The Custom Collection: Flannel Jacket

This week, after much blood, sweat and tears, we launched our long awaited Custom Collection and, I am very happy to say that it has thus far, been very well received.

The reasons behind our creating such a collection of informal tailored garments was partly in response to an increasing number of our patrons who no longer require five suits for the working week, but instead had need of the dreaded business casual; this increasingly common uniform of jackets, slacks, open neck shirts and chinos or jeans has left many, including myself, out in the cold, as achieving the effortless elegance that we are afforded by our bespoke suits, suddenly seemed unattainable.

The other reason would be, aside my penchant for fine tailoring and the best of British cloths, I am a glutton for a challenge and, so, I set about making each and every one of the garments which our patrons were inquiring after, naturally; so as to walk the walk, as it were and not just talk the talk you understand..

Now, if ever there was an essential wardrobe staple that cannot really be substituted, it is surely the jacket or blazer; names which are oft’ misappropriated and which cause some confusion, so what we have set out to do is create a blazer in the traditional sense but one which can be worn as a jacket and vice versa.

Traditionally, blazers are made of a navy blue, robust cloth up to 16oz from mills like H. Lesser and are used by clubs or schools and colleges, featuring their insignia on a patch-breast pocket and brass naval-buttons. They are quite formal in their appearance and often worn with grey flannel or worsted trousers, check, chambray or Oxford shirts and club neck ties. The jacket, on the other hand, is often less formal, more tailored and worn with chinos and jeans.

We wanted our blazers and jackets to be interchangeable by incorporating all of the best features from each of these sartorial stalwarts, as follows;

Cloth

While we have created a blue blazer for year-round use, this seasons flannel jacket is made from a 14oz ‘Wellington’ check from Fox Brothers in Wellington, Somerset. It is as soft, warm and luxurious as it is hardwearing and versatile.

Hidden Third Button

For those who appreciate the security of a third-button fastening on the front of their coat, or indeed the security of a waistcoat or double breasted coat, but prefer the silhouette afforded them by the fulcrum of a two-button jacket, the Custom Collection blazers and jacket feature a third button concealed behind the roll of the lapel

Patch ‘Pint’ Pockets

If you have ever fancied a cheeky smoke outside a venue that will not allow you carry your tipple over the threshold, then the patch pint pocket, commonly known as the patch pocket, is for you. Each hip pocket will carry a pint of your favourite ale and allow you passage to your smoking area of choice. The patch pocket is also extremely useful for keeping one’s hands warm and carrying a multitude of accoutrements and includes a coin catcher, come cigar lighter pocket inside the right hip pocket, which means you can carry your sunglasses in the bottom of the pocket without fear of scratching the lenses; genius! Also features a patch-breast pocket for carrying one’s spectacles and pocket square.

Surgeon’s Cuffs

For those who enjoy rolling up their sleeves to do the washing up as they arrive home of an evening, or simply enjoy the functionality of a working cuff, all of our blazers and jackets feature working cuffs.

Full Canvas

If you have ever admired the roll of another man’s lapel, one which appears fuller and more exaggerated and looks good enough to surf; it is owing in part to a full canvas being used inside the jacket. The canvas gives shape to the front of a coat and was traditionally fashioned from horse hair. Brown in Town offer three types of canvassing; Floating Canvas (or fused), most commonly used in off-the-peg and made-to-measure. Half Canvas (whereby the canvas culminates below the ribs) and full canvas, which we liken to one wearing their coat as opposed one’s coat wearing them, which is stitched into place from shoulder to hem and continues into the lapel; which is what gives the lapel it’s natural and voluminous roll. Those who have appreciated our Renaissance Finish of full canvas, handstitched button holes and real horn, leather or Corozo buttons will feel quite at home with our Custom Collection jacket and blazers. Those wanting to go the whole hog and raise the bar of their full renaissance finish will be happy to learn that Brown in Town can canvas their coat in horse hair, should they so desire.

Single Vent

An invention for the hacking-jacket, whereby to avoid your riding coat bunching up around your haunches, the single vent allowed you coat to fall either side of your seat and thighs. Whereas the double vent is traditionally associated with the suit; the vent sits-up as you sit down, so’s it will crease less when one is seated, the single vent is more relaxed and, sporting, if you will. The single vent also narrows the hips, thus elongating one’s frame.

In short, what we have created is a jacket that is incredibly easy to wear, is functional and one which I am as comfortable wearing as I am my suits. And that is saying something..

 

 

The Custom Collection

Soon after I embarked upon my tailoring career, I became increasingly appalled by my appearance at the end of the sartorial week; I looked sharp Monday thru’ Friday, but like a dog’s dinner at the weekend!

So, I set about redressing (pardon the pun) the balance by designing a few items of clothing which would take me from weekday to weekend in the style to which I had become accustomed i.e. perfectly tailored clothes which fit like a glove and which flattered this ageing clothes horse.

I referred to this menagerie of garments as Casual Bespoke, which is a term I used for many years to describe one’s civilian clothes i.e. those worn when I am not entertaining one’s customers; which consists mostly of three piece suits, with a double breasted suit thrown in for good measure.

The various incarnations of jackets, slacks, chinos and shirts have become something of a gauntlet as I tried and tested many different cloths and designs in the pursuit of the perfect staples for one’s wardrobe.

And, in the same way that I felt like a fish out of water when I embarked upon my sartorial journey – I had been shipped-off to Bangkok by Target USA, with a pair of shorts and flip flops to my name and advised in no uncertain terms that I would be wearing suits in the hottest country I’d ever visited, let alone lived in – I was entering uncharted territory by dressing smart casual. Where did it all go wrong?!

However, as we often do when we throw caution to the wind and relax our militant views on such things as dress code, I discovered a new found freedom in casual wear. Being able to reach into the wardrobe and pick a shirt, a pair of trousers and a jacket that would all work as well together as my suits did during the week, was a revelation.

As often happens when we discover something new, we find that others are discovering it at the same time and an increasing number of my patrons had begun asking for similar garments, though not for the weekend, but to bolster their weekday arsenal of suits because suits were becoming less and less part of their weekly arsenal; to take them from weekday to weekend and back again.

And given that I was standing shoulder to shoulder with these modern gentleman, waiting for our morning train to take us back into the workplace, we thought it would be a good idea for Brown in Town to create a collection of informal attire that was every bit as accessible as the suit, but no less smart or versatile. So, we have created the Custom
Collection; Custom, which is the term used for bespoke in the USA, because the pieces are available as a ready-to-wear but made to order using either the customers off-the-peg measurements, or those provided by the customer or, in the instance of Brown in Town patrons, the measurements we have on their pattern.

In addition, certain design details can be changed upon request.

The Custom Collection will comprise eight pieces throughout the year – this may or may not have anything to do with our initials being B.I.T which is also the name given to a group of binary digits operated on as a unit, typically 8, which is referred to as one BYTE – to include 3 jackets; a winter warmer, a summer jacket and the essential blue blazer. Two styles of shirt; one with quarter cut-away collar and a double cuff, the other with a Kent collar and single cuff, to be worn open neck. Trousers will comprise a pair of chinos, a pair of worsted slacks and in the Spring a pair of tailored shorts featuring a turn-up and double pleat.

Those who follow @brownintownatelier on Instagram may well have seen our sneak preview of the initial pieces of blue blazer, chinos and white cotton Oxford shirt. These items, together with this seasons jacket made with flannel from Fox Brothers, will feature on our website before end November.

Do feel free to get in touch if you would like to wax sartorial about the Custom Collection, or any other sartorial requirements which you may have.

All the best,

Milk for Tea & The Modern Gentleman

Milk for Tea was founded as a platform to introduce, encourage and promote the modern gentleman. Through my blog and events I hope to inspire men to live in excellence while I endeavour to do so myself. Excellence at its core is about raising the standards for ourselves which inadvertently helps progress the standard of those around us and our community as a whole.

 

The modern gentleman is a vehicle by which modern men can express themselves authentically while maintaining their male identity. The notion gives freedom for men to break free from the often times supressive ideologies of masculinity that we’re continually being shown through our society and the media.

 

In popular culture we are often shown men portrayed in a somewhat archaic manner. Many of us have been conditioned to harbour our emotions and to strive for ultimate physical appearance to gain the rights of “being masculine”. The modern gentleman is here to break that mold and to showcase a more varied portrayal of the nature of men.

 

As people we are dynamic, there are various elements that help make up who we are as individuals and it is important for us to be able to express the various sides of ourselves. Whether through our sense of dress, taste in music or anything else the ability to have the person we portray to others be in sync with who we really are is sometimes a challenge to nurture.

 

Social restrictions and the increasingly blurred lines of gender roles have caused various issues within the male community. At the age of 25 I am living life as a Millennial witnessing many of my male peers walking a fine line between wanting to be chivalrous and polite and feeling the pressure to fight against it.

 

I often times romanticize about the gentlemen of yester years. Whether it is Paul Newman, Sean Connery or Alain Delon, there was something about the men of the past that exuded so much overt masculinity but it was all channeled through being respectable individuals and being courteous to those around you. I think that this has probably been one of the reasons why modern men are looking to those who have come before us to help us navigate moving forward.

 

One of the ways Milk for Tea is aiming to help men is by showcasing a broad scope of modern day people who personify the ideals of the modern gentleman. These are men who are are committed to the progression of their thoughts and actions and would like to see a positive shift in male culture, a change that would allow more room for growth in how men view and conduct themselves.

 

Being excellent and living in excellence can look many different ways. For some of us it is striving to be better fathers, brothers, boyfriends and friends, for others it can be finally pulling off the perfect smart-casual look for the office. No matter what our individual pursuits may be the modern gentleman welcomes us all in to do it the best we possibly can.

Going, Going, Gone.. The End of Summer.

It has been too long that I have put the metaphorical pen to paper and I cannot tell you what an enormous thrill it is at being able to steal away a couple of hours to sit and write.. and possibly smoke a cigar whilst I am at it.

And it is not for want nor desire that I have not taken the time to write, it is simply that there has not been the time between appointments; at the height of summer I counted that our typical 2 – 4 commissions a week had become 7 or more! We have also been on the road; at one point I counted that we were away 8 weeks on the trot.. possibly too much for any family, or at least any parents of young children; the children, however, were seemingly unscathed, although Rubin Sonny was more than a little fed up at being wrestled into his car seat by the end of the summer.

So what of our adventures; well, as I said, it was the busiest wedding season on record for me personally, which is obviously a wonderful thing, if not a little exhausting. More than likely this had a lot to do with the lack·a·dai·si·cal organisation of our grooms at ordering their wedding attire – some leaving it as late as 4wks before the event! But I am pleased to report that not a single groom was left standing at the altar in his altogether and, as yet, we’ve received nothing but praise and thanks for our work and long may it continue. In fact, at time of going to press we have already received several commissions for wedding suits for nuptials being tied this side of Christmas. Isn’t love a wonderful thing.

Possibly ill-timed was our sojourn to the splendid Casa Rosa in Mallorca at the end of August, this being one of the busiest months on the wedding calendar and just a couple of weeks before the Goodwood Revival for which Brown in Town were responsible for the suits worn by the Bonhams auctioneers. But it was good to ascend the stairs of our subterranean studio and soak up some serotonin and add a little colour to one’s cheeks – not those cheeks, I have Speedos white lines for heaven’s sake! In fact, for my sins, it was poolside that I scribed our last blog about, among other things, the virtues of this year’s jacket of the summer which was made from Holland & Sherry’s super seersucker cloth and is adorned with carry-all patch pockets and is also completely unlined so as to reduce weight and insulation, making it cool to wear but very functional. And as one can do only when you are sunkissed, I indulged in a little Lacoste, investing in a crisp white polo shirt to wear with my tailored blue linen shorts, naturally!

Since our return, we have furnished the last of our grooms with their summer wedding suits and started work on launching our new Custom Collection, which has been a long time in the making and which I will write about in more detail very soon. But in essence we have created a capsule wardrobe for the modern gentleman, who requires more that just a suit in his arsenal to get him through the working week and into the weekend. We have been working on this collection for some time and it was only our inability to launch it that has hindered us from sharing it with the world, but we are elated to have enlisted the services of Daniel Edmund from men’s style blog Milk for Tea to help us to do so – those that follow us on Instagram will have noticed the launch of @brownintownatelier and which Daniel is doing a splendid job of showcasing our atelier. Thank you Sir!

Our other sojourns along the M4 corridor have included the Goodwood Revival where we were surrounded by the finest motor cars in the world and several thousand sartorially clad men and women for the highlight of the Brown in Town calendar, where the great and the good divulge to see motor racing as it used to be – and in my humble opinion at it’s best – to raise a few glasses of bubbly and be in with the opportunity to drive away in a piece of automotive history courtesy of our hosts, Bonhams auctioneers. This was followed by the wedding of the year for the family and for which Brown in Town were honored to have been commissioned to make the suit for the groom – those who follow my Instagram @bristolslocaltailor will be familiar with the unfolding photostory of  ‘The Indestructible Suit’, a three piece thornproof tweed suit which we made for Sam, Rebbie’s groom.

And as if to mark the end of a barmy summer, no sooner had we returned home from the South Downs, but we had to return from whence we came to lay Saffron Darby’s grandfather, Poppa Bru to rest. RIP Poppy, you will be sorely missed.

The end of wedding high season this year was marked by the wedding of Edward and Ellie Busby, whose respective families and friends have kept us busy throughout the summer with no fewer than five suits on the cutting table at any one time. Brown in Town would like to thank the Busby’s for their patronage and moreover their friendship and vitality which always brought good cheer to our studio on Colston St. and also our residency at The Hoxton Hotel in London.

Whilst I was hoping for things to be a little less manic here at Brown in Town HQ, the opposite has been true as we entre the final furlong of 2016 – this blog has been 4 weeks, if not more, in the putting off. As wedding season returns to a gentle flow from the torrent we have navigated, we have simultaneously received a healthy number of commissions for evening attire as we fast approach the silly season.

And as if by magic, Brown in Town has celebrated it’s official anniversary in the past week – like the Queen, we have two; one when the company was inaugurated and the other when we opened the doors of our first shop in Hotel du Vin’s cigar humidor on 1st January 2014. To say that we are thrilled with the reception that Brown in Town has received would be an understatement and it is to our patrons, friends and families that we owe an enormous debt of gratitude for their continued patronage and support these past two wonderful years. Long may they continue.

With the evenings drawing in and my tweeds once again coming into their own as I sit outside our new home at Bangshanky smoking a cigar and putting the finshing touches on this illusive blog, I bid you adieu until next time; which hopefully will not be another 8 weeks as I am itching to introduce the new Brown in Town Custom Collection!

The Order of Things: Bespoke or Bespoken

I am hopeless at arranging holidays. But while I may procrastinate about where and when, I absolutely love being poolside with friends and family. This past year, however, I have taken advice and proactively marked in one’s calendar when I have felt that I really needed to take a break and escape the sartorial dungeon – as one of our patrons refers to Brown in Town’s subterranean studio affectionately!  

With Inbox emptied and having conducted at least the first and in some instances final (there is nothing quite like a hole-in-one; a suit that fits first time) fitting of all the wedding suits whose maiden voyage will take place during our sojourn, I can start to think about our holiday. And once I’m at the airport, I can relax; well, as much as one is able when travelling with two clattering saucepan lids and an excitable Saffron Darby, who has held the fought whilst yours truly has worked possibly too many 12 hours days in the run up to this most ill-timed of vacations; August would be our busiest time of year, being, as it is, wedding high season.. you get the picture.

Now, this may sound like a bit of a busman’s holiday, but one of the pleasures which I glean from a vacation comes from putting together a capsule wardrobe which I can put through it’s paces during the trip. More than ever, the capsule must meet an increasingly stringent set of criteria to ensure it is functional as well fashionable. For starters, it must be compact enough to fit into the solitary piece of cabin luggage we are permitted to carry on today’s flights. This means that each piece shortlisted must, above all things, be functional and versatile enough to work well with at least two of the other pieces.

The maiden voyage of any ensemble, whether it be a wedding suit, a DJ or even new business duds, is, in my book, an immeasurable luxury and pleasure. Given that many of the pieces in this holiday’s capsule are Brown in Town pieces, time must be allowed for the creation and making of those pieces. While this satisfies one’s perversion for delayed gratification, in order to have all the items of one’s wardrobe ready I must start planning well in advance given the 8 weeks it can take to make a jacket or coat (in this particular instance a blue and white seersucker from Holland & Sherry, unlined to keep it lightweight and cool and with patch pockets to make it functional), not to mention the blue poplin and white oxford shirts to accompany it.

And it is with the time taken to create a tailored garment in mind, I thought it may be a good opportunity to continue our conversation about what is entailed in the making of one of our garments, whether suits, separates, shirts or overcoats etc. further to our previous article: “The Order of Things”.

Once a customer has decided upon a cloth and suit design, we arrange an appointment with them to be measured. This appointment can take up to an hour and it is while we are recording somebody’s measurements that we are able to identify which type of tailoring process is required.

Of course, a customer can choose how their suit is made, whether fully bespoke, whereby a suit is made in stages and adjustments made throughout the process in order to refine the fit, or a garment which is made-to-measure, where the suit is made in it’s entirety using the measurements taken from the wearer and inclusive of any applicable figurations, then adjusted retrospectively.

Some body shapes, for example those with scoliosis, where the spine has a twist in it and the buttons on the coat do not align with the buttons on the fly of one’s trousers, require a garment to be made and adjusted at various stages to ensure a good fit, while other body shapes do not.

Now, made-to-measure – that is to say a suit which is made-to-measure – has acquired something of a bad reputation over the years and I believe this is as a result of the tourist tailoring trade in Southeast Asia, whose silver tongued salesmen offer to turn a suit around within 24 – 48 hours, or at the very least during the course of your stay.

As with all things, however, you get what you pay for and if you pay a tailor to make you – and quite possibly many others – an entire suit in such a short space of time there is only so much which can be achieved and often the suit is made using off-the-peg methods i.e. if you have a 40″ chest, it would be presumed that your trousers waist would be 34″ – But we all know that the majority of us are no more able to fit perfectly into an off the peg suit than a tailor is able to make a fully tailored suit to perfection in 24 hours; these things take time.

What Brown in Town offer is a tailoring service based on the expectations or requirements of the individual. That is to say, if, having taken their measurements, we believe we are able to make their suit in one hit, or rather using the made-to-measure process, with possibly one or two rudimentary alterations following the first fitting, then we will do so providing the customer is happy for us to.

However, if it is plain that perhaps more than one adjustment will be required to perfect the fit, we recommend a mid-stage fitting which utilises a coat or jacket incorporating the customers measurements and figurations, made in a cotton toile. This affords us the opportunity to asses the fit before their jacket is made in the chosen cloth.

But if the customer’s shape, or indeed chosen design, will require several fittings with minor adjustments made to the balance, measurements and fit of the garment, then we will suggest that a fully bespoke service is undertaken in order that we can refine the fit at each stage of the make. This method takes longer than a suit which is made-to-measure or made utilising a mid-stage fitting with a toile, up to 16 weeks or thereabouts.

Obviously, if there is a time constraint, for example a wedding, this must be taken into consideration when deciding which type of tailoring service to opt for. In addition, so must one’s budget as there is naturally a cost implication for the various types of tailoring process also; made-to-measure being the least expensive, fully bespoke being the most.

It is the latter service which also affords the customer the option to choose the finer details of their suit design, for example, if you hanker after an exceptionally wide and flouncy lapel a la David Bowie by Tommy Nutter on your double breasted jacket, then sharpen your pencil as this is where you can try your hand at playing couturier.

This is not to say that one cannot experiment with the width of one’s lapel, or the length of one’s coat or the number and material of buttons on one’s jacket if your suit is not made utilising a fully bespoke service, as all of these details and more can be incorporated into any of the aforementioned tailoring processes, but the degree of variation from your chosen tailoring houses block, will vary and may not be as comprehensive.

Once we have your measurements and all of the details pertaining to the design of your suit, shirt, trousers, slacks, jacket, blazer or overcoat, we can then get your order onto the cutting table. And, depending upon which tailoring service you have opted for, you can expect to wait anything from 6 – 8wks for your first fitting and 2 – 4 weeks for the second – and possibly final, if the suit was made-to-measure – or another 4 wks if fully bespoke.

Albeit the phrase bespoke is derived from the olde English word bespoken i.e. to inform your tailor of the cloth which you desire in order that he can order a cut length from the applicable mill or merchant in preparation for making your suit with it, ‘bespoke’ does rather paint a picture of the traditional method of making a suit, does it not.

The next stage of the tailoring process, being one’s first fitting, I think we will leave until another day, as the swimming pool beckons and our children are becoming fractious.
Until then, “buenas tardes” one and all..