Monday, November 30, 2015

Brand survey of Alfred Dunhill and Ermenegildo Zegna

Please fill out my survey of 2 classic menswear brands - Dunhill and Zegna - for an academic research project I'm working on.

This is an anonymous survey hosted by SurveyMonkey and should take no more 2-3 minutes. Thank you!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Fit, tailoring and menswear 2.0

I headed over to Brooklyn today and chatted with Joseph Genuardi who is featured in the recent documentary Men of the Cloth. Joseph is currently head tailor at Martin Greenfield Clothiers, a leading US manufacturer of hand-tailored men’s clothing. Not only did Joseph show me the different workshop areas of the nearly century old building, we also had a great conversation on his interesting journey in the industry and the state of menswear today.

Joseph Genuardi

The enthusiastic interest in the documentary speaks to the noteworthy rise and prominence of menswear in the last five years or so. Tailoring matters because fit matters. And fit matters because younger men are more aware of how they look in clothes, value their appearance and wish to incorporate well-fitting clothes in their lifestyle. Hence the (re)emergence of slim fitting suits, jackets and shirts in the early 2000s with Band of Outsiders, Thom Browne, and Hedi Slimane. The rest, as the saying goes, is history.

History also tells us that the last word on fit is found in the realm of bespoke menswear, which takes us full circle to Joseph and the craft of tailoring. The question nowadays is whether the renewed prominence of menswear has staying power. Both Joseph and I believe that it does. The current generation of menswear customers is fully bought into the core idea of fit, which encourages more choice and better quality in menswear. At some point in their journey, they will come across custom tailoring or aspire to it.

In the meantime, the next stage in RTW menswear - menswear 2.0 if you will - will be very interesting. My sense is that menswear has probably changed more rapidly in the last five years than in the last fifty. Put simply, I think today’s menswear brands are a way to access more fitted clothing without going the traditional bespoke route.

Hence, the menswear entrepreneur of 2015 is asking questions such as: How might a smartphone improve the menswear experience? (As an aside, the smartphone is now the single most important fashion and lifestyle accessory for both men and women much like the brimmed hat was de rigueur decades ago.) Alternatively, is there an Uber equivalent for menswear to help me get to my sartorial destination?

We already see glimpses of the future in startups like Mtailor (custom shirts with improved fit assurance through a smartphone app), zTailors (on-demand alterations) or Woodies (algorithmic custom sizing of shirts using big data). Today’s menswear startups are an interesting blend of the old and the new - low tech and high tech.

Yet there is a common denominator - fit and how to improve it. As long as men continue to concern themselves with fit, I believe the menswear space will develop and evolve in interesting ways. I look forward to exploring these opportunities in the upcoming year from a new operating base in Paris.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Exhibition: Savile Row and America

Last week Ambassador Sir Peter Westmacott hosted a preview of the "Savile Row and America" exhibition at the British Embassy in Washington, DC. After kindly receiving a media invite, I booked my train ticket and was looking forward to attending but unfortunately my train got cancelled due to the tragic Amtrak derailment in Philadelphia the night before.

Nevertheless, I'm including photos taken at the event courtesy of the embassy. The Savile Row Bespoke association organized the event which featured historical and contemporary pieces as well as recreations made by the leading Savile Row tailoring houses. Nick Foulkes curated the exhibition and wrote a fine essay for the exhibition catalog.

Ten Savile Row Bespoke Association members took part in the exhibition, as well as several associates and guests. Some of the notable garments displayed were: Churchill's chalk stripe flannel suit (Henry Poole), Pierpont Morgan's court dress uniform (Henry Poole) and Gregory Peck's suits (Huntsman).

As you can see below, it looked like a perfect spring day for the event and I do regret missing this special occasion.


Savile Row and America: a Sartorial Special Relationship

Savile Row and America: a Sartorial Special Relationship

Savile Row and America: a Sartorial Special Relationship

Savile Row and America: a Sartorial Special Relationship

Savile Row and America: a Sartorial Special Relationship

Savile Row and America: a Sartorial Special Relationship

Savile Row and America: a Sartorial Special Relationship

Henry Poole Bespoke Driving Jacket

Savile Row and America: a Sartorial Special Relationship

Savile Row and America: a Sartorial Special Relationship

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Sleevehead's first dress shirt

Happy new year! I recently took my first menswear sewing class which focused on cutting, sewing and finishing a men's dress shirt. The class ended last month and here's the result - a shirt made from inexpensive cotton shirting sourced in NYC's Garment District ($2/yard) and constructed after many hours in front of a cutting table and sewing machine:

Overall, it is a decent first attempt but the shirt could certainly stand to improve in a few areas in terms of the collar, cuffs and plackets.

The process of making a shirt was a fascinating, humbling and often frustrating experience but enormously insightful. The frustration lay almost entirely in the mechanical realm (i.e. using manual, industrial sewing machines) as well as the proper order and placement of key pieces before sewing.

The specific insight I gained is entirely a function of the process and struggle to produce a finished product. I learned the maker knows something the consumer lacks. In other words, if you haven't constructed a garment (or product) from start to finish, you may know less about quality or value in clothing than you think you do. Put another way, as long there is a person involved in the manufacturing process, there will always be someone else who knows more about quality than the consumer.