Show Time: Capsule and Designer Forum Wrap-Up

It’s Menswear Market Week here in New York, and I’ve spent the past few days at a couple of the trade shows. First up, Designer Forum, sponsored by the Custom Tailors & Designers Association, the oldest trade organization in the US.

Pictured above are rep bow ties from Collared Greens, which has combined the preppy, domestic manufacturing, and eco trends all into one. Based in Sun Valley, Idaho, the brand showed neckties and brightly colored, organic-cotton polo shirts.

Next up, patch-madras shorts in a nice hefty fabric from Castaway Clothing, the wholesale arm of Murray’s Toggery Shop of Nantucket Island.

The New England Shirt Company was founded six months ago, though its Fall River, MA shirt factory has been around for 80 years making shirts for J. Press, Sero and others. Below is an oxford sport shirt with patch pocket and contrast stitching. Price range for the collection is $125-$175.

Necktie maker Atkinsons Royal Irish Poplin was there, a longtime staple of many regional trad shops. “Poplin” today is mostly used to describe cotton suits, and yet the term is actually a conjunction of “papal linen.” To further confuse matters, Atkinsons’ ties — which are about the finest you’ve ever felt — are actually made of silk and wool. Below is Atkinsons sales rep Hal Choyce, with seersucker sack jacket and rakish collar roll:

Recognize this guy?

Come on, I did. It’s Sid Mashburn, who was wearing one of his signature looks: white Levis 501s, loafers (Belgian Shoes, in this case), no socks of course, and a natural-shouldered Italian sportcoat. “Tell me if this isn’t the most comfortable thing you’ve ever worn,” he said, putting it on me. He wasn’t kidding.

Sid didn’t want to be photographed without a necktie, but consented anyway. He’ll be glad to know the shot didn’t come out, so I cropped it at his shins. He made white jeans and loafers without socks look so cool I ordered some Levis as soon as I got home. Of course, what it reminded me of is the guy in white chinos/jeans in this widely circulated shot from the LIFE archives.

I asked Sid how a regional shop in Atlanta started getting such sudden buzz among the myopic New York fashion media. “My wife used to work at CondeNast,” he confessed. Yep, that explains it.

Then Bruce Boyer wandered over, along with former DNR reporter Vicki Vasilopoulos, who’s currently making a documentary on Italian tailoring, and business cards start getting exchanged — and compared. Mashburn and Boyer find they’ve used the same shade of green, whose number on the color wheel they’ve got memorized. So I make a crack about that scene in “American Psycho” where the guys compare business cards. Boyer doesn’t know the scene, but comes back with, “But I’m in the book.”

The rest of us float incredulous looks. “What do you mean you’re in the book?”

“There are two pages of me,” Bruce says. “The character says, ‘Look, here’s what Bruce Boyer says in Town & Country….’ I was going to write Bret Easton Ellis a note saying, ‘What’s a nice guy like me doing in a book like that?””

Anyway, it was pretty much the snappiest comeback ever. “Seen the movie?” “No, but I’m in the book.” Touché, Monsieur Boyer.

The following day I went to the Capsule show. As it was hot, and held at a funky industrial space in Chelsea, instead of the Warwick Hotel, I felt no obligation to wear long pants. I was clad in khaki shorts, Weejuns, and this patch-madras shirt from Brooks, accessorized with Clubmasters and this skinny belt from J. Crew. I had barely walked in the door when a guy grabs me and says, “You’ve been dressing like this all your life, haven’t you?”

“Actually, I’m more of a born-again prep.”

“Because you look so natural. Most of the guys I’ve seen doing that look are trying way too hard.”

Nice compliment, but to put it in context, here’s who it came from:

Lawrence from Sartorially Inclined was there, doing some live blogging. A great guy with a much deeper voice than you’d expect from a fashion blogger with a category called “lusting after“:

Sebago showed lots of work boots, including several reproductions from its original 1946 catalog:

Next spring the Eastland Shoe Company will bring out these fine Maine-made penny loafers, priced at $250:

More shoes, this time longwings by Florsheim by Duckie Brown, made from Horween hides and Goodyear welts. “These shoes are indestructible,” said Duckie Brown founder Danny Livingston.

One more remark on shoes: Mark McNairy was there with his Bass collection (see below), and said he’d like to open a shoe store in the near future. In the meantime, his long-tailed oxford shirts ($120-$190) are made in the Brooks Brothers factory. “A dream come true,” said the avid collector of vintage Brooks shirts.

Finally, we have a patch-pocketed, chambray half-lined herringbone jacket by Billy Reid. If you’re not sure exactly where Billy Reid fits in the marketplace, you’re not alone. “It’s like a Banana Republic designer stumbled into a J. Crew meeting,” someone quipped, “and fell asleep halfway through.” — CC

17 Comments on "Show Time: Capsule and Designer Forum Wrap-Up"

  1. Who sells the McNairy/Bass shoes? I saw a lot of pictures on blogs or last season’s collection but have never seen them available anywere in person or online.

  2. Last I heard it was Barneys, in-store only. But that was last season.

  3. I hate to admit it, but I’ve neither seen nor read “American Psycho.” Which would you recommend I do first?

  4. Since it may not be your cup of tea, watching the film would be a less taxing investment of your time.

  5. Great piece. Really like the bit about the business-card exchange.

    But I really don’t know what this means: “It’s like a Banana Republic designer stumbled into a J. Crew meeting,” someone quipped, “and fell asleep halfway through.”

    I don’t see any Banana Republic in Billy Reid designs. Someone enlighten me please.

  6. Christian | July 21, 2010 at 1:45 pm |

    Maybe the quipper will come forth anonymously and elaborate.

  7. Christian,

    Thank you for the recapping for those who couldn’t be there…such as myself.

  8. Christian | July 21, 2010 at 3:23 pm |

    Honestly, you didn’t miss a whole lot.

  9. Great Bruce Boyer line. For those who are unfamiliar with the tale, in American Psycho he’s obsessed with wearing Polo and Brooks Brothers….that BB Patchwork Madras shirt is great….much better patterns than most “Patchwork” garbage that I’ve seen recently….love the Seersucker jacket on the Atkinson’s guy- I’ll definitely be breaking out my Polo seersucker Made In Canada next week for an event

  10. Haha. I can’t believe you don’t remember the Boyer discussion in American Psycho. I believe it was a conversation about whether you should wear a belt with a vest. (No you shouldn’t. It will bulge when you sit down. Wear suspenders instead.) I also remember overhearing classmates discuss the same issue, very seriously and without the benefit of having read American Psycho, while I was a student at The University of Chicago Law School.

  11. …also confused by the Billy Reid/Banana Republic & J Crew slur. I have heard people make the “Southern Ralph Lauren” comparison…which I don’t get either (they both do seersucker in the summer…who doesn’t?). I’ve become a big fan of Billy Reid. His clothes make me want to sit on a porch and drink bourbon. And that’s a good thing.

  12. Christian | July 22, 2010 at 8:54 am |

    Might “slur” be too strong a word?

  13. Anonymous | July 22, 2010 at 9:32 am |

    I too am confused by the Banana Reidpublic quip. I also am confused about what exactly is “southern” about Billy Reid’s clothes. I don’t dislike them, and a few pieces are executed well such as the double-breasted suit, but on the whole I find them bland, like a meal consisting only of beige foods. Maybe “southern” also means “yankee-bourgeois-bohemians-fetishing-a-culture-they-would-usually-denigrate-intellectually-and-politically,” but who knows.

    You know what makes me want to sit on a porch and drink bourbon? Bourbon.

  14. I love Sid Mashburn! You can also find him on Taigan.com …just a click away:)

  15. Clothes from Billy Reid have a lot more detail in terms of texture, color, and drape than what I tend to find at J Crew or certainly Banana Republic. Many of the items that you find on the racks at a Billy Reid store are made in Italy and have a lot of handwork to them…to compare them with the mass produced items that you find on the racks at the mall is somewhat disparaging, in my opinion. And to say that Billy Reid’s level of design is at the same level of someone who “stumbled” into a J Crew meeting and “fell asleep” (am I interpeting this correctly?), is NOT a slur…? OK, how about “aspersion”?

    “yankee-bourgeois-bohemians-fetishing-a-culture-they-would-usually-denigrate-intellectually-and-politically”…nice. There is also a charm and romance associated with the South that I think even those of us who are not Southern appreciate and not-so-secretly covet (not unlike Ivy Style, for those of us who are neither WASPy or Ivy educated).

  16. Sorry, but I still detest patch madras.

  17. Christian | July 23, 2010 at 2:12 pm |

    No need to apologize. I still detest saddle shoes and Venetian loafers.

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