Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
While I was there, I got speaking to Stephanie – who has been working at Herringbone for 7 years. I asked her about Ethan Newton, Guido, Patrick Johnson and her sister’s fiancé, Thomas, who runs a blog called HespokeShespoke. She knows them all. She spoke highly of Ethan and his shoe polishing skills. I didn’t know he was responsible for Herringbone’s MTM service. That is how he must have met Phat Guido; through Herringbone. She says they were in the same ‘watch club’ amongst other things. PG got her tick of approval for style. Apparently Ethan bought almost every C&J shoe Herringbone stocked. She also raved on about how good Patrick Johnson looks in suits; which sought of pissed me off. A lot was said about Joshua leaving the business, Matt Jensen starting MJ Bale and the buyout of Herringbone from a few years back. A lot was said. It was the hand gestures that mimicked a plane heading towards the ground that said the most. Anyway, it was a good crash course into the history of some of the ‘Styleforum Elite’.
Afterwards, I met Markus at Myer to try on the P Johnson jacket. Markus was sensational to deal with: he wasn’t pushy at all, he was relaxed and he was honest. He claims that the jacket hadn’t been worn outside the house. Considering the thread that holds the double vents closed was still attached on both sides, I believed him. I did Rob’s test of checking the boutonniere hole – it was open and there is a thread to hold a flower in place. Tom was the one that commissioned the jacket, not Patrick. Perhaps that is why there are 3 buttons, not 4. The buttons are working buttons – which are quite nice. On the inside of the jacket there is a red monogram ‘MW’ which is Markus’s initials.
The shoulders, chest, waist, sleeves and the fabric at the back of the jacket are perfect. However, it was too long by about an inch. In other words, it was perfect, except for length. I paid $250 to Markus and went to my tailor who measured the jacket to make sure that it would be absolutely fine to take it up an inch. There is nothing worse than having besom pockets that are too close to the bottom of the jacket. I am pretty lucky because the besom pockets are quite high and shortening the bottom of the jacket does not affect the proportion of the jacket. To shorten, it costs $50. So all up I paid $300 for a jacket that I like, that fits well, and feels great.
On a side note, I was asking my tailor about the 3 jackets I have brought him over the last month. I didn’t tell him it was a P Johnson jacket. He said, “The elite suit jacket is very average quality. The MJ Bale suit is about 10x better than the Elite suit jacket. This jacket (P Johnson jacket) is about 20x better than the MJ Bale Jacket”. He pointed to the lining on the sleeve, the shoulder, the inside of the jacket and said that it must be made by a single tailor in Europe – “true MTM”. He held up a $2,000 Bagozza jacket and claimed that the P Johnson jacket was a slightly better finish. I questioned him and he defiantly claimed that tailoring is his profession and life’s work, and that he can tell straight away whether something is quality or not. So I guess there is a logical reason after all, as to why P Johnson is more expensive than MJ Bale or Elite Suits. I was really hoping 1-2 months ago, I could get P Johnson quality at Elite Suit pricing. The world just doesn’t work like that unfortunately.
I could have popped into the Herringbone warehouse, but I didn’t have time, and I assume that their would fit pretty similar to the 2 jackets I tried on at Macquarie Place.
Anyway, my experience laid out for any new young fellas, like me, that are thinking of buying their first jacket or suit.
Michael, I'm glad that the P. Johnson jacket fits you well. It's typically possible to bring up the bottom hem of a jacket by an inch (or two, depending on pocket placement), but no more than that otherwise the jacket will look unbalanced.
It's interesting to have a recap of some "SF history".
I assume that you've looked at Phat Guido's "Most Exerent" blog? It's not as interesting (for me, at least) as it used to be as now it's mostly "cawfee" shots and pics of Italian bikes and cycling shoes, rather than tailored clothing. However, Graeme has a great eye and he's taken some excellent photographs over the years. I do find that he belabours the "I'm not part of the online circle jerk" point a bit too much at times as, whilst Graeme clearly thinks that he's original and that he has his own style (and he has made some quite harsh posts about people who dressed similarly to him or who sourced things from the same tailors), you can see virtually identical looks in the pages of Men's Ex, Leon and other Japanese men's clothing magazines. I also find that he sometimes belabours the "just wear it without care" schtick a bit too much at times, too, because evidently Graeme did care a great deal about how he looked in jackets and suits I think that he did put a great deal of thought into how best to combine items together.
I really like Ethan's blog, Rugged Old Salt. Ethan has a gift for photography and clearly devotes a lot of effort to framing and composing his photos. He's taken some lovely photos of buildings, people and nature as well as clothing and I enjoy his more philosophical musings, too. Another thing that I like about Ethan's blog is that the content is original, unlike a lot of Tumblr blogs which are mostly reposts of mid-century modern furniture, girls on bikes, girls wearing glasses, girls wearing glasses whilst on bikes, girls sitting on mid-century modern furniture, food, and the occasional bit of clothing.
In addition to my previous post and to fxh's post, I'd also say that, as well as trying on lots of things to see how they feel and to see how they fit you, don't rush out and buy lots of stuff at first. Start out slowly, even though there might be great temptation to buy lots of things (particularly given the prices you see on eBay!). This is because, rather than (for example) looking at a Herringbone or Polo Ralph Lauren catalogue and thinking, "That's my kind of look!", it's best to take your time, and develop your own style. Your perceptions of what looks good will change over time and, unless you have a large discretionary budget to spend on clothing, you won't want to be replacing most of your wardrobe every year or two (unlike Phat Guido).
Take your time, get a feel for what you like, for what looks good, for what fits you well and what colours suit you, and then start spending money on items that will, hopefully, last you for a while and that will stand the test of time. That's my view, in any case, although others may differ!