Thursday, April 26, 2012

Off Savile Row: Douglas Hayward

It was a couple of years ago when I first heard that a couple of former Kilgour cutters had decamped for Douglas Hayward on Mount Street. But it was only on my most recent London trip that I managed to finally stop by. And it was long overdue.

Douglas Hayward shop

Hayward is located in Mayfair on Mount Street, within easy walking distance of Savile Row. There I met Ralph, who works the front of the house, and chatted with him a bit before one of the cutters, Campbell Carey walked out to greet me. Amazingly, Campbell remembered my name after having last met some three or four years ago when he and head cutter Ritchie Charlton were working at Kilgour.

Hayward cutter Campbell Carey
Cutter Campbell Carey

I have fond memories of the previous incarnation of Kilgour when they offered full bespoke (cut and made in Savile Row) and entry level bespoke (cut in Savile Row but made and finished in Shanghai). I still think they make the best-looking one button peak lapel jackets around.

Kilgour's new ownership decided to offer only full bespoke as a way to move squarely back into high-end luxury. However, I think it's very commercially astute of Hayward to offer an entry level bespoke (in fact the same Shanghai program from the old Kilgour offering), given the expanding market of discerning male customers in the last few years, mostly in the younger demographic. This younger demographic typically has the will and desire but not the pocketbook for full bespoke, which smells like an opportunity to me.

In fact, Hayward offers three price levels: full bespoke (cut and made in London), entry level bespoke (Shanghai) and a MTM program (made in Portugal, and allows for modifications such as adjusting the armhole). A 2 piece suit currently costs (inclusive VAT): full bespoke 3,300 GBP, entry level Shanghai 2,000 GBP and MTM Portugal 1,700 GBP.

After Douglas Hayward passed away in 2008, Campbell and Ritchie, backed by their investors, acquired the Hayward name and store, which was redone to open up the ceilings and windows which look into Mount Street Gardens. Their cutting table commands perhaps the best view of all the Savile Row tailoring houses. It certainly has the most bucolic view.

Ritchie and Campbell have created a hybrid style amalgamating the original Hayward cut and Kilgour's, resulting in a full chest like Kilgour but a softer shoulder, less aggressive semi-slant pockets and a more "squared" notch on the lapel, which effectively makes for a fuller lapel compared to a Kilgour lapel. It's a terrific look in my opinion. When I visited, I saw two great examples: an 11oz tweed coat made of Islay Woolen Mill fabric with vintage stag horn buttons and a dark navy blue velvet jacket (in the very elusive silk velveteen weave that I had been looking for).

Hayward tweed jacket
Hayward Islay Mill tweed jacket 

Hayward tweed jacket stag horn buttons
Close-up of vintage stag horn buttons

An interesting side note. When it came to pattern making, Douglas Hayward practiced a different cutting style than is traditionally taught. Both Ritchie and Campbell rely substantially on the paper pattern to create the garment, whereas apparently Hayward started essentially from scratch, relying on memory to cut and tweak the customer's pattern afresh every time. For him, the paper pattern was less important than the fitting process.

Thanks to Campbell, I also finally found a source for silk velveteen in the same 81%/19% cotton/silk composition as the old Richard James Weldon book. The key advantage of silk velveteen is that the pile is less visible than pure cotton velvet, which can look a bit dull compared to its more lustrous cousin. Incidentally, the shop uses a local husband and wife team for the special frogging and braiding required for smoking jackets.

If you're serious about a smoking jacket with distinction, I'd suggest having a chat with Campbell and Ritchie. They're also pictured in the nice Savile Row photo spread in the new Esquire Spring/Summer 2012 Big Black Book (p. 100).

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Review: Salence Gantry All-Season Rain Coat

I recently received a sample coat from the new performance outerwear brand called Salence. They have a new line of outerwear that blends high spec, technical performance outerwear with the wearability and usability of daily streetwear.

Salence Gantry 03

Salence Gantry

The coat I received is the Gantry model in peppercorn and retails for $595. Overall, I think this hooded raincoat is a very appealing blend of form and function. On the functional side, the Gantry is made of a lightweight, breathable technical fabric (polyester twill) and conceived as a cross between a trench coat and parka. The construction is made to a high standard and the quality is reflected in features such as taped seams all along the interior as well as waterproofed buttons and sealed zippers to prevent intrusion of moisture.

There are other nice touches like a inner cuff with thumb loops to provide warmth and additional protection against the elements and pockets for the multiple gadgets we tend to carry around these days.

Salence Gantry 01
Sealed zippers

Salence Gantry interior seams
Taped interior seams

In terms of the form, the Gantry strikes a nice balance. On the one hand, the sleeves and body of the coat are cut reasonably full to accommodate a range of men's shapes within a certain weight and height. On the other hand, the coat's raglan sleeve has a more fitted and smaller armhole than is typically seen on raglan sleeves in RTW garments. The result is a cut that is versatile enough for a range of builds from the slim to the robust. For example, most guys should be able to layer a sweater underneath the coat if the temperature drops a bit.

You can easily wear this on a casual day hike on a misty day in the Pacific Northwest or don it on a rainy day tromping through Wicker Park in Chicago, Shoreditch in London or the Binnenalster in Hamburg. I find the versatility quite appealing, enough so that I've decided to buy the review sample!

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Review: Sleevehead's Guide to Sicilian Tailors

I'm happy to report that Will Boehlke of A Suitable Wardrobe has reviewed my guide. You can read his review here. He writes the Guide is "an interesting tale of a tailoring experience far from New York, London and Rome in both space and time".

I agree most wholeheartedly. What I write about is a distinctive bespoke experience that will be appealing to a few select customers but certainly not everyone. But if you have the will and means to travel to Sicily, it's certainly worth a look.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Review: Sleevehead's Guide to Sicilian Tailors

I'm pleased to announce that Gentleman's Gazette recently reviewed my guide to Sicilian tailors and am delighted that Raphael reached out to me to review it. Raphael is the fellow behind Gentleman's Gazette and moreover he has actually been to Sicily. Needless to say, his passion for clothes speaks for itself.

Likewise, Raphael's review of my book also speaks for itself but let me leave you with a couple of highlights:
  • "The information you receive in this 53 page guide is extremely valuable and I assure you it will more than pay for itself if you visit Sicily."
  • "Overall, this guide to Sicilian tailoring is well written, informative, and contains beautiful pictures. In my opinion it is an absolute must for anybody who contemplates having bespoke garments made in Italy. If you are thinking about going to Naples or Milan for a bespoke suit, you may very well decide to choose Sicily instead."