Vestis Legis

Primogenitus. Curator. Vancouver. Halifax. Lex. Menswear. Coffee. @vestislegis

Indochino. A Parting Shot.

I ordered a suit from Indochino shortly before I started my first office job as a summer student at a law firm. A friend of mine who worked at a bank put me up to it. I blame him for this.

It wasn’t my first suit, but I was still quite green in the #menswear game at the time, and obviously a little naive.  At the time I was probably the target Indochino market: a young man raised by GQ to know that “fit”, thin lapels, and “bespoke features” like novelty liners and surgeon’s cuffs are important - yet not savvy enough to understand the importance of construction or quality textiles.

After dutifully measuring each other according to Indochino’s online instructions we each ordered a suit. If memory serves me correct my colleague went with a navy two-piece, and I ordered a charcoal three-piece. Our suits were about $400 each.

Neither of our suits fit when they arrived. 

The Blogosphere is filled with similar accounts of poorly fitting Indochino suits. In fairness, I’ve also read a handful of Internet postings by customers who were happy with the way their suit fit out of the box.

I sent my suit back, as Indochino invites you to do if the sizing isn’t right, but the fit of the re-made suit wasn’t much better. The jacket fit ok, but the pants remained much too tight. For my money ok isn’t good enough for a jacket that’s supposed to be made to my measurements. 

 

I took the suit to my tailor. I could always count on Radd to shoot straight with me. As a student I was always taking vintage finds or sale items to him that were several sizes too big and asking him to work miracles. Without fail he’d grill me on how much I paid for the garments I brought into his shop, lecture me on their makeup, and then insist the “balance” of the item would be all wrong if he carried out my instructions. Occasionally he’d applaud me on the pieces I brought in for him to work on, but more often than not I’d get a finger wagging for wasting my money.

He was particularly disappointed in me when I brought in this offering from Indochino.

There was nothing he could do about the pants – not enough material to work with he said. The liner he figured wouldn’t last me the summer. Radd routinely works on, and sells, department store quality suits. So when he criticized the makeup of my Indochino suit he wasn’t holding it up against a $1500 suit, he was comparing it to the $500-$600 suits he sells in his shop.

Nevertheless I wore the suit that summer, and even into the following school year – tight pants and all. 

I can’t say exactly when I stopped wearing my Indochino suit, but as I dug it out of the back of my closet this week to put it with the rest of my old work clothes going to the Working Gear Clothing Society, I am sure glad I did.

Simply put the suit just looked cheap – and lifeless. These photos don’t do my dissatisfaction justice. From the materials, to the construction, to how it wore – I was never confident in that suit.

 

The wool itself was probably my biggest complaint. Although advertised as super 120s, the Chinese wool (or wherever it came from), felt greasy and contained imperfections you wouldn’t see in a comparatively priced department store suit.

The stitching holding the liner in place was sloppy, and after one summer of use was already showing signs of wear along the seams.

 

Although the suit wasn’t stuffed with rigid shoulder pads or an overbearing fused canvas, the drape of the jacket never sat well with me.

In short the Indochino suit has since served as my low-water mark for evaluating quality and value. I can say with authority that if you want to spend $400 on a suit, a department store or outlet mall suit will almost certainly be better put together, and cut from better cloth than one from Indochino. 

When you think about it, $400 for a suit isn’t even that cheap. High street suit retailers have sales with such frequency these days that it is not uncommon to see suits regularly priced at much more than $400 available at that price. So from a pragmatic point of view when comparing the quality of an Indochino suit it’s artificial to limit the comparison to other suits regularly priced at $400.

 

Yes, the Brooks Brothers “346” outlet mall special won’t come with a bright metallic liner, functional button holes on the sleeves or a ticket pocket. But it will last you more than one summer at the office, and taken to a flesh-and-blood tailor will fit you just as well or better than what Indochino has to offer.

Glenfarclas of Ballindalloch, Banffshire. 17-year-old expression. The house style is a robust, outdoors take on Speyside, with a greater affiliation to sherry butts than bourbon barrels. The New York Times. Early evening at the Vancouver Club, Vancouver, British Columbia.

Glenfarclas of Ballindalloch, Banffshire. 17-year-old expression. The house style is a robust, outdoors take on Speyside, with a greater affiliation to sherry butts than bourbon barrels. The New York Times. Early evening at the Vancouver Club, Vancouver, British Columbia.

The Kent Clothes Brush. Fundamental.

On my return to the office today I was surprised to receive a late Christmas gift from one my colleagues: a Kent clothes brush.

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A clothes (or suit) brush is an accessory I had long coveted, but had been unable to source in Vancouver. Although the clothes brush is bandied about on the Blogosphere as an unquestionable staple of male existence, in reality they’re a little anachronistic. The truth is that most men treat their suits and jackets rather poorly, either neglecting to clean them entirely, or dry cleaning them into shapeless oblivion. When you consider that a man’s suit collection is almost certainly the most expensive aspect of his wardrobe, it really is astonishing the way most guys treat them: stuffing them into suitcases when traveling and letting them languish on wire hangers week in and week out.

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Men wear suits, in the workplace or otherwise, to look good and to look professional. Regardless of how much money you spend on your suits, keeping them clean and looking sharp should be a priority. Otherwise you look neither professional nor well dressed - and where does that leave you?Letting your suit jackets lose their shape, or the fabric lose its lustre from an abundance, or total absence, of cleaning isn’t a good decision for your career or your cheque book.

As I made my rounds to some of Vancouver’s more reputable suit dealers this fall in search of a clothes brush, the best most salesmen could offer me was a lint roller. I suppose I shouldn’t be too surprised by this. Nevertheless it is tragic that shops in Vancouver can trade as purveyors in the arena of #menswear, and sell thousand dollar suits, yet through ignorance or indifference don’t stock relatively inexpensive brushes. I suspect this is a state of affairs that exists beyond the city limits of Vancouver. Granted, as someone who didn’t own a clothes brush until today I suppose my indignation should be somewhat tempered.

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Dry cleaning is indeed the most effective way to get dirt and stains out of a suit. However it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the chemicals used in the dry cleaning process will over time break down the natural fibres in the wool and canvas of a suit, and the crude two dimensional pressing that accompanies dry cleaning will eventually affect the shape of the jacket. Unless you’re consistently spilling food and drink on yourself, you shouldn’t be dry cleaning a suit more than twice a year.

The good news is that most dirt and dust, along with minor wrinkles, can be easily brushed away. Do this after every wear and you’ll extend the life of your suits considerably. A regular brushing whisks away crumbs and mud and whatever else you’ve picked up during your workday before it gets a chance to be ground deep into the fibres. Regular brushing is also supposed to prevent that nasty shine that well worn suit pants can develop.

I gave my suit jacket a brisk brushing this morning and I was legitimately impressed with the difference it made. If you wear your suits on a regular basis you gradually stop noticing the settling of little fibres and hairs on your jackets and trousers that have accumulated since their last cleaning. A few passes with the brush will breathe life back into the fabric.

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Though I don’t doubt that there are many makers of proper clothes brushes, GB Kent & Sons Ltd. (or Kent Brushes as they are more commonly known) have set the the standard for an affordable workhorse of a brush. They’ve been making brushes since 1777, using only natural boar bristle, and have been recognized for their excellence in this field by the granting of various Royal Warrants under nine different reigns.   

So buy a clothes brush, and use it often. When the wrinkles in your suits become too much, take them to a reputable cleaner for a proper pressing. This will keep your suits looking better - longer, and pare down your dry cleaning bill considerably. You’ll also be able to look down on your peers who don’t practice this time honoured #menswear tradition.

The Dark Side of the Authentocracy

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There’s a dark side to the authentocracy that is #menswear. It’s a crowded marketplace of ideas, products and brands and everyone’s jostling for position – constantly having their bona fides evaluated. It’s sartorial Darwinism. It’s survival of the crispiest.

Nothing in #menswear is authentic enough, well made enough, or classic enough. Your luggage is not heirloom quality enough, and your shirting is not American-made enough. In short we’re always hungry, always hunting, always searching for something more. This isn’t a bad thing.

The guardians of #menswear, like the students of Socrates, engage in a constant dialogue in pursuit of the ideal form of authenticity. Searching in vain for a physical manifestation of true authenticity, a nebulous concept not easily defined or explained. Traditional, original, genuine – adjectives #menswear enthusiasts aimlessly sprinkle into their Christmas wish-lists and product reviews without a true consensus on what any of it means. I think this is because the disciples of #menswear are romantics by nature, and perhaps historical revisionists to some degree as well, idealizing bygone eras, fashions and techniques.

But get too far down the rabbit hole and you can end up like these geezers, steezed-out in the middle of the wilderness reading books and holding vintage magnifying glasses. Nothing wrong with that really – could be one hell of an afternoon - I just think they’ve taken the pursuit of an “authentic” experience a little too far. They’ve had too much of the #menswear Kool-Aid.

We know the holidays are a time for indulgence – more free time to cruise the Blogosphere, more dinner parties to dress up for, more Internet sales. Even the air is crisp this time of year.

Just remember these two chaps when you’re stuffing your online shopping cart on Boxing Day: too much of the #menswear Kool-Aid and you too could wind up passed out on a log in a misty ravine while your pal in yellow slacks regales you with a passage from his favourite book.

The Holiday Tartan Gift Guide

‘Tis the season for holiday Gift Guides, and it always strikes me as odd that DIY pocket squares are omitted from even the most reputable #menswear lists. I’d say a homemade pocket square, hand-cut from a meaningfully select textile is a pretty sweet - Christmas or otherwise - gift idea.

They’re inexpensive to make (the only material cost is the fabric), and they can be gifted individually or bundled together for a more substantial present. Also, in case the Blogosphere has managed to convince you otherwise, pocket squares are in fact as easy to make as they look. Assuming you put even a little thought into selecting the fabric, and minimal effort into finishing the edges, they’re an attractive and creative keepsake. In a nutshell they’re a unique gift for those hard-to-shop-for gentlemen on your list.

Though sourcing, cutting and finishing silk or another fine/expensive material is probably best left to the professionals, linen or wool is readily available at any fabric store, and is easy to work with. 

The three wool squares pictured above are the traditional tartans of the three largest Atlantic Provinces: Nova Scotia (blue), New Brunswick (green) and Newfoundland (red). Good luck finding a sexier tartan than the Nova Scotian. I picked up a metre of each at a fabric store in Ottawa, and if memory serves me correct each metre of cloth made about a dozen 13” x 13” squares. A good measuring tape, a sharp pair of scissors, and a steady hand is all you need to cut your cloth into squares. Finishing the edges is a little trickier.

I suppose I could have finished them by hand, but if that were the case I’d probably still be working on them. Fortunately an experienced seamstress with a sewing machine offered to finish the edges for me. I realize that most people probably aren’t so lucky. However I would expect that for a modest sum a professional seamstress or a tailor could finish your edges for you. I would think a shopping centre dry cleaner that offers “5 minute alterations” could probably knock off a couple dozen pocket squares quickly, and on the cheap.

I thought a bundle of traditional tartan pocket squares were a fitting Christmas gift because they compliment winter tweeds well. Admittedly, they’re a little “heavy” for worsted wool. For my next batch I’ll probably go for something a little lighter, maybe with some interesting deadstock fabric.

If you’re stuck for gift ideas, this is the kind of project you could start this coming weekend and still have them folded and neatly tucked into stockings by the 24th. Good luck.

Patinated

A month or so ago Valetmag.com did a piece titled The Essential Leather Glossary.

I used to really enjoy Valet, but unfortunately over the past year it has become so sponsor driven that it’s almost devoid of any product-neutral content. Valet is still worth keeping on (or adding to) your favourites menu though, it’s useful for trend spotting, and Valet does a decent job curating publications like GQ, Esquire and other more mainstream medias that #menswear snobs might not otherwise bother with.

So to Valet’s credit I thought the leather glossary was a good idea. A lot of terms get thrown around in the blogosphere, and not everyone is familiar with the nomenclature. But #menswear enthusiast or not, everyone appreciates leather goods. Unfortunately not all “leather” is created equal, and the waters are further muddied by a myriad of terms, grades and styles that can and do mislead unsuspecting consumers.

So while Valet’s Essential Leather Glossary was a good start I thought I’d lean on Wikipedia and Google to flush the list out a little. 

Sourcing your next leather belt, boots or sofa is really not that much different than any other product: a deal too good to be true, likely is. Products made out of full grain leather have fixed material costs that can’t be avoided. If you’re spending less than $200 on a pair or shoes, or say $50 bucks on a belt, you aren’t getting “real” leather. It’s like they teach us in 1L - caveat emptor.

[Above is a Tommy Hilifiger belt I got years ago. It’s aged nicely.]

Think those shoes or wallet you just bought that are stamped “genuine leather” are made entirely of leather? Wrong. Although I have no idea who investigates or enforces clothing labeling practices, it’s worth knowing that manufacturers of leather articles are “allowed” to construct a product that is traded as “genuine leather”  even though it contains some non-leather components, provided the incorporation on non-leather materials does not exceed specific levels.

For example the European Commission Directive 94/11 on “footwear labeling” states that the upper, lining, or sole of a shoe can be labelled “genuine leather” so long as 80% of the surface area is in fact made of leather. If the standard in Europe is 80%, dare I speculate what the standard is in China?

Ever have a belt or watch strap split open on you, revealing a gooey or foamy interior? Yet that same article was stamped “leather”, “genuine leather” or “real leather”? I’ve included a couple photos in this post of a watch strap and belt I own, both stampled “genuine leather” and in both cases you can see where they will, or have, split apart.

So long as the outer layer, and lining of the belt/strap are made of leather, a manufacturer can fill the space between these two strips with other materials provided “no other materials compromise more than 50% of the surface area”, and still call their product “genuine leather”. Confusing eh? I haven’t investigated further to determine how surface area is calculated, and it’s really beside the point: when purchasing leather products trust your instincts, and research the brands, because you sure as hell can’t trust labels.

The Good

Bridle Leather (very good) -Vegetable tanned cowhide used for making equestrian equipment. Bridle leather refers to the way that a piece of leather (full grain cow hide) is finished at the tannery. Bridle leather has both the flesh and grain side of the leather stuffed with greases and finished with wax. Because this is a labour intensive and expensive process only the best grades of leather are selected for this treatment. Bridle leather is also made in comparatively fewer tanneries.

Full Grain Leather - Leather that has not been corrected in any way with sanding or buffing, beyond the original hair removal. This allows the natural markings, imperfections and character of the leather to show through. The grain remains allowing the fiber strength and durability. The grain also has breathability, resulting in less moisture from prolonged contact. Rather than wearing out, it will develop a patina over time (see my Tommy Hilfiger belt above for example). High quality leather furniture and footwear are often made from full-grain leather.  Because full grain leathers must be cleaner hides to start with, full grain leather is always more expensive than its corrected or split cousins. Belts, watch straps, and most shoes should ideally be made of full grain leather.

Top-grain Leather - Is the most common type of leather used in high-end leather products, and is the second-highest quality (second to full grain that is). It has had the “split” layer separated away, making it thinner and more pliable than full-grain. Its surface has been sanded and a finish coat added which results in a colder, plastic feel with less breathability, and it will not develop a natural patina. So long as the finish remains unbroken, top grain leather has greater stain resistance than full grain leather. 

Nubuck - A leather where the surface has been buffed and brushed to create a soft, velvety effect. While suede is created from the flesh (inner) side of a hide, nubuck is created using the grain (outer) side, making it stronger.

Oxblood - A dark, reddish-brown colour used to dye leather, and is used often for cordovan.

Patina - The rich, worn-in hue or lustre that develops in a quality piece of leather over time with age and wear.

Shearling - Sheepskin or lambskins that have been tanned with the wool intact (think nice leather slippers).

Vegetable Tanning - A method of hide tanning which utilizes materials from organic materials such as bark, instead of the traditional chemicals. Vegetable tanned leather is stiffer than traditionally-tanned leather, and gets darker from your body’s natural oils the more you use it. Bridle leather will typically be vegetable tanned. 

Nappa - Soft, full grain leather made from unsplit sheep or lambskin. It is usually tanned with alum and chromium salts and dyed throughout the whole piece.

Glove Leather - Lambskin or other very soft, high quality leathers typically used for gloves. High-end English shoes will typically be lined with glove leather. 

Calfskin - A high quality, fine grained leather made from the skins of young cattle.

Cordovan - Also known as “shell cordovan,” this leather is made from the firm shell portion of a horse (read: the butt). Cordovan has a characteristic finish, and is very durable.

Grain - A term used to describe the natural characteristics of an unprocessed hide, such as its texture, wrinkles and markings.

Suede - A finish (not technically a type of leather) where the top surface of the hide has been removed by abrasion and then brushed to create a soft, fuzzy feel. Also known as buffed leather, similar to nubuck.

The Bad

Corrected-grain leather - Any leather that has had an artificial grain applied to its surface. Taking hides that do not meet the high standards for full grain use, the imperfections are sanded off and an artificial grain is impressed into the surface, and then dressed up with stains or dyes. Most corrected-grain leather is dyed with a strong pigment to further obscure any imperfections, and hide the corrections. The artificial grain embossed on the leather will often be “pebbled” or take on the appearance of an exotic skin like alligator.

Split leather - Leather created from the fibrous part of the hide left once the top-grain of the rawhide has been separated from the hide. During the splitting operation, the top-grain and drop split are separated. The drop split can be further split (thickness allowing) into a middle split and a flesh split. Split leather then has an artificial layer applied to the surface of the split and is embossed with a leather grain (bycast leather). Splits are also used to create suede. The strongest suedes are usually made from grain splits (that have the grain completely removed) or from the flesh split that has been shaved to the correct

Patent Leather - Leather where one surface has been covered with a flexible, waterproof film which has a lustrous mirror-like surface. This coating was formerly built up by the application of various varnishes and lacquers using linseed oil. The original process was developed in New Jersey, by inventor Seth Boyden in 1818. Today, patent leather
 usually has a plastic coating. Not crispy.

The Ugly

Reconstituted leather - Composed of up to 90% leather fibres (often scrap from leather tanneries or leather workshops) bonded together with some form of plastic binder to create a look and feel similar to that of leather at a fraction of the cost. The resulting material is not as durable as real leather and is recommended for use only if the product will be used infrequently. This is shit.

Bonded Leather - Most often found in shitty upholstery. Bonded leather is generally a vinyl or polyurethane surface that contains about 17% leather fiber in its backing material. This plastic material is then stamped to give it a leather-like texture.

Bycast Leather - A split leather with a layer of polyurethane applied to the surface and then embossed. Bycast was originally made for the shoe industry and recently was adopted by the furniture industry. The original formula created by Bayer was strong but expensive. The result is a plastic material that is slightly stiffer but cheaper than top-grain leather but has a much more consistent texture. Because its surface is completely covered in plastic, is easier to clean and maintain. Your shitty co-worker’s shoes are probably made of bycast leather.

A Sunday Ritual

For my money there’s no better way to round out a Sunday evening than with a stiff drink, a tin of polish, and couple pairs of broken-in Goodyear welted shoes. In my case Allen Edmonds.

There’s something extremely satisfying about brushing off the nicks and soot from the previous week’s travels, and then buffing them back up to their previous lustre. Well patinated shoes aren’t something you can buy off the shelf; it’s a character in the leather that’s slowly acquired over months and years of wear, and layers of creams, waxes, and polishes.

With the exception of shoes reserved for the most formal of occasions, all leather shoes look better after they’ve seen a few miles.

Buy good shoes. Take good care of them. They’ll last forever. They’ll look awesome.

Yes, that’s the siren song of the #menswear blogosphere, but it’s also true. Wear nice shoes, and no one notice’s your shitty suit. Wear shitty shoes, and no one notices that crispy Kiton you picked up in Naples during Yacht Week.

I’m not saying we all need to have Lobbs or Gazianos on our feet, just that at the very least self-respecting men should strive to wear welted calfskins, made by craftsmen.

Nothing says “I don’t get it” like wearing rubber-soled, bonded leather, bluchers. Extra points if they’re square-toed.

I don’t care if you are on a student’s budget. Take your clothing budget. Cut it in half. Now take one of those halves, and buy some decent shoes. 

Allen Edmonds, Meermin, and Loake to name a few are well made, use full-grain leathers, and can be had on a budget. Buying new still too much? Go on eBay - buy shoes off dead guys. I do. And stick to oxfords for the workplace, broguing optional.

Oxford v. Blucher? Don’t know the difference? Get yourself sorted. Start with Wikipedia.

There is no excuse to be the guy in the elevator with the shitty department store slip-ons. Yah, the sexy assistant who got off two floors ago noticed - but more importantly the dude who sits in the corner office you covet noticed. And judged accordingly.

A further thought on maintenance: leather soles need to be treated with respect.

Wear them every other day at the most, and keep cedar shoe trees in them between wears. Shoe trees are great for odour control, maintaining shape, and wicking up moisture. Wet leather soles unfortunately break down rather quickly. If your shoes ever get really wet, which will happen, let them dry on their sides, naturally - don’t rush them with heat. This is fundamental.

James Purdey & Sons. Founded in London in 1814. Granted its first Royal Warrant of Appointment in 1868 by HRH The Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII. Producer of the world’s finest sporting shotguns and rifles. 

My grandfather passed away yesterday. He was 89. Bob was a veteran of the Second World War, and a graduate of Dalhousie Law School, class of ‘51. In ‘71 he was appointed Queens Counsel. From ‘85-‘86 he served as president of the Nova Scotia Barristers Society. During that time he penned a series of light-hearted, but poignant articles on the legal profession. I apologize for the poor photo quality - but I think it’s worth squinting for. Articles like these let us reflect on the traditions and shared experiences that are unique to our profession. 

My grandfather passed away yesterday. He was 89. Bob was a veteran of the Second World War, and a graduate of Dalhousie Law School, class of ‘51. In ‘71 he was appointed Queens Counsel. From ‘85-‘86 he served as president of the Nova Scotia Barristers Society. During that time he penned a series of light-hearted, but poignant articles on the legal profession. I apologize for the poor photo quality - but I think it’s worth squinting for. Articles like these let us reflect on the traditions and shared experiences that are unique to our profession. 

No. 10 Savile Row

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This fall I discovered a brilliant BBC Four series titled “Savile Row” which I’ve been shamelessly gorging myself on via Youtube. “Savile Row” is something of hybrid between a documentary and reality television. The series follows a handful of tailors and cutters from the Row as they narrate their dying trade’s struggle with high street competition and a dwindling customer base. You can check it out here.

Although the series is a few years old, if you’re not familiar with Savile Row, or English bespoke suit making in general, it’s definitely required watching.  With the explosion of internet-based “tailors” offering “custom made” suits, and “bespoke” entering the #menswear vernacular as a throw-away label to be freely exploited, the consequence of knowing the history and workings of the Row has never been greater.

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Recently my girlfriend floated the idea of trip to Scotland in the spring to see a friend of hers from college. My understanding is that although Glasgow would be our ultimate destination – I’d get to spend a couple days in and around London first. Naturally this has got the Row on my mind.

There are approximately twenty tailors operating on Savile Row proper, and countless others who have set up shop just off the hallowed strip. Though from the curb it may be hard to distinguish one tailor from his neighbour, each outpost of bespoke suit making has a history, expertise, and subtle style uniquely theirs.

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An article I read recently on The Rake about Dege & Skinner reminded me that before anyone gets serious about making their first bespoke purchase they had better do their homework.

Dege & Skinner was founded in 1865, and is one of the oldest firms still trading on the Row, holding the royal warrants of HM The Queen, HM The Sultan of Oman and HM The King of Bahrain. Known for its military and equestrian pedigree (military tailoring is 25% of the firm’s business), and as the master of bespoke ceremonial uniform, Dege & Skinner fitted the Princes William and Harry in dress uniforms for a Royal Portrait in 2009.

Royalty aside, it is quite rare for a firm on the Row to disclose its client list. While to North American audiences this rather reclusive practice may invite criticisms of squandered marketing opportunities, the client’s of Savile Row appreciate the discretion. When your work speaks for itself, and your business has spanned more than a century, word of mouth is a form of advertising that no marketing campaign could ever mirror.

Despite the best efforts of the modest and conservative tailors on the Row, occasionally the prying eyes of #menswear do get a glimpse of which celebrities frequent which tailors – in some cases to the chagrin of the firm’s I am sure.

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At a recent sale of Michael Jackson’s estate it came to light that he was a Dege & Skinner man. Apparently Dege’s military pedigree and Michael’s passion for epaulettes was a natural pairing.

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In the picture above we see Michael in a Dege jacket, speaking with the King of Bahrain (who awarded Dege & Skinner with a royal warrant). One has to wonder if they found time to talk about anything other than #menswear. 

The Dege cut is not known for being distinctive, not like Anderson & Sheppard, Huntsman or Kilgour – firm’s whose suits are said to be cut with subtle but signature lines that are detectable by those in the know.

Like all the historic Savile Row tailoring workshops, Dege is now populated by an army of young men and women drawn to the trade by a renewed understanding that a nation’s economy stands or falls by its ability to manufacture.  

The emphasis on recruiting, training and retaining the top skilled labour is pronounced at Dege. To put the bona fides of Savile Row tailor in perspective, to become a military tailor or cutter at Dege & Skinner it takes three to five years’ learning under a master, and then a further five years experience to get to the top tier.

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Apprentices are willing to commit this kind of time for many of the same reasons that customers are willing to commit thousands of pounds: because the history of Savile Row says these loyalties are not misplaced. The success and longevity of firms like Dege & Skinner speaks to the enduring quality of their craftsmanship and the calibre of their employees. It would be a difficult task indeed to find clothiers anywhere in the world who have traded out of the same shop, using the same methods, for as long as the tailors of the Row have.

In 2011 Dege & Skinner signed a 15-year lease on No. 10 Savile Row reassuring #menswear enthusiast that recession or not this pillar of the bespoke trade isn’t moving off the Row anytime soon.

Dege may not equal Henry Poole’s full house of 40 Royal Warrants, nor occupy the coveted address of Gieves & Hawkes at No. 1 Savile Row, but if you’re in the market for an understated but sublime English bespoke tailoring experience, one worthy of pop stars and kings, then I understand Dege to be worthwhile port of call. I know I for one will be darkening their doorstep in the spring.