Deep Pockets, Not Deep Pockets

Given the managary of accoutrements we carry these days, one can never have too many pockets; from phones, to wallets, keys to spectacles, sunglasses to lipbalms, they all need a pocket to carry them in. Which is why we have incorporated as many pockets as possible into our suits, moreover, we encourage our customers to use them!

Cigar Pocket

The man who taught me a great many things about design, was also the man who introduced me to the fine art of cigar smoking, a great many years ago. Sir Terence Conran, who once referred to me as a cigar aficionado, always carried with him his favourite cigar; the Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure No. 2. I designed our jackets and coats with this in mind, incorporating a cigar-pocket that would hold a robusto sized cigar, whether tubed or not.

Coin Pocket or Cigar Cutter and Lighter Pockets

And what use is a cigar, without a means to prepare it. So in the right hip pocket of our coats and jackets is an internal pocket for such paraphernalia; one for your cigar lighter or matches, the other for one’s cutter, whether scissors or guillotine. This leaves the rest of the pocket clear to carry such things as one’s sunglasses if indeed you have used the external breast pocket for your spectacles!

Internal Breast Pockets with Security Tabs

If the suit is modern man’s coat of armour, then surely the jacket is the male handbag: which is why Brown in Town incorporates as many pockets as is humanly possible into all of our jackets and coats. Our breast pockets come replete with security tabs which button the pocket closed – our ladies jackets have buttoned internal ticket pockets too! The benefit of this design is that the breast pockets will carry both your wallet and or your phone, without spoiling the lines or silhouette of your jacket – the weight is supported by the shoulder when the tab is fastened, thus preventing pulling or tearing at the cloth of the pocket aperture. This also prevents the jacket from swinging open when the pockets are loaded. Moreover, there is no need to overload one’s trouser pockets, which is unsightly, not to mention uncomfortable and puts unnecessary amount of strain on the seams.

Trousers Pockets

And while we may receive two complaints a year with regards the depth of our trousers pockets; that they are too deep, we receive a whole lot more from patrons as pleased as punch that our pockets are deep enough for their needs. This does not mean that you require incredibly deep pockets to avail yourself of a pair of our trousers, nor one of our suits for that matter..


Nothing Is Cool

Listening to our favourite radio DJ Gilles Peterson t’other day, he played a hip hop record by whom I cannot tell you, but the words went along the lines of “you don’t listen to this song because it’s popular and gets radio play”; broadly, the ethos of the antihero i.e. if it’s liked by the many, it cannot be cool.

This ethos was certainly shared the skateboarding fraternity of my youth, as it is many subcultures and undoubtedly still is today. My musical hero Kurt Cobain certainly shared this point of view and became the anti-hero of a generation, with his choice of dress and style of music.

And it was this revelation that helped answer a question I am oft’ asked, “who is Brown in Town’s demographic”, to which I did not have an answer for many years; interestingly, I am never asked this question by our patrons, perhaps they recognise a kindred spirit?

I knew who they were, of course, they were property developers, barristers, graphic designers, skateboarders, drum and bass producers et al, but I could not put a finger on who they were as a demographic. Until now; they are, like me, all suit dodgers: who knew?

You see, before I met my maker, as it were, I was a suit dodging retailer who enjoyed working in London with mid-century modern furniture and dressing in pretty much anything but suits. I think my smartest ensemble was inspired by Michael Caine’s character Agent Palmer in Len Deighton’s Ipcress File i.e. black slacks, a roll-neck, desert boots and a beige macintosh raincoat, but never a suit.

My jumping off point was being informed in no uncertain terms by my American employers at the time, that I would be wearing suits for the duration of my tenure in South East Asia: which was ludicrous as it was the hottest place I’d ever visited, let alone lived! Enter stage left my tailor, Mr Whangsee, who did a roaring trade in suits for the American Embassy chaps. These suits were typically a two piece affair, consisting of three buttoned jacket and trousers with belt loops, double pleats and turn-ups; not my style by a long chalk, even to this suit dodger.

No, if I was to wear suits, I was going to wear suits which mimicked my sartorial heroes; Michael Caine in Get Carter or Steve McQueen in the Thomas Crown Affair, for example. And this ethos, with its petulant “I won’t do what you tell me”  was nothing short of the anti-cool attitude of our youth.

And I believe the same can be said of a great many of our patrons. There is a jumping off point whereby they are able to do something which they would not normally do, but if they are going to do it, they want to do it on their terms and in their way, from suit to nuts, if you’ll pardon the pun.

More often than not their jumping off point is a wedding and if our patrons (whether guys for girls) are going to have to wear a suit (whereas typically they do not wear suits) on their special day, then they are going to wear a suit of their choosing, moreover, design and more often one that has been a guilty pleasure or aspiration.

For many, this suit is a three piece tweed suit, myself included. I love my tweed suits but would not have been seen dead in one back in the day. In a way, it is our rebellion against our rebellion, whether ravers, bankers, barbers, creatives or DJ’s; we are rebelling against not only our (former) selves, but against our subculture and everything which it told us we could not do. We are unleashing our alter-ego, whether we know it or not.

It is an irony that we are now wanting to wear suits, which once represented  the mediocre, the populous, the enemy – the antithesis of the antihero, no?

When I was a lad, a skateboard company called Blockhead, which I’m thrilled to learn still exists, ran an ad campaign in the form a sticker to put on your board, which I think best summed this notion which read..

“Hey, What’s Cool? Oh, Nothing”.

I dedicate this blog to Simon Edwards. One of the best skateboarders of my generation; gone, but never forgotten.


Sink or Swims: Galoshes

I first chanced upon these fabulous galoshes while shooting for the Brown in Town website. Official Brown in Town photographer, Remco Merbis, was sharing with me the body of work of his brand agency Pixillion and my eye was immediately drawn to a bright orange pair – one of my favourite colours!

I remember galoshes from my childhood, but who needs galoshes for Adidas TRX, Bjorn Borg Diadorra or Puma States? But at this stage in my life, having developed a penchant for Joseph Cheaney shoes, my flourishing collection of handmade shoes needed protection from the elements!

Try as I might to acquire a pair, every line of enquiry drew a blank; until we visited the Pitti Uomo fair in January where, to my delight, there was an entire stand filled with Swims goodies!

Not only are Swims galoshes beautifully designed, easy to apply to one’s shoes and incredibly functional – they are waterproof and grippy and they also seem to polish your shoes as you walk in them! Available in a wealth of colours, these essential accoutrements are even more appealing for those of us who wear suits in colours other than blue or grey, but theses are catered for also.

Albeit I own a pair of Joseph Cheaney ‘Tweed’ boots with the rubber Commando Sole, there are only so many ensembles that I will wear these with and my green W. Bill with orange windowpane check, is not one of them. So for just such an ensemble, the camouflage colourway is absolutely perfect!

So, irrespective of your choice of suit colour, there is a pair of galoshes for you, whether black, brown, grey, blue, orange, red or, indeed, camouflage – or lamoulage, as my godson used to say!

This is not to say that you have to be a wearer of suits to warrant owning a pair of our fine galoshes, no, no, no. You could be, as I once was, a suit dodger who just has a penchant for fine handmade shoes, who wants to protect them from the elements; the dirt, the mud or for the property developers among us, building sites.


If You Are Going To Wear A Suit, Wear it With Gusto..!

“A man should look as if he has
bought his clothes with intelligence,
put them on with care
and then forgotten all about them.”

Hardy Amies.

I was asked recently by one of our grooms if I wore suits every day; to which I replied that I thought it important to dress for one’s audience, particularly if that audience are, as I once was, suit dodgers commissioning their first suit at Brown in Town.

While I would love to encourage the myth that Bristol’s local tailor does indeed wear suits everyday, the truth is that a suit is not practical attire for a father of two children under the age of five, who spends his weekends being covered in porridge, mud, snot and, since our son learned to walk and climb, blood.

But, whether it be a three piece tweed suit, a two piece double breasted suit made from an English heritage worsted, or separates of cotton chinos and flannel jacket, what is of the utmost importance is that every suit and ensemble which we make is as comfortable to wear as the clothes which Brown in Town’s patrons arrive in to get measured. If not more so..!

Indeed, there are only so many suits that a man requires in his wardrobe and I prefer to keep those for Monday Best, Tuesday Best, Thursday Best and Friday Best – Wednesday is Daddy Day Care day, in which I do battle wearing chinos and tailored shirts and blazers, the same as I do of a weekend.

However, my own transition from street wear (I once owned Tarantula Distribution which imported skateboard clothing from California), to bespoke suits, to casual bespoke did not happen overnight; it was a journey. In fact, Brown in Town’s Custom Collection of casual bespoke attire, was a reflection of that journey, but was also in response to a need cited by some of our regulars who struggled to buy casual wear off the peg, either because of the offering or choice, or because it simply did not fit. On the occasions when a suit is not required, must we feel that the tone is being lowered by our lack of direction or suitable attire.

Moreover, the warmer weather, which is fast approaching, will no doubt catch the nation unawares and dumbfound us, sartorially speaking. It is one of my personal baines that us Brits, who were once pillars of elegance, struggle to keep it together when it comes to dress during the summer months. I personally take inspiration from our counterparts in sunnier climes and have myself a two piece cotton suit currently on the cutting table to provide a more relaxed ensemble that, I hope, will see me through.

In addition, I have my old faithful, the linen suit. Like no other cloth, linen will almost certainly polarise opinion; you either love the fact that it crumples, or you do not. Surely this is what one must not only appreciate, but adore about this fabulous cloth. Clearly not intended to be worn in a formal setting, it’s palette of pastel shades, creams and electric blues to bottle greens, afford us an opportunity to wear colours which can be incredibly flattering and seldom available in worsted wool suitings and jacketings. There is something about wearing a suit which is supposed to look dishevelled!

For, rather unfairly, the suit has been tarnished with a reputation of being too fussy; on the one hand – think of the suits which were worn during era of Beau Brummel, replete with frilly shirts, knee high boots and melton coats with 100’s of buttons, which even sounds uncomfortable – to ill-fitting off-the-peg suits made of polyester and, ergo, equally uncomfortable on the other. But, as anyone that has had a suit made for them will attest, they are a far cry from the suits which we can buy off-the-peg.

And while I may not dress in suits everyday, I believe it is no less important to take pride in one’s appearance, without sacrificing comfort or one’s personal taste. It has always been necessary for me to feel as comfortable in any suit, whether linen, cotton, cashmere, wool or mohair, the quality of one’s clothes and the cut of one’s jib, should be all that is required to take us from A-Z, in style.

The aforementioned quote from Hardy Amies A-Z of Men’s Fashion, suggests that the clothes which we wear should provide us with enough comfort, style and, ergo, self confidence, that we need not check their appearance in the mirror every five minutes – except, perhaps, to admire one’s new found sartorial freedom..

The Bristol Vintage Wedding Fair – Sunday 13th March

The Bristol Vintage Wedding Fair has become one of the highlights of our calendar year and it is with great pleasure that we will be returning to exhibit this coming weekend.

The venue, the Clifton Pavilion, is a perfect setting. With it’s art deco architecture and view out over Bristol Zoo Gardens, it is a wonderful place to spend a morning or afternoon perusing the original and unique wares of the stallholders and perhaps, afterwards, to take a stroll around the historical zoo, you might even get a glimpse of the new baby gorilla!

But it is, for the most part, your love and appreciation of all things vintage which makes it such a joy for us exhibitors. We work ourselves into a frenzy preparing and fine tuning our displays for your delectation, because, unlike so many other wedding fair’s, the participants at the Bristol Vintage Wedding Fair enjoy exhibiting as much as you like attending.

So why do you ask, is Brown in Town exhibiting at a vintage wedding fair? Is it because our grooms seem to favour a vintage look for their wedding suits: Is it because they have always hankered after a suit that reminds them of the suits which their grandfather’s wore, most commonly a three piece suit of grey flannel, and in some instances, tweed? Or is it because they want to do something a little bit different? At Brown and Town,  you can bring all your vintage sartorial needs and have them translated for the modern gentleman.

Initially, there will be the question of ensemble: three piece suits have become increasingly popular and are often considered to have vintage appeal, as, historically, not wearing a waistcoat was to be considered “undressed” (King Charles II introduced the waistcoat as a part of correct dress in 1666) – waistcoats are also a great way for the groom to stand apart from his ushers and to accessorize – maybe to wear a family heirloom fob watch – but two piece double breasted suits were almost equally as popular, and are now enjoying something of a renaissance of their own.

Once it has been decided if the groom will be wearing a two piece suit, or three piece suit, the next question is invariably one of cloth and colour. There are myriad cloths and  cloth colours, but those which strike a resounding chord with vintage lovers are tweeds for their autumnal shades.  Brown in Town offer an extensive range of some of the world’s finest cloths and materials from heritage brands such as Harrisons of Edinburgh, Fox Flannels, Porter & Harding and Harris Tweed, to name a few.

Which colour is correct? It is a cloth colour that flatters the betrothed – one that compliments either the wearer’s skin tone, hair colour, eye colour, or more commonly, one’s beard colour!  Assuming the suit colour has not been chosen based on wedding party dress colour or scheme, the reason that it is of the utmost importance that a groom look good in his wedding suit, is that those wedding photos will last for years to come, and wearing a suit colour which compliments the wearer, not just the event, is tantamount.

This will be Brown in Town’s third year exhibiting and we are honoured to be a part of the Bristol Vintage Wedding Fair. Moreover, we’re looking forward to the opportunity to discuss all sartorial needs with the discerning groom and offer advice, not only regarding suits but also shirts, ties, pocket squares, handkerchiefs and even umbrellas to complement your wedding attire!

And with only a few days to go, both myself and Brown in Town mannequin, Douglas (who usually resides in the window of Zip Pin Alterations in Clifton Arcade) are busy preparing our suits for this years event, wanting to be sure that we wear an outfit befitting such a prestigious fair.

We look forward to seeing you there..