Brioni: Su Misura

As Brioni celebrates its 70th anniversary and 40 years at Harrods, PORT chats to creative director, Brendan Mullane, about the brand’s sartorial heritage, the Su Misura service and the role the suit plays in the 21st century

Brioni window display at Harrods, London

Established in Rome in 1945, the history of the menswear brand, Brioni, stands as a symbol of Italy’s post-war rebirth. Extricating itself from the shadow of conflict and two decades of fascism, the country surged into the second half of the 20th century. Brioni successfully channelled the optimism of a fresh start after Mussolini and the luxury of the pre-war jet-set who frequented the Adriatic islands that gave the brand its name.

Within a few years, the sharp Italian tailoring and innovative approach – it held the first ever male catwalk in 1952 – established Brioni as a favourite of European aristocracy, Hollywood stars and world leaders alike. Now celebrating 70 years of business, Brioni continues to appeal to the famous and influential; Morgan Freeman, Barack Obama and, between 1995 and 2006, James Bond, have all been seen sporting Brioni suits.

Brendan Mullane, creative director of Brioni
Brendan Mullane, creative director of Brioni

“It’s the special way a Brioni suit feels that makes it so different,” says Brioni’s creative director, Brendan Mullane, when I ask why the brand has earned so many high profile clients. “It’s the fabrics we use and our ability to manipulate them to create something that is constructed but not constrictive, and then it’s the organic way the suit is built which means it gets better and better as it molds to your body,” he tells me.

“But the greatest thing is the experience of going to a tailor, laying your defects bare and having them completely transformed and hidden under a second skin that acts almost as a second layer,” Mullane adds. “This is what sets a Brioni suit apart and makes it very desirable to a real connoisseur.”


The personalised, Su Misura (meaning ‘made-to-order’ in Italian) service is really what defines Brioni. This autumn, Harrods in London is celebrating 40 years hosting Brioni tailors with a series of window displays that demonstrate how the brand’s tailoring service can accommodate people of all sizes – from sumo wrestlers to jockeys. It shows how in a commercialised, mass-produced market, there is still the potential to offer a bespoke product with traditional craftsmanship.

“The handcrafted way of working and the handmade element, within this tailoring language, is the foundation of everything we do inside Brioni,” Mullane explains.

One of the crucial innovations of the Su Misura service, and what tries to set Brioni apart from other tailors, is that, rather than being fabricated on site, the suits are produced at a factory in Penne, mid-southern Italy. Built in 1959 in the birthtown of the brand’s founding tailor, Nazareno Fonticoli, the factory now employs 400 master tailors in a well-trained and well-oiled production line. In a form of luxury Fordism, each worker is dedicated to a single process, with 80 workers responsible for the pressing alone, ensuring that these artisanal processes can be produced on a large scale.

Despite the scale of this tailoring process, Brioni insists there is no loss in quality or attention to detail. Each suit takes between 18 and 22 hours to put together, involves 220 individual steps and contains between 7000 and 9000 stitches. The bespoke element is also important when considering where the suit is destined, as each sewing phase is followed by an ironing and resting phase dictated by the fabrics used and the garment’s geographic and climatic destination.

Brioni’s intimate understanding of how to treat fabric is central to its approach to tailoring. Seventy per cent of the materials used in Brioni suits are exclusive to the brand, and selected from Italian, Japanese and English mills by a dedicated fabric design team. “The need for exclusiveness is of the upmost important to Brioni,” Mullane tells me. “It is the best way to strengthen our identity and drives our creative process. The fact we work in an artisanal way allows us to understand artisans and work well with them.”

It’s no secret that the role the suit plays in society has changed since 1945. I asked Mullane how a tailoring brand that helped define the dolce vita in mid-century Italy could remain relevant now and in the future. “A suit is always going to be relevant – it’s powerful, it doesn’t only give you confidence but it changes the way people see you,” he replies.

“The mix of the brand’s tradition, the constant innovation and research into sartorial mastery, means Brioni can meet the demands of the 21st century.”

The Naked Truth: Nudie Jeans

PORT’s fashion features editor, David Hellqvist, delves into the sustainable culture and the musical DNA that lies at the heart of Gothenburg-based denim brand Nudie Jeans


Denim is a universal fabric, worn regardless of nationality, gender, age and class. Its early pioneers were American brands like Levi’s, Lee and Wrangler, who used the fabric for workwear because of its functional and durable qualities. These days, due to their obsessive quest to improve denim, Japanese brands are leading the high-tech charge when it comes to fabric innovation. But, at least from a stylistic perspective, a recent Swedish surge has played a crucial role in shaping what jeans of the future look like.

Acne Studios, for example, was a pure denim brand before it chose to focus on the high-end fashion aspect of its business. Today, there are plenty of established and well-known brands, as well as niche startups, selling the Scandi look. In line with the Nordic notion of ‘sartorial democracy’, there are also affordable jean brands catering for the young and trend-led masses: Cheap Monday, for example, which is owned by Swedish high street chain H&M.

An unusual Gothenburg-based jean specialist sits somewhere between these brands, quietly spreading its denim gospel across the world. Since it was launched in 2001 by creative director Maria Erixon, Joakim Levin and Palle Stenberg, Nudie Jeans has managed to craft a unique brand with a different point of view. Not easy to pigeonhole and with an individual approach to product development, the brand has its own definition of success.

“Nudie Jeans was born out of a dream not to compromise,” Erixon explains from Gothenburg, Sweden’s second-largest city. “We committed to being independent, and staying independent, right from the start. Doing what we do, the way we want to, is at the heart of our DNA and ultimately what I believe has led to our success today.”

PORT’s guide to Nudie Jeans proudction in 2015 – Infographic by Ling Ko
PORT’s guide to Nudie Jeans proudction in 2015 – Infographic by Ling Ko

That DNA was, and still is, hugely influenced by music. “Joakim’s background was music, while mine and Palle’s was denim,” Erixon adds. “These influences and experiences were complementary and caused us to be pragmatic.” Today the focus is perhaps less on dressing rock musicians (although their jeans are a common sight at festivals, both on and off stage) and more on making Nudie Jeans the best company it can possibly be. Since 2011, it has taken a new approach to the life span of a pair of jeans, which has meant more than just looking at the selvedge and measuring turn-ups.

“There is no fabric like denim that has the ability to reinvent itself within its own domain, whilst also staying true to its original identity,” Erixon says. “Denim is an institution and has, as such, a unique ability to form a relationship and alliance with its wearer. No other fabric gets better the more you wear it. And tear it. And repair it!” The ‘repair’ part is key. Instead of throwing away used and torn denim, Nudie Jeans encourages customers to bring in the damaged pieces to a Nudie Jeans Repair Shop, where they’re mended. Either the customer goes away with fixed jeans or they leave them behind and buy a new pair, with a 20 per cent discount. The leftovers are either broken up and used separately or mended and sold as vintage jeans.

“Prolonging and extending the life of your denim is at the centre of the Nudie Jeans Eco-Cycle philosophy, and the Repair Shop concept really is a response to this,” says Palle Stenberg, cofounder and CEO. Last year, they repaired over 30,000 pairs of jeans in-store globally. Since the beginning of June 2015, the figure was at just over 20,000, meaning over 40,000 pairs of jeans are expected to have been handed in at the end of the year. The dedication pays off; in the past, Nudie Jeans has received domestic Swedish awards for the programme, and, earlier this year, won the ‘Sustainable Style’ category at the Observer Ethical Awards.

But Nudie Jeans also looks at what can be done to improve the denim’s ethical DNA before it gets to the repair stage. “Conventionally produced denim takes a lot of cotton to be harvested in order to meet consumer demand, and the environmental impact is huge, leaving the earth ravaged and taking years to repair itself,” Erixon says. “To combat this we now only use organic cotton in our jeans. The purpose is to ensure Nudie Jeans’ customers have the best possible garments, made the best possible way.”

“We want to ensure we do not expose workers involved in the cotton and garment production to the dangerous pesticides, fertilisers and defoliants associated with conventionally grown cotton. We care and are conscious of the environment, and do not want to contribute to the damage on the land where conventional cotton is grown,” says Sandya Lang, corporate social responsibility manager at Nudie Jeans. “Finally we want our consumers to see the benefit of using organic cotton instead of conventional grown cotton, and realise it benefits all persons in contact with the organic denim product along the supply chain.”

In 2012, the Repair Shop concept was officially launched and Nudie Jeans took its commitment to ethical manufacturing to a new level. The brand started to audit its suppliers and subcontractors globally. Later, all this information was uploaded onto the Nudie Jeans website as a ‘Production Guide’, where everyone can read up on the audits carried out on mills and factories. Initially, not everyone was convinced.

“Admittedly, at first, the reaction was a bit mixed, depending on where our suppliers were located. For example, it was easier to make the audit in India than Italy at first, as Indian suppliers are used to European companies conducting audits at their factory. Whereas this was a rather unusual request for Italian suppliers,” Lang says. “But after we explained our purpose and intent with the audits, it’s not been difficult to have them engaged in the process.”

Making jeans that are worn by rock stars is one thing, but to do that while upholding integrity and social responsibility – towards customers, staff and nature – is entirely another, especially in a highly competitive environment. But Nudie Jeans has a clear goal, and knows what the ultimate purpose of the brand is: “We want to produce great quality clothing as responsibly as possible to the environment, and to our people. In our brand literature we state there should never be a trade-off between manufacture and environment, or profit and people, and we live by that,” Stenberg sums up. “We want to inspire other brands in this industry to follow suit and produce responsibly and sustainably. This is a global effort.”

This article appears in PORT issue 17. To buy a copy of PORT or to subscribe, click here

Photography Jan von Holleben

After McQueen: Jacky Tsai

PORT visits the London studio of Chinese artist Jacky Tsai, creator of Alexander McQueen’s iconic skull motif, to talk pop art, superheroes and life after working with the legendary fashion designer

Jack Tsai in his east London studio
Jack Tsai in his east London studio

Jacky Tsai is a master of cultural crossover. Born in Shanghai and now based in London, Tsai draws directly from his own experience of cultural integration to create artworks that bring Eastern and Western cultures face-to-face. Having arrived in London in 2004, Tsai quickly fell in love with the city. After studying illustration at Central Saint Martins, he began an internship at Alexander McQueen that would change his trajectory as an artist forever.

Stained Glass Skulls by Jacky Tsai. Image courtesy of the artist and The Fine Art Society
Stained Glass Skulls by Jacky Tsai. Image courtesy of the artist and The Fine Art Society

While at McQueen, Tsai was given a design task that resulted in the creation of the now iconic flower skull. “I think I was in the right place at the right time. They gave me a chance to prove myself and I didn’t just want to make the tea and coffee every day, so I tried my best,” he says. “It all happened in a very accidental way.”

Today, Tsai is conflicted in his relationship with a design so internationally celebrated that it has often overshadowed his achievements as an artist in his own right. “I created this beautiful piece when I was very young and, for a while, I grew fed up of answering questions to do with McQueen,” he tells me. “When Alexander McQueen passed away, all the interviews I gave were about him and not Jacky Tsai the individual.”

This summer, Tsai opened his first UK solo exhibition, which ran at London’s Fine Arts Society. For the show, Tsai combined the intricate grace of traditional Chinese techniques – lacquer carving, enamel cloisonné, and blue and white porcelain printing – with the vibrant immediacy of Western pop art, all revolving around an unexpected yet ubiquitous reference point for both cultures: superheroes.

Culture Clash, Jacky Tsai. Image courtesy of the artist and The Fine Art Society
Culture Clash, Jacky Tsai. Image courtesy of the artist and The Fine Art Society

“I think each superhero symbolises a superpower from different cultures,” Tsai explains. “In the past, when China was a superpower in the world, we had a lot of Chinese novels that featured superheroes.”

Drawing from the superhero narratives of both cultures, Tsai created a series of intricate tableaux depicting the interactions and altercations of these mythical figures; Wonder Woman is wooed by the Monkey King, while Empress Wu is saved by Tarzan.

 Left: Jacky Tsai – Right: The Romance at The Hamptons by Jacky Tsai. Image courtesy of the artist and The Fine Art Society
Left: Jacky Tsai – Right: The Romance at The Hamptons by Jacky Tsai. Image courtesy of the artist and The Fine Art Society

Besides traditional Chinese techniques, Tsai is influenced by Western cartoons and artists including Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein, whom he admired as a young man. However, keen to avoid imitation, Tsai borrows elements of his heroes’ work and adapts them to his own experience to create a new pop art. “Pop art is something of the past, so we have to bring something new,” he tells me. “I’m trying to make pop art in a Chinese way with more detail and more craftsmanship.”

Tsai takes his role as a contemporary Chinese artist in a Western city very seriously, acknowledging a certain obligation to continue aspects of his cultural heritage. “I feel responsible to do that as a London-based Chinese artist,” he says. “I think I can bridge the East and the Western cultures in a Chinese form… a traditional form.”

Kissers by Jacky Tsai. Image courtesy of the artist and The Fine Art Society
Kissers by Jacky Tsai. Image courtesy of the artist and The Fine Art Society

While he owes much of his early success and artistic development to McQueen, Tsai’s debut London exhibition went some way to redress the balance of attention towards his other work, and was an important step towards establishing him as an artist in his own right.

“I don’t want to completely turn away from McQueen, because that experience made me realise I could do something special,” he says. “Before that I didn’t have any confidence, and my time there helped me to develop my aesthetic and to learn the way to make my art. I got so much from the McQueen skull, but I hope people can concentrate more on the new Jacky Tsai, or the future Jacky Tsai.”

Photography (Images of Jacky Tsai in his studio) Aldo Filiberto

Wool Week: From The Land Comes The Cloth

As Wool Week UK launches, photographer Ian Lawson describes his fascination with the Outer Hebrides and its hard-working shepherd community

Isle of Harris, Outer Hebrides, Scotland
Isle of Harris, Outer Hebrides, Scotland

I first travelled to the Outer Hebrides in search of the light. The long summer days of the far north, the twilight hour of changing colours on Brae and Ben, and the open sky where the wind blows salt freely. It was to be a rendezvous with beaut; I went with an open mind and an open heart. This unique environment of unchanging beauty is the home of Harris Tweed and my book, From the Land Comes the Cloth, attempts to show the intimate connection between land, thread and weaver.

Everywhere I went, I found intrigue in this wild, illuminating land of tweed. I visited at different times of the year and watched the slow procession of the seasons. But four years ago, something very peculiar happened. One spring day, on a still morning of clearing skies over West Harris, the hills lay quiet and green. A shepherd was calling clear Gaelic commands from the dunes that overlook the ocean. As I watched his flock of white wool scampering towards him up the grassy slopes, the landscape unexpectedly came to life. It caught my eye, excited my mind and a vital connection was made. Land, shepherds and sheep, all cooperating with an impassioned sense of timing and order… Each fitted into an old routine. I realised that people are the essence of what this landscape is about for me – their lives, the very fabric of existence here.

Left: Angus Macsween, Horgabost, Isle of Harris – Right: Loom shed, Gearranan, Isle of Lewis
Left: Angus Macsween, Horgabost, Isle of Harris – Right:Loom shed, Gearranan, Isle of Lewis

I soon found myself alight with inspiration and set about documenting the land at work. The story of wool to weaver provided me with a way into a culture of which I had little previous knowledge or experience. I came to think of Harris Tweed, not as a product but as a process, encompassing and illustrating an entire way of life. During the day of the sheep gathering, an ambition was born. I would commit myself to a heartfelt study focused on the Isles of Harris and Lewis, a project over which I could exercise complete artistic control. It was an opportunity to give something back to the place that had inspired my creative adventures and ambitions.

The Outer Hebrides are remote. In fact, it’s their very remoteness that attracts me. Every time I hear the phrase Outer Hebrides it conjures up an ancient land, a place on the edge. But when the sea was the main highway for travellers, these islands weren’t so very far away at all. The perpetual rhythm of the North Atlantic has shaped some of the oldest rocks in the world into fifty or so islands, around fifteen of them inhabited. Together, they make up the most extraordinary archipelago, home to close-knit communities, rare wildlife habitats and teeming seabird colonies. A photographer’s paradise.

Today’s inhabitants have inherited a rich cultural legacy reaching back to the Iron Age Celts, the Norsemen and other settlers and invaders. Everywhere I go, I find place names derived from Old Norse: Luskentyre, Horgabost, Scalpay, Shawbost, Ness, Callanish – a legacy from the Vikings who settled in these islands from the eighth century. Here among the rocks and peat, along the arteries of loch, road and sea, I’m glimpsing patterns of existence that have survived through generations. But most of all, my eye is drawn to the daily rituals of crofters in small townships and on isolated crofts, people in tune with their environment. Something about their world touches me. And I want to know more. Here’s the story about how I met with one of the people living here, taken from From The Land Comes The Cloth.

Pastures New, Valtos, Isle of Lewis
Pastures New, Valtos, Isle of Lewis

I meet Morag Mackinnon at the Luskentyre fank (sheep pen) in mid-summer. She is helping shepherds and fellow crofters clip and sort ewes and lambs, happy amongst the wool and hard graft. Morag’s job today is to buist each sheep with a red, blue or green marking once the fleece is clipped. She rolls and bags each fleece, her hands shiny with lanolin. The red cardigan she wears is flecked white with shorn wool. She works confidently and efficiently while entertaining us all with her playful wit.

A cool breeze from the shore eases the heat of the day. With heads down and backs bent, the shepherds work tirelessly, humour flowing as freely as fleece falling from the shears. Beyond the fank wall, flocks of oystercatchers are wading and calling. The wall itself is topped with sea pinks and scattered with shells, driftwood and bird feathers. Overhead, a noisy pair of Arctic terns defend their territory. Morag leans against the fank wall with a late lamb under her arm and a shepherd’s crook in her hand. She smiles mischievously at me and says: “Ian, you can take my picture now. The Beauty of Harris is ready for your camera!”

Left: Morag Mackinnon – Right: Mountain Sheep, Hushinish, Isle of Harris.
Left: Morag Mackinnon – Right: Mountain Sheep, Hushinish, Isle of Harris

She jokes and teases me, making me feel so at home on the headland. I’m inspired by her zest for life and her humour, a Hebridean woman with spirit, passion and grit. She’s grasped life with both hands and lived it. Morag’s home is a stone’s throw from the fank and must have one of the best views in the world. Her garden is a sea meadow of wild flowers. Her front door looks out onto the white sands of Luskentyre. Morag has lived here for most of her life, working a croft of just under 80 acres.

She tells me she’s done her best with her croft and wouldn’t change a thing – even if she had to do it all over again. Morag’s family were crofter-weavers. Her mother gathered crottal, a flowerless plant that grows abundantly on the island’s rocks, to hand-dye wool outside the back door in a huge cast-iron pot. The crottal was placed in the pot along with the fleece and brought to the boil. After an hour or so, it produced a rich earth tone and was widely used for colouring tweed. The pot still stands by Morag’s back door, a reminder of days gone by.

Wool Week UK runs from Oct 5th – 11th 2015

Text and photography Ian Lawson

In Conversation: Paul Weller and John Varvatos

PORT sits down with the Modfather and American menswear designer John Varvatos to discuss the enduring relationship between music and style

Paul Weller
Paul Weller

One is an award-winning musician with his own clothing line, the other invented boxer briefs and runs his own music label. You’d be hard pressed to find a duo more qualified to discuss the symbiotic relationship between music and style than Paul Weller and John Varvatos.

As with the mods, the youth subculture that Weller helped to revive with The Jam and later with The Style Council, music and style are often inseparable. This ethos is something Varvatos’ store in London’s West End aims to reflect in its design and atmosphere. A veritable temple to rock music, the Conduit Street shop has its own record shop, concert area and the largest collection of Fender guitars in Europe. And, for the next two weeks John Varvatos London will host a capsule collection from Weller’s menswear line, Real Stars are Rare.

Here, PORT meets Weller and Varvatos, who reflect on their past collaborations, how music and style have influenced them and the role fashion plays in contemporary pop music.

 John Varvatos (left) in conversation with Paul Weller (right) at Varvatos' London store. The pair discussed topics including rock and roll to style. September 17, 2015
Paul Weller (right) in conversation with John Varvatos (left) at his London store. The pair discussed topics including rock and roll to style. September 17, 2015

PORT: How did you first meet one another?

Paul Weller: John asked me to do a campaign for him, a few years ago. I was going to be in New York around the same time anyway, and I had bought some of John’s stuff before in the States. It was John who suggested getting Miles (Kane, of The Last Shadow Puppets) to do the campaign with me and it was a really fun day.

John Varvatos: Then he ended up playing at our Bowery store, which is the old CBGB club. It was 35 years to the week that The Jam first came to States and played at CBGB. I remember when you came off the stage you said ‘I think it’s our best gig in our last hundred’. You were really psyched to do it.

PORT: Were you always aware of Paul’s music, John?

JV: Yeah, I was a big Jam fan and I had followed The Style Council plus all his solo stuff. I even collected all the Japanese singles… I also followed Paul’s style, because I think he’s the most stylish guy in the last 35 years of British music. He has been consistently cool but was never ‘of the moment’. He always had his own look.

PORT: How do you understand the relationship between music and style?

PW: I’m a musician and a songwriter, so obviously that comes first. But I’m a product of my time… I can’t separate music and clothes, it’s the same thing to me. I don’t think the connection is a strong as it was 20 to 25 years ago, but for me it will always be intertwined.

JV: I think they are (connected), I just think that in the periods of time that we’re talking about it became a big part of being sucked into the music. If you go to a show now and the band are just standing there with plaid shirts and shorts, it isn’t the same as a band like The Faces that were really putting on a show. I think they’re very interconnected, fashion and music, I just don’t think it has the same level of importance to pop culture as it once had.

PORT: Does it seem too artificial now?

PW: From the post-war generation up to the 80s, the main looks all came from the street. It was only in the 80s that it became design and brand-led. The early punk look became this ridiculous punk look, but the early days wasn’t like that. It was just loads of kids making their own clothes… it wasn’t one look.

PORT: Why is mod culture so enduring?

JV: It’s hard to say when you talk about mod fashion, or even just the green parka – why that’s cool and remains cool. But there’s definitely a functionality to mod fashion, and it’s a mix of so many elements.

PW: I think it endures because it has the capability to adapt and to move on, but it remains essentially the same thing. Mod clothes are also just very classic looking. They’ll always look good at any time, any decade.

PORT: If you could go back to the 60s and the first wave of the mods, what would you do?

PW: Well I might go back for a night and see Stevie Wonder play in some little club in London, get some pills and come home. I like the time we live in. Apart from all the great things we talk about in the 60s – the music and the fashion – life in this country was not fun if you were poor and working class. It was probably a great time to be around if you were young, had money and no responsibilities, but not everyone was swinging.

PORT: What’s next for your menswear label, Real Stars are Rare?

PW: We’ve got another collection coming out in October. I’m not trying to be competitive, I’m just happy doing just the very short runs so I don’t have any pretence of being a designer or in competition with any other bands. (Points to John Varvatos, laughing). He’s got nothing to worry about!

Paul Weller’s pop-up store runs until Sep 24, 12-13 Conduit Street, London with a selection from Weller’s Real Stars are Rare clothing brand, copies of his new book, Into Tomorrow, and a deluxe vinyl edition of his latest album, Saturns Pattern.

Love Me Tender

William Kroll tells Port about his British denim brand Tender and how he’s bringing vintage inspiration and workwear aspiration to those who value craft

William Kroll, Tender founder
William Kroll, Tender founder

After studying tailoring on Savile Row and several years at a Japanese denim company, William Kroll began looking into British traditions in workwear, tailoring and manufacturing. Kroll found himself drawn to the age of steam engines, an inspiration that informs both the design and the name of Tender (the tender of a steam train holds its fuel and water) – the clothing brand he has run since 2010.

Beyond steam trains, tenderness also encapsulates Kroll’s approach to design. Each garment is individually constructed by artisans using traditional techniques for hand-dying and production. The resulting pieces are unique and bear marks of what Kroll describes as a ‘perfect imperfection’. Each item is characterised by the individual craftsman’s actions in production, a traditionally British approach to the Japanese concept of wabi-sabi (the beauty of imperfection). Here, Chris Chasseaud speaks with Kroll about his inspirations, design process and the slow-fashion movement.

How did your interest in vintage clothing play a part in your decision to set up Tender?

I wouldn’t consider myself a hardcore vintage guy and I’m certainly not the most knowledgeable, but I’ve actually learned a lot about vintage clothes since I started Tender. For me, vintage starts in the early 20th century and mostly relates to casual, sports, or workwear. I come from a tailoring background so have looked a lot at 18th and 19th-century techniques. I studied with a Savile Row tailor and cutter during college, and seeing things made in a way that related exactly to historical garments felt really exciting.

Did you always plan to extend your collection beyond clothing to include products?

The growth of Tender has been very organic from the beginning and continues to be so. I didn’t have a long-term plan… I still don’t. The things that I’ve produced aside from clothing since the first season have just been a reflection of what seemed interesting at the time or a reflection of the people whom I’ve met along the way. Things like ceramics, brass, and glass were originally going to be on a different, special products website, but the mainline stockists were interested in them too, so they’re now a permanent part of the collection.

How much satisfaction do you take from the idea that your garments and products will be used by people for many years to come?

It’s lovely to know that people really form relationships with the products I make. One of the nicest things is when I see photos of worn and used items, or when I get garments back for repairs a couple of years down the line. I’m fixing up some broken seams on a couple of pairs of jeans at the moment that were sent back by a very good customer and old friend of the brand. They’re from the second and third seasons, back in 2011, and he’s been wearing them continuously since then.They’re beautifully faded and worn… they feel so personal and different in character from when they first went out.

Would you consider yourself to be part of the ‘slow-fashion’ movement, rejecting mass production and choosing to make your products by hand?

I’d rather not consider myself to be part of any movement. I try to approach what I do on its own terms. I don’t necessarily have a problem with mass production, but as a small brand I’m in a stronger position to do something interesting on a small level than I would be if I was trying to compete with bigger companies.

I think it’s all about controlling your process. If you’re a huge company and can scale production in your own factories to make exactly what you want, to the right quality, while maintaining respect for the people producing the garments, then that’s similar to what I’m doing with a tiny production made by a handful of individuals. The problems with mass production exist when you’re dealing without accountability or through faceless sourcing offices where you can’t trace or understand what’s being made in your name.

You have a lot of stockists in Japan – why do you think your products have so much appeal there?

I’m really lucky to have some great relationships with fantastic shops in Japan who have supported my brand from the beginning. There’s an infrastructure of small shops and their customers are all over Japan, which really responds to the kind of products I like to make. It’s not just a Japanese thing though; I work with really great shops all over the world, all doing things independently and in a really interesting way.

Bauhaus movements: Nomos Lambda 39

Judith Borowski, head of design and branding at NOMOS Glashütte’s in-house agency, discusses the German watchmaker’s newest timepiece: the Lambda 39

NOMOS Lambda 39
NOMOS Lambda 39

Despite being in production for a modest 25 years, NOMOS Glashütte has established itself as a mainstay among German watch brands. Inspired by Bauhaus design and functionality, models such as the Tangente are already considered classics.

The latest addition to its collection is a reinterpretation of the Lambda watch, first launched to great acclaim in 2013. The new Lambda 39 maintains the sophistication of the original but is more compact in form, with a slender 39mm gold case. We caught up with the design team at NOMOS to discuss the inner workings of the Lambda 39, the values behind the NOMOS collection and the future of analogue timepieces.

The Lambda has been hugely successful – what was the motivation behind releasing a smaller model?

Introducing smaller versions of our successful Lambda model gives our designers the opportunity to reinterpret this design with new proportions and in new colors. These new watches extend the appeal of the watch model to new customers who may have found 42mm a touch too large – since every wrist is different – or those who wanted to see Lambda with a ruthenium-coloured dial.

How do you go about scaling down the previous version? Did you have to start from scratch?

Creating a smaller version of an established watch model is both easier than starting from scratch and, in a way, more difficult. On the one hand, you have the opportunity to work with design decisions that have already been made. On the other hand, scaling down a design creates new challenges as it changes the overall proportions, which can in turn change the character of the design and the watch. In Lambda’s case, however, we were able to maintain the overall elegance of the original version in this new 39mm size.

How have you updated the inner workings of the watch?

The manually wound DUW 1001 movement, which is handcrafted in the dedicated NOMOS Atelier, is still at the heart of our Lambda model. We are so proud of it that we saw no need to change it for these new watches.

The movement boasts a power reserve of 84 hours and many of the features that characterise fine mechanical watchmaking, including screwed gold chatons, a twin mainspring barrel, swan neck fine adjustment, fine sunbeam polishing, and a hand-engraved balance cock that reads ‘Mit Liebe in Glashütte gefertigt‘ (‘lovingly produced in Glashütte’).

How do you see the new Lambda models fitting in with the rest of the NOMOS collection?

We envision these new timepieces will both complement and enhance the existing NOMOS range, by offering more choice to our customers. Our Lambda model now comes in eight slightly different versions — each with its own character, and strikingly beautiful in its own way.

The NOMOS Lambda 39 is made with a DUW 1001 caliber with manual winding and power reserve indicator, which is produced in-house
The NOMOS Lambda 39 is made with a DUW 1001 caliber with manual winding and power reserve indicator, which is produced in-house

What key characteristics define a NOMOS timepiece?

NOMOS timepieces are crafted in the world-famous town of Glashütte, the birthplace of fine mechanical watchmaking in Germany. All of them feature movements manufactured in-house and are characterised by a unique combination of German engineering and German product design.

As a member of the Deutscher Werkbund, a predecessor of the Bauhaus movement, NOMOS Glashütte aims to make beautiful and functional products designed with the most suitable production techniques. Our watches are renowned for their restrained dials, slender hands, and narrow bezels, with precision being a defining feature of the movement contained within.

How do you see the place of the analogue watch changing as smartwatches become increasingly popular?

While we can only speak for ourselves and not for the watchmaking world as a whole, we believe that mechanical watches simply offer something different to smartwatches. Our products draw from a long history of craftsmanship, giving customers an elegant timepiece that underlines their aesthetic and values. For this reason, we certainly do not see smartwatches as a threat to traditional watches.

In fact, the increasing interest in smartwatches among the younger generation means that they are thinking more and more about what they are wearing on their wrists – something that we are, of course, delighted about! After a while, smartwatch wearers will realise that their wristwear keeps becoming obsolete after a few years. With a mechanical watch, by contrast, they have a fine timepiece for life that is always repairable.

The Lambda 39 is available in 18k rose gold, with gold-plated or blue steel hands, and 18k rose gold with ‘black velvet’ dial and gold-plated hands

Manifesto: John Varvatos SS16

On the back of his latest collection, US designer John Varvatos explains his decision to move the catwalk show from Milan to New York

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For me, the decision to move our fashion show back to New York wasn’t an immediate one. I’ve been showing at Milan for nearly eight years now and we’ve got a great relationship with city. But I’m an American designer; we’re an American brand and New York City is my home, so we thought it was the right moment to come back.

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From a business standpoint, it wasn’t an easy decision to make. I opened a store in my hometown of Detroit in the spring and we received such an overwhelmingly positive response that it really made me think about moving the fashion show back home for the inaugural New York Fashion Week: Men’s.

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This collection draws on the early 1970s bohemian SoCal music scene. It was a time when there was an influx of British rock stars such as Fleetwood Mac, Jimmy Page and Keith Richards, who brought their iconic flamboyance and dandy-informed style to Southern California.

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This distinct meshing of lifestyles created something entirely new, the results of which could be felt as deeply as the saturated melodies of the greatest albums released at this time. It is this vintage aesthetic that we have sprinkled over the edges of our classic John Varvatos DNA for the season. While we’ve kept the clothing timeless and without a rigid theme, I’m pleased that the end result has got that vivid charisma of early 70s rock’n’roll.

Daily Doodle: Dries Van Noten SS16

The Belgian designer moved away from his traditionally romantic vision and focused his latest collection on a classic Hollywood muse: Marilyn Monroe

Illustration Clara Lacy

Spotlight: Canali SS16

Canali’s creative director Andrea Pompilio highlights a classic men’s staple: the single-breasted jacket

There are a few pieces every man’s wardrobe should contain – fashion journalists like to call them staples, everyone else says basics. Whatever word you choose, these are the garments you need: brogues, white t-shirt, blue button-down Oxford shirt, raw denim jeans… and a casual single-breasted jacket.

The difference between one that you can pick up on the high street and the one we saw at the Canali show in Milan, is the choice of fabrics and the overall quality. Good design is a luxury, and Canali’s creative director Andrea Pompilio knows all about that. Here, he explains what makes his jacket so special.

“One of the key pieces for this season – this single-breasted jacket – is crafted from an exclusive blend of silk, linen and wool. A refined and unusual garment that’s perfect for summer evenings, its clean lines conceal an array of stylistic innovations. “The rear of the jacket features a martingale and box pleat, the use of an elegant peak lapel, which highlights the skill of the Canali tailors, and two generously sized bellow patch pockets that add a distinctive touch.”