In New York recently, my main purpose was to have Leonard Logsdail make me a jacket and Nino Corvato make a pair of trousers, but I’d also wanted to find the best menswear New York had to offer but it was disappointing to see such a lack of options for quality menswear. Just like the other major global cities, mega-brands now take pride of place in the most prominent buildings and churn out sales, keeping an ignorant and brand obsessed public buying.
Even with the rise of many of the major fashion and “luxury” brands, in cities like London and Paris there is still a healthy number of smaller and mid-sized businesses making incredible products, many of them still family owned, or at least genuinely focused on craftsmanship, authenticity and quality.
New York, however, proved much more difficult to identify businesses outside of the cookie-cutter, machine made men’s fashion brands you can find in any largish city. In many ways, it’s sad, mostly for the fact that it shows a public who no longer care for the provenance behind the things they own, buying in to a disposable consumer culture, where as long as it is the right brand, with the right logo, then who made it, where or why is no longer of any concern.
Fortunately, there are a handful of stores which stood out to me, for the quality of their products and focus on where their clothes and accessories come from:
The Armoury – 168 Duane Street: One of the best success stories to come out of high quality menswear in recent years. Originally starting in Hong Kong and expanding to two stores there, their third store (New York) has settled nicely into its quiet neighbourhood in lower Manhattan. Having developed a strong social media following, they carry a large range of quality brands, such as Drake’s ties, Fox umbrella’s, John Smedley knitwear, as well as shoes from Carmina and St Crispin’s. Their trunkshows are constant and popular, with Salva’ Ambrosi making routine trips for bespoke trousers, as well as Ring Jacket for coats, Liverano and Liverano for bespoke suits, St Crispin’s for made to order shoes, and many more.
Leffot – 10 Christopher Street: Modern and simple in layout, Leffot carries shoes from many of the worlds best makers, including Gaziano and Girling, St Crispin’s, John Lobb, Edward Green and Corthay, holding trunk shows for almost all of those makers throughout the year. Whilst Double Monk in Melbourne remains, for me, the most beautiful men’s shoe store in the world, Leffot’s simple and refined layout has its own unique charm and the quality of makers they carry would be hard to surpass anywhere else.
Kamakura Shirts – 400 Madison Avenue: Without doubt the biggest surprise I found in New York. Having only opened in New York a little over 2 years ago, Kamakura shirts are made in Japan and priced way too affordably for the quality (around $79-$99 per shirt and they are easily at the same level of quality as shirts several times the price). The designs are classic and also include some chambray and denim shirts, as well as cashmere blends and knits. Their online store carries most of what you’ll see in New York, so once you know your size, you can order from their website. I left the store with a dozen shirts, 2 lightweight wool cardigans, a few ties and a few pocket squares. All completely unexpected. I try to have all my shirts made bespoke now, but their 39cm collar, 83cm sleeve shirt fit me perfectly, so I was happy to take several home. I also received a hand written thank you card in the mail, yesterday, from Saki Omura, who served me in the shop, which is such a rare thing to see any more.
Blue in Green Jeans – 8 Green Street SoHo: Tucked away at the end of Green Street in funky SoHo, Blue in Green carry a highly curated range of the very best Japanese denim you could find. Brands include Studio D’Artisan, Skull Jeans. Momotaro, Somet and my favourite Samurai Jeans, known for the incredible lengths they go to in the creation of their jeans, as well as their small product runs of limited edition pieces.
3×1 Denim – 15 Mercer Street: Brainchild of Scott Morrison (of former jeans stores Paper Denim and Cloth, as well as Earnest Sewn) the factory sits on site, behind large glass panels overlooking the store. Their offering is comprised of ready to wear, made to order and their bespoke range. The choice to offer a bespoke option created headlines for their starting price of $1,200USD per pair, but it has been a significant success. Their bespoke and made to order wall is a beautiful installation, allowing customers to choose their preferred denim and have it cut in front of them. I’d hoped to have a pair made when I was in New York, but no-one replied to my email a few weeks before heading over there, so I didn’t end up bothering and just went to the store to see it for myself.
Paul Stuart – 45th Street: A real surprise and I’m still not sure how I’d never heard of Paul Stuart before. Over 7 decades of history in New York, their 45th Street store is expansive, carrying an enormous range of classic and contemporary menswear, I could have spent hours walking around and I’ve never seen so many ties carried by a single store. Most of their products carried their own label and the majority are made in Italy, from memory.
Skip the chain stores. Visit these instead.