Earlier this year, I was sitting in this outstanding modern Italian restaurant – literally next door to the celebrated David Burke Townhouse (for the foodies among you) - and indulging in one of the best pizzas I’ve had in a long time. Actor Ricky Gervais strolled past me on his way to the table overlooking 61st Street. All the diners stare – some text friends. Fame by proximity; so very New York.
That Mr. Gervais is decked out in nylon running pants, sneakers, a random jacket and an old – or perhaps “vintage” – tee shirt is apropos given that my dining companion was bespoke clothier Jon Green.
Jon is a remarkable guy, both in personality and skill. Within a certain circle, he is very much a celebrity in his own right – but he’s not a tailor. He’s a clothier; a distinction he is always quick to make. Publicly, Jon is perhaps best known for being profiled by Forbes magazine after once crafting a $25,000 suit. “Not a particularly practical suit,” he told me. “The fabric was very expensive and no really conducive to daily use.”
Perceived reputation notwithstanding, Jon is actually a very practical and modest man. Though always impeccably turned out, he owns only a handful of his own make of suits, along with a few blazers. A multitude of shirts and selection of neckwear round out his work wardrobe.
Should I even have to mention that, with a starting price of around $9,000, no, I do not yet count a Jon Green bespoke suit among my own wardrobe’s holdings?
We chatted about a number of things, from his philosophy on dressing well to the possible development of a new, lower-priced line. All things being relevant, “lower-priced” in this case means in the range of $5,000.00. He’s a voraciously intellectual guy who is fascinated with everything, not a bad trait when your customers literally include global captains of industry. He also a counselor and guide, confidant and referee. Above all he a perfectionist, exactly the trait needed in this highly discerning field.
Jon is a bespoke designer, and that in and of itself is a very specific designation. The word “bespoke” is derived from the English verb of the 17th century to bespeak, “to speak for something, to give order for it to be made.”
The standards of Bespoke clothing requires the creation of a paper pattern, hand cutting of the cloth with shears, and the highest level and amount of hand, needle, and iron work by a master coat maker, pant maker, and waistcoat maker. In fact, the cloth used in bespoke is often itself, bespoke. Jon told me about once traveling to a mill in England to monitor the manufacture of a specific order.
Both made-to-measure and ready-to-wear garments are cut from a ready-to-wear block pattern, with or without alterations, and constructed and finished in the same way as ready-to-wear in a factory.
The bespoke suit is the gold standard of male dress and the suit to which every other aspires. The process of crafting a Jon Green bespoke suit starts with taking the measure, rather than the measurements, of the man.
It begins with a conversation about the person – his sartorial likes and dislikes, his personal style. Within the broad traditions of classic tailoring, one can define their own look. Jon’s goal is not just to create a garment that fits perfectly, but to create a garment that perfectly fits his client.
The ultimate goal, as with other craftsman of his caliber, is to create a lifelong learning experience where the client at first relies on Jon, but comes to trust their own taste the more they learn about what styles suit them best.
Jon is also occasionally asked to provide his sartorial insights to a broader audience – like the discerning readers of Departures magazine.
So, what was Jon wearing at our dinner? Jeans, navy cashmere turtleneck and a 15-year old blue blazer of his own make – recently re-lined.
He looked great.