When I was a young fogey in my mid-twenties, I had a number of vests so that I could sport a pocket watch and chain. It was an absolutely fobulous time in my life.
Recently I got the urge to break out the watch once again, but this time I wanted not just an odd waistcoat, but a three-piece suit. Turns out it’s a small world, and my alterations guy at Alterations.com introduced me to his distant cousin Joe Hemrajani, who runs MyTailor.com with his son Divij. We worked out a deal, and I’m here to present the results.
Hemrajani is popular with a number of clotheshorses — such as Will of A Suitable Wardrobe — who are obsessed with the Apparel Arts era of the 1930s. He’s based in Southern California, travels the country frequently, and the clothing is made in Hong Kong. When he came to New York for several days of appointments in his hotel suite, I went in with some sample Ivy gear and illustrations from a vintage Brooks catalog to find out if he could nail the trad details. I’ve worn the suit several times and it’s gotten great feedback, so allow me to introduce you to Joe and a custom option you may not have been aware of.
First off, while you could send something in and have it copied in the fabric of your choice, Hemrajani wanted to give me the full experience. This suit is full bespoke, meaning a custom pattern was created for me; in the interest of time, we skipped the basted fitting. By the time the suit was ready father and son were again in New York and we tried it on. The minor alterations necessary were done in Hong Kong, which sounds like a lot of shipping back and forth around the world, but they wanted all the work done by the same hands. At this point I should say that their communication and service was terrific throughout the process.
I chose a 13-ounce charcoal flannel by Fox Brothers. This was a fabric upgrade and would run $1,799 for a two-piece suit + $549 for a vest. The entry-level option runs $1,079 for a digital pattern that is half hand made and half machine made, while next up is full hand made with paper pattern at $1,279. Whatever you choose, all jackets are full canvassed.
The Ivy details include:
Tapered, plain-front trousers with full rise
“Natural angled shoulders” on jacket
3/2 roll, no darts
Two-button sleeve with working buttonholes
Hook vent, lapped seams
Matte finish charcoal horn buttons
I’m immensely pleased with the suit, which can double as a two-piece when I don’t want to go pre-heyday Ivy. Now I just need to get grandpa’s watch running again.
Visit the My Tailor website to find out when Hemrajani or one of his associates is coming to a city near you. Mention Ivy Style when you purchase a suit and they’ll throw in a free custom shirt valued at $120. — CHRISTIAN CHENSVOLD
Very nice suit. Maybe, a little more room in the pant legs. However, you’re thin, and it looks great.
I haven’t bought a vested suit, since the late 1970s. I basically quit wearing vests since the 1980s, when the suits didn’t fit anymore. Too bad, I donated them, they’d fit now.
I’d bet I didn’t spend as much total on all the suits i bought in the 1970s, as you paid for the current model. My most expensive three piece suit of that decade, was under 200 dollars, special ordered and altered to perfection. Bought at Lou Zeidens, Lou wouldn’t let you take a suit out of the store, without his approval.
I Love this Christian! Very much so “in it”, and on point! It’s wonderful to see others sporting a 3 piece sack, and especially so elegantly. The whole visual composition is quite nice! What sort of tie is that? It looks like a rep, but there is something going on with the color where it meets the waist-coat; are those embroidered gryphons or lions; an emblematic embroidered rep?
Anyhow, this is Great! Kudos on the Fox Bros. flannel!
While we’re at it; does Hemrajani do sack cut DBs? I’m sure that they do, as they do bespoke, but just curious if it came up at all in conversation.
Seeing as they’re local, I may have to try them out one of these days, and thanks for the pricing points! Always good to know!
Forgot to add the other things in the outfit:
Ben Silver griffins tie
Paul Stuart hanky sticking out too much
Allen Edmonds cordovan wingtips
To my eye the lapped seams and swelled edges do not work on a suit, I am not sure these are typical “Ivy Style” details.
@ Fred Johnson
Those details are the quintessence of an Ivy Styled suit; they were used for a sub-category of suits which used to be produced, which were called “Sport” suits. They were intended for sporting activities and hence had sporty details, details which typically would be found on sports coats, the other stalwart of the sporting Ivy League look. I have quite a few suits from the heyday, and I can assure you that such details were prevalent in such sporting suits (typically those made up in tweeds, or flannels or other hard wearing sturdy fabrics intended for more country oriented usage). 🙂
The jacket looks comfortable, but the trousers look anything but.
@ Prescott Forbes: The trousers look much like the trousers on my 1960s era Brooks suits (Christian did say that he based his suit off of catalogue illustrations); trim cut and high rise. I’m wearing one of those suits right now actually, and while trimly cut, it is quite comfortable, just not as roomy as later suits, and the high rise keeps the mobility and ease level way up as it doesn’t bind at the bodily fulcrum of the hip. Mine is an olive Dacron/cotton blend poplin, perfect for the wild swings in temperature here in (today) not-so-Sunny Southern California 🙂
It could also be that he hasn’t tightened the cincture at the back of the vest.
Beautiful fox brothers flannel and nice lining. Looks good in the sun. The sleeves look a little tight, to fast a rate of taper maybe. Or, could be it’s hanging up a little on the oxford cloth. Sometimes I prefer broadcloth; less friction, but your shirt sleeves look roomier than the suit sleeves. Looks great from the back. I like the seems.
Terrific suit, Christian. All of the details and the fabric are just right, including the slim trousers, which work better on your tall frame than they would on my five-foot, ten inches.
I have a similar 3-piece I bought at J. Press in Washington in the late 90s or early 2000s (for around $600 or so on sale as I recall), but frankly I like yours better. Despite coming from Press, mine is a 2-button, darted model, with 3 working buttons on each sleeve. Are your AE cordovans double-soled longwings? If so I have a matching pair, but thought you eschewed gunboats in favor of the more elegant single-soled versions.
Either way, a great look, and I say money well spent. Temps in Virginia are supposed to dip back into the 40s and low 50s tomorrow, and you have inspired me to break out one of my handful of 3-piece suits while the weather still permits the extra layer. Maybe a vintage Brooks 3/2 sack in Navy with longwings.
Evan — You are quite right about “sport suits,” a term which could embrace flannel and tweed as well as linen and seersucker. Not something most people would recognize today. An informal suit is quite a concept in an era in which a coat, tie and khakis would be viewed as wedding-level formality in most parts of the country. Is your poplin suit one of your father’s? If I recall correctly from other comments, he would have been a Brooks customer in that era. Sounds perfect for a sultry So-Cal day.
You hit the nail squarely on the head, as usual! I honestly cannot believe that I forgot about linen, seersucker, and mentioning cotton! My poplin suit today is a sport suit. welted edges and patch and flap hip pockets which are also welted and lapped. I was just out walking and noticed (in the mirrored front entry hall of my office), that I have lost so much weight that my trousers no longer even look that trim on me! Though the hemmed openings are still decidedly narrower than my later Brooks suits.
I love the history of clothing. I’ve studied it extensively. A hobby of mine, an intensive avocation, but an avocation none the less…
I agree, but I still like to keep the old ways going strong, at least for as much as I am able to. It’s an extension of a place for everything, and everything in it’s place, I suppose. Sadly, I’ve seen a lot of khakis and sport coats at weddings, though I remember even when I was a youngish man, that people still wore morning wear to weddings, and not even Anglicans, and in California, in Los Angeles no less!
My Dad’s were the business suits and the seersuckers. His, sadly were mostly darted. I have a compulsive aversion to darts. I do have a beautiful golden rod and cream seersucker 3 piece which up until recently has been to slim for me…I might give it another try this Spring! He did do a good amount of shopping at Brooks – Shirts, and business suits, but just as likely to shop at Brussels of Beverly Hills (he liked their Gant suits), or Carroll & Co., or Malibu Clothiers, or his favorite Ralph Lauren. I do remember Dad and Granddad going to Sy Devore sometimes too, rarely. There’s still a Sy Devore on Ventura Blvd., in Studio City (next to Sherman Oaks), though it is a sad shadow of its former self, though the same could also be said of Carroll & Co. prior to it’s cessation of retail mercantilism, and switch to solely offering MTM and the like. The trad world in Los Angeles is sorely shrinking on the daily. Brooks Bros. is hanging on, but the face of the company via its sales staff is not what one could hope for. Most stores now-a-days look like middle-rent Italian department stores, or glorified H&M boutiques, or overpriced GAP locations, or they sell gold lame’ track suits with Burberry lining and gold plated pyramid studs with matching Addidas and Nikes over at NORDSTROM. Sad. I hardly recognize the stores that used to be reliable.
I almost put on a pink end-on-end Tennis collar shirt on with the poplin suit today, but instead opted for a pink pinpoint OCBD, and pale blue linen socks with a Black Watch regimental stripe tie in a narrow width with the weft of black silk on the outside. Church’s Royal Tweed tassel loafers in cordovan today. It’s fresh but hot in bursts and flashes! California is ZANY!
How are you today, Sir? Is it hot or humid today in yr neck of the woods? Summer Tweed time? I also give my best thumbs up to the 3 piece suit! They are the Best! You should totally do a My Kinda Clothes submission. 🙂
I don’t know how I missed the part about the 40s or 50s! Buuuut….I did! That sounds Lovely! My favorite weather, and yes, 3 piece suit weather! I still was wearing one yesterday! Perfect outdoors, FRIED in the office! 😛
It looks like yr wearing cap toes there, not wingtips, either way! Brown shell Cordovan! You are Bringing yr A Game, Sir!
Though the image is very dark, they look like EA Strands, one of my favorites from them. Too bad that last wrecks my feet.
And that suit is awesome.
Sport suit details yes, I agree completely with the history. I was not sure if C was going for this or just adding trad details because they were available. They do decrease the formality of a three peice somewhat if that was the intention.
Have you read the poem by Bryant about the view of death?
Made in Hong Kong? This doesn’t fit with the classic Savile Row version of bespoke, where the suit is made under the same address as storefront. Hemrajani may be a world-renowned fitter, but how does he ensure the suit’s construction is top notch, especially when it is made in a corner of the world notorious for bargain level corner cutting?
Christian, may I ask if you paid for this suit? Your post says you “worked out a deal.” Was the deal that you would post about them in exchange for a free suit? Or a discounted suit?
Looking good in a white shirt!
Perhaps some followers of this blog who
are addicted to blue OCBDs will be inspired to follow suit.
I believe the shoulders are all wrong – the drape is too long, causing sagginess around the top of the arms. A schoolboy error, screwing up the shoulder-line indicates this is the work of a third-rate tailor.
Is it just me, or is there a hint of PG in the arms folded image? Shoulder divots? Where do you go, dressed up to the nines like this, on a day to day basis?
@ Whiskeydent: Agreed; that suit is Awesome!
@ Fred Johnson: 2 of my 3 piece suits from the era both have all of the above sporting details, and many more of the 2 piece suits, I think that’s kind of the idea though; always dressing down the formal, and dressing up the casual, right? Fun and sportif! 🙂
@ Dominic: Hong Kong isn’t all bad, neither is Bangkok, as far as tailoring goes, it all depends upon who you choose to give yr custom to, and how much yr willing to pay. That said, I do agree that typically bespoken garments have been traditionally made in the same house or at least locally to the Master Tailor’s establishment, but I assume that Hemrajani probably made excursions to inspect workmanship and ability at whichever of the Hong Kong firms makes up their garments for them, prior to contracting with them for their services. I should also point out that Christian did not have the basting in person, as he stated, so that might be what is possibly adversely effecting some of the fit details or finer points of fit that some have noted as it is a first garment from them, and a brand new bespoken pattern, not merely a MTM type of arrangement where a pattern is being adjusted to fit specific needs, there is a world of difference.
@ White Pinpoint: I agree, and certainly hope so! 🙂
@ Tony Polledori: See Christian’s initial disclosure that he did not have the suit basted in person, in regards to the slightly off fit at certain very minor points, also Hemrajani is known for their drape cut, so that (likely) may have effected the final fit of the suit without the basting. Having made garments before, draughting the pattern, to finishing the buttons, I would say that this is more of a certainty, especially when working with a third party to make up, and with no basting, its also a first time bespoken garment.
P.S. “Where does the hungry lion go? Anywhere it wants.” 😉
I am Loving the comments on this thread so far!
I would suggest a white broadcloth shirt with forward point collar. The broadcloth will look particularly good when contrasted with the flannel texture.
I think it looks extremely nice, especially for a blind (no fittings) first attempt, and far better than anything Brooks currently sells that I have seen.
The shoulders and back, as shown in the third and fourth photos, are poor. Even without fittings, at $2,350 for the suit, they should be right.
Charlottesville & Evan Everhart,
I can assure you that slovenly attire at weddings is the norm in California (or at least the part I’m in). I’ve been to three in recent years, but the one I attended this year took the cake for informality. Although one of the fathers wore a suit, the other wore a jacket, tie, & khakis, and almost none of the guests wore ties. I didn’t want to upstage the bridegroom, but neither would I treat the occasion or the happy couple with less dignity than they were owed, so I wore a white shirt, wedding tie, and charcoal gray suit.
At least no one was wearing an aloha shirt or flip-flops, unlike the wedding I saw at a national park recently.
@ Henry Contestwinner: Yikes! I lament the days when people dressed appropriately, even here on the Left Coast….I remember when I was younger, no matter who’s wedding it was, Morning Dress was worn by at least the groom and his groomsmen, and the fathers, then it degraded into those parties wearing black tie, even during the day, then finally notched lapel black faux tuxedos with white satin neckties and hired plastic shoes…..No vests, unless in “coordinating colors to the bridesmaids’ dresses….shudder. Dark days indeed.
At my wedding, in light of the area, and the paucity of likelihood that anyone would have the appropriate clothing, amongst the majority of the guests, and my not wanting to subject them or myself to their wearing essentially what would be costumes, we all wore gray suits and wedding ties with white shirts for the men in the bridal party (I gifted the wedding ties to all of the groomsmen, each was slightly different). Burgundy dresses for the Bridesmaids.
I have an Uncle who usually loafs around in loafers or slippers and khaki shorts but he he wore a suit and blue shirt, and tore off his tie immediately after the service. I laughed a bit at the second gesture, but appreciated his first gesture in wearing the suit and tie in the first place.
Henry, I am also in California, Southern California. Things just aren’t what they were, or ought to be, sadly. Also, what say you to a bunch of us California Ivyists/Traditionalists meeting up some time to say hi. I know that there was a get together previously, but I sadly missed it. I do know that Roy would be interested in attending, as per my last conversation with him. Till next time! 🙂
Hemrajani’s website does not mention made in Hong Kong; it doesn’t mention much about the technical aspects of construction at all. To pick a fairly random comparison, Kent Wang’s website is much more detailed with respect to full canvas construction.
We must keep in mind that there’s still a ways to go from full canvas to the pinnacle of handmade suit construction. Still many potential ways to cut corners, even on a supposedly full canvas suit.
^ I should add, we essentially just have to trust Hemrajani is being honest when he says his suits are made to the highest standards. Not too dissimilar to most tailors. I’m not bashing the establishment (not being a customer myself), just pointing out any potential red flags and reminding people to take everything with a grain of salt.
Henry and Evan – If it is any consolation, standards for wedding attire have fallen here in the east as well since I took the plunge in the 80s in morning coat and striped trousers. Too often, it’s matching suits for the men in the wedding party, and anything goes for the guests. Thankfully the brides still look lovely in long white gowns and veils. To be honest, I am really just happy to see young folks still getting married and raising children. Gives one hope.
I really don’t think 99 % of the human race could tell the difference between a $2350 suit and a Joseph A. Bank $1k suit (ha ha) marked down to $59.95.
The slob multitudes will frown upon and scorn anyone in a jacket and tie, including the billionaires in their ripped up blue jeans.
Just part of the decay of society.
“The slob multitudes will frown upon and scorn anyone in a jacket and tie” – I have not ever found this to be the case. Even those I know who would never wear the clothes I do usually have good things to say about what I wear, and if they don’t have anything nice to say, they follow the old rule and don’t say anything at all.
Decay of society, indeed.
I don’t have any inout on the quality (or lack thereof) of Christian’s suit or the tailors, but while my 1960s and 1970s Brooks Brothers three-piece suits certainly don’t feature the lapped seams that Christian’s does, I think they look good with this material. Christian has always been a postmodern trad, and clearly that has not stopped with this suit. Variety is the spice of life.
@ Dominic: An old acquaintance/friend of mine by the name of Matt Deckard wears a great deal of Hemrajani’s suits and absolutely swears by them. He’s a vintage suit guy, has an extensive wardrobe of vintage clothes as well and knows his stuff. That speaks volumes to me, also, I’ve seen his suits by them and they are quite nice, if not necessarily my own style (he wears recreations of 1930s drape cut suits in 3 piece SB peaked model and DB model) and Mr.s Hemrajani worked extensively with him to pattern match and to get the patterning and cut of the suit perfect. He did succeed, I can say, being quite familiar with such garments myself. I have also seen how the suits have worn over the years (and they’re catalogued on his blog and on the Fedora Lounge, amongst other places), and they are very good quality.
That all said, Hemrajani’s website is underwhelming, to say the least. Not as bad as mysuitshop.com has become, but not great either, at all.
@ Charlottesville: I could wish that at least the old standards were still being upheld in the East….Then again, most of the folks at Royal Ascot look like they’re attending a rather low rent costume ball in hired attire, so I don’t know what I should expect over here 🙁 But if people are still trying to dress and act appropriately, especially for those important occasions, at least there is that. I most heartily agree with yr happiness at young folk still getting married and having children! It’s much better than the alternative! Marriage; truly a blessed estate! 🙂
In other great news; I reconciled with the wife, she returned! We are planning on having a re-affirmation of our vows soon. I am strongly considering pulling out the old sponge-bag trousers and the morning coat, even if just for a few hours to have a quiet recitation of our vows, and new, better wedding photos! 😉 Lucky me; my detachable collars still fit!
@ Wriggles: While I, and I suspect many others on here dress both as a sign of respect for society at large, and for the occasion at hand, I know that many of us also dress for ourselves, and wearing what is correct for the occasion, and wearing something of real quality which goes above and beyond merely meeting the forms are two separate, though not mutually exclusive things. I could show up to an interview in a J.C. Penney Stafford blue blazer with plastic buttons and polyester blend Haggar trousers and a polyester blend Stafford OCBD and striped rep tie with no pocket linen, and practically plastic Bass Weejuns or even the plasticy monstrosities that used to be sold at Pay Less Shoes, and polyester black socks from Costco and many people would not be able to tell a major difference, I would know, and it wouldn’t feel comfortable, or right.
That said, even if people don’t necessarily know what they are looking at, or understand why, they still do know, and appreciate quality and style, it’s just the not knowing why that is so sad.
I also never get anything but nice comments on my clothing, except for the odd Inspector Gadget or Sherlock Holmes comment if I happen to be wearing a tweed hat and rain coat in foul weather, and typically from homeless people or the under 30 crowd.
Evan – Congratulations! I could not be happier for you and your bride. God bless you both!
Also, your observations re plastic-like shoes and no-iron polyester blends is absolutely correct. Most people could not tell the difference, and wouldn’t care if they could. Those of us who pay attention to the way we dress are to some extent doing it to please ourselves, and I think that is particularly true for traditional Ivy style dressers and people like your friend with a taste for drape suits out of a Laurence Fellows illustration from Apparel Arts or Esquire, circa 1936 (a great look in my opinion, by the way). It takes effort to dress outside of the mainstream. That is why, however much I may prefer the heyday Ivy look, I would be hesitant to criticize a youngster who is at least trying to look presentable in a J. Crew blazer, Vineyard Vines tie and khakis. When I see a tweed or seersucker sport coat om someone, my first inclination is to say, “Great coat!” rather than count the buttons, and check for darts and hook vents.
And I too tend to get compliments on my clothing, along with occasional good-natured ribbing from friends or co-workers. The Inspector Gadget line is a funny one. I have gotten “Good morning, Admiral” from friends when I wear my DB blazer, but as long as they don’t giggle and ask, “What are you supposed to be?” I know that at least I have not quite crossed the line into costume or camp. But I have to admit, I would thoroughly enjoy joining a Chap magazine pub crawl in tweeds, deerstalker and bent-stem pipe.
Thank you so very much for yr kind words, Sir! 🙂 I am beyond pleased! May God bless you as well!
I also like the old Fellows illustrations, and if we want to geek out on them, I’d like to mention that despite the fact that they are illustrations and not exact representations of garments of the time (as is perpetually being quoted at me by many of my clothing aficionado acquaintances), I never see a dart on any of those lovely suits or jackets, and somehow, that helps me to sleep better at night. To be fair, I am a proponent of double breasted and peak lapelled sack suits, and that is exactly what most of those look like, despite their heavier shoulders, due to the era.
I take the same tack regarding people who don’t necessarily have the knowledge or perhaps I should say the acculturation to really recognize any of those (to them) finer points regarding clothing. The dart issue to me is a matter of quality of construction and craftsmanship, as well as an OCD issue (for myself) as I hate the patterns to be interrupted/disrupted by such an unnecessary cutting and sewing of the garment….That said, if the rest of the world wore darted jackets, I wouldn’t mind, as long as those jackets were (hopefully) proportioned correctly, and were being worn by more people, when they should be, because when it comes down to it we don’t just wear clothes; they also show the world at a glance who and what we are, and what we are about, vocationally, avocationally, and philosophically.
As to critiquing; I agree, I’d put it this way; I figure it’s better to mentor than to condescend. I see so many folks on forums and in real life who look down their noses at other people just learning, or who don’t know any better for whatever perceived or imaginary faux pas they may decide to dredge up and it doesn’t help anyone, no one learns or grows or gets better or makes a friendship. So what was accomplished? All that happens is someone gets insulted and shamed, and alienated. It’s uselessness.
I’ve never gotten the admiral one, but I think I’d have to find it entertaining if I did! I’ve been getting the Inspector Gadget one from youngsters for years due to my penchant for wearing trench-coats, and Balmacan rain coats in tan, and tweed caps, also my favorite fedora is sandy hued….
I also see that yr familiar with Mr. Deckard via yr pub crawl reference, or was there a reference to that on here? I can’t remember. Anyway, yes. The bent stem briar really is the nail in the coffin though, and I did come as Sherlock Holmes to the annual Halloween party at my office this year – someone did of course ask me if I had come as Inspector Gadget…. 😉
Evan – I know of the LA crawl, and am a recent subscriber to The Chap, where I believe I first learned of it. I have a bent stem pipe or 2 in my collection, but would need to purchase a deerstalker. A fedora or tweed “flat ‘at” are the usual cool weather companions to my Burberry or overcoat.
Congratulations and many blessings indeed. My wife and I will be celebrating our eleventh anniversary at the end of the month. I don’t know what I would do without her.
It’s funny, I don’t smoke at all, but I have an extensive collection of tobacciana….I think it started with all of the tchachkis that I inherited from Granddad and Dad. Many pipes, and cigarette and cigar holders, and all sorts of strange stuff. I even have a giant green jade cigarette lighter for my writing desk at home.
As to deerstalkers (these are pretty good quality, over all, and the closest to the original form in which the deerstalker hat used to be made up)
I hope they meet the grade! 🙂
Thank you so very much, Sir! I feel blessed that she and I have been able to be reconciled and reunited! We have been married for 4 years now, according to my online notifications, and to me marriage certificate, which I had to double check! She and I have been together for 17 years in total though. Wowza! 11 years of marriage is Beautiful, Roger! I salute you and may Blessings and Peace be upon you! Here’s to many more for all of us married folks! 🙂 🙂 🙂
Congratulations to you as well, Will. 38 years for my wife and me. We met when she was 16 and I a year older.
@ Sacksuit: Hi Will, I don’t know why I typed Roger up there! I’ll blame it on writing replies to two people at once, and not having my first cup of coffee until a few minutes ago! My apologies, Sir! Sincerely!
@ Charlottesville: I met my wife when we were 16, too, I’m always 6 months older 😉
Damn Christian, you’re looking slim and fit these days. Rock on, brother.
Evan — We started out a year apart, but at this point, I think I am at least 10 years older than she is. At least I look it.
Charlottesville, We still look about the same as ever. My family, and hers, seem to age pretty well, though she’s dreadfully paranoid about gray hair. I think it’s attractive on her, she’s got a streak or two. Most people seem to think that we’re in our mid to late 20s. Let’s see what the next 17 years bring! 🙂
Do you ever post to the Facebooks group, or just on here? Have a Beautiful day, Sir!
Evan — Afraid that I shun Facebook. Hope you have a good day as well.
My wife and I dated on and off for fifteen years before I finally wore her down and convinced her to settle for me. I highly recommend marrying one’s best friend.
@ Charlottesville – I fully understand, and applaud yr eschewing of it! 🙂 Thanks!
@ Sacksuit: That’s about my wife’s and my story as well; she was and still is my best friend.
Roger, over, Will. 😉
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