Reader Profile: Ben (and the community of menswear)

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I met Ben at our recent pop-up party, and liked what he was wearing (first outfit below). We got to talking and I discovered his interesting background - always good, as I’d like these profiles to explore different types of PS reader - and his pure enthusiasm for crafted menswear. He put me to shame with his knowledge of brands and general happenings. 

Hopefully this interview gets that across, as well as Ben’s appreciation for the people who make all these things we love. I’ve never heard someone talk so passionately about how that makes menswear an enjoyable place to be. 

Outfit 1

  • Cap - Cotton/linen indigo from HW Dog 
  • Rollneck - North Sea Clothing submariner
  • Jacket - Portuguese Flannel (customised)
  • T-shirt - Tezomeya
  • Belt - Indigofera, black bridle leather 
  • Jeans - Oni, 200zr 
  • Shoes - Paraboot, Michael in green suede (image lower down)
  • Bag - Charlie Borrow
  • Pocket knife - Victorinox Swiss Army Knife with added pocket clip
  • Pen - Brass Fischer space pen 
  • Cardholder - Shinki shell cordovan in citrus

What do you do Ben? 

I’m a window cleaner mostly. I’m based in Ipswich and I have a little business there I’ve developed in recent years, having initially taken over my brother’s business. 

I also trained as a tree surgeon, and I still do some of that. But it’s dangerous work - I don’t use a cherry picker, I climb, and even though you’ve got ropes and a harness, you could easily get stuck. I’ve put my back out already doing that work in the past, so I try to do it less. 

I think when we met you said you used to be in the military?

Yes that’s right - we were talking about your piece on stolen valour. I said at the time that most people that served would say wearing military clothing was fine, as long as you weren’t actually pretending to be something you’re not.

Yes, and that was definitely borne out in the comments. How long did you serve for?

I trained for eight years but was never deployed, and by the end of it I was getting pretty frustrated. I was thinking of training to be an Apache helicopter pilot, which is what my Dad did, but that was another four years and in the end I decided to leave. 

How did you get into menswear?

I was always a gear guy, into well-made equipment, knives, torches. It felt like a fairly natural step from that into well-made clothing. Mostly workwear, mostly Japanese. I think most things I’m wearing today are Japanese. 

I like the white jacket you’re wearing - am I right you said you remade it?

Almost. It was a chore jacket from Portuguese Flannel which I had altered in several ways. The style didn’t quite work on me but I loved the material, so I wanted to save it. I initially took it apart but I had an alterations tailor put it back together again. 

What did you change?

I shortened it so the hem sat higher on me, I shortened the sleeves and I took off the two hip pockets. I also removed the collar which I think makes it more adaptable, easier to layer over something like this green submariner. 

What I liked about the process was I managed to transform it from something I wasn’t wearing into now one of my favourite pieces. 

The jeans look like they have some real heft and drape to them - where are they from?

They’re from Oni, the 200zr which is their widest fit. They’re 20oz with a beige-dyed weft. I really like the uniqueness of the texture, the colour and the rinse. Plus the deerskin patch on the back. 

Outfit 2:

We’re doing a ‘Dry January’ focus this month, talking about treasuring good clothes and looking after them. Do you do much of your own repairs and alterations, apart from the changes to the chore jacket?

Yes I’ve always done a lot. What really resonates with me is that by repairing existing clothing you feel a personal connection to the garment, because of the time you’ve spent repairing it and appreciating it - which in turn makes you want to care for it longer. 

Also, especially with visible repairs such as sashiko and darning, I feel it gives a uniqueness to the clothing and means it kind of accumulates memories over time. 

Do you work in some of the clothes shown here? How are you about looking after them?

I think it’s important to not be overly precious about your clothes. Yes, use them enough to cover the cost per wear and don’t abuse them, but then just look after them well. Maintain them with the correct products, whether that’s a nice leather cream or a delicate detergent, and understand the care labels because incorrect care will ruin clothes. 

I think one thing people get hung up on, especially with regards to denim, is the ‘fade culture’. It’s great to give your clothing personality, but over wearing and not washing is just bad practice, you should wash it when it’s dirty. There’s lots of misinformation around caring for clothing but I‘ve always found the best way is to ask the manufacturer directly, or even the business owner, what they recommend. 

The point that’s always been engrained into me is take care of your kit and it will take care of you. 

I love those Yuketen boots - how long have you had them?

Oh I don’t know, years. Those I do wear for work. They’re on their third pair of laces - the brass eyelets do fray the laces but I’d say each pair has lasted me two years or so. These are from White’s, they seem to make the best boot laces. I got the boots originally on eBay for £100. 

Do you buy a lot second-hand?

Yes, window cleaning makes a good living but I buy a lot of things second-hand when I can. I buy from Marrkt, going up to visit the warehouse recently and going through everything they had for example. I buy a fair bit from charity shops, or on Etsy, and get cheaper basics. My belt is a custom job on Etsy - you pick the leather, the hardware, so it’s veg-tan and solid brass. 

What do you tend to spend more money on, and less?

I spend less on those basics, like my perforated vest is from M&S - it’s basic but it’s functional, it does the job. I spend more on things like denim, bags, outerwear, where I know they’ll get better with age and where looking after them makes a big difference. 

I spend very little on gym gear, on sunglasses (because I lose them). I get Goodyear-welted or stitchdown shoes because I know I can repair them, and I think good cream is worth it so I have Saphir, but just the one colour.

The bag from Charlie Borrow looks like it’s going to age well. Was that a standard design or something you specified?

It was made to order, a custom size. I wanted something small but big enough to fit a bottle of wine or an umbrella. It’s a natural veg-tan leather with brass sandcast hardware and copper rivets - plus interchangeable straps! The black is a heavier duty and perhaps less dressy, but just nice to have the variation. This will have an endless patina.

Outfit 3:

  • Shirt - Camp collar from Kardo 
  • Cardigan - Tender Co 
  • Belt - Custom order, Etsy 
  • Trousers - TWC 
  • Shoes - Paraboot, as above
  • Watch - Rolex 2009 submariner
  • Rings - “Made by a friend in his shed. Goes by the name Chunk Silver”

You mentioned before how important the ‘community’ of menswear is to you. What did you mean by that exactly?

I just meant that it’s been so enjoyable in the past few years getting to know everyone in different parts of it, and that we should remember what a valuable part of the industry that is. 

When you buy from some big brand, you don’t know the founder, you don’t know the maker, you rarely connect with the people in the store. Go into somewhere like Blackhorse Lane and that’s completely different - everyone there is involved with the product, everyone cares about it. And you can visit the factory if you want to as well, see your things actually being made. 

You’ve done that at a fair number of places around the country haven’t you?

Yes I’ve tried to make a point of it, whether it’s a Northampton shoe factory or Charlie’s workshop, or visiting someone like Ben at Hang Up Vintage, now in Burnham-on-Crouch. When I can't repair or alter something I try to take it to a local craftsman that I connect with on a personal level as well, usually a friend in the industry. 

It gives you a closer connection to the product and the people, and often we have a lot in common. It’s the same at events, often I’ll find I have more in common with people there than I do when I meet up with old school mates, for example. 

One of the reasons I got into crafted menswear was that I wanted to buy good things and not get ripped off. Obviously some of this clothing is very expensive, but you always know what you’re getting for your money - and even more impressively, you often know the person the money is going to. 

It’s a great sentiment and you’re right, something we often forget. 

In this outfit you’ve got a lot of great pattern and colour going - where are the different pieces from?

The cardigan is from Tender Co, a really cool knitted piece where they transferred the pattern from a vinyl record onto a pop-punch card. The shirt underneath is from Kardo and hand-embroidered, which I love. 

The trousers are fro Adam at TWC. It’s a pleated chino-style trouser which resembles, in my opinion, a 1940s deck pant just with a modern smarter look. I like these because they’re quite light and have some little hidden selvedge details. The shoes are a Norwegian storm-welted green suede from Paraboot, on a crepe sole. 

Do the tattoos date from your military days?

Yes, and I regret some of them now to be honest. At the time it was something everyone was doing and it felt very natural. I’ve since had some lasered off and I might do that more. Particularly ones that are more on show, such as the hands. 

It does go with the look though.

Very true! At least I’m not trying to dress up in a suit and tie for an office job. 

Thanks for taking the time to chat Ben, it was refreshing. Look forward to seeing you around at an event soon. 

You too Simon.

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david rl fan

Hello Ben, Simon,
3rd look is very nice, also shades of green, brown, white, and blue in every outfit. Is there maybe some link to the tree surgery mentioned, earth-tones, clouds and blue sky?


Hi David, I do love that thought but unfortunately, no. I just really enjoy those colours. I consider how many ways and what type of things I can wear every piece I get with. Stops me from over consuming!

david rl fan

I consider how many ways and what type of things I can wear every piece I get with
Funny that these articles are back to back. I can see that many of the garments above would be happily interchangeable.


Ben has great style! Very different to your usual readers, so it is nice to see some diversity.

Minor correction: the Submariner is not from 2019 given it has an aluminium bezel, which was phased out in 2008ish.


Hey goose thanks for appreciating the looks!
You’re correct it’s a 09 with date.


Wearing a tezomeya t-shirt as I type. Lovely fabric to wear, as is the Wonder Looper stuff.


Unbelievable drape on both right!?


What a cool guy and great attitude. People like Ben are why I miss the army.
Those Yuketen are amazing.


Always here to talk mate, fashion and other stuff. Just hit me up!


It’s always great to see someone who has arrived at a point in their journey where they have gained a deep understanding of their own style, what works for them and how to combine everything. Even though Ben’s style is quite different from my own, it’s still great to see someone who has such a good sense of his own specific style.


Thanks mate, I just get what I can afford and what I think will be versatile and still have enough about it to express some of my personality

Eric Twardzik

This was very enjoyable—I appreciated Ben’s perspective and depth of knowledge. I think his comment about the tattoos is interesting (and appreciably honest). When I think of myself ever getting a tattoo, I reflect on how much my own thoughts on clothing have changed and evolved from year-to-year, and conclude that I might feel regretful myself.
That’s not to suggest that tattoos are a negative, or that men won’t look good with them. There are a lot of (heavily) tattooed guys out there that I think look great. But they may have arrived at that point in life when their tattooing choices feel completely natural to them.


Hey brother, I agree. I think to be honest I’m just going to get most of my tattoos blacked out because I that look! If you ever wanna chat and share ideas feel free to message me


I think it depends on so many things. I only have a few tattoos so far and to be honest they’ve not been THAT deeply pondered, but I genuinely love them. And I’m ok with them one day looking blurred and faded. But I also tend to buy clothes and wear them for a really long time too! So maybe there’s a link there after all?


Hello Ben. Real style. Loved this. So thoughtful and creative. Those Paraboots are a knockout


Cheers Daniel, takes real style to know real style right hahaha


outfit 3 is fantastic! Ben looks like the best-dressed member of a Scando/Yugoslav prog-rock outfit circa 1974. Not only is each piece great but the different patterns and textures going on are black-belt (dare I say grand-master?) level.


Hahahaa legend thanks so much mate. Really appreciate the kind words!

Peter Hall

Yes,outfit three is my favourite. Love the cardigan and the camp collar combination.

Sort of 50s meets 70s and 90s mash up,but the whole look is great.


I can understand why you took time to talk to Ben.
He is clearly very thoughtful as a person and about his look, which is definitely his.
Nice to know people care so much.
He is so right about making clothes your own. Even as simple as changing buttons can transform a mass produced product to your very own.


Thanks mate, you’re right. I try to think careful because I like to buy as little as possible and wear as much as possible if that makes sense! Oh for sure , the best thing I done was buying a sewing machine.

Bobby S

I love these Reader Profile articles, they really show how the appreciation of well-crafted clothing can lead to a diverse range of looks. Particularly like Ben’s second outfit here, that seersucker shirt looks great. I’ve also never previously really “got” the appeal of Paraboot but those dark green ones look wonderful.


Thanks so much, yeh I liked the shoes up from a sale. I like them but actually they aren’t that comfy for me.


This is my favorite interview so far. Not surprising since this gentleman and I seem to have very similar approaches – maybe because we both spent a lot of time in the Army (though in a different army, I always really enjoyed serving along UK soldiers every time I have). On tattoos, I’d offer that each one tells a story and I think the one on his hand is exceptional. Maybe it’s different in America (and I certainly live in one of our most causal cities – Austin), but I think the placement and design make every outfit look damn good on him. There will be people who will judge him for it, but there will be people who judge anyone for anything on the exterior – from clothes to tattoos to physical features – I’ve come to the conclusion that those people are not worth my time.


This comment truly meant so much to me. I’ve never experienced someone being so kind man. This is mental. Thanks my dude

Mike N.

Great feature ! Who made the bag Ben wears in the alst picture ? Thanks.


I enjoyed this. As a fellow Ipswichian, I would also be interested to know the name of Ben’s business if he chose to comment, if this is not a breach of PS House Rules.


Hey hey! Dm me on Instagram for the business side of things. Apart from that thanks so much, always up for a coffee mate


Hi Ben. What’s the instagram account? (Sorry if it’s obvious couldn’t see / figure this out)


Sorry for the delay. Its @chatterandnotes
I think!

Paul H

I concur with the others in that I enjoy these reader profiles a good bit. Even if some items are not quite my taste, I really admire your style as well as the insights, Ben. I would have never thought of a wholesale revision of jacket like you did. Very creative and stirs my thinking. And just when I thought I had a good handle on the field of key Japanese denim makers, up pops Oni! 20 oz sounds quite heavy, they might wear me vs other way around!

Many thanks!


Thanks mate. Yeh, if you like everything about something apart form the way it looks that’s actually the best scenario because that can all be changed with a good tailor. Yeh oni are nuts but there’s plenty other on the same level.

Martins Onzuls

I have a pair of super rough 20oz onis. they doesn’t feel that heavy. they are loose weave and one wash. makes them at the start way more wearable than raw 16oz denim.

however cuts are… interesting. either low rise almost skinny fit either high rise very loose fit. didn’t see anything in the middle.


I love the Oni 20oz “Secret Denim”, and wearing them myself as I write this. They have a very loose weave, so soft and comfortable right from the start. Oni is a very interesting brand, and the owner have worked in the denim industry for more than 60 years, so lot of knowledge and skill put into the jeans.

Eric Michel

Very nice read, many thanks for those Reader Profile!


I love individuality and creativity. Ben has those qualities.
I strongly agree with his comment with regard to relatability with someone who has a shared passion. Probably the reason I appreciate this website and others like it.


Brilliant looks. Especially love that green suede Paraboot.


I love the way Ben wears his clothes … with contentment and confidence. Nothing thus far in the series mirrors my style best and the way I shop. Also, the first ever profile, sans suit and tie (If I’m not mistaken), thus elevating this eclectic casual style. All the clothes, shoes and accessories are just so beautifully made.


Simon, welcome to Los Angeles, lol.

Just kidding, some nice pieces, here.

John R.

Great profile. I love how Ben has an interesting and considered approach. Not at all cookie cutter. Plus, it chimes with my increasing drift toward Japanese and workwear. I especially like the bag. Shame that living in Australia we don’t have access to the same artisans.

Ben Gilbert

So I really enjoyed this article. Whilst I love the standard Saville row/Neapolitan tailoring posts, Ben has real passion for his clothing and accessories. His style is personal and completely different to other posts. Keep it coming.

(Another Ben)


Thanks for the kinds words mate, very kind if you! Hope.youre well. Yes I try to switch it up a little but where I can!


If Ben is reading along: can you tell us the dimensions of your Charlie Borrow bag? It looks great!


I want to know this too! Looks great.


I’m really digging the Kardo shirt…it reminds me of Bode, but more price accessible.


Yeh mate, it’s really nice. Also it’s hand framed embroidered so really artizanal, lovely raw colour and the cotton flecks are still visible.


Hi, Ben (same names as my son) and Simon,
I thought this was an excellent article. It’s good to hear from someone who has a passion for clothing and achieves a personal style, without simply throwing money at it. I would suggest life experiences come through in your evolving style in a very positive manner.
All the very best for your future, business and personal.


Hi stephen, really glad you liked the outfits! My style us ever developing and there’s plenty of pieces I’d like. But conscious decisions and budget of course have a factor.


I love the cardholder, can anyone say who made it?


Hi mate, it’s from Mike over at wild frontier goods. Arguebly uses the best tannery in the world (shinki) put alot of attention into his work at a very fair price point.


Thanks Ben for the info. on Frontier Goods. I ordered a cardholder from them.

J Crewless

I like this guy. He’s real with a complete absence of affectation that is prevalent at times in the menswear world. PS readers excluded, of course.

Nice article and a refreshing read.


Well thanks very much mate. I do like to keep it all ever evolving and just have a bit of fun with the outfits whilst still maintaining some level of versatility.

J Crewless

You’re the type of guy I’d have a beer with. Good luck, man.

Andrew Tait

Immediately my favourite interview. Thanks Ben
The care and research really comes out. Also like the focus on duration and repair as well as where to focus the expenditure


Cheers Andrew, that’s a huge compliment! research is big must for me. I’ve gotta know the details! Plus uts usually an interesting journey and chat with whatever company I’ve buying from!


I can’t say I like the looks and outfits. They don’t seem to align with what this journal espoused when it began. Of course, to each his own.


That’s fair enough mate!


Ben seems like a very down to earth guy. This has been one of my favorite reader profile posts. Thanks for sharing!


Bro, that’s so flipping kind. Thanks so much

Jamie A

Just wanted to echo others in saying how nice this interview is. Ben’s enthusiasm is infectious and it’s great to see a different type of style on here. Also, love the Sub.


Cheers mate, I’ve met some insanely cool folks. Still baffled I’m involved bit here we are haha. Thanks mate, bucket list purchase that one


Good interview. Ben seems to have a good attitude and not any menswear snobbery attitude one sometimes may encounter. I like Ben’s use of the color green and the original looks he has put together.


Well that’s very kind of you mate. I try to just be honest, it’d just clothing and we could all do well to remember that! The community is what it’s all about

Tom Walker

Hello Ben, a really good article showing your great style. I’m based in Woodbridge, and am wondering if there’s anywhere in Ipswich that you’d recommend for alterations?


No way! Awesome, yeh dude I can show the guy I go to anytime! Just ping me a message


Great article. Ben clearly has a natural eye for design, colour, and throwing together a great outfit. Stylish and idiosyncratic without looked at all forced. If I had a clothing brand, I’d snap up his talent.
Simon, it’s great to see some more casual ‘slow fashion’ approaches on your blog. I’m in my 40s and only have the need for suits a few days each year, so I’m often at a loss for what to wear just getting about town without looking too stuffy, too scruffy, too trendy, or like I’m trying to fight my age. This site introduced me to Studio D’Artisan, Trunk, Orgueil, Doeks, The Real McCoys, Private White, Anglo-Italian, The Anthology, and so many other brands and stores around the world with great casual options that have really helped solve the post-youth male clothing dilemma (not to mention the fact that basically I live in PS tees).
Ben’s profile has some great ideas that anyone can modify for their personal style. I know some readers are rattled when PS veers into casual wear but in many ways it is more complicated than formal, so just wanted to let you know that profiles like this are greatly appreciated.


I’m in exactly the same case, that’s why I appreciate this type of articles so much. Thanks Ben and Simon.


Thanks alot, Paul! I’m genuinely flattered by this comment mate! Awesome!


Thank you Ben and Simon. What a lovely read. It would be great to see more of these kind of reader profiles. Kudos for the modified Swiss Army Knife, too!


Thanks mate, yeh there’s so much you can tinker with on those little multi tools, cheap and classic too!

One of the most enjoyable interviews I have read on PS. I love workwear anyway and it’s the reason articles like this are the reason I visit the site.


Whaaaaat! That’s really nice to hear! I’m glad I brought something to the table!


I am ex military and served for six years I came as a clean skin and left as a clean skin , I have never understood Tattoos it so refreshing to hear someone say they regret getting them, l still laugh that people pay large amounts of money to get them when in reality the person doing the tattoo should be paying you to do that to your body, a artist has to pay for their own canvases anyway I love the outfits they were cool.


Funnily enough I’m actually going to get both my arms blacked out at some point. I think it’d best to just be honest, styles and things change including tattoos and stuff so if I regret them then il happily say! Good to see some of the ex military guys on here dressing in something abit more interesting that walking gear hey!


There is a trend for ultra wide trousers and jeans which is making us millenials look ridiculous in straight/narrow trousers. Without going too far into the trend, Suddenly all my trousers look far too narrow.
Can you recommend some slightly wider jeans and workwear chinos?


Look towards, oni 200zr, warehouse co, samuri jeans, dawson denim, black horse lane, United overalls. Best thing I’d say is go to son of a stag as they have tonnes and are very helpful and try some on. Different weights, rises, weaves etc


Love this profile, thanks Simon, would be amazing to see more like it!

Simon and Ben, who would you recommend following for more inspo along these lines? I’m less interested in models or influencers with a fresh fit every day, and more so real guys like Ben making the pieces they love work in as many interesting ways as possible?


Hi Harry mate. Best thing you can do if you get the chance is to get yourself along to an PS event or reach out to one if the guys on Instagram and ask then to give you some recommendations or maybe meet up for a coffee, community event etc. You’re always welcome