Wardrobe: Jack's Back

<< Back to Robb Report, November 2002
  • William Kissel

Late last year, when Dormeuil pulled the plug on its U.S. clothing operation and closed its New York store, the firm’s U.S. president and design director, Jack Simpson, was left without a home. But Simpson, whose name has appeared on the Dormeuil label since 1999, decided his moniker would not go down with Dormeuil’s.

This fall, Simpson joins forces with American suitmaker Oxxford Clothes to offer a wardrobe consulting and custom suit business through select Neiman Marcus stores. The collection, called Oxxford Crest by Jack Simpson, will also be offered by appointment in a custom atelier in Oxxford’s New York store. To make the acquaintance of new customers in cities where Neiman Marcus doesn’t operate stores, Simpson will set up temporary showrooms five times a year at luxury hotels around the country.

Simpson approached Oxxford after just one visit to the suitmaker’s Chicago factory. “You walk in and you don’t hear anything—no machines,” he says. “That’s because there is so much handwork in the garment. Plus, they have the discipline to make the custom business work on a bigger scale.”

Nevertheless, Simpson insists he is not simply putting his name on a standard Oxxford-style suit. “It will continue my point of view,” says the handsome 49-year-old, whose adventurous approach to layering color and texture has earned him a reputation as one of the fashion industry’s most elegantly dressed men.

Currently, Oxxford operates primarily as a made-to-measure business, making adjustments on existing patterns, explains Simpson, a former president of Alexander Julian. “But we will be making individual patterns for each customer from scratch,” he says, noting that the finished garments will be produced in a separate area of the Oxxford factory.

“In essence, I give a very strong flavor to the clothes,” he says. “It’s a cross between men’s made-to-measure and women’s haute couture. I work in a couture way, but with Oxxford I can broaden my base beyond a small atelier in Manhattan.”

In addition to a beautiful handmade suit, Simpson’s customers ultimately take home a valuable education in style with every purchase. “Most businessmen don’t have the time or the opportunity to unearth their creative sides, but once they experience it, they really enjoy being a part of the process,” he says.

The process is relatively simple. “First we evaluate his closet and develop a database of what he likes, what he owns, what the voids are, and what he should retire and when,” Simpson explains. “Then we develop a buy plan based on what his professional and social needs are.” The customer is very much involved in the process, he adds, especially when it comes to selecting the fabric and dictating the details.

“Fashion is complicated, and most businessmen don’t have the time to research it, so they avoid it,” Simpson says. “Those men especially value this service because—let’s face it—there aren’t too many people to turn to for qualified advice.”

Oxxford Crest by Jack Simpson, 212.593.0204
Neiman Marcus, 800.937.9146

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