The Style & Sound of Edward Sexton

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Who is Edward Sexton? In short, and in my opinion, Edward Sexton is a redoubtable trailblazer tailor who along with his late partner Tommy Nutter, revolutionized not only Savile Row but much of the movements that happened in both elegant men’s and women’s tailoring during the 60’s-70’s.

No longer of Savile Row he sees his clients by appointment only out of his studio in Beauchamp Place, a fashionable shopping street in the Knightsbridge district of London.

Whilst sieving through the annals of Savile Row history during my downtime on a recent trip to the Philippines, I kept circling and underlining inspirational comments, glib remarks and cool turns of phrase that Edward Sexton used in his social commentary. I’d love to interview the man personally one day so if you’re out there Edward and you’re reading this, have your people call my people and we’ll do lunch.

In the mean time I thought I’d corral all my favourites in a mini listicle for your amusement.

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·     I knew to develop oneself and to express yourself and to make the styles to create the work you wanted, you had to go outside. So I started moonlighting.

·     To make the same style day in day out, is wonderful but to keep the edge you need to challenge yourself all the time.

·     When we had a window display all the old guys freaked out, they said ‘give them 6 months’. (And they’ll be out of business).

·     What made us was the quality and the style and Tommy wearing it socially and we attracted a lot of ink.

·     My philosophy is that a client should wear the garment, the garment should never wear the client.

·     Romancing IS accessories. You can make the most beautiful suit and put it on somebody but unless it accessorized correctly it won’t work. And some people need a lot of accessorizing.

·     Ringo was different again he didn’t say a lot until it was finished and we realised he wanted a double breasted instead of a single breasted.

·     I like sophisticated elegant clothing it’s what I stand for. That’s what I do for a living it’s what I’ve done all my life and I don’t suppose I’ll be changing.

Introducing Author Christopher Modoo the Urbane Outfitter

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Please allow me to introduce myself…

I am delighted to be contributing to Carl Thompson’s blog. I have known Carl for many years, since we met at a Chester Barrie press day down in Savile Row. I was the senior creative for the brand and Carl was a keen supporter of my work and would always visit the presentations at London Collections: Men (as London Fashion Week was once known).

I have worked in the fashion industry for over twenty-five years. I have no formal training and started my career as a junior salesman in the shirt & tie department of Selfridges. I have always loved clothing and can’t remember an age where I wasn’t aware of what I was wearing. But I never considered that I could make a career from it. At 18, I very lazily applied for a job in a bank after a brief discussion with the school’s career advisor where my options were summarised as “bank or civil service”. So I started as a junior in a suburban High Street bank. I only lasted eighteen months before the lure of the West End called me to Oxford Street.

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My first break was when Thomas Pink opened a concession in Selfridges, I was a fan of their shirts so I wrangled the manager’s job by the age of 22. My love of cloths blossomed as I became aware of all these great classic brands and a large portion of my salary was spent on custom made cloths and good shoes. From Pink’s I moved to Savile Row where I was a salesman/fitter. This is where I became obsessed with textiles. Our shop full of cloth books called “bunches” and I would go through all of them learning about different weights, textures and qualities. There is a lot of knowledge on Savile Row and some very generous characters who are willing to  share it…usually over a pint. I then moved to Ede & Ravenscroft to head up their made-to-measure department. Ede & Ravenscroft are London’s oldest tailors with a heritage and stretches back to 1689. It was fun bringing it into the 20th century and convincing staff that we should fax orders rather than relying on the post! It was here that I really started to understand the rules of classic menswear and when and how to break them. I was very lucky to be promoted to buyer when the position became vacant despite having no buying experience. The retail director mentored me and translated my knowledge of tailoring into a commercial skill. I had the most wonderful decade with Ede & Ravenscroft; I travelled all over Europe, met the Queen and was even introduced to my future wife. But at the age of 39 I was eager to move onto bigger and better things.

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I joined Chester Barrie with the responsibility to oversee every product from morning dress to casual outerwear. We took the brand to trade shows in Florence, New York and Hong Kong, as well as becoming a major fixture on the LCM calendar. This also coincided with the growth in social media. I love the way that it can connect people with a similar interest and how it can champion smaller brands and artisans. I loved sharing new ideas and receiving immediate feedback…usually good. I am no longer with Chester Barrie and have what is known as a “portfolio career” where I split my time between writing online content for magazines and brands, styling, lecturing at a college and starting my own label. I look forward to writing more for Carl and connecting with his followers. I will be writing about classic mens fashion as well as the fashion industry and sharing my experiences from both.

Photo Credit Anna Michell

The right Questions to Ask Your Tailor

The relationship between a tailor and consumer should be harmonious and built on implicit trust. A good tailor should make you feel nourished and equally, the tailor should also feel appreciated that he has brought value to an individual’s life. But what if this is your first time buying a suit? You don't know the lingo and think fabric is a nightclub in Farringdon. First off having a mild sketch in your head of the look you're after will be a great way to get the ball rolling. Maybe you've seen a suit on an actor, in a magazine, a particular pattern etc. Be realistic, but try and envision what your dream suit looks like. 

Here below for your careful consideration, are the right questions to ask your tailor. 

What have you got? 

Ask to see some look books; a recent portfolio. If he points to the cardboard cutout by the cash register you know you're in trouble. Any tailor worth his salt will also have an online store so be sure to check that out and any recent feedback on their social channels. Facebook is still a good barometer for ratings. 

The tailor will bring along sample fabrics for you to try, masticate the swatches a little (I said masticate, unless you REALLY like the fabric) and then ask.. 

What fabric is best for.. ?

[fill in the blank]. It's important that your tailor fully understands your needs. You might be getting married in the tropics and require a certain breathable fabric. It could be your work suit, but what kind of work? Is there a long commute involved and will your job demand any physical exertion? Ask your tailor to elaborate on why the fabric or cloth recommended would be suited to the occasion, and if there are any other options available to you.

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Free next Friday? 

Your tailor is a busy man, with many other customers, interviews to write and cocktail parties to attend. Make sure you schedule set dates and times with your tailor for fittings and additional alterations. Not having to chase each other for appointments over email will optimise both your time. 

Show me your papers. 

This is what separates the men from the marines in the tailoring universe. If you specifically want bespoke products, ensure that your tailor will create an individual paper pattern for you. Ask to see it and have it pictured with an edition of the local paper. OK so that might be overkill, but this is a reasonable question and will let the tailor know you're not here to have your pants taken down. Semi-pun intended. 

The best way to describe a 'pattern' in clothing is to compare it to a 'blueprint' of a building. An architect will build a house based on the blueprint and the tailor with piece together a suit based on the pattern.

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Will it be fully canvassed?

Canvas cements the lining and outer fabric of the suit, thus enabling its shape over time. You might be asking for an unstructured fit, in which case the lining might be absent from the body. Although ensure it's in the arms, all jacket arms should be lined for ease of access. Not all suits are fully canvassed, but the vast majority of made-to-measure suits will at least be partially canvassed. 

You don't want a yes-man tailor. It's important that your tailor presents positivity and optionality for you, but isn't just a yes man. In an interview for GQ Franklin Saltos, owner of N.Y.C.’s Tailoring Room, mentioned, 'The best tailor is an honest one. If yours routinely overpromises, jump ship'. 

I hate it man! 

I'm going a bit sensational with the questions today, but it's important to highlight early on what changes can be made during the process if you're unhappy with the design. It could be anything from the length of the trouser, to the style of the pockets. Having good communication with your tailor is key, even if you're unsure of the terminology, understanding at what point of the process you can make alterations is key. 

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The photos used in this blog post and from a past European-wide campaign I did with Brooks Brothers.

Experience Made-to-Measure at Brooks Brothers | 150 Regent Street, London

My first introduction to Brooks Brothers was this week, where I was chosen as the UK influencer to represent London in their European campaign showcasing the made-to-measure experience alongside their other influencers in Rome, Milan and Madrid. As a lover of the exquisite craft of tailoring, it was a goal of mine to work with and learn from such a historic tailor such as Brooks Brothers which established themselves in 1818. Brooks Brothers flagship store, located at 150 Regent Street in London, is a vast expanse sprawled across two floors including their exclusive made-to-measure experience, pool table and a lounge relaxation area where you can sit down and browse their collection of suit, coat and shirt fabrics.

Brooks Brothers are an American tailoring icon, renowned for exceptional customer service, quality fabrics and the best tailors. They are offering their existing customers and a new generation of Londoners to experience their made-to-measure service of which you can enjoy 25% off until October 1st 2017.

Brooks Brothers' fine tailoring meets the extraordinary quality of Proraso's products and Carter and Bond’s barber shop expertise, offering a pleasingly old fashioned and flawless shaving experience. Customers wishing to create their bespoke Brooks Brothers suit will be greeted in a temporary Barber Shop area within the store, receiving an impeccable and professional shaving or beard and moustache regulation. 

I joined fellow influencers Fabio Attanasio, Giorgio Giangiulio and Alvaro Arce for the London Made to Measure Experience, narrating the creation of my own MTM suit and Proraso barber service.

The Brooks Brothers MTM configurator launched last Spring/Summer, continues accompanying clients in their online suits’ and shirts’ customisation through a wide selection of fabrics, pockets, buttons and vents. By booking an appointment in their favourite store, at home or in the office, clients finalise their MTM experience with the help of a qualified MTM specialist.

During the whole made-to-measure experience, I was extremely at ease and relaxed mainly because of the beautiful setting in their Regent Street store and the fantastic staff who cannot do enough for you, to make you feel welcome. My made to measure experience started with a tailor measuring me for my shirt, followed by the suit jacket, then trousers but it all depends on your requirements. If you would like to get a new autumn/winter coat tailored especially for you, then the tailor can advice you on the optimal length, size, style and fabrics that work well when making coats. The key is to trust your tailor, take their advice but also add your own ideas of personality into the mix - maybe it's an extra button or turn-ups on your trousers, make it personal to you.

Brooks Brothers' scour the planet for the finest fabrics made from only the best raw materials which is why it might take you a while to flick through all of their fabric swatches...but take your time and make sure you get the perfect suit for you! Personally I went for a 100% cashmere suit jacket in camel and a contrast pair of trousers in dark grey, both fabrics were in a herringbone weave and I made the trousers slim fit with bold turn-ups.

After getting measured up for my new suit it was time to get groomed using the extraordinary quality of Proraso's products and Carter and Bond’s barber shop expertise.  

Proraso is a Florentine brand founded by Ludovico Martelli producing high quality products. Thanks to its centenary experience, it has served the daily care of three generations of men.

Established in 1818, Brooks Brothers was the first to offer ready-to-wear clothing and has continued throughout history with iconic product introductions including: seersucker, madras, the non-iron shirt and the original button-down collar. Nearly two centuries later, Brooks Brothers is proud to uphold the same traditions and values and to be the destination for ladies and gentlemen from every generation. Since its founding 199 years ago, in New York, Brooks Brothers has become a legendary international retailer while maintaining a steadfast commitment to exceptional service, quality, style and value.

It is safe to say that, Gentlemen you are in great hands with Brooks Brothers.

Photography by Stefano Massè

HAWKINS & SHEPHERD SHIRTS FOR SPRING/SUMMER 2016

Luxury men's shirt makers Hawkins and Shepherd have returned stronger than ever this Spring/Summer season with their new-look collection as part of a wider evolution across the styling of the brand. The introduction of their new button-down and pattern shirts are in keeping with market trends. As always, Hawkins & Shepherd shirts use the finest cotton fabrics and classic, handmade tailoring. Don't expect them to be in stores for some time, so get online and shop today, as this collection is limited edition and while stocks last. 

Hawkins & Shepherd White Button-Down Shirt

Hawkins & Shepherd White Button-Down Shirt

It feels odd writing a piece on my own shirts  but who best to do that than myself as I have put so much sweat and tears into getting Hawkins & Shepherd where it is today and I'm so proud of the brand.

Our button-down shirts have small details that stand out subtly whilst sticking to minimalistic, classic shirt tailoring. For example we stitch the top button hole and the last button hole in a different colour that compliments the shirt fabric perfectly. 

Our pattern printed shirt fabric has come from Portugal and is a limited edition, when they are gone their gone. The pattern collection centres around micro prints...paisley, geometric and polka dots are my designers favourites.

What to expect from Hawkins & Shepherd in the future? We have designed our first Hawkins & Shepherd Suit and Overcoat range in collaboration with Savile Row trained tailor Laura from Calder London using Britain's finest fabrics from Holland & Sherry. The suits will consist of single and double-breasted options and will be made to order. Our overcoat range will consist of two 100% Cashmere limited edition camel and navy jackets.

This is a major step forward for Hawkins & Shepherd but one that has been at the request of the label’s loyal customer feedback. We are small enough to react quickly to our customers’ wishes and in many ways they shape what we do as a company.

Hawkins & Shepherd Blue Micro Geometric Print Button-Down Shirt

Hawkins & Shepherd Blue Micro Geometric Print Button-Down Shirt

SHOP HAWKINS & SHEPHERD SS16 SHIRT COLLECTION HERE

Photo Credit Kylie Eyra

AN INTERVIEW WITH JOSHUA KANE

Joshua Kane, is taking bespoke tailoring to a whole new level with his exciting, modern twists on classic craftsmanship. With Joshua, what you see is what you get - a successful tailor, designer and businessman built on hard graft, commitment and creativity. It was a pleasure to sit down and talk all things #BloodSweatAndShears...

GROWING UP, WHAT DID YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU WERE OLDER?

Joshua Kane: Interesting question; I had a very diverse route to get into tailoring from playing semi-professional football for Fulham from age 13-18, to skateboarding semi-professionally, playing table tennis to a high level, all manner of sports. So sport, lots of sports, anything competitive, anything I could get addicted to, anything that involved hours and hours of commitment to get to a really high level... for me it was the addiction, something that you can work on perfecting.

WHERE DID YOU STUDY TAILORING?

Joshua Kane: I studied fashion design at Kingston University and in my first year I met my pattern cutting tutor, a chap called Tony who’s a Savile Row pattern cutter. I worked with him within university and also trained with him outside university hours either in his studio or wherever he was working, designing patterns, developing my own style, problem solving and learning by mistake really. Being sort of obsessed with something means that I can never put it down.

I think I've always counted myself as so grateful to be able to do what I do from being in university, to being accepted on the course, to getting the tutors that I got that gave me the training, to meet new amazing people that trained me outside, to getting my first work placement unpaid or whatever, but met amazing people that inspired me. Every aspect has been long hours and really hard work, challenging and frustrating at times but at the back of my head I was always so grateful for what I've got now.

I LOVE YOUR HASHTAG #BLOODSWEATANDSHEARS - WOULD YOU CONSIDER YOURSELF AS A WORKAHOLIC? 

Joshua Kane: That was the mentality that built this place. I started this company and it's still true to today - with no investment, I did it all from my savings and we’re still 100% owned by me I own every piece of product, every piece of furniture, every item, every piece of equipment and that’s just purely down to hard work. My mum painted the banister when we got the shop and one of the team here plastered the walls when she was an intern and now she’s a design assistant here and that's just really the ethos behind it.

Carl Thompson: Is that why you feel so welcoming when you come in?

Joshua Kane: Yeah because it is like a family. There’s a family ethos all the way through it. I like to think of it as the ethos of that old family tailor’s but with modernity. Still charming and beautiful but moving forward with new designs and new creativity but with old mentality. Beautiful construction within tailoring needs to be moved on - either in shape, fabric and cut to keep progressing because if everything stays the same all the time then it's going to get left behind and I think the way that I run the business, the way that we work with our staff, the way that we design the collection, it all comes from the same embodiment.

WHAT INFLUENCES YOUR STYLE AND DO YOU FEEL YOU ARE STILL ADAPTING AND LEARNING?

Joshua Kane: Yeah completely adapting, learning, changing, problem-solving, is key just because I did something last season and it was good doesn’t mean I want to do it the same even if it was the best part of last season it doesn’t mean we should do it the same again we should continue to change and adapt and rework things. If I use the button as an example you know we might have designed a really great button last season but we were ordering that many now we're ordering you know twice as many because we're going to push the collection even further it's actually not even viable to do a button that's that detailed to that many units so you need to consider the design, you need to consider the end purpose and equate that back into the beginning.

WHAT MADE YOU CHOOSE SPITALFIELDS AS APPOSED TO SAVILE ROW FOR YOUR FLAGSHIP STORE?

Joshua Kane: For me, the area is completely synonymous with the garment industry, this is where tailoring really started in East London. You had all of the textiles industry that was based in and around this area for garment production. The whole area is completely synonymous with craft from people in the market from pop-up birthday cards that are immaculately cut to the people making the beautiful cakes and then people curating their old vintage stalls.

Not only that the area is so amazingly regenerating from Belstaff opening on the opposite side to other big houses that I know are opening in the next six months. I saw an opportunity to be a part of something just when it was about to get really exciting and that's what really inspired me it will be the new Bond Street of East London within the next five years and to have our foothold in it now and be a part of it growing and regenerating and doing what I’m sought to preaching about I think is really great rather than just going to Carnaby Street and paying the rent or going to Savile Row and then pitching myself up against the people that have been doing it for hundreds of years I think it almost does them a disservice because they won't necessarily appreciate my aesthetic anyway, whereas maybe it's easier to appreciate each other from afar because we’re that different. You know I wouldn't say a negative word about anyone I love everyone for their own respects and their own heritage but mine is a bit different.

IT'S QUITE RARE THAT I LIKE EVERY PIECE IN A COLLECTION, BUT I COULD SEE MYSELF IN EVERY PIECE OF YOURS. WAS IT YOUR AIM TO CREATE SOMETHING THAT IS BESPOKE AND SO VERY WEARABLE?

Joshua Kane: It's interesting you say that because I always think about the levels of the design parameter that you can play around with. Again a different cutter taught me a really valuable lesson that is sort of repeated everywhere, about understanding what the rules are before being allowed to break them. That can come in so many different ways it’s so much more of a deeper statement than everyone else thinks. I think when they reuse it and the rules don't just have to be that you know the sleeve should finish X number of centimetres from the shirt cuff or the jacket should always be X number of centimetres long, it’s more about understanding a balance of a wardrobe for example, about understanding men's sartorial classic staples, the raincoat, the tailored overcoat, the single breasted coat against the double breasted coat and understanding all of those proportions and then when putting them together how extreme to push the proportions or indeed doing it in one of our more classic suit shapes and doing a really extreme fabric and doing nothing else to it.

It’s understanding that the collection has got to have a beginning, middle and an end, the end pieces are the wow the shock and awe pieces but usually they’re then styled in a way that tone them down and that's understanding the balance of the collection. It's so important to capture the mood of the collection with then how it all goes together.

 

VISIT JOSHUA KANE

Joshua Kane, Flagship Store, 53 Brushfield Street, Old Spitalfields, London, E1 6AA.

Shop Online via joshuakanebespoke.com

PHOTO CREDIT - MATT EDGE