Handcrafted, Dignified, With Institutional Memory. The Essex Pant, I mean. Though Jake is handcrafted and dignified too.

I wrote about the Essex pant last week here –

 

If you click on this photo you can read the Essex pant review. I captioned this picture last time with a joke about your knees bending the other way. Crickets.

 

The Essex is khakis, I suppose, but it isn’t.   Wear them on most of the occasions you wear khakis, sure.  If you wear khakis to work, wear the Essex to work.  If you wear khakis to dinner, wear the Essex out to dinner.  But be warned.  You will not get the same reaction you get with typical khakis.

When I write about a particular piece, good bad or otherwise, I wear it while I am writing about it.  So yesterday, I wore mine again.  And I had a 9:00 meeting for my church.  We are preparing for our annual meeting.  So – not a board meeting, but an important one.  I went all Andover.  WOCBD, which everyone is used to.  Khakis, which everyone is used to too,  Jay Butler loafers which everyone is used to. Repp tie, which everyone is used to.   But when I walked in, I got,

“John, you are dressed up today.”

“I wear this all the time…”

“I don’t know, it looks dressed up today.”

That’s because there is a difference, noticeable, between the Essex and regular khakis.  And this has been bothering me since I wrote the review.  Did I do a good enough job of making sure you knew that this pant is a khaki but it isn’t?

“If you are not second guessing yourself, you are not trying to get better.” – Don Mattingly

So I did a deep dive into Andover and the Essex.   I got more info on why you need at least one pair of the Essex (they are not the cheapest pant on the planet, but more on that in a second), but I also ran headfirst into the most civil, aesthetically pleasing and Ivy-Standard-Bearing retail and online experience.  And I got some State Of The Union details as well.

Here, this is Jake Shields.

 

Jake Shields works out of the Cambridge store. In fact that picture is Jake working out of the Cambridge store yesterday. If you click on Jake you go to the story of Andover.

 

I spent some time talking to Jake about the Essex, and about the business.  “The style is always evolving,” he said, “it always comes around but never the same way twice.  We are selling a lot of sports coats, chinos, even 5 pockets.”  “Ties,” I ask?   “Ties are selling for sure, as much for events now as for business.”

 

I mean, if there is a more Ivy photo than this I do not know what it is.

 

Jake told me that there was a bit of Covid rebounding, which I always suspected but it was nice to have it confirmed.  “Graduations, weddings, even funerals,” Jake continued, “I think we are making up for some lost time, and people are buying more clothes for those events.”

 

The Essex at work.  I don’t mean worn to work.  I mean the Essex, doing its job.

 

I spoke with John Worthington and Jim Toomey of the Andover store.   Jim has even there 35 years, and says there is no end in sight.   “Andover is an environment where we are able to build relationships over time without sales pressure, so the job is not only more fulfilling, but we are able to create happier customers too.”  I asked Jim what percentage of his sales were based on his own advice versus customers who know exactly what they want, he said it was pretty evenly split.  “You do get the customer who comes in asking for a black suit,” he paused, “but of course a black suit should be a tuxedo.”

Jake added, “We are supported in working at creating a customer – and the only way you do that is to create a dynamic where the customer is excited about their purchase every single time.”

 

The Essex with a sweater.

Which gets me back to the Essex.   The khaki that isn’t a khaki.  It’s a logical next step for Andover, but only with the right energy.  Fortunately, Andover has that as well.  I’ve been emailing Tucker Mscisz who is too modest to even tell me his title, but it is clear that Andover is his baby.  His strategy, quality salespeople who are capable not just of expertise but of being the face of the company, is paying off.  Andover has momentum, and it is founded in Tucker’s direction.  We were talking about his customer base and he sent me an email I won’t quote here, but only because someday he is going to want to make it into a book for Harvard Business and I don’t want to leak the content.  But he closed that email with this quote:

“We know clothing and we know our customers. We help them find something they’ll love and wear for the rest of their lives.
Which is exactly why you want to have at least one of these in your wardrobe.  The people at Andover have momentum but it always boomerangs back to the institutional memory of what defines traditional and what looks best.   A word on that price, which isn’t at all out of line.  You can buy khakis for less.  You can buy khakis at Andover for less.  But you cannot buy these pants for less.  I used the car analogy in talking this over with Andover.
“Yes, you can buy a car for $1,000.  And it might even get you back and forth from work a couple of times.  But you cannot buy a classic car that you will drive for the rest of your life for $1,000.”
I don’t have a closet full of these, but they are in rotation for the days when I need them.

JB

 

 

 

43 Comments on "Handcrafted, Dignified, With Institutional Memory. The Essex Pant, I mean. Though Jake is handcrafted and dignified too."

  1. Gibson Gardens | July 1, 2022 at 9:13 am | Reply

    Jake looks fantastic. Newly as good as I do in mine. Lol!
    All my chums old Horace and Sadness etc are so jealous!

  2. @ Gibson Gardens

    Haha, GG. I have two pairs and our chum Andy is saving up for one! I’m wondering if old Johnny S will start stocking.

  3. Fletcher Millington | July 1, 2022 at 9:33 am | Reply

    Are Jake’s hands stuck in his pockets?

  4. Gibson Gardens | July 1, 2022 at 9:47 am | Reply

    Jake will take his hands out when necessary, Fletch, and give you whatever Ivy gear you want! What do you fancy for today? Kool Khakis?

  5. As the commercial(s) used to conclude, “Nice pants!” And the price does not seem unreasonable either for a quality item.

    Kind Regards,

    H-U

  6. They look better to me in the mannequin pics, and displayed with a sharp crease, than do most others which are photographed to emphasize their casualness. They appear to be cut in a more manly straight cut than the all too common women’s pedal-pushers-for-dudes style. From a distance, they could easily be mistaken for “dressier” worsted wool, or from a summer suit.

    I saw two black suits on the TV news last night. I pray that was an anomaly and not a trend.

  7. Price Hunnington | July 1, 2022 at 10:53 am | Reply

    I hope the cut of the khakis is not the cut of the trousers worn by Mr. Shields.

    • Gibson Gardens | July 1, 2022 at 11:07 am | Reply

      @ Price Hunnington

      Why not? That’s a great cut. But there is a choice. When you have good legs like me and Jake that cut is the biz!

  8. A Fine Sad Man | July 1, 2022 at 11:11 am | Reply

    Totally agree with Gibson Gardens. Why hide great legs when you’ve gottem!

  9. Gibson Gardens | July 1, 2022 at 11:40 am | Reply

    Haha. Nice one Sadness! Keep smiling as always and take care of them Kool Khakis!

  10. Down Tradden | July 1, 2022 at 11:46 am | Reply

    I’m surprised nobody has mentioned the other clothes on display. Yes, khakis are number one for sure. But the jacket and the sweater are tops too.

  11. I’m a little confused…

    Lawrence Trousers says on their website that the Essex khakis are “handmade” with “no machinery.” Directly below is a photo of a seamstress working with a sewing machine.

    Claiming that a garment is manufactured using “no electricity” while showing workers using sewing machines is disingenuous to say the least.

    https://lawrencetrousers.com/

    • Wow, good eye, Mitchell. I don’t doubt that these are handmade but saying that “no electricity” is obviously not correct if we’re being technical about it.

    • John Burton | July 1, 2022 at 8:02 pm | Reply

      I cleaned this thread up because it got sloppy. There is no claim that the pants are made without electricity, there is no claim that they are made without machinery. The paragraph that you and Ashley are referring to says, “Handmade is human- it does not involve enormous machinery or infrastructure. Like the name suggests and reiterates, they are made by ‘hands’ and not metal and electricity. Hence, the product price automatically goes up due to the extensive involvement of skilled labor with minimal or no machinery.” Right there is the acknowledgement of some machinery. That does not disqualify them as handmade. I am reminded of old couples that used to sit on the banks of Loch Ness at noon, staring at the water. The lunch is fine, but when you think you saw a monster, that’s the problem.

  12. Gibson Gardens | July 1, 2022 at 3:19 pm | Reply

    Wearing my khakis right now and getting complimented left right and center. Almost as if these bad boys have a voice.

  13. A Fine Sad Man | July 1, 2022 at 6:33 pm | Reply

    Wore mine out to dinner today.

  14. I am not sure that I trust a man with a wonderful Victorian beard,
    but who doesn’t wear socks to sell me traditional clothing. Re-
    minds me of the the sockless posers at the Suit Supply store in
    San Francisco who spend more time looking in the mirror than
    attending to customers.

    • Singling out the beard or the lack of hosiery misses the big picture, I think. Sockless-in-a-suit might not be your personal preference and there is a reasonable argument to made against it, but generally speaking, the guy looks fantastic. It strikes me as very smart for the Andover Shop to perhaps try and appeal to a younger demographic given the advancing age of their usual customers.

      • John Burton | July 1, 2022 at 7:18 pm | Reply

        Now here we are in complete agreement. The woman who cuts my hair does not wear her hair like mine. And she is great at it.

      • Alex Littletone | July 1, 2022 at 10:55 pm | Reply

        Ashley: They are trying to appeal to a younger customer/to younger customers, not to a younger demographic.

    • John Burton | July 1, 2022 at 7:12 pm | Reply

      This is an interesting position. Would you go to an overweight doctor?

  15. A Fine Sad Man | July 1, 2022 at 9:12 pm | Reply

    I like to go to doctors who know what they are doing and I like tailors who know the same. I am 100% certain that the genius tailor who cut my new khakis knew totally what he wanted and I know totally ‘I want some more!’ Just like Ollie in Dickknson’s movie.

  16. Thank you so much for making me aware of yhese great trassuhs.

  17. Gibson Gardens | July 1, 2022 at 11:32 pm | Reply

    @ Ashley & Mitchell

    Wise up guys surely you know that in menswear ‘hand made’ means not mass produced on a conveyor belt.

  18. Gibson Gardens | July 2, 2022 at 8:08 am | Reply

    @ Kingsman

    Trust me Kingers, these beauts are combed cotton.

  19. Random thoughts about this article…
    1). There is nothing preppy or traditional about facial hair. None of the trad icons we see on this site had a beard or goatee. Unless your idea of traditional is Karl Marx.
    2). Jake’s shoes are a loafer version of wingtip oxfords. They should not be worn sans socks. Acceptable loafers worn without socks are of the horse bit and penny variety.
    3. Those khakis have stove pipe legs, just as most trousers sold in the last 40 years. In my closet, I have Duck Head, Polo and Bills khakis with the same cut. Perhaps the material from which they are made is special.

  20. So nice to see so many pf my old chums applauding these superb khakis. When you wear them, as many chums have said, you get an immediate reaction from those around you. It is indeed as if these trousers have a voice.

    Voice? The quality of the cloth and the handwork is whispering to me now chums. Listen carefully. You will hear it too.

  21. Good stuff here, even if the fella’s hipster vibes are pronounced. Once the old Edwardian mustache and ‘RAF Beard’ are accepted by the proper, crusty fogies, I’ll buy on. Until then, the vibes are more ironic (“I’m not trying to look like Magnum P.I.”), Avett Brothers enthusiast (“The backpack is for my banjo”) and/or urban hipster (“What’s your favorite soy milk these days,” he asks the barista). We’re still a ways away from facial hair being Oliver Wendell Holmes/Mark Twain/Commander Whitehead awesome.

    All of this said, I’m pleased for The Andover Shop and the pant makers in MA. I’ll own half a dozen pairs before October— and other pairs will become gifts to friends and colleagues.

    To repeat: good stuff.

    Now, JB, tell that loafer making chum of yours to replicate the old weejun, but better leather. My vote:

    Horween #8/burgundy chromexcel.

  22. ‘buy in,’
    rather.

  23. whiskeydent | July 2, 2022 at 7:29 pm | Reply

    Have you boys gotten into the whiskey? Or, the whisky? Or the gin? Or some other nectar? As a professional in such matters, I see a great deal of evidence suggesting so. Cheers!

  24. *omission of the old guardsmen

  25. JB, what’s with the omission of the old guardsmen, Toomey & Mahoney?
    *poor connectivity/technical issues on my end

  26. Just been chatting with Paul Simons. I showed him my khakis.He said he could do something simlar maybe, but definitely no cheaper for such quality trassuhs.

  27. Gibson Gardens | July 4, 2022 at 5:52 am | Reply

    @ Kingsman

    If Paul Simons says that Kingy, that’s how it is. But for me I always go with what old Andy taught me: The quality is remembered long after the price is forgotten. Too true mate!

  28. Shammy Amboise | July 4, 2022 at 2:07 pm | Reply

    These are most excellent. I’ve yet to see them on any of the hundreds of instagram influencers I obsessively follow, I’ve got to broaden my horizons a bit it appears! Pictures, as always, tell the complete story! Of course well chosen words help! I think in years to come chinos like these will appreciate in value like rare northern soul vinyls. Sweet!

  29. Gibson Gardens | July 4, 2022 at 4:08 pm | Reply

    @ Shammy Amboise

    Welcome, Shammy. You will be in dreamsville with these chinos. Long after the night is all over these will be there with you.

  30. Thomas Mukherjee | July 5, 2022 at 12:13 am | Reply

    Thanks for all these great comments my friends. I am in India now and with the terrible exchange rate of the rupee to the $ these khakis will be costly for me. I will try my level best though. Thanks for informing.

  31. Definitely the best trassuhs I’ve had for many a year. Had a few pints in a Wetherspoons with them on. I hadn’t been in that boozer before but they gave me a free pint and told me they would lurve to see me again! Must’ve been the khakis. Trassuhs that get you noticed!

  32. A Fine Sad Man | July 5, 2022 at 8:56 am | Reply

    @ Kingsman

    You’ll be telling your grandchildren that tale, Kingers. And when they tell it the khakis that they’ll have inherited will bring the tale to life.

  33. These chinos would be sweet as hell for playing wingman for Shammy, but in all honestly I’m mainly a cargo shorts and flip flops guy these days. Still, colour me tempted.

  34. James Borkowski | July 7, 2022 at 8:15 pm | Reply

    John:

    What is your new email address? The old one got bounced.

    Jim

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