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Menswear Designers in the Sunday Times

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
In the NYT Magazine of 11/7/04 is an article about some of the new designers, which the article is careful to note are not trained as tailors. Here is a link to the article. Registration [free] may be required. "Men of the Cloth," by Horacio Silva If you click on a link on the right, you will see a picture of the actual designers wearing their own garments. Note how the picture sugests that they are tailors (I'm not sure which of them actually are, whether they have trained to be or not) by posing one with a pair of shears. The article is in the paper tomorrow. But we can begin our critique today. For example, what's with Thom Browne's highwaters?
post #2 of 15
Quote:
In the NYT Magazine of 11/7/04 is an article about some of the new designers, which the article is careful to note are not trained as tailors. Here is a link to the article. Registration [free] may be required. "Men of the Cloth," by Horacio Silva If you click on a link on the right, you will see a picture of the actual designers wearing their own garments.  Note how the picture sugests that they are tailors (I'm not sure which of them actually are, whether they have trained to be or not) by posing one with a pair of shears. The article is in the paper tomorrow. But we can begin our critique today.  For example, what's with Thom Browne's highwaters?
Duncan Quinn's suit is basically an American ex-lawyer's take on Timothy Everest or Richard James -- the exaggerated Anglophile styling. The styling is pretty much 1998-style British (exaggerated details, gaudy pinstripes) but the prices are acceptable for what it is -- $1500 for RTW. Hopefully canvassed but I haven't checked. Spencer Hart and Thom Browne are ridiculous. Nearly 4 grand for a suit (especially taking into account NY sales tax) that's ready to wear is insanity. Not just because the cloth isn't anytihng special (maybe if it were made in a cloth woven from silky hairs picked by virgins from the underbelly of unicorns might I consider paying that much for a ready-tailored suit). What exactly sets a Spencer Hart suit apart? So he likes jazz and talks about it a lot -- is that worth the $2000 premium?  Additionally, Thom Browne's suits seemed designed to make you look like shite, like you grew out of your clothes or got put in the dryer (high heat) with them on.  I don't know much about the quality of construction, but I can't imagine it's Oxxford level.  What do you expect from a guy who says he gets his inspiration from the Sears catalog? Perhaps he is trying to make his own "Kris Kross" statement. Instead of wearing his clothes backwards, he's making them all man-child short.
post #3 of 15
The link seems to lead to a portion of an article - am I doing something wrong?? Anyway, if memory serves me, this is a re-write of an article originally published a ways back, 96' I think.
post #4 of 15
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Anyway, if memory serves me, this is a re-write of an article originally published a ways back, 96' I think.
So, if your memory serves you correctly, about once a decade they circulate the old "menswear is getting dressier" article? There's nothing new...
post #5 of 15
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So, if your memory serves you correctly, about once a decade they circulate the old "menswear is getting dressier" article? There's nothing new...
I'm so sick of hearing people (and fashion reporters in particular) talk about how business casual is out, and people are dressing up again, and vice versa. The truth is that business casual is here to stay insofar as it is now permanently on the table as an option. Let's stop talking about this. It is grating on my ears like a skipping Cindy Lauper 45 at double speed. End of rant. I like Andrew Harmon's stuff, although I don't like his high rise trousers. Otherwise, there is nothing new. Thom Browne is all hype - please refer to "They Might be Giants" video for "Birdhouse in my Soul" and you'll see that he is essentially old hat. Duncan Quinn dresses himself well, but is essentially just a stylist who only knows how to make his clients look like himself. Spencer Hart - right, whatever buddy.
post #6 of 15
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So, if your memory serves you correctly, about once a decade they circulate the old "menswear is getting dressier" article? There's nothing new...
I'm so sick of hearing people (and fashion reporters in particular) talk about how business casual is out, and people are dressing up again, and vice versa.  The truth is that business casual is here to stay insofar as it is now permanently on the table as an option.  Let's stop talking about this.  
Amen. Wishing is not going to make it so. But when Fuji TV insisted I host Iron Chef in a blue shirt and Dockers, I put my foot down and quit. Enough is enough.
post #7 of 15
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The link seems to lead to a portion of an article - am I doing something wrong??
You have to click on the link to the right that says "Slide Show: Dapper, not Rapper." I would like the Duncan Quinn suit if not for the boot cut trousers. I typically like slim fits and short jackets, but the Thom Browne suit looks ridiculous.
post #8 of 15
there's nothing elegant in the designs of these four guys...not to mention the fact that browne's designs pay homage to one of the biggest fashion wastelands in menswear: the 1950's & 60s..he even manages to disrespect sense of style of his inspirations jfk and steve mcqueen;both of whom stood out with their superior style and look.. other than many of todays style-challenged celebrities, who would pay the prices these 4 ask? sorry for the rant, but overpriced pretenders offend me......
post #9 of 15
It's the newspaper's interest to write about fashion as if something new is happening. That's how they are trying to promote these new designers and their clothes. Personally, I don't care who these guys are, what they think about jazz, music, etc. If they have affordable clothing with great materials, timeless cuts, personalized service at reasonable prizes, then why not. But 4 grand for a RTW suit?. Give me a a break. And as for the business casual issue, again nothing is going to change. If a man doesn't have a line of work where wearing a suit is impractical, and phony, then he will not wear a suit. He can wear a suit after work, if he likes to.
post #10 of 15
You would have to pay me to wear their stuff. Of particular note in the Hall of Shame is Master Thom Browne. His coat is too short, his pants are too short, he is not wearing socks, and he appears to be wearing track shoes. At Domenico Spano's shop in Saks Mimo has a framed article which features a photo of Mimo and Browne together. In that photo Browne also wears "high water pants". I guess that it's no accident. Of course, Mimo looked smashing. I have seen the Browne and Spencer Hart clothes in Bergdorf. The Browne clothes look cheap and insubstanial. It looks like the 40 year old suits on sale in a thrift shop that a widow unloaded on cleaning-out her husband's closet. The Hart stuff looks a little better. Why would anyone buy their stuff when you can get "the real deal" across the floor? (I.e., Oxxford, Kiton, Hickey Freeman, and Brioni)
post #11 of 15
i couldn't agree more with you brummel..also i second that description of mimo
post #12 of 15
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Why would anyone buy their stuff when you can get "the real deal" across the floor? (I.e., Oxxford, Kiton, Hickey Freeman, and Brioni)
Not to really defend these designers, but not every guy looks good in "the real deal." So, "the real deal" often equals "swimming in my suits."
post #13 of 15
I will say that I whole-heartedly agree with some of the comments in this topic. Thom Browne's suits are horrible and I still don't understand why anyone would want to wear a suit that is clearly too small. However, it is often those people that have no prior training in a field that make some of the biggest innovatios because they simply don't know any better. They are not steeped in the "this is the way we do things" mindset that tradition typically brings. Therefore, they may be able to produce some truly extraordinary new things. It is easy to just write off a lot of these designers because let's face it a lot of their stuff is crap. However, every once in a while something great is going to come along that blows us all away and if we don't encourage this experimentation now it may be lost or never happen. There I have finished my rant...thanks for your time gents. Aaron
post #14 of 15
I personally don't care for the too small look of the Thom Browne suits.  Hadn't heard of Harmon before, but I can't say that the ensemble he was wearing in the piece was all that fetching.  If I wanted tiny lapels such as the one featured on the Spencer Hart suit, I think I might opt for a classic Helmut Lang instead. I have visited the Duncan Quinn store and quite like the suits.  The fabric is nice, as is the styling, but the price a bit dear (the RTW was about 1600 USD, IIRC). Also a bit bold for my office.  Small correction to one of the previous posts: Duncan Quinn is an English ex-lawyer, not American.
post #15 of 15
It seems I was wrong - though the title was the same. I'll post the article anyway, as it is interesting reading. I first read it in the early stages of my clothing interest, and was rather indoctrinated I might say. I still use quotes from it in some of my auctions: Men of the Cloth September 1995 Worth magazine/Features MEN OF THE CLOTH Appreciating the tailor's art is suddenly fashionable By Carol A. Schatz "I love you, I love you." shouts Vincenzo Furfaro, the head tailor for Napoleon, a men's specialty store in New York City. His enthusiasm punctuates a dinner hosted for eight tailors by Kiton, an Italian suit maker, at one of Manhattan's finest French restaurants. Kiton has flown the tailors in for a weekend of entertainment, put them up in a deluxe hotel, escorted them around the city in private cars, and presented each with an expensive bolt of super 150's wool. Why? "To us, the master tailor is a vital link in providing the level of craftsmanship that Kiton demands,'' says Andrew Tanner, one of Kiton's two U.S. representatives, looking crisp on a humid evening in his handmade Luigi Borrelli linen shirt, handmade tropical-weight Kiton suit, and handmade seven-fold silk tie. At a time when Kiton is taking pains to recognize the tailor, more suit buyers are recognizing the Neapolitan tailoring in Kiton (KEE-tahn, from chiton, the Greek word for the tunics worn in ancient Greek society). And Kiton isn't the only high-end suit maker finding new customers and bigger revenues: Retailers are also talking about Luciano Barbera, Brioni, and the American suit maker Oxxford. "Most people have never heard of Kiton and Brioni and probably never will," says Murray Pearlstein, owner of the menswear store Louis, Boston. "But these are the artisans of the industry." With gross U.S. revenues ranging from Kiton's $4.5 million to Brioni's estimated $20 million, these suit makers may be a mere blip on the radar screen of the $71.5 billion men's apparel market, but their success signifies an important change in ready-to-wear: Tailors are heroes once again. The trend toward exquisitely made suits is in part a reaction against the fashionable designer clothes of the 1980s. Some of these clothes were stylishly cut and highly advertised but not necessarily well made. "There's a whole new cult reemerging of really nice clothes," says Derrill Osborn, director of men's clothes at Neiman Marcus. "People got tired of paying high prices and having the buttons fall off in a day." These really nice, $2,500 hand-sewn suits take about 22 hours to make and are said to fit as comfortably as sweaters, molding to the body of the wearer after about six months. They are virtually unadvertised and for the most part remarkably understated. Lewis Stein, a 51-year-old preschool teacher in Brooklyn, New York, says of his Brioni: "I like it because people don't say, 'That's a nice suit'; they say, 'You look nice.' So it doesn't as much draw attention to itself as enhance the wearer." He adds that his Brioni cost more than his first car. Stein is in good company. When Pierce Brosnan appears as James Bond in Goldeneye this fall, he'll be decked out in Brioni. Other customers include Nelson Mandela, Peter Jennings, Al Pacino, and Riccardo Muti. These suits appeal to all sizes: The only thing Michael Eisner and Jeffrey Katzenberg may have in common besides Disney stock is their Kiton labels. Bill Clinton owns a few Donna Karan suits, says Martin Greenfield, a Brooklyn master tailor whose 180 tailors make handmade suits for Donna Karan and Neiman Marcus. Suit makers' time-intensive techniques result in high prices and low output (Kiton's total U.S. production, for example, is 2,500 suits; Luciano Barbera's is 4,000). As any tailor knows, a great suit is in the details. Oxxford puts 1,350 hand stitches in a jacket collar and 800 hand stitches in a lapel. Barbera ages its wool for six months in a cellar beneath its mills in Biella, Italy, and rests fabrics for 24 hours during each milling step. Brioni, to ensure the continuity of its tailoring, has developed its own five-year apprentice program. And don't forget the temperature-stabilized room where finished Kiton suits hang for two weeks. "It helps them get over the trauma of being born,'' says Alan Levine, Bergdorf Goodman's men's fashion director. Handmade suits are helping retailers get over the trauma of early '90s recession selling. This spring retailers saw gains in this category of up to 30 percent. Three of Bergdorf's best trunk shows (special in-store events featuring a wide selection of merchandise and the manufacturer's representative) were Oxxford, Brioni, and Kiton, with sales of up to $100,000, says George Santacroce, the store's senior vice president and general merchandise manager. Hand-tailored suits from Richard Tyler, Hickey Freeman, Nick Hilton, and Ralph Lauren will be introduced in stores this fall. "I've been in this business all my life, and what you typically see is something suddenly and mysteriously get in the air and move people to go in a new direction,'' says Wilkes Bashford, owner of the 18,000-square-foot eponymous specialty store in San Francisco. "People get bored and want something different. I think this trend relates to the martinis in the big martini glasses, the cigars. You don't stand around drinking martinis and smoking cigars in sloppy clothing.'' Even the more cost-conscious Brooks Brothers is introducing a handmade suit made by Martin Greenfield. According to Robert Squillaro, product director at Brooks, the suit is "completely handmade and as good as any of the top makes.'' It will sell for $1,298. The rise of the top makes--and better-tailored clothing--comes at a time when menswear retailers in general have been in a nail-biting mode. The popularity of casual day left retailers wondering what balance to strike between suit inventory and casual wear (when Brooks Brothers bet wrong in 1994, profits dropped a stunning 60 percent). Now, however, more expensive suits are suddenly more popular. Some retailers note that it's become easier to sell a $1,000 suit than an $800 one. Bergdorf Goodman Men is increasing the number of suits that sell for more than $1,000, says Santacroce. Saks Fifth Avenue's men's suit department has traded up from an average suit price of $850 some 18 months ago to $1,000$1,100 today, says Stanley Tucker, men's fashion director at Saks. This fall Saks is adding Brioni, Zegna, and Gucci to its New York City store. "Customers are asking for them,'' says Tucker. Hand-tailored suits, once the province of older CEOs and the like, are finding a following among baby boomers who may have cut their teeth on Armani and are seeking something different. The Oxxford suit, for example, is recognized as one of the best-made suits in the world--in fact, an annual Neiman Marcus in-house analysis on technical merits ("They tear the suits apart,'' says Osborn) consistently ranks it best in construction. And like a Brioni, it's said to make everyone--well-toned biceps or not--look good. Its main appeal, however, has been to the "mature man." "Before Armani put some sizzle and sex appeal into clothing, there was always a coterie of portly men with seven-figure incomes who bought Oxxford and Brioni suits,'' says Alan G. Millstein, editor and publisher of a fashion industry newsletter. Suit makers like Oxxford are changing styles to accommodate a younger clientele. "Demographics have changed so much in the past 50 years,'' says Crittenden Rawlings, the new president of Oxxford Clothes (not to be confused with Oxford Industries, whose products include the popular Oxford shirt). "The only person who could afford this suit in the 1950s and '60s was a mature man. Today, with young corporate lawyers and financial executives making $300,000 or so by the time they're 30, that young man is potentially our customer.'' Rawlings is out to lure the well-heeled younger man with new, updated models that have a more rounded shoulder, a slimmer cut, a longer coat, and a hipper-looking lapel. He also plans to dedicate a substantial amount of money to educating salespeople in the features and benefits of the garment. Other top suit makers are restyling as well to attract the Armani consumer. Luciano Barbera has developed some ten new silhouettes since it opened its first showroom in the United States three years ago (before then, retailers bought the line in Italy). "The new James Bond really should have been in Barbera,'' says Michal Sestak, the company's U.S. manager. Fabrics and patterns have also been brightened and modernized. Had Fitzgerald's Daisy Buchanan fingered these fine merinos and worsted cashmeres, these natty glen plaids and dapper chalk stripes, she wouldn't have wept--she would have moaned. "This sleepy segment has woken up and added fashion,'' says Osborn. "And quality and fashion combined will be a lethal weapon, perhaps the greatest threat to the designers.'' But not tomorrow. After hearing about Kiton through friends, James Mandelbaum, a 36-year-old entertainment attorney in Los Angeles, went to Fred Hayman Beverly Hills to try it on and came away unconvinced. "It hung beautifully on me, I looked great in it, but in the end it was a little old for me--too much like what my father would wear.'' His words are heresy to a true high-end clotheshorse like Enrico Formicola, Kiton's creative director. When he was 18, he owned 22 suits. Now at 46, he owns about 150. "I used to walk to school to save money to buy suits,'' he says. "The pleasure was to be with friends and have a suit they would admire.'' It still is.
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