These are exciting days over at Vestis Legis – Bookster Tweed is now offering a lounge jacket.
Maxminimus got me onto Bookster back in the fall with a favourable review of their trousers, and I’ve been biding my time ever since, waiting for a suitable 3/2 roll lapel option to materialize. While their hacking jacket is certainly a beautiful specimen, and no doubt lovely for country pursuits, the rigid shoulders and somewhat stuffy button/lapel configurations don’t lend themselves to everyday wear -at least not in the city, by gentlemen under the age of 50.
Tweed is so hot right now. No longer the stoic domain of the academy and the sport-shooting crowd, even Walmart has staked a claim. I’d say tweed has never been hotter – but that probably wouldn’t be true. My guess is one would need to consult Christian Chensvold for a proper placement of 2013 on the all time tweed popularity bell curve. Nevertheless a walk through H&M or Top Man will confirm that tweed jackets are being pushed on the masses.
While it makes sense that this hardwearing and versatile fabric is enjoying a high street renaissance, I think this only makes it more crucial that those in the know flex in well-made jackets, cut from cloth a little more exciting than your (quite literally) run of the mill herringbone tweed. Too many geezers are drinking coffee in two-button Harris knock-offs with leather elbow patches. It can be tough to take some days.
I’m about to make a £380 wager that says Bookster has the fix.
Bookster opened its doors in 2003 initially as an online retailer of vintage tweed clothing. In 2007 this Gloucestershire-based business started offering made-to-order tweed jackets and suits for city and country wear.
What sets Bookster apart from most retailers is that they take incredible pride in who make their garments, where they are made, and what they’re made of. Very few labels are willing or able to do that. Brands are quick to point out which of their pieces are “Made in America” (or England or Italy etc.), or if a certain jacket is made with Harris Tweed you’ll certainly see that prominently displayed in the copy, but by and large these selected items are the exception to the rule. The rule of course is that you’ll never see the country of origin listed beside a garment on a company website, at best you’ll see “imported” – a useless euphemism for third world construction. As for the quality or maker of the fabric itself, that information is typically neglected as well.
Bookster garments however are made entirely in Britain, by a second generation family-run tailoring outfit, using only cloths from top British manufacturers such as Johnston’s of Elgin, Porter & Harding, and some small specialty producers. That’s pretty hard to beat.
I also like that Bookster got its start by sourcing and selling high-end vintage tweed items. I think that kind of pedigree is indicative of a company that appreciates classic English tailoring.
You do have to pay for the fabric samples, but as you can see this is a worthwhile step, and the swatches are generous. The swatches aren’t uniform in size because they’re cut by hand on site. I know this because I called Bookster to order these swatches, and the lovely English woman on the phone informed me of when the “sample lady” would next be in.
The options available to customize their jackets are numerous (button, pocket and vent configurations mostly), but not overwhelming or excessive.
I think it is also worth noting that ”made-to-order” is something different than “made-to-measure”. As you can see from the Bookster online order form Bookster has a standard pattern for their jackets, available in a variety of sizes, and you place your order based on that model. You make the jacket yours by picking the fabric, buttons and pockets – maybe asking for longer sleeves if need be – but the cut of the jacket remains more or less the same. I find that reassuring. If Bookster were a made-to-measure operation, and I were asked to input a variety of measurements without speaking to the cutter, I think the odds of a well fitting jacket showing up in the post some weeks later would be slim.
Coming in at a little under $600, the Bookster jacket will be priced comparatively to similar offerings by outfits such as Brooks Brothers and J Crew. While both of those brands make a nice jacket, their seasonal tweed offerings tend to be pretty basic and are almost always “imported.” I say reject the tweed du jour.
If you’re like me and your appetite for street cred draws you towards details like real horn buttons and exotic tweeds like multi-fleck blue Donegal, or green thornproof patterns – then I think Bookster is an online gamble worth taking. At the very least you know you’ll be getting the highest quality tweed, cut and sewn in England. But maybe I’m wrong and I’ll find out the hard way in 7-9 weeks.