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Starting Fresh in Europe

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

Good afternoon all,

 

I'll be called to the Bar in Toronto in the next couple of months and it's time to put away childish things.  I've got a pretty solid set of the easy purchases --- ties, pocket squares, socks, wallets --- but on a student's budget I've been making do with a friend's Thai MTM connection for four years now.  The suits fit very well but just don't have any quality of craftsmanship and are reaching the breaking point.  I've got a great pair of black Ferragamos that are serving me well, but the rest of the shoe complement is destined for the fireplace.  I've also lost some weight and it's more trouble than it's worth getting all the old shirts taken in.

 

Time to start fresh.

 

Cut to the Big Question!  I've got three months between the ceremony and starting my new job, so I'm off to Europe with the wife to celebrate.  We have no particular plans for the month we're overseas.  We can go to Paris, Milan, London... wherever our fancy takes us.  I've got a clothing budget of $5,000 to stock up on whatever will be most cost-effective upon my return --- so if proper shoes will be 30% cheaper in Italy, but suits only 20% cheaper in France, maybe I should head to the former.

 

When I was in Paris shoe quality and prices were so much better after the exchange rate I bought a $20 piece of rolling luggage just to store four pairs and fly them all home as checked baggage; I'm sure the same can be said for suits, shirts, and so on in different nooks and crannies across the continent.

 

So, here's where I desperately need your help.  With the exception of that single trip to Paris, I've never actually toured Europe.  I have no idea where to go or where to shop for suits, shirts and shoes.  (Mostly the former two.)  Where specifically are the best balances between quality and price?  Any favourite tailors or shops?

 

For a bit of background, I'm 6'2", turning 30, average build and generally Welsh-looking.  (Just imagine you're dressing a tall, bearded Daniel Radcliffe.)  Also, I can never make up my mind between English and Italian style, so your advice might really help me get started on my own style as I begin a wardrobe from scratch. 

 

As much as I tend towards the cut of a Zegna or Brioni suit, my personality's a lot more professorial and tweedy.  (I was recently obscenely jealous of Benedict Cumberbatch's [URL=http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2011/sep/11/jacqueline-durran-tinker-tailor-suits]good fortune[/URL] as a sort-of balance between the two.)  I'm currently on the Canadian equivalent of Bay Street, so a more conservative shop might be the ticket.

 

Many thanks in advance!  I can't wait to hear what the masters come up with.

post #2 of 9
London's the obvious answer. If you arrive during the summer sales season (June? July?) you can just wander into Ede & Ravenscroft and buy pretty much anything RTW 30%+ off. You'll come out looking like a proper barrister, if that's what you're after on Bay St. Obviously you may want to look into MTM, etc, but you did mention a certain tweedy sensibility. Think of it as a sort of English Brooks Brothers / J.Press. Also, in the Chancery Lane branch they have Lord Denning's wig case behind the cash. I did an LL.M. last year nearby, so I ended up picking up a fair amount of stuff, popping in every so often. And of course, you'll visit Jermyn St. Again, it will pay to see if you're in town during sales.
post #3 of 9
Vienna's great for shoes.
post #4 of 9
Some Carminas / Meermins will be on sale in Spain come late June / July
post #5 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by comrade View Post

Vienna's great for shoes.

only, if you know the places and you can value quality

as he mentioned, he took four pairs from paris. the chain brands are of decent quality and are a third of the prize and lower.
post #6 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by Uriel View Post

more professorial and tweedy. 


That's an oxymoron.

$5K Cad is well under €4K. Which month?

If you're paying full retail €4k isn't a huge number of suits.

Does your wife really want to follow you around shops on your honeymoon? shog[1].gif Maybe a bullet proof vest might be a good investment.

What size are you? At your height you might be big enough to be limited in choice.

So many issues I'd just plan a vacation and see what you can find. Enjoy yourself and if you find something in the areas you're visiting buy them.
post #7 of 9
I've shopped in France, Belgium, NL, Germany, Italy, and throughout the US and Canada. You can find great deals here and there no matter which country. Last score were two mainline Zegna sport coats from an outlet mall in the NL for €200 each. If you are willing to do some digging and commando style shopping, your frame of reference for a "great deal" will be around 50-75% off retail.

But consistently, I found the best deals to be in NYC. You can build a nice starter wardrobe for $5000 between Century21 and other discounters.

If you are going to Europe for a Vacation, you'll find plenty of options if you head to a couple of outlets. Serravalle outside of Milan and the one in the Roermond, NL are two of the best. You can also head into one of many Suitsupply stores, great suits at €300.
post #8 of 9

Have you thought about what style you want rather than which brands/tailor etc?  I would go with style over branding every time and the quality is likely to be just as good as the big league stuff. At the moment, I have a few 1960s cut suits which look the business.

post #9 of 9
Believe it or not, I would consider Sicily. Sleevehead has a great e-book on tailors from Sicily and the new Sicily Fashion Outlet by Agira 35 minutes from Catania)has smoking hot deals. Perhaps one bespoke suit and several RTW? They will not be Jermyn street prices. I just got a beautiful unlined LP blazer for 150 Euors.
You might want to confirm the months when European retailers are having their sales. My reference is just Italy, but in January and July-ish, you can get 30% off already discounted prices. One guy mentioned Serravalle near Milan - actually about 90 minutes away or so if memory serves. Shoes? Consider Otosopse - RTW, two bridges down from the Ponte Vecchio in Florence (if you get there). I swear the guy running that place is Pauly Walnuts.
Anyway...hope you have a great time and congrats on the wedding/marriage thing.
Tip for staying in a major Euro capital for more than 3 days: Crashpadder.com.
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