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ballmouse

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Yeah, Smith has been in one place for decades if not a century. SAB was at 185 Piccadilly for something like a century before moving in like 1998, after that it moved three times as ownership changed and rents drove it from place to place. What's funny is that actual non-iGent Londoners suspect the Smith shop is like a money laundering front or something because they can't imagine anyone actually going in.
SAB definitely gave the impression of changed ownership because there was no way an old institution would have such a tiny storefront unless something happened along the way.

Oddly enough, the Smith shop had countless folks dropping in and out both days I visited. A number of sales were made and there were so many employees in the shop I was shocked because what's the market for quality umbrellas? I came out thinking Londoners must really like their umbrellas because the amount of business I saw at the shop was surprisingly. By comparison, I was the only person in the SAB store (other than the single salesperson).
 

RJman

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SAB definitely gave the impression of changed ownership because there was no way an old institution would have such a tiny storefront unless something happened along the way.

Oddly enough, the Smith shop had countless folks dropping in and out both days I visited. A number of sales were made and there were so many employees in the shop I was shocked because what's the market for quality umbrellas? I came out thinking Londoners must really like their umbrellas because the amount of business I saw at the shop was surprisingly. By comparison, I was the only person in the SAB store (other than the single salesperson).
Bringing things back to **** Paree, Old England and even Hilditch and Key Paris used to sell Brigg umbrellas. Old England had them until 2007, when they stopped carrying them and tried to sell SAB hardsided bridle luggage instead. I doubt they had any takers.

When I was living down the street from Arnys 25 years ago, Arnys' French (or I suppose Italian) country-style bark-handled umbrellas were very eye-catching.
 

Oswald Cornelius

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I switched to Ghurka's Examiner #5. Two of those got me through the rest of my work days. I'm on my third in retirement.
That's a great bag--the layout seems perfect to me. Mine is now too delicate to carry, and probably beyond restoration. Shame as it's one of the old Marley Hogdson versions. I've been on the fence for years about replacing it.
 

RSS

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That's a great bag--the layout seems perfect to me. Mine is now too delicate to carry, and probably beyond restoration. Shame as it's one of the old Marley Hogdson versions. I've been on the fence for years about replacing it.
I have managed to find a few vintage MH ones out there ... in good shape. I hit the various used offerings on eBay, Etsy, and others. I'm a bit hard on mine ... overpacking, etc. ... but find they last about 7 to 10 years.
 

Frog in Suit

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chere grenouille endimanchee
there are some vintage ones I can hook you up with online if interested. In addition a few former SAB makers are on their own making stuff the right way at relatively more reasonable prices, they could make you one to order too.
This is very kind of you but, at my age, I am looking to divest more than to acquire new things, however desirable. I am very grateful, nonetheless.
 

RJman

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This is very kind of you but, at my age, I am looking to divest more than to acquire new things, however desirable. I am very grateful, nonetheless.
I understand. I too ought to divest but steez is a hungry mistress. If you ever do succumb, there was an old Tanner Krolle (before the changes in quality in the 1990s) gladstone on Vestiaire Collective in the $1500-$2500 range. Man, I remember when Swaine Adeney new ones were around $1500...
 

Frog in Suit

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I understand. I too ought to divest but steez is a hungry mistress. If you ever do succumb, there was an old Tanner Krolle (before the changes in quality in the 1990s) gladstone on Vestiaire Collective in the $1500-$2500 range. Man, I remember when Swaine Adeney new ones were around $1500...
Yes, SAB's prices have become insane in recent years. No brolly under 350 £! That is probably why James Smith & Sons are so busy.
I probably will not have another (bespoke) garment made, except for a few shirts. Added bonus : I will be able to congratulate myself for being frugal!
I remember the days when shirt collar studs cost all of 50 p. (!). Sigh.
I will probably have old bespoke shirts (tunic, w/detachable collars -- my neck size has expanded) to sell. Would Vestiaire Collective be of interest?
 

RSS

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I understand. I too ought to divest but steez is a hungry mistress.
Ravenous. I keep a few pieces around just to look at and run my hands over them. More like a mistress than I thought. You have the right word.
 

RJman

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Yes, SAB's prices have become insane in recent years. No brolly under 350 £! That is probably why James Smith & Sons are so busy.
I probably will not have another (bespoke) garment made, except for a few shirts. Added bonus : I will be able to congratulate myself for being frugal!
I remember the days when shirt collar studs cost all of 50 p. (!). Sigh.
I will probably have old bespoke shirts (tunic, w/detachable collars -- my neck size has expanded) to sell. Would Vestiaire Collective be of interest?
I've never sold on them... I love SF member Luxeswap (Spoopoker) for consigning stuff I get rid of but there's many options out there -- vestiaire, somewhere like Hornets if you're in the UK, consignors like luxeswap or a few other SF members (SimonC? mack1211?) who are great.

At the prices SAB are at I would totally check out Heurtault instead. His umbrellas are so beautiful.

@RSS, I think of it as the real "Thirsty Evil" dear Gore wrote about, not teh ****.
 

ValidusLA

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Wasn't able to get as much reading time in yesterday as I hoped but some of my hot takes:

2 Sulka - I don't know if its because of my age, that Sulka was well on the way out when I was born and truly gone by the time I was buying my own ties, or my West Coast upbringing, but Sulka conjures no nostalgia for me. I only really know them based on mentions of vintage gowns or occasionally ties off this board. That being said, an interesting story of an American brand going the other way. I feel like "inventive brand becomes boring and dies" is pretty common, but the giant fashion houses I guess get away with it off cache, size, and new exposure to the brand hungry Chinese market.

2b - I too grew up in a neighborhood with peacocks (and, oddly, Amazonian parrots). Once, on my way to pick up a date in high school, a particularly aggressive male decided it owned my car and that I was not allowed to enter. This parallel gives me hope that one day I too will be able to live in a delightful city that....isn't here.

3 Delos - I loved this chapter. Partly because I have romantic notions of bespoke shoe ownership I have not yet realized. Partly because the story of the makers presented is delightful and sad.
- I likely will never have European bespoke shoes. I just don't go to Europe enough. Maybe if I found a traveling outfit. In reality, pre-Covid I was in Asia often enough that I should probably look into Japanese makers more.
- 9k Euro for a first pair is outrageous. I would never pay that at today's currency. Maybe I'm just not baller enough, but my lord.
- I love the idea of him working out of his house in Saumur. I have spent probably more time in the Loire than I have in Paris, and for my honeymoon stayed at a chateau between Angers and Saumur for a week of the trip. To me, the beauty of France has always been much more linked with wine by a river in the Loire or Armagnac drunk on the precipice of a cliff-cave room in Les Baux than it has been with Paris (though I have many fond memories there).

Hilarious stand out quote: "Anyone wishing to check quality would have to gain significant experience of what actually matters in bespoke, involving colossal expenditures at a number of different makers. While today there are a number of such authorities online, some of them tend to be self-appointed or not self-financed, calling into question their objectivity and reliability."

Shots fire. List please!
 

RJman

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Hilarious stand out quote: "Anyone wishing to check quality would have to gain significant experience of what actually matters in bespoke, involving colossal expenditures at a number of different makers. While today there are a number of such authorities online, some of them tend to be self-appointed or not self-financed, calling into question their objectivity and reliability."

Shots fire. List please!
My response:

TAMv7DsVKrA3M9jZFkGoyG_1r0U=[1].gif
 

RJman

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3 Delos - I loved this chapter. Partly because I have romantic notions of bespoke shoe ownership I have not yet realized. Partly because the story of the makers presented is delightful and sad.
- I likely will never have European bespoke shoes. I just don't go to Europe enough. Maybe if I found a traveling outfit. In reality, pre-Covid I was in Asia often enough that I should probably look into Japanese makers more.
- 9k Euro for a first pair is outrageous. I would never pay that at today's currency. Maybe I'm just not baller enough, but my lord.
So if you go to order custom shoes at Lobb Paris or Berluti or probably Lobb London now you're probably going to be quoted something like this -- 7000-9000 euro, I'm frankly afraid to check. What you get is hopefully integrity, quality, experience, the possibility that they travel to somewhere near you for orders and fittings, and brand cachet, and a product that they will stand behind, and an address you can go to if there's any issues. (I know Lobb London has a more rebarbative reputation than the other two.) A large part of the price is brand cachet. There are quite a few independents in Paris and in England who are doing good work and who are a lot cheaper, even if that is a relative term. My directory at the end of the book mentions at least one, Philippe Atienza, who was chef d'atelier at Lobb Paris and helped teach Delos. He is an elder statesman of custom shoemaking. There's also Stephane Jimenez, Eric Devos, and Aubercy itself has a custom shoemaker who should be much cheaper than Berluti/Lobb. I do think that @TheFoo is destined to become a Lobb bespoak customer.
 

dieworkwear

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Lobb Paris will travel anywhere in the US to see you if you place an order. Although since Val is in Southern California, they also take bespoke orders at their Costa Mesa location.

One of the things I took away from the book was that many of the larger companies aren't as good as the small ones nowadays. So much of what I consider interesting nowadays is done by tiny, tiny companies. Hosoi in Paris, for example, operates out of a small workshop and won't take phone or online orders. I don't think they even do wholesale. To buy something, you have to go see them in Paris. But everything is handsewn and the designs look beautiful.

For me, that golden era of large, luxury bespoke houses seems to have passed. Quality tailoring seems to be done by small cutter-run shops. Quality shoes by lastmaker-run shops. Good clothiers are tiny places with a tight curation, not huge emporiums.


 

RJman

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One of the things I took away from the book was that many of the larger companies aren't as good as the small ones nowadays. So much of what I consider interesting nowadays is done by tiny, tiny companies. Hosoi in Paris, for example, operates out of a small workshop and won't take phone or online orders. I don't think they even do wholesale. To buy something, you have to go see them in Paris. But everything is handsewn and the designs look beautiful.

For me, that golden era of large, luxury bespoke houses seems to have passed. Quality tailoring seems to be done by small cutter-run shops. Quality shoes by lastmaker-run shops. Good clothiers are tiny places with a tight curation, not huge emporiums.
as you can imagine I have thoughts about this.

like I wrote, no one can really do a Consumer Reports-type evaluation of craft artisans or real custom makers. There's a lot of subjectivity and individualization. And, when it comes to the large names, stultifying expense. I would say that the golden age of luxury handcraft is over. What survives is these drifting floes and melting icebergs in a warming acidifying sea. But consider that Atienza, Jimenez, Delos, Devos, Patrice Rock, Corthay -- all came up at Lobb. Luis Penedo (ex Gaillet, Hermes, Charvet), Charles Demagne, M Thuillier, many others... all passed through Sulka Paris. Amoruso, Gerber, Montillet and many many many others, all were at Hermes. Suzuki, Sirven - came from Smalto. A few comparably large names provide the training and the experience and they're able to that because they're large and have the funds, even if those funds come from punters buying annoying Hermes ties or tatty Smalto accessories. I follow some accounts that accuse Hermes of cutting more corners than before; I know things anecdotally that give pause about some of those big names... what happens when they stop fostering this?

My book doesn't talk much about the biggest of the big... I never bought much at Hermes and never went to Lobb Paris for custom shoes. Those experiences may well be at or better than the experiences I recount. I found sentimental connection with the smaller craftspeople I could afford. But a lot of those people are not in a position to train or take on apprentices. We'll see what happens to craft over time. Maybe there'll be a sea change as we all become more heterogeneous in what we wear and what we do for work.
 

dieworkwear

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as you can imagine I have thoughts about this.

like I wrote, no one can really do a Consumer Reports-type evaluation of craft artisans or real custom makers. There's a lot of subjectivity and individualization. And, when it comes to the large names, stultifying expense. I would say that the golden age of luxury handcraft is over. What survives is these drifting floes and melting icebergs in a warming acidifying sea. But consider that Atienza, Jimenez, Delos, Devos, Patrice Rock, Corthay -- all came up at Lobb. Luis Penedo (ex Gaillet, Hermes, Charvet), Charles Demagne, M Thuillier, many others... all passed through Sulka Paris. Amoruso, Gerber, Montillet and many many many others, all were at Hermes. Suzuki, Sirven - came from Smalto. A few comparably large names provide the training and the experience and they're able to that because they're large and have the funds, even if those funds come from punters buying annoying Hermes ties or tatty Smalto accessories. I follow some accounts that accuse Hermes of cutting more corners than before; I know things anecdotally that give pause about some of those big names... what happens when they stop fostering this?

My book doesn't talk much about the biggest of the big... I never bought much at Hermes and never went to Lobb Paris for custom shoes. Those experiences may well be at or better than the experiences I recount. I found sentimental connection with the smaller craftspeople I could afford. But a lot of those people are not in a position to train or take on apprentices. We'll see what happens to craft over time. Maybe there'll be a sea change as we all become more heterogeneous in what we wear and what we do for work.
True. I've heard that Lobb London is able to train people because they have some sort of fund set up for this.

I also get the impression that artisans in these companies are in a better position than ever to just strike out on their own. In the past, cutters or shoemakers would have to "steal" customers, sometimes literally taking lists of customers and calling them on the phone to tell them they left. Now, you leave and just set up an IG account. You may not get all of your boss' customers, but you will get enough to survive.

So the people at these places are less likely to put up with crap at their work, so long as they have a bit of an entrepreneurial spirit. If they feel their coworkers are not producing at an equally high level, or that the company is being mismanaged, it's easier to leave and operate as an independent.

This seems to be one of the newer developments, which has shifted the power towards indies. The larger houses have a harder time keeping talent (along with the shrinking labor pool) and those who genuinely take pride in their craft are now working on their own.
 

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