Best of the Best 2005: Bespoke Menswear
By perpetually tweaking the armhole, narrowing the shoulders, and streamlining the construction of the quintessential Neapolitan suit that his father, Vincenzo, invented in the 1930s, master tailor Cesare Attolini proves that it is possible to make a garment fit like a second skin without sacrificing style or comfort in the process.
The Neapolitan tailor’s new, completely unconstructed H model blazer, made with lightweight fabrics such as Sea Island cotton, 10-ounce denim, and 220-gram island cashmere, demonstrates that Attolini can apply his skills just as adroitly to tailored sportswear.
Attolini’s signature detail is an extremely high lapel notch that no machine can duplicate, and although all of his jackets bear this stamp, each is an expression of the man who wears it, not the tailor who made it—an essential quality in bespoke clothing.
Cesare Attolini, www.cesareattolini.it; available through Ellegi, 212.246.7034, and at Domenico Vacca, 212.759.6333
Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of custom shirtmakers claim the ability to construct the perfect-fitting dress shirt, but Alexander Kabbaz has been cutting and sewing the genuine article for more than three decades.
Unlike most bespoke shirtmakers, who measure you in minutes and then work in assembly-line fashion to finish the task in a matter of weeks, Kabbaz can spend just as long perfecting the fit. He personally makes multiple prototypes, including samples that clients are instructed to wear for several days to ensure that armholes do not bind, shirttails stay in place, cuffs accommodate watches and cuff links, and sleeve lengths are correctly proportioned under jackets. Once Kabbaz has perfected the fit, he fashions the finished shirts, which are cut by hand on the premises in Easthampton, N.Y., and can be finished with custom details—from special collars, cuffs, and buttons to monograms.
Alexander Kabbaz, 631.267.7909, www.customshirt1.com
For most manufacturers, creating custom neckwear involves simply lengthening or shortening a standard 58- to 60-inch tie and offering a choice of fabrics. John Kochis, however, understands the nuances of knot sizes and blade widths and how both should relate to the shape of a man’s face as well as his height, neck and chest size, and waistline.
Kochis offers countless variations on the standard six blade widths, which he combines with knots of varying sizes for the proper proportions. Once he establishes the ideal combination for the individual, he helps him select equally flattering colors and patterns. Kochis’ neckties feature his exclusive anti-stretch neckband and a custom monogrammed gold chain loop that secures the tip.
John Kochis Custom Designs, 212.244.6046
The easiest way to discern the difference between a John Lobb bespoke shoe and one made by machine is to turn it over. Lobb’s bespoke shoes assume the true contoured shape of a gentleman’s underfoot, while ready-made footwear exhibits a broader, less defined outline. This distinctive profile can be achieved only by building the shoe around a hand-carved beechwood last that has been sculpted to the client’s exact measurements.
It requires as long as 40 hours to produce a pair of custom shoes in the Hermès-owned shoemaker’s Paris atelier. Each pair is made entirely by hand from a single piece of unblemished full-grain leather, while other manufacturers sometimes disguise flaws with creative cutting and decorative finishes. While the original John Lobb shop in London (which still is owned by the Lobb family) is known for more traditional classic and clunky styling, the French-made bespoke designs are generally sleeker and more modern.
John Lobb, 212.888.9797, www.johnlobb.com