A couple of days ago I was contacted by my friend Álvaro, founder of portuguese bespoke menswear brand Agva, to check a few of his recent pieces before he delivered them to clients. Bet on creating unique items according to the client’s specifications, nothing is overlooked during the manufacturing process which takes place entirely in Portugal. Having nothing short of perfection in mind, their offerings range from shirts to full suits and even shoes. The final pieces I had access to included several shirt models and a 2 button blazer with an outstanding attention to detail. Here’s one of my favourites, more to come…
Houndstooth widespread collar shirt with french cuffs and mother of pearl buttons
The birth of baby 7 billion was hugely hyped around the globe with media of all sorts covering the story incessantly. In a world continuously growing at such a pace, the struggle for individuality is one that takes place on all levels. As one of the ultimate forms of self expression, personal style is often a conscious statement about how one perceives himself and decides on the image to present the world. When that mental representation clashes with what is social accepted or imposed, say in a working environment, there’s an inherent repulsive reaction towards those criteria.
I’m guessing I’m not the only one with friends who hold a grudge against suiting up simply because they’re required to do so on a daily basis. While some might argue that it’s an uncomfortable attire, the most common underlying cause is the fact they feel that on top of looking like everybody else, they have been deprived of their freedom of expression and individuality. Allow me to disagree…formal doesn’t have to be boring nor make you look like a clone. Sure, you’ll be wearing a suit like many other men out there, but it’s nothing unlike sporting a pair of jeans: how many people do you come across wearing similar or even the same model as you?
With the amount of offerings in the current market, dressing up can perfectly portray your personality as much as any other look. Assuring an appropriate fit assumes a leading role, but besides it the possibilities are endless: playful inner linings, collar detailings, patterned fabrics, color combinations and last but not least accessories. All these are powerful allies when it comes to setting you apart from the rest of the pack.
For those who instantly had a visceral response to the title, let me start by saying this is not a smoking symphatetic post. In this time and age, we’re all perfectly aware of the hazards smoking poses for one’s health and although I do smoke, the focus of this post is to present an unbiased opinion on the impact this action may have in visual representations.
Ever since cigarettes became mainstream, they were immediately associated with a glamorous lifestyle. In the early years when tobacco companies where the only ones aware of the associated dangers, smoking was seen as something reserved for successful gentleman who had it all: career, house, car and wife (remember the advertising campaigns?). Movie stars, singers and society’s most respectful were constantly spotted puffing and to an extent, it became a trademark for some.
So much so, that some of the most iconic pictures of these renowned personalities featured them enjoying a smoke. Odor and hazards aside, if you focus solely on the aesthetic aspect of these pictures there’s an undeniable sexiness associated with that eerie layer of smoke overlapping the human silhouette. It’s such a powerful statement that up to this day photographers and movie directors make the most of it to capture unique frames or depict certain personality traits. Although sex appeal is inherent to the person itself, in these pics smokes are outstanding allies…
Long goes the time when men relied solely on their trustworthy tailors to keep up to date with the fashion demands of their social agenda. Garments were crafted according to each customer’s needs and liking. Nowadays, a massified fashion industry is hell-bent on delivering a never ending stock of ready-to-wear alternatives at the lowest price: after all, it’s just business…
Thankfully, the tailoring tradition has managed not only to withstand against all odds, but actually thrive in adversity due to the current “retro revival” moment we’re experiencing and the fact people are looking for better quality, unique items. Apart from this, there are those who despite the global change remained faithful to custom made garments, and not necessarily because they’re wealthy. I believe there’s a common misconception where people inherently associate custom made to hefty price tags, which isn’t entirely true.
The price tag depends on a variety of factors such as the item itself, fabric and of course, the craftsman behind it. World renowned tailors may charge you absurd amounts, but then again so do their designers counterparts. As with so many other things in life the key is balance: finding a quality/price ratio that suits you is crucial. Once you do, you’ll see that pieces tailored to your liking may perfectly compete with similar RTW alternatives, with the perk of being unique and perfect fitting. Say you choose a Thomas Mason fabric for a shirt or a Zegna for a suit, the end result may very well be cheaper than the same versions purchased at a retailer.
If you haven’t done so already give it a try, you might be in for a pleasant surprise…
When it comes to outerwear, choosing among the myriad of available options may be intimidating at times. Apart from the so called “traditional” models which we all should have in our closets, there are alternatives for everyone out there: heavyweight versions for those who like to sport nothing more than a shirt under it, or lighter ones for the layering adepts. No matter which group you fall into, you need to get your basics covered, starting with classics in neutral shades such as navy or black. I’m a supporter of color, but when it comes to investing considerable amounts (outerwear doesn’t come cheap), you want to have a few all rounders. Nonetheless, that doesn’t mean that neutrals are the only way to go, especially if basics are no longer an issue and you’re looking for a new addition to spice things up.
To those of you on the next level, aiming to step away from the outerwear comfort zone, there are two paths: go for bold design or experience with color/pattern. As I’m not the biggest fan of overly designed items, I’ll address the colorway. The first thing to bear in mind is that the visual impact is proportional to the size of the garment itself, which colorwise, poses a challenge as few other pieces pack such a punch as jackets/coats. So, the choice of color is crucial: a safe bet on not so usual colors would be camel or hunter green, whereas if you really want to stand out, neon like shades such as yellow, orange or royal blue are the way to go.
If you throw pattern into the mix, the task of finding the perfect piece becomes all the more difficult, but the outcome may be that more exciting. Achieving a balance between both is the key to success, but requires a keen eye, so when in doubt go with solid colored fabrics. Experiencing with bold outerwear is not for the faint of heart, but when you get the hang of it you’ll have a hard time going back to classics.