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Gus

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San Francisco had a small Sulka store that I would visit. It had an old money conservative luxury vibe. Nothing flashy but the silk was more silky and the knits were more lux feeling than just about anywhere else. The suedes and leathers quietly reeked of quality. When they moved across the street to a larger shop (I believe after they had been sold) it wasn't quite the same and soon closed. https://www.nytimes.com/1975/09/15/archives/sulka-is-striving-to-regain-its-traditional-eminence-felt.html
 

comrade

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San Francisco had a small Sulka store that I would visit. It had an old money conservative luxury vibe. Nothing flashy but the silk was more silky and the knits were more lux feeling than just about anywhere else. The suedes and leathers quietly reeked of quality. When they moved across the street to a larger shop (I believe after they had been sold) it wasn't quite the same and soon closed. https://www.nytimes.com/1975/09/15/archives/sulka-is-striving-to-regain-its-traditional-eminence-felt.html
I shopped there and the one off Rodeo Drive. I have many of their ties (on sale)
superb construction and distinctive patterns. If not previously noted, Sulka was
an American luxury company founded in the late 19th century, not unlike Tiffany.
 

RJman

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I shopped there and the one off Rodeo Drive. I have many of their ties (on sale)
superb construction and distinctive patterns. If not previously noted, Sulka was
an American luxury company founded in the late 19th century, not unlike Tiffany.
Yup. As I write in my book! Funnily enough infamous boxer/tailor Frank Shattuck told me that early in his career he worked at Sulka’s robe workshop!
 

bengal-stripe

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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.
Just out: a video by CSBN - Chambre Syndicale Nationale Des Bottiers presenting the crème de la crème of French shoemakers.

 

pasadena man

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San Francisco had a small Sulka store that I would visit... Nothing flashy but the silk was more silky and the knits were more lux feeling than just about anywhere else.
I used to go into the old Sulka Chicago store on South Michigan, across from the park. The goods were exquisite, but the aesthetic a tiny bit beyond my grasp. “Swan Songs”, and this thread, have helped to unwrap the enigma for me.
 

celery

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I want to thank RJ for writing this. A series of events led me to abandon menswear some years ago and I found myself neck deep in technical fashion, and while I enjoy the great deal of design and engineering that goes into such pieces, I have found myself missing the tactile qualities and some of the specialness of luxury clothing (not just luxury prices - which becomes very acute when you're spending $1200 on plastic pants).

When the PTO blog posted about Swan Songs I immediately picked up a copy. I'm just about through with it now, but it has resonated deeply with me. So, thank you, I appreciate the time you took to put these thoughts down (eloquently even) and your wonderful memories of a world that I have never been part of, but still captures my imagination.
 

RJman

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I want to thank RJ for writing this. A series of events led me to abandon menswear some years ago and I found myself neck deep in technical fashion, and while I enjoy the great deal of design and engineering that goes into such pieces, I have found myself missing the tactile qualities and some of the specialness of luxury clothing (not just luxury prices - which becomes very acute when you're spending $1200 on plastic pants).

When the PTO blog posted about Swan Songs I immediately picked up a copy. I'm just about through with it now, but it has resonated deeply with me. So, thank you, I appreciate the time you took to put these thoughts down (eloquently even) and your wonderful memories of a world that I have never been part of, but still captures my imagination.
Thank you so much for these thoughtful comments. It's immensely encouraging after having spent seven years in sunk efforts feeling like I might be in Werner Herzog-quote-levels of making good on one's own insanity. I've been very lucky for the generosity of friends who believed in me and spread the word and for the dedicated readers who picked up copies.
 

ValidusLA

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Got busy, but wanted to respond w/ my takes on the rest of the book.

4 - I am probably too young for Arnys. Additionally, my time in Paris has been much more Right Bank than Left Bank (what a tourist). Sounds like quite an interesting offering that, although likely not to my taste, the world is poorer without. I now want a Sauveterre knife.

5 - 15. What a chapter. Firstly, as a person who has too many cufflinks, those raw amethyst links pictured almost made me break out in a cold sweat.
I smoked (too many) Dunhills in my teens and twenties. Some of my earliest memories (this is terrible) are of my grandfather sitting in his chair, smoking cigarettes lit with an antique Dunhill lighter as he watched the market (from the West coast quite early).
As such, I always pop into a Dunhill store. I always leave without buying anything. 15 sounds like the kind of boutique I wish we had anywhere in Los Angeles.
This chapter, and the one before it, have started me on looking up shagreen goods.

6 - Hilditch + Key - A name to which I have no reference. This section seemed to me the most, negative is not the right word, but hopeless of the book. Perhaps "Assimilation" says it all.

7 - Charvet - Once again I am a simple tourist. The only store I have actually been into in Paris of the ones on your list. I have some ties.

8 - Marc de Luca - Never have a yearned for a French bespoke suit. This chapter made me yearn, deeply, for a Camps de Luca suit. So, thanks for that, I guess! I remain deeply skeptical of Cifonelli. I think if I were older and had more scope on them historically, I would not feel this way. But 9000 kilometer view of them has always been through overexposure on the Rake or IG.

9 - Dimitri and Atienza - Though I regularly wear C+J, I never would have thought of visiting the Paris location. Now I shall when I'm there next. The balance struck between Dimitri and C+J Paris does, indeed, seem to be somewhat impossibly ideal. Not something many makers could replicate certainly, and unlikely to survive him.

Overall really delightful read. The assimilation, watering down, death, or disappearance of many of these firms or makers is disheartening, but presented in a joyous and respectful way. As someone who had almost 0 knowledge of what was discussed in the book, I feel I've come away having learned something that is, perhaps not useful but at least enriching, to my life.
 

ValidusLA

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Quotes I liked:

"But as every customer of a bespoke maker has discovered, receiving your first custom garment usually results in a certain spiritual deflation." - 174.
Yes, alas. At some point you use the term fata morgana to describe such things. This is generally how I feel about much of the things that I chase and then acquire. Almost as if the "high" leaves the minute you actually own the long awaited item.

"I would rather have good machine work than bad handwork, or bad machine work, both of which are far more common." - 179
I think all of Styleforum should read this page a few times.

". . . there are still many conscientious tailors in Britain and Italy doing excellent work. However, none in Paul's experience - or, now, mine - have both Camps de Luca's commitment to perfect fit as well as the haute couture-quality work and flourishes of the best Paris tailors, no doubt at least in part because of the influence of women's haute couture in Paris." - 200
Is it your contention then that the highest level of French tailoring exceeds, demonstrably, British or Italian tailoring?

General thoughts pg 204. Many of these thoughts line up with my impressions of Cifonelli (probably unfavorably derived by RTW). And Hermes continues to astound me with why anyone wants it.

"Heavy marketing about the heritage of a label, its past glories, often trumps concerns about products current quality or country of origin." - 209
All of Styleforum should read this too.

Note on page 224 re: shoeboxes. I get your point completely on the excess. But I enjoy having a shoebox with markings letting me know what's inside. My wife makes me remove shoes at the door, and stacking boxes in my walk-in makes for a much nicer looking space.

I admit to having perhaps ocd in closet organization. All my hangers match, tie racks, cufflink boxes, japense lacquer boxes to hold pocket squares, matching bags (not from the sources) for all my suits and jackets, etc etc. I think loose shoes might drive me to distraction.
 
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double00

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And Hermes continues to astound me with why anyone wants it.
to this , i would say :

i have , as a longtime thrifter , encountered more than you could imagine . to thrift is to shop through both space and time .

there are a handful of *things* that i have had ( and in some cases still have ) that transcend the bounds of realistic product . one of these is a jacquard silk carre from hermes ( 'le geographe' ) that i purchased in a lot of 3 from the underwear bin of a st vincetn de paul in an anonymous locale . it had little woven-in kangaroos , on top of the crazy silk twill and printing !

Screen Shot 2021-11-24 at 9.22.36 PM.png

anybody who says hermes silk craft is overrated or derring-do has no perspective
 

ValidusLA

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to this , i would say :

i have , as a longtime thrifter , encountered more than you could imagine . to thrift is to shop through both space and time .

there are a handful of *things* that i have had ( and in some cases still have ) that transcend the bounds of realistic product . one of these is a jacquard silk carre from hermes ( 'le geographe' ) that i purchased in a lot of 3 from the underwear bin of a st vincetn de paul in an anonymous locale . it had little woven-in kangaroos , on top of the crazy silk twill and printing !

View attachment 1709580

anybody who says hermes silk craft is overrated or derring-do has no perspective
I am speaking more in context of $10,000 bespoke suits as mentioned on that page.

Hermes drips of "expensive to be expensive."
 

RJman

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I am speaking more in context of $10,000 bespoke suits as mentioned on that page.

Hermes drips of "expensive to be expensive."
". . . there are still many conscientious tailors in Britain and Italy doing excellent work. However, none in Paul's experience - or, now, mine - have both Camps de Luca's commitment to perfect fit as well as the haute couture-quality work and flourishes of the best Paris tailors, no doubt at least in part because of the influence of women's haute couture in Paris." - 200
Is it your contention then that the highest level of French tailoring exceeds, demonstrably, British or Italian tailoring?
thanks for your thoughtful read and comments. My book is all about empiricism hitting up against romanticism and wanting to believe. So we are confronted by the limits of what our personal experience can encompass - the experience of one person of a particular size and taste and finite resources - with the romantic urge to idealize. A fair number of paris tailors will carry out the finicky finishing touches but will they do everything else needed for fit and cut to best suit the individual customer? My experience with C d L was that it can and will, but I’m one guy; I listened to a couple friends who have tried a lot of other tailors and thoughtful critics too. I have had great experiences with some English tailors, none at the level of the camps finish though, and some of those tailors are no longer what they were in terms of quality control despite their reputations. I’m not going to say more about that here. My friends had also had a lot of experience with the Italian custom tailors and shared my view that C de L at least stood apart. That being said, plenty of knowledgeable guys favor cifo’s more flamboyant cut. And none of these guys will give you the drape cut that Steed (my fave British tailor) excels at. And who knows, I’m sure there are some italian tailors among the thousands out there who could compete. No one can try them all and no one can have an experience generalizable to everyone. But C de L, like those lost gloves, was a case of idealization and romanticization that turned out as good as the dream.
Re Hermes, as you say the comments are about the tailoring, which like so much of their _current_ commercial focus is all about demonstrably flashing its brand and expense. Vintage Hermes is something else and I confess I have a weakness for vintage Hermes non-tailored, non-tie items.
 

comrade

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I used to go into the old Sulka Chicago store on South Michigan, across from the park. The goods were exquisite, but the aesthetic a tiny bit beyond my grasp. “Swan Songs”, and this thread, have helped to unwrap the enigma for me.
Yeah. I forgot the Chicago store. I lived there for 17 years in Grad school and working.
Not sure I ever went in. At the time I shopped at Andre Oliver in New York for more
distinctive gear, especially their slacks and shirts. In the same vein, Meledandri was
very special.

Andre Oliver:


Meledandri:

 
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RJman

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Yeah. I forgot the Chicago store. I lived there for 17 years in Grad school and working.
Not sure I ever went in. At the time I shopped at Andre Oliver in New York for more
distinctive gear, especially their slacks and shirts. In the same vein, Meledandri was
very special.

Andre Oliver:


Meledandri:

I remember Gideon Oliver https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gideon_Oliver
 

comrade

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