Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Quality clothing: The times they are a-changin'?

Anecdotally at least, there has been a number of positive developments in the past year or so in favor of quality menswear. We've seen better distribution of existing products, as well as new lines of products. This is almost certainly driven by greater demand, which in turn has generated additional media coverage and exposure.

Some news and events to ponder:
  • Edward Green's recently launched Top Drawer made-to-order shoes are reported to be backlogged for months
  • High end retailers are now stocking and offering quality shoes. Witness Paul Stuart's new MTO and bespoke program and Bergdorf Goodman's revamped shoe department now offering John Lobb. Within the past month, high-end retailer Gary's in Orange County began to stock Edward Green and Bontoni.
  • In the US, at least three new high-end men's magazines have been launched in the past year: Classic Style, The Men's Book (LA-based) and Men's Vogue.
This interest in good clothing is perhaps not very novel, especially in Asia. In my visit to Southeast Asia recently, I picked up the anniversary issue of a Singaporean men's lifestyle publication called August Man. Although not focused on bespoke tailoring, this and other recently launched magazines are expanding their coverage of quality clothing. All in all, a good sign.

Additional links
- Styleforum thread on Gary's
- Styleforum thread on Japanese shoe magazines (Men's Ex and Last)


Anonymous said...

I concur with you wholeheartedly. What you fail to point out however is the fact that some of the tradition brands (Berluti, John Lobb) have repositioned themselves for the mass-luxury business. Their shoes are ubiquitous and hardly live up to their claim of "made by hand". I think Edward Green is still a quality maker. I owe a few pairs of Bontoni and I think they make the best shoes in the marketplace. The fact that nobody really knows of Bontoni is not really a bad thing.

sleevehead said...

You raise a very interesting point about traditional brands going down-market with "mass-luxury" products. I think the jury is out on whether that's a good or bad thing. My sense is that these days there are different strata of wealth/income with widely differing tastes. So the mass-luxury development may be just a response to that.