Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Men of the Cloth documentary: Preserving the heritage of tailoring

Men of the Cloth is a documentary in post-production and conceived by director/producer Vicki Vasilopoulos. It shines a spotlight on three tailors at the peak of their craft and pays homage to the old world concept and practice of artisanal craftsmanship. The tailors featured are NYC tailor Nino Corvato, Philadelphia-based tailor Joe Centofanti and former Brioni head tailor Checchino Fonticoli.

The film has not been released yet but you can check out video excerpts of the film on their website.

If you have the means and inclination, consider contributing to the completion of this rare, sartorially minded film. Mine will be in the mail soon enough!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Bespoke in Montreal: Russell's Tailor

Thanks to fellow blogger Jeffery of Made by Hand, I made a point recently of visiting Russell's Tailor in Montreal. The shop is on Rue de la Montagne, close to the department store Holt Renfrew on Rue Sherbrooke.

Russell's Tailor 01

I stopped by and chatted with Henri, who works the front of the house. Their bespoke garments are all made on the premises by their staff, which includes a head cutter, a separate trousermaker and a dedicated shirtmaker. They also have a relationship with a Canadian outerwear manufacturer for customers interested in made-to-measure casual outerwear (e.g. a suede leather jacket). Although Russell's do not have a set schedule, they do travel to NYC, Philadelphia and Toronto depending on customer demand. Henri in particular travels to NYC to take care of customers. They carry fabrics from Scabal, Dormeuil, Holland & Sherry, Zegna and Vitale Barberis Canonico (through Canadian distributor United Silks).

Russell's Tailor 02

What does the Russell's house cut look like? Henri describes it as a "pretty firm shoulder". I would call it a slightly relaxed, "de-roped" English shoulder, featuring a firm shoulder and a deliberate absence of roping at the top of the sleevecap. The starting cost for a two-piece suit in Super 120s cloth (as of June 2010) is around $3500, which is very favorable compared to NYC bespoke prices (or retail Kiton prices for that matter). That price advantage appears to be a significant draw for them commercially. Most of their customers are located outside of Montreal, in the rest of Canada and the US. I should also note they do CMT (cut make trim) of customer-supplied fabric. For those with longtime tailors, this could be an attractive option for odd jackets or occasional suits.

For a first-time customer, the fitting process takes three appointments and up to several weeks (and as a little as one to two weeks depending on the customer's availability). The first appointment takes care of measurement. The second is what Henri describes as a "slip-on" stage with the jacket body, one attached sleeve and an unfinished collar. The last appointment is essentially the pickup of the final garment.

Russell's Tailor 03

I also inquired about the level of handwork (on behalf of my OCD bespoke readers!). They do use sewing machines to sew up straight seams (such as the center back seam of a jacket) but reserve handwork for areas such as lining attachment and buttonholes. However, some customers specifically request handsewing or handstitching for all aspects of the garment. They'll accommodate this but charge an extra amount for the labor involved. I think it is a nice option to have for those who care about the level of handwork.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

iPhone clothing apps: Still early days

We live in an environment of increasingly mobile, pervasive computing and connectivity through smartphones, netbooks and internet devices like the iPad. Thousands of interesting, functional and even ingenious apps have been developed for smart, mobile devices. With the larger format iPad, one might think even more opportunities would exist for great apps.

But as far as I can tell, a "killer" iPhone or iPad app for men's clothing has yet to emerge though a few promising ones have been released just in the past few weeks. Here are some contenders:

Alan Flusser has released an intelligent style assistant app called BeSpeak. As his website describes, the app provides the ability to:
  • Create a personal profile based on hair color, skin tone, eye color, face shape, body shape and size
  • Generate profile driven outfit recommendations
  • Coordinate clothes from your wardrobe

Bernhard Roetzel has released an app called iGentleman (not to be confused with the term iGent!)

This content-driven app contains four sections on business wear, casual wear, formal wear and shoes as well as a list of bespoke tailors and shops (currently only in German).

There is also an app called Uniformity that is both informative and functional for Navy personnel. It is a virtual assistant that helps Navy servicemen and women assemble the correct elements of their uniform in terms of ribbons, insignia and dress garments.

What might a killer clothing app look like?  Good question. I think it depends on the specific audience segment. For the retro-minded, how about an abridged digital version of the canonic Esquire Encyclopedia of 20th Century Men's Fashions, complete with gorgeous hi-res scans of Laurence Fellows' classic illustrations for the iPad?

What would be the killer clothing app for you?

Additional links
- AskAndy thread on Flusser's BeSpeak app