Friday, January 20, 2012

Hamilton Shirts 1883 spring/summer

What I love about shirts and shirtings is that they are and should be an easy source of inspiration. In other words, one should feel an extra degree of freedom with which to pick and choose novel patterns and distinctive colors. As a rule I think it's fair to say that men should be experimenting more with colors and patterns in shirts than with suits or jackets.

If you tend to be a "classic" dresser, give this a shot. Experiment with your next shirt or shirting with something sharper, more vibrant than your usual safe choice. In particular, I especially like the new plaids in the upcoming spring/summer delivery of Hamilton Shirts 1883 (see below).

These are not just casual shirts worn with khakis, chinos or jeans. Actually, I would wear the first two plaids with a seersucker or solid cotton suit and pair them with a dark brown tie and black (or navy blue) tie, respectively. In particular, I think solid cotton or silk knit ties work very well here.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Update: Sleevehead's Guide to Sicilian Tailors

The paperback version of my guide to Sicilian tailors is now available, as well as the original e-book. The guide has been reviewed by noted style author Bruce Boyer and Hugo Jacomet of Parisian Gentleman. Both versions of the book now include additional photos for one of the Messina tailors, a few minor typographic corrections and more information on shopping and restaurants.

At the moment, the paperback edition ($49) can be ordered below through Lulu and will be available through in a few weeks. The e-book ($49) can be ordered through the buy now link on my blog. If you are an iPad user, the e-book is definitely the way to go for reasons I lay out in the FAQ. Otherwise, the paperback works very well too.

In particular, in this new update I provide further editorial commentary and information on one of the cities, Messina. There, within a three block radius, you'll find a fully stocked fabric shop featuring well-known Italian cloths such as Drapers, Vitale Barberis Canonico, Cacciapoli and others, as well as a trimmings/linings shop and a button shop. Once you add a few tailors located nearby, all you need to do is mix and stir and you're all set for a complete tailoring experience. All within a few minutes walking distance of each other.

This miniature, walkable ecosystem of tailors and suppliers used to be commonplace in small towns and cities across Italy but now is very rare. It's actually difficult to find this configuration anywhere else in the world (in the West especially) with the exception of Savile Row. Mentioning Messina and Savile Row in the same breath is certainly not something I would have imagined before I had written this book.

Friday, January 06, 2012

The state of textiles and new cloth ranges

While in Los Angeles a couple of weeks ago, I got a chance to look at several new cloth books for spring/summer for 2012. I came away very impressed with the new offerings by Italian and English mills. To boot, I saw the following:
  • Halstead Explorer fresco with weights going down to 7.5oz
  • Halstead bespoke offering. A customer can order a length of suiting cloth from a choice of stripe colors and widths, as well as personalized selvedge if desired. 
  • Drapers bunches for linen/silk/wool blend, "Solaire"(similar to solaro cloth) and cottons. The Solaires come in lightweight reds and nice blues with the extra vibrancy of solaro-style cloth. 
  • Drapers summerweight mohairs. These are terrific mohairs. I saw 7oz striped mohairs that could serve as seersucker substitutes in grey and brown, as well as great solid browns and blues including a dark, inky brown that I call a “midnight brown”.  
I also happened to meet the new Gladson representative during a visit with LA tailor Enzo Caruso. Gladson has acquired a couple of storied names in British cloth - John Hardy and JJ Minnis - from Huddersfield Fine Worsteds. I saw the new Minnis fresco and the bunches seemed fine. But anyone taking a look at the Minnis fresco book should compare it with the Halstead Explorer range. The range in the new Minnis fresco book seemed a bit smaller than previous years - fewer blues in particular.

Besides cloth, Gladson distributes buttons (London Badge & Button), socks, ties, custom cufflinks. It is also distributing a new ready-made and MTO luggage from Vitale Barberis Canonico, which I saw. The leather pieces are made in northern Italy. Very nice stuff.

In addition, many bespoke customers already know that Lesser was acquired last year by Harrisons of Edinburgh. Lesser was widely regarded for maintaining superlative quality and oversight of the cloths it sold. Many tailors seem happy with the cloth under the new ownership, others less so. I was fortunate enough to purchase a Lesser 16oz mid-grey suiting (29600 for those who are familiar with the book) produced under the old regime, pre-Harrison. This is discernible by the particular numbering on the piece or lot number associated with the cloth length.

In other news, the December / January issue of Monocle has a small feature on Cotonificio Albini, a family-run weaver. Their new Millennium Star shirting is a three-fold yarn creating both resistance to wrinkling and fineness of hand. Albini acquired British weavers Thomas Mason and David & John Anderson in the 1990s.

Change is afoot in the textile industry and the pressure from globalization is probably accelerating consolidation. The implication for the consumer is clear enough. If you see a great cloth, buy it now because it may not be around next season in the same weave, color or finish.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

2012 greetings

Happy new year to readers of my blog and e-book and fellow bespoke travelers. Best wishes for a successful and satisfying year ahead.

Last year I plowed through the design, writing, editing and publishing of my first e-book on Sicilian tailors. This year I'm looking to make additional progress on another project, namely, a book I've always wanted to write. It's been simmering for quite some time as I've been researching and writing it off and on the last few years.

It's a book with a completely different take on style than anything else I have seen or read. Well, so much for setting low expectations. But I do think it will provide a fresh, novel approach to men's clothing and style. Perhaps even insightful if I'm lucky. Stay tuned.