Roll Up, Roll up.. for The Chosen Vintage and Bespoke Wedding Fair

While the majority of grooms (those with any sense, anyway) are acutely aware that they they are only in attendance on the big day to make up numbers and that it is in no uncertain terms the brides special day, I meet an increasing number of grooms who have been afforded some portion of the wedding kitty to invest in what may be the only luxury no groom should be denied; to wear a tailor made suit on the most important day of his life.

And the vintage lovers know better than most that the best looking suits are those which our forefathers wore on their wedding day; invariably a three piece suit made of grey flannel or a tweed of some description. It is little wonder that such suits have stood the test of time, given they would have been tailor made and, ergo, would not have had the inlay trimmed out as off-the-rail garments do, meaning that they can be altered both by being taken-in or let-out, to suit the subsequent keeper.

However, the nature of bespoke tailoring is that a suit is tailored to fit the individual who has commissioned the suit and for whom the cloth is said to be ’bespoken for’. So, while we may be fortunate enough to find a suit which either fits first time, or can be tailored to fit future wearers, we may not be so lucky, or, indeed, unlucky, enough to have the same shape and proportions as the previous wearer – tailor made suits are not just a some of their made-to-measure parts, but are fashioned to the contours and shape of the customer.

Finding just the right colour, pattern and weight of cloth which we’re hoping to wear on what should be the best day of our lives, however, can also prove to be time consuming and disappointing. Moreover, it can often prove difficult to find a suit which has not had the life dry-cleaned out of it, which is not itchy, which does not lack lustre or which is not moth-eaten and not a little stale.

But, owing to the sartorial revolution of the past 10 years or so, British tailoring has been enjoying something of a renaissance and tailoring abounds, as do our wonderful cloth mills and merchants from Scotland to Huddersfield and even right on our doorstep here in the South West, which is home to none other than Fox Brothers\, makers of the some of the world’s finest flannel, and also Harrisons, H. Lesser and Porter & Harding to name but a few of the heritage brands housed under one roof at Lear Browne and Dunsford in Exeter.

So, if you are allowed just one luxury on your wedding day, please do seek us out at the Chosen Bespoke and Vintage Wedding Fair this Sunday 1st February.

Best of luck..!

Save the Date: The Bristol Vintage Wedding Fair, 8th March, 2015

What is it that makes the Bristol Vintage Wedding Fair one of the highlights of our calendar year? You!

Of course, the venue, the Clifton Pavilion, is beautiful. With it’s art deco architecture and view out over the Bristol Zoo, it is a wonderful place to while away a morning or afternoon perusing the wares of the wedding faire stallholders, and, perhaps, afterwards, to take a stroll around the historical zoo gardens.

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

In fact, I am still working on commissions I took following enquiries from last year’s Bristol Vintage Wedding Fair. So why do Brown in Town’s grooms 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 (or, at the very least, avoid hiring).

And why not. Our forefathers suits were all tailor made for the individual using the best of British materials – which explains why vintage garments have stood the test of time – and were cut to flatter the individual and make them appear more elegant. Which they always did.

Ergo, because they were tailor made, there is generally to be found inlay within the garment which can be adjusted, both by taking the seams in and also by letting them out – which is so often not the case with todays off-the-peg clothing at it is so often trimmed out – you won’t find as many of todays off-the-peg suits available in your favourite thrift store or charity shop in years to come, as we do vintage suits.

Undoubtedly, there will be the question of ensemble: three piece suits are often considered to have vintage appeal, as, historically, we have worn waistcoats to keep us warm – waistcoats are also a great way for the groom to wear a fob watch, a popular family heirloom – but two piece double breasted suit were almost equally as popular, and are now enjoying something of a renaissance all their own in sartorial circles.

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 colour. There are myriad cloths, and cloth colours, but those which strike a resounding chord with vintage lovers are tweeds for their autumnal shades i.e. brown or fawn. A herringbone pattern in the cloth is another popular choice.

Which colour is correct, however, is a cloth colour that flatters the wearer, one that compliments either the wearer’s skin tone, hair colour, eye colour, or, here in Bristol at least, one’s beard colour. Assuming the suit colour has not been chosen based on wedding dress colour or colour 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 essential.

This will be Brown in Town’s second 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 wax sartorial with the discerning groom, for it is our experience that brides and grooms that appreciate all things vintage appreciate the fine art of bespoke tailoring.

And with only a few weeks to go, both myself and Brown in Town mannequin, Douglas (who adorns the window of Zip Pin Alterations in Clifton Arcade) are busy preparing our suits for this years event, wanting to be sure that we do not wear the same outfits that we wore to last years event, naturally. That’s our excuse anyway!

See you there..


A New Years Resolution: Be Inspired..

I don’t know about you, but I become positively ecstatic at the notion of lifting the blinds after the Christmas festivities, dusting off the cloth bunches and taking the first appointments of 2015; and I felt exactly the same last year, albeit a little more hungover.

We may never again enjoy that feeling of opening one’s doors for the first time, but availing one of Brown in Town’s discerning patrons our entire stock of Fox umbrellas first thing Monday will remain a highlight for the year to come; few things are as rewarding as meeting people along the way who appreciate craftsmanship in the way that we do here at Brown in Town.

And as for Douglas, no sooner have we dusted off his smoking jacket and he’ll be swapping his evening wear for day wear as he dons his tweeds and makes the pilgrimage up the hill to Clifton where he will take pride of place in the window at Zip Pin Alterations, home of Brown in Town’s very own seamstress, Helen O’Connor.

That is not to say that the culmination of 2014 was without it’s highs; our last commission before we pulled down the blinds was for a 3pc suit made of an autumnal coloured, coarsely woven herringbone tweed from Harris Tweed. One of my personal favourites.

Contrastingly, the first commission of 2015 was for a beautiful double breasted suit in charcoal grey (faded) chalkstripe from Fox Flannel’s classic range. Does it get any better for this renaissance man, we’ll have to see.

But possibly what excites me most is the revision of this New Year’s resolution, which for  has remained for many years: to smoke more cigars. Given our rather sympathetic surroundings here at Hotel du Vin, I think it safe to say that we achieved this many times over in 2014!

So this year, our mantra is simply to be inspired. I say simply, but in fairness, given it is a cognitive pursuit which takes time, may prove to be a more difficult undertaking than smoking cigars, which requires only time (and location), because time is something Bristol’s local tailor is not very good at affording himself – particularly when our patrons choose to commission suits, shirts, jackets, slacks and overcoats made from the worlds finest cloth. Hey ho.

And what with the advent of a trip to Tignes in order to celebrate the 50th anniversary of one’s  brother, and an opportunity to visit old friends at the Black Cats snowboard shop, things continue to look up, up, up the mountain of opportunity!

Happy New Year to you all..

We Wish You a Merry Christmas..!

“And now, the end is near, and so I face, the final curtain..”

Well, not quite the final curtain, but the blinds will be coming down on Friday 19th, as Brown in Town closes for Christmas.

And what a year it has been for Brown in Town. We opened our doors on January 1st and received our first customer that same day before we’d even had a chance to move into the old cigar humidor at Hotel du Vin, in fact, they helped us with the set-up; thank you Steve Coe!

We have continued to offer advice on style and dress, providing the sort of traditionally inspired, classically tailored garments for the discerning man about town and country, for which Brown in Town has become known. That said, albeit we had resisted the temptation to undertake any commissions from our female patrons, this Autumn we bowed to demand and tailored our first tweed jacket for the ladies –  and what a jacket it was; green tweed of a herringbone weave with pink lining and trim, naturally!

Occasionally passing comment via our preferred social media channels; Instagram (thanks to The Ethicurean for their encouraging of this luddite to adopt this visual method of communication), Linked In and Twitter, as we endeavour to keep our friends abreast of our exploits and various works of art with our sartorially inspired #mohairmonday #tweedtuesday #worstedwednesday #thornproofthursday and #flannelfriday – occasionally bidding a #sartorialsaturday when on tailoring duty at such events as The Goodwood Revival and The Bristol Vintage Wedding Faire. Not forgetting of course our weekly posts in our sartorial column, The Advisory featuring imagery from official Brown in Town photographer Remco Merbis and friend of Brown in Town Nick Veez.

But let us not forget what heralded the launch of Brown in Town way back when and that is the oft underappreciated medium which is print. Our initial poster campaign was a great success by all accounts, generating interest in an, at the time, unknown tailoring house which had yet to open it’s doors, and gleaned no small amount of interested in our services. With thanks to Hello Blue for printing our beautiful museum grade archival quality posters that have adorned the walls of Small St. Espresso, the Star and DoveBangshanky, Averys, The Ethicurean, Hotel du Vin, Harts Bakery, Full Court Press, Friska and St. Nicholas Market Cobblers to name but a few – thank you to you all for offering to mount our poster on the walls of your establishments – and, occasionally, in the gents! The second poster campaign is being installed in various venues around town just now, including The Grace, Gloucester Rd, so do keep your eyes peeled.

This year we have also welcomed gents taking a vested interest in their non-business wardrobes, more than usual I’m pleased to report, ordering traditional blazers and summer jackets more than ever before, our mainstay continues to be professionals who understand that first impressions last and the value of having their clothes tailor made, whether suits or separates, shirts and ties or even overcoats. Not forgetting our grooms, of course, who represent both schools of thought; those wanting something traditional out of respect to our sartorial past and the occasion of their nuptials, but without wanting to appear too formal, cliched, twee or stuffy. It is these individuals, who have brought to Brown in Town their sartorial ideas, their hopes, their aspirations and their desire to wear something on that most auspicious of occasions which is uniquely them and, for whom, like us, there is no never before brown in town.

Talking of town, whilst Brown in Town is staunchly Bristolian – we even accept payment for our tailoring services in Bristol pounds these days – given one’s roots, we have welcomed the opportunity to take up residence each month at the Hoxton Hotel in London’s Shoreditch as a way of keeping in touch with patrons past and present, but also as a means of mixing a little business with pleasure and seeing old friends who reside in the big smoke. We would like to take this opportunity to thank the Hox’ for it’s unequalled hospitality, there is nothing quite like your warm reception and thank you for being so accommodating.

And while there have been many highs in our inaugural year, sadly, Brown in Town has had to relinquish it’s most cherished address of ‘The Cigar Humidor’, but it will be business as usual in 2015; you’ll still be able to find us in the bar at Hotel du Vin at a time convenient for you.

But while the humidor may no longer be our sartorial home, there are still opportunities aplenty to enjoy a cigar in the courtyard, so without further ado, we would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your continued patronage, support and friendship and we look forward to more of the same in 2015.

May we take this opportunity to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year. Brown in Town will be back bright eyed and bushy tailed on January 5th.

Bristol’s local tailor.


Tweeds for the Shoot, not The Shoot!

While I had initially intended to reserve one’s new tweeds for such occasions, I must confess that before Brown in Town ‘got the call’ from The Ethicurean in Wrington – to assist with an upcoming photoshoot for the Independent on Sunday, no less – the aforementioned tweeds had found their way into one’s weekly roster and have been making regular appearances about town; outrageous I know!

Given Brown in Town’s ethos, I am sure this revelation will come as little surprise, but the tweeds in question were in fact scheduled to make their debut appearance in front the lens on the very same day, on location at Bristol’s Pata Negra.

Obviously, when The Ethicurean explained that the Independent wanted to feature it’s frontman, and Brown in Town muse, Jack Bevan, dressed from head to foot in Brown in Town, in a piece on the sartorial style of todays restaurants and restaurateurs, Bristol’s local tailor felt a sense of duty, ney, pride, and henceforth offered one’s styling services to ensure creases were set, waistcoat bottom buttons unfastened and ties knotted with the obligatory ‘dimple’!

So, concessions were made, and with official Brown in Town photographer, Remco Merbis, in tow, we set off for the hippest walled garden in the South West: rescheduling a shoot that was to feature tweed in the urban setting of the city to the rural setting which is The Ethicurean, was, in fairness, more a case of killing two birds with one stone.

What Remco had hoped to achieve with this Brown in Town shoot was to utilise as much natural light as possible. But, given the season where sun sets low in the sky, top floor of Pata Negra was such an ideal location: there are windows on either side of the building which let light stream in to the open plan bar area in the middle. Being outside at The Ethicurean afforded us as much light as the day had to offer of course, but I must confess, given the static nature of having one’s picture taken, it got a little chilly outside, even in tweed and even in the winter sun. However, our efforts were rewarded with delicious chocolate brownies with salt caramel and fresh coffee by our hosts, most kind indeed.

Now, in my humble opinion, there is tweed and there is tweed. The first being that most commonly used for shooting and stalking with either a course handle (see Jack’s Harris Tweed waistcoat) or a dry to the touch and rough handle (see #thornproofthursday) and the other, which is most commonly used for shooting the breeze (think boldly coloured and patterned tweeds most commonly seen at Cheltenham, or in rural pubs the length and breadth of the country). The tweed I am sporting was supplied by East London cloth merchants Crescent Trading, and has a beautifully soft handle, hence it is perfect for wearing both in a rural and an urban setting.

And it will come as little surprise, I’m sure, to the patrons of Brown in Town, that the sartorially inclined grooms among you have in fact made the Thornproof tweed one of the most sought after wedding suits this year – our Porter & Harding Thornproof has proved particularly popular – and why not! Not that Brown in Town isn’t just as happy making tweeds for the shooters, far from it, but it is nice to know that in Brown in Town’s first year we have attracted a following of other likeminded sartorialists, not to mention restaurateurs, and those for whom there is no ‘never’ before ‘brown in town’.

Season greetings one and all..