Sunday, April 24, 2011

Christian Louboutin and men's shoes

A couple of years ago I wrote about women's shoe designer Christian Louboutin and whether we should welcome his entry into the world of men's shoes. The question is now moot as the brand is scheduled to open its first store for men's shoes in Paris. And there are a few RTW sneakers and men's shoes available on the CL website.

The New Yorker recently did a profile of Mr. Louboutin and I've excerpted a few quotes which express his design aesthetic:

  • "I really, really hate incredibly long shoes, where the last is very pointy, almost like Aladdin."
  • "I hate the whole concept of comfort! ... You're abandoning a lot of ideas when you are too into comfort."
  • "The shoe is a very much an X-ray of social comportment."

It'll be interesting to see what kind of footwear he produces for men and the construction techniques (Goodyear welted v. Blake stitched). Apparently, all of his women's shoes are made in a factory outside of Milan.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Well-dressed musicians: Riccardo Muti

I had the pleasure of attending the Chicago Symphony concerts this weekend at Carnegie Hall. The Saturday concert featuring Hector Berlioz's Symphonie fantastique and Lelio was simply superb. Riccardo Muti, who is originally from Naples, directs the CSO.

Obviously I was there principally for the music-making but I was curious to see what Muti would wear and how well it would fit him. He wore white tie at both concerts and I would venture to say his white tie rig is likely bespoke, perhaps even by a tailor from his hometown of Naples. His tailcoat featured a pagoda shoulder, a nicely shaped waist and full sleeves. The collar stayed admirably put throughout his often vigorous conducting.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

O'Connells Clothes Call newsletter

If you are interested in American trad menswear, do yourself a favor and sign up for the O'Connell's "Clothes Call" newsletter. I enjoy reading the occasional interview with one of their suppliers.

Recently, they featured an interviews with Chris and Annette Blackmore, the founders of Chrysalis Clothes, a manufacturer of English RTW outerwear (field coats, sports/shooting coats, town and country outerwear). One learns for instance that the export markets makes up 50 percent of sales, with the largest markets in the US, Germany, Benelux and Scandinavia. The photo above shows their Beaufort coat.

In another issue, O'Connells interviewed Jules Hertling of Hertling Trouser located in Brooklyn, NY. Founded in 1925, the company employs 40 workers (cutters, sewers, pressers) and produces 200 pairs of trousers per day. Turnaround time for a pair of trousers is 10 days. Their production is split 50/50 between pleat v. plain front trousers. A Hertling trouser features a split waist, one or two-piece curtain, pockets attached to the trouser interior, 8 belt loops (instead of the usual 6 or 7). The photo above shows a Prunelle doeskin-finish Hertling trouser in medium grey.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Collaboration as the new normal

Compared to just five years ago, RTW menswear has seen a renaissance in terms of selection of different "silhouettes" and more frequent product refresh cycles. A key ingredient of this renaissance is industry collaboration.

There are two types of collaboration - brand and production. The first type gets most of the press. This often means the pairing of a contemporary designer with a retailer. Witness this partial list of such menswear collaborations:

  • Jil Sander and Uniqlo
  • Gant by Michael Bastian
  • J.Press for Urban Outfitters
  • APC and Carhartt
  • Bespoken and Turnbull & Asser
  • Rag & Bone and Timberland
  • Steven Alan and Dockers

Gant's campus store in New Haven, CT is a mash-up of a defunct American trad retail storefront (Langrock's) with all three Gant lines - Gant, Gant Rugger and Gant by Michael Bastian.

The other type of collaboration is more behind the scenes and takes advantage of "Made in USA" to reinforce a heritage and/or authenticity branding message. Hence, the tapping of Brooklyn-based suitmaker Martin Greensfield by the likes of Band of Outsiders, Rag & Bone and Freemans Sporting Club.