Not that I ever need an excuse to go to New York, but if I did, Leonard Logsdail was all the excuse I needed. The recent profile I wrote about him can be read here). So when George Glasgow Junior (of Cleverley’s) heard I was thinking of gong to New York after a week in Bolivia, he introduced me to Len’ and we arranged to have a sport coat made during the week I was there.
Given that a bespoke jacket takes in excess of 40 hours to hand sew, it meant that we needed to do all we could to make sure nothing would cause a delay. To make that process flow more smoothly and given that several tailors at home are good friends, I had access to all the cloth books from the better mills in England and Europe, so choosing the cloth was easy and it was waiting in Len’s atelier by the time I arrived in New York.
Overview of the commission: I’m fortunate that my work no longer requires much in the way of formal suiting (unless I feel like it) and my personal style is more relaxed than most corporate environments require. My ties are usually knitted silks or wool/cashmere blends, or a traditional tie, but in linen or cashmere (depending on the time of year). I’ll usually wear a sport jacket and separate trousers, in place of a traditional suit because there’s so much more room for creativity.
The goal for this jacket was versatility. A jacket which could be worn in a variety of situations (such as my bespoke linen sport coat from Bijan Sheikhlary), rather than something overly specific (such as a tweed hunting coat, which I’m likely never to wear). I chose a lighter weight (9 ounce) 100% wool creme herringbone cloth (more on that further down the page). The weight will be fine for wear from mid-spring through to mid-autumn, making it useful for 8 months of the year. The creme goes with tailored jeans and chinos for weekends and more formal separate trousers for every day wear. From a colour point of view, it will predominantly suit trousers in navy, brown, dark green and white/off-white.
We wanted this jacket to have a “soft”, relaxed feel, cut close to the body. We contributed to the relaxed design by using patch pockets (the “stuck on” impression of patch pockets is less formal than the flapped pockets you’ll find on most business suits, making them well suited to casual coats) and pick stitching along the lapels and facings – where the stitches are slightly raised and visible, rather than hidden.
To have kept things even less formal we could have opted for no padding in the shoulders and a spalla camicia (shirt shoulder) which the Italian’s are famous fo. In this case, the sleeve is attached to an unpadded shoulder with simple stitches and appears just like the shoulder of a shirt would, only in heavier cloth (see below). The result is casual and generally looks good, but the shoulders on Len’s jackets are among the most recognisable in the world and have a similar aesthetic to Cifonelli’s famous shoulder structure, though less pronounced. Known as “roping” or a “roped shoulder” it’s achieved by creating a ridge of cloth at the top of the sleevehead by sewing shape in to it (see second image below), before attaching it to the body of the coat, giving the appearance that a small amount of rope was placed under the sleeve head to give shape. The result is a strong shoulder, but as Len only uses a small amount of roping, it doesn’t stand out, it just looks clean and in proportion. We were confident that the other casual elements of the coat would balance out the strength of the shoulder.
The final details include a single button fastening, (I don’t like 3 button jackets and two buttons are largely redundant, given that the lower button should never be fastened anyway). Len would cut the coat with double vents and only light canvassing through the chest (I’ll explain that in greater detail in the next article, covering the first fitting). A couple of changes would also be made to the internal pockets. The inside right chest pocket would be made large enough for my phone (iPhone 6 plus/brick) although I’ll only ever put it in there for brief periods, as the weight will pull the coat off balance).
The cloth: As it turned out, English mill Dugdale’s ended up having a lot to do with this jacket. I knew I wanted a cloth with at least some pattern or texture. The lighter, smoother and less patterned a cloth is, the more formal it will appear (think black tie – black cloth, smooth surface, and no pattern). Checks, herringbones and some stripes all help cloth to appear less formal. Having looked through several cloth books back home, I found a creme herringbone from Dugdale’s “Super 130’s” book, which was ideal.
Thinking ahead about the lining, too, I got in touch with Robert Charnock, Managing Director of Dugdale’s to see if they’d like to help, as they’re known for carrying an impressive selection of linings in addition to the suit cloths they’re famous for. Len’ has a bit of a reputation for indulging clients with unique and colourful linings too, so I knew we had a good combination of minds to put something unique together. After discussing and refining ideas over a couple of weeks, the first ever Timeless Man lining was produced, designed to complement the cloth. More on that in the next article.
The jacket will cost around $4,200USD.