In last month’s issue of GQ, the magazine managed to twice make an assertion that puzzled us here in Tradsville: namely, that a buttondown-collared shirt is not a dress shirt.
The first instance occurs in question-and-answer format in Glenn O’Brien’s “Style Guy” column:
Most of my dress shirts are buttondown- collar oxfords, but I recently started a job overseas and I’m receiving mixed reviews on pairing them with ties. Most Brits say it’s a faux pas. What is your opinion? Is the oxford too Americacentric to take abroad?
Surprise! The oxford cloth button-down is not a dress shirt! Don’t tell Congress or they might pass a law making it one. It’s not a faux pas to pair a button-down with a tie—say, if you’re going to lunch on the weekend or to see Arsenal play—but for the office, you might want to consider European wisdom and get with the dressier options.
European wisdom? Didn’t we take the ingredients we wanted from European culture, cuisine and wardrobes and come up with our own way of doing things? And for much of the 20th century, as the United States rose to its preeminent position in the world, the men who were running the country (such as the gentleman from the State Department in 1959 who’s pictured above) had no qualms about doing it in buttondown collars. Going back farther, to the time when the fictitious Nick Carraway was a struggling bond salesman, the buttondown was even the chosen shirt of Wall Street. (Continue)
I’ve mentioned here before that I haven’t owned a suit for the past few years, preferring grey trousers and patterned sportcoats.
But I now have a simple charcoal suit to wear to weddings and a funeral — my own funeral, that is. Perhaps someday I’ll be buried in this.
The suit was made by Kamakura Shirts — that’s right, they’ve got even more tricks up their sleeve. We posted recently on their ties and pocket squares, but back in Japan they also have a made-to-measure suit business that goes by the name Tex-Teq. During the summer their fitter visited and took my specs. I chose a simple charcoal worsted fabric from Dormeuil, and asked for as close to an Ivy suit as possible. We hit one barrier immediately when the fitter said he didn’t think the factory could make an undarted chest.
But the result is a superb-fitting and very well made suit perfectly in keeping with how I dress. It features swelled edges on the lapel and lapped seams, hook vent, and two working buttonholes on each sleeve, which they placed kissing for a non-kosher twist. A small amount of sleevehead meets an otherwise unpadded shoulder. Trousers are flat-front and slightly tapered with 1 3/4 inch cuffs.
The suit arrived just in time for Kamakura’s one-year anniversary party last week at its Madison Avenue store, where I was thanked profusely for introducing the brand to America in that first blog post. Even random middle-aged women I was introduced to (hardly our readers or their customers) somehow had heard that a website called Ivy Style was responsible for the brand’s success. Those polite Japanese, always overstating things.
I’m seen above walking in the front door (and, thanks to the diminutive photographer, looking taller than Tyler Thoreson), wearing a short buttondown from Ledbury, a navy satin tie (with the sky blue rear blade sprezzidentally showing) from Tommy Hilfiger, black and white rep-striped tie bar from Rugby, black grosgrain watch band, and black Alden tassels with blue and white houndstooth socks from RL.
No idea if Kamakura will ever bring its suit program here to the States, but if it does, you can bet you’ll find the same quality-to-price ratio as with its shirts. — CC
Bass has returned to the state of Maine — indirectly, at least. Though it no longer operates a factory there, it has contracted with Rancourt & Co. to produce a new limited-edition “Made In Maine” shoe called the Fenmore Weejun.
The beefroll-styled shoe, which is priced at $275, comes in four colors. Tan and loden are rendered in smooth leather, while brown and black come in pebble grain. — CC
Allen Edmonds has just contacted Ivy-Style.com with the news that it is being acquired by a private equity firm, with the announcement set to hit the newswire shortly.
Those who’ve had their hearts broken at the acquisition of quintessential American brands by foreign companies will be pleased to hear that the new owners are American, and the above image, with prominent flag, was included by Allen Edmonds in its email. The release is pasted below in its entirety. — CC
ICONIC U.S. MEN’S SHOEMAKER ALLEN EDMONDS
AGREES TO OWNERSHIP TRANSITION TO FUND CONTINUED GROWTH
Private Equity Firm Brentwood Associates Agrees to Acquire Allen Edmonds;
Retains Allen Edmonds’ Leadership and Continues “Made in America” Manufacturing Strategy
PORT WASHINGTON, WISCONSIN. (NOVEMBER 4, 2013) – Allen Edmonds Corporation has agreed to be acquired by an affiliate of Brentwood Associates, a Los Angeles based private equity firm founded in 1972 with a strong track record of successful investments in growth-oriented consumer companies. Allen Edmonds will remain an independent private company, according to its president & chief executive officer Paul Grangaard, and will now have greater access to investment capital as a result of a successful ownership transition from Goldner Hawn Johnson & Morrison of Minneapolis, the private equity firm that led the purchase of Allen Edmonds in 2006.
Grangaard also announced that the leadership team responsible for the company’s significant growth over the last five years will remain with the company. He emphasized that Allen Edmonds remains completely committed to its “Made in USA” manufacturing strategy and its expanding Port Washington, Wis. production operation. Allen Edmonds has been handcrafting shoes in communities just north of Milwaukee since 1922.
Funding Will Fuel Continued Growth
“We’re absolutely delighted to partner with Brentwood Associates as we drive the development of this 91-year-old growth company,” said Grangaard. “This smooth transition provides us with the capital needed to continue building the Allen Edmonds brand, broadening our product line and taking our Made in USA products to new cities around the globe.”
Allen Edmonds is coming off two consecutive record years and is on pace for a third in 2013. After Grangaard became CEO of Allen Edmonds in 2008, he assembled a senior leadership team of experienced insiders and key new hires. The team recommitted to a U.S. manufacturing and quality strategy. Recently it even began exporting its branded Made in America product to China. The growth has created over 250 new jobs in three years at the company headquarters, manufacturing and distribution facilities in Wis. and in its retail stores across the country.
“The Allen Edmonds brand fits perfectly with our strategy of investing in category-defining brands with exceptional customer loyalty,” said Steve Moore, Partner of Brentwood Associates, who leads the investment with Roger Goddu, another Brentwood partner. “Paul and his leadership team have been excellent stewards of the company over the past five years and have proven their ability to grow and strengthen the business even in difficult times. We are confident that tremendous growth lies ahead for the brand in both the U.S. and key international markets.”
“We’re very excited to be working with Steve, Roger and the entire Brentwood team. They have proved to be tremendous, value-added partners in their past investments and we’re eager to call on their experience in consumer brands and multi-channel retailing,” said Grangaard. Roger Goddu added, “The Allen Edmonds brand represents extraordinary craftsmanship, and we will support the company in delivering the same high-quality products, service and value that Allen Edmonds customers have come to know and expect. We see fantastic potential for this company going forward.”
Starting tomorrow there will be a major change around here. Your browser will redirect you from Ivy-Style.com to our new home at Ivy-Aesthetic.com.
After ridiculing the term for years, I’ve finally decided to embrace it. I believe the extra syllables of “aesthetic” will give this website a more contemporary identity, as well as confer upon its content greater authority in the eyes of future historians.
We will of course have a new logo (above), though after considering a Greco-Roman font, we decided to keep the collegiate lettering. (Continue)
A couple years ago, when a guy at Brooks first mentioned they were considering a restaurant next door to the Madison Avenue Flagship, I thought it was a great idea. I still do. I mean, assuming there’s a bar, won’t it be the ultimate place to have a drink among fellow trads?
And for guys who work in menswear, it’ll be the obvious place to rendez-vous for a cocktail:
“Brooks, where else?”
But some don’t think it’s such a great idea. Writing for Forbes, Jonathan Salem Baskin notes how Brooks Brothers “invented apparel retailing for America’s ruling class,” and that it shouldn’t have to look beyond its sales floor to chart its direction. But the most interesting passage is this:
Brooks Brothers never sold products that were symbols of success; rather, it was where the successful shopped to eschew symbols. Sure, there were distinctive looks to the fabrics, colors and cuts, but the brand was less about selling a lifestyle as it was selling to it.
Buzzfeed, however, took a contrary view, saying the restaurant plan is actually a return to the brand’s roots — to catering to the very robber barons that Baskin says the brand built its reputation catering to:
While plans for the retailer’s new restaurant, “Makers and Merchants,” raised eyebrows when it was first reported by the New York Post earlier this week, the reality is that the Brooks Brothers aesthetic and core customer dovetail perfectly with the prototypical steakhouse diner. Think bankers, politicians, corporate executives who have no problem dropping $200 or more on a meal for two.
One more quote about well fed captains of industry. While preparing a piece on the upcoming Gilded Age exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York, yesterday I came across the following passage in the accompanying book:
[Brooks Brothers'] reputation for fine quality was unparalleled, and many of the most famous men of New York society turned to Brooks Brothers for their evening ensembles…
Brooks may have spent the Gilded Age catering to New York’s fancy-dress-ball set, but in the 21st century the sun never sets on its retail doors. As the Buzzfeed story points out, nearly half its 300 stores are located overseas. — CC