Britain's Nörsea, Chicago's hat man, Brittany's Guy Cotten, Montréal's Naked and Famous Denim plus Jeremy Hackett heads to Japan.
Naked & Famous Denim was set up last year by denim nerd Brandon Svarc, 26, who uses the finest Japanese denim for Made in Canada jeans.
Why did you set up Naked & Famous Denim?
To be exactly the opposite of everything that is wrong with the “premium denim” industry. No washes, no embroidery, no holes and chains, no gimmicks.
What is the most covetable type of denim?
We have a cashmere blend that turns pyjama-soft after one wash, denim with 30 per cent silk in the blend, or a 21oz denim, one of the heaviest in the world.
What makes Japanese denim so special?
I put this question to the president of a mill in Okayama [an area famous for weaving denim]. He said: “The water.” The pH balance and mineral content is like nowhere else in the world. It is used to make the dyes, clean the yarns and finish the denim.
What current trends do you see in the industry? I don’t really care about trends. Magazines say things like: “This season is all about 1970s bohemian hippie chic meets metallic grunge”. We just want to make a superior and interesting product at a fair price.
Brittany-based Guy Cotten has been keeping fishermen and sailors dry since 1964. Famous for coated-cotton oilskin fabrics, they now produce over 200 pieces. This two-pocket hooded khaki coat will suit any city-dwellers yet to find their sea legs.
Tailored turn - Italy [tonello] Master-tailor Renzo Tonello has been designing top-notch suits since the 1960s. With experience at firms such as Belvest and Chester Barrie, he launched Tonello’s men’s in 2000 and women’s lines in 2002. Five tailors and 95 staff produce pieces such as this dress at their Treviso workshop. Stockists include Slips in Germany and Lane Crawford in Hong Kong.
Hackett has just unveiled its first Japanese flagship store in Tokyo. Designed by Michael Carey, the shop precedes the opening of one in Paris. London branches are faring well – due in part to Europeans visiting with their strong euro – but Japan is leading the way in Hackettmania, even giving Jeremy Hackett his own column in Men’s Ex magazine. hackett.com
“Moving back to Yorkshire has really inspired us,” says Stephen Banks, creative director of new British menswear line Nörsea Industries, that consists mainly of utility blazers, shirts and Gansey sweaters. The 38-year-old is inspired by the local fisherman in his remote coastal village of Bridlington: “Tweed flat caps and Gabardine overcoats paired with Reebok trainers and rolled up jeans would be a classic local look”. Nörsea is a family affair – alongside his partner Natalie, Stephen’s brother Paul works on the graphic side, while Mummy Banks works on the knits.
From sporty fedoras to formal homburgs, the Chicago-based Optimo Hat Company, founded 13 years ago by Graham Thompson, makes all of its custom-made men’s headwear by hand. Authenticity is key, and Thompson scours the world in search of traditional equipment and retired workers who might be able to pass on their know-how. His goal is to make Chicago the hat capital of the world. “It does excite me to one day introduce our product in London and say, ‘You know the great hats come from Chicago now.’”