Mass customisation is on the rise. But it’s nothing new. For a couple of hundred years bespoke tailors and shoe makers have been plying their wares in the so called “Carriage Trade”.
Today’s fashion consumers are looking for greater degrees of personalisation than merely the ability to add a monogram of their initials. Nike, Adidas and RayBan are proving in the mass market that the ability to mix your own combination of colours and options is highly appealing to a broad swathe of their customers.
In the luxury market there are still only a handful of brands beginning to innovate. Late last year Salvatore Ferragamo the legendary Italian shoe maker introduced a MTO (made to order) programme for their classic men’s Driver loafers. The initiative has been highly successful and Ferragamo are considering extending the concept to other parts of their product line up.
In the small leather goods and accessories field Bianca Mosca which specialises in bespoke alligator wallets, card holders, Apple Watch bands and iPhone cases offers a full custom service on its website. Customers can choose leather colours, stitching types as well as having their initials embossed on their product. The finished product is made in their workshop in France and delivered around the world inside 28 days.
“The key thing is service and listening closely to your customers to ensure that you’re delivering what they want-not what you think they want,” said Tim de Rosen from Bianca Mosca.
Well I know what I want and given the choice I’d love to have a stab at designing my own shoes or wallet.
The 1920’s heralded a sea change in fashion, music and lifestyle culminating in the smooth refined aesthetic of the 1930’s much in the same way that the epoch of France’s Louis XV produced a richer and more sumptuous version of luxury living than that of his grandfather the Sun King, Louis IV.
Nobody epitomises the mood of the 1930’s more than the actor, singer and playwright Noel Coward known by the soubriquet-The Master-who was by then at the height of his powers and described by Time magazine as possessing “a sense of personal style, a combination of cheek and chic, pose and poise”.
When one conjures an image of Coward it is inevitably of him lounging in a silk dressing gown engaging in rapid fire repartee surrounded by a coterie of bright, young acolytes and fellow wits.
Silk is enjoying a moment with the recent arrival of decorative patterns on lavish silks, modern satins and even fine linen shirting heralding a sea change in men’s style.
Dolce & Gabbana, Hermès and Gucci have launched new designs in silk including light weight jackets and flamboyant geometric patterned shirts inspired by Corbusier in the case of Berluti.
These louche peacock patterns chime with the vibe of 1930’s Berlin androgyny and call for accessories that fit the piece.
For me Boucheron’s deco shaped Reflet watch with its striking alligator watch band and gorgeous white and sapphire dial is the epitome of androgynous statement. Paired with a bee-incrusted pyjama two-piece set it might seem a bit outré for some of us chaps, but – mark my words – it may well prove to be the ultimate evening wear at this Summer’s most elegant parties.
When you want to travel light or avoid an ugly bulge in your jacket or hip pocket the card holder is the ideal way to transport your credit cards and cash for a night out or a business dinner.
Card holders normally store either four or six cards and have a center pocket that is stitched closed or in some cases left open on one side. The best one’s in my view are the simplest designs that rely upon top grade materials and craftsmanship to justify their place in your wardrobe.
Here is my selection:
Louis Vuitton-Their simple yet chic card holder in Epi leather slips easily into a pocket. It holds credit cards, transport cards or business cards in its three slots.
Tom Ford-Alligator skin credit card holder with internal lining in calf leather. Easy on the eye square shape, elegant and fashionable.
Bottega Veneta-Made from beautiful, hand-crafted intrecciato leather, this compact case is perfect for carrying cards or bills. With slender and elegant lines, the design comes with 1 main compartment and 6 credit card slots.
Bianca Mosca– Classic slim cardholder perfect for storing credit and business cards. 3 credit card slots on each side and a middle slip pocket for receipts and tickets. Shown here in Havana Brown matte alligator with a Dark Brown goatskin interior and Sky Blue contrast stitching. Handmade in France. Fully customisable online
Valextra-Grained calfskin leather credit card holder detailed with six card slots and Valextra’s ‘costa’ laquered piping.
Quite a claim but when it comes to men’s underpinnings there is one name that stands head and shoulders above the fray: Zimmerli of Switzerland.
Some of their styling may be a tad old fashioned but the construction, materials and quality are undeniable.
Take the Pureness Closed Fly Front. It’s made from natural beech-tree cellulose called micro modal – similar to cotton but made from reconstituted cellulose fibres. It’s more environmentally friendly than cotton, absorbs moisture faster and is finer than silk.
Each piece of Zimmerli underwear involves carefully calibrated human intervention from design to cutting, sewing and inspection. The attention to detail is some of the best I’ve witnessed in luxury fashion manufacturing.
High-end sneaker brands are having a moment. Having become almost ubiquitous you now see them in the most unlikely places: on the red carpet and even on Wall Street. So before pulling the trigger on your next pair you need to read our primer on how to maintain your street cred by choosing from the hottest purveyors of luxury kicks around.
Founded in Brooklyn in 2008 and with a price range of $195-$400. A great value, unbranded in-house line using shell cordovan and with a variety of styles
The Dutch contender has designed a nice minimalist range of sneakers made in Portugal from calf leather and suede that compete favorably with top end brands.
Made in Tuscany and priced from $325-$480 Buttero is a well know shoe maker that has turned its hand to creating some of the best ageing footwear out there.
With naughty boy John Galliano at the wheel, MM’s sneakers which cost from $470-$1200 are based on a reincarnation of a German army trainer but don’t let that put you off as the variety of materials and finishes is beyond reproach.
Designer Lucas Ossendrijver is at the helm of Lanvin’s menswear and shoe collections which range in price from $490-$700. The result is a signature toe-cap style sneaker with the elegance of a traditional shoe and a thicker sole than most of its competitors.
Balenciaga’s two signature sneakers are a hiking boot-like Arena, with D-ring eyelets and the Pleated High-Top, with its horizontal panels on the upper. Both shoes are statement pieces and have achieved cult status via a combination of key celebrity showings and the fact that they look really cool, which makes them something that sneaker heads appreciate
Perhaps the ultimate “kicks” handmade in Italy from prime grade Louisiana alligator leather. Street style is given a luxurious twist with these superbly comfortable and effortlessly elegant luxury sneakers with solid brass eyelets and custom rubber soles.
Who uses a pen these days when you can just as easily make notes by writing directly into your smartphone or tablet?
Yet sales of pens, especially luxury pens, continues to defy (digital) gravity.
I have a huge collection of pens ranging from Montblanc to ST Dupont and the more exotic fruit wood roller ball pens from Elie Bleu. Yet my favourite pen and the one I reach for whenever I wish to update my Moleskine agenda is my trusty Lamy Safari.
The Safari is the least expensive product in the Lamy lineup and costs a modest $20 yet it possesses all the qualities that one expects from a still independent family business founded in 1930.