-pick weave adds a nice level of surface interest without resorting to the showiness of an actual check.

Second, the cut and style do the same thing. Little points like the distinctive Camps de Luca notch lapel, and folded vents, create subtle points of interest - so subtle that someone seeing it would struggle to say whether suits are normally like that, without another to compare it to.

And third, the superb level of make gives me little, pleasurable reminders of the suit's quality every time I wear it.

I remarked on my original review how simple the make the trousers is, yet how perfectly they fit. And the way the pocket bag is tacked to the fly.

And of course, every time I reach for a business card from the teardrop-shaped inside-hip pocket, it reminds me of the time I watched a tailor painstakingly make one in the Paris workshop.

Sharp and professional, yet stylish and beautiful. 

 

Photography: 

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Gohar Raja

Very useful and informative as always.

Wishing you and your loved ones, a safe, prosperous and happy 2018.

Mark P.

Thinking of getting the Stoffa jacket myself but looking at the original review photos i can see your point about the perceived bulk around the waist. Is it the weight, design or placement of the oversized pockets and flap that create this ? Or could that area be tapered down to the waistband a little more perhaps ? Just curious if this slight bulking is something i’d have to accept or if anything could be accomodated during fittings ? Best Wishes and Happy New Year.

Mark P

Gotcha. Thanks anyway.

Paul

Hi Simon
Reflecting on 2017 my favourite post over the last 10 years was your interview with Alan See in putting together outfits with sports jackets. I had the great pleasure of meeting Mark Cho in Drakes after visiting your pop up a month ago Mark was generous with his time and patient with my comments on Drakes clothes. We even had the opportunity to discuss his Seiko watch which follows an article about it in a new book There is incidentally a great half hour recorded interview with Mark by Monocle on U Tube. For me this year I am about to make the first of 5 visits to Warsaw to have a jacket made by Zaremba. Then it’s on to B and T tailors. Have a great 2028.
Paul

David

The Stoffa or the Valstar?
Which do you prefer and why?
Happy New Year.
David

David

Personally I think that the zip on the Stoffa cheapens the look and the design would certainly be more flattering on smaller men. Other elements – particularly the collar look good.
The Valstar (with buttons) succeeds in looking far more premium whilst being considerably less expensive.
But my question to you, given that you own and have presumably worn both is which do you prefer ?

David

Simon,
Frankly the Stoffa doesn’t look remotely right on you. Whereas the Valstar looks perfect. Hopefully you know this – I think you probably do.
It would be great if you didn’t sit on the fence with these things.
It would enhance the site enormously if you came down on one side or another. This may be politicaly difficult from time to time but people would appreciate it.
Regards,
David

Ben

I guess the sweeping fishmouth lapels did not prevent the suit’s use in business environments? The belly of the lapel in particular seemed to border the flamboyant.

Scott

I love the navy suede idea for a jacket, but agree that the pockets are simply too large. Perhaps Stoffa wil make a navy suede design along the lines of the Private White suede bomber if asked. Better yet, have Sartoria Melina make one for you. Love that Camps de Luca suit!

simon

I love my stoffa jacket especially the size of the pockets. I think they really set this jacket apart from others. Wearing it I hardly notice any bulk at all, plus it has a great fit and quality to it.

John

Hi Simon,
Happy new year! And happy new year to ALL PS readers!
A quick remark about your comment on the Richard James jacket: personally, I love its sheer sharpness! If it had been made in Neapolitan style, it would have been less sharp!
Presumably, an interpretation of style in tailoring is similar to interpretation in music.
John

Anonymous

Whilst I like all three items in this (much appreciated and enjoyed) recap the Richard James is the stand out item for me. It looks fantastic.

tdang93

Hi Simon,

I just received the exact Stoffa jacket you’re contemplating – a taupe asymmetric flight jacket – and have been wearing it quite a bit. I can vouch for its versatility – goes amazingly well with tan chinos and denim.

I was considering the dark brown suede when I ordered the jacket, but I’m very glad I opted for taupe. Equally as versatile, and not as ubiquitous.

Anonymous

Simon,what do you think of the John Varvatos navy suede jacket that Daniel Craig wears in the closing scenes of Spectre?

ben w

> “However, my key reflection on this piece since it was made is that, lovely as it is, it is not really that similar to a Neapolitan jacket.”

> “Do not ask a tailor from one tradition to make something from another, completely different one. Unless they take an example and completely reconstruct it, it’s not going to be the same.”

I wish you had expanded more on this, especially that “lovely as it is”. It’s not very Neapolitan—ok. The concluding injunction seems to suggest that the jacket is a failure, since it didn’t meet the aim of being Neapolitan; the opening praise seems to suggest that it’s, well, a lovely piece.

So what’s the assessment? Do you wear it? Do you like it? Does it matter that it’s not actually very Neapolitan, even though that was the initial aim? It’s at least conceivable to me that happy accident could have led to a solid result regardless.

hugh

RE cashmere jacketings simon- are there any bunches/ cloth merchants you can recommend in particular for long term durability? Also what do you find the best weight for cashmere jacketings?

Peter

I have already commented on this suit Simon and I agree that it is one of the most beautiful garments I have seen you wear unlike the Richard James jacket that you also commented on. I sneered earlier this year when it was part of a feature in The Rake not for the nuances of style that you referred to today but because technically in Tailoring speak it is a heap!!

Tim

Dear Simon, I am looking to get a jacket and trousers made. I am often in Parma, where my in laws live, and I wonder if you have any knowledge or recommendations on good tailors in the town. I know it would not be too hard to go to Bologna or Florence, but if you happen to have come across a name of someone, or if your contacts know of any particularly good tailors I would welcome your advice. Many thanks.