Husbands: Still sexy after all these years 

Wednesday, April 3rd 2024
Share
||- Begin Content -||

Husbands in Paris makes quality menswear - tailoring and related clothing - in a particular seventies-influenced style that has remained impressively consistent over the past dozen years.

The suits aren’t usually my style, but the fabrics are consistently great - high quality original developments, distinctive yet wearable - and a few friends have jackets that they wear well. We may cover those in the future, to more broadly illustrate the style. 

I have a lot of respect for the way Husbands’ founder, Nicolas Gabard, has grown the brand in that time: he’s evolved with the market but stayed true to his style, and to the quality. 

In the five years since we covered Husbands last, the company has grown from 5 to 15 people, and when we visited had just opened a second shop - a smaller space on the Left Bank, complimenting the original store on the Right. 

I had assumed the store was a straightforward expansion, but it has a different spin to the original, focusing on ready-made clothing. “It’s somewhere for that local customer to just stop in and buy,” Nicolas told us. “The original store is more of a destination, for MTM and MTO. People come here knowing what they want.”

It’s a good example of how the Husbands evolution hasn’t always been in a straight line. It started with ready-to-wear tailoring, stopped for a few years, and then started up again in 2019 when there was more of a focus online. 

Until the new shop, expansion had largely been through wholesale, something that was obvious when we toured the offices upstairs. The little white-walled warren contained the rest of the staff, racks of samples, and several mood boards for future seasons. Samples on display included robes and leather jackets. 

“I’m not sure we’ll expand with wholesale forever though,” commented Nicolas. “It too has its pressures and problems.”

Nicolas isn’t keen on being the face of Husbands and rarely allows his photo to be taken, despite looking amazing in the clothes. But he is intelligent, warm and honest, so talking to him is always interesting. 

“When I started I wanted to show that tailoring could be exciting, could be sexy,” he says. “And I think I’ve done that, which is pleasing.

“We did it in two ways I think. One was showing people that there was greater value in our clothes than with designers, and still a really interesting style. We showed people what makes great fabric, by doing it in detail, in person. 

“The other thing was talk about how much tailoring is a means of expression. It’s not about a designer brand telling you how to dress - that's so boring. You can walk into Gucci, spend 10,000 and look like a clone. Much better is to use the blank slate of a suit to show what you can do, to show who you are.”

One thing Nicolas is particularly good at is putting classic clothes in less-expected combinations, often removing their associations in the process: a tweed jacket with a flared jean perhaps, or a tattersall shirt under a leather jacket. 

These kinds of looks remind you how much the problem with classic menswear is rarely the materials, but the way they're put together. Some of the tattersall shirts could be straight from a traditional shop like Cordings, but they feel very different at Husbands. 

Nicolas and his staff often do this with clothes in the shop, putting combinations together as you talk. At the moment they’re doing a double-breasted tweed jacket with a notch lapel, for example (below), that looks quite classic with a straight grey trouser. But as we were chatting Nicolas mentioned how much he likes it with their really wide-leg (28 inch) style. Suddenly the look was much more striking, very 1930s.

“We’re always pushing and pulling people in different directions,” says Nicolas. “Our trousers have become wider over the years - when you were here last our classic had a 19-inch opening, now it’s 22. We’re also experimenting an ultra-long point-collar shirt.

“But at the same time, we’re doing navy suits again because we want to remind people that we can. And a navy suit is so hard to do well - there’s nowhere to hide, no eye-catching design or details.”

Nicolas is selling himself a little short there, because there’s always something going on with a Husbands suit, no matter how plain it might seem. 

For instance, he’s been doing quite a lot of fabric development with Lovat Mill in Scotland. “We’ve been creating these tweedy wools but with a dry handle, sometimes with little micro-stripes like you might have seen in the 1960s,” he says. “And our own flannels - I love Fox, but I wanted something between their weights and with that same really dry hand.”

That charcoal flannel (above) is also a reminder of why Husbands is worth a look for even conservative dressers, because there are always interesting, subtler pieces in the collection. I picked up a western shirt, for example, that is pretty standard save for a longer collar - which isn't even very long, just longer than the skimpy things most brands are doing. 

Then there's a Loden coat (below) which does something similar - like the classic style but with a slightly bigger collar, slightly better/heavier material, and a slightly more flared silhouette.

It was lovely to have the chance to catch up with Nicolas, both from a customer point of view and an industry one.

The brand started in such a similar way to others we cover - one man who couldn’t find clothes he wanted to wear - but has developed in different directions, a bit more fashion, a bit more mainstream, yet stayed true to its style and its production. 

Here’s wishing Nicolas and the team more of the same over the next 12 years.  

husbands-paris.com

For further reading, this piece on Matches is nice, written by some of the staff on their tailoring style.

 

Subscribe
Notify of
guest

48 Comments
Oldest
Newest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Aaron

What a title!
Particularly after the Caraceni article it’s quite nice having one showing tailoring on the up, as a specific fashion choice.

Charlie Gilroy

Incredible brand. Alongside Anglo-Italian I’d say the finest to emerge in the classic menswear space in the last decade. Very different points of view of course, but both share an impressive consistency of vision and have great integrity in their manifesto for how men should be wearing tailoring in the 2010-20s. Please open in London Nicholas!

Kent

I read somewhere (on a menswear forum?) that Anglo Italian went bankrupt last year. Reportedly, it was bought immediately by the father of one of the founders. Does anyone have more information?

Simon S

Husbands really have a unique and distinctive style in tailoring. Not bound by conventions or trends but by a strong sense of style and specific sources of inspiration. I really love this brand even though my body is not ideal for their clothes. Wish them many more years of success.

Mark

Off topic but the biscuit coloured shawl cardigan you’re wearing in one of the pics in the article is lovely. Where is that from?

Alexander

Big fan of Nicolas! His episode on the podcast with Aleks Cvetkovic is also recommended.
Simon, have you seen their black “alligator” belt? I am looking for one and find it difficult to find one with acceptable quality.
On the western shirt: The fake fading doesn’t bother you as much as with jeans I guess? I am still in the process of lightening up my western shirt from brycelands, but it takes a lot of time it seems.

Alexander

May I ask what size you chose for the western shirt?

Robin

Could you add a link to the podcast please ?

ANDREW ECKHARDT

Alexander, maybe not quite what you’re looking for, but W. Kleinberg came to mind when you mentioned you’re on the hunt for an alligator belt. Perhaps worth a look.

Robin

Might I refer readers to the Mr Porter YouTube video featuring Husbands .

https://youtu.be/YWV0SypZjfg?si=OmMHV9vX5sOp19p1

It’s the first time I came across the brand and Nicolas Gabard and the uniquely French personality of the brand shines thru.

It’s a pity you didn’t have a photo in one of their suits as they’re so different to anything your readers would have seen you in .

On the very unique trousers width they do I wonder when a trouser can be too wide ?
I know from watching videos on classic drape tailoring talk of the hem covering 2/3’s of the shoe ?
Your thoughts , Simon ?

Jackson

Refreshing to hear of a proprietor of a brand to not want to be the face of it. That is a true appreciation for and pride in his own product. I find it a little tiresome that every menswear shop that I like is now run by a minor instagram celebrity, whose brand is completely dominated by their self-publicized profile. I don’t quite understand why that has been so successful in the industry. It creates an awkwardness and a unapproachable quality about the business that is buying clothing. Shops are places that are specifically designed to serve customers. They’re not exhibitions. You can delight in craftsmanship and design without wanting to kiss the fingers of a public figure when buying a jumper.

Alfred N

I hadn’t thought about this but now that you mention it, I agree 100%. You can’t blame most of these proprietors (and I’m not saying you do blame them) in this age of “be your own brand”, but it is a delight when the craft and product embody the personality of the brand, rather than that role being fulfilled by the front man (and in this world it is usually a man). That’s one of the things I do really appreciate about Husbands – it’s not really for me unfortunately but they have a lovely combination of quality and character that is really quite hard to find.

m

You say that but when I visualise Husbands outfit then the image appearing in mind is still that of Nicolas from various media coverages. So in effect for me he is still very much the face of the brand. Admittedly this might be related to my media consumption habits.

Personally I don’t see anything wrong with proprietors being faces of brand and actually I very much prefer it to models or compensated influencers or ad campaigns. Maybe I’d be more annoyed if I regularly visited Instagram but I don’t.

j

How do you assess the quality/make of the suits, jackets and knitwear (especially the cashmere) compared to other brands covered (Rubato/B&B/your own)?

J

Thank you

Fredrik

I have some knitwear from Husbands – cashmere and wool, They are made in France. I find them better in quality and make than most knitwear in that price range.
I have heard that they use the same factory that produce Hermes clothing for children. Anyway the cashmere is really dens and sturdy, and just get better with use. It reminds me much about my old T&A cashmere.

Peter K

And from the title I thought your wife had written this article!

Randall

Or he’s hoping his wife will read it

Alex R

Good to see Husbands still on your radar, excellent brand with a singular vision. They are one of those (a bit like LEJ – in fact think there are a few interesting comparisons between the two – making quality sexy again?!) where you could wear only one brands clothes and never get bored of your wardrobe. I love the cotton suit I have from them which is in a beautiful golden tan colour.

While I’m not sure the notch lapel DBs are something I’d choose, it definitely fits into the Husbands universe…

Nils-Åke

Can’t imagine putting on anything from Husbands without a Negroni appearing in your hand.

Thanks for the brand “Status update”, I look forward to more!

Kent

I associate Negronis with the narcissistic Pitti peacocks and #menswear obessives rather than French tailoring.

Ben

“Much better is to use the blank slate of a suit to show what you can do, to show who you are.”

I’m a big fan of Nicolas and Husbands’ looks but this quote makes no sense to me. Husbands offers a distinct (though evolving) silhouette that’s particular to the brand. A bespoke tailor is much closer to the ideal of a blank canvas for expression.

Leif

The ’70s style is not my cup of tea, but the loden coat is absolutely beautiful, a German-inspired alternative to the UK’s Barbour coats or your own Wax Walker, of course, for strolling about in cold, drizzly, overcast weather.

zo

whats nicolas wearing? looks very interesting

Doug

I think Alex Turner of Arctic Monkeys might have worn Husbands tailoring over the last few years. I wonder whether the brand would comment on that? Just curious! He looks excellent, and the visual world of their 2018 record ‘Tranquillity Base Hotel and Casino’ certainly feels very Husbands.
(https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=71Es-8FfATo&pp=ygUWZm91ciBzdGFycyBvdXQgb2YgZml2ZQ%3D%3D)

Jake

I was wondering the same and was lucky enough to spend some time in Paris a few weeks ago : I can confirm he is a customer ! Funny thing : Jarvis Cocker was in store the same day, not sure if he is already dressed in Husbands yet though.

Doug

Nice. Thanks Jake

Nick

So interesting to hear about the cloth developments the article refers to (tweed and flannel). I am assuming the cloth is not for sale separately, which is a shame. Simon, have you been in contact with Lovat recently? I feel they are doing a lot of interesting work wholesale but have a fairly limited range available for bespoke it would be great to learn more about them and perhaps gain access to some of this cloth.

Henrik Volkmann

Last weekend I visited Paris and stopped by at Husbands. I was impressed with the quality of the fabrics and had a lovely conversation with two young staff members who were dressed so sharp and quintessentially 70s – one of the most unique addresses in Paris. I will definitely come back and maybe get a coat made.

CT

I have multiple suits from Husbands, all of which I am very happy with — their retail team have always gone above and beyond in assisting me, and their clothes are often a source of many compliments. Lovely to see them covered here.

Nicolas

Dear Simon,
many many thanks on behalf of the whole team and myself, for this fine, precise and deep understanding of Husbands. It encourages us and pushes us to go further.
I hope you’ll be around for the next 12 years!!!!
Amitiés.
Nicolas

Phil

I’m a fan and I’m tempted to order a jacket but does anyone here have firsthand experience with their current production times for suits and jackets? I’ve understood that they’ve had some production problems—maybe even changing manufacturers? I’ve heard of people waiting for a VERY long time for their MTM orders.

Phil

I asked around, and it seems like people have been waiting for 9+ months for MTO.

CT

Last time I was in the store I was told that they were changing manufacturers and that the delays would significantly improve this summer, with things going back to normal by the Autumn. I’ll probably wait until then to place my next order…

Jan

That Loden coat looks amazing!