Ignatious Joseph’s 2014

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Ignatious Joseph, while the consummate gentleman, is not at all a subtle man.  The designer, known for his colorful, elegant, and distinctive style of dress, particularly his ubiquitous red shoes, makes some of the finest dress shirts available.  As we enter 2014, he is also poised to introduce an expanded line of custom clothing founded on his own signature style.

His shirting, based on those from the 1930s, when the soft collar first swept through the menswear world, is coveted by bankers and traders from London to New York, Milan to Brussels.  Up until now, shirts, and only shirts, were what he made; that signature soft collar and vibrant color schemes being brand’s calling cards.

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Now, his look, truly unique and elegant in its individuality, can be yours.  You can contact him directly to learn more, but the expanding Ignatious Joseph collection now includes suiting, ties, cufflinks, and even grooming products.

And, unlike other designers whose products are of exceptional quality yet are nonetheless somewhat interchangeable, these garments and furnishings bear the characteristic hallmarks of Mr. Joseph’s personality.  Jackets with broad lapel, roped shoulder, and single button closure and sharply tapered trousers with no break and a deep, emphatic cuff.

Cufflinks 8 1 300x200 Ignatious Josephs 2014His idiosyncratic cufflinks are beautifully crafted and the ties are handmade seven-fold and constructed from a single piece of flawless silk.

And, of course, there are the shirts.  The philosophy behind his shirts is simple: they are luxury shirts for everyday wear; or to put it another way, a modern sense of spirit derived from traditional craftsmanship. Ignatious Joseph shirts are what might be called semi-handmade and there is a reason for that.  The bodies are constructed to an obsessive level of detail using modern sewing machinery – efficient and replicable perfection.  However, the collars are constructed each by hand entirely as no machine is capable of the detail and complexity.

The decision of what to do by hand and what to do by machine must be taken with a view to the product as a whole, and based on the skill and experience of the master shirt maker.  It’s a blend of economics and craft.

IngJoseph Sartorialist 682x1024 Ignatious Josephs 2014If Ignatious seems somehow familiar to you, it is likely because his distinctive countenance is often captured among the world’s leading style makers.

In fact, this photograph, taken by Scott Schumann, a.k.a. “The Sartorialist,” was included in Schumann’s first book.  Resplendent in a bowler hat, elegantly bundled scarf, tailored overcoat and those famous red shoes from his Viennese shoemaker, Mr. Joseph is in his natural element.

On the subject of those famous red shoes he says, “I like red shoes and have many pair, and after a while they became my calling card – it’s how people remember me. ‘Oh, you are the gentleman with the red shoes!’”

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H&B London’s Holiday Gift – 25% Discount

British luxury goods maker and OTC friend, H&B London, is offering Off the Cuff readers a special promotion.

As his post-holiday gift to you, founder Stephen Brister will take 25% off your order from now until Monday, January 6, 2014. Just use the code offthecuff at checkout to receive the discount on your entire order.

H&B London crafts exquisite leather wallets and unique sterling cufflinks favored by the likes of the British royal family.  H&B’s goods are handmade in London by some of the finest artisans in the country and meant to be cherished for life.

We recently wrote about the company in detail and included their Breast Pocket Wallet in the 2013 OTC Holiday Style Guide.

 

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H&B London: Exceptional Handmade Wallets

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H&B London is the kind of brand you might expect to find in England.  Small and smartly turned out, the firm produces exclusive luxury goods in small batches.  Launched this year, they currently offer two styles of mens wallets – breast pocket and billfold – and a range of geometrically unique sterling silver cufflinks.   Though grounded in traditional artisanship, H&B is not staid per se, even though its client list includes members of the British royal family.

Founder and Managing Director, Stephen Brister, told us that the company’s primary commitment to real luxury. “Part of the reason I founded the company was because I was disillusioned with the poor quality of products that were being sold by mainstream luxury brands,” he said. “For me luxury means the highest quality materials crafted by the finest artisans to make something rare and exclusive. So quality and craftsmanship are very much part of the DNA of H&B London.”

OTC has been using the British Racing Green Breast Pocket Wallet daily for about one month and, in a word, we find it to be exceptional.  The size and layout are traditional, with eight card slots and three receipt/currency pockets.  Nothing feels cramped or crowded; credit cards easily glide in and out of their spaces and the main currency pocket is easy to access.  Though, as noted above, the structure of the wallet is traditional, it is very much contemporary in nuance and finish.  It is a classic wallet, yes, but not old-fashioned.  Perhaps the word which best describes it is “elegant.”

2013 10 04 10.16.19 300x225 H&B London: Exceptional Handmade WalletsWhat truly sets this wallet apart from others we have tested is the quality of the craftsmanship and materials.  Each H&B London wallet is handmade in London by one of only three craftsman.  The leather is impeccably smooth and supple and the wallet’s refined construction provides a firm structure without feeling stiff or unyielding.

The finish on our British Racing Green wallet is both rich and translucent, allowing the natural pattern of the flawless hide to come through.  Brister feels that a luxury product should be made from the finest materials, be rare and exclusive, and adhere to exceedingly high standards. For example, H&B London’s leather goods are made from the most exclusive Italian leather from the hides of cattle grazed in the Alps where there are no barbed fences or mosquitoes to blemish their skin.  By definition, that’s a small universe of leather supply.

H&B London started with wallets because, perhaps more than any other male accessory, one’s wallet is used and handled daily.  Ours has aged gently and beautifully, acquiring the inevitable nicks and bumps of life that only add to its distinguished patina.

The firm is also happy to accommodate bespoke orders, making anything from briefcases or handbags to wallets and purses.  You can email them directly at bespoke@handblondon.com or call them on +44(0)20 8546 4775.

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Smart Style: Shoe Recrafting

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One of the true hallmarks of that storied East Coast Ivy League lifestyle known as “preppy” is its practitioners’ predilection for thrift.

The longevity of a shirt, sweater, favorite pair of khakis, or treasured sport coat is in many ways more prized than anything else.  While those committed to mere preppy fashion may stuff their closets with the latest branded version of vintage inspired wares and overly nuanced brick-a-brac, salt of the earth preps focus on value.  They invest in well made stuff that lasts.  They are busy letting out their dad’s old J. Press blazer (which in fact, this author just did) or figuring how best to reclaim some well-worn but totally functional pair of Allen Edmonds cap toes.

AE Recrafting OLD 1024x682 Smart Style: Shoe Recrafting This last point is actually easier to accomplish than you might think.  Where a new pair of AE’s oxfords may run you $350 or so, your already loved, if world-weary pair, can be fully recrafted (including new shoe trees and felt bags) for the relatively bargain basement price of $150.

Not only does that save you money, another pastime of most old-school preps, it also helps to preserve for another decade some great shoes filled with honest-to-goodness history and hard earned character.

In Allen Edmonds’ case, the process of breathing new life into well-worn footwear begins with setting the shoes on their original last and completely removing the old sole and cork bed. The existing welting is then cut free and an entirely new sole is assembled and stitched onto the shoe.  The old wax is stripped off and a new coat is hand applied.  The shoes are then polished, buffed and ready to head home.

The whole process is an excellent example of living the life with savings to spare. Recrafting your Allen Edmonds shoes is not only a smart way to extend your investment in a great pair of shoes, it also contributes to your own sense of timeless style.

Want to master some real Ivy League ethos, the kind that can’t be purchased or affected? Choose to live by the mantra, “wear it ’till it falls apart.” You will be following in the well-trod footsteps of leather elbow-patched college professor types other guys merely emulate.

More importantly, you’ll also able to better appreciate the stuff you do have, make smarter choices about what you add to your wardrobe, and focus on the stuff you truly love and actually need.

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When it comes to Cadillac Certified Pre-Owned vehicles, we’ll treat it like new. Introducing the all-new Certified Pre-Owned Bumper-to-Bumper Warranty, an extension of our new vehicle warranty for up to 6 years or 70,000 miles.  Cadillac covers more of your vehicle than BMW, Mercedes and Lexus.  And, with our 172-Point Inspection, 24-hour Roadside Assistance, Courtesy Transportation, and more, owning a Certified Pre-Owned Cadillac is more thrilling than ever. Learn More at www.cadillac.com/cpo

Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Cadillac Certified Pre-Owned Vehicles via Glam Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Cadillac Certified Pre-Owned Vehicles.

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American Made. Global Market.

Frank Clegg has become the face of American leather craftsmanship.  Seemingly overnight, he has surged in the consciousness of high-end customers, style bloggers, Madison Avenue editors, Fifth Avenue retailers, and Made-in-America aficionados.

His brand, Frank Clegg Leatherworks, is built around the fact that he is more than just a name, he is also a maker.

It’s a great story, but it’s only a very small part of the larger story.  No overnight success – not by a long shot – Frank is a craftsman, yes, but he also has 30 years of expertise in custom leather work under his belt.  He has long been sought after by such top-notch brands as Alden and Cole Hann.  And he has legions of customers around the world who hand down his goods father-to-son.

If you want to know what makes Frank tick and why he is very much an American treasure, please read our earlier article about his background and passion for his craft.

The folks at Craft Series, which documents American artisans, created this great video that captures Frank’s remarkable skill and showcases his craftsmanship in action.  Check him out as he creates a custom briefcase on the fly; no pattern and no template.  Just experience and expertise.