Tag Archives: Bespoke

When I was one and twenty

When I was in my late teens I dressed in a dark long coat, wore a beret and, sometimes, mascara. If only occasionally, it did happen. Today I’m ashamed over the fact, but there we are. I was also a socialist of sorts and found Kafka’s books the most exiting literature ever printed. And I thought I knew best. Does this picture seem familiar to anyone? Many of us working in the Arts have gone through this phase, and some never get out of it. Luckily I did. Today I find bespoke tailoring, antiquarian books and a good dry martini more interesting and fulfilling. Pretentious? Probably. But that’s how I turned out.


Why am I rambling on about this then, dear reader? Well, it’s all down to the latest book I read. It’s by a young (he’s only twenty-one) Swedish writer-in-waiting called Jonas Strandberg. The book, Feberstaden (Fever City for those of you with minor linguistic skills), is written in Swedish and not yet published by a major publishers, but I sincerely hope someone will pick it up very soon. I just couldn’t put it down, and it immediately took me back to my own youth on the Swedish west coast. The characters struggle to get their heads around their lives and their interests straight, the uncertainty of adulthood and the future, the boiling passion for music, it’s all in there.

Simply put, the book is about a bunch of guys in their early twenties, if that, all playing in a band. They are just on the brink of making it big time when the lead singer and front man disappear without a trace. He can’t be found anywhere.  The remaining guys scramble their forces trying to get back on track but realizes it’s not that easy. The question remains; how much are you prepared to give up for success, for possibly “making it” in the world of rock ’n’ roll? Is it worth sacrificing virtually everything?

I agree, reading it like that it doesn’t sound like much. A really bad detective story? A youngster trying to ride on the wave of success from Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy? If so he wouldn’t be the first. But no, that really isn’t the case. Strandberg’s storytelling is mesmerizing. The plot described above is the central body of the story, the overriding line, but not its real core. What it’s really about is the immense pressure these young musicians, and the patient girlfriends involved, are under. How they struggle to find their own ground, their own sound and their identity as a band. The testosterone pumping and the frustration with parents who doesn’t understand the passion are painfully close to the surface all the time. When reading Feberstaden it started to itch all over, it made me really stressed since I can easily remember the feelings described so vividly. It might have been many years ago for me, but Strandberg manages to rouse it all again. I can’t say I’m grateful to him for that, but it’s a good skill for a writer.

Being this young and being able to be such a brilliant storyteller is a treat and very promising. There are minor editing errors that need to be dealt with, but that is in no way a critique of Strandberg’s gift as a writer. I’m not sure he’s found “his real” voice yet – something tells me that the sometimes overly elaborate descriptions and convoluted sentences are a sign of wanting to say too much, not trusting his reader and his own gift. In short, that is what we’re all struggling with as artists in whichever discipline though, isn’t it?

I hope he will get due credit for his work and won’t give up writing. If he carries on this is for sure someone to look out for and a writer we will hear a lot about in the future.

 

… Aware in his whole body that what he listened to was so much more than just songs on a record. It was five young peoples message to the world told in a way you can only talk or scream when you’re twenty years old. When everything still matters and thing s still mean something and every fall seems bottomless, but the tops so very close to blue stars. It wasn’t just files, not just poetry about love and anxiety and not just music.

It never is just music.

– Jonas Strandberg, excerpt from Feberstaden


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Filed under Gothenburg, Literature, Sweden

What’s wrong with the socks guys?

For ages have I tried to understand why guys (and I don’t mean gents but normal “guys”, “blokes”, “lads” or what-have-you) who generally dress quite well seem completely oblivious about what they wear below their ankles. And I’m not talking about shoes this time but socks. Technically they might stretch above the ankle, I guess, but you get the idea. Socks is a statement, something you can use to define yourself and your belief in good quality clothing. They should be a business card, but more subtle. You don’t shove your socks in someone’s face after a board meeting. Or at least I hope you don’t. Regardless, nice socks are garments to be remembered by.

Nothing make me happier than walking along a busy street somewhere in the world and all of a sudden see a great, bespoke suit and a flash of a red sock. In particular if it’s a navy blue suit. It takes me ages to refocus after that. Having said that I can’t stress enough how awful I find it with dark socks to go with dark suits. They should be banned together with the flesh coloured sock. Never ever is there a situation in life where a flesh coloured sock is ok. Never.

As mentioned above socks can be used to put that extra touch to an ensemble that otherwise would have been great but now rises to another level. Coloured socks should be used to enhance what you’re wearing. A dark suit is just that if dark socks are worn with it, but if you wear a colourful pair it becomes a good-looking suit. The contrast makes it interesting, gives the ensemble life.

So, please guys, make an effort from now on? No one would be happier than me.

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Filed under Bespoke, British Fashion, Gents Fashion, London, Socks

A double-breasted suit? Really?

Can one really wear double-breasted suits if one isn’t the Prince of Wales, under 50 and not a puffy banker? If you would have asked me last week I wouldn’t even have bothered answering such a silly question. Today though, I’m slowly warming to the idea that, maybe, it doesn’t need to look that bad. And it’s all thanks to Jeremy Hackett. As always. Once again has he found a classic, gentlemanly way to make the double-breasted suit look good. Or not just good, great.

He justifies it with saying

… Now it is more softly tailored and more relaxed, the shoulder is narrower and the coat length shorter, somehow it looks new and fresh and distinctly smarter and I believe there is a whole generation of men who have never worn this style and therefore are unaware of its historical baggage.

“Its historical baggage” referring to the awful look we recognize as the sleazy-stock-market man of the early -80s or the estate agent look of the early -90s (they have always been a bit slow the estate agents, haven’t they?). And who knows? Maybe Mr. Hackett will once again manage to squeeze in an article of clothing that not many other designers have payed attention to for quite some time, and we will feel that we cannot live without in a year or two. Because to be perfectly honest here, a double-breasted suit really can look quite dapper, wouldn’t you say? It is a shame that it has been out of fashion for so long and I’m really looking forward to get one sooner rather than later.

I guess this is what appeals to me with really good quality gents fashion. The timelessness of it all. That there are garments that can be brought back, reinvented, styled up and then we think “gosh, why did it take so long for this to come back?”. Most of Jeremy Hackett’s clothes are like that. Like if you buy a suit on Savile Row. You know that it can be kept for ages and it won’t look tarnished or as if you’re completely out of touch with fashion. Rather the opposite. These are suits, shirts, shoes or what-have-you that are almost over and above fashion.

However, I must ad that the double-breasted club blazer, you know the dark one with brass buttons galore, just isn’t convincing yet. Not even the Hackett ones. I know Mr. Hackett himself thinks it the most basic garment in any gentleman’s wardrobe. I’m not convinced though. But, I’m looking forward to how he can reinvent it! It might happen this year or it might be another ten, but I know that if anyone will make it happen it is Jeremy Hackett.

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Filed under Bespoke, British Fashion, Gents Fashion, Hackett, London

GANT by Michael Bastian

For this year’s autumn collection GANT, the East Coast preppy clothes brand, invited Michael Bastian to design a special range of mainly sports inspired clothing. And what a success it is. It looks stylish, arrogant in the right way and as always the fabrics chosen are of highest quality.  A joy to look at and to wear! Michael Bastian is a New York City based designer who’s worked for the absolute best in the fashion industry, Tiffany & Co. and Polo Ralph Lauren to mention but a few. With that in mind one can see why his own brand, as well as his designs for GANT, looks like leisure-wear-meets-haute-couture. For this collection he has taken influence from lacrosse which, for most Northern Europeans, is a sport we might have heard of but not many have played. I know that it got sticks with net at the end involved, but that’s about it really…

I realized what a great collection this was when I walked past the GANT flagship store on Regent Street and, having done just that (i.e. walked past) I had to turn around and walk in to watch the Michael Bastian collection. Cleverly placed just inside the doors it was impossible to miss. In particular the tweed jacket, called Guncheck Blazer in the collection, spoke to me. Regardless of the elbow patches, or maybe because of them, it’s one of the nicest jackets I’ve seen in any autumn collection this season. The orange elbow patches, rather big compared to what’s normal in classic gents tailoring, are the greatest feature. Catches your eye immediately. The Oxford shirts as well, such nice quality and looks great with the aforementioned jacket. I’m not entirely convinced about the breast pocket though. That is an invention that should be banned from shirts entirely. Why have a feature that no one in his right mind would ever consider using? It’s a big mystery to me.

If you like the GANT by Michael Bastian collection it might also be worth checking out his own brand, simply called Michael Bastian. One can clearly see similarities in both cut and choice of patterns in the fabrics. But mind you, tartan seem to be all over the place this season. And who would mind? Isn’t it great that it’s not just earth colours on their own? Warm earth tones and a cool tartan can’t go wrong. At least not this autumn. However, my better half would probably mind if I used my kilt all the time. But if worn traditionally it has its advantages, that must be said.

Maybe it wouldn’t be that much of a disaster after all.



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Filed under Art, Bespoke, GANT, Gents Fashion, London, Tartan, Uncategorized