Monday, 30 November 2009

My made to measure (part one)

Ready for made for measure.

Long time readers will know how often I have dreamed of entering the world of bespoke and made to measure suiting. The thought of having a suit made to my own personal specification and desire has appealed to me for many, thanks to my recent trip to Hong Kong the wait is finally over and the dream is realised. Despite being told of the numerous wonders of Hong Kong, I have always been drawn to the idea of exploring the countless little tailor shops scattered throughout the city. However, as my last minute post asking for your help demonstrated, I was more than a little bewildered by the abundance of willing and able craftsman at my potential disposal and I needed to make a choice between them. Thanks again for all of your recommendations, when I return to Hong Kong next year I will be sure to explore them fully (first on my list is the oft recommended W. W Chan) but I just ran out of time this trip. As it turned out I managed to stumble across the perfect tailoring shop to guide me through my first made to measure suit via an eye catching guide book, j.a. daye. I was intimidated by the choice of having to pick out my tailor but my find bridged the gap between what I am used to and what I needed. j.a. daye is my idea of what a good twenty first century tailor should be, a bespoke experience for a generation raised on the ease of ready-to-wear shopping, with classic styles made with a distinguishable modern point of view in unexpected fabrics. From the moment I stepped in to the store and met the owners I knew that this was the place for me. Having found my tailors, let me take you through my journey in to made to measure. Here I choose the suit, get measured up and work out the initial design features with my tailor but tune in later this week for the next stages...

Finding the suit that inspired it all...

The studio and store are both in the heart of old Hong Kong and all suits are made by a small network of expert tailors. After stepping inside their store it was not long before I had established the perfect suit to kick start my first foray in to made to measure tailoring. The suit jumped right out of the clothes rail and I knew that it would make my ideal lightweight Sunday best. Following a quick chat with proprietors Ellis and Alex, I discovered that the suit is made from a crosshatch-like weave which appears both traditionally Japanese and very modern at the same time. From a distance, it might be denim, but it is so fine and delicate to the touch that no doubt I will actually lament taking it off at the end of the day. Following this inspired choice I excitedly trotted off to the tailoring studio to get measured up.

The first measurements. Here I am being measured by the lovely Ellis. Fittingly, I am wearing my handmade in england shirt (closing down sale purchase from Jas M.B) for the very first time.

One of the reasons for choosing either a bespoke or made to measure suit is that the end result is certain to make the wearer look so much better than anyone else in the room. Not only will you look slimmer, taller and more pulled together, but you will move much more freely and feel totally at ease. You should feel as relaxed in it as you would in your favourite pair of jeans. To reach this level of ease, the first stage requires the tape measure. I have to confess to being a little nervous as the first batch of measurements were recorded.

Compiling statistics.

This was the first time that I had been measured up and I really didn't know what to expect. Thankfully, old hand Ellis soon made me feel at ease and I found the whole experience enjoyable whilst learning a thing or two. If you are a little unsure of the process, the pair have created a series of fourteen videos documenting how you can take the required points of measurement yourself. After the measurements were recorded the real fun began as Ellis and I began to sketch out our shared vision of what the suit could and ultimately would be...

Ellis sketches out our shared vision.

Prior to my Hong Kong visit I had given my ideal suit a great deal of thought and I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted. That said there were a few points I needed the tailor's guidance on and Ellis was extremely talented at probing for my input and turning my responses in to something tangible. With pen in hand, his sketches soon took shape and I knew that he would create my perfect Sunday best.

Working out the finer details

There was so much to consider but as I chatted with Ellis my imagined suit took shape. As I had fallen head over heels for the cross hatch voile two piece in store I didn't want to change too much. In short, I wanted to keep the one button closure at waist, the three patchwork pockets at front and the three inside pockets. For me, this is relaxed tailoring at its finest. However, I had to inject my own personality in to the finish of the jacket in particular. After discussing the options, I decided that the sleeves would be lined in a polka dot silk and the body would be complimented with a striped silk. Having made this decision I could not have been more excited about donning this suit for the very first time. This of course had to wait. At least one fitting (more likely two) was required before the suit could be fully realised and created. to my specifications. We left the first meeting there and I left the studio eager to return for the next stage...

The imagine suit..soon to be realised...

Friday, 27 November 2009

Discovered designers

Hong Kong is something of a fashion mecca. Having spent ten days exploring the streets, malls and outlets it seems that one my favourite hobbies has been elevated to immense importance. Worshipped even. Shopping is an important facet of everyday life here and practically everyone indulges in a bit of consumerism on a daily basis. I certainly gave this way of life a good old go when I was there but my previous over indulgences and battered bank balance limited my spending somewhat, even if my self restraint could not. When I wasn't buying things I had a great time window shopping and none more so than at Joyce.

Whilst Susie was snapping away at the festive display of Anthony Vaccarello's collection I stalked the well stocked menswear rails and discovered a few names in the process, namely Nicolas Andreas Taralis, Yoyan Serfaty and Romain Kremer. I had heard the names before (most notably Kremer) but this was the first opportunity I've really had to inspect the designs up close. These might be names that you are unfamilair with but I think it is about time you got to know one another. Unfortunately I didn't take any pictures whilst there but as if by magic, Touch magazine ran a feature showcasing the very best from each designer.

Nicolas Andreas Taralis has worked with some of the greatest minds in mens fashion (after studying with Lang, he worked with Hedi at Dior Homme and spent time at Cerruti) and since creating his own label has worked on numerous projects around the world and generated somewhat of a cult following for his renowned style. He is a designer who is fascinated with eastern aesthetics, particularly that of Japan and these influences are a common trend throughout his collections.

Paris-based Yohan Serfaty has made a name for himself with his deft handling of leathers. His pieces are often simple but have a modern feeling and the subtle tailoring which runs through his collections make him a designer to remember. Relatively unknown in the UK and US, Serfaty has a devoted following in Japan, with famed Tokyo store, Isetan, as one of his stockists. He is something of a classicist who grounds wardrobes with investment pieces. Having seen his designs in person, there were more than a few pieces I wanted to invest in.

The first time I really stood up and took notice of Kremer's menswear aesthetic, with his neon fur, see-through plastic and rainbow colours in the Man Machine issue of Dazed & Confused back in May. The acid induced editorial was photographed by Pierre Debusschere and styled by the ever awesome Nicola Formichetti. Utilizing a colour palette of hot pink, brown, and black, the French designer presented a bold skin baring collection of largely monochromatic pieces for AW09. Kremer is a designer who attempts to change the way we view clothes and their relationship with gender. I look forward to seeing a great deal more from this designer.

Window shopping can be a lot of fun. Have you discovered any designers recently?

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Seeing tashes

As we enter the last few days of Movember I undoubtedly have tashes on my mind. Every time I look in the mirror I am reminded that I am something of a failure when it comes to this age old demonstration of 'manliness'. Despite being facial-follically challenged I am still a passionate fan of the tash. This is just one of the many reasons why I loved discovering Moustache whilst in Hong Kong. I don't think I've ever seen a better shop sign whilst stalking the streets.

Following my post on Tuesday, I duly returned to the store for one last time before returning home and I couldn't resist picking up a few bits (in addition to my suit order...more on this tomorrow!). I just love how the tailoring duo have used the hu zi (moustache) image throughout their branding. It is this sort of attention to detail that really makes a positive difference to the shopping experience and it is rare to see these days. The labels, logos and wrapping paper all provoked a wry smile and with this is in mind I just had to show off my purchases to you in a similar light...even though they might be my basics...

From underwear and pyjamas to toggle coats and lighweight suits, the store offers clothing for any time of the day or year. Given that Tuesday was one of the hottest of our trip I plucked for snazzy underwear and a perfectly thin canvas belt...tashes, tashes everywhere... Speaking of which, how the devil are you getting on with your upper lip plumage for Movember?

Reminded of rust

Having just returned from Hong Kong I am putting off unpacking my bulging suitcase, focusing instead on sharing one of of my favourite finds with you guys. As expected the shopping opportunities in this bustling city were immense and we certainly had a good crack at exploring all of them. It was obvious that we weren't the only ones enjoying the shopping culture as everywhere was so busy. Locals and tourists alike streamed through the streets and malls with a selection of bags in one hand and some kind of tasty treat in the other (be it egg balls, waffles, meat on a stick or smelly tofu). Despite the varied consuming opportunities it became obvious that one brand of shops reigned supreme, I.T. I.T launched in 1988 and introduced an eclectic mix of European brands to Hong Kong trendsetters. Twenty years might have gone by and this brand of shops is still doing just that. It was not my aim to leave the city with a couple of purchases from European designers but there was just too much on offer to turn a blind eye. I left the well stocked I.T store in Causeway Bay with a Raf Simons x Fred Perry Aw09 polo shirt.

Dazed Digital were first out of the blocks to unveil the collaboration.

For the third successive season, Raf Simons collaborated with Fred Perry for a collection based around the famous laurel. When the first round of images were released way back in June, I assumed that it was more of the same from this well matched pair. Even though I admired the collection I doubted whether there would be any significant design features which justified the increased prices for the famous laurel polo shirts. The above image and the rest of the spread taken from Robbie Spencer's styled shoot for Dazed & Confused captured the spirit of the collaboration but it didn't reveal its best feature, the metal effect. When I saw the pieces hanging on the rails of I.T for the first time I was blown away by the fabric effects and the metallic thirty leaf laurel polo shirt in particular...

A close up of the polo shirt.

For the third collaboration between Raf Simons and Fred Perry, inspiration was taken from the various stages of metal through rusting in both the fabrics choices and the metallic colour palette used. In an interview with Dazed Digital Simons informed us that "The inspiration came from the artist Carl Andre." The rusted metal treatment and enlarged embroidery combine to elevate the humble polo shirt in to something altogether more interesting. The pieces reminded me of the Patrick Ervell's SS10 collection. As mentioned previously, very little came out of the recent New York shows which provoked much excitement here at Style Salvage but Ervell's Decay in the Spring time was really something. Ever since I saw his presentation images I've been meaning to explore the aesthetic of rusting metal and it is certainly one I will revisit over the coming months now that I have this new polo shirt.

Worn with a mustard scarf from COS, drop crotch trousers picked up in a mall from Hong Kong, mustard socks from Uniqlo and Stingray Orwells from Mr Hare.

With each season, Simons and his team have a clear aesthetic to enable them to focus on the Fred Perry classics with an added twist and in this case it was through this marvellous metal effect. For me, the collaboration is gaining real momentum and long may it continue.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Moustache Revealed

j.a. daye's wonderful guide to Hong Kong.

Wei?! I have had such a great time exploring Hong Kong with Susie and have so much to style related finds to show. Alas, most of it will have to wait for when we are back in London but there are one or two things which just cannot wait. We have stuffed our cheeks with so many tasty treats (I sit here typing this on the morning after a five course 'In The Mood For Love' menu at Cafe de Goldfinch and now ask myself how Tony Leung ate so much and still looked so sharp in his suits!), lit incense at temples, ridden the Star Ferry and braved our fear of heights on the crystal bottom cable cars of Ngong Ping and of course we have shopped. As great a guide as Susie is, the city is a mysterious one and there is just so much to discover just wandering the streets and looking up, around and inside. It is these discovered pleasures which the best. I will bore you with my purchases later this week but first I'd like to share one such discovery with you...Moustache on Aberdeen Street.

The attractive sign for Hu Zi or Moustache.

Even finding the store itself involved a great deal of discovery and twists, so much so that I will just give you the edited version here and try and keep the story short and relatively succinct. Whilst Susie was off powdering her nose I decided to have a nosy around the bookshop located in a nook of the Brunch and Supper club in Causeway Bay. In amongst the magazines and literature, my magpie eye was drawn to a lo-fi guidebook. We duly bought the book and duly found out that it was written by two tailor shop owners from New York, Ellis Kreuger and Alex Daye, and an enthusiastic, well knowledgeable local, Brandice. The trio decided to write a small guide to Hong Kong for visitors to their tailor shop (located on Hollywood Road). The guide celebrates places not necessarily on the tourist circuit, whether it be a renowned wonton noodle shack in Soho or a fabric vendor in Sham Shui Po..and of course it introduced me to their wonderful tailor shop, j. a. dye which in turn led me to their newly opened store, Moustache.

The shop is their reinvention of the classic Hong Kong tailor shop. The former New York natives work with local tailors on two collections a year, all made with the same eye for craft, construction, and detail that are the hallmarks of this vanishing trade, but with a fashion perspective all too often lacking. They buy fabric from all over Asia - China, Japan, India and beyond - to make a vintage inspired yet modern wardrobe suitable for the tropical climate. The store is located just off Hollywood Road on Aberdeen Street, and nestled slightly off the beaten track in the world renowned Soho antiques district.

I had to sit on my hands to stop myself from buying this bag in an interesting denim-esque fabric.

I was instantly enamoured by the the vintage-inspired line of clothing and in particular the fabric choices and cuts offered. The combination of some of Hong Kong's finest craftsmen alongside high quality fabrics from japanese denim and Indian cottons, is a successful one. I could wax lyrical about everything in this store but the real highlights were the seersucker jackets, Bermuda shorts, lightweight shirts made from Indian cotton, safari shirts and even piped pyjamas (so, so very tempted by these so much so in fact that I might return to the store today).

Just one of the rails plump with tailored goodies.

I am so pleased to have discovered this store and of course, j. a. dye (more on this in the near future). It is great to find stores which meld the city's tailoring traditions with a fashion forward sensibility to produce bespoke and modern designs. I will leave you with a few snapshots of the wonders inside...

Jewells...cufflinks and Fantastic Man

Reading material...


The new knitted accessories make up the inviting window display on the busy, sloping Aberdeen Street.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Damir Doma

While Steve is off gallivanting in Hong Kong with his lovely lady friend, I've been left behind replying to emails and watching the darts. Thankfully for me both the darts and the emails have been surprisingly interesting. When the lovely Charlotte at oki-ni dropped us an email to let us know that the Damir Doma archive had gone live, it rang some bells.

Wait- Damir Doma, the guy that did those amazing all red outfits?


Wait- Damir Doma, the guy who really knows a thing or two about shape?

Yep. (Man alive, that's a good outfit)

Wait, the man with those AMAZING boots with the zipper down the front?
Oh hells yes!

Wow, I love that guy. Why did I forget to post about him when I first saw his stuff? Anyway, a great choice for their archive series. Steve couldn't help but comment:

"I really like the idea of oki-ni's archive because it encourages people to think beyond the seasons and to pick key pieces from each collection. It goes against the throwaway culture of fashion. If you love a piece why not take good care of it and wear it for years to come? For a young designer like Doma it must mean a lot to be supported in such a way, with an archive that showcases his considerable design talent."

Hey Steve, quit muscling in on my posts! He's right though, it's great that they're showcasing someone so young and talented. Doma's designs are just that little bit left field- nicely androgynous with a bold use of colour and draping- while somehow still managing to be timeless (I know, I hate that word too). I am massively coveting his wide-legged trousers at the moment... and just look at these sandals!

Here's what Oki Ni's creative director, John Skelton, has to say about the man:

"Damir’s taste levels and attention to detail mixed with perfect execution and ability to create such a warm and powerful environment in which to show his work has captured the hearts and the minds of product enthusiasts all over the world."

And now if you don't mind, I'm going to finish watching the darts.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Style Salvage Speaks to... YMC

As you all know we have joined up with my-wardrobe to offer one lucky reader five hundred pounds to spend on a new winter wardrobe from YMC. This British born brand were one of the very first brands we featured here on the blog. Formed in 1996, YMC have played a key role in the resurgence of workwear and have seen so much so we jumped at the chance to speak to them about their experiences in the industry, their own personal style and how they see the brand devoloping over the next few years.

SS: How did it all start for you? What were your inspirations, your dreams and the driving catalyst behind YMC?
Fraser: I have always been more interested than personal style over fashion and this was the driving force behind starting up YMC. At the time (1995) everything was brand led or American 'skate' inspired so we felt there was a real gap in the market for the kind of clothes we were looking for.

SS: Describe what YMC means to you...
Fraser: Hopefully a brand with integrity

SS: Having launched as a menswear brand in 1995 you’ve certainly been around for a lot longer than most people realise. How has the industry evolved over this time?
Fraser: Today the fashion industry is far more professional, corporate and less naive than when we started which I think makes thing much harder for labels and designers starting up now.

SS: Over the last few seasons we've seen a real rise in the interest surrounding workwear style. Having offered classic designs showcasing quality fabrics and an attention detail for some time now, what is your take on the rise in interest?
Fraser: Inevitable as everything tends to go in cycles and the last time this was popular was the early 90s but to be honest it has always been an influence to us and this would have been more noticable from our Winter 2004 collection onwards.

SS: In a recent interview with The Independent you confess that early on you ‘knew nothing about production and made some very bad decisions’ and after initial success you were forced to close your shop on Conduit Street and abandoned your womenswear line. Thankfully, today, you have a busy flagship store in Soho and your relaunched womenswear line is in its third season. You must be feeling pretty good about it all. Do you think that this has made success all the sweeter now?
Jimmy: No not really . If anything it’s been a constant reminder of how tough this business is , its been a valuable lesson . We still have plenty of room to improve...

SS: With regard to production, how have you changed things from the set up in the late 90s?
Jimmy: The company that backs us helps on the production , they have offices worldwide who look after our needs . Our quantities are small
But with their assistance the collection gets produced.

SS: What were the first and last items you remember designing?
Fraser: First: Our first collection which was Winter 95 and it was a jacket and dress inspired by my wife Jody's military jumpsuit
Last: Autumn Winter 2010 Footwear collection.

SS: How do you see the YMC brand developing over the next few years?
Jimmy: We would hope to develop the business by opening in store concessions / further YMC stand alone stores. Also for SS.10 we have launched a new range on Men’s called ‘ basic ’ which has great potential.

SS: Which fellow designers/brands do you admire? Other than YMC, which brands do you wear?
Fraser: I don't really follow fashion and prefer not to look at other labels. I only wear a mixture of vintage and YMC.

SS: What item of clothing (if any) do you wish that more men wore?
Fraser: It's not so much the items but the way they are worn. I'd like to see men being a bit more confident with their own personal style.

SS: How would you describe your personal style? The brand ethos is You Must Create your own style but do you have any style icons?
Fraser: Detail is paramount but I couldn't really say what my 'personal style' is as it's something that I naturally do!

SS: The current collection is inspired by Depression era workwear. If you could go back in time and experience any moment/era of style, what would it be?
Fraser: I'd need a Tardis as there are so many periods I love and whatever I am inspired by when designing at the time tends to be my favourite.

The shopfront in Soho.

SS: What are you favourite pieces currently available from YMC?
Fraser: The waxed cotton hunting and fishing jacket and a shawl collared Chore jacket in cotton/wool and of course a pair of our jeans which I think are a really good men's cut and in particular for anyone looking for an alternative to a skinny jean.

SS: Finally, would you be able to share a few address book recommendations with our readers (hairdressers, tailors, cafes...anything you like really) which we will duly add to our map.
Gary at Sean Paul Barbers in Brighton. He's around my age and like me was part of most youth cultures from punk onwards so this gives him the edge over a lot of younger hairdressers. Lewes for all things old. It has a great array of really interesting antique shops full of curios.

A reminder of how we would spend the money...
For your chance to win, enter here. You have until 27th November 2009 to win. Good luck!

Monday, 16 November 2009

J. Lindeberg AW09: The documentary and a dream

J. Lindeberg invite you in to their world...

As I take a well deserved break from the trials and tribulations of packing I thought I'd share a recent bit of post with you. Given the current state of the postal system in the capital, receiving anything through the mail is a rare occurrence and anything received (even a tear inducing, sorry excuse for a bank statement) is something to be treasured. This particular piece of mail however, is something to marvel over and currently has pride of place on my coffee table...

Holding up J. Lindeberg's 'The Documentary and a dream' whilst wearing one of their trenches (picked up in Stockholm last year).

The nice folk at J. Lindeberg sent through a copy of their first biannual for me to savour. One of only four hundred copies made, I certainly count myself lucky! The generous large format book evolved from the labels desire to tell the complete story of what they do and why they do it. The story it waves is one that expands way beyond the realms of the standard look book and runway views we are all accustomed to seeing. There are one hundred and eighty two pages of beautiful pictures and illustrations, alongside insightful interviews. I wish more brands pushed themselves to offer more than the usual press materials which circulate after a collection. It is more akin to an issue of Acne Paper rather than your usual look book. Like the Acne Paper it is a publication which weaves together people, imagery, history, newness and takes great pleasure in information exchange and learning. It offers a glimpse in to the inner workings of the industry and the inspirations behind it all whilst, of course showcasing the AW09 offering...

Just one of the many inspiring editorials inside 'The Documentary and a dream'...Photographed by Katja Rahwles

This Scandinavian brand is well-known for the quality of its garments and for its unique philosophy and it is great to see it evolve in this manner. The J. Lindeberg team called in the help of a few close friends and sent them off with a single mission - to capture the inner spirit of J. Lindeberg and in particular, their Autumn Winter 2009 collection.

I can but dream of growing such a beard

Inspiration for the collection came from a combination of Serge Gainsbourg and Yves Klein. It’s about quintessential French masculinity and an approach to life where you don’t save your best necessarily for special occasions but rather, celebrate them every day. This mantra of everyday style is subtly repeated throughout the imagery and text of this book.

One of my favourite illustrations within a wonderful spread by Liselotte Watkins.

The book achieves it's aim to document a world which is more style than trend and one that breaks new ground in traditional areas. It offers a reinterpretation of fashion, sport and elegant functionality which is true to itself. I do hope that it will be deemed a success and be the first of many such bi annuals from the brand. The only downside of such a large format book is that I am going to need a large, reinforced coffee table. If you don't think your table can handle such a book do not despair, the whole thing is available to flick through online here. Now, please excuse me...I have to get back to the joys of packing...

Another example of the beautiful photography contained in this biannual.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

The search for a good tailor in Hong Kong...

After hearing so much about her beloved Hong Kong, Susie is finally taking me back with her and I could not be more excited! Our plane jets off from Heathrow tomorrow evening and we will be exploring this busy city for eights full days. Whilst much of the trip will revolve around me scoffing my face with all sorts of tasty treats there will be plenty of time for me to do enjoy the sport of shopping. Dim sum, egg balls, roast goose and even snake have found themselves on the growing menu of my mind but I'd like to explore all that the city has to offer in regard to men's style as well. Top of the list is excellent, affordable tailoring. Hong Kong has long been a world-leader in producing bespoke and made to measure suits at half the price of their London and New York counterparts (whilst conceding very little on quality). Regular readers will know that my fascination with the craftsmanship of good tailoring is long held and I cannot wait to discover what Hong Kong has to offer me.

My initial research shows that there are just too many tailors in Hong Kong to tell which are of any quality. To save much head scratching on my part, I am opening up the comments section to your suggestions. Now, please don't be shy. I appreciate that even if I get a good recommendation from you, your positive experiences won't guarantee one for me, so no pressure at all. I'd love to hear from one and all. In a city where tailors are ten a penny your guidance will be invaluable.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Style Salvage Speaks to... Albam

Founded in Nottingham in 2006 by James Shaw and Alastair Rae initially as an online mail order company with just seven designs in the catalogue, albam have gone from strength to strength and deservedly so. Last month saw the opening of their second store and we were invited to have a nosy around the impressive space. In addition to their wonderful Beak Street store the bloggers' favourite brand have now spread their offering out east to the historic Spitalfields Market. As it grows, albam continues to manufacture their products in Great Britain and where possible and, when it is not, they look as close to home as possible for alternatives. They now have good friends in Portugal, USA and Italy adding to the craftsmanship which is a fundamental facet of the label. We love how the duo aim to bring as much product back to Britain and how they have spent the last couple of years building a business which is enabling their British factories to grow and develop along with them. We spoke with James and Alastair to find out more about the the brand and their plans for the future...

Inside the new store at 111a Commercial Street

SS: How did it all start for you? What were your inspirations, your dreams and the driving catalyst behind albam?
Albam: We started in 2006, had an idea and left our jobs to see where we would get. There was a loose plan on what we wanted to do, having spent years talking, thinking and wondering if we could do it. It got to the point where we had to stop talking about it and just get out there and see where we could get with it all. Wanting to work for ourselves and work with people that are like us was a driving force.

SS: You are entering the third year of albam. For those readers who might have recently found you, you started out in a small office in Nottingham with seven styles in your first catalogue. How have the last few years been, is everything going to plan?
Albam: We have had a pretty steep learning curve and are always learning! When the first store opened, we were working all the time in there, if we weren’t there then we were at factories getting things made and then bringing them back to the store. There has been massive support from both the press and our customers and this has been amazing for us as we just started out with an idea and got on with it. Things are moving forward, the plan always changes but we just keep our heads down and get on with forging ahead.

albam. Made in England - We love these simple tote bags.

SS: What were the first and last item you remember designing for albam?
Albam: The T shirt was the first item we did so that will always stay in the memory. There was a lot of learning involved as we got into the manufacturing process pretty deep and got to meet all the people that we know now and still work with. Being so hands on, we remember pretty much all of them, the latest one that springs to mind is a new Field jacket for March 2010.

SS: Craft and local manufacture are obviously very important to you. Collaboration with local craftsmen and heritage is an integral facet of your brand identity. What have been your favourite collaborations to date? Who would you love to work with in the future?
Albam: Quoddy has been a great partner to work with, as has Grenson in Northampton. Such amazing factories and so much skill goes into these shoes. In the future we are talking to people but all are early days at the moment.

A rail in the new store.

SS: You work with some extremely small and remote factories here in the UK and beyond. Is it difficult to find them and how has your relationships grown over the years
Albam:In the UK they tend not to like signs outside the factories so even with the address finding them is pretty difficult. Word of mouth has introduced us to the factories that we work with. The business that is remaining is tight knit so everyone is interlinked. With regards to relationships we are there most weeks, although the new store has taken some time in looking after it. Our factories are part of the Albam team so everyone is really important to what we do.

SS: How do you see the Albam brand developing over the next couple of years?
Albam: We want to create a brand that stays true to our founding idea, obviously this will develop and grow in terms of range and the people that find out about us. Opening a couple more stores would be great, it would give a real platform for the brand but keep it tight and a discovery/best kept secret for our customers.

albam's perennial favourite, the fair isle hat.

SS: What are you favourite pieces currently available from Albam?
Albam: The blazer we have just released in store is great, and our new Regular jeans are currently being worn a fair amount! We have so much work coming through that it changes all the time!

SS: Finally, would you be able to share a few address book recommendation to our readers (hairdressers, tailors, cafes..anything you like really) which we will duly add to our Map.
Albam: When we are at Beak St, Fernandez & Wells or Monmouth are on the trail for a coffee. At Spitalfields it tends to be Nude or A Gold (for great great sandwiches). Alexander Boyd just off Brushfield Street is a great place for their new tailoring and shirting. Rochelle Canteen for a spot of lunch but closer to the store then St John or The Luxe for a breakfast and then The Albion on Redchurch St. They are mainly food places!

albam. Modern Crafted Clothing. These will help get you through chillier times...

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Transformation through the finer details

The real beauty of menswear is in the details. We have said this many times but neither of us will ever tire of saying it. As we catch our breath from the marathon of fashion weeks, look books and press days, it is time to celebrate the finer details of menswear. It the small details which are so often overlooked and neglected which can transform any mediocre outfit in to something special. A number of recent spots online have combined to give me the required nudge to return to our favourite stlye mantra. First up, Fine and Dandy. One year on since launching Fine and Dandy (see our previous birthday post) is a shop which provides an abundance of finishing details to ensure that you are fine and dandy. Dressing each morning should be fun and accessories like these provide the required pomp and colour. From the grey Herringbone Newsboy cap to a small gold key tie bar (my particular favourite) to an array of handkerchiefs and pocket squares. Since we wished them a very happy birthday, I've been drooling over their selection of accessories whilst declaring my intent to add more layers to my everyday outfit.

Celebrating accessories. Two looks from Fine and Dandy.

The chaps over at Street Etiquette never fail to inspire and I've really enjoyed their Accessories Are A Necessity feature. After the first post on ‘Wrist Ornaments’ they turned their attentions to the humble 'Pocket Square'. JKISSI certainly has an enviable collection. The post is an effective plea for gentlemen readers to tear at the stitching in those unused blazer pockets and experiment with material. Back in July 2007 (man we are getting old) we looked at how they are so much more than hankies but I have to confess that I often over look them. When I talk about pocket squares, it isn't in the strict sense of folded cloth, one can be as imaginative and interesting with filling a breast pocket as possible in my opinion. There are amazing styling perks with a pocket square which most men do not realise; any average or worn out jacket can be instantly livened up with an inexpensive, casually folded pocket handkerchief. Let the below image from Street Etiquette inspire you...

Wearing it well. JKISSI and his enviable collection of pocket squares. Image courtesy of Street Etiquette.

Whenever we discuss the importance of details we always turn the Fred Astaire. Few have worked them better. Astaire was not blessed with the natural aesthetic beauty of some of the his icons of style but Astaire used his style to allow his aesthetics to bloom and even surpass his peers. His style is so casual that any surprises it brings seem ever the more wonderful. He excelled in a relaxed dandyism. His sartorial success is due to the combination of a number of seemingly small touches. Of course, initially these can go unnoticed but once seen, they never fail to excite and wow the viewer. The tie as belt (my personal favourite which I have salvaged for myself), the slanted tie clip and the slim cut sleeves on his suits to name by a few of his little touches. You can watch any one of his films again and again and no doubt you will notice detail after detail. Watching Fred Astaire never fails to inspire me to celebrate the finer details of dressing whilst have fun dressing each morning. I encountered the below Garance Dore shot of Cédric last week and loved his subtle declaration. On the surface he appears to be little more than a casually dressed but cool looking guy, reading a paperback in the sun. You would think that there is very little to talk about. You would be wrong. His wife had embroidered a heart on the inside of the pocket of his shirt. Transforming it from a mundane, dishevelled denim shirt in to a conversation piece. It is all about the finer details.

Cédric as shot by garance dore.


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