On Tuesday Balvenie whisky and George Cleverley held an evening of drinks and merriment in the Royal Arcade, highlighting the bespoke shoemaking at Cleverley and crafts at a range of other English companies.
Luxury brand Stefano Ricci is further cementing his attachment to Florence by funding the restoration of 12 antique books from the region. The collaboration with the State Archive will begin with three volumes that have been identified as being most in need of intervention: ‘The Art of Silk’, ‘The Art of Wool’, and ‘The Universita de’ linaioli (linen)’.
Acting on some advice administered by a supremely elegant stranger in a hotel lift, the author finds unparalleled tailoring wizardry in the hallowed Cifonelli atelier in Paris.
The best-dressed man I’ve ever met wore a Cifonelli suit. I was in the elevator at the Hôtel Plaza Athénée when in walked a silver-haired gentleman in the most miraculous, dove-grey flannel double-breasted suit I have ever seen. It shimmered — no, positively radiated — with perfection.
The first time you witness any process it is intriguing, particularly if it is in an area – such as bespoke menswear – that you are passionate about. The second and third times, it can lose its sparkle a little.
This was the third mill I have visited, after Fox Brothers and Loro Piana, so my expectations were not high. But Pennine – the largest worsted weaver in the UK – is impressive. Not for its scale and certainly not for its luxurious atmosphere, as you get at Loro Piana, but for the mechanical and process innovations, all of which are aimed at producing just a little more cloth, a little faster.
Belstaff became famous in the 1960s for its Trialmaster jackets, which were worn at the Goodwood races – themselves known for their glamour, daring and English-ness. The brand is seeing a return to such classics as it revives a series of pieces from the Goodwood archive, including a silk scarf made from the family tartan of Freddie, 9th Duke of Richmond.
Classic menswear is dominated by a few, longstanding items of clothing: the jacket, trousers and waistcoat, all at least 100 years old, and a few pieces from war and sport in the first half of the 20th century: the trench coat, the T-shirt, the polo shirt etc. Even specific types of jacket, such as the Norfolk or 6×2 double breasted, nearly all originate from this era.
This jacket is no exception. The only difference is that it was not invented by a military outfitter or a French tennis player. It was the brainchild of Savile Row tailor Tim Skinner.
England has a strong tradition in both tweed and oiled leather (the latter coming from the bridle industry). But most of the products in each have a tendency towards the old-fashioned: basic chunky belts, small leather goods and tweed blankets. Cherchbi, a young company from the north of England, has brought a fresh touch to both materials with its range of bags.
Nothing spurs people on like a prize. For the past 16 years Loro Piana has been giving out an award to the finest wool bale in the world, and this year there has been a new record: 10.6 microns.
The exquisite craftsmanship championed all over these pages would not be possible without superlative raw material — wool, in the case of a high-end suit. the rake journeys to a far-flung corner of Tasmania, Australia, to visit Zegna’s own suppliers, who prove as dedicated to their craft as any urban artisan.
One of the unsung purveyors of luxury menswear, Begg & Co. weaves the finest yarns into premium scarves and throws. The rake encounters some masterful craftsmanship (and more than a little secrecy) at its HQ on the Ayrshire coast of western Scotland.
Ayr, on the western edge of Scotland, might well be the bleakest place on earth. The mist rolls in off the Firth of Clyde, powered by cold winds that give the trees in and around this historic port a distinctly stunted appearance. The regular rainfall helps make the local world-class golf courses such as Royal Troon and Turnberry markedly lush.