Video debate: The future of tailoring, with Saman Amel

Friday, September 27th 2019
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The lack of a coherent dress code in modern offices does not mean men will wear tailoring less. It just means they have more choice.

And Saman and Dag find that their customers are both bankers dressing down (not in a suit, but not in a polo either) and tech workers dressing up.

There's a middle ground, where choice breeds uncertainty, but men always want to look good and to impress.

I've wanted to talk to Saman Amel about this in detail for a while, because they've been so popular with Permanent Style readers since they started travelling. Because, I think, they cater to this middle ground really well.

We discussed this in the talk shown below, held last month in Mark's Club in front of some of Saman Amel's best customers.

It was a great discussion, covering everything from women's couture to the guys' decision to introduce black into their colour scheme. Now that was ballsy.

 

 

Other points worth writing down and remembering I think:

  • Remain elegant but relevant
  • A wardrobe that is mostly warm or mostly cool is more versatile
  • Play with texture before colour
  • Menswear moves in decade-long cycles. It might mean tailoring is back (again)
  • Anyone really interested in clothing will find some inspiration in women's fashion too
  • And all brands have to change and evolve; they just need to do it slowly and naturally

I am wearing:

  • Saman Amel jacket (pictured here)
  • Pink-striped shirt from 100 Hands
  • Fox charcoal flannel trousers from Whitcomb & Shaftesbury
  • Suede Belgravia loafers from Edward Green
  • Navy knitted wool tie from Bigi, via Trunk

Saman and Dag, of course, are wearing Saman Amel.

 

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Jack

I haven’t listened to this yet but look forward to doing so later today. I think the issue of ‘the middle ground’ is a really interesting one and one that is particularly relevant to me personally. Having recently relocated from London with my wife and family I have found that what I would normally wear [outside of work – my profession has stayed the same so no real issue there] suddenly feels out of place. London is perhaps a bit of a bubble when it comes to these things where almost anything is accepted. However I have suddenly found that wearing a dress shoe of even a sports coat feels at odds with a general more casual population in my new location. I’m struggling with finding an appropriate middle ground and feel my own identity is under question. I’m sure I will find the happy balance but I’m not willing to give up some of the things I hold dear. I would be interested to hear your approach to dressing when outside of London – or another large or sartorial city. Do you take a different approach?

Anonymous

Indeed, I cant give up the sports coats full time though. I generally feel more at ease when my clothing is slightly warn and I think this is something I am going to embrace. I have a fondness for fine clothing that is well worn. I think an embargo on new purchase is in order so an extra crease or two can be added to my current wardrobe. Also the removal of a formal element of an outfit and replacing it with something more casual seems to help. For example replace a shirt with a polo, blazer with a jacket, flannels with jeans, dress shoe with desert boot etc. just changing one element seems to have a big impact.

Apologies for the divergence.

Pete

Great post Simon. It would be useful to see a post on Munro and their tailoring options. I know many of the younger tailoring houses use this factory, I am keen to know if there are any differences between how Saman Amel offer this service in comparison to others.

Adam

Interesting piece.

Couple of questions if I may. Did you leave your shirt cuffs undone for a particular reason (to mirror Dag perhaps), and did you specify your button down with such long points and no roll, or is it just the way it was made?

Thanks

Adam

Thanks.

I think actually the roll in a button down collar is determined by three factors; the length of the point, the relative position of the button, and the nature of the lining (with unlined being the most traditional), meaning that the leafs will roll gently even being worn with a tie. It was the fact that your isn’t doing so that prompted me to ask the question.

Thanks

P.F.

Hi Simon!

After last Wednesdays epic (and ongoing) comment storm, here comes an easy question.

You’ve always said to buy the best quality one can afford. My question is, is price and quality directly related or is there a price point at which it is just inflated for the sake of it.

Or in mathematical terms, is the relation linear or logarithmic, with a defined asymptote above which you don’t get any more quality.

I always struggle to understand the difference between a good pair of trousers, for example, costing 250€ and another one costing 450€, both being RTW.

Thanks and keep up the good work!

Robin

Excellent question and very well put .

A good answer but I think it deserves more discussion .
Take for example Saman Amel .. really beautiful , stylish , comfortable clothes but at a price point where any reasonable person would question “why so much “?”
And believe me I don’t say that to be lightly .

I know it must be difficult for you , Simon , to say “as good as this is it’s just ludicrously priced “ .

I suppose it’s an aspect of sartorial discussion that will never go away .

Rups

Here’s a good question, why aren’t there MTM companies producing in Europe (thats going to be places like Italy, Romania, Turkey) at a price point to consumers of say £250 for trousers and £500 for a jacket? In the marketplace you have companies producing at twice that level. Are costs really that high of production. One of the little dark secrets of the ‘high end’ luxury industry is that in a place like Florence, you have factories staffed mainly by Chinese emigres working for low wages in a relatively low cost environment. That puts the cost of these products at *10 at what the high street is selling a jacket or pair of trousers. Who is the customer for these products, usually the very rich or the ‘clothing enthusiast’. I mean who would want to actually wear a £500 pair of trousers to their local Starbucks? The Instagram bubble is a mirage which makes guys think that dressing a certain way is the norm. It really isn’t if you walk about in the real world. If you are a clothing enthusiast and want to spend fantastic amounts on clothing then thats ok but realise you are doing it as a hobby and that nobody else really cares these days.

JB

Rups,
Surely nobody is suggesting we should all go out and spend €500 on a pair of trousers just because we can, but if you do, why wouldn’t you wear them to starbucks? If they’re your one good pair of trousers for special occasions that’s one thing, but what’s the point of buying good clothes if you don’t use them? There’s a time and a place for everything, just as a 3 piece suit looks silly on the playground or at the beach, I wouldn’t go play football in the park in bespoke trousers, but I don’t see why I wouldn’t wear them for a coffee with a friend?

Rups

Its an interesting point, what are we actually buying fine clothes for? Is it because you like craft, or because you like aesthetics and want to improve your appearance, perhaps it’s to gain status, or impress other people through looking affluent. In all those cases bar the one about craft, it’s all depends on the perspective of the beholder rather than any underlying truth which is a rather philosophical point I realise. If for example you went to a flash nightclub these days wearing a suit and tie Id argue would be less impressive to others than most there designer clobber which you find taking up most of the space in stores like Selfridges and Harvey Nichols these days. If you wear classic menswear which I do they probably just assume you’ve finished up at the office, I distinctly remember one young lady asked me while making polite conversation where I was working earlier on a Saturday evening)

As you say there is a time and place for everything, perhaps your Starbucks attracts a more well heeled crowd than the ones I frequent. Mine is full of guys in Jeans and Hoodies, sometime has the odd stain on the chairs causing potential dry cleaning nightmares. One thing on this point Ive noticed is that brands like to often show guys in chalstripe suits doing all sorts of out of context activities, Drakes is a good example, for instance guy eating ice creams, or hamburgers leaking sauce out of them, or perhaps riding a bike. I don’t know whether this is just interesting visually as its out of context, or if in fact its clever marketing, as they know that fine classic menswear is indeed out of context in much of the modern world. Therefore an attempt has to be made to convince the consumer that this isn’t the case and that you can go to a hamburger restaurant in down town NY in a suit and tie if you want (albeit with your Oxford shirt collar duly sprezzed with one shirt collar left unbuttoned).

JB

Of course lookbooks will always be a bit over the top, however I think the idea of those is simply that clothes are to be enjoyed. If you felt like wearing a suit this morning, and happen to meet your friends for ice cream and burgers, that’s fine.
I personally would never ride a bicycle with any kind of non work-out related trouser simply because I’ve ruined so many pairs by doing just that, wearing them out in no time. But I see people doing it every day so I assume for them it’s not an issue. It’s different for everyone.

The reason I buy mainly MTM is simply because my body shape rarely fits into any RTW mold. I also enjoy the relationship with my makers and the conversations around the clothes. Naturally I choose makers who’s products appeal to me, Saman Amel happen to be one of those. I’m sure I’ll move into bespoke one day but at the moment it doesn’t make sense financially or logistically.

I’d argue craft is a bigger part of it than we might think. I wouldn’t necessarily put craft very high on my list of reasons at first, but I would put fit, function and aesthetics very high, and craft is a bigger part of those components than one might think. I don’t care about hand made button holes on a shirt, but I do care about the ease of movement and shape of the collar and that comes back to craft.

I live in Stockholm, so to be fair we only have 2 (I think) Starbucks excluding the airport, but our version much like all parts of life have a variety of people and styles frequenting them. You’ll probably find more dressy clothes the further into the city center you come.

Ian A

I think that most people view the price of clothing in respect of how things are priced at the moment. For example in the pre war years people used to spend very little on housing relative to their income but food was more expensive and I read somewhere that 20 per cent of income was spent on clothing. I can only imagine that these days people spend considerably less proportion of income clothing themselves.

JB

We as a society really need to question the whole cost vs. value thinking we’ve been taught over the years.
Considering cotton has to be grown, harvested, spun, made into a shirt, delivered to at least one warehouse, then to a store with a bunch of shipments in between, does it really make sense a t-shirt can cost €5? Or a pair of trousers €30?
By any logical sense, something being made half way around the world, then shipped via airplane or boat should cost a lot more than something locally made, but people never seem to grasp that.

Rups

why is it irresponsible to buy a £10 T shirt from a developing country? Should we all go to somewhere in Mayfair and pay a couple of hundred pounds for a hand woven T shirt made in Italy instead (which incidentally is probably made by a Chinese sweatshop worker albeit in the Florentine hills)? Say that £10 T shirt was made somewhere like Bangladesh or Turkey, well its creating jobs, and people are working and earning money they wouldn’t otherwise have. If it wasn’t more attractive than other options they had those people would surely take the other option. It would be nice to imagine everyone in the world could have nice middle class jobs like being a lawyer, or marketing executive, or investment banker or even editor of a magazine like yourself. The real world gets in the way though.

Anonymous

Interesting discussion – when the conversation turned to the idea of “sexiness” my mind instantly went to Nigel Tufnell saying ‘what’s wrong with being sexy?’

I found it particularly interesting to hear them raise the point about encouraging their clients to slow down on their commissioning habits – I wonder how they strike a balance between that approach and the fact that the bespoke/mto process is one that improves with each successive commission.

Paul Boileau

We all wish the relationship was exponential not logarithmic!

Anonymous

What weight and fabric # is this flannel? Are you wearing no pleats?

Arbutus

What shoes is Dag wearing?

TT

What shoes is Saman wearing?

Anonymous

Thank you, Simon, for this excellent interview.

Listening to these two articulate gentlemen describe the holistic and organic aesthetic behind their elegant brand was inspiring on several levels. May they have every success.

JB

I’m sure more than a few men have found inspiration from Phoebe Philo’s Céline.
Womens menswear (for lack of a better term) usually look ten times more effortless and relaxed.

Zohair

Any chance you can make just the audio available? Wanted to listen as a podcast, with my phone tucked away.

Hugh Brown

Very informative discussion. All gentlemen wore sophisticated loafers and socks as well.

Michael

I’m not a regular visitor at all to PS, but found the feature about Dag and Saman peculiar. Because I thought that what was considered custom-tailoring, or Su Misura, which is absolutely the case in Dag and Saman, to be a sin for PS readers who would only ever want to consider a fully bespoke suit (?).

I think more coherently, what you were trying to communicate as “the middle ground” is more of a kindship, a shared spirit with the two founders of Anderson & Sheppard. Frederick Scholte never wanted the “riff-raff” clients, but Peter (‘Per’) Gustaf Anderson and Sidney Horatio Sheppard did. To democratise your demographic, be a people’s tailor, is what Dag and Saman also wanted to do from the start. You can see in Central and Northern Europe where there’s a tailor’s establishment, just like a doctor’s clinic in a district where anyone can come to have something fitted there. Apart from the diversifying clientele, the cost is diametrically opposite and a pleasant encounter, since Saman Amel’s pricing for their fully-handmade suit (was) approximately 15,000 SEK. Now that’s far more aspirational and more affordable than having to fork out more than 4-5,000 pounds just for one suit.

Inspirationally, Dag and Saman also really appreciated and were also inspirited by South Australian Patrick Johnson’s own business (having spoke to them personally on a couple of occasions), to become a tailor for anyone, but in a more humble, honest and intimate setting – where you’re not bombarded by Savile Row vernacular – but you could honestly purchase a very well-made product that you could afford with a reasonably good salary – and one you could wear constantly without being very precious about it.

Dag and Saman are a great duo, having started a business together at such a very young age to enter tailoring, but because of their know-how and Saman’s cutting education, it’s a complete breath of fresh air to find somewhere where it does cater for people who aren’t bothered, or have to believe it’s a preordained “rite of passage” to be persuaded to buy a “A. Caraceni”, a “Orazio Luciano”. or a “Ring Jacket” – essentially whatever “Andreas Weinås” is wearing all the time who’s become somewhat the “Chiara Ferragni” of men’s clothes.