Back from London - Impressions.

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by Morris, Apr 10, 2006.

  1. Morris

    Morris Senior member

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    Recently in London on a business trip. Below are my impressions.

    1. I must agree with Markus on AAAC (who recently returned from Paris), by comparison, it is clear that Europeans, and certainly Englishman attach more importance to the subtlies of fine dress. The fearless and well-placed use of color were prominent (e.g., socks, ties, sweaters, pocket squares, boldly patterned odd jackets). I am not saying our cousins are peacocks, but from my brief experience, they are far more adept at texturizing, layering and splashing color through out their attire.

    2. With obvious exceptions, American men dress "not to fail" rather than "to impress" or to show a detailed knowledge of the craft of sartorial excellence. Brooks has a marvelous history and brand, but compared to the English and Europeans, the style is boring and unimaginative. I say that with quite a few Trad pieces in my wardrobe. Ralph Lauren (with a beautiful shop on Bond Street) attempts to bridge this gap ... classic and more silhouette American cuts with innovated blasts of color.

    3. Service was mixed. Depending on which outfitter I frequented, I came away with varied impressions on service.

    a. Turnbull & Asser. Staff was quite dismissive, bordering on ill-mannered. I do not need to discuss the quality of its wares - phenomenal. I was prepared to be quite generous in my purchases, but given the demeanor of one staff member in particular, I did a quick about face and left. Disappointing principally because T&A is, quite frankly, my favorite shop in NYC.

    b. Lobb. Surprisingly, the staff from Lobb (on St. James) was remarkably affable and courteous. I was likely jaded walking in based on my T&A experience. I'm not sure I agree with Esquire that Lobb is "The Most Beautiful Shop in the World," but it certainly is not far from the top. The wood paneling felt like a warm blanket. It seemed that at any moment the Duke of Windsor or Lord Byron would walk through the door - like a time machine. Unforgettable.

    c. Crocket & Jones. Similarly, the staff at Crockett & Jones were knowledgeable and courteous (disclosure - I did purchase a pair of suede Eatons, trees, etc., so maybe they were properly incented). We discussed leather, lasts and Lobb (very complimentary). There is a reason I have a wall of C&J's in my closet.

    d. Edward Green /Church's / J.M. Weston / Trickers / Fosters. Browsed through these shops ... E&G and Weston's shoes were breathtaking.

    e. TM Lewin. I have seen Jimmy Choo's shop in NYC before the opening of a sale, and while the crowd at Lewin lacked that level of aggressiveness, the activity inside was comparable. Everything, yes, everything was 50% off. 4 shirts for $170 (vs. Pink in NYC @1 for $140). I saw men and women leaving with luggage carts filled with shirts and ties. I entered with no intention of purchasing anything, but given the treatment at Turnbull, I walked out with a few bags myself.

    f. Pink, New & Lingwood, Harvie & Hudson, etc. Given the activity at Lewin, these shops were more subdued, but the quality of items was equally impressive. H&H were offering covert coats for $450 (off from $630). This might be my only regret in London ... I should have picked up one. New & Lingwood had exquisitely patterned shirts.

    g. James Smith / Brigg. I loved my experience at Smith - picked up a solid stick umbrella, dark polished wood, green cover (for brown shoes). The feeling at Smith was comparable to that at Lobb. At the other end of the spectrum, Swaine, Adeney & Brigg - see description of Turnbull & Asser. Very disappointing since I have a Brigg.

    h. Savile Row. Given that I enjoy being married, I took myself off the market for a bespoke suit (next visit, by hook or crook). Nonetheless, I did venture to The Row. Not surprisingly, as beehive-like as the rest of the high street shopping district was, Savile Row was sedate, even comatose. This tells you all you need to know about the selectivity of the clientele. I did browse Huntsman, Gieves & Hawkes, and Poole & Co. Similar ambience to Lobb, James Smith. Fabrics at Huntsman were otherworldly.

    I did visit other spots - Harrod's, which reminded me of an upscale Macy's; Cordings, fantastic country ambience in the city; Lock & Co. for hats - observed a stunning woman who rudely "distracted" me from the hats.

    I certainly intend to incorporate nuances from the English and Europeans. After what I have witnessed, I am not sure how or when NYC became "The fashion capital of the world,"- a title that certainly still resides in Europe (whether it is London, Paris or Milan). That said, the sloppiness that we complain about here in the States does exist abroad ... however, at the higher end of the sartorial spectrum, the Europeans are more smartly attired.


    -- Never offend people with style when you can offend them with substance.
     
  2. A Londoner

    A Londoner Member

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    I'm glad you saw some good style here, though I fear it may just be one of the effects of travelling that one is in a good mood and notices the few well-dressed people, rather than the many badly dressed ones. Still ...

    As to sno(o/t)ty service ... it is a problem. A perennial problem. I have had very mixed experiences at Turnbull and Asser. On occasion they have been incredibly helpful and informative. But sometimes I have experienced exactly the churlishness you describe. On a related note, I'm glad you were so impressed by the merchandise there. I'm afraid I have found the quality of their goods is pretty variable, given the prices: you can often get quality as high nearby for rather less money, and without the "attitude". Pity.
     
  3. Ali Kebab

    Ali Kebab Member

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    Recently in London on a business trip. Below are my impressions.

    1. I must agree with Markus on AAAC (who recently returned from Paris), by comparison, it is clear that Europeans, and certainly Englishman attach more importance to the subtlies of fine dress. The fearless and well-placed use of color were prominent (e.g., socks, ties, sweaters, pocket squares, boldly patterned odd jackets). I am not saying our cousins are peacocks, but from my brief experience, they are far more adept at texturizing, layering and splashing color through out their attire.

    2. With obvious exceptions, American men dress “not to fail” rather than “to impress” or to show a detailed knowledge of the craft of sartorial excellence. Brooks has a marvelous history and brand, but compared to the English and Europeans, the style is boring and unimaginative. I say that with quite a few Trad pieces in my wardrobe. Ralph Lauren (with a beautiful shop on Bond Street) attempts to bridge this gap … classic and more silhouette American cuts with innovated blasts of color.

    3. Service was mixed. Depending on which outfitter I frequented, I came away with varied impressions on service.

    a. Turnbull & Asser. Staff was quite dismissive, bordering on ill-mannered. I do not need to discuss the quality of its wares – phenomenal. I was prepared to be quite generous in my purchases, but given the demeanor of one staff member in particular, I did a quick about face and left. Disappointing principally because T&A is, quite frankly, my favorite shop in NYC.

    b. Lobb. Surprisingly, the staff from Lobb (on St. James) was remarkably affable and courteous. I was likely jaded walking in based on my T&A experience. I’m not sure I agree with Esquire that Lobb is “The Most Beautiful Shop in the World,” but it certainly is not far from the top. The wood paneling felt like a warm blanket. It seemed that at any moment the Duke of Windsor or Lord Byron would walk through the door – like a time machine. Unforgettable.

    c. Crocket & Jones. Similarly, the staff at Crockett & Jones were knowledgeable and courteous (disclosure – I did purchase a pair of suede Eatons, trees, etc., so maybe they were properly incented). We discussed leather, lasts and Lobb (very complimentary). There is a reason I have a wall of C&J’s in my closet.

    d. Edward Green /Church’s / J.M. Weston / Trickers / Fosters. Browsed through these shops … E&G and Weston’s shoes were breathtaking.

    e. TM Lewin. I have seen Jimmy Choo’s shop in NYC before the opening of a sale, and while the crowd at Lewin lacked that level of aggressiveness, the activity inside was comparable. Everything, yes, everything was 50% off. 4 shirts for $170 (vs. Pink in NYC @1 for $140). I saw men and women leaving with luggage carts filled with shirts and ties. I entered with no intention of purchasing anything, but given the treatment at Turnbull, I walked out with a few bags myself.

    f. Pink, New & Lingwood, Harvie & Hudson, etc. Given the activity at Lewin, these shops were more subdued, but the quality of items was equally impressive. H&H were offering covert coats for $450 (off from $630). This might be my only regret in London … I should have picked up one. New & Lingwood had exquisitely patterned shirts.

    g. James Smith / Brigg. I loved my experience at Smith – picked up a solid stick umbrella, dark polished wood, green cover (for brown shoes). The feeling at Smith was comparable to that at Lobb. At the other end of the spectrum, Swaine, Adeney & Brigg – see description of Turnbull & Asser. Very disappointing since I have a Brigg.

    h. Savile Row. Given that I enjoy being married, I took myself off the market for a bespoke suit (next visit, by hook or crook). Nonetheless, I did venture to The Row. Not surprisingly, as beehive-like as the rest of the high street shopping district was, Savile Row was sedate, even comatose. This tells you all you need to know about the selectivity of the clientele. I did browse Huntsman, Gieves & Hawkes, and Poole & Co. Similar ambience to Lobb, James Smith. Fabrics at Huntsman were otherworldly.

    I did visit other spots – Harrod's, which reminded me of an upscale Macy’s; Cordings, fantastic country ambience in the city; Lock & Co. for hats – observed a stunning woman who rudely “distracted” me from the hats.

    I certainly intend to incorporate nuances from the English and Europeans. After what I have witnessed, I am not sure how or when NYC became “The fashion capital of the world,”- a title that certainly still resides in Europe (whether it is London, Paris or Milan). That said, the sloppiness that we complain about here in the States does exist abroad … however, at the higher end of the sartorial spectrum, the Europeans are more smartly attired.


    -- Never offend people with style when you can offend them with substance.


    T&A is simply "disgusting", not my words actually.
     
  4. Morris

    Morris Senior member

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    On a related note, I'm glad you were so impressed by the merchandise there. I'm afraid I have found the quality of their goods is pretty variable, given the prices: you can often get quality as high nearby for rather less money, and without the "attitude". Pity.


    Make no mistake, while the quality of T&A's wares are top notch, the value proposition is quite different. Case in point ... the fact that I purchased 8 Lewin's shirts at a similar price for 1 T&A shirt. Lewins ties are very smart as well.

    Since T&A is far from the only option for gentlemen's shirts, I considered the treatment an invitation to try a competitor. It's ironic when sales associates draw too much upon the name of the retailer ... they must remember, I, as the consumer, feed his family. C&J, Lobb, James Smith, etc. understood the concept.
     
  5. YoungFogey

    YoungFogey Senior member

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    Just so you know: the quality of Lewin shirts cannot be compared to T&A.

    Yes, Lewin is good value for money (when on sale), and T&A is not very good value (you can get as good or nearly as good for considerably cheaper elsewhere), but comparing them to T&A is like comparing a Honda (good value) to a new Ferrari (not very good value).
     
  6. whoopee

    whoopee Senior member

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    T&A's service can be rather off-putting unless you put your wallet on the table. Not very nice, of course. At another Jermyn Street establishment, more than once employees have screamed at each other during my visits, from beginning to end. Often I find the female employees kinder.
     
  7. Morris

    Morris Senior member

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    Just so you know: the quality of Lewin shirts cannot be compared to T&A.

    Yes, Lewin is good value for money (when on sale), and T&A is not very good value (you can get as good or nearly as good for considerably cheaper elsewhere), but comparing them to T&A is like comparing a Honda (good value) to a new Ferrari (not very good value).


    Agreed. I lean towards viewing shirts as disposable when compared to the amount I spend on shoes, suits and ties. I have a few T&A's and wear them when the occassion calls for it. More often than not, I will mix Lewin, H&K, N&L and CT. I generally do not get worked up about shirts ... fit and pattern (for me) are fairly universal across the makers.
     
  8. A Londoner

    A Londoner Member

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    I don't think the Honda/Ferrari comparison is fair. Lewin shirts may be Hondas, perfectly OK, nice enough, very good value. T&A shirts (I speak of RTW, having none MTM or bespoke) are better, but not -- relatively speaking -- Ferraris. I think the other non-mass-market Jermyn Street outfits (H&K, H&H, Coles, Budd) turn out RTW shirts which are pretty much as good as T&A, but often cheaper and generally dished up with less attitude.

    (And that is only Jermyn Street, of course ... a name to conjure with, but sadly too often only a name)
     
  9. YoungFogey

    YoungFogey Senior member

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    I don't think the Honda/Ferrari comparison is fair. Lewin shirts may be Hondas, perfectly OK, nice enough, very good value. T&A shirts (I speak of RTW, having none MTM or bespoke) are better, but not -- relatively speaking -- Ferraris. I think the other non-mass-market Jermyn Street outfits (H&K, H&H, Coles, Budd) turn out RTW shirts which are pretty much as good as T&A, but often cheaper and generally dished up with less attitude.

    (And that is only Jermyn Street, of course ... a name to conjure with, but sadly too often only a name)


    OK, it's not a Ferrari. I'm not a car guy; however, I needed something precious (in all its meanings) for the metaphor.
     
  10. observer

    observer Well-Known Member

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    I think there is a distinct and perceptible difference in the approach to the consumer as between the high end London stores such as those on Jermyn St Savile Row and Burlington Arcade etc, and their rough equivalents on/off say Madison and 5th Ave in New York. The latter tend to be far more user friendly, the customer is at relative liberty to browse, to buy, and most important, to return the goods if s/he does not find them desirable on reflection. In case of Bergdof there is no prescribed maximum period for a return; sounds incredible, I know. In London, generally, one would be hard put to have a return accepted the next day in most of the stores!
     
  11. shqiptar

    shqiptar Well-Known Member

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    f. Pink, New & Lingwood, Harvie & Hudson, etc. Given the activity at Lewin, these shops were more subdued, but the quality of items was equally impressive. H&H were offering covert coats for $450 (off from $630). This might be my only regret in London ... I should have picked up one.


    Yes, you should. Since I'm very interested in a covert coat(Roetzel like), do you remember other stores that carry it in London? I've looked around Toronto but never found one. Also, could you elaborate on the prize range of overcoats? Before going to London I want to be prepared financially.
     
  12. RJman

    RJman Posse Member Dubiously Honored

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    Hm, interesting comment above. I've found the reception in T&A Manhattan always to be rather aloof and annoying. The last time I was in the Jermyn St shop, the salesman was quite engaging, seeking to engage me in conversation about the astrakhan collar of my coat. Perhaps that is the key to opening them up. Fetal lamb.
     
  13. globetrotter

    globetrotter Senior member

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    Hm, interesting comment above. I've found the reception in T&A Manhattan always to be rather aloof and annoying. The last time I was in the Jermyn St shop, the salesman was quite engaging, seeking to engage me in conversation about the astrakhan collar of my coat. Perhaps that is the key to opening them up. Fetal lamb.


    I find fetal lamb to be the answer to many of life's questions. [​IMG]
     
  14. aportnoy

    aportnoy Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    I find fetal lamb to be the answer to many of life's questions. [​IMG]

    Do you like it, the fetal lamb? Do you want to stroke it?
     
  15. sysdoc

    sysdoc Senior member

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    I find fetal lamb to be the answer to many of life's questions. [​IMG]
    Over are the days of zinc oxide ...
     

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