or Connect
Styleforum › Forums › Men's Style › Classic Menswear › Tom Ford Store, Collection & WaPo Article: SF-Style Men's Wear Focus
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Tom Ford Store, Collection & WaPo Article: SF-Style Men's Wear Focus

post #1 of 121
Thread Starter 
Tom Ford, Post-Gucci, Takes A Vested Interest in Menswear

By Robin Givhan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, April 10, 2007; C01

NEW YORK, April 9 -- Designer Tom Ford has returned to the fashion spotlight with a menswear collection. His successful revitalization of Gucci in the 1990s sparked an industry-wide rampage to resuscitate other dowager brands and pushed clothing toward a hypersexual aesthetic.

Now he wants to make the man in the gray flannel suit the star of the menswear industry. He's fetishizing functional buttonholes on jacket sleeves. He's got a tie silhouette named after Prince Michael of Kent for a fella who wants a knot as big as a child's fist. He's got a top hat in his display case.

The Tom Ford brand is a partnership with financial wizard Domenico de Sole. Over the course of a decade, the two masterminded the transformation of Gucci Group from a single brand teetering on the brink of disaster into a conglomerate that now includes Stella McCartney, Balenciaga and Yves Saint Laurent. The pair's departure from Gucci in 2004 signified the end of an era of rapid expansion by fashion companies.

During his tenure at Gucci, Ford once noted that the essence of his job was to know what consumers wanted before they could even imagine it. He led the way in reviving logos, low-slung boot-cut trousers, embellished sportswear and a slithering disco sensuality.

A larger-than-life personality who used his charm to woo media and customers alike, Ford was one of the few designers with star power to rival that of the Hollywood celebrities he dressed.

On Monday, fashion's oracle unveiled his collection of men's ready-to-wear, his made-to-measure atelier and the Madison Avenue boutique in which it is all housed.

"I feel a tremendous amount of pressure, probably of my own making," Ford says. "I'm sure there'll be some people wanting to know why there are no sexy hip-huggers."

The two-story boutique, designed like a townhouse, is decorated to resemble Ford's own home in London, with beaver-pelt rugs and ebony woodwork. It will be staffed by the usual sales representatives, as well as maids and butlers who will fetch drinks, lunch or whatever else a client in the midst of a private appointment might need.

The idea is to create "a residential environment that reflects the lifestyle of the clients," Ford says, a description that should give an indication of the sort of disposable income required to indulge in his latest vision. Ready-to-wear suits begin at about $3,200 and made-to-measure ones at $5,000. The least expensive item of clothing in the boutique is a pair of socks -- hand-woven -- for $75.

The suits, made by Italy's Ermenegildo Zegna in a licensing agreement, are distinguished by their restrained -- even conservative -- cut and attention to detail: hand-knotted lapel buttons, tiny buttons that secure the trouser cuffs so that they can be folded down and any dust whisked away by a valet, and BlackBerry pockets constructed so that a man does not have to sacrifice the line of his jacket in the name of technology.

Ford has stocked his display cases with $3,900 silk dressing gowns that are updates of 18th- and 19th-century prints. There are sapphire and diamond cuff links, handmade shoes and riding boots.

This is not fashion -- at least not in the way Ford's former Gucci customers are accustomed to it. The changes from one season to the next will be subtle, perhaps barely discernible. "A lot of the clothes will be seasonless," he says. "The shoulder shapes should last three years."

Ford believes there is an unfilled niche between the ultra-traditional bespoke suits from Savile Row and fashion suits from Italy. (Brooks Brothers has a similar theory. The company hired designer Thom Browne to create what it calls a "couture" collection of traditionally crafted suits with fashion panache. Prices begin at $4,000.) Ford's suits aren't stuffy or flashy. The most noticeable element is not the design but the fit, which is dazzling.

In this new incarnation, Ford has shrugged off much of what distinguished him as a savvy fashion marketer. He is eschewing fashion shows, which he elevated to high drama at Gucci. The man who once talked about how the lifestyle of Rita Wilson, wife of Tom Hanks, influenced his thinking as a designer, now avoids celebrity references. He is his own muse.

His glossy Hollywood image has been revised. He was not wearing his uniform of a black suit and crisp, open-collared white shirt unbuttoned to the nether regions. While giving a tour of his boutique before it opens to the public on Thursday, he was dressed in one of his own charcoal-gray two-button suits with single vent and matching vest. The trousers were lean and the shoulders sharp. He wasn't wearing a tie and his gray shirt was unbuttoned -- but only barely.

"For me, fashion is more traditional. Maybe it has to do with my age," says Ford, 45. "Or the time. It feels very current for me."

These are clothes for CEOs, law partners and trust-fund boys with a conservative streak.

"As long as I can wear it, everyone can wear it," de Sole says. "I think Washington will be a very strong market."

Ford believes his customer could just as easily be 20 years old as 80. But truth be told, when he was in his 20s, he would not have seen the beauty in a $3,000 suit like this.

"I think I could have appreciated the gloss of it," Ford says. "I probably would have noticed that it was better than what I had seen before, but I couldn't tell you why."

Ford is betting that a lot of men in their 20s and up also will be able to see beyond the sheen.
post #2 of 121
Ford believes his customer could just as easily be 20 years old as 80. But truth be told, when he was in his 20s, he would not have seen the beauty in a $3,000 suit like this.

"I think I could have appreciated the gloss of it," Ford says. "I probably would have noticed that it was better than what I had seen before, but I couldn't tell you why."

Ford is betting that a lot of men in their 20s and up also will be able to see beyond the sheen.

**************************************************************
Very interesting. I wonder if Mr. F. still sees beauty in the designs he created while at Gucci, etc. As I recall, the men's suits he made for Saint Laurent Rive Gauche were difficult to wear. This, from the help who watched men try them on.
post #3 of 121
Quote:
"The shoulder shapes should last three years."

post #4 of 121
Quote:
Originally Posted by StockwellDay View Post
The suits, made by Italy's Ermenegildo Zegna in a licensing agreement,

Quote:
Originally Posted by StockwellDay View Post
he was dressed in one of his own charcoal-gray two-button suits with single vent and matching vest.

The website has a countdown that goes until tomorrow when I assume we'll be able to see pictures. I guess we should reserve judgment until then; regardless...anyone kind of disappointed? Then again, were we expecting much to begin with?
post #5 of 121
Sounds like a Harrison James for the 21st Century.

We'll see.
post #6 of 121
As a pure fashion designer, Tom Ford is at the top of his profession, skill-wise. Everyone here on SF places fit to the level which it deserves to occupy. I think the suit's back in a big way, and people like Ford et. al. are capitalizing on this. Men--even non-professionals--really are going back to having suits as the anchors of their wardrobes.
post #7 of 121
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sartorian View Post
As a pure fashion designer, Tom Ford is at the top of his profession, skill-wise. Everyone here on SF places fit to the level which it deserves to occupy. I think the suit's back in a big way, and people like Ford et. al. are capitalizing on this. Men--even non-professionals--really are going back to having suits as the anchors of their wardrobes.
"The suit back" I've been hearing this same tired mantra ever since the go-go 90's then post dot-com bust. It never really materializes outside the office, though if anyone can start a trend, it's Tom Ford.
post #8 of 121
As a pure fashion designer, Tom Ford is at the top of his profession, skill-wise
**************************************************************
I've never cared for his work.
post #9 of 121
Quote:
Originally Posted by StockwellDay View Post
"The suit back"

I've been hearing this same tired mantra ever since the go-go 90's then post dot-com bust. It never really materializes outside the office, though if anyone can start a trend, it's Tom Ford.

Men aren't all walking around in suits all the time, but when was that ever the case? The suit has returned to the workplace with increasing force (though law firms seem to be still catching up with 1996 as many are just now moving to business casual).

Also, even in casual attire you can seem some influences take hold. Sportcoats are certainly more popular than they were ten years ago, as are orphaned suit jackets (a look that is deplorable to me, but still).

I would never buy a Tom Ford suit based on the given description (MTM Zegna for $5000??? Extortion). But I think what he's doing might be a good thing for the bespoke clothing industry by bringing the industry much needed attention (something seriously needed since great tailors don't necessarily make for great businessmen). Hopefully, Tom Ford's boutique will get people to look outside the fashion world for better clothes.

That all being said, Tom Ford's new venture is still squarely within the fashion/designer side of things; it's just very extensively marketed as a different animal.
post #10 of 121
Funny how the reporter deems the fit "dazzling," as though fit is a universal quality.

The nightgowns piqued my interest, though I don't have any interest in wearing a nightgown.
post #11 of 121
Quote:
Originally Posted by DocHolliday View Post
Funny how the reporter deems the fit "dazzling," as though fit is a universal quality.

This is exactly the kind of popular (but innocent) ignorance that I hope Tom Ford's new venture quells: although if it has the effect I hope for, people won't buy from him and the venture will fail, unless he lowers prices dramatically.

Of course, lower prices, increased competition, and increased information are all good for the market.
post #12 of 121
Quote:
Originally Posted by DocHolliday View Post
Funny how the reporter deems the fit "dazzling,"

Reading Robin Givhan is like driving by a car wreck, you know you won't like what you see but you just have to look. She's a dolt.
post #13 of 121
Quote:
Originally Posted by AlanC View Post
I'm not sure, but I think he was saying the shoulders wouldn't change over three years of models, which is a pretty long time for a fashion label suit.
post #14 of 121
Quote:
Originally Posted by mafoofan View Post
This is exactly the kind of popular (but innocent) ignorance that I hope Tom Ford's new venture quells: although if it has the effect I hope for, people won't buy from him and the venture will fail, unless he lowers prices dramatically.

Of course, lower prices, increased competition, and increased information are all good for the market.

Eh, we'll see, but Tom Ford isn't new to this whole game. I think he'll do just fine....
post #15 of 121
Agreed. I guess his dreams of being a Hollywood producer are over though :-) If there is one thing I can say positive about Ford (actually, I could say a lot) is that he's usually concentrated on masculinity, making a man look like a man. We can quibble about some of his choices, but at the end of the day his clothes have always been about celebrating men -- not some feminized version of manhood.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Classic Menswear
Styleforum › Forums › Men's Style › Classic Menswear › Tom Ford Store, Collection & WaPo Article: SF-Style Men's Wear Focus