Introducing: Atelier de l’Armée
Apart from mindblowing creations shown on fashion week runways, getting in touch with unique brands and concepts who deliver something out of the box you can actually wear (and purchase), is getting harder each passing day. Plus, with the amount of clothing and accessories production increasing on a daily basis there’s no getting around the waste from exceeding stocks or wardrobe purges; so, when I came across Atelier de L’Armée I couldn’t help to be absolutely blown away.
After going through their website and placing an order for a 1974 belgian paratrooper jacket and a pair of dutch airlines pants (more on that later), I lost track of time browsing through a neverending list of unique, numbered bags handcrafted with vintage army deadstock such as tents, jackets, pants, linings, denim and rifle handles. I got a chance to talk to Elza & Joost, the minds behind this amazing brand…
Store Info: Purificacion Garcia
There are some brands who despite their international approach and presence, still remain unmistakably linked to their unique charismatic origins. There’s no doubt cultural and historical background play a huge role in the way people dress, take for instance the preppy inheritance reflected by American brands such as Ralph Lauren or Gant. There’s something appealing to me in brands that are able to reproduce this cultural aspect and one of my favourites in this field is Purificacion Garcia.
If you’ve been following me for a while you might’ve come across several items from the Spanish brand incorporated into my looks. It’s ability to constantly deliver an unexpected take on classics with a bold, playful attitude resembling that of Spaniards themselves, is visible through the attention paid to details in every single garment. Besides its discreet contrasting color square logo, most items feature lots of color and small tweaks such as different color threads on each button, colored buttonholes or contrasting fabrics in the most unexpected places. Unique, updated, fun and versatile is how I would describe Purificacion Garcia.
With pieces including different ranges from classic 3 piece suits, up to washed polo shirts, business and casual shirts and an array of knitwear alternatives, this is one of those few brands where you could actually build a solid wardrobe covering the entire spectrum of your daily needs and social agenda: be it black tie events or a relaxing day at the beach. Heavily marked by the use of color and attention to fit, while featuring a unique spicy aesthetic between Spanish and Italian styling, this is definitely a brand to keep an eye out for.
I’ve had the chance to work with them in styling some looks from their SS13 collection, so stay tuned for future posts!
Store Info: Frasi, Firenze
Before leaving to Firenze a few weeks ago, I had already noted a few essential places I couldn’t miss this time around. Among the selection of stores, restaurants and others, one of them instantly rose to the top of the list: Frasi - the menswear haven run by none other than Mr. Simone Righi.
Unless you’ve been dead to the menswear scene for some time now, it’s likely you’ve come across Mr. Righi’s superb sense of style and proportion in street style blogs, magazines or websites. Simply put, he’s one of the best dressed men out there, a style icon Mr. Schuman and others made popular through their camera lenses…
Luckily for every menswear aficionado, Mr. Righi’s know-how and impeccable taste is brought to life through an iconic store which transpires his attention to detail. When you’re greeted by someone as sharp as him, you instantly know you’re in the right place to purchase a couple of outstandingly tailored garments. The best part? He’s there for you: getting hands down with styling and fitting, sharing his invaluable skills and contagious good mood to make you feel at home and looking your absolute best. Standing there, watching him work, is seeing art come to life while his presence completely absorbs you from the surrounding environment.
It’s only after a few moments that I snap back to reality, a faded background buzz giving place to a jazz soundtrack that’s a perfect fit for the overall mood…and then, “Simo” as his staff calls him, is suddenly dancing to the tune while styling a look in earthy tones. I’m surrounded by amazing garments that seamlessly blend into the store’s atmosphere, decorated with Mr. Righi’s own oil paintings, tailoring books and vintage photos…This is about more than tailored shirts, suits, blazers and luxurious shoes and accessories; it’s an experience, and one definitely worth living.
Via de’ Federighi 7R, 50123 Firenze
Store Info: Stefano Ricci, Firenze
While all the attentions are focused on Pitti and rightfully so, there’s much more to Firenze than its biannual fair. Locals are gifted with some of the world’s most renowned brands and personalities and on top of that each store seems to elevate the standard to a whole new level. This was just the case over at Stefano Ricci…
I’ve visited my share of places and stores, but I must say few have had the same effect on me: the moment I stepped in, garments became but a portion of the unique universe created within, as I found myself absorbing all the surrounding details in pure awe. From an 8m-high ceiling with a glass dome, to fresco paintings on the walls, mohogany displays and leather sofas, this space exudes the very essence of luxury. Add to that the brand’s logo brought to life in every eagle-shaped mannequin and a massive eagle statue at the center and it’s hard not to be overwhelmed by the whole environment, like it or not.
Once your jaw gets back in place, you start gazing at the outstanding leather suitcases and accessories, sharp suits, colorful ties and exquisite shoes, all of which are carefully shown to you by a super friendly staff (enough to say they let me shoot inside the store). I could go on and on describing every little detail, but I’ll let the pictures do that for me instead and simply say: don’t miss it next time you’re in Firenze.
Stefano Ricci: Palazzo Tornabuoni, Via dei Pescioni 1, 50123 Firenze
Store Highlight: FrenchTrotters, Paris
A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to visit Première Vision in Paris and besides browsing through an endless array of amazing fabrics, I still had some time to cruise the Parisien streets in search of outstanding stores. One of the first I had the opportunity to visit was FrenchTrotters…
With an eclectic selection of hyped brands including Our Legacy, Woolrich, Levi’s M&C, Barena, Opening Cerimony, Band of Outsiders, Makr and their homonymous label, it’s a treat for every menswear enthusiast out there. The two-storey space is beautifully decorated with light shaded wood and plants, giving it a warm, cosy feeling setting the mood for your shopping spree. As for me, I couldn’t leave without a superb burgundy velvet fedora (more on that on a future post)…
Store Info: WP, Rome
If you ask for shopping advice or read any of the numerous guides on Rome, your search will most likely be narrowed to Via Condotti and its surrounding area, where the amount of high end labels flagship stores is uncanny. Mind you, I’m not complaining…how could I when you run into Kiton, Prada, Brioni, Hermès, Cucinelli and more in a 300m radius?
However, after cruising those overwhelming luxury filled streets it was refreshing to come across a multi-brand shop where several personal favourites came together: Beams+, Barbour and Woolrich among others. WP suddenly felt like home: upon arrival you’re greeted by its super friendly staff members, ready to lend you hand while you lose yourself within the uniquely designed environment. On the right, an indoor tent solely devoted to Beams+ stood proud showcasing the Japanese brand latest offerings, while the opposite side hosted Barbour’s classics along with Steve McQueen’s limited edition, perfectly framed by a worn in leather sofa. Further in, Woolrich Bros. presented a wide array of garments and accessories, complemented by those of Reigning Champ, Smart Turnout and Brooks.
This eclectic mix of garments/design is what makes WP into a shopping experience of its own, bringing together top garments and a comfortable feeling of belonging to all its customers. If you’re ever in the Italian capital and want to get your hands on some great ready to wear alternatives while waiting for your bespoke suits, do yourself a favor and head over to WP.
WP Store, Rome
Salita San Sebastianello, near Piazza di Spagna
Store info: Laboratorio di Sartoria
When one hears the word tailor, the image of an older gentleman in a suit, chalk in hand, instantly comes to mind. Indeed, tailoring is viewed upon by many as an art of old whose life long apprenticeship is only mastered by well lived men who dedicated their whole lives to it. Although this isn’t far from the truth, the art of tailoring is currently luring new talents into its world: young men bet on perpetuating the century-old tradition of making one look his best.
One such talent is Ayres Gonçalo. Born to a family with strong roots in the tailoring business, he developed a passion for the art at an early age. Growing up in his grandfather’s atelier, to this date one of Porto’s most renowned tailors, he eagerly watched and learned the trade over the years. When the opportunity to study abroad rose, he set course for London’s Savile Row having joined Gieves & Hawkes, where he crafted suits for Prince Charles and Gordon Brown among others. Then followed Hong Kong and New York where his outstanding bespoke creations continued to impress with awe.
Earlier this year and driven by the desire to start his own brand, Ayres returned to his hometown of Porto, where he opened business with fellow tailor and associate Paulo Rodrigues. Laboratorio di Sartoria is not your usual tailor atelier: upon arrival you’re greeted by bold cobalt blue walls, a reflection of these high spirited craftsmen, now in their 30’s. The overall relaxed vibe and good mood is only surpassed by their professionalism and love for the craft easily perceived just a few minutes into the conversation. As a new generation of tailors, their interests and know how are much more up to date and dynamic, allowing the customer to feel not only comfortable but confident that his vision will be perfectly understood, which may pose a challenge with old school tailors. Offering made to measure shirts starting at €80 and two suiting lines, one made to measure starting at €500 and another bespoke fully handmade from €1.800, they offer the perfect chance to get hold of outstanding one of a kind pieces.
Address: Praça Dna. Filipa de Lencastre, nº22, laboratório 99, Porto
Store info: Lander Urquijo
If you’re a Tumblr habitué and enjoy cruising the endless pages of menswear content, you’ve most likely come across Lander Urquijo’s outstandingly styled mannequins. Presenting a distinct aesthetic, with strong roots in Spanish heritage and occasionally hinting at Italian, this Madrid based store has been causing quite a stir as of recently.
Their innovative approach to the masses, and specifically the target audience, has not only placed them on the radar of every menswear enthusiast, but is also setting a standard for stores across the globe. Instead of focusing solely on the core business of selling garments by means of an online store per se, they do so in a more personal way through their blog, providing customers and bloggers alike with their unique take on the universe that surrounds them. As such, they encourage you to develop a special connection to the brand and those behind it, being enticed to return to the blog on a daily basis; should a specific item grab your attention you need only contact them for purchase.
Although they carry such renowned brands as Barbour by To Ki To or Drakes, their in-house label is where the gold lies. Besides ready-to-wear options in the most varied, bold and often hard to find fabrics, they also offer two alternative bespoke suiting services: one sewn by machine and the other entirely handcrafted. Needless to say, a refined level of tailoring excellence is assured in every garment. It was this ever going quest for perfectionism and attention to detail, that recently earned them the prestigious “Dedal de Oro” award.
If you haven’t done so already, check their Tumblr and hit the follow button!
A glimpse of what to expect…
Store Info: Gentleman
Located in the building of one of Porto’s most famous and iconic markets, Bolhão, lies a store with more than a century of tailoring/bespoking history. Founded in 1936, Gentleman has been delivering high end custom clothing to gentlemen ever since. What started as a small business based on traditional tailoring techniques, has grown into a reputed store aimed at exporting items for such renowned brands as Tommy Hilfiger, Carolina Herrera or David Spade. So much so, that their own factory employs around 40 professionals, all of which with years of experience. The result? Every piece they produce is a manifestation of years of accumulated knowledge and love for tailored clothing.
Unfortunately, it was only when I started Beyond Fabric that I learned about them…needless to say I’m a loyal customer since the first time I set foot indoors. After a recent business makeover, the store is now 5-storey high, taking full advantage of the building space. An interesting side note, all the walls are decorated with one of their own suit fabrics, in plaid grey.
At the entrance level you might think this is your usual store: a ready-to-wear section filled with shirts, sweaters, coats, slacks, chinos, blazers…the works. However, as you make your way up, you begin to realize how far from the truth your first perception was…
The second floor holds the bespoking essence of the store. As you enter the oval room, you are greeted by a variety of shirts, suits and most importantly, fabrics. This is where Gentleman shines…you are no longer tied to whatever options are lying on the shelves, you can “design” your own pieces. Apart from suits and shirts, you’ll be able to have made to your liking virtually any item…I’m talking vests, pocket squares, ties, sweaters, everything you can think of. Regarding fabrics, choices range from Ermenegildo Zegna, Belfast, Holland and Sherry to Thomas Mason, among others. This makes choosing just one all the more difficult, especially since you can’t see the finished piece, you have to envision it. A word of advice: research thoroughly prior to your visit and define your objectives, otherwise it’s easy to get lost among all the offerings.
Once you’ve made your choice, you’ll be guided by the in-house tailor, who will take your measures and accompany you throughout several fittings and adjustments until the final result. This whole experience makes your custom pieces all the more interesting and unique. Moreover, you’ll notice that contrary to common belief, bespoke items can be affordable (even more so than some ready-to-wear options).
The third and fourth floors are used as storage for the items in stock and the fifth floor houses an amazing wooden dome.
If you love exceptional one of a kind fitted clothing, or simply well made off-the-rack garments, be sure to pay them a visit!
The ground floor
The second floor
The dome on the 5th floor