Best-dressed man 2018: Ethan Newton (or, how to dress the larger man)

Best-Dressed Man of the Year: Ethan Newton

Runners up:

Andreas Weinas

Yukio Akamine

Noboru Kakuta

Bruce Boyer


Our Best-Dressed Man of the Year is Ethan Newton, founder of Bryceland’s Co – the store in Tokyo and now in Hong Kong.

Ethan received many nominations from readers, as did Andreas Weinas (of and other publications), several of Japan’s finest buyers and creators, and then a long list with two or three mentions each.

The judges, however, (myself, Michael Drake and Jamie Ferguson) were particularly interested in highlighting the originality of Ethan’s dress, and his ability to combine classic style with casual, workwear clothing.



This came across in the reader comments, as did Ethan’s physique:

Ethan Newton. Perfected fit in a challenging torso, crosses over styles/eras/regions effortlessly, and creates genuinely new, quality looks.”

I think there are so many well-dressed men in the world now, especially with the rise and proliferation of Instagram and blogs…But Ethan Newton epitomizes what “Best-Dressed”, as subjective as that is, is to me. The ability to combine casual and smart styles together in a way that looks almost effortless, which we all know is not, is the primary reason that he gets my vote. This is especially so with a body-type I think most men can relate to as we are not all definitely tall or muscular or good-looking; qualities I think which makes dressing well a bit easier.”

“Another vote for Ethan Newton. He’s not blessed with the physique of a male model (who among us is?), but he has a strong and consistent style whether he’s in 1930’s era three-piece suits or workwear.”



These themes of mixing tailoring with workwear, and dressing a slightly larger body, dominated the discussion I had with Ethan this week about the award.

Permanent Style: You seem genuinely surprised to win this award. Is it really surprising, given the following you’ve always had, even going back to the Armoury days?

Ethan Newton: I think I’ve always been too conscious of my size to assume that. Back at The Armoury, Alan [See, Armoury co-founder] was the one that people wanted to look like. He’s tall, slim – clothes look great on him. With me, it was more like ‘Well, if they look good on him then they can’t fail to work on me…’

On Instagram – and Tumblr back in the day – my market was always larger guys who wanted to wear tailoring but couldn’t imagine looking like Alan or Andreas or anyone like that.

That really surprises me, but I guess the things I always find inspiring are the ways people combine colours and texture, and the combinations of different styles – which aren’t related to physique.

I think I focused more on those things because of my size. I couldn’t rely on just being a good figure for tailoring – wearing the simple things and looking good. I needed to express myself more.



What particular aspects of tailoring are harder for larger men?

Trousers are certainly harder. It’s not too difficult for a larger man to find a jacket that has enough drape to look good. But trousers have to be cut completely differently if you’re big in the seat and thighs.

This was the foundation of my relationship with Salvatore [Ambrosi, Neapolitan trousermaker]. I kept on pushing him to make me something that was a little fuller, with some drape and two forward pleats.

This is also a question of style though. I’ve always believed that men can’t look stylish if they’re not elegant, and they can’t be elegant if they’re not comfortable. You need a little bit of room and drape to move properly.

What is the main challenge with trousers? Is it the position of the waist, whether it goes above, below or on the stomach?

That’s important, but the bigger issue is often in the thigh. Few tailors, particularly in Japan, can fathom how much extra room a man like me needs in my stride – my walking thigh. Twenty-nine inch thighs probably get up to 33 inches when I lift my leg.

Then you need a back rise that’s high enough, because you lose inches of it when you lift your leg. That’s the only way to avoid what we call in Australia a ‘tradesman’s cleavage’.



How would you advise someone on wearing tailoring and workwear? It feels like there isn’t much guidance in this area, perhaps because brands tend to stick in one space or another.

That’s something that has come directly out of my experience with bespoke in Japan and Korea, where guys tend to be very siloed in how they dress.

You’ll have a customer where bespoke is so much a part of his identity that he goes to the beach in bespoke trousers and a sports coat, or hiking in bespoke clothes and handmade shoes.

For me, the sense of occasion is crucial. You have to be able to dress beautifully for any occasion or you can’t say you’re well dressed. Otherwise it’s Cosplaying.

My interest in vintage is driven by a belief that there are pieces of clothing that are so perfectly designed for certain uses that they don’t need improving on. And we want to offer them for those uses.

A guy that has a perfect three-piece suit for a weekday should also have a pair of 501s and a great white T-shirt for the weekend. Or chinos and a leather jacket. 



How about mixing those two together? I think that’s the area that readers often find hardest – but potentially most interesting. In the image above, for instance, why does that hat work with tailoring where another wouldn’t?

A lot of it comes from references. The hat in the picture, for instance, is a stratoliner from Stetson. It’s an original from the 1960s.

The stratoliner was a western hat, but it wasn’t an open-road hat – what we would think of as a cowboy hat. If you look at old films with Jimmy Stewart, he would wear something like this with a suit in the same way.

Is there a principle we can establish from that? For example, for a hat to work with a suit it has be similar proportions to a classic hat like a fedora, but the material or colour can vary?

Yes, although the material’s not that different, it’s just a lighter colour – what was called ‘silver belly’. It would have been a fairly standard hat on the west coast of the US.



How about this second picture, in the shorter jacket and grey trousers?

That’s a Lee Westerner from the 1960s, with grey fresco trousers from Ambrosi and split-toe shoes from Saint Crispin’s.

What kind of jacket do you think works with that combination – with more formal trousers and shoes?

Well the first thing is always the proportions. I want to look tall and strong, so the trousers are high-waisted and reasonably loose (though not as loose as they should be – blame my expanding waistline!) They’re on the waist rather than the hips, which makes me look slimmer, being a smaller circumference. And the jacket is short and neat.

And in terms of material and colour, do you see the Westerner as slightly smarter than a brown leather jacket, say, or a blue-denim jacket?

Yes. You need to keep the materials and textures in balance.

I’m wearing a necktie and a broadcloth shirt here, and I probably wouldn’t wear that with a denim jacket. There would be too much of a contrast. The Westerner is in a pique cotton that isn’t smart, is a little more polished. It balances out well.

And with a more casual jacket you’d remove the necktie, perhaps wear a more casual shirt and shoes?

Yes, with more casual pieces – like in the image below. Here I’m wearing a beanie and a knit rather than a shirt, with cotton trousers rather than wool. So it’s much more consistent.

But again, you’d be happy to wear that same leather jacket with flannels and an oxford shirt?

Absolutely. A button-down oxford with reppe tie or a knit tie. A proper hat rather than a beanie. But not a silk tie and elegant dress trousers. That would be too far.



How much do you think your customers can actually wear unusual pieces like you do, such as western hats or jewellery?

I certainly don’t expect my customers to wear everything I do. It has to be appropriate to their lifestyle and situation.

One of the great things Karl Sussman, a tailor in Australia, used to say to me was, ‘As a retailer, we have to go to 100%; only then can we expect customers to hit 80%’.

He meant that if we consistently play it safe, and never go beyond 70% of what we think might be interesting, a customer’s never going to go that far, never going to try new things.

It’s my job as a retailer to suggest things, and then for the customer to take it as far as they’re comfortable with. They might wear the hat, but with more casual clothing. Or they might wear the three-piece suit in the office, but without the watch chain.

I think some men feel they have to wear everything together, just as the man in the shop is wearing it, or the model in the advert, otherwise they’re not sure it will all work. They don’t have the confidence to deconstruct it all.

Absolutely, it’s hard to advise completely except in person – which is one reason we re primarily a retail store, not an online store.

Who would you have voted for in this award?

Among the men that were nominated I think George [Wang, of Brio in Beijing] would have been a good choice. He both wears clothing well and expresses himself – he’s not afraid to play with it a little.

I always prefer that to guys that just copy one, narrow look; it often feels derivative.


Suit-carrier holdalls and Trench coats back in stock

Suit-carrier holdalls and Trench coats back in stock

Tuesday, January 30th 2018
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Two of the best collaborations we did last year are back in stock this week. 

The Suit-Carrier Holdall (below), which combines a suit carrier and a holdall into a single lightweight bag, is available again on the Bennett Winch website.

The Holdall was tremendously successful, with three runs last year all selling out, and the factory making nothing but holdalls throughout December.

Joshua K. Jackson London Photography

It is being launched to the wider press next week, so it's worth getting one now if you want one.

The bag is available in black and olive, costs £650, and is available through the Bennett Winch site (not the PS shop).

More details on the bag and the process that went into it here.   

Second is the trench coat I helped design with Private White VC (above), which if anything was even more successful.

That sold through two much larger runs last year, and is only now back in stock on the Permanent Style shop. We have just a couple in each size, so again these will go quickly. 

The coat was my ideal trench - long, made with materials that age beautifully, with strong details like a big collar and lapels, and in a colour that goes with both formal and informal clothing.

It costs rather more at £1350 (including VAT, with a button-in liner) and is available on the PS shop. More details on its creation and functionality here

(Note that the shop initially quotes prices without VAT, as most shoppers are outside the EU. Taxes are added at checkout depending on the location selected.)

They were both such great products to create - satisfying and, in at least my wardrobe, filling an annoying gap. It's been lovely to see how well they've been taken up. 

Best Brand 2018: Drake’s (or, how to expand a brand)

Best Brand 2018: Drake’s (or, how to expand a brand)

Monday, January 29th 2018
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Best Brand of the Year: Drake's

Runners up: Stoffa, Private White VC

The Permanent Style award for ‘Brand of the Year’ was understandably the hardest to define of our five awards - launched a few weeks ago.

People can like brands for many reasons, and so the criteria were deliberately specific, focusing on product innovation and product quality.

As a reader put it on a recent comment, it should be something more than “one giant ‘Like’ button”.

Even with relatively narrow criteria, however, the award could have been very subjective - which was why I asked for nominations, rather than a straight vote.

Readers could nominate any brand they wanted, but the actual winner would be decided by a panel - comprising myself, Jamie Ferguson and Michael Drake. (The ‘Best-Dressed Man’ award, which will be announced later this week, had the same structure.)

This worked well, with some good discussion among us as to which of the brands really showed the greatest innovation in 2017, alongside reliable quality.

However, the nominations were so strongly in favour of a single brand that it was hard to ignore them. Drake’s received 62 nominations in total for the award, more than three times its nearest competitor.

This also helped with one potential weakness of the panel - that both Jamie and Michael are closely associated with Drake’s. Although neither is an employee or owner any more, they are both understandably fond of the brand.

In the end, readers and judges all agreed, making things easy.

I’ll get onto the reasons for that agreement in a moment, together with a short discussion with Michael Hill about Drake’s in 2017.

But I’d also like to say a quick congratulations to the runners-up: Stoffa and Private White VC.

Stoffa (above) has been a breath of fresh air over the past few years, bringing distinct, modern, ethical clothing to the classic menswear space.

Agyesh deserves enthusiastic recognition for his intelligent and single-minded approach, as well as his excellent customer service.

(In fact, interestingly, Stoffa and Saman Amel are two brands that did particularly well across the Best Brand and Customer Service categories combined. Had that been a single award, one of them might have won.)

Private White VC is fundamentally a very different company from Stoffa - a manufacturer first, rather than a designer. Yet I would argue their approaches to product have much in common.

Although PWVC produces more standard menswear pieces (pea coat, mac, wax jacket), each has consistent innovation, just on a smaller scale. The Twin-Track and the Jeep Coat (above) are two that stand out as distinctive re-workings of traditional outerwear.

But back to Drake’s.

In the comments, readers highlighted how well Drake’s has expanded in recent years, completing a transition from tiemaker to full-look brand in a way that has felt consistent, organic and authentic.

The comments included:

“If we’re looking at a brand in the round, in terms of consistent innovative and quality products then I think [Drake’s are] streets ahead. There is an identifiable ‘Drake’s aesthetic’ across their varied products, but the thing which unites them all is the attention to detail and high standards which go in to the manufacturing”

“I’ve been buying Drakes for the last five years and have been delighted to see it grow to what it is now. The ‘Drakes Look’ is so distinctive yet simple, and it is also quite attainable. Their new Easyday range makes it that bit more accessible now too.”

“Like many that have mentioned it here, I think Drake’s this year has hit it out of the park. Especially with the launch of their full-range line of clothing. It is a contemporary interpretation of classic style that is still relevant to people today in this world that is becoming ever more casual.”

I find this expansion a fascinating theme.

How does a brand go from one fairly narrow category into an entire range? Does a unicorn-print handkerchief or a grenadine tie somehow ‘contain’ a complete look? How do you remain consistent as you expand in so many different directions?

I chatted to Michael Hill of Drake’s about it last week.

Permanent Style: How did you plan the expansion of the Drake’s range? Did you have personas, research, mood boards?

Michael Hill (below): No we didn’t, not really. Looking back on the evolution, it all seems very unplanned - but also very natural. We just slowly added pieces to the collection that we loved - whether it was shetland sweaters, glen-check jackets or corduroy trousers.

I guess everyone dresses in a full look; no one just wears a tie or a scarf. So we all know what we like wearing with other pieces of clothing and how we like to put it together.

I'd been dressing like this for years, wearing our accessories with just these kinds of pieces. And so had others around the team. We had a big pool of opinions and styles to draw on.

Was there any influence from the early days of Drake’s?

Yes, that’s a good point. Most people won’t realise that the company started in suits.

Michael [Drake] began as the agent for Belvest tailoring, first in the US and the around the world. The ties and scarves were originally conceived as accessories to that tailoring, rather than the other way around.

So there was some history there. And I also had my personal views on the aesthetic, how it could all be combined together into something that was coherent and fresh.

Do you think it’s fair to characterise the Drake’s aesthetic as drawing on British country traditions - the animal prints, cords, wax jackets? That a key achievement has been making that look feel young and relevant again?

If we have that’s great; I’d be proud to help men rediscover the pleasures of those clothes. But I’ve never thought of us as part of any particular tradition.

There has always been a sense of combining Britain and Italy - for example the way Italians wear British clothing. And most of our suppliers are in those countries. But I think the style is very Drake’s and very international.

So in terms of putting together an aesthetic, it doesn’t help that there are traditions of certain types of clothing, often worn together?

No, I don’t think you form a look in that mould. It’s a combination of many, global influences, and means looking afresh at different things, considering whether they could work together. Like the Fedeli shirts from Italy, for example, or Buaisou indigo scarves.

How much has the expansion been about creating a viable future for Drake’s?

That’s always part of the equation, certainly. We’re moving most importantly from a manufacturer to a retailer, and it helps to have breadth.

I also feel that this is the shape of a modern company - that it’s hard to survive just as a manufacturer, but that it’s immensely useful to keep close to manufacturing by having our own tie factory in London, and our shirt factory also in England.

No plans to buy a knitwear factory or a tailoring factory though, to complete that model?

No. Much of that is driven by opportunity, and there is very little left in this country as regards tailoring. Proximity is also an important part of the benefit - so it would have to be something we could be close to and manage easily.

How far can the expansion of the range go? You’ve filled in most things.

Well, there will certainly be some new pieces in the next year that will surprise people I think.

But no, our main focus is staying within what we are doing at the moment and doing it better. There’s always a lot we can improve.

Photography: All Drake's from Autumn/Winter 2017 and Easyday lookbooks, except Stoffa and PWVC photos; and Michael Hill shot, Jamie Ferguson @jkf_man

Best Media 2018: ‘Die, Workwear!’ (or, why we need independent voices)

Best Media 2018: ‘Die, Workwear!’ (or, why we need independent voices)

Friday, January 26th 2018
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Best Media of the Year: Die Workwear!

Runners up: The Rake, Plaza Uomo

In a world overflowing with new media, it seems very little of it is any good.

Only a handful of publications received more than two votes in our Media of the Year category (part of the inaugural Permanent Style Awards), and of those one was Hodinkee, which doesn't even cover menswear.

Several readers also pushed for a 'bad media of the year' category, to punish those publications they saw as selling out and sacrificing all credibility.


The out-and-out winner, with more votes than the next five combined, was Die Workwear!, a blog run by American Derek Guy.

This surprised me and, perhaps more, Derek.

I love Derek's writing, which is well-researched, insightful and eloquent. He also writes regularly and professionally, which is almost as rare.

But to win by this margin is striking. There is clearly an appetite for the old-fashioned, personal blog that is knowledgeable but accessible, practical but original.

Some of the comments that Permanent Style readers added to their vote included:

"I think what Derek is doing at Die, Workwear! has been superb. The information as well as the media that he provides to illustrate his points are always on point and relevant. And although I feel that sometimes this world of classic menswear can be a bit snobbish at times, he has always written in a style that is erudite, while still being straightforward."

"Best media is undoubtedly Die, Workwear! Derek is a genuine guy, who writes approachable and interesting articles about menswear. He is able to talk about the romanticism surrounding tailoring, while avoiding getting swept up in it. He also has suggestions for less affluent readers when possible."

"Derek Guy of Die Workwear, whose writing always conveys his excitement about clothing, and provides a varied palette of ideas and inspiration for what and how to wear things."

"Die, Workwear. A unique and satisfying blog not just for the wide sartorial range, but also for the intellectuality, the knowledge of history, and the photography collections."

I chatted to Derek last week about the award.

Permanent Style: How do you feel about being voted the best media in classic menswear, and by such a margin? 
Derek Guy: Honestly, very surprised. I think when you create anything online, you wrestle with all the insecurities that come with wondering if something is good enough to put out there. I've never been happy with my own work. I often wish I had more time to polish up the writing or dig deeper into a topic. So, it was genuinely nice (and very surprising) to see some people like my site enough to nominate it.
How would you describe the aims of your site, and how you would differentiate yourself from other blogs or media? 
Most blogs nowadays are very focused. They're about a specific style or approach, or they have a mission in terms of what they want to do for their readers.
My site is basically about whatever I happen to be interested in at the moment, and I have very broad taste, which one of the reasons why I was surprised to see my site nominated. I'm just as interested in contemporary ready-to-wear brands as I am in bespoke tailoring.
I'd like to think that I write for a similarly minded audience, although I find most people are either interested in capital-f fashion or traditional men's clothing - it's rarely both.
I also try to write about classic men's clothing without any of the pretension and class appeal that sometimes surrounds this genre. One of my favourite posts from you is the one titled "I Am Not A Gentleman." I don't care for the moral baiting that sometimes happens in this category, so I try to write about things in a way that shares my enthusiasm without getting into the pretence.
Likewise, I try to write about designer clothing and ready-to-wear brands without feeding into the hype of must-haves and celebrity endorsements. I think of my site as being half about quality and how things are made, the other half about design and the simple joy that can be had through clothes.
I think fashion should be fun and relevant to people's lives, making them feel better, not worse. There's a lot of stuff out there that feeds into class and social anxiety. And while I admittedly write about expensive things, partly because the things that excites enthusiasts are often expensive, I also try to include more affordable alternatives where I can (this is admittedly easier on my site than yours since I talk about ready-to-wear).
Lastly, I try to focus on things I love, rather than things I hate. Again, part of the general view that content is better when it's fun and positive, adding to people's lives and feeling relevant, rather than making them feel worse about themselves, their possessions, or the world. There's enough stuff nowadays to be upset about, things more important than clothing, we don't need to add pants to the list.
What principles lie behind what you do? 
My boss at Put This On, Jesse Thorn, wrote an editorial policy for our site a few years ago and I've stuck with it, even at my own site.
It's pretty straightforward. I don't write or publish sponsored posts, or include sponsored content in my posts. I return or donate to charity all review garments. I disclose when I write about an advertiser. And I don't let my business relationships get in the way of my editorial objectivity.
I started reading menswear blogs a little over ten years ago, and I try to keep what initially drew me into blogs over magazines. The content was honest, driven by enthusiasm, and there was a clear voice from the writer - things felt personal. I try to maintain that in my writing.
How do you feel about the volume of media today, from blogs to brand websites to social media? 
It's overwhelming, and I sometimes worry there are fewer independent voices. Ten years ago, when I first started reading men's style blogs, there were dozens and dozens of sites. Now, that field had dramatically narrowed. I still read many style blogs, but more and more of them are larger media organizations. It's harder to find those independent voices.
I suppose I worry about how much online media nowadays is just driven by branded content or larger companies. Or how much is simply just the "content" side of brand's website, which is obviously organized around selling you products. And how much people's online time is taken up by sites such as Instagram, which rarely goes beyond a photograph.
I don't know where online media is going, but I hope there will continue to be space for independent menswear writers who are just talking about things from an enthusiast's point of view. I think there's something special about that category.
Some things I've been heartened by: it won't please Permanent Style readers, but I like the new GQ Style site (a separate section from GQ's main page). I think the content there is much better than what many mainstream organizations are doing.
I also like many of the podcasts that are coming out, such as Blamo!, which are clearly just for enthusiasts. I'm proud of the work my colleagues create at Put This On, one of the sites I work for. And I like that certain mainstream writers, such as Jacob Gallagher at The Wall Street Journal, are writing from the heart. So long as online media remains genuine and smart, I think that's a good thing.
How do you feel about the name of your site? 
It's absolutely awful. I never thought the site would be seen by more than a couple of friends, and the site's name was partly a friendly jab at a buddy's love for workwear. And, as I'm sure others have noticed, I like workwear a lot more than I used to.
You can only imagine how embarrassing it is to email designers asking for quotes. It's like, "Hi, I'm a huge fan of your workwear line and was wondering if I could get a quote from you for my site, Die, Workwear!?" I either have to make a conscious decision to leave off the exclamation point, misspelling my own blog's name, or include it and seem even more schizophrenic.
If you include a new category next year for Worst Blog Name, I think I'm more deserving of that award. Nobody really comes close to me in that regard.
On the upside, I can't tell you how much spam I've received over the years from actual workwear manufacturers based in Pakistan and China trying to offer me wholesale prices on work uniforms. Things such as actual coveralls, heavy duty gloves, and whatever you'd wear to operate a forklift. It's my punishment, I suppose. I think they think the 'Die' in my blog's name is German for 'The'.
Who did you, or would you have, nominated for the other PS awards?
For brand of the year, in terms of innovation, I'd nominate Stoffa. They've not only done a lot in terms of bringing a new, slightly more contemporary style to classic men's clothing, but they also have a very interesting business model.
While they sell some accessories online, the bulk of the business is in made-to-measure, sold direct to consumers through trunk shows. There's less waste here in terms of inventory, which is great for the environment, and it seems like it's a way forward at a time when brands are both trying to figure out how to escape the problem of commodification, as well as sell things without a robust brick-and-mortar distribution system. There's a lot to Stoffa that I think is just absolutely brilliant in terms of design and business model.
For best customer experience of the year, I'd echo those who nominated Skoaktiebolaget and No Man Walks Alone (both advertisers on my site, but also stores I personally patronise). I think the early-20th century model of fashion retailing is dying. Old, huge department stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue used to be famous for their service, but I don't know if they have the expertise anymore to compete against these smaller, more specialized boutiques.
To be sure, there are lots of online stores nowadays that offer world class products, but I often find myself going back to Skoak and NMWA for shoes and causalwear. I just find myself relying on them for sizing advice and ideas on how something from their store can be worn. And I trust them, where I may not if I were at a huge department store.
For best dressed, I'd go with Bruce Boyer for the inaugural year. There's something special about how little his style has changed. He's always championed the same classic, American style, but worn in a way that feels natural in today's increasingly casual world. It doesn't look like a costume, which admittedly can happen with certain classic clothes. Yet, he always looks terrific - his clothes suit him.
Plus, he's an incredibly gracious and kind person, with interests that go beyond clothing. Online, we often think of style as this kind of disembodied thing, so it's about clothes alone. But in reality, so much of this is about personality. For actual, real life style, I think Bruce is great.
Thanks Derek, and congratulations. The award is highly deserved. 

Best Customer Service 2018: No Man Walks Alone (or, the future of retail)

Best Customer Service 2018: No Man Walks Alone (or, the future of retail)

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Best Customer Service of the Year: No Man Walks Alone

Runners up: The Anderson & Sheppard Haberdashery, Skoaktiebolaget

Although there were many categories we could have selected for our Permanent Style awards - launched earlier this month - Customer Service was the one I was most excited about.

Good customer service is something rarely highlighted in the fashion world, yet it is core to so many of the things we value.

Personal service is an obvious attraction of bespoke tailoring, together with a relationship that deepens over time. But it’s no less important to the popularity of good independent stores.

Strong relationships with salespeople, and trust in the way a shop is curated, can lead to a mutually beneficial relationship of loyal, repeat customers that look forward to the shop experience.

Greg in the NMWA showroom.

It was gratifying, therefore, to see that this awards category received more votes or nominations than any other, as well as more comments.

Customers were keen to relate their experiences, and extend their thanks, to the three brands that quickly dominated the votes: Skoaktiebolaget, the Anderson & Sheppard Haberdashery, and No Man Walks Alone.

Comments about NMWA (which won this year, with A&S second and Skoak third), included:

“My drop-in visit in November was one of the, if not the, most enjoyable shopping experiences I’ve had. They were willing to let me try on a bunch of things and offered excellent style advice. I’m hard pressed to think of a better experience shopping both online and offline.”

“Always generous with time for answers to questions and when small things have gone wrong with shipping or orders ... been humble in apologies and more than made up for it.”

“Greg and Kyle are quick to answer questions, and are more than happy to accommodate my requests – even when those requests cost them time and money”

A heart being warmed

When I talked to Greg [Lellouche, NMWA founder, pictured above] last week, he related how lovely it was to see these comments come in.

“It was incredible, and frankly really heart-warming.”

“One of the downsides of running an online store is you rarely meet satisfied customers. People re-order, and you talk to people on the phone, but who phones a store to say how happy they are?”

NMWA has an active thread on StyleForum, where they answer a lot of questions, but these are largely practical. There are few excuses just to tell NMWA how they good they are.

Suits hanging at NMWA. Photo:

Interestingly, the three brands shortlisted for this award are all very different kinds of shop.

A&S is all about physical relationships and service, without much emphasis on e-commerce. Skoak is a lovely physical shop, but with a very active online presence. And NMWA is entirely online (apart from the odd trunk show or appointment).

However, both NMWA and Skoak have consciously tried to replicate the customer service of a physical store.

“We’re so happy people think they’re getting a good experience. We spend so much time responding to queries, talking on the phone, giving personal advice," says Greg. "Nothing is scripted, everything comes from us.”

A Formosa jacket in the showroom

It helps a lot that Greg and Kyle are in the NMWA stockroom, surrounded by the product.

“The reason so many shops give you stock answers is that the staff just don’t know it very well. They’re in an office, and the product is somewhere else,” Greg says.

“We can just go find something if a customer has a question we don’t know the answer to. I can go grab the jacket and say ‘Yes, actually there is a coin pocket in the trousers’.”

The most common queries are about sizing, followed by advice on the texture or character of the garment, followed by styling.

“Someone might email to ask what ties a jacket would go with. We’ll usually go and grab three or four we like, and send back a picture showing the combinations,” says Greg.

Greg having a basted fitting in the showroom

Interestingly, when NMWA was founded, the biggest concern was removing the normal obstacles to online purchases, rather than trying to replicate a physical shop.

“I wanted to give the customer every type of information possible - sizing, weight of cloth, original and consistent photography,” says Greg. “We would often go back to our partners again and again, asking for more info.”

In the end, though, he learnt that different men just shop in different ways, and there’s no point trying to change them.

“Some people love measurements, and their precision,” he says. “Others just want to phone you up and say they normally wear a 46. Those two won’t ever swap.”

As e-commerce becomes more and more prevalent, I think customer service will become the key way customers differentiate between them.

I’m pleased to have such a deserved winner in NMWA this year, and look forward to recognising more such stores in the future.

Saman Amel made-to-measure jacket: Review

Saman Amel made-to-measure jacket: Review

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It’s so enjoyable writing good reviews.

It is valuable to write balanced, semi-critical pieces of course, and this is a core part of Permanent Style. But you always feel very conscious of the effect the criticism will have, and bad even if it’s accurate.

Enjoyably, there is almost nothing bad to say about this Saman Amel made-to-measure jacket. It is simply superb, in terms of style, fit, craft and value.

Which is even more pleasurable to say, given what lovely people Saman and Dag are.

I first wrote about Saman Amel in September 2017, when they first came to London. They’ve been here another time since (when we had the first fitting) and Saman is here next month again (February 8-10).

I say fitting, but given this is made to measure and not bespoke, the jacket was pretty much finished at that second meeting. Nothing was basted, with any adjustments requiring opening up the seams.

This restriction of made to measure is one reason Saman says he takes the measuring process so seriously - and that showed at this second meeting.

All the fundamentals were perfect - the balance front and back, side to side, the clean close fit around the neck. I don’t think I’ve ever had a piece of tailoring that fit this well at this stage.

The only things we changed were to balance the sleeve length and put a little more shape in the back.

The jacket was sent a few weeks later, and I showed it to them in Stockholm when we met at the atelier. It was perfect.

As per usual, the photography here doesn’t necessarily do justice to the fit. Until you start moving (or the wind starts blowing) the fit is beautiful and clean through the waist, for example.

And you can see how lovely it is in the back - below. (Bear in mind also that this is a very soft, lightweight jacketing - Loro Piana wool, 320g).

The only thing I might change is to give a touch more space in the waist. It's perfect over a shirt, but doesn't give much room for a little knitwear (as here).

Often adding a bit in the waist like this doesn't visibly change the line, but allows the jacket to hang a little more easily. Making jackets tighter even if it doesn't slim the lines is a frequent mistake men make with bespoke or MTM suits. 

These fit points are important, because there are also cheaper jackets in the Saman Amel range that would fit just as well, but involve less hand work.

My jacket is from the Neapolitan line, which starts at £2200 for a two-piece suit. Jackets start at £1800 and mine (in Loro Piana cloth) was £1950.

But the Toscana line starts at £1400 for a suit, and there is even a business-suit range with limited cloths at £1200.

The major difference with the Napoli line is that it has hand-padded lapels, which give a touch more shape to the chest (albeit less that with most English suits, given the lightweight canvas).

The other handwork in the Napoli line includes hand-attached lining, -sewn buttonholes, -attached buttons, -sewn gorgeline, -picked stitching, and -attached pockets.

Plus the functional work you’d expect on any good MTM or RTW suit, such as a hand-attached collar.

Many of these things will be points that Permanent Style readers like and will value. But for others, the Toscana line is a great option.

In terms of style details, it is noticeable how Saman pitches the top of his patch pockets forwards, which makes them more functional (above).

Round Neapolitan patch pockets look lovely, but can often be impractical given the narrowness of the opening. A slanted top solves that problem.

The shoulder is very soft but slightly extended, which gives a subtle impression of width without more padding. The chest is fairly clean and close, and the lapels wide.

In fact, the one thing I would change about the Saman Amel style is the gorgeline, which is very high and - as a result - makes the wide lapel look even wider.

It's also striking how open the foreparts are (below the waist button) but relatively straight - not as curved as some Neapolitans and in keeping with the line of the lapel. 

An unusual aspect that was picked up on Instagram a while ago is the strip of lining Saman has included underneath the two vents (above).

This is intended to keep the two sides of the jacket together, and keep the vent in place, when you put your hands in and out of your pockets.

I was initially sceptical about this. It reminded me of those horrendous shirt stays that attach to your socks.

But actually, you never see this strip when wearing the jacket, even when putting your hands in and out, and it functions perfectly.

It’s something Saman would only use on those with a big seat, and it is an issue I occasionally have - no matter how much the vent overlaps.

As discussed in more depth on the first post on Saman Amel, their styling is also a big attraction.

Both Saman and Dag are very fashion aware, and their monotone aesthetic of grey, cream, brown and navy feels very grown-up as well as very modern.

Their input on the cloth selection, as well as the brown corozo buttons and green lining, was useful.

I’ve also tried the made-to-measure knitwear (which I will write about separately) and am rather taken with the cut of the cashmere hoodies, which are more formal than most despite their raglan sleeve.

Lastly, I would say that I am very happy with the cloth selection.

I've long wanted a Prince-of-Wales sports jacket with a touch more texture and some brown in it, to make it a more suitable jacket than my Anderson & Sheppard flannel

The disadvantage of a grey jacket, of course, is that it cannot go with grey trousers and so is limited to charcoal, cream, green and then tans/browns. But I think that will be enough. 


  • Cloth: Loro Piana, Jackets and Trousers – Collezione 627 bunch, 320gr/mt, 100% Super 120's wool.
  • Tie: Ralph Lauren Purple Label, charcoal cashmere
  • Trousers: Drake’s ready-to-wear cavalry twill, from my collection with them
  • Shirt: White spread-collar, bespoke from Luca Avitabile
  • Cardigan: Grey ‘Finagon’ from John Smedley (my design, sadly no longer available)
  • Handkerchief: Yellow silk from Rubinacci
  • Shoes: Bespoke oxfords from Cleverley

Saman is back in London for the next trunk show on February 8-10. Appointments can be made through [email protected]. There aren't many appointments left for those days, but they will be back again two months' later.

Photography: Jamie Ferguson @jkf_man

The Shirtmakers Symposium – The video debate

The Shirtmakers Symposium – The video debate

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Below you can find the full video of our Shirtmakers Symposium in Florence.

It's a little basic, but thankfully the sound worked well and it's audible throughout. Silvio Albini makes a lovely introduction at the start, then each shirtmaker introduces themselves, and finally we plunge into the discussion. 

A wide range of topics is covered - from the business of running a bespoke operation, to quarter inches in shirt measures, to collar sizes that flatter different types of face. 

I hope you find it interesting. It was certainly interesting to chair. 



Photography: Jamie Ferguson and Carlos Folgoso / Massimo Sestini

Technical details at the Shirtmakers Symposium

Technical details at the Shirtmakers Symposium

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[The votes and nominations for the Permanent Style awards closed today, by the way. Thank you for all your comments and emails. The winners will be announced next week.]

At the Shirtmakers Symposium in Florence last week we had a display of five shirts, one made by each shirtmaker.

The theme was ‘smart/casual’. I wanted to see what the makers considered a casual shirt that could transition from an office to a bar, or just be fit for a dress-down office.

They all picked different Albini cloths to demonstrate this, and the range here was interesting - everything from denim to white oxford, from butcher’s stripe to gingham check.

However, for most men these would still firmly count as smart shirts - something that reflects both the range of modern shirtings, and perhaps the relative inexperience of shirtmakers in making casual styles.

More interesting for me were the technical details, which the shirtmakers often included to demonstrate the range of what they could do.

Budd Shirts in London, for example, made its denim button-down shirt with a one-piece collar and a raglan sleeve (above).

Not only is Budd not known for stylistic variations like one-piece collars, but I had never seen a raglan sleeve on a shirt before.

As with tailoring, a raglan sleeve is difficult to cut and make, but has a less precise fit. It’s certainly unusual, but whether you like the style is more subjective.

Emanuele Maffeis had made a shirt with two unusual details.

First, at the back of the collar there was a gap where the lining had been exposed. (Just visible above.)

Although some do this for comfort, here Paolo Maffeis presented it as a good way to stop the tie from slipping, since the lining has greater texture than the shirt cloth.

Second, the front of the shirt had a double layer, showing as a large ‘V’ down the chest.

This is an old technique for shirts worn in warm weather, where a very lightweight cotton is used but doubled in the front to avoid it being too transparent.

Of course, this was for an age when men would rarely take their jacket off, and the back and sides would therefore not be seen.

(The same reason black-tie shirts are often made with different panels in the front than the body.)

The Ascot Chang shirt had another technique under the collar - this time exposing the lining all the way along the seam between collar and band (above).

This is intended to make it easier to fold the collar down, making it snap into place and never fold up.

The others, Anto Shirts and Luca Avitabile, didn’t have particular technical aspects, but Luca highlighted the tightness and tapered shape of his cuffs (above).

And Jack of Anto Shirts had elected to make his casual style with a white contrasting collar, but the band the same material as the shirt body (below).

For Jack, having only the collar (or the ‘cape’, if you count the collar as the whole piece, including band) in white is more casual, and frames the face better.

It is what he wears whenever he’s working and not wearing a tie - and a contrast collar certainly provides an alternative focus for the shirt when a tie is absent.

Although I don't wear contrast collars I certainly prefer this design with the band kept in the same material as the rest.

Photography: Jamie Ferguson @jkf_man

The Shirtmakers Symposium – The speakers

The Shirtmakers Symposium – The speakers

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Left to right: Simon Crompton, Justin Chang, Jack Sepetjian, Darren Tiernan, Silvio Albini, Luca Avitabile, Paolo Maffeis.

The Shirtmakers Symposium last Wednesday went so well: great location, great speakers, great discussion.

We decided this time to have everyone seated, and it made a real difference: far more focus on the talk, and a stronger debate overall. It helped that we had better lighting and audio, thanks to Albini and Palazzo Gondi.

The palazzo itself is amazing. Arguably the most beautiful in Florence, it is where Leonardo da Vinci worked for most of his life.

Rather humbling - particularly when Silvio Albini used his opening speech to liken the shirtmakers to Florentine renaissance painters.

I'll write more on the actual discussion in a separate post, but as per usual, here are some details on the speakers.

Jack Sepetjian, Anto Shirts

Perhaps the most unusual of the speakers, Jack runs his family company in Beverly Hills - where most of the customers are Hollywood actors.

He had just shipped 60 shirts to Tom Cruise for the latest Mission Impossible, filming in the UK.

Jack's business is unusual in that most customers have well-established patterns, and his biggest challenge is delivering bulk orders of shirts made to those patterns, often only with a day or two's notice.

Darren Tiernan, Budd

Darren couldn't be more different, working in the tiny Budd store in Piccadilly and seeing the vast majority of customers in person.

He is celebrating 30 years as a shirtmaker this year, which made his inclusion as the British representative rather fitting.

He came across as a true craftsman, modest and considered.

Luca Avitabile

Readers will be familiar with Luca - the southern-Italian representative - given his work for me both on personal shirts and on the Friday Polos.

Luca spent a little time at the beginning talking about his family history, with his grandmother a bespoke shirtmaker and his father expanding into a shirt factory.

Justin Chang (right) with his father Tony Chang, Ascot Chang

Justin was a wonderful speaker, which was just as well as his father was sitting in the front row filming every word.

The Ascot Chang business has unique challenges with bespoke, as it takes bespoke orders from all of the stores across the US, Hong Kong and China, who communicate the fit back to HQ in a code system that has been honed over decades.

Most of those stores are run by apprentices of Justin's grandfather, who started the business. But with them all getting on in age, a big challenge is replacing them and maintaining this remote bespoke system.

Paolo Maffeis, Emanuele Maffeis

Paolo, representing the clean style of northern Italy, was a grinning foil to every question we discussed.

His business is again a little different, doing bespoke, made-to-measure and ready-to-wear, but all at a very high level.

I will also write separately about the six shirts the speakers made for the event, each of which had interesting technical details.

Photography: © Carlos Folgoso / Massimo Sestini

How to look after your shoes

How to look after your shoes

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This is the first in a series of videos that we will be doing over the coming months, looking at caring for good clothes. 

They will be instructional, but not too technical, and we plan to build them up slowly over the year - so for example, not trying to cover shoe brushing, polishing and glacage in a single video.  

This first one was done with Edward Green in the Jermyn Street shop. It looks at the basics - not wearing shoes every day, using shoe trees, and brushing daily.

I hope you like it. 

For those that want to know, my clothes are:

  • Oversized drop-shoulder herringbone overcoat: Connolly
  • Bespoke grey-flannel double-breasted suit: Edward Sexton
  • Bespoke blue spread-collar shirt: Luca Avitabile
  • White printed-silk tie: E Marinella
  • Dark-brown monk-strap shoes: Edward Green

Introducing: The Permanent Style watch cap

Introducing: The Permanent Style watch cap

Wednesday, January 10th 2018
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As promised last year, the Permanent Style watch cap is finally available - it’s on the PS store, price £69 plus VAT, in navy or grey.

It’s a collaboration I’ve been building to for a long time.

As far back as 2014, I bought a cashmere watch cap in a little store in Naples, and quickly became addicted to it.

The key things I liked about it were the close fit and small size.

Most such hats are big - designed to fit from your forehead to your neck, and completely cover your ears.

That’s quite practical, but it’s hardly a dressy look.

I liked the occasional Japanese gentleman I had seen wearing one that ran in a horizontal line from the forehead to the back of the head.

Perhaps it subconsciously echoed the line of a fedora or trilby; perhaps it was just neater that way.

Whatever the reason, a hat worn this way looked smart enough to wear with a bespoke overcoat, and subtly subvert its formality.

Tailor Elia Caliendo eventually pointed me to a shop in Naples I could get one, and I quickly asked him to get me one in navy as well as grey.

I wore them constantly - as the photos in the post, from various shoots over the years, attest.

The shop in Naples is now closed, but I thought it would be the perfect thing to do as a collaboration, given how often I wear one.

So last year I began talking to Johnstons of Elgin about reproducing it, and a couple of samples later, we had it perfected.

Johnstons initially made it too big and bulky - again, like most such hats in the market. We changed to a finer yarn and a flatter knit, and produced something that sits much closer to the head.

Watch caps traditionally sit closer to the head like this, which is why I’ve called it a watch cap rather than a beanie. Beanie also tends to be a much broader term, including versions made out of sewn panels and much else.

The only sewing involved in this version from Johnstons is a hand stitch in the very top, and two tack stitches on either side.

Those tack stitches secure the material at the point it is rolled back. It's rolled twice to just the right height, and as I always found it annoying the way mine would unroll, I decided to tack it down. 

The cap is made from 100% cashmere, in the Johnstons factory in Scotland.

It only comes in one size, but such is the softness of the cashmere and pliability of the weave that I've yet to find anyone it doesn’t fit well - from my size 60 head to a friend’s size 54.

In terms of colours, I find the navy the smartest but the grey the most versatile. I wear both regularly. (I actually now have four - two in the office and two at home!)

Over time I find the cap flattens and softens somewhat, becoming closer to the head.

It can be washed like any cashmere knitwear, and when washed gets a little of that thickness back.

An interesting style point is that Jamie [Ferguson] wears his watch caps/beanies on the back of his head, slightly to one side.

This is a more casual, street look and not for me, but he finds the PS watch cap works particularly well for that style too - as you want it to be as small as possible.

I’m sure the caps will go quickly, as we only have 50 in each colour, but there will be another run later in the year.

As always, I hope you like them and do let me know any feedback and thoughts.

Available on the store now.

Photography: Jamie Ferguson @jkf_man

Gaziano & Girling introduces my loafer – ‘The Crompton’

Gaziano & Girling introduces my loafer – ‘The Crompton’

Monday, January 8th 2018
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The hatch-grain loafers I commissioned with Gaziano & Girling back in 2012 have consistently been among my favourite shoes - both for me and for readers.

The mid-brown colour is tremendously versatile (everything from cream to mid-grey trousers, chinos to worsteds) and the texture created by the hatch grain has aged beautifully.

I first wrote about them for The Rake in 2012, back when I was running their website. Since then they have featured in numerous shoots and posts, such as this comparison with Cleverley and the particularly popular post ‘Which office are you?’

Apparently the design has also been popular with G&G’s bespoke customers, and there have been requests to have it available on made-to-order.

As a result, I was honoured to find out that G&G have decided to introduce the model into their range, and call it ‘The Crompton’.

It won’t feature the one-piece, seamless construction of my pair (that’s only available bespoke) but everything else is the same.

The last is the G&G standard loafer last, KN14, and as it’s MTO customers can have it in any leather and sole - not necessarily the chestnut hatch-grain leather pictured.

The price is £1,470 including VAT and shoe trees, or £1,225 without VAT. Delivery time for MTO is currently 3-4 months.

I would also like to make clear that this is not a commercial collaboration - I don’t receive anything either from covering this model or from its sales.

It’s just a really nice thing.

Liverano & Liverano ulster coat: Review

Liverano & Liverano ulster coat: Review

Friday, January 5th 2018
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I’ve wanted a Liverano ulster coat for a long time. Ever since I first saw one on Ethan Newton I think, and subsequently reinforced by seeing versions on Jeff Hilliard (now at Mr Porter) and others.

Liverano is very expensive, however, and it was only last year that I therefore decided to take the plunge - foregoing my normal indulgence of one piece of Loro Piana clothing a year in penance.

The Liverano ulster is, I think, a perfect demonstration of how important design is to a good coat.

Little changes in the width of the collar or angle of the lapel are magnified on a coat, where everything is bigger than a jacket.

Get these things right, therefore, and the result is a sweeping, plunging masterpiece. Get them wrong and the scale feels a little wasted.

Perhaps the most important point on a coat’s design is the gorge - the point where the collar meets the lapel.

It is one of the first things that strikes the eye, and its size, openness and angle determine the visual effect of the chest and shoulders.

Most double-breasted coats have a peak lapel that shoots upward. Ulsters in general tend to be flatter, and often point downwards.

(This has the practical effect of being able to sit easily under the chin when the collar is up.)

I think the angle on the Liverano is perfect: slightly downwards but high, with a long pointed collar running alongside it.

Almost as important but much subtler, however, is the depth of the collar. 

The height of the collar at the back on this Liverano is 6.5cm. By comparison, my Edward Sexton coat is 6cm, my Cifonelli 5.5cm, and topcoats such as the green Vergallo or navy Ettore de Cesare only 4.5cm.

It’s not uncommon for ulsters to have large collars, and of course the depth varies a little with the proportions of the wearer.

But you can see why, in the image above, that collar seems to frame the head so much more than my other coats.

This is particularly important for me given I tend to wear collars up a lot.

The rest of the coat is fairly straightforward, but the depth and angle of the turnback cuff (above) is nice.

I also rather like the pocket flap that is curved on the front edge and straight on the back.

The fit is absolutely superb, as you would expect from Liverano.

Perfect lines through the waist, perfect pitch of the sleeve, perfectly flush around the back of the neck.

The image of the back of the coat, below, is rather distorted by the wind we had the day of shooting (the central vent is more closed).

But one thing it does show accurately is that Antonio likes a lot of room in the back of the coat.

There are big folds either side of my back, above and below the belt. (Actual folds that can move, by the way, not sewn in.)

I can completely understand why some people wouldn’t like that, but for me it creates a look that feels very natural and masculine. The whole upper body feels bigger, and the waist smaller in proportion.

The cloth, by the way, is the same Harris tweed from Holland & Sherry (892020) that I used for my much-loved coat from Elia Caliendo.

This is much lighter than Liverano (or any tailor) would normally use for a coat, but I love the crayon-set colours of the tweed, and it’s wonderful at this scale.

I’ve also found, wearing it so far, that it hangs well despite its lightness, perhaps because the tweed is so tough and compact.

Style points like these and consistency of output are the key selling points for Liverano bespoke.

It's more expensive than almost all other tailor, without all the hand detailing that helps justify price at the Parisians, for example.

But the style works so well, and I know so many people that love Liverano precisely for this style and for its consistently excellent output.

In fact the style point is a reason to mention the Liverano ready-to-wear.

It’s constantly expanding, and there are ulster coats of the same design available in the shop from €3400 (very good make, hand cut and fully canvassed, but not hand padded). 

Liverano & Liverano bespoke starts at €5730. This ulster coat cost €8650.

In the pictures I am also wearing:

  • Permanent Style watch cap (available soon)
  • Wispy scarf, Begg & Co
  • Bespoke wool trousers, Elia Caliendo in Holland & Sherry ‘Pardessus’ cloth
  • Bespoke cap-toe shoes, Cleverley
  • Made-to-measure cashmere jacket, Saman Amel (review coming soon)
  • Bespoke spread-collar shirt, Luca Avitabile
  • Cashmere tie, Ralph Lauren

Photography: Jamie Ferguson @jkf_man (pictured below) except numbers 4, 8 and 11, Milad Abedi @milad_abedi (pictured above).

Milad was visiting Jamie for the day and came with us - I don't normally have two photographers! 

Look, a bird!


The Permanent Style Awards

The Permanent Style Awards

Wednesday, January 3rd 2018
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Other than buying stuff, there are no obvious ways to recognise the best brands, best artisans and best-dressed people in our industry.

In order to try and provide an avenue for this, I am introducing a small set of awards that seek to reward such people - partly decided by a panel and partly by you, the readers.

The awards will cover style, design, and important-but-often-ignored things like customer service.

I am asking for nominations and votes in the comments to this post over the next two weeks. The winners will be announced on January 17th.

And we're doing it now because frankly, it annoys me how many 'best of the year' lists are put together in as early as November and published in December.

Below are the five awards.

In each case, I have tried to be specific and structured in the description of what they are for - again, I hate vague awards without a real methodology.

Two of the awards are pure votes by you, the readers. Two require nominations from you, to be judged by a panel. And one is an entirely personal award from myself.

Please only nominate and vote once per category, in the comments below. And feel free to leave a reason for your choice.


1 Brand of the year

Please nominate the brand that you think has been the best in 2017 in terms of:

- Innovation (bringing original design to our market) and/or

- Functionality (introducing items that have become reliable, versatile wardrobe staples)

A shortlist of three brands will be created based on nominations, and the winner selected by a panel.


2 Best customer experience of the year

Please vote for the brand that you think has been the best in 2017 for:

- Customer service

- In-store / online experience

- Quality of brand (worn well, not fallen apart etc)


3 Best-dressed man of the year

Please nominate one person you think has been the most stylishly dressed in 2017 in terms of:

- Classic style relevant to a modern age

A shortlist of five people will be created based on nominations, and the winner selected by a panel. The person must have sufficient online or social-media presence for the panel to see examples of how they dress.


4 Best media of the year

Please vote for the media outlet you think has been the best in 2017 in terms of:

- Quality, substantial content

- Originality and creativity

This can be any form of media: a newspaper, a magazine, a website, a blog, or an Instagram account. But an ongoing production - not a book.


5 Bespoke artisan of the year

This last award is very personal. Rating of bespoke artisans is so subjective, and it's highly unlikely anyone will have used enough in a single year to make a broad comparison.

This will therefore simply be an award I give to one artisan I have used in 2017, and found particularly rewarding.


Please note that neither myself nor Permanent Style can be nominated for or win any awards.

The panel for these inaugural awards will comprise myself, Michael Drake and Jamie Ferguson.

Enter your votes and nominations below in the comments (together with a short reason if you wish) and do specify which apply to which award.

Thanks for all your thoughts and contributions. I think the people and brands we highlight will appreciate our recognition of their hard work.



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

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.