La Botte Gardiane: Searching for my perfect black boot

La Botte Gardiane: Searching for my perfect black boot

Monday, June 24th 2024
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By Lucas Nicholson.

The idea of black boots has been obsessing me for much of the past year. It must be a fairly common menswear preoccupation, given the inspiration: Marlon Brando in his black leather and bad-boy persona, most obviously. Which as a middle-class white boy who grew up on the beaches of Bournemouth, and then moved to south-west London, I obviously identify with.

But was that the kind of boot I wanted? I certainly didn’t want a smart one - I can see the appeal of a balmoral, but not when it would be the optimal choice for me. I’d always prefer a loafer or lace up.

But an engineer boot like Brando’s didn’t seem right either. That thick leather, sole and strap wasn’t my speed. Yes I have a motorbike licence, but I haven’t ridden one since I passed my test at 21 - except that one time in Ibiza when I hired a Vespa and I don’t think that counts. 

How about something sexy and sleek, like a Beatle boot? I’ve tried to do this look before with a couple of pairs of RM Williams, but it never quite worked. I was aiming for the Husbands Parisian look, but ended up divorced from reality! 

I’ve also had some ‘interesting’ experiments via eBay. There were slightly cringy side-zip boots with an oddly sharp, square toe that I wore once and then left under the bed. And some ostrich roper boots from the now defunct Larry Mahan.

Thankfully, success seems to have finally come with a boot that combines parts of all these styles, but in a rather subtle manner - from the French brand La Botte Gardiane

I’m sure some readers will be familiar with the maker but equally sure many won’t, given the low profile they generally maintain. 

La Botte Gardiane was established in 1958 in La Calmette, in the Gard region of south-west France. It began by producing work boots for the Camargue herders (basically French cowboys) as well as sandals and belts, mainly for men. It was then purchased by the current owners in 1995 and they built the modern brand. 

There are four stores in France: two in Paris and two in the south, directly at the workshop and in Saintes Maries de la Mer. There are some stockists globally, from Korea to the USA, but the main offering is online.

La Botte Gardiane makes everything on site and to order, but it takes only two weeks to make standard styles, and you can select various aspects. This includes - impressively - adding or removing arch support and changing small things on the last, such as widening the forefoot or slimming the heel. You can also set the height, which is very useful in a boot for those of different heights.

There’s an additional fee of around £45 to select these options, but if you have trouble fitting boots it will certainly be worth it.

My choice was the Terence boot (above, £316). It had all the obvious style points I wanted: above the ankle, round toe, slightly stacked heel, plus a side zip that meant it had shape through the ankle and held my foot in place (a major gripe with roper boots).

More importantly, it seemed to hit that sweet spot between my different style references. It was a casual boot but but a little refined, a little more - dare I say it - sexy. Apparently the style is a contemporary version of their classic 1950s boot, the most obvious update being the side zip, intended to give that greater hold on the foot.

Being incredibly excited when the boots arrived, I unzipped them, slid straight in and left the house with reckless abandon. The soft leather and ergonomic last performed admirably - I can’t think of another pair of boots, bar soft suede chukkas, that have provided such immediate comfort.

Over 12,000 steps later, my feet were slightly weary but not bruised or blistered in the way they would be with most new shoes. The half rubber sole and oily leather also makes them immediately weatherproof.

I was impressed with the quality and style elsewhere too. The calf leather has a nice waxy-ness that gives it a more matte look than a dressy black boot, and it makes it a better partner to jeans and more workwear/rugged looks. 

I took my normal size, 10.5 (45). I didn’t go for any alterations on the shape, as while I do have slightly wide toes, the last sounded roomy enough to accommodate them. Having worn the boots now, I would probably take some further arch support on future orders, but it was interesting to try the standard fit for the purposes of this article.

The boots are Blake constructed and La Botte Gardiane offer a resoling service and a full reconditioning service. Changing the heel and rubber piece of the sole costs €45, while a full resole with new heels and insole costs €156, and takes about a month. 

The company seems to be excellent value. It’s slightly below the quality PS normally covers and I understand that some of the boots might not be to everyone’s taste. But the styles and the manner of making come from its genuine heritage. Some other styles also look interesting, including casual sandals and some “slippers” that look like they could be quite chic with a smarter look. They also make a range of leather bags that I’ve only seen briefly but seem to have a nice, minimal style. 

Since getting the boots (even though it’s slightly out of season) I’ve really put them through their paces, from pub nights to long walks. I initially wore them with black Levi’s and a black Wrangler shirt and the look wasn’t over the top - where a lot of my previous boots would have been. I’ve also worn them more simply with a wool trouser, shetland sweater and cashmere coat. 

I can post pictures of those outfits, as well as how the boots themselves have aged, later in the year. At this rate I might even have another pair by then. 

www.labottegardiane.com

Menswear stockists: No Man Walks Alone (US), Parlour (Korea). Circular image above taken from No Man.

How was Pitti?

How was Pitti?

Friday, June 21st 2024
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Forgive me dear reader for writing about Pitti, but so many people have asked about it since the summer edition last week - both industry people and, perhaps surprisingly, readers - that it seemed worthwhile. 

The news isn’t good. There are fewer brands and some buildings remain closed. One London shop we all know said that since Covid, five of their suppliers have stopped showing and now are only in Milan. The Armoury only had Alan there, when they used to send a squad. 

The Wednesday was busy, but Thursday was quiet, and Friday was dead. Friday has always been an odd one, with brands trying to work out how soon they could start closing down their booth, but this was the first time everything just shut down early, apparently. Two agents we know left on the Thursday evening, knowing this was coming. 

Yet the parties are getting bigger and bigger. At the Wm Brown drinks on Wednesday evening, they had to pre-mix negronis to try and keep up with demand. There was still a 20-minute wait to get a drink, and it actually became a cash bar at 8 o’clock, at which point the place thinned out suspiciously. 

I love these parties; they’re great fun. My favourite is the drinks on Thursday night organised by Jake Mueser and Maximilian Mogg, where a couple of hundred people attempt to squeeze onto a narrow street, and cheer the cars that try to drive through them. 

The problem is, these are all work events for me and many others, and if they stop making sense from a work point of view, I won’t be able to come - or maybe come for only one day. I’ll go to Milan or Paris instead. 

If the Japanese and Americans I want to meet don’t go, then I’ll stop coming. I’d suggest that if people like me stop going, some others that want to meet me and tell me about their brand, will also stop. The layers peel away until only the tourists are left. 

A friend likened the situation to a dead whale floating to the bottom of the ocean. The animals that feed on the carcass are having a great time, but the whale is dead, and at some point it will all be gone. 

This is too harsh: the whale isn’t dead yet. But there seem to be fundamental problems with the fair, disguised online by a blizzard of cocktail-drinking. 

Talking of photos, it’s easy to forget that the more important photography has also slowly disappeared. Big magazines no longer want Pitti street-style photos as much, and so there are fewer photographers. There are fewer people posing to have their photo taken as a result: it’s the same vicious cycle as between brands and buyers. 

And while it’s easy to mock the posing peacocks, I know so many readers that enjoyed seeing what their favourite people were wearing to Pitti. I still post a photo each day, because people ask, and I’d like to see everyone else’s as well.

“Pitti used to be good for two things,” a magazine editor told me this week. “There was always a little brand you discovered - some French pyjama maker or something equally obscure - and you could do trend pieces based on what everyone was wearing. 

“Both of those things have disappeared. The brands are all the same, with generally lower quality. And there are fewer really stylish people going, so the big trend feature we used to do no longer works.”

I’ve seen these trends myself in the past 11 years. When I first went, the biggest party was drinks at Liverano & Liverano. There were maybe a hundred people, a great band, and everyone in there was a hero I wanted to talk to. 

It used to be even better still. At the Mueser/Mogg evening I spent a good half hour chatting to an Italian cloth agent who first came in 1984 (as I said, these are work events - not just chatting to friends). He talked of the little booths containing Kiton, Attolini and Brioni, with the founders themselves there. I wish I had a time machine and could go see it all.

Pitti is still, of course, wonderful. If I compare it to the industry events I used to go to in my previous life, it’s a hell of a lot more glamorous and fun - and more fun than buying in Paris or Milan, or cloth fairs like Unica (above)

But to me it feels like something has to change, before the whale actually dies. If I was involved in Pitti I would try to bring more of the events and brands closer to the fair. I’d give them free spaces to hold events, and give deals to makers (and there are a lot of them) that show in hotel suites outside, inside. 

Pitti flies people over to cover the fair and puts on events, like the Paul Smith one this time. But there’s no point bringing people over if there’s nothing to see. And shows like the Paul Smith one are a one-off. It needs substance before marketing.

Perhaps it would be nice if it were set up like a festival. Somewhere that customers and buyers were welcome but it was clearly a show, a place to show off your brand. A clean break with the idea of it being about wholesale and writing orders. Florence is an incredible location that everyone wants to go to  - the concept of Pitti just has to make sense. 

Street shots courtesy Maximilian Mogg. Normal non-industry business will be resumed in full force next week

Reader profile: Tetsuya

Reader profile: Tetsuya

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Tetsuya Yamashita is a reader that Lucas knows rather than me. Back in the days when he ran the Drake’s pop-up in the old Beige shop in Paris, Tetsuya was a regular visitor, and is still a friend of Beige today. In fact we used their shop as a base, as we went out to shoot around the streets of St Sulpice. 

Tetsuya is different from other readers we’ve covered in a few ways. He’s our first French entry, and he’s a waiter at the intellectually famous Café de Flore in Paris. It’s a place increasingly popular with tourists, but just about hanging onto its distinctive character - as we discuss. 

Tetsuya also described himself as a French sartorialist, which to me means not just a fondness for Cifonelli, Charvet and Hermès, but also a tendency towards the dandy, the extra accessory and the brighter shoe. I had great fun exploring all these topics with him. As ever I hope you enjoy it too. 

Outfit 1

  • Jacket: Lorenzo Cifonelli for The Rake
  • Shirt : Bryceland’s
  • Pocket square: Simonnot-Godard
  • Trousers: Rota (made-to-order)
  • Socks: Bresciani, via Mes Chaussettes Rouges
  • Shoes: John Lobb Paris (made to order)

So, Tetsuya, tell us what you do.

I’m a waiter - a garçon de café - at Café de Flore in Paris. I came to Paris from Japan to do this profession as a métier. I’ve been there 22 years now. 

I guess you must be quite senior by now then?

Yes, I'm the third longest-serving garçon today at Flore - you do develop relationships with particular customers, who then want to be served by you when they come in. I’d say it’s my favourite aspect of the job, the friendships you establish. 

Has that included anyone famous over the years?

Well, my favourite was Karl Lagerfeld. Karl and I had a nice relationship - he would come in regularly and ask where I was serving that day. He liked the consistency of it. 

I remember the last time he came in before he died - he clearly wasn’t well, and when he said goodbye there was something different about him. I deliberately said to him, not goodbye, but ‘see you soon Karl’.

I’ve had breakfast at Café de Flore a few times and it does still have real character, despite the tourists. Lovely little egg cups, perfect bread and salted butter. 

Yes, it has hung on to that. There is what we call the Golden Triangle of establishments in St Germain: Flore, Deux Magots, Brasserie Lipp. They’re still very genuine, very characteristic of the neighbourhood. But it’s been hard - Emily in Paris was huge for American visitors, and we were flooded. 

Forgive me for asking, but how does a waiter afford clothes from Cifonelli and Hermès?

Well, I don’t spend much money on anything else! But I also save up a lot, often buying just one or two big items a year. The velvet jacket from Cifonelli here is a good example, but it was ready-to-wear - they just altered a few small things. 

How would you describe this style?

For me it’s a mixed style, something quite Japanese but obviously very French too. It’s not common to wear black velvet during the daytime, but I love it with white pants, in fact I love white pants in general. In the winter I wear the jacket with ecru Fox flannel pants that my friend Kenjiro Suzuki made for me. 

Outfit 2

  • Blazer: Cifonelli (made-to-measure)
  • Shirt: Charvet 
  • Tie: Drake’s 
  • Pocket square: Hermès
  • Trousers: Bernard Zins
  • Socks: Bresciani (via Mes Chaussettes Rouges)
  • Shoes: John Lobb Paris (made to order)

How about this outfit? Rather French?

Yes I’d call it L'élégance Parisienne. Lots of details - the pocket square, the buttons. This blazer was Cifonelli made-to-measure and the buttons are their in-house ones, with their symbol. 

The shirt is Charvet too - never anything but Charvet! Although I don’t wear Charvet for work, that’s simpler and very traditional - white shirt, bow tie, vest and apron.

Are those the shoes that L’Etiquette magazine did with John Lobb? 

Yes, actually I saw these when they were first released back in the nineties, but couldn’t afford them. So when L’Etiquette brought the model back I didn’t miss the chance, and now I have a second pair - the suede ones shown above. 

The style was originally called Delano, but L’Etiquette called it 'Paris'. It was only on sale on their website initially, but now it’s available made-to-order from Lobb. 

Have you always been into clothes?

Ever since I was a teenager. It wasn’t unusual to be into clothes back then, but most of my friends were into American clothing - casual clothing, what we call Amecaji. I was more into tailoring and English style. 

I started going into Beams, then into United Arrows were I met [designer Yasuto] Kamoshita who taught me how to dress. And we’ve been friends ever since. Now every time he comes to Paris we go out - he’s like my older brother.

Was your father a good dresser?

Not really, he didn’t care about clothes. But he was a banker and wore a suit every day, so perhaps that was an influence. Also my family was very conservative, which meant English style. I still dream about having a bespoke suit made at Anderson & Sheppard. 

I also wear quite a few English brands - I’ve been wearing Smedley knitwear since I was 20 years old. 

Outfit 3

  • Coat : Hermès
  • Scarf: Charvet 
  • Knit: John Smedley
  • Jeans: Levi’s 501
  • Socks: DoreDore 
  • Shoes: John Lobb Paris (made to order)

OK, if we had names for the previous two looks, what would you call this one?

I would say it is my version of BCBG - Bon Chic Bon Genre. 

That literally means good style and good type of person, right? The taste of the French upper classes, like the idea of Old Money or the English Country House Look

Yes exactly, it’s very classic, very French. The knit is the Dorset style from Smedley that I said I’ve been wearing for many years. In the summer I wear Isis, the same model in Sea Island cotton. I have so many colours. 

The shoes are unusual - is that the Lopez loafer?

It’s the Lopez, yes, but in a colourway I specially requested. Mr Kamoshita used to wear a pair of derby shoes from Lobb called the Barros, in a bi-colour design like this. He used to say it was very ‘French Ivy’. 

You can’t get the Barros these days, even by request, so I made a pair of Lopez in the same colours. 

How long have you had the coat? It looks pleasingly faded. 

I’ve had it for 28 years - it’s particularly useful in Paris during the mid-seasons, in spring and in autumn. In Japan those seasons are very short - it goes from hot to cold too quickly to need something like this. 

Actually there’s a bit of a story behind this coat. Hermès made it with Mackintosh, in their bonded cotton, but apparently there was an issue with one pocket so they had to recall them. The shop promised to replace mine but the original wasn’t available again, so they gave me this one. I think it’s unique - I haven’t seen it anywhere. 

Those old Hermès pieces are so beautiful - I’ve picked up a few myself second hand. It’s such a shame they don’t do classic styles today. 

I agree, it’s a real shame. 

Where do you like to shop in Paris? 

There isn’t much. Beige is obviously great, and there are the makers I’ve worn here - Cifonelli, Lobb, Charvet. But there isn’t a lot beyond that - I buy more when I go back to Japan twice a year. 

I like your Charvet scarf. How do you tie it?

Always very simple - either twice round my neck and then in a knot, or making it into a loop and then putting the ends through. 

I’ve always thought of scarves as a very Parisian thing - is that fair?

As a Japanese person I always thought the same, and I do think it’s true. I’m always watching what other people are wearing and you certainly see a lot more scarves here than in Japan. 

Nice to know one cliché holds up. Thanks for taking the time to chat to us Tetsuya, see you later at the book launch. 

See you there Simon.

Tetsuya is @yamashitatetsuya on Instagram

How is menswear protected by intellectual property?

How is menswear protected by intellectual property?

Monday, June 17th 2024
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When we talked about copying in menswear recently, there was some discussion about intellectual property (IP) protection. The main question was why there are so many copies around - do brands not want to sue each other? Or does the law not protect them sufficiently?

Given I was the editor of an IP magazine for several years, this is a topic close to my heart, and one I thought it would be interesting to explore. There is little public understanding of IP (people often use patents, trademarks and copyright interchangeably) and some odd myths (like the one about making seven changes to something). 

As with the majority of PS articles, today’s was based on several interviews, most notably with the IP writer James Nurton and the lawyer Rosie Burbidge, who specialises in fashion and IP. 

So, why do we see so many copycat products around? Is it the law that’s lacking, or is it enforcement?

“We have quite good protection for fashion in the UK - you have an unregistered design right for three years without having to do anything, and you can protect shapes as well as just decoration,” says Rosie. 

“The issue is a commercial one. Taking fast-fashion retailers as an example, by the time a brand has worked out there’s a copy on the market, the fast-fashion retailer might have sold all of the infringing product and removed it from the site. Things can move too fast to allow the brand sufficient time to react. 

“And the volumes are quite small - a fast-fashion retailer like Shein works by having huge variety and producing very quickly, almost on demand,” she adds.

So there isn’t a lot of copied product, and the margin on that product is small - there isn’t much money to go after. You can sue the company as a whole, but it would always be on the basis of the sales of these copies.

How about more expensive products sold at a higher volume? Like all the copies of the Loro Piana shoes we talked about

Well, the first issue is that getting protection on these designs is not straightforward, as it’s hard to argue they’re sufficiently distinctive. Only a couple of months ago, Loro Piana had a trade mark registration for a tassel loafer (below) rejected by the EU IP Office, on the basis that it was just one more variation on an existing type of shoe. 

It’s important to remember than IP rights have very different purposes. The point of a patent is to reward scientific research with a monopoly; the point of a trademark is to help consumers know which product is which. So the test for a trademark is generally whether the ‘average’ consumer in that market would be confused. 

Reading about that case reveals some interesting points, such as the fact that Loro Piana has registered trademarks for its padlock and pendants, and that the loafer is already the subject of several infringement cases. 

“This is one thing the public often doesn’t realise,” says Rosie. “Most infringement disputes settle pretty quickly, even before proceedings are issued, so you never see them.”

In this scenario, one company’s legal department sends a letter to the other, there are meetings and discussions and there’s a settlement, not necessarily involving outside lawyers. That settlement can include monetary compensation, a promise not to sell the product again, and a letter admitting the copying. 

Although, interestingly, environmental concerns today over destroying products mean there is often an agreement that the product can continue to be sold until it’s gone, just in a less prominent way (eg only in stores rather than online). 

But sometimes, legal cases are deliberately public. Adidas recently lost a trademark case over its three-stripes logo to Thom Browne in a New York court, but Rosie says winning wasn’t necessarily the objective. 

“Adidas has been very effective at protecting its three stripes branding by going after everyone that uses similar stripes - three certainly, and often two or four. They have a big budget and can be seen as quite aggressive. However, strategically it is a very effective deterrent.” Documents in that case revealed that Adidas had signed more than 200 settlements over its trademark since 2008, and been involved in 90 court cases. 

Getting attention is important, because often the reason there are so many similar products is plain ignorance. “At the one end of the spectrum there are people on Etsy who don’t know that copying is not allowed, and at some point some of them get an expensive education,” says Rosie. 

“But at the other end there are design teams who are just under a lot of pressure to create at short notice. Also no matter how many times this is debunked, there’s always someone who refers to the idea of changing seven things in a product. It makes no sense but the rumour persists.”

As readers commented in the original PS article, it’s important to differentiate between similar products and counterfeits, the latter being a deliberate attempt to be as similar as possible. 

The biggest issue with counterfeits is enforcement. Most are sold in very small volumes by private sellers, so they’re difficult to go after and there’s not much to gain if you do. It’s also hard to go after the producers of them, usually in China. 

As to the websites that facilitate the sales, such as Amazon, it’s the same story as the regulating them in other ways. They claim to take down accounts actively and have a complaints service for customers, but otherwise take no responsibility. 

In fact, there was a little controversy recently when the industry association for trademarks, INTA, elected Amazon’s head of IP as its president. I have fond memories of INTA’s Annual Meeting, which was always in a different US city and where we published a daily newsletter. I would have liked to discuss that around the conference hall and at the firm parties in the evening.

One thing I find interesting about menswear and IP is that copying of some sort is always involved. It may be a copy of an M-41 US military chino or a 1970s raincoat silhouette, but ‘inspiration’ happens everywhere - it’s a spectrum, not a clear dividing line. 

So given that, how does Rosie think people should feel about copying in general? “I think a good rule of thumb is whether you would feel uncomfortable about doing it. In other words, would you feel annoyed if someone was copying your design?”

This could seem vague, but for most people most of the time, it feels like a good guide. And often if you’re asking yourself the question in the first place, it’s because you already feel uncomfortable. Given the number of small menswear brands starting up at the moment, it’s something they should probably keep in mind. 

Thank you to Rosie, James and everyone else who helped with this article. Rosie is a lawyer at Gunner Cooke in the UK. www.rosieburbidge.com

We’ve deliberately not included an explanation of the types of IP protection - patents, trademarks, copyright, designs - because that could quite dry. But if readers are interested I can do one in the future, with fashion-specific commentary. 

The comments in the piece refer to UK law, but the UK is still substantially similar to the EU, having carried across laws post-Brexit. The principles are also similar in many countries, although the rights may vary, eg design patents rather than designs in the US.

L’Ingénieur Chevallier MTO eyewear – and good opticians in general

L’Ingénieur Chevallier MTO eyewear – and good opticians in general

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While in Paris at the beginning of the year, I was told about an eyewear brand that was offering something that sits between ready-to-wear and bespoke. That’s a theme, by the way, that I think we'll be returning to  in the second half of this year. 

The brand was L’Ingénieur Chevallier, an old name that had been bought by bespoke opticians Maison Bonnet, with the idea of turning it into something different. Their concept was to create an optician that was more accessible (and cheaper, and quicker) than their bespoke, but which pushed the craftsmanship of ready-made as far as it could go. 

So, the frames come in multiple sizes rather than just one, making it easier to fit one to someone’s face. The staff that fit the glasses are trained by Maison Bonnet (by general reputation, and in my experience, one of the best bespoke houses in the world). And the frames can all be extensively adjusted on site - not just heating and bending the arms, but shaving down and reshaping the nose pad, for example. 

Most of this doesn’t happen anywhere else. Ready-made frames don’t usually come in several different sizes, and adjustments are usually limited to that arm-bending. It pushes the service into a space above normal RTW. 

It’s also I think a good excuse to talk about the reduced quality of eyewear service generally, which often gets ignored. 

A lot of people wear glasses that don’t fit them. The bend in the arm - that should fit snugly around the ear - is too far forward and they’re constantly pushing them up their nose. Or the nose fit is poor, and so they have welts underneath. 

How the frame suits someone's face is more subtle, but still basics are frequently wrong - like being able to see their eyes without the frame getting in the way. It’s an interesting area and one we should cover more at some stage; the kind of thing I feel a PS reader values understanding. 

A reason behind some of these issues, I think, is the growth of cheaper eyewear companies. Some of these are online, others have stores, but even in stores the staff often aren’t that well trained. I’ve been into a few with friends where the staff offered no advice at all, except how to spread the payments.

There are still some very good opticians around, and in fact that’s another area we should cover, because these tend to be single, local shops rather than brands, and so get less attention. A list of good ones in major cities (perhaps with the assistance of readers) could be useful. 

My visit to the Pyramides branch of L’Ingénieur Chevallier brought a lot of these thoughts bubbling up, because the service was good. 

The manager was happy to not just give advice, but explain how and why it made sense, which I know PS geeks would love. For example, the point that every face has a natural frame that eyewear plays around, formed by the eyebrows, the side of the nose, the top of the cheekbone and the outer edge of the eye socket. 

And there’s a discussion we're all familiar with of what compliments the shape of one's face - familiar because of how we talk about it in relation to shirt collars, hats or other menswear that sits around the face. 

I have a long and oval face, for example, with precious few sharp angles. It's why a more angled beard suits me, and it’s why I should avoid ‘smiling’ frames - those with a very rounded outside-bottom corner. 

I tried out the service at L’Ingénieur Chevallier, and after much to-and-fro, ended up getting the 'Louis' sunglasses pictured above. 

There is, of course, much more leeway with sunglasses than optical frames, because the eyes are hidden. But some frames still suit people more or less - most frames are too wide for my relatively narrow face, for example. 

This is particularly relevant because the trend in sunglasses is for what the manager called ‘main player’ frames - large, bold shapes intended to make an impact. This trend can lead to people getting oversized frames that overpower their face. 

The glasses cost €790, which is a lot, but a lot less than Bonnet’s bespoke. Given these came from a range designed by Bonnet, were made in the same workshop, and were fitted and adjusted by someone trained by them, you can see it as good value. 

Or at least I did, given that the whole conversation started because I went into Bonnet ready to splurge on a pair of bespoke sunglasses to follow my bespoke opticals from a few years ago. 

A few other things that will likely appeal to PS readers are that L’Ingénieur Chevallier only carries frames they can adjust in-house and repair in-house. So they can also adjust the wire-framed designs from Gernot Lindner, and they don’t use materials like wood that can’t be adjusted. 

They also don’t carry frames with logos on them, and they emphasise that repairs and maintenance are part of the value of the frames - so they should be brought back into the store regularly. 

Unfortunately, at the moment L’Ingénieur Chevallier only has stores in Paris (two of them). But if anyone is in the city I recommend visiting, and perhaps there will be another somewhere soon. 

I haven’t covered anything of the history of L’Ingénieur Chevallier, by the way, which is a weird one. Making frames for Louis XV, and installing a giant thermometre outside the shop to showcase the value of scientific progress, for example. More on that here

For other pieces on eyewear over the years, including my various forays into bespoke, see the ‘Glasses and Jewellery’ section of PS 

You can also read a little about my journey with eyewear, and what Frank Bonnet thought of my slightly eclectic collection. That was a fun piece. 

The shirt pictured is a PS Oxford in pink/white stripe

The complete Summer capsule wardrobe

 

A reader asked recently for a summer version of our Complete Capsule Wardrobe, which proved so popular back in 2020. 

As with that one, the challenge with today’s capsule wardrobe is knowing who it is aimed at, particularly how smartly or not they dress. So again we’ve aimed in the middle, with the hope that some of it will be relevant to everyone. 

The most specific summer point, for me, is in the first section: the value of an outer piece like a linen overshirt, and a linen suit that can be split up. Something like an overshirt is good with both tailored trousers and shorts; while the three-way suit is something linen is particularly good for. 

Remember that all the summer pieces on PS are gathered in their own section of the website here. That includes summer and high summer, both smart and casual. 

And all of the capsule wardrobes we’ve done over the years – over 20 of them – are in the Wardrobe Building section. 

 

 

Jackets and outerwear 

1. A linen overshirt, guayabera or jungle jacket
2. A darkish linen suit 
3. A chambray or denim shirt with chest pockets 

The value of a linen overshirt in covering both smart and casual combinations is made above. Summer jackets that are similar but perhaps a little narrower are a jungle jacket, which is more casual, and something like a guayabera, which is just more unusual. 

For the linen suit, you’d naturally think of a cream or pale stone/biscuit colour, and this could work well broken up too. But you may find a dark brown or dark green more versatile – for example with white shirts or white T-shirts below. Examples at those links. 

Number three is something I always bring on holiday, because a casual chambray shirt can be worn over a T-shirt and perform the same role as an overshirt – or be tucked in on its own. A shirt over a T-shirt is also a good option with shorts, as it achieves that thing of having a longer length on either the legs or the arms. 

 

 

Trousers 

1. The linen trousers from the suit above 
2. High-twists
3. Pale jeans or lightweight chinos 
4. Khaki shorts 

So we’ve covered the linen trousers. The high-twists are clearly the smartest option, but should go with the jacket from the suit, as well as the linen overshirt. Worn on their own with a knitted polo and some sockless loafers, there also a nice casual-chic option. 

I always have jeans with me, as I don’t get too hot and am usually fine if they’re a loosish fit and I have bare ankles. But some might prefer chinos – the looseness still applies. 

For most people, there will always be shorts, and it’s just a question of which colour fits best with everything else in the capsule. For me, that’s usually khaki.

 

 

Shirts 

1. White linen, able to be worn tucked and untucked
2. Short-sleeve polo, perhaps knitted
3. Long-sleeve polo, wear tucked or untucked
4. White and grey T-shirts

I wear white-linen shirts a lot in warmer weather, because I think they suit me and they go with everything. If I was putting together a capsule and wanted something particularly versatile, I’d take one that had a straight hem and so could be worn untucked with shorts as well. The long-sleeve polo like our Friday one, is the same. 

White and perhaps grey T-shirts are obvious, even if they’re just for layering. The short-sleeved polo, for me, can be a regular piqué but is also an opportunity for something a little dressier, so perhaps a knitted one. The kind of thing you can vary depending on how smart you need to be. 

 

 

Knitwear

1. A cotton crewneck 
2. A fine merino crewneck or a shawl-collar cardigan

This is the area where you probably need to pack the least. It may just be a question of one knit that you can put on in the evening when the weather cools. My favourite there is a cotton, in navy or cream depending on which goes best with the trousers and shorts. 

If there was another option, there’s definitely an argument for a fine merino, as it’s a little smarter and makes a good layering piece (under the jacket or overshirt for example). However, I tend to take a merino shawl cardigan on holiday, even if it will be quite warm, as it’s effectively a jacket substitute (and dressing gown substitute) as well.

 

 

Shoes 

1. A loafer than can cross smart and casual 
2. A deck shoe, tennis shoe or trainer  
3. Espadrilles or sandals

Summer shoes is a whole new category in a way that most of these areas are not. Fortunately, it has already been covered in a dedicated post here, in the summer section of PS. 

I also plan to update that post in the coming weeks, and do a dedicated article on the now increasingly popular category of deck/boat shoes. 

 

 

Accessories 

1. Sunglasses 
2. A straw hat 
3. A cap (maybe colourful) 
4. A couple of belts (good for adding interest)
5. A tote bag that can also go to the beach 
6. A vest (coolest option under those overshirts)

Sunglasses are pretty straightforward, but hats are not. A baseball cap is all very well – it certainly works, and works with a lot of styles – but finding a straw hat that doesn’t look too smart or old-fashioned is hard. The closest I’ve come is here for a really beaten-up straw, and here for something a little smarter (note: in the same straw colour). 

Everything else is self-explanatory I think, except to advise that if you are putting together a clothing capsule – as you inevitably are on holiday – accessories are the thing that can stop it all getting rather repetitive. A coloured canvas belt or bright cap can make all the difference. 

Further reading:

 

 

New York clothing resources: Places to clean, alter and repair 

New York clothing resources: Places to clean, alter and repair 

Monday, June 10th 2024
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Looking after your clothes well has always been central to the PS philosophy - it’s not enough to buy better things, they need to be cleaned, altered and maintained. This requires time that many of us seem to have precious little of these days, but it’s worth it. 

To that end, we’ve always maintained a London page that lists the places we recommend for cleaning, repairing and altering. Readers ask about it so often that sometimes I think it should have a permanent link in the menu - and people don’t seem to always find it that easy to find.

Anyway, a bigger failing is that we don’t have a list for other cities, so I asked a few brands, tailors and readers in New York which places they recommend, and have put together a list on that basis. 

It is by no means comprehensive, so please let everyone know in the comments which places you recommend. And I wouldn’t be afraid include anywhere in the US, given we’re not going to expand to other US cities soon. 

If enough people recommend somewhere, I will add it to the main list. Please suggest anything for cleaning, repairing or altering any type of clothing. 

TAILORING: ALTERATIONS

Sam Wazin
57 W 57th St, Suite 1212
(212) 752-2239
[email protected]
sam-wazin.squarespace.com

The name that comes up most for tailoring alterations, and used by a lot of the shops and brands. The only disadvantage of its popularity is that it can get busy and have longer lead times. 

Allen Tailoring
150 Allen St
(212) 475-2454
[email protected]
@allentailoring

Recommend by a few people for its alterations, Allen Tailoring is run by Eduardo Morales. Located on the Lower East Side, which used to be full of similar places - also recommended for specialist leather cleaning. 

Noe Rodriguez
766 Madison Avenue
(212) 988-5085

Rodriguez used to make his own bespoke suits, so knows bespoke inside and out. Not one for cleaning, just pressing or alterations.

Also recommended, by multiple readers: 
Ignacio's (also does alterations for some of the bespoke tailors), L&S Tailors, Shop Boy, Felix Tailor Shop, The Tailoring Room, Chasing Tailor (Williamsburg), Stanton Tailor Shop

TAILORING: CLEANING AND PRESSING

Hallak Cleaners
1232 2nd Ave
(212) 832-0750

There are lots of dry cleaners in New York, including some very high-end ones. The issue is that there's nowhere like The Valet in London that does all the pressing for the bespoke tailors and also accepts private work. Most of the tailors do their own hand-pressing. The one that comes closest though is probably Hallak, which offers a full range of services from a simple shirt to a spot-clean and press. 

Rave FabriCare
8480 East Butherus Drive, Scottsdale
(480) 443-1005
www.ravefabricare.com

As a result, some people send their things to Rave FabriCare - all the way in Scottsdale, Arizona. It operates a national clean-by-mail service (and indeed international) and has the best reputation in the US for maintaining and pressing handmade bespoke.  

Also recommended, by multiple readers: 
Bahman Cleaners, Kingbridge Cleaners (does Anna Wintour's clothes), Renew Cleaners, Neet Cleaners (also does darning), Madame Paulette

REWEAVING / DARNING

French American Reweaving
119 W 57th St, Suite 1406
(212) 765-4670

Known for both darning of knitwear and reweaving of tailoring. The latter in particular is hard to find people for, and can be expensive, but always worth it if it saves an expensive suit. 

SHOES

B Nelson
140 E 55th St
(212) 750-0818
bnelsonshoes.com

The best-known and one of the biggest locations for shoe repair in New York. Recommended for high-end shoes in particular, and adjustments like installing flush metal toe-taps. 

Hector's Shoe Repair
11 Greenwich Avenue
(212) 727 1237
@hectors_shoe_repair

A smaller operation that Nelson and not so specialist, but comes with solid recommendations.

Cowboy Shoe Repair
396 Broome Street
(212) 941-9532

A Soho specialist in cowboy boots, and popular for them, but can also do regular leather-soled shoes. 

Also recommended, by multiple readers: 
Vince's Village Cobbler, Jim's Shoe Repair

 

DENIM

Todd Martin Studio
451 Fairview Ave, Queens
(845) 272-2356
www.toddmartinstudio.com

A denim specialist, the kind of place you can get jeans hemmed but also altered and repaired, as well as buying some denim shorts if you want. Based in Ridgewood, but worth a visit for that level of work.

Raw Meat & Repair Company
89 Grattan Street, Bushwick
(929) 900-4052
rawrepair.nyc

More a general repairs shop, but does a lot of denim as well as things like Barbour and Belstaff jackets. Based in Bushwick. 

Self Edge, Blue in Green etc
Self Edge: 157 Orchard St, (212) 388-0079
Blue in Green: 8 Greene St, (212) 680-0555

A lot of the denim-specialist shops in Manhattan will do chain-stitch hemming, and some do repairs - Self Edge is a good example, darning both their own jeans and those of others for a reasonable fee ($40 for their own, $50 for others).  

OTHERS

Tiecrafters
1232 2nd Av
(212) 629 5800
tiecrafters.com

Cleaning silk ties or scarves is quite complicated, as it often requires taking the tie apart and remaking it. The advantage of that, though, is that if you can take it apart you can alter it in the process. 

Modern Leather Goods
2 W 32nd St, Suite 401
(212) 279-3263
www.modernleathergoods.com

Does shoe repair and clothes repair as well, but best known for leather bags, suitcases and leather garments. 

Madison Avenue Furs & Henry Cowit
118 W 27th St
(212) 594-5744
www.cowitfurs.com

A fur specialist, particularly useful if you find yourself in possession of an old fur and don’t want it to go to waste - for example by remaking it into a coat lining. 

Also recommended, by multiple readers:
Artbag (leather goods)

Introducing: Japanese denim shirts

Introducing: Japanese denim shirts

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A couple of years ago, we discontinued the denim shirts sold on PS largely because of issues with producing and storing the cloth. Since then we’ve been working on alternatives, and finally settled on a Japanese-woven cotton last year. 

These are two shirts we’ve produced with it - a pale blue and a washed black, made by 100 Hands. I’m particularly pleased with the colours. 

A lot of denim shirts come in blues that are stronger or darker than this, and I find them less useful. Or put it another way - there’s nothing wrong with those colours, but this shade’s similarity to a blue dress shirt or a blue oxford makes it incredibly useful. 

You can wear it in every situation where you’d otherwise wear a blue oxford shirt, but it brings a different style, a different flavour. A suggestion of western clothing or even work wear, rather than uptown preppiness. 

A denim shirt like this with jeans is one of my favourite combinations, as readers will be aware. I’ve destroyed several from Al Bazar as well as several PS denim ones through relentless wear over the years. 

The combination with jeans and the biscuit-coloured cashmere is just so nice. 

The new black shirt, meanwhile, is deliberately washed to give it an immediate soft colour, and only subtle fading around the seams and edges. 

It will fade a little more over time, but the aim was to offer something that was consistent and predictable - that had a ready-made fade and wouldn’t change its style over time. 

Black cottons like this are a lot easier to wear when they’re faded - in the same way as black jeans. They’re softer, lower contrast, and as a result sit better with things like the grey tweed jacket and brown flannels below. A strong, flat black would be starker and even cheap-looking. 

It also means in a combination like this you leave the strong black to leathers - the belt and the shoes. 

The new denim shirts have the same body fit as all the other PS shirts. Or rather, the same body fit as the Selvedge Chambray, and the same as the Oxfords after a couple of washes. As regular readers will know, the oxfords have a little shrinkage so are made a little bigger to start with. The new denims are the same as the chambray, i.e. pretty much no shrinkage. 

The only style difference with the new denim shirts is the point collar. I didn’t want to do a button-down for these, but liked the look of the button-downs when unbuttoned. So we started with that shape, and just reduced the length. 

I like the result. The points tuck nicely under jacket lapels, and the length (8cm) is midway between the puny things mainstream brands usually offer, and the vintage leisure-shirt look that you see occasionally, but I find a little overwhelming. 

I wouldn’t wear these shirts with a tie very often, but you could; there’s a couple centimetres of tie gap when the collar is fastened. 

The shirts cost £230 plus VAT, and are available now on the shop site here. You can find the size chart there too. 

One thing to note is that although we call the blue a denim, it’s a plain weave whereas the black is a twill. It just suited the colour more. 

The make is the same as the PS Chambray shirts from 100 Hands, with a lot of handwork - not just functional things like hand-attached collars and sleeves (to give 3D shape and work in more excess) but buttonholes and buttons, plus hand-stitching on many of the seams, including the front placket. 

This hand work is particularly nice on the washed black, as the stitches are highlighted by the fading, just like the waves at the edge of the cuff or collar. 

The jackets shown are my Eduardo de Simone cashmere and Anthology grey tweed (the latter with both shirts). The trousers are char-brown flannels from Fox/Whitcomb and nineties Levi’s 501s. The shoes are both from Edward Green: brown-suede Piccadilly and black-cordovan Greenwich. 

The combination of the black shirt, brown trousers and grey jacket is a very ‘cold-colour’ one, and I find myself swapping round those colours (together with cream) all the time. 

I’ve also included an image below of the other time I’ve shown this black shirt, in all-black outfit last summer, when we were working on the prototype.

Other shop updates

  • Friday Polos - Restocking in two weeks, with an additional mid-grey
  • Tapered T-shirts - No firm date unfortunately, but hopefully soon. Big issues getting production out of Japan
  • Chambray shirts - Restock coming later this month
  • Hand-framed Cotton Sweater - Restock coming later this month
  • Finest Polos - Restock coming later this month
  • Casual Style Guide - Restock coming next month
  • Suede Overshirt - Sold out but new stock ordered for September
  • Dartmoor and Finest Crewneck - Restocked in cream and grey, and navy and dark grey, respectively
  • Oxford shirts and cloth - Restocked in white, blue, blue stripe, green stripe and pink stripe

‘Bleu de Travail’ workwear

‘Bleu de Travail’ workwear

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When I covered chore coats about this time last year, I mentioned that there were three major workwear materials that could be interchanged for different looks: blue denim, US-military green and duck-cotton canvas. It could be a Type II jacket with fatigues, a Carhartt chore with 501s, or a jungle jacket with carpenter trousers: they all work together. It’s like a little workwear capsule. 

However, true and hopefully useful as that was, it did a disservice to another beautiful material: French bleu de travail

Today I’m going to correct that and talk a little about its qualities, as well as how it fits into these workwear combos, using a vintage piece of mine as an example. 

France’s history with this indigo-dyed material goes back to the nineteenth century. It was originally the military’s colour, but during that century the dye became so cheap and ubiquitous that manufacturers started using a lighter, more vibrant version of it for their workers. 

Over time, the overalls, jacket and trousers that the workers wore came to be known as bleu de travail  or ‘work blues’. Examples of the trousers, and occasionally overalls, are pretty common in vintage stores, although they tend to be worn thin; jackets or chore coats were more widespread and have lasted better. 

The French called them work jackets, not chores. Chore coat was an American term, originating in the early 20th century when Carhartt and Dickies became the big producers. But everywhere the designs were pretty consistent, given they were so driven by function and by economy. 

A work jacket was simple and straight, cut big for range of movement and to allow anything the weather required to be worn underneath. They were hip length, dressed up a bit with a collar (some workers had black versions to wear to church) and had two chest and hip pockets. 

In France the jackets gained an association with the northern coast, around Brittany and Normany. This was down to Le Mont St Michel, which was one of the largest producers in the first half of the twentieth century - it’s also the reason the piece is sometimes referred to as a Breton work jacket.

The association with the sea always seemed like a fitting one to me, given the sea and the sky above it are so redolent of the shades of blue these jackets fade to over time. 

In the image below you can see this particularly along my folded-back cuff. At the very end, nearest the watch, is the interior colour of the jacket (presumably close to the original blue). Then the material fades slowly along the cuff, accompanied by ripples of colour created by the tension of the stitching. Finally, the edge of the cuff is almost pure white, close to the colour of the sleeve it is folded onto. 

This gradation of blues is repeated in different ways all over the jacket, though never as obviously as on the cuff. 

If anyone tells you PS is new to this coverage of vintage clothing, by the way, point them to articles from 10 years ago on vintage denim and a vintage wax jackets. These kinds of textiles have always done funny things to me.

Now my jacket is not actually a jacket, nor is it French. 

It’s meant to be a shirt, as is clear from the lack of hip pockets and the buttoned cuffs. It would have been worn tucked in, probably over a vest or undershirt, and with a jacket or overalls. But today its weight means it just about works as an overshirt. 

And it comes from Germany rather than France: the same colour of workwear has long been popular in other countries. The rather attractive label says it was made by Greiff, a workwear specialist founded in 1802 and still going today, and the specific logo dates it to the 1950s. 

The issue I have with a lot of vintage like this is the length - given I’m over average height even today (and these pieces would have been worn with truly high-waisted trousers) everything is a bit short on me. 

Here, I improved the situation a little by letting down the hem. This means there is a little less weight at the bottom of the garment, but it gains a couple of centimetres in length. And that extra fade line along the bottom isn’t bad. 

So, how versatile is this fourth workwear colour? 

It works really well with denim - dark, mid-blue, ecru - as shown. I’ve deliberately played with different blues here, with that light-wash denim and navy watch cap, but blue and indigo work generally. 

It’s not as good with strong colours, as the blue is quite vivid. But you’re on safer ground with soft, washed colours (like those three other workwear materials) and neutrals. I wouldn’t say it’s as versatile as other workwear pieces, but it is a nice option if you want a stronger colour that’s still quite easy to wear. 

I bought this one, by the way, in Portobello Market for £45. A nice example of the kind of thing you can find with a bit of digging. 

I’ve had less luck finding a pair of bleu de travail trousers that fit - they generally have the twin problems of being too short and too ragged/paint-splattered. If anyone sees some with a 33-inch waist, or thereabouts, and a 32 inside leg, let me know.

Other clothes shown:

  • PS navy Watch Cap
  • PS white Tapered T-shirt
  • Alden full-strap loafers, Color 8 cordovan, Aberdeen last
  • Anderson & Sheppard grey socks (though it would have been nice without them too, at least in the warmer-weather versions without the watch cap)
  • My old Rolex GMT

Shot by Jamie Ferguson @jkf_man during the trip for this shoot last year. (Been holding onto these for a while!)

Massura: Building on constructive criticism

Massura: Building on constructive criticism

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Three years ago, I covered the German outfit Massura, who were offering a well-priced bespoke and MTM service made in Naples. However the jacket they made me had some substantial issues, which I covered in a review in the normal, honest way we do on PS. 

I didn't hear from them for a while, and I assumed they'd moved on. But the founder Moritz got in touch again last year, and it turned out he had taken the review to heart and substantially changed the business. 

A previous collaborator, Vlad, had come on board as co-owner and they had moved to a new  manufacturer, slowly introducing the product and taking a lot of feedback. They also reworked their patterns, including changing how the jacket worked on someone like me with sloping shoulders. 

The failure in this area (below) was the biggest issue covered in the first review, and I had always found it odd that the fit was so much better on Moritz himself than it was on me. 

Other changes they've gone through include opening a physical store in Munich, and largely abandoning virtual fittings as too unreliable (one of my three appointments was done over Zoom). 

This process was completed last year, and they asked if they could make another jacket in order to show how much the product had improved. I was impressed with their attitude - few people take critical coverage on Permanent Style that constructively. Or if they do, they don’t tell me about it. 

The new jacket they made was indeed better, and you can see the results in these images. It used a different fabric - Fox Tweed TD12 - but the style and level of make was otherwise the same. 

As with the previous manufacturer, the top-end MTM service uses a lot of handwork, including hand-making the chest, attaching the collar and sleeves by hand, and hand sewing buttonholes. There isn’t the same level of iron work and shaping as bespoke, but the bigger difference with bespoke is the fitting rather than the making. 

The MTM uses blocks rather than starting a pattern from scratch, and there is normally one intermediate fitting, with an unfinished jacket. This is in some ways a step up for MTM though, as you normally get a finished jacket where only relatively small changes (eg side seam, sleeve length) are possible. 

With mine, we actually had two intermediate fittings, just because Moritz were unsure about the lapel style, which I had changed a little by lowering the gorge. 

That gorge (the height of the ‘notch’ in the lapel) is the one thing I would raise as a possible issue for PS readers, as Massura’s default style is slightly Italian-style jackets with design points like that higher gorge. You can see this fairly clearly from the tailoring on their website and I've included a couple of sample images below.

Of course, with bespoke you can change many of these things, and you can quite a few with MTM too. But I’ve always said it’s best going with a tailor that you like the style of, if you can. There will always be things you don’t think to specify. 

I’ve only worn the jacket a couple of times (it’s a little heavy for the season) but so far it’s performed well. 

Moritz does like higher vents on the back of the jacket, partly because he finds it improves the fit, but I’m not sure I like them that much. I might get them tacked a little lower down. Otherwise there isn’t much I’d change. 

The cloth, interestingly, I’ve found a little tricky, as the brighter blue flecks don’t make it quite as versatile as plain blue. I do love the Fox Tweed quality though, which never wears as warm as the weight (17oz) would suggest. 

One of the reasons I’d continue to highlight Massura is that there is so little good tailoring available in Germany. There’s Maximilian Mogg in Berlin, but that won’t be to everyone’s taste. There’s the ex-Anderson & Sheppard cutter James Whitfield in Berlin too, but generally it’s stores offering Italian brands - and not that many of those. 

Massura’s prices have gone up a bit since last time, but remain good value. There are three levels:

  • MTM Standard. Mostly machine made, €1800 for a suit, €1300 for a jacket
  • MTM Handmade. What I had, €2350-2700 for a suit, €1750-2000 for a jacket
  • Bespoke. As you’d expect, €3000-3400 for a suit, €2200-€2400 for a jacket

All prices include 19% Germany VAT.

Trunk shows are in London and Frankfurt. The former every three months, the latter every 6-8 weeks. 

Other clothes shown:

  • PS Oxford shirt in pink/white stripe
  • Charcoal flannel trousers, made by Whitcomb & Shaftesbury in Fox cloth
  • Black-calf Piccadilly loafers from Edward Green
  • Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso watch in yellow gold on a black-alligator strap

Green jacket clothes details on the original Massura article

The second PS Readership Survey (with prize)

The second PS Readership Survey (with prize)

Friday, May 31st 2024
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Four years ago we did a readership survey, and it was incredibly helpful. It gave us a clear picture of who the reader is, and what they want out of Permanent Style. 

We always have feedback on PS - the comments section is one of the best around - but the survey gave everyone an opportunity to give their view, even those that didn’t want to do it publicly. And the structured format of it made it much easier to implement changes. Almost 2,500 people filled it out, and as a result we introduced many things. 

It was as a result of the survey that we introduced an article-alert email to go alongside the weekly round-up one. We also improved the comment function, including the ability to add images. We introduced the waiting list system on the shop, which is now so fundamental to PS products that it’s hard to imagine it’s that recent. And we’re almost ready (four years later!) with the filters on the Lookbook page

We’re now repeating the process, and it will be interesting to see how people have changed. How many are using TikTok? How many now subscribe to editorial content, through platforms like Substack? Both the market and the media have evolved. 

We’re also offering the same incentive. Everyone that completes the survey will be entered into a draw, with the winner receiving £500 to spend in the PS shop. 

I would be enormously grateful if you would take 10 minutes to fill it out. 

There are 32 questions, and you can rattle through them pretty quickly - or if you prefer, take your time and leave some very detailed thoughts.

To everyone - whatever your motivation for completing the survey - I would like to repeat my personal, heartfelt thanks.  

You are the reason this site exists, and I am deeply grateful. The survey can be found here and closes in a week. 

Simon

Use of data

The data received as part of this survey will only be used by Permanent Style and not communicated to any third parties. 

Aggregated data might be used in public information about Permanent Style - for example, saying in our media pack that the average reader age is 42 - but no individual information.

Email addresses will be used only to enter readers into the £500 draw. They will not be added to any newsletters or subscriptions. 

(Though if you want to sign up to the weekly newsletter, of course, you can do so here)

The results of the first survey were covered in an article here

Holiday attire: A sliding scale of formality

Holiday attire: A sliding scale of formality

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By Manish Puri

Last week’s article by Simon, ‘Which office are you? A cold current 2024 update’, focused on cold, wintry colours. I’m here to provide a similar step through using warmer, summery tones.

The colours I’ve chosen are those that I’ve found myself naturally gravitating towards during recent travels: cream and brown. Colours which remind me of sandy beaches, shea-butter sun lotion and ice cream in a biscuit cone.

And so, the perspective of my article skews towards holiday attire rather than the explicitly office-orientated articles penned by Simon. But I still think  the ideas and the combinations can provide some inspiration for those looking for help on what to wear to a modern office. 

One way to make the looks more office-appropriate might be to increase the contrast between the pieces. For example, instead of the cream polo and the putty brown trousers in outfit two, you could try a white oxford shirt and brown chinos.

Beyond the fact that I find cream and brown to be a chic summer pairing - and more interesting than the all-white ensembles some people use to indicate that they’ve activated ‘holiday mode’ - there’s also an easy synergy between garments stemming from a similar, restrained colour palette. 

In fact, I’d go so far as to say I’d happily pair any of the tops in this article with any of the bottoms. For example, in the image at the top of the piece I’m wearing the shorts from outfit one with the shirt from outfit three on a recent holiday. 

My one reservation might be combining the double-breasted jacket in outfit four (and above) with the shorts. But even here, I think a lighter, less structured DB could work if you dig that contrasting high-low vibe.

1 The right to bare arms

While most of the TikTok fodder forced upon me by Instagram only serves to louden the tick-tock of my diminishing will to live, there is one meme-mantra that has stuck with me: if an outfit isn't interesting through colour then it has to be interesting through shape, and if it’s not interesting through shape then it has to be interesting through texture.

I think this is something that comes quite naturally to the classic-menswear winter wardrobe. Consider the combination of a rich tweed jacket, a silk patterned tie and some corduroy trousers - you’re simultaneously tagging colour, texture and (depending on the silhouette) even shape.

However in the summer, where the weather often demands simplicity in an outfit, it can be harder to find that point of difference, and the pitfall (which I’ve spent many a summer trapped in) is that, even with nice individual pieces, you can end up looking a bit basic.

Given that we’re deliberately restricted in colour here, I’ve injected texture into the first outfit using an Adret Riviera shirt made of hand-spun cotton which is knotty, slubby and altogether rather wonderful (the eagle-eyed among you will spot that Simon has the same shirt in a long-sleeve version). 

For those looking for a cheaper option, Scott Fraser Collection is always an excellent first port-of-call for summer outfits - even if his aesthetic isn’t to your taste you can clearly see how he enlivens predominantly two-piece looks (shirt/knit with shorts/trousers) through colour, shape and texture. Their laddered pocket shirt, whilst not in the same cream and beige colourway, does have a similar waffle finish to the Adret shirt. Incidentally, my cotton shorts are also by Scott Fraser, and, in a telling insight into the rapid multiple borrowings of the style, also called Riviera.

2 Cover your legs, man

The second outfit smartens things up by switching in a bespoke pair of linen trousers from The Anthology (they currently have a RTW trouser in a similar colour made from Solbiati 'Art Du Lin')  and a knitted linen polo shirt from Anderson & Sheppard.

For the sake of brevity and to present as wide a range of formalities as possible I’ve elected not to show every permutation of the outfits. However, you can imagine how pairing this more fitted linen polo with the shorts from the first outfit would make it look a bit smarter, but still not as smart as outfit two. And, conversely, pairing the Adret shirt with these trousers will make everything a bit looser and more informal than the current combination.

You’ll see in all my chosen looks that I favour darker colours on my lower half and lighter colours up top. This tendency is unusual enough to have been (positively) commented upon by stylish friends who are more naturally inclined to the opposite. 

There’s a few reasons why I’m drawn to this ‘bottom-heavy’ look, and I’ve promised Simon I’ll write a fuller piece about it soon, but, for holiday dressing, I think it’s just practical when you’re spending your day sitting on grassy knolls, mossy rocks or sticky bar stools. That said, there’s absolutely no reason why cream chinos and a brown polo wouldn’t be equally lovely here. 

My shoes are a pair of huaraches purchased on holiday in Oaxaca a few years back. Would I like the leather to be less red and shiny? Yes. Do I have a Proustian memory of eating tlayudas every time I slide my feet into them? Also, yes.

An alternative could be espadrilles (I like mine from La Manual Alpargatera), or for more refined options, Simon’s piece on sandals is really helpful.

3 Jackets required

On longer holidays, where every item has to justify the luggage space and weight it will occupy by its utility, I don’t tend to pack tailored jackets. It’s here that unstructured jackets, chore coats and Tebas shine: lightweight, (relatively) happy to be folded, and able to discretely elevate a look without alienating or intimidating your fellow holiday-makers.

My choice is a seersucker (again with the texture) Lazyman jacket from The Anthology which I purchased at the PS pop-up in 2019 and has been a faithful companion on summer trips since. The size is a UK 38 - which I think I can still just about get away with. However, were the jacket to be tragically lost in a baggage mishap I’d opt for a size 40 to give me a little more room. LEJ has a Plage jacket (which I’ve written positively about a couple of times on PS) in ivory linen that would make a great alternative.

There wasn’t any particular need to switch the polo shirt from outfit two for a short-sleeve button-down shirt - although the more structured collar does suit the sharper aesthetic - other than to gently remind readers (and myself) that you don’t always have to break the bank for simple pieces like an off-white shirt. 

Mine is from the Uniqlo U 2019 collection and it’s one of the first things I pack for a warm weather holiday: flattering, comfortable, lightweight, easy to wash and quick to dry. The collar roll is as good as any bespoke shirt I’ve tried, and after five years of heavy wear I’ve not had a button loosen, let alone come off - which is more than can be said for some rather more expensive handmade shirts I’ve bought.

I’ve switched up the footwear to penny loafers (John Lobb Lopez in dark-brown museum calf) which is quite a sharp pivot from the huaraches. You could substitute an unlined suede loafer or a Belgian slipper for a less dramatic shift in formality. 

4 Best bib and tucker

As I mentioned earlier, I don’t tend to take much formal tailoring on holidays, but, when I do, it’s usually because a special dinner has been booked or there’s something to celebrate. And if that’s the case, I always pack a tie because I think ties are cool.

The jacket is a RTW DB from The Anthology in a sandstone linen - quite similar in tone to Simon’s Ciardi - and the shirt a very fine cream poplin from Speciale with a soft collar. 

In case I chicken out and choose not to wear the tie (hey, I said I think ties are cool - not everyone agrees with me on this one) the soft collar nonchalantly lays how it wishes - as if it didn’t even know what a tie was. An open-necked spread-collar dress shirt, by contrast, permanently looks aghast at being jilted by that silken seductress.

The trousers are made from W Bill 12/13oz Irish linen - they still crumple during the day (which, of course, we all embrace as one of the most charming properties of linen), but less than some of the lighter Italian linens I've tried.

I opted for linen over high-twist wool trousers because, to my eyes, the former is easier to wear across a range of formalities, the latter too crisp for a truly informal look. Perhaps a linen-wool blend might offer the best of both worlds? I’d be curious to hear from readers that have tried that.

Finally, I’ve been perfectly comfortable sockless (or visibly sockless) for the first three more casual outfits. However, when I’m wearing a collar-and-tie I can’t abide seeing my ankles. I don’t have many “menswear rules” but this just might be one of them.

So, there we have it. Twelve items of clothing (including socks and tie) which combine to form dozens of subtly different outfits covering as broad a spectrum of formalities as you’re likely to need. 

For shorter trips, I might pare this capsule back further by leaving the DB jacket and tie, the Adret shirt, the short-sleeved shirt and the sandals at home. For longer trips, I’d add a pair of high-twist trousers and some colour - you could easily double up most of the items with navy or green equivalents (how about a navy jacket with outfit four and some olive green linen trousers in outfit two?), and regular readers know how much I adore the colour pink, which would look great with the cream tones.

Now the only question is, where should I go on holiday?

Thank you to the lovely Anderson & Sheppard Haberdashery for having us back to take photos for this article.

Manish is @the_daily_mirror on Instagram

New York: A menswear shopping guide

 

New York is a strange town for menswear. It doesn’t have the same traditional shops as Europe and bespoke is substantially undermined by visitors from Savile Row. If there is a tradition, it’s for value and department stores: low-priced suits at one extreme and glorified shop-in-shops at the other. 

So where does the crafted, sartorial menswear we love fit in? Around the edges. In places like the Armoury, online showrooms like No Man Walks Alone, and multi-brand shops that have established with their own local following, such as Leffot or CHCM. 

It’s also great for vintage, with far more than London. And there is a growing number of good casual or workwear shops. The biggest change since this list was last updated in 2015 is that department stores have become increasingly irrelevant, and shops like Stoffa, Wythe and Buck Mason have opened. 

This guide is the part of a series on Permanent Style. You can see the rest here. It’s worth reiterating the general rules we use for inclusion:  

  • The guides are to quality clothing. Only shops producing at a high grade are included
  • We only cover menswear, with a significant leaning towards sartorial menswear
  • We lean heavily towards shops that are unique to the city. So big chains are excluded, while some with a small number of locations are admitted
  • The list doesn’t pretend to be comprehensive. It expands every time it’s reviewed, but is still more about the places we know than a list of all of them

 

 

TAILORING AND BESPOKE

The Armoury
thearmoury.com
168 Duane St and 13 E69th St

The shop founded in Hong Kong now has two branches in New York, one in Tribeca and a new one uptown. Responsible bringing in brands like Ring Jacket, St Crispin’s and Carmina over the years, plus a regular series of bespoke artisans, and retains an excellent range of RTW and MTM tailoring in various different styles.

J Mueser
jmueser.com
19 Christopher St

The other obvious option for tailoring, down on Christopher St in the West Village. A great atmosphere and perhaps a younger offering, the Mueser boys have some RTW, different MTM options and even a full bespoke (benchmade) option. Also shirt, knits, accessories. 

Paul Stuart
www.paulstuart.com
354 Madison Ave

Paul Stuart has always been one of our favourite stores. It’s set up how big menswear stores should be: chock full of well-made, classically styled clothing and accessories, with free alterations and knowledgeable staff. The sock selection alone is worth a visit. 

 


New York bespoke: Paolo Martorano
and Leonard Logsdail
www.paolostyle.com
130 W57th St
leonardlogsdail.com
9 E 53rd St

The two bespoke tailors in New York I know and would certainly recommend. Paolo makes a softer coat, Len a more structured one, but both are real bespoke and do what they say they will. I’ve covered Paolo rather more, and you can see a full review here

There are various other smaller tailors, none of whom we have tried, but we did cover in some detail here. The comments on that piece are as useful as the article. Although I haven’t experienced it myself, Alan Flusser’s made-to-measure is worth mentioning for anyone that’s a fan of his writing.

Foreign bespoke: Huntsman, Cad & The Dandy, Thom Sweeney
Huntsman and Cad are both in the building at 130 W 57th St
www.huntsmansavilerow.com
www.cadandthedandy.co.uk
Thom Sweeney are in Soho, at 362 W Broadway
thomsweeney.com

A significant addition since the last version of this guide is physical locations of English bespoke offerings. You felt it was going to happen eventually, given how much easier it is to travel round the US from New York, and have a permanent base that US customers can visit at any time. Of these, Huntsman is the Savile Row stalwart and the most expensive; Thom Sweeney is a younger style, though also getting more expensive these days. 

Of course, many tailors and other craftspeople visit New York very often, but this guide is for those based in the city, which you’re more likely to be travelling to see.

Shirtmakers: Geneva and Cego
genevacustomshirts.com, 65 W 55th St
www.cego.com, 10 E 23rd St

Geneva is round the corner from that W 57th St address with all the tailors. Not a glamorous shop, but a real workroom where Eugene makes his own patterns and cuts on-site. Not something you see in midtown Manhattan much these days. 

Cego is a bigger business, making some shirts in-house but also sending others to a factory over the river in New Jersey. Popular as a an entry-level option, they also do a lot of TV and film work (as does Geneva).


OTHER SARTORIAL CLOTHING

Leffot
leffot.com
10 Christopher St

Top here only because it was first. I still remember clearly walking into Leffot the week it opened, and thinking what a breath of fresh air it was. Years later, it remains the best shoe shop in New York.

Belgian Shoes
belgianshoes.com
110 E55th St

The Belgian Loafers shop is not large or especially impressive, but it remains pretty much the only place you can buy the soft-made shoes with the little bows, which have something of a cult following. They’ve gone up considerably in price in recent years, perhaps as a reflection of that following.

JJ Hat Center and Worth & Worth
www.jjhatcenter.com
310 5th Avenue
www.hatshop.com
263 Bowery

There isn’t a plethora of hat shops in New York, but two deserve mention. The first is JJ Hat Center, as it has history on its side (in New York since 1911) and has the best range of fine men’s hats in the city – felts, straws etc. The other is Worth & Worth, which is a little more fashion-led, with designs by Orlando Palacios. A lot of the hats are made in the workshop on site.

J Press (and Pennant Label)
Jpressonline.com
51 East 44th Street

J Press has a reputation for being a little stuffy and old-fashioned, but the quality of the products is good and consistent, so all that really needs adding is some personal style. There are great Aran knits, made in Ireland, and not too traditional/boxy a fit. The ‘Shaggy Dog’ shetlands are not only super-soft, but in some quite contemporary colours. And the tailoring is obviously soft and unstructured, which feels rather contemporary today.

They recently opened a dedicated store for the trimmer, cheaper line ‘Pennant Label’, which is at 501 Madison Avenue.


Ralph Lauren Rhinelander Mansion
www.ralphlauren.com
867 Madison Avenue

In rather the same vein as we included Giorgio Armani in Milan, the Rhinelander Mansion has to be mentioned in New York. There are millions of Ralph Lauren shops, but none of them are quite like this one. I particularly like the Purple Label floor with more expansive tailoring than London, and the upper floors often have previews of upcoming seasons.

Sid Mashburn and Todd Snyder
www.toddsnyder.com, 25 E 26th St (flagship)
shopmashburn.com, 926 Madison Avenue

Both menswear brands with stores elsewhere, but not outside the US, so for non-Americans these are interesting places to visit for a range of classic and slightly more casual clothing. Mashburn has a tendency to the slim and short, but the taste level is solid. Snyder is often best for its collaborations with various heritage brands.

Alden Madison Avenue
aldenmadison.com
340 Madison Avenue

Alden shoes have become increasingly popular as styles trended towards the casual. It’s got so bad that stock often takes months to arrive at stockists, and prices have risen inexorably. For fans of Alden then, the flagship store on Madison Avenue is worth a visit, as it has the biggest range of styles of any stockist, with the one key exception coming next…

Moulded Shoe
www.mouldedshoeny.com
10 E 39th St

An old-fashioned shoe store that focuses on comfort and orthopaedic requirements. Not the kind of place PS would normally head to, were it not for the fact that it is one of very few places in the world that sells Alden shoes on their modified last. And the other major one, Anatomica in Paris, has rather particular ideas of how the shoes should fit. Dedicated PS article here


CASUAL CLOTHING

No Man Walks Alone
www.nomanwalksalone.com
336 W 37th St

No Man Walks Alone is an online retailer, rather than a store, but anyone can contact the guys and make an appointment to visit their warehouse on 37th street, and over the years this has become more customer-facing. The clothing has is trending more casual, but it’s a great one for small European and Japanese brands. 

Stoffa
stoffa.co
125 Grand St

Long a PS favourite, Stoffa has just opened its first physical shopfront, having started with trunk shows and for the past few years operated from an upper-floor showroom. The clothing is well-made and craft-focused, loose and comfortable. The style is distinctive, plain and tonal. See PS reviews and coverage of Stoffa on their brand page here

CHCM
Chcmshop.com
2 Bond Street

CHCM is a little store on a lower ground floor in Noho, and easy to miss. Run by Englishman Sweetu Patel, it’s a bit of an institution and arguably the best multi-brand store in New York. There’s LEJ, Paraboot and Arpenteur, but also Veilance, MAN-TLE and Auralee. The white-box atmosphere might put some readers off initially, but it’s worth taking the time to browse and look a little deeper.

Buck Mason
www.buckmason.com
170 5th Avenue (Flat Iron store)

Based in California, Buck Mason has expanded in recent years (now 30 stores across the US), ratcheted up its quality and made it’s style more classic. It’s now a good option for any PS reader that wants a really solid T-shirt, a great pair of chinos, a good-value pair of jeans. The colour palette is deliberately narrow, making everything wearable and versatile – great for casualwear staples. 

Wythe
wythenewyork.com
59 Orchard St

Another recent addition to the PS world. Wythe is a western-inspired brand making at a slightly lower quality level than brands like Bryceland’s or The Real McCoy’s, but often with a great taste level, particularly around colour. Particularly recommended are the flannel shirts and sweats. Like RRL, but better value and probably more interesting. 


Colbo
colbo.nyc
51 Orchard St

Just down the road from Wythe is an interesting multi-brand store, Colbo, that also houses a small cafe, a vinyl selection, and a rack of two of vintage clothing. Most of the clothing will be a little too fashion-led for PS readers, but it’s worth popping in if you’re already visiting Wythe, Bode, or Desert Vintage. 

Standard & Strange
standardandstrange.com
238 Mulberry St

Recently opened, Standard & Strange is one of the best locations in New York now for Japanese workwear brands, and in particular for The Real McCoy’s. Also noteworthy is the range from Freenote and the boot selection. Aimé Leon Dore is across the street, which is also worth a walk round. It’s a little hype-driven and the value isn’t great as a result, but the style is always interesting. 

Blue in Green
www.blueingreensoho.com
8 Greene St

The longer standing home of quality workwear in New York, having blazed the trail back in 2006. Best known for their denim, Blue in Green is good for Full Count and Buzz Rickson, and has a smattering of more fashion-forward brands like Kapital. In recent years they’ve evolved into doing a little under their own name. 

Self Edge
www.selfedge.com
157 Orchard St

The other good location for denim and quality workwear is the San Francisco-headquartered Self Edge, which started at the same time as Blue in Green back in 2006 (remember the great heritage revival?) and now has four stores in the US as well as one in Mexico. It’s also not far from Wythe and Colbo, on the Lower East Side. 


VINTAGE

New York, and in particular Brooklyn, has a strong range of vintage shops – better than anywhere in Europe that we know. Here are our favourites, and there is a dedicated story about New York vintage shopping here.

10ft Single by Stella Dallas
@10ftSingleByStellaDallas
285 N 6th St, Brooklyn

Big, with a front room that is more recent, cheaper vintage and a back room that is the older, better stuff. A real range from military to sportswear. Always the first place to go. 

Stella Dallas Living
@StellaDallasLiving
281 N 6th St, Brooklyn

The original shop, selling fabric and haberdashery items. You might think it’s not that relevant, but actually there’s often boro fabric, Hudson’s Bay blankets, Pendleton, Chimayo etc, as well as buttons and other fabrics. 

Raggedy Threads
www.raggedythreads.com
602 Grand Street, Brooklyn

Not far away in Brooklyn, the partner to the original LA shop. Focused a little more on historical or original garments (rather like Stock Vintage in Manhattan) and sometimes things are a little too raggedy, but there are some gems too. 

Front General Store
frontgeneralstore.com
143 Front Street, Brooklyn

A shop on the ground floor of Dumbo with an interesting display of vintage: new pieces at the front, curated racks of second-hand clothing next (eg all 90s Wrangler shirts), followed by more precious vintage. Then, upstairs, a new shop called FGS Outpost that has a great selection of designer vintage alongside some of their own-brand accessories. 

Crowley Vintage
@crowley_vintage
68 Jay St, Suite 303, Brooklyn (open Saturday, appointment only Tues-Fri)

Round the corner from Front General, on the third floor of a warehouse-style building, is Sean Crowley’s collection of old Ralph Lauren and everything that inspires that style – from Savile Row tailoring and polo coats to original madras shirts and riding boots. Probably my favourite vintage store in New York. Crowley was planning on moving at the time of writing, but with no confirmed date. Dedicated article here.

Stock Vintage
@StockVintageNYC
143 East 13th Street

Back in Manhattan, a charming small store run by Melissa Howard, who makes most of her money from designers looking for inspiration. Indeed, she’s toyed with closing the retail shop, and keeps the door closed most of the time (the shop is open, but the metal frames and closed door mean passers-by don’t just wander in). The stock tends to the older end of the vintage spectrum, mostly twenties to fifties, with some very old. Prices are relatively high as a result. 

Church Street Surplus
churchstreetsurplus.com
327 Church Street

Just off Canal Street, a ramshackle place but with a wide range of military vintage. Go in knowing what you’re looking for and you’ll find a dozen examples somewhere on the long double-height racks. 

Sri Threads
www.srithreads.com
18 Eckford Street, #2A, Brooklyn (appointment only)

A specialist in Japanese fabrics and related items. Niche therefore, but really beautiful – the kind of place that makes you fall in love with the way that indigo fabric fades. See dedicated PS article here

 



Eleven years and three children later: Troubadour’s technical bags

Eleven years and three children later: Troubadour’s technical bags

Friday, May 24th 2024
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Samuel is one of those friends who, when we sit down, makes me realise quite how long we’ve known each other. The last time I saw him, he didn’t have any kids and lived in New York. Now, he has two and lives in Switzerland. I’ve also had another in the meantime. 

We first met 11 years ago when he launched the bag brand Troubadour with his friend Abel (below). In that time they’ve been through a lot of ups and downs, looking for their niche. They’re business-school guys and were constantly innovating and iterating. 

When I first knew them, the pitch was the finest leather bag in the world but in a sleeker, more modern design than heritage brands. I covered them in the Financial Times. They then gradually grew more technical, at one point setting up a display at Pitti with water dripping onto a bag to demonstrate its water resistance.

Eventually they pivoted into much sportier, synthetic bags made in China. In the past four years, this has proved to be their sweetspot. They’ve now gone from selling hundreds of bags to hundreds of thousands. 

What most interested me though, when we met again recently (Samuel was in town for the London marathon - he’s that kind of fitness/outdoors guy) was that their recent success has actually come from innovating in the same way they always did, often involving pretty big risks. 

“The thing we’ve really seen in the past few years is that the product will win out,” says Samuel. “We started by selling a bag that was the same price as our competitors, but not as good. Then we got it to the point that it was as good. Now it’s better - lighter, more practical, more sustainable.”

A competitor in this space would be someone like Tumi, or Bellroy. It’s not a category we cover much on PS, because of the price point but mostly because of the style. But I love a product-led story, and having used the bags myself I can also add weight to the argument that Troubadour is best in class for this type of product. 

The awards they’ve won and the reviews on places like Wirecutter also seem to back this up - assuaging my always-present fear that I like the product in part because I also like the person (a problem with tailoring too). 

The innovation of Troubadour’s that I found the most interesting was making the first entirely recyclable bag. No one else does this - not Patagonia, not Finisterre - because in the past it was thought to be impossible. 

The main issue is that to make a bag like this, you really need everything to be in the same material. That’s the only way it’s really feasible to recycle it - to grind up into pellets and use it for something else, as with a water bottle.  And the biggest challenge to make something out of one material is to avoid using polyurethane (PU).

“PU is just really useful and it’s used everywhere - it’s sprayed onto the back of things to give them strength and stop them tearing,” says Samuel. “It’s light and it’s strong; vegan leather is entirely PU. But, PU is nearly impossible to recycle and once you spray it onto a material you no longer have a mono-material so you can't recycle it.” So to make the bag entirely out of polyester, they needed to find ways to make nearly every part of it in a different way, without PU.

“There’s that saying - you learn a lot through failure - and we certainly have. In fact you’ve seen us do it more than once over the years Simon!”

Those completely circular bags are now a new range, Orbis. They’re not the biggest seller by some margin, but are an indication of intent. “Even when these things don’t work, it’s a good thing for all of us to be pointing towards it, to have it as something we’re aiming for,” says Samuel. 

“I’ve found that particularly as the company has grown so much in recent years - it’s a really effective way to communicate to everyone what we’re about.”

The next project is apparently welded bags - where the seams are literally two sides of the material fused together. This has the advantage of being completely waterproof, strong and lightweight. It’s been used for years for scuba bags, but they have thick coatings of TPU on the the fabric making them heavy and plasticky, and they have really boxy shapes. Troubadour's aim is to weld materials in a beautiful shape without needing heavy TPU to make it work.

The bag I initially loved 11 years ago is still available - the Generation Duffle, above - but now the calf leather is tanned using something called DriTan, which uses the same veg-tan ingredients but no extra water, making it less wasteful. The leather feels the same to me as the original did, and it should age the same way too.

The other product of theirs I’d use is the backpack (shown top), which is made from the same material. Ideally I wouldn’t have so much branding inside and out, but it is tonal on the outside, and the one I use currently for commuting, from Bennett Winch, is pretty similar there. 

The Bennett Winch one is also a little cleaner in design, and I like its brass hardware. But the Troubadour is more technical, with a breathable back mesh and ergonomic straps: they’re doing different things, and will appeal to different readers. 

Readers often ask about more technical accessories, and given what I’ve seen and tried, I’d certainly recommend Troubadour in that area. Unfortunately but perhaps inevitably, the bags I like are their most expensive, around £1000. But the more technical ones, like the bestseller the Apex, are a lot cheaper (below). 

Troubadour has a shop in Soho on Beak Street, and a lot of retailers in the US listed here

Which office are you? A cold, current 2024 update

Which office are you? A cold, current 2024 update

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The article ‘Which office are you?’ in 2016 was one of the most popular we have ever done on PS. I think largely because it showed clearly how outfits could be adjusted to different levels of formality, at a time when office attire was already changing. 

A small change like wearing a shirt rather than a knit, or flannels rather than jeans, can take an outfit from standard to smart. Or the opposite - it can tone down that fancy tailoring you like wearing but you know isn’t really appropriate. 

We did an update three years later, in 2019, which showed how different sports jackets could vary an outfit - a horizontal variation rather than a vertical one. And now we’re going back to the original format with two more. You lucky things. 

First, today, I’m going through the same process with the kind of wardrobe I wear these days - more brown and black than the classic-menswear navy-and-grey of the original. It is also quite wintry in theme. 

Then next week, Manish will come in with a summer version. That will be olive, white and beige in tone: a different set of colours again. 

So, the same drill today as back in the original article. We start with a casual outfit and gradually make it smarter, keeping the colours and textures the same throughout, isolating the type of clothing. 

Occasionally more than one thing is changed, for the sake of space, but when this happens it’s flagged. Throughout I also suggest alternatives - and am happy to do so more if anyone would like. 

1 Pretty standard

The starting outfit: jeans, crewneck and a pair of boots. Where I am, this is a pretty consistent uniform for guys in winter, in an office but definitely not a suit. They chuck a coat or a bomber over the top, depending on the weather. 

There’s nothing wrong with this - it’s certainly better than the tatty polo shirt and stretch chinos that dominate elsewhere. But it is dependent on execution: a crewneck doesn’t suit everyone, and you still want colours that work nicely together. 

The boots could also be something more casual, like a hiking boot or chukka, or a pair of trainers would be a bigger change. 

The starting pieces are:

2 Dressing it up, a touch

When I speak to friends in dress-down offices, they often want ways to dress up just a notch - not a suit, but something just a little bit more put-together. The obvious way to do that is to wear a shirt - it’s not quite as easy, but the collar is always flattering and the whole is a little smarter. Here the difference between our first two outfits is obvious, I think. 

The white PS Oxford shirt shown could easily be something more casual, like a denim or chambray. And that might be better if the jeans were indigo. 

The other change here is no less relevant - going from boots to loafers (Edward Green Piccadilly, in black Utah leather). As we talked about previously here, wearing a loafer with jeans rather than a boot or trainer is another really easy way to smarten up, and often one that adds more personality too. 

3 Flannels for jeans

Now the washed-black jeans are swapped for charcoal-flannel trousers, and all of a sudden things feel rather smarter. It’s regular law-firm attire rather than something more creative. The fact the change is actually so small, yet the effect big, is testament to how smart black jeans can be. 

I’ll be interested in what Manish says next week, but for me there isn’t really a summer equivalent of flannels - something that bridges casual and formal this well. Linen usually looks too casual; high-twist trousers a bit too smart. If there is something here, it’s a particular trouser in the chino/linen area, rather than a whole category of cloth. 

The flannels are from Whitcomb & Shaftesbury, in Fox flannel. 

4 Jacket for knit

A more dramatic change here, even though the material of the jacket and sweater are so similar, and it’s the same shirt. Tailoring just has such strong associations of smartness.

The tweed jacket is from WW Chan, originally covered here - and rather like oatmeal, it’s a great colour for a casual-but-urban tweed. This is definitely a casual material, but there’s nothing rural about it. 

This is such an easy uniform for an office, with the jacket interchangeable for oatmeal or navy, the shirt for blue or pink, the shoes for dark-brown or Col8 cordovan. 

The beanie is a cream PS Watch Cap, kind of a smarter version of the baseball cap shown higher up.

5 Add a tie

The last touch. Arguably this is the biggest change of all, given how few people wear ties today. And even fewer do so with a jacket than with a suit. 

This particular tie is a muddy green-with-brown-stripe from Anglo Italian: the kind of combination they specialise in. It’s effective at not standing out against the dark pieces elsewhere, despite being silk. 

Looking back through the progression of outfits, I realise there’s one less than last time (five outfits rather than six). I think that’s because it started out more casually, with a T-shirt and jeans. That made less sense this time, given it’s a winter theme. 

That initial piece is worth a re-read if you haven’t in a while, as it’s often in the asides that the useful advice is found - the virtues of a knit tie, or when a pocket square is too much. Although, I feel pocket squares have almost vanished in the intervening years.

Another option not mentioned above is wearing a collared knit under the jacket, rather than a shirt. I’ve included a shot of that above - with our new cream Dartmoor. I guess it’s a stage that sits between numbers three and four, say 3.5. 

So, as we wait for Manish’s version next week, the question I want to ask everyone is the same as last time: which one do you wear? And indeed, has that changed in the last six years?

Thank you to the Anderson & Sheppard Haberdashery for letting us take the lovely photos for this article.

Assisi double-breasted summer suit: Review

Assisi double-breasted summer suit: Review

Monday, May 20th 2024
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This suit from Korean tailor Assisi has already been teased a couple of times on PS. Once during the fitting process in Seoul, where it frankly looked impossibly clean. And once when I wore it for our summer drinks in the Burlington Arcade. 

No suit ever looks quite as clean as that fitting, at least as soon as it is worn for a bit, and the wearer is striding around rather than standing stock still. The sharp high-twist wool from Drapers - the Ascot four-ply - also helped. 

But I’m very happy with the suit. It’s a beautiful style, well fitted, and I’ve been enjoying wearing it even more than I thought I would - in both the ways shown here: open-necked and occasionally unbuttoned, with a linen shirt and suede loafers; and formally with a tie and sharp oxford. It could do a wedding and a smart garden party as easily as a sunny day about town. 

In my first review of Assisi, I subtly challenged Dabin and Min Soo to achieve the same great fit in a lightweight summer cloth. They’ve certainly achieved that. 

With the first tweed jacket (above), there was a bit of debate backwards and forwards about shoulder width and lapel size. We had one fitting in Florence and two in Japan where it was discussed.

I should have just left it up to them, because Dabin always looks wonderful in his double-breasteds and this suit has a slightly more balanced, pleasing style this time, when they’ve made all the choices. 

It’s still a roomy fit, like the tweed, but not so much that you could wear any thickness of sweater underneath. It’s drapey, making it very comfortable and also making it cooler (something often forgotten in the discussion of summer tailoring). 

And I love the style. It’s the antithesis of the tight-and-short noughties look, the one that originated with the growth of Italian modernist brands in the nineties, dominated the growth of menswear from 2008 onwards, and which still hangs around to a boring degree. 

This is larger, more eighties but also more 1930s. I’m sure all the vintage fans will be happy about this - and perhaps take the prompt to wear the same cut of tailoring but in an unfussy style. 

The keyword for me is balanced. The lapel is wide but not too wide - pointing to the shoulder but not flying off it. The buttoning point is balanced too - I tend towards pushing this a little lower these days, but the proportions here are great and that’s the most important thing. It’s more moderate, and less likely to date as a result. 

The trousers are higher rise and pleated. This isn’t my normal style, but I already have trousers in that style in a similar cloth from this Cornacchia suit, so it was an opportunity to experiment a bit. 

I like the fact that when you wear a belt with this kind of rise, the body is shortened and therefore proportionately widened, yet the trouser height doesn’t look too old-fashioned because the belt covers the top inch or so. For those that like higher-rise trousers, wearing a belt like this is a good option. 

Those two shots above also show how good the finishing is on this suit. You can see the little bar tacks on the pleats of the trousers, and the pick stitching around the coin pocket above it. A friend in Korea told me recently that the biggest change in the past 10 years has been how much the sewing among local tailors has improved - not the style or fit, but the fineness of the work.

That finishing is evident on the fineness of the jets on the pockets as well; see previous article here for how and why that can be a good indicator of the quality of work.

If I have any quibble at all, it’s a small one about the roping of the sleevehead on one side. I love the naturalness of the shoulder, finishing in a soft and subtle roping. But there’s one point on the left shoulder where perhaps the fullness could be smoother. A small thing and also very fixable.

The buttons, by the way, are a pale mushroomy corozo. The more standard choice might have been a dark-brown horn (blond horn can be nice but more for a jacket). But I like how the greyish shade has worked. It makes it a touch smarter perhaps, but that’s all. 

In the tieless outfit shown, the suit is worn with a white linen shirt from D’Avino, a Rubato brown-suede belt and Piccadilly brown-suede loafers from Edward Green. The sunglasses are from Clan Milano, via Connolly. 

The tie in the other outfit is from Shibumi (an old style, no longer available) and the shoes are my bespoke black wingtips from Cleverley. There’s something pleasingly old-world about the way that chiselled shoe looks with the wider, cuffed trouser leg. 

At our summer drinks, I wore a brown Drake’s tie (woven silk again) with my dark-brown Yohei Fukuda oxfords (shown below). 

I’m still in the early stages of working out what combinations I like, and so naturally starting simply and conservatively. In the future I look forward to trying the suit with other things, such as a pink shirt or perhaps a black one. 

Assisi have moved spaces in Seoul by the way, so I’ve included a few shots of the new atelier below. I never visited the first one, which was shown on our introductory article on them, but it looked like it had a similar vibe: modernist, clean and quiet. 

The fitting room is particularly nice, as you have windows on three sides that look down the hill to the river, as well as up the steep streets around. 

Since our first article on Assisi, their popularity has grown and they are now travelling to New York as well as to Singapore, Bangkok and Sydney in Asia. There are no current plans to visit the UK regularly, unfortunately. 

Trunk shows are conducted through The Decorum in Singapore and Bangkok and through The Finery Company in Sydney. 

Bespoke suits start at $2,950 and jackets $2,300. The cloth shown is Drapers four-ply, from the Ascot bunch. Code 18050, 370g. 

Assisi also offer an MTO service, with prices $2,360 for a suit and $1,840 for a jacket. This is made exactly the same as bespoke, but to a ready-made block with no fitting, just selection of style and cloth. It still has to be commissioned at a trunk show or in Seoul.

For those that have enjoyed our ‘walkie talkie’ videos recently on Instagram, I will also do one in this suit, to show it in motion. 

Introducing: The Suede Overshirt

Introducing: The Suede Overshirt

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A few readers have asked over the years about a suede overshirt on PS - particularly following the series of articles we did this time last year, on jacket substitutes like overshirts, chores and tebas

So when we visited the suede workshop Rifugio in Naples last year (above), I began the process of talking to them about making an overshirt together. I had known Rifugio through the designer brands they made for, but that was my first exposure to their own work, and it was impressive. 

From the start, we had two key requirements. One, we wanted to use the finest suede available. We knew this would make the overshirt expensive, but it was the quality Rifugio made for those designers, and I wanted to offer the same thing to readers. 

And two, I wanted the same design and sizing as the linen overshirt with Luca Avitabile. This was because readers like that design so much - with its clean look but hidden pockets - but also because it meant sizing would be easy. Hundreds of readers already own a linen overshirt, so they would know exactly how the suede would fit and function. 

Fortunately Luca and Alfonso Rifugio knew each other, so the collaboration was straightforward. Patterns were shared and a prototype created.

I’ve been wearing that prototype and the production sample that followed a lot in the past couple of months. One thing I’ve learnt is that the shirt is pretty versatile, from cool weather to hot. 

You can wear it in the manner above, with a cashmere crewneck underneath, jeans and boots, and it works as a functional spring outer layer. Or, you can wear it with just a T-shirt, linen trousers and loafers, and it’s good for summer. 

Not the height of summer of course - not 30+ degrees - but it will probably be at least two months before we get to those temperatures in the UK, perhaps even more. There’s a lot of this ‘transitional’ weather to come, and then in the autumn as well. 

I was also really pleased with the colour. I wanted something that could be versatile, as we’d initially be offering it in just one. The first prototype was a pale sand, and that wasn’t right. For the second sample, I chose a light brown, and that turned out more tobacco-like than I expected. 

But as I started to wear this colour - pictured - the more I liked it. It’s more muted than the tobacco you normally see in menswear (and than the Linen Overshirts) and darker too. 

A good illustration is that while the Suede Overshirt works well with the denim, grey and olive shown in the outfits in this article, it’s also very cool with black. I wore it last weekend with a white T-shirt, black jeans and black loafers, and it was great. A more orange-y colour would have looked stark, and a little cheap. 

Aside from that outfit - which I can shoot later in the summer or perhaps include in some socials - I wanted to show today that the overshirt was nice with denim and cotton, with jeans and tailored trousers, and with neutrals and colour. 

So the outfit above is green high-twist trousers, a blue/white shirt, brown suede loafers and a conker-coloured tote. You can see how nice the tobacco is with these autumnal tones. 

But the other warm-weather outfit is all neutrals - white and beige, below. Again a stronger tobacco colour would look stark and even a little cheap in this kind of outfit. 

The overshirt has all the nice details of the Linen Overshirt

  • Deep, flapped chest pockets 
  • Hand pockets that are hidden discreetly below
  • Internal patch pocket on the hip (above)
  • Variegated horn buttons
  • Shirt cuffs, enabling them to be rolled back in warmer weather (below)
  • A collar that looks good up or down, and folds elegantly forward at the ends when up

The only changes to the linen overshirt are that the box pleat has been removed (as it didn’t work that well in suede) and the hips have been enlarged slightly (as they stick more there than the linen). 

The buttonholes, collar and so on are not sewn by hand, but the work throughout is fine and precise - the level of work you’d expect for this quality of material. I particularly like the way the top of the pockets and the seam above them are finished (top image). 

The Suede Overshirt is available on the PS shop now. The price is £1550 plus VAT, which is a step above most products we offer, but great value in the same way - the finest suede simply costs this much, as you can see from similar products at Purple Label, Attolini or others. 

We haven’t made that many, as it’s a bit of an experiment, so if you are sure you want one I’d go for it now rather than waiting for another restock to save on shipping. I do want it to be something we continue to sell though - so as long as this batch goes well, we will offer it again. 

The size chart is included on the product page, though as I said it’s the same as the Linen Overshirt, with the exception of that little increase in the hips. 

Any questions, as ever, please ask in the comments. 

Restocked: Undershirt and shorts

In the spirit of having fewer shop emails, we're also using this opportunity to let readers know that two products have just been restocked in the PS Shop: the PS undershirt and shorts.

The undershirt

Sadly, the brand we originally developed this product with, Hamilton & Hare, is no longer in business. But we have managed to talk to the original factory and are now offering exactly the same product ourselves. It's the same lightweight, naturally stretchy cotton, made in a sports-style seamless construction. Full details on it here.

The PS short

A bit of a perennial this one. The style has evolved over the years, but has always been popular. Made by Rota in Italy, it was designed to be an average, everyday short, just with some little sartorial touches like pleats and turn-ups. This year only the navy and the khaki have been restocked, as the olive cloth was not available. Double pleats were also popular last year, so we've stuck with those.

Other updates:

Linen Harrington - Restocked in navy, and with new Art du Lin brown colour (below)

Dartmoor and Finest Crewneck - Restocked in cream and grey, and navy and dark grey, respectively

Oxford shirts and cloth - Restocked in white, blue, blue stripe, green stripe and pink stripe

T-shirts - Later this month

Chambray and denim shirts - Later this month

Making shoes for King Charles: Tony Gaziano video

Making shoes for King Charles: Tony Gaziano video

Wednesday, May 15th 2024
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Forgive me for leading with the story of the shoes Gaziano & Girling made for His Majesty Charles III. It isn't the main thing we discussed in this interview with Tony Gaziano, but I know it will be the one that gets the most attention.

That comes about 19 minutes into the talk, but before and after we cover many interesting things including:

  • Why Tony thinks design is the missing element in a lot of bespoke shoemaking
  • Why the shoes have become so much more expensive
  • Why he couldn't survive without Dean Girling (audience question, right at the end)

I knew it was going to be a fun talk when Tony took the piss out of my baldness, with only a few seconds gone. And so it proved - enjoyable, entertaining, informative. This was one of our best talks in this series. I hope you enjoy it too.

 

 

Thank you very much to Tony Gaziano and his team, to Mortimer House and to all the lovely readers who attended. It was a lovely evening, and we'll try and do another one soon.

There's now a little archive of these interviews. They are, in case you missed any of them:

Permanent Style summer drinks in the Burlington Arcade: Pictures

Permanent Style summer drinks in the Burlington Arcade: Pictures

Monday, May 13th 2024
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Last Thursday we held a really lovely event in the Burlington Arcade. 

It hadn't occured to me at the time how ballsy it was to announce them as ‘summer drinks’ when we sent out the invites, given the event was only in early May. But it did actually feel like the first day of summer, with clear skies and a balmy warmth.

London is such a pleasant place when the weather is like this, and it was lovely standing outside the Arcade gates, welcoming readers and friends.

The Arcade is big - sometimes you forget how big, how long - but we had over 352 RSVPs, and the whole place felt full of music and chatter, from Justerini & Brooks serving champagne at one end to Begg & Co serving cocktails at the other. It was a real celebration of summer, and of course of clothing.

A big part of the enjoyment for me was seeing the various outfits, and so while I’ve shared a few general photos, I particularly wanted to include shots of those. Rather like our 15-year Anniversary party, it was core to the conversation - something every guest and reader was interested in. 

Those pictures are below. The only other thing I’ll say is a huge thank you to the Burlington Arcade, and to all the shops that stayed open for us. That added a whole other aspect to the evening as well.

See you all next time. 

Simon

Paris: A menswear shopping guide – 2024 update

 

Quite a lot has changed in the five years since we last updated this Paris shopping guide (and yes, I know just as much as changed elsewhere – we will also update the others!). 

Kenjiro Suzuki has left, the Viaduc des Arts has drifted, and the experiment that was the 16th Arrondissement menswear has ended. Holiday has closed, Beige has moved and Le Vif is in the process of trying to find a new space. It was great while it lasted, but Beige in particular looks very at home in its quiet Left Bank location. 

It’s not all bad either – Husbands has expanded, opening its second shop in St Germain not too far from Beige, and Super Stitch, which we originally met in the basement of Holiday, now has its own proper shop. 

It’s nice, because in the past 30 years Paris has generally seemed to suffer more than other international cities, with a few big shops like Old England and Arnys closing even as London managed to hold onto most of its traditional outfitters on the back of tourism. 

Paris has some real gems, some old and some new. Below are 31 we recommend, together with particular explanations why. They are roughly arranged into similar groups, though outright categorisation proved beyond us.

As ever, feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments below. There are always more out there. 

 


1 Beige Habilleur
www.beige-habilleur.com, 86 Rue Bonaparte

Beige Habilleur is one of the best multibrand stores anywhere. The way I judge that is that a multibrand store should have a clear identity – a clear view on the world – even as it stocks clothes made by others. The buy, the collaborations, the styling should all speak to that identity and make you want to visit to experience it, rather than just because it’s your local stockist of a particular brand. 

Beige also has the feeling of a little neighbourhood shop – perhaps like some in Marylebone in London. The brands carried include Justo Gimeno teba jackets, Smedley polos, Jamieson’s knits and Quoddy or Paraboot shoes. They all add up to a relaxed but elegant view on modern urban clothing. 

2 Anatomica
anatomica.fr, 14 Rue du Bourg Tibourg

I mentioned Anatomica in the Tokyo shopping guide recently, and the French branch has a similar aesthetic, mixing its own workwear-inspired designs with external brands. 

There is more emphasis here on the shoes though, and Alden models on their ‘modified’ last. This wide last has become associated with Anatomica over the years, and is specifically designed for the most comfortable fit. Warning: your current shoe size will be no kind of guide here.

Fit is a general obsession of director Pierre Fournier and designer Kinji Teramoto, and the clothing has a similar ideal of ‘proper’ fit that enables movement, whether it’s a close-fitting waistcoat or a loose coat.

Read the dedicated article on Anatomica here.

3 Husbands
www.husbands-paris.com, 57 Rue de Richelieu and 1 Rue de l’Abbaye

Husbands has a look. That’s pretty obvious when you meet Nicolas Gabard, the owner. Nicolas’s mission is to make tailoring sexy. To show how a love of suits doesn’t have to preclude cowboy shirts or black boots. To demonstrate the drama of an old-fashioned Aquascutum raincoat, tightly belted, collar up. 

And yet there are elements of the style that everyone will find appealing – whether it’s the cavalry-twill used for the navy blazers, which is achingly sharp; the proportions of a camel wrap coat; or fisherman’s sweaters with buttons on the shoulder seam that are actually designed to be used. An antidote to anyone bored with conventional tailoring.

Read the dedicated article on Husbands here.

4 Jean-Manuel Moreau
@jeanmanuelmoreau, 3 Rue Chambiges

Jean-Manuel Moreau offers made-to-measure shirts and Neapolitan tailoring, plus a scattering of accessories and shoes. The tailoring is made by Orazio Luciano, but to Jean-Manuel’s block – which has a slightly wider, rounder lapel, more open foreparts and lower buttoning point. And the shirts are by Mazzarelli. You can see my review of the tailoring here.

Interestingly, Moreau is the only shop in Paris offering Neapolitan tailoring at this level, which makes him a destination for businessmen gradually shifting away from the stiff suits into more casual suits and separates. Importantly, Jean-Manuel also uses a local Parisian tailor for alterations and adjustments – which makes the offering both more reliable and speedier. 

See the dedicated article on Jean-Manuel here.

 

 

5 Cinabre
www.cinabre-paris.com, 14 Cité Bergère

Cinabre is best known as a maker of ties and handkerchiefs. They have their own atelier in France making them, and supply the French President, Emmanuel Macron. But in the past year they’ve expanded into a new, bigger shop and added two hotel suites in the upper floors. 

The result is beautiful, and more a concept than a retail shop. You enter through a tent, the check-in is inside the boutique. The rooms upstairs are full of beautiful fabrics that menswear fans will appreciate, often made in collaboration with French heritage producers. 

The range of clothing, meanwhile, is expanding into dressing gowns, dinner jackets and shirts. Often quite idiosyncratic, but always lovely and nearly always made in France. 

6 Charvet
www.charvet.com, 28 Place Vendôme

Quite simply one of the most beautiful menswear shops in the world. A lovely ground floor stacked with accessories, and upper floors of shirtings and bespoke tailoring. There are very few single-brand, single-location shops left of this type in the world. 

Much of the style is not to my taste, but the shirts are beautiful and everything exquisitely made. (There are also other shirtmakers if you’re looking further afield, particularly Lucca and Courtot.)

Read my experience of having a bespoke Charvet shirt made here and an interview with Jean-Claude Colban here

7 Mes Chaussettes Rouges
www.meschaussettesrouges.com, 9 Rue César Franck

Mes Chaussettes Rouges has expanded considerably in the last few years, going from an online operation to a proper shop, and then making its own bespoke socks onsite. They are still one of the best suppliers of fine dress socks in Europe, and if you like your socks, the shop is a wonderful place to visit. 

See the dedicated article on MCR here.

8 Chato Lufsen

chatolufsen.shop, 41 Rue de Verneuil

Christophe of Chato Lufsen is a vintage collector of Arnys in particular, but also Hermes and other luxury brands. In recent years however, he has become better known for his versions of old Arnys designs, such as the Bores. These often reinterpret the old slouchy mandarin-collar jacket into something more modern, while still being super relaxed and comfortable. 

Read the dedicated article on Chato Lufsen here, Tony’s review of his jacket here and my review of mine here

 

 

9 Jinji
jinji.fr, 22 Rue des Canettes

Jinji is a good location for workwear fans, with many of the familiar Japanese names like The Real McCoy’s, Full Count and Warehouse stocked here. But there are also some more fashion-led makers like Kapital, some British standards like Sunspel, and a scattering of products made under the Jinji name, which are perennially interesting. 

Essentially, Jinji has enough of its own view on things to be worth a visit even if you’re already familiar with a lot of those Japanese brands. My personal favourite is a jacket they made out of an old Navajo blanket, which I bought and repaired, and covered here

10 Super Stitch
superstitchmfg.com, 13 Rue Racine

We first saw Super Stitch when they were in the basement below Holiday, largely doing repairs and alterations on jeans. They now have their own store in St Germain, offering their own line of jeans, denim shirts and denim jackets – as well as the repairs and alterations. The make is absolutely superb, the work of a denim obsessive. 

11 Brut (and Le Vif)
brut-clothing.com, 3 Rue Réaumur
@le.vif.boutique

Le Vif was one of my favourite vintage stores in the world, so hopefully it will find a permanent store location soon, having closed the space in the 16th arrondissement. 

Paris generally is good on vintage and second-hand clothing, certainly compared to London, and the flea markets are always worth diving into. A good shop was Brut Clothing, though they have evolved in the past few years and do quite a lot of their own clothing now, often using deadstock garments or fabrics. Worth a look for both.

See the dedicated article on Brut here

12 Harpo
www.harpo-paris.com, 19 Rue de Turbigo

Harpo is not that well known in the menswear space, but it ticks many of the boxes for a Permanent Style reader: craft, authenticity, a classic style, and family owned. 

It sells jewellery and other crafts made by Native Americans such as the Navajo, Hopi and Zuni. It’s been there since 1971, founded by Gerard ‘Harpo’ Nadaud, and run today by him and his three daughters: Dorothée, Valentine and Ella. If this kind of jewellery is your style, you won’t find anywhere better outside the US.

See dedicated article on Harpo here

 

 

13 Maison Bonnet and Ingenieur Chevallier
www.maisonbonnet.com, 5 Rue des Petits Champs
ingenieurchevallier.com, 17 Rue des Pyramides and 16 Rue du Vertbois

Bonnet is one of the finest makers of eyewear in the world, only doing bespoke and at the highest level. They are particularly known for their stock of tortoiseshell, but the value really is in the tight, enthusiastic team and the skill of design and fitting. Beautiful frames, lovely people. 

Bonnet also recently bought an old, storied Parisian maker called Ingenieur Chevallier and turned it into a concept between ready-made and bespoke glasses. There are designs by the Bonnet team but also from other brands, and they can all be ordered in different sizes, before being comprehensively adapted to the face – with files, pliers, whatever is required. A real step above most modern ready-made eyewear.

14 Hosoi
www.hosoiparis.com, 37 bis, Rue de Montreuil

Satoru Hosoi is an Hermes-trained leather craftsman working in the Cour de l’industrie: a set of courtyards in the Faubourg Saint Antoine district that houses around 50 different artisans. His work is absolutely exquisite, with no corner cut including (very unusually) making all his own hardware. 

As detailed in the dedicated article we did on Hosoi here, his designs are the things that will attract people in particular, and are worth a visit to see alone. He also does trunk shows in his native Japan.

15 Cifonelli and Camps de Luca
www.cifonelli.com, 31 Rue Marbeuf
campsdeluca.com, 16 Rue de la Paix

Paris has a small but very good bespoke tailoring scene. The best-known houses are Cifonelli (now clearly the biggest), Camps de Luca (which recently moved) and Smalto (also has a rather gaudy RTW line). I recommend the first two most highly. 

Cifonelli also recently moved into a large space for its ready-to-wear clothing. The style is a little luxe for me, but the quality is consistently high and worth a look if that’s your style.

 

 

16 Berluti bespoke
www.berluti.com, 9 Rue du Faubourg St Honoré

The Berluti empire is by no means unique to Paris. But it is where the bespoke tailoring and shoemaking are located, with the former a takeover of the old Arnys workshop, and the shoemaking expanded with a few finely chosen names. If either appeals, then, Paris is the place to go for consultations and fittings. (And try to forget the sad demise of Arnys itself, which might well have been top of this list had it still existed.)

17 Corthay, Aubercy, John Lobb
www.corthay.com, 1 Rue Volney
www.dimitribottier.com, 14 Rue Chauveau-Lagarde
www.aubercy.com, 34 Rue Vivienne
www.johnlobb.com, 21 Rue Boissy d’Anglas

Paris has a strong contingent of shoemakers, although mostly part of bigger houses. There is Berluti, there is John Lobb Paris (part of Hermes) and there is Massaro (part of Chanel). The two most highly recommended however are Corthay, which has a large RTW line but still does bespoke, and Aubercy, which has a smaller one. 

18 Philippe Atienza, Serge Amoruso and Samuel Gassman
www.philippeatienzabottier.com, 53 Avenue Daumesnil
@serge_amoruso, 37 Avenue Daumesnil
samuelgassmann.com, 1 rue Charlemagne

There used to be a lovely little grouping of these makers on Avenue Daumesnil, in what was called the Viaduc des Arts. Most are still there, but Samuel Gassman has moved and is planning to move again in October 2024. Philippe has moved his workshop to Provence but still does appointments in the same location. And Michel Heurtault has also moved to the countryside but does appointments are Maison Fayet (see below).

Philippe Atienza is a bespoke shoemaker who also has a ready-made line made to the same quality level as bespoke. The shop is worth a visit for his collection of vintage shoemaking machinery alone. 

A little further down the street is leather specialist Serge Amoruso, who makes eclectic designs of wallets, bags and holders for everything from golf clubs to guitars. He is particularly known for strong colours and exotic leathers. 

Finally, Samuel Gassman who hand makes cufflinks and jewellery. Quirky and original, Samuel’s work is carried by several shops (like Cinabre) and department stores

See dedicated articles here: Atienza, Amoruso


19
 Galerie Fayet
www.galerie-fayet.com, 34 Passage Jouffroy

Michel Heurtault makes perhaps the finest umbrellas in the world, largely bespoke and largely women’s, but with lovely men’s examples too. He used to have a workshop in the Viaduc des Arts but is now based in the countryside. Fortunately, he now sells through Galerie Fayet and makes appointments there. Fayet also offers a beautiful range of canes and walking sticks.

See dedicated article on Michel Heurtault here

 

 

20 Lafayette Saltiel Drapiers
lafayette-saltiel.com, 11 Rue d’Uzès

Cloth agent Lafayette Saltiel Drapiers has become well-known for its stock of vintage cloth (just under 20,000 metres). They are the agent for most English and Italian mills in France, and have been for many years. In that time they’ve built up this vintage collection – largely because, given their big office, they simply have room to.

Virgil and Pierre are enthusiastic and knowledgeable, and I recommend stopping by. Although this remains a very small part of their business, they love talking about and showing off their vintage cloth.

 

21 Chapal and Seraphin
chapal.fr, 244 Rue de Rivoli
www.seraphin-france.com, 57 Quai de Valmy

Paris boasts two of the best makers of leather jackets in the world. Chapal is an old name that was made famous for flying jackets (supplying both French and US airforces) and still has its own tannery. Ignore the jeans, T-shirts and goggles and focus on the authentically detailed USAAF and A2 models. 

Seraphin is a more regular luxury brand, but making all the leather itself in Paris as well as supplying several designers. They’re not really open to the public, but sometimes they will allow visitors on request.

See dedicated articles here: Chapal, Seraphin

 

22 Camille Fournet and Lavabre Cadet
www.camillefournet.com, 5 Rue Cambon
lavabrecadet.com, 5 Rue Cambon

Camille Fournet makes great leather watch straps – something Paris has a surfeit of, with Jean Rousseau and Atelier du Bracelet Parisien among others. Fournet has also taken over running the glovemaker Lavabre Cadet, and both are now in the shop on Rue Cambon.

See dedicated article on Lavabre Cadet here

23 Hermes
www.hermes.com, 24 Rue du Faubourg St Honoré

Hermes, of course, is in most large cities in the world. But the flagship at 24 Rue du Faubourg St Honoré deserves a pilgrimage – rather like the Rhinelander Mansion in New York, or Armani in Milan. A towering temple to the leather and silk expert, and given how small the runs are of some pieces, there will always be something you haven’t seen elsewhere.

Others:

L’Officine – Multibrand store selling mostly Neapolitan RTW. Avino, Sannino, Rifugio, Scafora etc

Daniel Levy  – Bespoke shirtmaker. Comes recommended but I haven’t been able to see and/or try

Vieux Campeur / Young Hiker – The first is a Parisian institution for outdoor clothing, with shops across several blocks. The second is a trendy upstart playing off the name, in the Palais Royale gardens. Both have their own appeal

Artumes & Co – Country-driven brand by the ex-Arnys designer Dominique Lelys

Berteil – Perhaps best thought of as the French Cordings, quite an institution but very traditional and not the highest quality

Maison Gabriel – Unstructured tailoring, ready-made and made-to-measure, plus sartorial accessories

And flagships….
This guide is more about clothing, but it’s worth mentioning that Paris also has the flagships of many top-end perfume and luggage brands, such as Caron, Goyard and others. Oh and I always go into 45R, but that’s just because there is no outlet in London.

 

Introducing: The Art du Lin Harrington

Introducing: The Art du Lin Harrington

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A particular linen developed by Solbiati has generated a fair bit of buzz in the last couple of years. Finished with a matte effect and washed to give it an unusually soft feel, ‘Art du Lin’ has become popular with a lot of people who don’t naturally take to linen. 

I tried it first in a pair of dark-brown trousers, pictured here. I’m now having a jacket made up with Sartoria Pirozzi to complete the suit. The Anthology did a whole lookbook around it called ‘sueded linen’. 

I can see why suede is used as a reference. The material has more surface texture than regular linen, and the colours are soft and muted, much like suede. It also doesn’t form hard wrinkles and drapes beautifully as a result. 

The flip side is that it doesn’t hold a sharp crease. But that’s a plus for using it in a piece like our Linen Harrington, which is why I decided to use that same dark, dusty brown colourway in this year’s version of the jacket, which is on sale now. The navy from last year has also been restocked

The muted shade of the brown actually means it slots naturally into the ‘cold colour’ wardrobe we’ve discussed a few times in the past. It is not a warm brown, and so it's particularly nice with colours like stone, beige, black and grey. 

In the pictures here I’ve shown it with soft blacks: a PS T-shirt, which is such a soft, washed black that some people think it’s green at first; and Bryceland’s jeans, which are now approaching charcoal after several washes. 

But it’s also good with more regular colours of denim, like lighter blues and darker indigo. And with a white linen shirt and a pair of khaki chinos. 

The point of the Linen Harrington, of course, was to make a real summer jacket - something for the warmest of weather - that was sportier than something like the Linen Overshirt

The linen makes it cool, and it has ingenious ventilation between the two panels of the back (below). It sits tightly on the waist, with a lot of drape in the back that helps airflow as well as being flattering (see image above). 

But it can be worn open, and this year we’ve reduced the length slightly (2.5cm) so it is a little shorter when worn that way. 

We’ve also made a change to the internal pockets, moving down and enlarging one of them following reader feedback, so there’s more space for a larger wallet or phone.

Both the navy and the brown are made by Private White VC in Manchester, and have distinctive copper rivets on the back of the neck. We prefer gun-metal hardware elsewhere, and this is used for the delicate teardrop-puller on the zip. 

Both linens are made by Solbiati (part of Loro Piana), so the highest quality for something of this weight (as well as taste - the area Loro Piana always excels on). The Art du Lin is more expensive though, which is reflected in the end price.

Both colours are also good for summer, but the brown has less of a pure-summer look and so could be worn transitionally - in Spring and Autumn, perhaps with a fine knit. 

Other aspects I like are the fact the sleeves have a placket and button, so they can be rolled back like a shirt if you want to. And the fact the elastic is only in two panels at the back, leaving the front clean and more elegant.

You can read all about the design - including the Hermes and vintage pieces that inspired it - on the original article here.

Other shop updates

We’re trying to reduce the number of articles on PS that cover products (or at least keep them the same, even while the number of products increases). I don’t want product updates and events to swamp the editorial. 

So recent restocks to the Finest Polo, Linen Overshirt and Reversible Bomber (with new colours in each), have largely been communicated by email. If you want to make sure you don’t miss out on these, I suggest signing up to the Shop Update newsletter

If you already subscribe to other newsletters, you will have to update your preferences via a message sent to your inbox. Apologies this is a bit of a fuss - it’s just how Mailchimp works. 

Here are the product updates from the past few weeks that haven’t been included on the website:

 

The Dartmoor

This ultrafine merino collared knit, made to sit well under a jacket, was restocked yesterday in mid-grey and cream (above). Unfortunately there was a mistake with the charcoal order and we got mid-grey instead, but I know plenty of readers were waiting for that as much as the charcoal.

The Finest Crewneck

The partner to the Dartmoor, made in the same cashmere-like merino but of course higher performing than cashmere. This was restocked yesterday in navy and grey.

Reversible Suede Bomber

The button-up suede jacket, made to reverse to a water-resistant option, was restocked two weeks ago. It is still in the original brown, but a new navy was added (below). The navy is not quite as dark as a traditional blazer colour, which makes it feel a little sportier. 

Linen Overshirt

The most popular product over the past couple of years. It was restocked in navy, brown, black and pale olive, plus a new tobacco. We ordered a lot, so these will be good for the rest of the summer hopefully. 

Finest Polo

This super-cool merino polo, with a collar made to sit well under tailoring, was restocked at the beginning of the month. We brought back the navy and the cream, and added a dark brown (below). Most of the former have sold out, but we have reordered and expect them in July. 

Other updates:

Oxford shirts and cloth - Restocked in white, blue, blue striped, green striped and pink striped. Available now

Suede overshirt - Coming next week

Undershirts - Coming next week

Shorts - Coming next week

T-shirts - Later this month

Chambray and denim shirts - Later this month

Beige, Paris: The best kind of multi-brand shop

Beige, Paris: The best kind of multi-brand shop

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A lot of music fans don’t see the point of covers albums. They want the originals, not a bunch of copies. But I’ve always liked them, whether it’s Johnny Cash’s American IV or Rage Against The Machine’s Renegades, because they’re original and reveal things about the artist.

The songs they decide to cover, the way they sequence them on the album, and how they cover them - how faithfully or originally - says a lot about their influences and why they make the music they do. 

Take Kicking Against The Pricks by Nick Cave. The appeal is not just that the Bad Seeds make every song sound more dangerous and ominous - more Bad Seeds - it’s the way it reveals how sincerely Cave loves a crooner, even if it is Tom Jones. And how much they’re all influenced by the dark side of country music. 

I mention this because I liked the point, and I never really talk about music. But also because I think it’s one way to think about the value of multi-brand shops, of which Beige in Paris is one of the best. 

A multi-brand shop - or select store - should have just as much personality as a brand’s shop. It’s just that the personality comes from the combination of the brands they select, the clothes from the brands, and the way those clothes are put together in original, distinct ways.

We all do this - pick clothes from brands and combine them in ways that we think reflects our style - and a multibrand store is no different. Just bigger and often better. 

This is communicated in many ways, but often most effectively in the shop’s imagery. The looks below, from Beige lookbooks in 2019 and 2023, could be from no one else. There is a unique mixing of smart and casual and street, refined yet playful.

And if you like that look, it’s why you’re interested every time somewhere like Beige starts stocking a new brand. It’s why they’ve been so influential in recent years in bringing brands like Doek and Coherence to wider attention. 

There’s nothing to stop other shops then stocking them, but their angle would be only one of convenience - the local place to get the cool thing Beige has - and that’s not much of a foundation for a business (particularly given how important e-commerce is to all these shops).

Then there’s the third part of that trifecta - the clothes picked from the brands. If you walk round the new Beige shop in St Germain, it’s not the brands that stick out but they way they all work together. It’s the particular check on a Justo Gimeno teba, and how well that goes with the black Brady tote and black Quoddy deck shoes

It feels like a brand much more than a department store. 

I visited the (relatively new) Beige shop in January, and again in March. This unusual frequency made the experience feel more like that of a local, attracted by a few things on the first visit, then seeing and trying more on the next. Going deeper, understanding more of the style each time and looking forward to what’s next. 

I was interested in the Heimat merino thermals the first time, and the Quartz parkas, as neither was a product I’d seen before. The second time it was the sunglasses from Max Pitton and Jacques Marie Marge that caught my eye, and the Quoddy canoe shoes. They were products I already knew, but I started to appreciate Beige’s selection and tweaks to the design (eg the sole and stitching on the Quoddys). 

Jacques Marie Marge, by the way, is another of those brands that Beige has been working with for a while but is now everywhere. 

A shop itself should also, ideally, be a reflection of a multi-brand operation’s personality, and the new Beige shop feels like it more than their previous location.

The new one is on the corner of a very Parisian mansion block, in the quiet area of Saint Sulpice. This is the rich part of the Left Bank: liberal but moneyed. The book shops are rare book shops; there’s a good smattering of embassies around the pretty Luxembourg Garden.

“People in this area understand the product,” says Basile (below). “Tebas do well here - it’s the kind of customer that might have gone to Arnys in the past perhaps. 

“Where we were in the 16th, it was a little different. Someone might complain that a Shetland sweater was scratchy because they didn’t know what it was.”

That experiment in the 16th arrondissement, far outside of the centre of Paris, was an influential experiment, but everyone has now left (Holiday, Le Vif). “The 16th was fun, and a good place to start,” says Basile. “It was originally just a showroom, though we had so many appointments that we ended up opening every day.”

Interestingly, looking back on those early days shows how much Beige has changed - a shop has to evolve with its customers, just like an individual. “Originally the selection was very based around tailoring - Ring Jacket suits, Drake’s ties - and that was quite rebellious in Paris at the time,” says Basile.

“Now we’re more casual, comfy, practical - but there’s always the same approach to the brands.”

A good example is those Quartz parkas, which originated with a chance meeting between Basile and the Montreal-based maker. “We changed a few things to make them more us, and to make them more practical for city wear. We added contrast panels and changed the fill power from 800 to 650, says Basile.” The former was designed to withstand temperatures of -50C, so probably overkill for Paris. 

Other brands it’s worth looking at are Rier, whose pieces are quite modern-looking sportswear but made in 100% wool where most are synthetic. And Bunney, an English jewellery maker that is only sold at Beige in France.

Hopefully, I’ll be back in Paris before the end of the year and be able to see how various projects Basile mentioned have come to fruition: new brands, new products, new styles. 

This is the pleasure of a multi-brand shop, and as we’ve written before, there are fewer and fewer good ones around. 

The Paris Shopping Guide is in the process of being updated, and will be republished in the next week or two. 

All the historical Beige Lookbooks are available online, which is nice. See them here

www.beige-habilleur.com

A vintage shopping day in New York

A vintage shopping day in New York

Friday, May 3rd 2024
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Recently myself, photographer Alex Natt and Carl and Oliver from Rubato (above) spent a day vintage shopping in New York. It was a lot of fun, and also I think interesting for those that are fairly new to vintage, or can find the process frustrating. 

We all ended up buying something but not that much, and rarely what we set out for. Carl was not expecting to pick up a Ralph Lauren Purple Label jacket, for example, and would never have put it on a shopping list at the beginning of the day. But when he found one in beautiful wool and silk - at a good price and a perfect fit (below) - he still ended up getting it. 

To me this reflects the breadth of opportunity with vintage. For you’re not just shopping one season but dozens of them, from different eras, with different silhouettes and a greater range of materials. We hadn’t ever seen this cloth before and as RL materials are usually exclusive, it was always likely to be unusual. 

Serendipity like this is a big attraction of vintage shopping. You're more likely to be taken by surprise, and the clothes you're looking at won’t be ones you’ve already seen online, or in that season’s advertising and all over social media.  

My purchase was similarly unexpected. 

I’ve always had a weakness for suede jackets - bombers, overshirts and blazers. But I’ve never owned a western-style suede jacket, and instinctively thought it would be too unusual for me. 

When we visited Front General, Alex pointed out one in a roughout-suede hanging on the wall (always dangerous) and I tried it on. The cut really worked, and the heavy suede was beautiful - rugged and thick, with a shape that had been moulded by many years of wear. 

Of course, other brands sell modern versions and I might have seen one there (eg RRL or Buck Mason). But I wouldn’t have had the same open-minded approach. For me at least, vintage engenders this receptive attitude, ready to try anything and be inspired. And accept you might walk away empty-handed as well.

We tried on a lot of things we didn't buy, and wouldn't necessarily have seen in a regular shop. Above, for example, Carl is trying on an old Polo polo coat and I'm wearing a scarlet duffle coat, also Ralph Lauren. 

That red rather overwhelmed me, particularly in the long length of those old Ralph ones - but it did mean I knew my size in case I ever saw one on eBay, and I now have a search set up. 

In fact, something else I tried worked out very well in that way. The tassel loafers I featured recently on PS were a model I originally saw at Crowley’s but were just a size too big. I looked on eBay, and luckily found a pair in the right size. 

For what it's worth, I would never do that with something that was available in a store. It will always be more expensive of course, but the owner deserves the margin for sorting through mountains of stuff, paying the rent to display the best things, and then being there for me to try on and buy. 

Perhaps that's a luxury of having the money do so, but I do think people should take responsibility for their actions in that way if they have the money. If they don’t, the shops will disappear.

Oliver's experience was a little different, in that he didn't find anything inspiring, but he had been looking for some US Army chinos for a long time, and found a decent pair at 10ft Single (above).

It’s easy to feel like this kind of military clothing is everywhere, and so vintage is actually not that variable. It’s always the same field jackets, varsity jackets and denim jackets. But often that means you just need to seek out a different kind of vintage shop - like Crowley, which has such a huge range of Ralph Lauren and similarly inspired clothing. The popularity of vintage means more of these shops or sites are springing up. 

Plus eBay has more variety than you could possibly hope for. Lucas has been on a deep dive into Giorgio Armani for the past couple of years, and now has a crazy knowledge of all the labels, periods and materials. Perhaps he'll open his own Armani-and-similar-eighties-tailoring shop some day. 

Alex, the fourth member of that group, is also a good example of different tastes. He's more into modern vintage and knows all the history of the outdoor brands like Eddie Bauer and North Face. 

It's great shopping with a friend like that, as they'll point out and tell you about pieces you'd never consider. He didn't buy anything the day we all went, but he had bought a US parka earlier in the week, and that was the budget blown.

Vintage is not for everyone. I’ve spoken to quite a few readers about this in recent years, and it's not suited to those that aren't into clothes enough to talk about them and research them. Perhaps like someone who enjoys cooking, but isn't going to spend the time talking to their local butcher or travelling to a farmers market. 

I'm still very much a novice, but in the past five years I've bought many of my favourite pieces of clothing vintage, and found it incredibly interesting and enjoyable. I hope this first-hand experience helps explain a little where the joy comes from. 

Rubato are in London for their next trunk show from May 23-25, being hosted by Taillour at their atelier.

For more on vintage, see:

Shops in New York visited:

  • Stock Vintage
  • Church Street Surplus
  • Stella Dallas
  • 10ft Single
  • Sean Crowley
  • Front General
  • Rugged Road

Also recommended: Raggedy Threads

My favourite jeans: Bryceland’s, Rubato, Blackhorse Lane, vintage

My favourite jeans: Bryceland’s, Rubato, Blackhorse Lane, vintage

Wednesday, May 1st 2024
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My favourite jeans largely come from brands that make in Japan, using Japanese denim, but that tweak the fit to make it their own. I don’t think it’s any coincidence that they’re also classic-menswear brands, who make or at least appreciate tailoring. 

I've tried a few from more workwear-oriented brands, such as Full Count, and they are great. But little aspects of fit or wash tend to make them not as good on me. I’ve tried to explain why, below, because this is personal. 

My other jeans are vintage - 501s from the 1960s to the 1990s - which is down to two separate factors: colour and pure love of denim.

I have yet to find a light-wash blue jean that I like from a modern brand, as they do have to be industrially washed. And the love of denim means I find it endlessly fascinating finding unique jeans, each of their era and style but also distinctive. This is a deeper involvement with denim that won't be for everyone. 

Here’s a rundown of the jeans I wear, with brief explanations. Related articles on PS include what makes quality in jeans, how to wash and wear raw denim, and the extent to which jeans can be altered and repaired.

Bryceland’s black 933 

Size 32 (normal size, worked after shrink to fit)

These are my favourite jeans right now (above), and have been wearing in beautifully. Initially I got some veining from putting them on too high a spin with the first wash, but that’s fading as the rest of the denim does. 

It’s a softer denim than most, including the other Bryceland’s jeans, which makes them very comfortable, and it has a tendency to go white along seams and wear points quickly. 

The fit is just perfect on me. It’s mid-rise, with a slightly tapered leg, and crucially has a little extra room around the hips. Anyone that has larger thighs will love this - my bane was always jeans that were tight on the thighs but still gaped at the waist, and that was the original reason I went bespoke

Rubato Lot Nr1 denim dark-blue rinse

Size 32 (normal size, once-washed so little shrinkage)

There isn’t much that separates the Rubato and Bryceland’s jeans, in terms of denim or fit. Rubato jeans are similar to the 933 (and 133S) from Bryceland’s, just a very slightly lower rise and a touch less of that fullness on the hips. They’re still a great, modern style that I know works well for lots of people. 

I have a pair of these that’s a few years old (above), and love the blueness of the denim. It’s similar to the original Bryceland’s jean, the 133, and a very classic 501 colour. I was a little unsure on size as the 32 initially felt a little tight, but it gave enough and has proved to be the right choice. 

The main reason I got the Rubato jeans was the fact the Bryceland's 133 was a little too wide in the leg for me. But Bryceland’s now also do the 133S, in the same fit as the 933, and I got a pair recently (size 31, they shrink less) that I’m looking forward to wearing in.

They’re a left-hand twill so should be smoother in the long term, though right now the aspect I notice most is they’re a darker indigo than the Rubato, which can useful style-wise (eg better with black shoes). 

Vintage 1970s Levi’s 501s

No size (but not as relevant with vintage)

For most people, the only reason to go vintage is if they can’t find a light wash they like. There’s a lot of raw or one-wash denim out there, and my favourites are mentioned above. But there’s less washed denim because it’s an industrial process, and so much harder for a small brand to do. I've seen Blackhorse Lane go through that process in the past few years. 

I have yet to find a light-wash from a modern brand I like, and so I’ve bought vintage. Orslow is probably the closest I found, but the fits aren’t great for me. 

My favourite vintage pair is from the 1970s (above), bought at Le Vif in Paris, and I wear them more than any other jean. The quality from that period is as good as any modern maker; they’ve washed out nice and light; and the wear over the decades means they have the unique character that's the added bonus of vintage. 

Blackhorse Lane NW1 ecru jeans

Made to measure

I have two pairs of white jeans (or rather ecru) but at some point I’ll probably switch to something in the Bryceland’s or Rubato fit. I’ve used the made-to-measure service at Blackhorse Lane to good effect, but sometimes it’s hard to know what you really want until you experience it. 

I also have a pair from Drake’s (above) which are good, but it’s a very soft denim and doesn’t age in the way I appreciate in other jeans. The straight pockets with coloured linings are also not ideal. Hopefully it’s all good research for the blog, and for articles like this. 

I'm really looking forward to wearing white jeans again when the weather turns. It's such an easy way to wear paler trousers, and they can easily be dressed down in a cold-colour wardrobe kind of way (as above).

Other vintage

I’ve collected a few other pairs of vintage jeans over the years, all of which are worn less than the seventies pair above, but which I love and are worth listing. I’ve linked to articles below that show them in use. 

1960s blue 501s (above) - My first pair of vintage, the most worn and the most beautiful, but also the most delicate. They’re still wearable, but can’t be worn every day. Something you love as an object as much as a piece of clothing.

1990s black 501s (pictured top) - These are interesting as a demonstration of what ‘lower quality’ denim can be like. It’s smoother, more uniform, and while there’s definitely less character, in some ways it makes them easier to wear with tailoring. Picked up cheap - see article here.

1990s blue 501s (pictured below) - These were bought in research for that article above, but I kept them because they were a good back-up jean. They've proved useful, though I prefer all my others here.

2000s ripped 501s (second image below) - These were also cheap, and I loved how thrashed they were. Originally they came with big patches over the holes in the knees. I took them off, but am still in two minds whether I prefer the look with or without. They’re also the palest jeans I have, which makes them particularly nice in summer.

Lastly, a quick word on the bespoke Levi’s I had made in London years ago, because it says something about fits and fashions. 

I have two pairs, and have covered both their making and the way they have aged. I love them, and still have them. But today, 10 years later, the cut is just too slim for me. 

Changes like this are inevitable in menswear, and tend to happen in cycles that last perhaps 15-20 years. We covered it in some depth here.

This can be frustrating, but it’s a lot better than womenswear, and if you keep to moderate changes then the cycles are longer. Jeans are also so personal that I think I’ll always keep those bespoke ones. 

Related pieces on denim (a fair bit - and not including style pieces):

How to pack for a week-long trip: Video

How to pack for a week-long trip: Video

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This is the second of two videos we made recently talking through what to pack for travel. The first suggested clothes for a three-day trip - basically wearing one outfit and packing another, but with every piece interchangeable. This second one expands it for a seven-day trip.

As with all the 'travel capsule' posts, the assumption is that you want the maximum number of outfits from the minimum number of clothes. Either because you get a lot of satisfaction out of solving that conundrum or (more likely) because being a PS reader you love clothes and want to wear as many things as possible.

I hope you find it useful. Do shout with any questions in the comments below. Thanks to Globe-Trotter for lending us their space upstairs in the lovely Burlington Arcade store.

 

 

For other examples of travel articles, see:

The clothes shown are listed at the end of the video. If you need any more details, do ask below