Things What I Have Learned…

things what i have learnt.jpg

Three years after we started cataloguing lessons learned - not to mention things which have inspired and captured one’s attention - we are reminded that I can write no more quickly now, than I could when I was first charged with writing my first blog: it still takes me hours, if not an entire day just to write the damn thing and another month or two to find the time to edit it. Thank the Lord that since Rubin Sonny started school, we now have Saffron Darby onboard to find a fitting image to accompany my musings and post them on the website! 

On this occasion, the process was perhaps rather more protracted owing to the fact that Saffron Darby and I were invited to celebrate a friends Birthday in Amsterdam, departing on my Birthday. This meant in order to achieve the handover of children (this was to be a child-free celebration: a zero no less) to grandparents, I had to curtail my writing: hence, after more than three months, I am still trying to finish what I started.

However, Do NOT travel on your Birthday: if your flight is delayed, it will put paid to your plans for evening celebrations, which in my case was dinner with Saffron Darby in the cultural capital of the Netherlands and a visit to Nicaraguan cigar emporium Cigaragua (see what they did there), which I had been looking forward to since discovering it during our visit two years ago. 

Now, whilst business is booming, always a good thing, I have found that our “morning one and all..” (my sartorial musings to camera) difficult if I am under pressure and this years wedding season has been particularly testing for one reason and another. Perhaps because we make every suit, wedding or otherwise, from scratch using cloths from the world’s best woollen, cotton and linen merchants and mills and which we can spend hours choosing, only to find that the cloth may not be available at the time we need it in order to start cutting to have it ready for the Big Day. It can be nail-biting at times to say the least, but I only have myself to blame as it is, for me anyway, part of the Brown in Town experience and one of the most rewarding facets of the job.

It also transpired that my fears regarding a lack of serotonin were confirmed when I finally took the plunge and enlisted the services of a nutritional therapist - ironically, our kids swimming instructor who has a fabulous new business helping people like myself to improve their health and overcome historical ailments through diet - they’re called and you really should check them out.

So, in an effort to capitalise on the sunshine which we have enjoyed this Summer, we have taken to starting our working week on the terrace at Aqua restaurant on Bristol’s Welsh Back, where, over a fine Cigar we line-up our ducks for the week ahead, thus reducing the anxiety caused by one’s appointments arriving early, or late or not at all: forewarned is forearmed. 

Something else we have discovered through therapy, is that I find travelling abroad restorative. It provides a huge amount of respite and inspiration (not to mention thinking time if I am travelling alone), which are all beneficial for one’s mental health. So, how fortuitous that the bi-annual Pitti Uomo fair is in Florence! 

Even when Florence is Baltic-cold, which it was in January, it still has more sunshine than Blighty, so we are killing two birds with one stone (see what I did there?!). This has meant that Saffron Darby has had to hold the fort down whilst I am away (for three days in Summer and five in Winter, as there are less flights to and from Pisa in Winter). Sorry, Saffron Darby!

From Pisa, we take a train to Florence, which I find very exciting as the trains are double-decker like American Amtrak trains and I can write when I am not gazing out of the window for an hour or so (there are windows on planes, of course, but planes are not my writing place). 

Whilst I have found these trips to be beneficial, both on a personal as well as professional level, there are many things which can be ignored at Pitti; peacocking for one. But there are some things which cannot be ignored, but we probably should try; cobble streets, for example, which put paid to my English sockless-feet in a matter of 20 minutes last Summer and I had to revert to standing outside The Fiddlers Elbow with the sartorial cognoscenti in bare feet! Moreover, now that one’s ageing body has become a temple of healthy eating and diets of kefir and kombucha, the backlash of eating Fiorentina steaks (which are to die for) twice-a-day for a week, takes its toll. We cannot have our cake and eat it, it would seem. In fact in my case, cake is now banned! Ho hum..

During the last two trips, I have noticed what appears to be a sartorial backlash. Jackets and Trousers appeared to be getting looser - don’t tell anyone sporting the Bond-inspired spray-on suit, there will be anarchy! Firstly, at last Summer’s Pitti, I noticed double-pleats, or double-pegs as they were known in the 70’s. Whilst initially reticent, I soon became enamoured enough to cut a pair for myself and have not looked back since; they are even more comfortable than trousers with single pleats, which I have been wearing for some years now. I have yet to cut a pair with double-pleated trousers as part of a suit, only as slacks. All in good time.

Then I noticed that the Italian master tailors and sartorial houses of repute were cutting their jackets a little looser in the waist than they had previously, or certainly than I had noticed. A change in style notwithstanding, this of course makes for a garment with more freedom of movement,  but, moreover, increases air-flow, which makes good sense when the temperature soars, as it does in Italy and increasingly here in Blighty too.

Perhaps this change in climate has played a part in my recent obsession with Italian tailoring. Certainly, I appreciate the Italian use of colour and their ability to mix and match. But also the resurgence of deconstructed-tailoring i.e. jackets with no shoulder pads or sleeve-head and, in some instances, no canvas either (I initially bore witness to this mode of tailoring in the early 80’s from the designer Armani), lends itself to sunnier climes. Vis-a-vis, I decided to embark upon quite literally a sartorial journey (Sarto meaning tailor), which has thus far taken me to Florence for Pitti and Naples for ties, cloth and sartoria’s (tailoring workshops). 

Such is the nature of research and development, that things do not alway go as you might hope. We have learned the hard way that not all sartoria’s are the same, for example. In fact, sometimes, you get more than you bargained for. For example, some sartoria’s like to put their own personal finishing touch on each and every garment they make, which can prove problematic when you yourself, together with your Customer, have already done so during the design process! Of course, this artistic freedom of expression is what defines Italian tailoring. 

English tailoring, on the other hand, in spite our recent sartorial revolution (which has yet to reach Bristol), still represents formality, whereas Italian tailoring is about freedom. I am working on this..

And perhaps it is exactly this that informs the ethos of Brown in Town. That by following one’s own heart, we have strived to to be all things to all men (and women). To be able to offer a service which caters for all, whether male or female, for a formal occasion, for business or for pleasure. Whether to fulfil a lifelong goal to own a three piece tweed, or to maintain a sense of style after our youth, or just fulfil a need for clothes that fit. To embark upon that sartorial journey with someone is the reason that we do it, day-in, day-out. 

After all, style is a journey, not a destination..

Brown in Town