Retrospecs gold, Chapal sheep, Informale twill, Lof & Tung cordovan

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So, there was a pair of Retrospecs sunglasses. From the 1930s - originals, as all Retrospecs are.

In rolled gold, not the cheaper-looking gold plate. Filigree work around the frame - all of which is different for each tiny batch. Perfect fit.

But I can't really afford them. Fortunately, there were more affordable frames. Most are in the £600-£900 range.

One customer was surprised at those prices, until I pointed out that they were actual antiques. He thought it was just some hyped-up brand.

There's a really interesting mix of brands in the pop-up shop this week. Maybe one of the most interesting we've had.

Steve Calder and his Informale tailoring has been particularly popular.

It's easy to wear, in decent materials, casual but with a tailoring mindset. And not that expensive: £140 to £410.

The shoes from Lof & Tung on the other side of the floor seem similar. Spanish made, and perhaps not always with the top level of materials, but good value and well thought out.

That seems a little abstract - what do I mean by it?

I mean that within a fairly small range, there's the makings of a full wardrobe of shoes. That the two (similar) lasts are elegant and wearable.

Basically, it's as if someone that knows modern menswear well, designed an affordability-driven shoe line.

And then there are the two more expensive brands, but expensive for different reasons.

Retrospecs is old, and rare. Beautiful too, and beautifully made, but scarcity drives a lot of the pricing.

Chapal, the leather-jackets specialist from France, is expensive for the quality.

I brought in my Chapal USAAF jacket to have on display (above), because I want everyone to see what it looks like after a couple of years of wear.

So they can feel how the sheep's leather softens, and the elbows wrinkle and fade.

I do think it's a lovely object. Everything from the thick cotton lining to the tarnished brass hardware is perfect.

What else? Well, I didn't realise all the Informale clothing is made in Melbourne (apart from the polo shirts) and it's all Brisbane Moss cloth.

My favourite piece is probably the fatigue pant. It has a high waist but just about OK for me, and the twill cotton is heavy. I like the workwear shirt too, but maybe not in the lightweight moleskin.

Interestingly, Steve suggests that the trousers can be washed or dry cleaned, depending on whether you want a more garment-washed softness or retain the tailoring sharpness. I'd never had it put that way before.

If you can, you should check out the shearling-lined Lof & Tung boots, which seem to be one of the few things that can survive the heavily salted Stockholm streets in winter.

And if you're here on Friday or Saturday, you can meet Massimo Bonafe (shoes above), who is coming to be alongside Lof & Tung for a trunk show.

It's perhaps worth trying on the Chapal USAAF even if you don't take it, because they don't have a store and at least that way you know your size.

Same goes for the Permanent Style trench coat and bridge coat.

Finally, coming full circle, I recommend talking to Adam at Retrospecs about absolutely any of the frames on display.

They all have a story, from the Aviator before there was an Aviator, to the birth of the panto shape, the crown bridge and the vampire bridge. I could sit and listen to it all day.

Thank you to everyone that comes in this week, and hopefully for everyone that can't, this provides some insight into all the brands and products - which apart from Retrospecs, are also available online.

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I have long considered buying a pair of Løf & Tung shoes, but have waited due to not knowing the quality of construction and leather. Could you please compare them to other similarly prices brands like Crocket & Jones and Carmina?


Indeed, C&J (mainline) is of slightly better quality than Carmina or L&T.
Carmina, L&T as well as Justin Fitzpatrick have similar quality IMO, with the last two having similar finishing as well. Choose L&T for classic shoes, and Justin Fitzpatrick if you prefer a more dandy/original approach.


Have you tried Morjas? How do you think they compare to those brands (LT, Carmina, and CJ)?


Thanks. I understand. Just to clarify – based on your limited grounds for thinking so, you would say they’re similar to Carmina, but that Crocket & Jones are a level up?

Paul Boileau

Reselling “pre-worn” spectacles. Who knew? When my grandfather died we threw out most of his bespoke glasses. He was a cardiovascular surgeon at Guys and was quite the dandy and very particular about his eyewear. I kept a special pair of tortoiseshell reading glasses although the shell has seen better days…


Hi Simon I’m in town next week – who will be in the shop please?


Simon, would be great to know your take on Informale’s jungle jacket. What do you make of it? Thanks.

Alex N.

Dear Simon and readers,
I find that what I consider expensive is relative.
The RetroSpecs are expensive taken on their own but they are simply beautiful and quite subtle and original, so I find value in them. Yes, they are more expensive than sunglasses you find in high street shops, but they are also less expensive than (or comparable to) brands like Chrome hearts (which are very popular in emerging markets and to my mind are ostentatious and subsequently arrogant). I have a hard time picking sunglasses and I loved a frame from RetroSpecs. It was worth more than I was comfortable spending on sunglasses, but I bought them anyway and I absolutely love them. Cost is insignificant if you only have one (or few) item which you will cherish, which brings you satisfaction and pleasure when wearing and which you will take care of for decades (which I hope I will). Also I just love the fact that most of the glasses are not branded on the outside (something I find quite distasteful) and only you know that you have spent too much money on them (I wouldn’t wear something which you can easily find out costs a lot of money as I would feel uncomfortable in front of people I interact with). Also, the Chapal jackets are amazing but that’s not a priority right now.
Thanks for showing us all those amazing people and brands which I ultimately find a very good value for money due to the very high quality of the products.


I dropped by the store today and yes, the Chapal usaff jacket felt amazing. However, your 2016 article on Chapal stated mtm usaff started from 2900EURO and then I was quoted 4000EURO for the RTW.
It’s only been 3 years but i am slightly taken aback by the jump given the 4000EURO is not even MTO.
I forgot to ask but I assume MTO is even more expensive?

Do you know what factors pushed this price increase? Is it better than Real McCoys which I do have?


Hi Simon, I was wondering if you went true to size (50) on your Chapal USAAF jacket? I was also looking over their website and saw a very similar G1 jacket. Can you tell me what the major differences are between the 2 jackets (besides the pockets)? Thanks.


What kind of clothing do you wear underneath your chapal? Knit?
Have you found if your jacket Expanded at all over the years?


Sorry Simon, is 50 L or M in Chapal sizes? I think I’m ready to pull the trigger with the USAAF one and doubting between the sizes but I use to wear same size as you. Thanks!


Hi Simon
For the chapal USSAF, how warm is it? i love it very much, but also worry about the weather in HK, im wondering too much chance to put it on


Thank you Simon
i had an Valstarino (from your shop), i worn it almost everyday since i owned it, it is lovely ^^
Oh and i just have a chance to chat with Chapal, they think it is possible to have a special edition on the lining and make it with no padding
No sure it works or not…


Hi Simon
i finally bought the real mccoy A2 leather jacket, as i find that it is more fit to me and i like darker color rather than brown
And i do have a chance to try the chapal USAAF in HK too(there is a shop doing MTM Chapal in HK), as you mentioned previously, the leather is extremely soft and nice, but the cut and color is not the one i wanna (just personal choice)

Anyway, thanks a lot for introducing such good item to us, as always