In Paris in July I arranged to meet Alexandre Wielgus, founder of Le Cintre W, a maker of specialist custom coat-hangers, made-to-order for the very top end of the market.
The company has been a couple of years in the making, while Alexandre gathered together 5 different specialist makers required for the hangers (and valet stand, more on that below) as the skills required range from metalwork, woodwork, leathers and other rare materials, as well as hand-sewing in certain instances. Most of the makers serve other luxury brands (Hermes etc) and their skills are becoming increasingly rare and in demand, so it’s no surprise that they’re difficult and time consuming to both find and build relationships with.
The company effectively offers an extensive range of options for customers to create custom coat-hangers with their choice from an expansive range of unique materials, which can include any number of rare timbers, starting with Cherry or Walnut (which, as a woodworker, I can vouch for the fact that they’re far from entry level woods) through to Maple, Zebrano or Mahogany at the higher end. A range of leathers can be inserted into the “shoulders” of the hangers, which range from calf, python, lizard and alligator, though I get a sense that if you wanted something even more rare, Alexandre would be able to track it down for you.
The metal hanger itself can be customised or electroplated however customers like, from the more common chrome and brass, up to nickel, gold (genuine gold plating) and bronze. There are two things which I particularly like about the metal hanging components themselves and those are that they’re flat bottomed, meaning they sit and slide more evenly across the bar on which they’re hung (they also look nice) and the underside can be covered in leather, meaning they hang and slide silently. If you’re even half as OCD as I am (and, thankfully most TM readers are), the thought of placing a hanger on a bar and having it land silently and without any feeling of metal on metal is almost too much excitement to handle.
For all of this, though, there’s a price to pay. And that price starts at 1600€ + VAT. That’s a lot of money for a custom coat-hanger, even a very nice one. Effectively, then, it’s a product targeted at the .1%. Those for whom spending 1600€ on a hanger isn’t about making a choice between a coat-hanger and a pair of Saint Crispin’s or Cleverley’s but for those who want the very best of something and the 1600€ cost is negligible. I also look at it from the point of view that I like my coat-hangers to match, so if I did have the kind of money where 1600€ could be spent without batting an eyelid, I’d want a dozen or more of them, so I didn’t have one unique hanger from Le Cintre W and 11 other matching hangers from The Hanger Project (where all my hangers are from). They’re also an item which will go unseen to the outside world (whereas with shoes or clothing they play a significant role in how you present to the outside world). So, in a larger sense, hangers from Le Cintre W are for true connoisseurs; those who appreciate the product for the craftsmanship and quality alone, as you’ll gain no social capital from owning them, unless you want to bring people to your house and show them your hangers, in the hope they’ll think more of you as a person… which would be spectacularly ironic.
With all that said, though, if do have the kind of money which renders a wardrobe full of Alexandre’s hangers a real possibility, then by all means go for it. They’re a very unique product in a market which doesn’t really have anyone making something at this level.
In addition to custom coat-hangers, Alexandre has also created the Leonard valet stand (named after his first son) which features a brass banded main structure, covered in silver brazing, chrome plated and with a hammered finish. The timber in smoked oak and coverings in black calf leather from Tannery Roux (providers to the likes of Moynat and Dior). These can also be custom made with the same choices available in the hangers, as mentioned above. The valet costs 22,900€ + VAT. Again, if you’d notice the money missing out of your bank account, you’re probably not the target market for a product like this. Alexandre is also planning to expand into some smaller accessories as well, such as collar stays and cufflinks.
If the idea of owning something like this is appealing, but the cost isn’t realistic for you, then Honorific make beautiful products at a more attainable price point for those with a hefty, though not stratospheric income.
I greatly admire what Alexandre has set out to achieve with Le Cintre W (the W is the first letter of his last name and Le Cintre just means “Hanger”). He’s about my age (which is quite young to start something this ambitious) and comes from outside the menswear industry. Before starting Le Cintre W he was in IT, but had a love for clothing and accessories and saw this as a market which had no high-end luxury offering and wanted to make something unique. He’s certainly achieved that. There’s no air of arrogance or ego with Alexandre (which is rife within the menswear industry), he just genuinely wanted to make something different and was prepared to leave safe harbour to do that. As I’ve said about others I’ve covered on TM previously that’s something worth admiring and supporting (should your income allow it).