Building on my recent holiday shopping post, let's continue with the holiday shopping theme but this time for the tycoons and captains of industry among us. I'm no tycoon but democratically ventured into Alfred Dunhill's only store in North America this weekend. Immediately I was drawn to a terrific car coat with a removable beaver fur lining and stand-up collar ($4,750). If the world of beavers is not enough for you, there's a mink version for the 1 percent of the 1 percent among us. I didn't bother checking the price but I can confirm to my readers that mink is indeed softer than beaver.
I also chatted with Frans who heads the MTM/custom department and took me downstairs for a tour of their custom department. Bruno Cosentino is the head tailor and has been with Dunhill since 1986. Jackets start at $3,500 and suits at $5,000, which is very reasonable for the top tier of NYC bespoke (e.g. Nino Corvato, William Fioravanti, Raphael, Nicolosi and Len Logsdail). Bruno hails from Calabria and makes a soft natural shoulder with a light pad. My tailor in Los Angeles is also from Calabria and I certainly saw similarities in the shoulder line.
Although Bruno wasn't working on Saturday, I saw one of his basted jackets in progress and noted the fine handpadding of the lapels. Bruno constructs much of the jacket himself but the buttonholes for example are done by a specialist. I also saw a superb traditional DB overcoat in progress made in a formidable heavyweight wool (easily in excess of 20 oz).
Interestingly, Frans mentioned his challenge is convincing customers to step up to the more leisurely tempo of bespoke. Instant gratification is the norm among male customers. I certainly think men need to be heavily reeducated on this very point. Gentlemen, have you heard of the saying that the good things in life take time?
I happen to wear both RTW and bespoke as well as some MTM. Yet for most men, even those who can easily afford the next step up, the balance in their wardrobe is grossly skewed in favor of RTW. Next time you visit Dunhill, may I suggest picking up the beaver lined car coat and picking out a hale and hearty tweed jacketing for Bruno to make up? Why not have the best of both worlds - instantaneous, card-swiped "luxury" and handsewn "heritage" requiring just a modicum of effort and taste?