X of Pentacles Pocket Squares

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by Caustic Man, Jun 15, 2017.

  1. Caustic Man

    Caustic Man Senior member

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    I was recently approached by long time Styleforum member @TheBlackBruceWayne (aka Marcel P. Ames) to do a review of several pocket squares offered by his new menswear and accessories brand X of Pentacles. As some of you already know I am actively involved in the Southern Trad thread here on Styleforum. Although XoP does not describe itself as trad I was eager to see what a home grown Southern entrepreneur and menswear enthusiast like Marcel was up to. Marcel hails from Richmond, Virginia and some of his items reflect that Virginian heritage, as will be seen below.

    X of Pentacles describes itself thus: "Online clothing boutique specializing in traditional tailored clothing and accessories. Formed out of appreciation for Neapolitan tradition of subtle yet unique style. Soft structured garments, lighter fabrics, brighter color palettes, and silhouettes that compliment the man."

    Besides pocket squares and tailored clothing, XoP's offerings include handsome Neapolitan inspired ties.

    Marcel informs me that his packaging is still being developed so expect some changes in the future. Nevertheless, my first impression of XoP's packaging is not negative. A simple white box with a black printed logo and black ribbon presents a clean minimalist look. Perhaps not as refined as some other companies but more than worthy of gift presentation. I do not doubt that great improvements are soon to come.

    xop1.png

    Upon opening the package the viewer is presented with a simple black tissue covering and Marcel's contact information. This is, perhaps, an area of improvement for XoP and an opportunity for Marcel to make changes as he develops his packaging. The best of packaging makes the buyer, or gift recipient, feel like he is holding something in his hands at every step of the unboxing process. Opening the XoP box was a small let down, until one actually sees the pocket square.

    xop2.png

    Upon seeing the squares themselves my spirits lifted as I shuffled through the various designs. Marcel sent two squares from the Mythology Series and one from the Virginia Heritage Collection, which features images inspired by his home state. All squares were designed by Marcel. Contained herein were...

    1. "Norse Serpent" in Cayenne/ Gold , from the Mythology Series
    2. "King Neptune" from the Virginia Heritage Collection
    3. "Minotaur's Labyrinth" in Olive, from the Mythology Series

    xop3.png

    All of the squares shown here are 70% wool and 30% silk, giving them a rough, textured, look and feel. Printed in Macclesfield England, each square presented bright, clear, colors throughout.

    The areas in which medium dark colors meet other medium dark colors (like where the Neptune's dark green meets the blue of the ocean) is particularly impressive in this square, with clear lines being maintained throughout.

    xop6.png

    Occasionally colors and lines become slightly muddled as shown here where the light brown and the dark brown of the Norse ship meet. This is not necessarily a liability because it provides a rustic look when stuffed in a breast pocket, but is worth noting. The fading gradient of the green sea near the colored border, however, is elegantly done despite the rough texture of the fabric.

    xop4.png

    X of Pentacles pocket squares feature hand rolled edges with no visible stitching (something I've come to call the "Italian method" which contrasts with the "French method" which provides visible stitching). I have mentioned elsewhere that I prefer no visible stitching, as on XoP's squares, but both methods are perfectly acceptable. The hand rolling is tight and well achieved.

    xop10.png

    All of the XoP squares I received measured a consistent 15.5 inches, or about 40 cm. This makes them slightly larger than even some of the larger squares in my collection. I do not find the size cumbersome, however, as they easily fold into any breast pocket on my various jackets. Indeed, the added size is a desirable convenience in some of the deeper welted pockets some of my jackets posses.

    The Mythology series squares retail for $65 and the Virginia Heritage Series retails for $69 (USD). With some other brands running well over a hundred dollars per square, this price puts XoP decidedly in the more affordable range of high quality pocket squares. Indeed, that Marcel is able to offer such appealing products at that price is fairly remarkable.

    Marcel's designs are large print images with impressionistic shapes and colors. The contrast of dusty browns, olives, and burgundies with bright blues, greens, and reds is appealing to me for Spring and Summer looks. Below I have paired the Norse Serpent square with a linen/cotton unstructured sport coat and a navy blue neckerchief. For me, the rough texture of the square fits nicely with this fabric and the colors add a little bit of brilliance without overpowering the rusty orange color of the jacket.

    xop7.png

    An XoP pocket square (Minotaur's Labrynth in "Rust") has also been featured recently by Styleforum trend setter @EFV at Pitti Uomo 92.

    Screen Shot 2017-06-15 at 10.05.29 AM.png

    See below for full images of the squares featured here, as displayed on X of Pentacles' website.

    XOfPentaclesMinotaurPocketSquareOlive_1024x1024.jpg 20170421_125604-01-01_1024x1024.jpg NEPTUNEFAR-01_1024x1024.jpg
     


  2. smittycl

    smittycl Senior member

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    Great review. I'm curious to check out their ties and other clothing as well.
     


  3. Caustic Man

    Caustic Man Senior member

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    Looks like the ties are sold out at the moment. Not sure if they will be restocked or if Marcel will go to a new design for future neckwear offerings, but I'm definitely going to keep my eyes open.
     


  4. TheBlackBruceWayne

    TheBlackBruceWayne Senior member

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    Very grateful for the generous review. Having gathered a massive amount of knowledge from my time on SF, i'm honored to be considered a contender among the community.

    Regarding the medallion print ties, I probably have enough fabric left over to squeeze out 1 or 2 of each colorway, but I was also sewing them myself which was pretty time consuming. Moving forward I have a new design for a small batch of ties in the works being sewn for me that should be completed sometime around late July (fingers crossed).

    Cheers,

    Marcel
     


  5. Caustic Man

    Caustic Man Senior member

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    That sounds great. I will look forward to that. I can't imagine how much work you must've put into selling all those ties yourself.
     


  6. jrd617

    jrd617 Senior member

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    Can you do some striped Macclesfields? Would be so much better than shiny reppe silk
     


  7. heldentenor

    heldentenor Senior member

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    I have one of the matka ties from last season. Excellent make, nice color. More substantial and hefty than I'd have expected, but that's a feature in my book, not a shortcoming.
     


  8. Caustic Man

    Caustic Man Senior member

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    I love me some repp ties, but that's an intriguing suggestion.
     


  9. TheBlackBruceWayne

    TheBlackBruceWayne Senior member

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    So printed silk instead of non-woven, with a chalkier hand but in a stripe? I thought about doing stripes but wanted to offer something unique in terms of design. I guess I felt as though pretty much everyone already offers some form of repp/block/regimental in every type of fabric. Definitely something to consider in the future

    Thanks! That Rust colored fabric is hard to come by. The one you have used a much heavier/stiffer interlining. After wearing them enough, I felt like the knot it produced wasn't bad, but still a bit too bulky in the matka silk. I ended up finding something a fraction of the weight, in 100 % wool that has more bounce to it- and is being used in my current ties. If I bring back the matka, you'll notice a big difference in the knot.

    It was a chore for sure. The first batch I made were untipped/hand-rolled, but there were few if any takers at the time.
    I found that locally (Richmond, VA) a tie without tipping was unheard of and people thought it looked incomplete - thus adding a tipping to the next batch and selling them in person, which worked out better.
     


  10. jrd617

    jrd617 Senior member

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    I have never seen a striped Macc
     


  11. Caustic Man

    Caustic Man Senior member

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    Out of curiosity, how are you selling these items in person? Do you go to conventions or trade shows, pop-up stores, booths at events? What has that experience been like?
     


  12. TheBlackBruceWayne

    TheBlackBruceWayne Senior member

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    In Person- pop ups, word of mouth. I will say selling in person has been a bit more difficult, as the average guy i've come across isn't sure how to approach products not offered in a brick & mortar location. When I debuted the virginia heritage collection locally, I couldn't give them away. I put them in Ledbury and they sold out within a month.

    I've also approached a few stores to do wholesale, but otherwise it's an uphill battle. Typically most buyers attend the usual trade shows to make purchases, but the shows are beyond my budget for the moment. I think geographic demand also plays a role - Ties for example, might do well in Atlanta and New York, but not so much in Richmond or Dallas. People are also prone to lean towards already established brands, which is understandable.

    Regardless I think it has been an interesting experience overall. My goal is to give people something of quality that is unique and lacks an expiration date. I would also like to contribute to adding a little sartorial panache to my locality. I'm all for CBD, but in RVA that often translates to Men's Warehouse suits or bros in button downs and a pair of khakis...And don't get me started on footwear (Thank god we have Rider Boot Co. in town now) . The Neapolitan aesthetic is beginning to reach a saturation point, but I think the construction makes so much sense for the South. If I can introduce someone to something as simple as a nice pocket square, it becomes a gateway for them to explore making informed decisions about their wardrobe, be it my brand or someone elses.

    sorry for the essay :bigstar:
     


  13. Caustic Man

    Caustic Man Senior member

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    I wonder if the lack of local interest in the first go-round has anything to do with the effects of Southern Trad. I'm not sure exactly what I mean by that, but in what I have observed (which is admittedly limited) it seems to me that when Southerners want to wear a jacket and tie they go one of two routes. Either the ill fitting, clueless looking Men's Warehouse route that all North American males have access to, or the more traditional Southern route of warm weather fabrics (when appropriate) with colorful accessories. Especially the colorful accessories. I guess what I mean is there is certainly a market for the pops of color in Southern menswear that you have said you like. I think you offer it in a way that most men haven't seen before. Personally, I like the uniqueness, but I can see if it takes some getting used to by guys who are used to wearing chinos and bit loafers. I could be wrong, and I'm sure others have different opinions on this, but I believe that the South is far more traditionally oriented with tailored menswear than the Northeast and the West. This might be changing with the massive influx of outsiders into the South looking for economic opportunity, but in my estimation it's still true.
     


  14. Caustic Man

    Caustic Man Senior member

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  15. Emilly.lynn

    Emilly.lynn Active Member

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