Clothing | A Continuous Lean.

No Shortage of Color or Texture | MP by Massimo Piombo

Mar 23rd, 2012 | Categories: Clothing, Made in Italy, Menswear, Pitti Uomo January 2012 | by Michael Williams

There’s a sign outside of one of my favorite restaurants in New York that justifies its quirky existence with the following statement: “You either get it or you don’t.” I think the same can be said for Massimo Piombo’s new MP by Massimo Piombo collection. It is probably safe to say that many an ACL reader is not going to be up for the quirkiness or price tag of this new line. It is also presumable to consider that I would not be pulling these rigs verbatim, but the spirit of Piombo will certainly be my guide, and I am definitely a believer in Mr. Piombo when it comes to clothing.

Not content with having one beautifully made and insanely designed collection, Piombo got together with a little Neapolitan brand called Kiton to launch this new high-end label. The fabrics included in the range are sourced from all over the world, from Shetland to Nepal, the clothing is made almost entirely by hand (by Kiton) in Italy, and there is no chance of missing the fact that the color stories patterns are distinctly Piombo.

ACL + Club Monaco | Made in U.S.A. Collection

Oct 25th, 2011 | Categories: Clothing, Made in the USA | by Michael Williams

If there was one thing I wanted to do with my partnership with Club Monaco, it was to create a collection of clothing that was made right here in the United States. We had to do it. How could we not do it. The good news — the great news — is that Club Monaco was all for it from day one, from minute one.

This fall — any day now really — the capsule of shirts, suits and ties will be available at select stores in NYC and at the Bloor Street flagship shop (which will boast an awesome new men’s shop within its historic walls) in Toronto. The collection is based off the existing Club Monaco fits and are built to stand up to the test of time — classic, well made clothing. To give guys a better sense of what we wanted to do with this Made in USA collection we produced a little film to take you into the workshop to see the people and places where these garments are made.

With Vigor | Jack Spade AW11 Clothing

Sep 23rd, 2011 | Categories: Clothing, Made in the USA | by Michael Williams

When Jack Spade was moving from selling just bags and accessories to also offering apparel, the company put forward a small selection of clothing (suits) that were sized small, medium and large. I can say with little hesitation that this attempt at quirkiness was one of the most appalling things I have come to witness in my short existence in the world of menswear. Maybe I am being too harsh; utterly appalling and disgusting would be another way to describe it. To be completely honest, I was sad and embarrassed that some idiot would actually come up with this idea. Further, I was disturbed that another, altogether different group of idiots would let it actually happen. Well we all make mistakes, and these mistakes only open the door for redemption. That’s how I see it anyway.

As it happens, redemption has arrived for fall and it is pictured herein. To quote the only acceptable Ben Affleck movie: “The faculty have answered, and answered with vigor.”

The Details | Isaia Napoli

Jul 6th, 2011 | Categories: Clothing, Italy, Made in Italy 2011 | by Michael Williams

The post on the Isaia factory in Casalnuovo was extensive in terms of photos, partially because there was much to absorb at the storied Neapolitan tailor, but also because the process is so involved. Making a suit jacket is an intricate endeavor that requires not only great skill, but also equal amounts of finesse. It is a wonderful time-honored process and something magical to witness in person. So to help convey the complexity, I wanted to give you as many perspectives as possible.

One thing that really struck me at Isaia was all of the work that is done by hand, the relative ease at which the processes are performed and the general skillfulness that the workers exude. Even though I shared photos of the factory in general, I thought it would be interesting to drill down a bit into the work done by hand — one of the things that separates Isaia from other makers — and also into the little details that make these suits truly unique.

The lining is attached manually to the sleeve opening. Note the pucker, a sign the sewing was done by hand.

Made in Italy | Isaia Napoli

Jun 28th, 2011 | Categories: Clothing, Factory Tour, Italy, Made in Italy 2011, Napoli | by Michael Williams

The third installment from the ACL Made in Italy tour focuses its sights on the Neopolitan tailor Isaia. Located on the outskirts of Napoli — in a small town called Casalnuovo, a place that has been the home of tailors for generations — in a factory where nearly everyone that works in production is a second or third generation tailor. Isaia itself is a family-run business; founded in 1957 by Enrico Isaia, the clothing maker is now helmed by Enrico’s grandson Gianluca Isaia, and has various other family members involved in its day-to-day operations.

The factory is an expansive two story building that is tucked away in an unmarked alley with a large gate. If I were to find the place without the assistance of Isaia’s driver, I’d venture to say it would have been impossible. More than that, if I had to drive myself through the traffic in Napoli, I don’t know if I would be alive to report about the wonderful tailoring I witnessed. But all of that just adds to the allure of Napoli and of course, the Neapolitans. I find Southern Italians to be charming and friendly with a good sense of humor. I find Napoli to be intense, exciting and renegade. Definitely unlike any other place in Italy that I have been.

New York’s Finest: Miller’s Oath.

Apr 19th, 2011 | Categories: Clothing, David Coggins, Made in the USA, New York City | by David Coggins

At a certain point in your life you accept the fact that you need a tailor—a real tailor, who makes a suit specifically for you. It’s going to cost more than $3000, and you respect (perhaps grudgingly) the fact that that quite serious amount of money is going to a craftsman who’s learned his trade over decades; it’s going to buy cloth woven in the finest mills; it’s going to a cutter who’s refined his pattern to create a refined silhouette. Your money is not going to underwrite a luxury goods behemoth, it’s not going to anybody who appears in his own ads—it’s not going to anybody who has ads. You seek a local tailor.

That equation is simple, but difficult to achieve. That’s why New Yorkers are lucky to have Miller’s Oath in our fair city. Kirk Miller, formerly of Paul Stuart and Thom Browne, ran Barker Black with his brother, Derrick. Over the years he’s met suppliers, tailors, and methodically plotted his own venture. He opened Miller’s Oath, late last year in a handsome narrow storefront on Greenwich Street—around the corner from the beloved Ear Inn. And the results couldn’t be better.

Hickey Freeman’s Secret Weapon

Mar 24th, 2011 | Categories: Clothing, Made in the USA | by Michael Williams

Hickey Freeman's Paul Farrington. Note the perfect shoulder.

It wasn’t long after arriving at Hickey Freeman’s Rochester plant that I was introduced to the storied American suit-maker’s secret weapon,  Mr. Paul Farrington. Prior to meeting Mr. Farrington I had heard quite a bit about him, heard rumors of his ability to make a suit with the perfect shoulder. Before being recruited to Hickey Freeman as the chief technical designer, Farrington worked for several well respected tailoring companies including, most recently, the clothier Samuelsohn (who, from what I understand, make a good deal of Paul Stuart’s suits). When it comes to clothing, nothing is more distinctively “American” than the natural shoulder, save maybe the sack suit with a natural shoulder. It’s amazing to think that it took a Mancunian that was recruited from a Canadian company to get Hickey Freeman to make a coat with a proper natural shoulder.