Lutays made-to-order jacket: Review

Wednesday, December 22nd 2021
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Lutays is a French brand making casual jackets in a couture workshop in France. It was started by Jean-Baptiste Rosseeuw (above), whom readers might know from his previous job at glove maker Lavabre Cadet

JB - as he is known to those that know him - wanted to launch a product that was particularly French. Not just made there, but projecting a style that was distinctive from those of England, Italy or America. 

For him, this French style is to be found in the clothes worn at the end of the Napoleonic era, before British suits became dominant. These were practical jackets, for activity as much as meetings, and were characterised by soft shoulders, open quarters and natural materials. 

He also dug into regional traditions and French military clothing, bringing up details like high-fastening gilets or a general absence of breast pockets.

There is inevitably something of the old Arnys style here. But while JB reveres that tradition, and wishes to build something equally, distinctively French, there are clear differences: the Lutays fabrics are noticeably more sober and textured, and the designs are less eccentric. 

The decision to make in a couture workshop is an interesting one, because most of the time I think it leads to a garment that is precise and clean, but free from the flourishes that menswear usually associates with hand-worked clothing. 

It also means Lutays is relatively expensive. Everything is made to order, with jackets ranging from about €1100 to €1800 depending on the material and style, and the full couture experience with fittings in Paris starting at €4300 (VAT inclusive). 

JB decided to make this way after several experiments with tailors and shirtmakers. The shirtmakers’ jackets he found were too unstructured - basically, just shirts with pockets - and the tailoring versions too structured, as well as too sharp and formal. He also didn't want to make with a factory, for example in Italy. 

It wasn’t easy to find a couture workshop that would take him on, as most only make for women. But finally he found one that understood his aims, and would make in the traditional couture manner, with one person making each garment. 

Earlier this year JB offered to make me a jacket remotely as an experiment, sending me a few of the fitting toiles that are normally held in the Paris atelier, to try on and then order from a swatch. 

Of the styles on offer, the one that appealed to me the most was the ‘Boutet’, an overshirt style with just two angled breast pockets. Some others I discounted because of the belts, or band collars, but my second choice would have been a jacket similar to the Boutet, like the ‘Zola’ with its simple pockets. 

A special word should be said about JB’s fabric selection, because he has gone out of his way to source unusual, natural-coloured cottons, linens and wools, which I think give the brand as much identity as the designs of the jackets. 

Some of the swatches he supplies are pretty small, and harder than normal to get a sense of what they’ll be like at scale. But it’s a long way from an MTM brand that just shows all the same Loro Piana or Scabal cloth books. 

The fit models I was sent to try on were all in a toile canvas, which I think limited my ability to get a sense of the designs. I did feedback to JB that it would have been nice to try a finished one, and ideally something in a similar material to the one I had selected. 

The fitting process all went quite smoothly though. I took pictures of the fit from every angle, and we spoke on the phone about my thoughts. I basically requested the neck and waist from one size, and the shoulders, chest and length from a size up. 

When the jacket arrived a few weeks later, the fit was good, but the waist and hips were a little large. This is the problem I have with overshirts generally: being slim, they tend to look a bit A-line as they drop from my shoulders to the hips. 

The jacket was sent back, this was changed, and the result is what you see below. Interestingly, the adjustment on the hips was done with two darts running into the bottom hem, rather than the side seams. 

So do I like it? Well, the first thing to say is that I’m in two minds about the material. 

It’s an unusual wool/cotton twill, a beige or oatmeal colour but with some lovely browns and caramel colours in the yarn. A good example of how JB has turned up some materials that are different to most things in tailoring bunches.

The only problem with it is that it’s a very dense weave, and quite firm. That can be an advantage with something as unstructured as an overshirt, and it certainly helps this piece look more like a jacket. 

But I’ve worn this about a dozen times, it hasn’t softened and it does hang rather stiffly. I think there will be some people that will like it, but had I seen a jacket made up in that material (even in a different colour) I’m not sure I would have chosen it. 

The style of the Boutet has grown on me, but it's a different style to what I would normally wear, and I think it's another reason to see the models in person. 

It has quite a dramatic collar, one most commonly on traditional safari jackets. The breast pockets are quite low on the chest, and the buttoning is rather high (in fact the central button is almost parallel with those pockets). 

The fit is also very large in the chest. This is most obvious when I have my arms outstretched, as shown in the image below. 

None of these things are too unusual, and the buttoning point in particular is something seen on some work jackets. The body fit is also quite deliberate: one of the things JB always disliked about Arnys jackets was the size in the neck and shoulders, so these are generally smaller in relation to the chest. 

But it’s not a style that fits naturally with other things I wear. I don’t mind loose clothing generally - see my Prologue linen shirt, Adret bomber, or Ramon Puig Guayabera for examples - but they all tend to work with tailoring clothing elsewhere. This doesn't so much.

The process I went through was an experiment, and not one JB is going to offer in the future. So just to be clear, there are two offers today.

The first is buying a piece online, in any size (even from 42 to 60) and any Lutays fabric, delivered in six weeks. If the order is placed in Paris, it's possible to adjust the sleeve and body length. But otherwise it's simple MTO.

The second is a couture experience, which means toile fittings in Paris, at least three appointments, and much more flexibility around design. I had elements of this because I changed the fit so much, and adjusted the finished garment too.

I would struggle to justify the latter experience, given the cost of €4300, although of course I didn't change the design too much in that case. The former is much better, at €1100 for my jacket, and is made in the same place in the same way.

The only thing there is I think you need to be certain about liking the style and the fit. So again I would recommend buying in person in Paris (below) - or on a trunk show. JB has been planning these for a while, but they haven't really been possible during Covid.

Finally, Lutays does have some international partners. You can try the styles at Brio in Beijing, and particular designs have been created for stores in Japan: Q store in Osaka, Strips St. in Tokyo, Wolf and Wolff in Tokyo, and TF Labo in Tokyo.

Lutays.com

Other clothes worn: PS Oxford shirt in white, brown Brisbane Moss trousers, black-suede Edward Green 'Belgravia' loafers

Photography: Mohan Singh

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DMX

It’s odd; I think the cloth looks beautiful but there’s something about a lack of obvious pockets towards the bottom of the jacket that seems to throw off the balance. It is however entirely possible that that perspective is a function of only having seen coats made in the ‘suit’ or sports jacket tradition. It also looks way too big in the back (from the shot from behind). I suspect if that came in a bit it would have a rather pleasing, if unusual overall aesthetic…

Chris

This man is clearly an artisan, and I applaud him and anyone trying to bring craftsmanship to casual styles and to create new categories in the process. But it’s hard not to raise a serious eyebrow at the cost here. Fit wise this does not seem precise enough to justify a bespoke experience , unless you have truly eye watering amounts of money, (but why would anyone want to open a business only serving people like that?). There are so many ready made brands producing high quality items, where with a bit of trial and error you can get something totally comparable in fit, and a garment made well enough to last a lifetime.
I wish him well, and should I come into a euro millions win, I would like to try his designs out.

Peter Hall

You really notice your asymmetric shoulders in the rear view,Simon.
Did you disregard belted styles through a personal dislike wanting to avoid comparisons with a saharina? My inclination is to wear this type of jacket/shirt with a belt. I imagine it’s not quite heavy enough to be a jacket.
Its very stylish . Very modern, but traditional, and stays away from safari jacket territory.

Patrick Truhn

I bought Lutays’ Valmont model (a high-buttoning eighteenth-century waistcoat) in coffee-coloured linen last spring, and absolutely love it. I wear it over a white or beige linen shirt and/or under my Drake’s chocolate brown linen overshirt. It dresses up a pair of jeans or adds elegance to linen trousers. Best of all, it’s impeccably made, very comfortable, and doesn’t look like anything anyone else is wearing.

Patrick Truhn

Simon, have you read Réginald-Jérôme de Mans’ recent book “Swan Songs: Souvenirs of Paris Elegance”? It’s a paean to the now lost pillars of French luxury wear (Old England, Sulka, Arnys, etc.) and those still “hanging by a thread.” The book contains a directory of French shops and makers “worthy of a visit,” and Lutays is included – priced at €, out of a possible €€€ – with the mention “Arnys may be no more, but this new company offers handsome, creatively designed jackets in a casually elegant inspiration.” I think the point here is that Jean-Baptiste isn’t necessarily trying to fill a niche created by the tragic demise of Arnys, or dozens of other purveyors of well-made French clothes and accessories, but rather, by offering casual clothes – what might historically have been worn by peasants, workers, sailors, or intellectuals – in upscale materials and made by expert couturières, to create an identity that resonates with the French gentleman who appreciates refined simplicity and has the means to afford it. Turning workwear into luxury wear is not without its irony, of course, but I suspect its proponents would also consider that part of its charm.

VS

Kim jong un and Stalin approve this jacket

Emerging Genius

Yeah, I agree. It has a bit of an Orwellian flavour to it. I must say I just can’t excited over this jacket.

Johnny Foreigner

We’re in Mélenchon territory here.

Also, what does Mr Rosseeuw mean when he talks about clothes at the end of the Napoleonic era before British suits took over? Are we talking 1815?

Johnny Foreigner

Er, then it wasn’t too distinctive from Italian or American style. Every court in Europe (and every state government in the United States) wore cutaway coats, etc.

Brian

My mind goes to the lines of ARNYS. Always well made, of the best materials and unique. You just have to find the models that suit you. I have some old pieces from 25 years ago that I still love and get good use from.

Ben

Lutays’ aesthetic seems to be so different from mine that I don’t even have a basis on which to evaluate its products. What does it mean to be well fitting or to hang nicely when anvil is the platonic ideal?

Emerging Genius

This jacket would certainly be an acquired taste. It looks like a 1980s throwback with those huge dimensions. Not my cup of tea, but they obviously sell well enough.

John

Hi Simon,
Thanks for this review. Interestingly enough, Luthays seems to be the first serious attempt to move beyond Arny’s legacy. But I wonder whether such a challenging prospect could succeed without a consistent RTW supply alongside. I’m not sure if focusing mainly on MTO offerings would be sufficient to harness enough feedbacks necessary to working out the style identity of Luthays. Does its success mean remaining a niche for deep-pocket guys?
John

Russ

In my view that jacket is way overpriced. It doesn’t look great either. It’s not a patch on the beautiful heavy linen work jacket (limited edition with corduroy collar) I’ve just received from ‘Flax London’ for less than £250. You ought to go and see them, Simon. Flax London’s environmental pattern is exceptional too – they will even collect the garment for patching if it tears or starts to wear.

Brian

Simon
Flax London does look a really interesting company and from the look of the website well priced for the perceived quality offered.
You say that you have seen the product. Do you have an opinion on it?
Thanks

Kamikar German

Thank you for that hint. I just had a look. Flax London is amazing given quality & price!

Dr No Thank You

Perfect for a Bond bad guy!

Sam

Do you think that maybe keeping to the default sizing all over might have been better? I understand your point about overshirts potentially coming off as too A-line on your frame, but looking at the pictures keeping slimmer in the shoulder and chest would look better in my opinion. Potentially your expertise with what works with for over shirts isn’t directly applicable to this more unique style? I (maybe incorrectly) always think of the French style as slightly slimmer than other styles so this would mirror that.

Nigel C

Hi Simon. I’ll be upfront and say this would not be my choice. I sort of don’t get it. That said, our style evolves and we become more comfortable once we get used to new things. However, I have bought odd things that I love the idea of but just never really get to that comfort point with and they just have to go, without really being worn. I know it’s really just in my head that it goes wrong sometimes. But when your head is not right about it you just look and feel uncomfortable in something.
So my question is how do you actually feel wearing it? You reference how it does not sit well with things you normally wear. Would you look out for items to complement it or just have it as something a little more quirky perhaps?
Best wishes and compliments of the season to you. N

George

An interesting but surely very expensive piece. Id like to ask if you habe any other loose clothes that you have reviewed or suggested, or wear often. My style is evolving to this side the last years

Ram

Hi Simon,

I felt compelled to post a comment as early 20th century French workwear and military attire are fond passions of mine. My first feeling about Lutays is something that needs to be further refined in terms of fit but a fabulous start.

In the photo of JB, the jacket seems to suit him very well, in personality and shape, but it doesn’t seem to wear all that well on you at all in the current iteration. I had a bit of a similar feeling regarding some Arny’s with regards to my physique. I would personally like these Boutets to be shorter in length and either straight or gently tapered. Also something overall off about the collar, seems too deeply cut or low-buttoning stanced to me.

But I find this very encouraging as someone is genuinely attempting to bring those classic inspiration to a contemporary palette and with updated cuts. It’s more interesting to me, just like Camps de Luca and Kenjiro Suzuki whom you had covered. Also reminds me of Adret.

Here’s a jacket in the French Tunic style from Dries Van Noten’s FW16 Men’s collection. I have a simpler burgundy version of it myself. It’s fabulous with the exception of perhaps that faux shoulder flaps. This reminded me of some of Lutay’s but with a crisper tailored look.

Ram

Yes, it seems that it had not attached as it was webp and I unfortunately missed the error message as it came on a corner of the screen. This is the Dries piece I mentioned.

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Bamboccio

I think that the bottom line is that this design is perfectly suited for a classic / military tailored style and the vintage photos are the proof of how beautiful it would be.

Ben Frankel

A real pleasure to read about couture menswear.
The great Couturiers Balenciaga, Givenchy and St.Laurent all wore white cotton work jackets made in their ateliers- many photographs online.
The new book on Karl Lagerfeld describes his clothing philosophy- a most interesting read- Karl. No Regrets. By Patrick Hourcade. Flammarion pub.

Tony H

I feel like this jacket has a lot of potential, even if this iteration doesn’t quite work for you.

A trimmer chest and arm, and a bit of taper at the waist, and it would be a great ‘I need something but not a blazer’ option, I think.

Chee

shouldn’t the fit for these type of jackets be like the chore jacket ie slightly loose with the seeves slightly longer covering the cuffs rather than fitted or showing a bit of cuffs like a suit?

Michael From Connecticut

Simon, on the strenth of this great article….I’ve ordered a jacket from JB. A lovely chap and very responsive. I’m happy to support such obviously fine artisanal work from someone trying to make a go of things in this difficult time. Thank you for bringing this to the attention of a wider audience. When Arnys closed in 2012 my wife and I opened a bottle of champagne…as we would to celebrate the passing of any old friend. Lutays does indeed seem to be a worthy successor, without the eccentricity.

Mirko Rongione

Hi Simon, from your point of view, which are the differences between overshirt, work jacket and field/safari jacket? thanks a lot and take care