Friday, May 25, 2007

LA's tailoring triumvirate complete? Enter Novex

Giacomo Trabalza and Jack Taylor are the two preeminent bespoke tailors in Los Angeles. I have long been wondering if there might be a third in the city of their caliber and reputation. There just might be and the tailor's shop is called Novex. In this AskAndy thread on Novex, Panzeraxe describes running across it while shopping in Beverly Hills. I had never come across the shop myself and was intrigued. A long term goal of mine is to try Trabalza and Taylor before they retire. But I'm at least another suit away from trying those two since I decided to experiment with Novex first.

I visited late last week to check out his shop, which is just to the west of the central shopping area around Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. It's actually just a couple of blocks away from the Turnbull & Asser shop. The head tailor is an older gentleman named Harold. He is not Italian as the AskAndy thread suggests but actually Armenian. The shop is a two story affair, with the workrooms on the second floor and the fitting room and display racks with cloth bolts on the ground floor. Metered parking is in the rear at the corner of Santa Monica Blvd and Roxbury.

In terms of cloth selection, you have three options. He stocks in the store bolts from Tip-Top, a cloth supplier in Brooklyn, NY. In fact, when I was visiting, the UPS delivery person walked in and delivered a package from Tip Top. Two piece suits from stock cloth runs $1,900. If you order from his swatches (I saw Holland & Sherry and couple of books from Italian mills), pricing starts at $2,000. Finally, if you bring your own cloth, two piece suits are $1,600. Not bad for a fully bespoke suit.

So what's Harold's preferred style? He likes to cut a structured, padded shoulder with a clean but shaped chest and waist. I asked about the shoulder specifically and he said he likes to make a structured line. My inquiry about the chest yielded a similar response - he likes to shape the chest a bit. But he also seems quite flexible around other parameters. When I inquired about gorge height, lapel width, button stance and jacket length, he said "Whatever you like". So I decided to place an order and went with an in-stock Super 120s English cloth sourced from Tip Top (selvedge reads "Duncan") in light gray sharkskin. The suit will be two button, the trousers furnished with external side tabs. Harold proceeded to take measurements of my chest, arm length, armhole and legs, noted them down on the invoice and that was pretty much it. A fairly minimalist approach to measurement.

Today I went in for the first fitting and was greeted with a skeleton baste (no sleeves, just the body with inlays). I tried it on and Harold pinned in the shoulders and collar. I checked the front and back length and requested a shorter front, which he pinned to my satisfaction on the first try. I must say he has a good eye. I also requested a higher button stance which I showed and he made a chalk mark across the front where my finger was. The waist is nicely suppressed but not extreme by any measure. I also liked the way he keeps relatively open front quarters, which I noted approvingly by showing what I did not want, namely, the fronts closed up. His reaction was interesting, "It would not be a good jacket if it were closed up like that!"

The second fitting is next week but my preliminary assessment is quite favorable thus far. If you have a specific idea of what you like, Harold may fit the bill in providing the flexibility needed. There might of course be limits to this - I'm not sure if he'd be willing to do a truly soft, unpadded jacket. First things first however and we'll see how this suit turns out.

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