Saturday, March 24, 2012

Shoe refurbishing in London: John Rushton

I've always wondered how customers of Brooks Bros Peal shoes (made by Crockett & Jones and Alfred Sargent) dealt with the issue of refurbishment. I suppose many just get them resoled by their local cobbler. However, that generally precludes them from getting refurbished by the original factory. Many shoemakers - both American and British (like Allen Edmonds and Crockett & Jones) - will not refurbish shoes that have been resoled by someone else.

Naturally, if this concerns you, then the proper way is sending the shoes off to the original factory for recrafting or refurbishment. This also offers the benefit of getting them relasted on the original last they were designed for.

However, for US customers, factory recrafting of Peal shoes presents a little bit of a conundrum. Peal shoes made by C&J can be sent to the NYC C&J store, which then sends it off to the UK for refurbishing. But with Alfred Sargent-made Peal shoes it's not as straightforward as AS does not have a direct retail presence in the US. When I called a NYC based stockist of Sargent (Leffot) they basically referred me to the AS factory. So it seems the best bet is to send the shoes to the factory directly or work with a London shoe stockist.

And this is essentially what I did in my recent visit to London. I stopped by AS stockist John Rushton on Wimpole St and dropped off my Brooks Bros black slip-ons for resoling in Dainite. Factory remake is 100 GBP, while instore is 85 GBP. Sargent factory refurbishings will take a minimum of 8-10 weeks and probably longer. The lady I spoke with at John Rushton mentioned the factory was backlogged.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Benson & Clegg shirtmaking

I had the opportunity to drop by London haberdashery Benson & Clegg, perhaps more well-known for their cufflinks than their shirts. However, I learned they offer a semi-bespoke and MTM shirt service.

Here are the details:
  • 150 GBP per shirt, 3 shirt minimum
  • 40 GBP sample shirt (for a first time customer)
  • 40 GBP optional bespoke pattern
  • 2 week turnaround
I also learned that their shirtmaker is located in the East End of London. B&C make three visits to NYC per year.

Benson & Clegg
Benson & Clegg covert coat
If you're visiting B&C, you might as well visit Budd Shirtmakers. Here's a bit of whimsy a la cravat if you can read the words on the tie.

Budd window display
And Loake's relatively new store in Prince's Arcade:

Loake Princes Arcade
Loake Prince's Arcade

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Welsh & Jefferies visit

I stopped by W&J and had a friendly chat with James Cottrell and Ying Mei Quan. When I visited a couple of years ago, Mei was an apprentice but she is now a full partner with James, who bought out the business from the now retired Malcolm Plews.

Mei is capable of cutting men's and women's clothes but is smartly focusing on women's clothing, bringing in a new set of clientele that normally does not frequent Savile Row. As the photos below suggest, she's creating some very smart, striking jackets inspired by the equestrian side of Savile Row's history.

Welsh & Jefferies ladies coat

Below is Mei's winning entry in the 2011 Golden Shears competition.

Welsh & Jefferies ladies overcoat

Welsh & Jefferies ladies overcoat detail

W&J is making their first NYC trip in a few years this March. Incidentally, we were chatting about overcoats and got on the topic of heavyweight overcoatings. In particular, James shared that the stock of traditional British warm overcoating is slowly dwindling (down to something like 30 yards if I remember correctly). Cutting this woolen fleece or melton fabric is like cutting a carpet, and rather painful on the fingers doing the cutting.

Given my recent interest in smoking jackets, we also got to chatting about velvet. Mei shared some of the challenges in working with this particular fabric. For one thing, velvet tends to be a bit shifty during fittings unlike firmer, worsted fabrics. It also needs to be ironed at a lower temperature with matching velvet underneath as the resting fabric (rather than wool). Lastly and perhaps most interesting, velvet needs to be "pattern matched" in the sense that the jacket pieces need to be aligned so that the nap of the fabric moves in the same direction. Good stuff (literally and figuratively)!

Monday, March 05, 2012

Spring looks: Updated American trad

How about kicking in the spring with an updated take on American trad or Ivy League style?

Below are some photos to whet the appetite and imagination. Let's first start with the attitude, then the kit (think plaid).

Rothmans grand opening featuring the Cavemen

Hamilton plaid shirt

Rothmans plaid shirt rack

Rancourt 4-eyelet ranger moc with natural rubber soles (or "lactae hevea" if you want to impress someone with your Latin and/or botanical knowledge)
Just pick your trousers and you're ready to rock, roll or stroll.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

You know you are in London when... see men wearing covert coats. I was in London recently and saw half a dozen covert coats in traditional fawn with velvet collar in the span of an hour around Mayfair and Piccadilly. It's a reassuring sight if you still believe in the importance of geographical distinctions in an age of globalized fashion.

New & Lingwood
New & Lingwood window display
Below are a few observations from my recent London visit. I will follow-up separately on Savile Row tailor Welsh & Jefferies, Benson & Clegg MTM/semi-bespoke shirts and John Rushton's shoe refurbishing.

Richard James Weldon. One of my goals was to visit the English trimmings merchant RJW but I was surprised to hear their London office has been closed since August 2011.  I was interested in visiting specifically to see their velvet selection for a smoking jacket. Their old book contained some wonderful silk velveteens (81% cotton and 19% silk) in ruby, wine and blue. These were the best velvets I had come across thus far. Alas, I also learned that RJW no longer stocks silk velveteens. Now they offer just cotton velvet in black and navy. As I wrote in my recent "state of textiles" entry, it's worth considering purchasing a great cloth sooner rather than later as the certainty of its production is simply not guaranteed these days.

Davies & Son. I stepped into this Savile Row tailor and chatted with Graham who handles the front of the house. Alan Bennett is the head cutter and a few years ago they incorporated Peter Harvey who is still active. Speaking of smoking jackets above, Graham showed a lovely bottle green smoking jacket complete with simple frogging and braiding. With Richard James Weldon no longer offering their old silk velveteen, it looks like Holland & Sherry might be the next best bet in velvet. Interestingly, Davies also sells fabrics by the yard to consumers.

W. Bill. I also stopped by woolen merchant W. Bill in their new location. I chatted with Robert who showed me a few Shetlands and Irish linens and I left with a nice set of swatches to consider for upcoming jackets. One could easily wile away an afternoon perusing their wonderful Saxonies and cheviots, Superfleece, Lamlana and overcoatings.

Hackett bespoke tie service. While on Jermyn Street, I visited the Hackett store, and picked up a spring/summer silk and flax tie (one of the few Italian made products they sell). I also went to the back of the store to their MTM area and saw their swatch book for bespoke ties. The fabric selection is somewhat limited, with mostly solids and conservative patterns (fine pin dots), but suitable for the weddings that their bespoke tie service is geared toward. The customer can specify tie and width length and the tie is then made in Italy. Price is 90 GBP and will take about 4 weeks.

Kent Haste & Lachter
Kent Haste & Lachter
Hardy Amies
Hardy Amies
George Cleverley
George Cleverley
George Cleverley
George Cleverley
Crockett & Jones Burlington Arcade
Crockett & Jones Burlington Arcade