I spent my whole day running around the city: visiting showrooms, meeting with friends, and of course, trying to stop in a store or two. The first half was spent at the Project show wandering aimlessly through the aisles attempting not to feel awkward as each designer popped out as if I was in a super fancy haunted house.
I finished up at Project late and grabbed a quick bite to eat down in SoHo, hustled my way up to Chelsea, and hoped to settle down for a conversation with the mind behind Alexander Nash, Alex Sumner. Alex is busy at work when I arrive in the afternoon. He’s sorting orders, looking over measurements, and finalizing a few orders that had come through. There’s a mutual greeting between us both. Without hesitation he makes me feel right at home, which is a much-needed sense on such a busy day. His offices are immaculate—a fresh, crisp palette of just the right amount of simple sartorial tools and fresh flowers. Light jazz plays at just the right volume as if he knows it’s perfect for conversation. I spend some time going through the garments, studying textures, and running my hands through the fabrics. I find myself over-indulged in product (in a good sense). I don’t know where to begin. I see something I love and before I can turn around there’s another piece that trumps the last. They continuously seem to improve. My energy feeds Alex to pull out other samples. We discuss our interest in menswear from the beginnings as well as reminisce that moment that we truly began to understand what it means to be a gentleman. “I remember when I was five, I had gone into the front hall closet and put on my father’s hat and one of his blazers. I walked back in the room and became the center of this theatrical production of sorts. It was then I recognized the transformative power of garments and clothing and how that could alter the way people see you. It really came to wishing when I would travel to the vintage store (he shopped for about 30 solid years).” From his vintage days, he came to understand the art of tailoring to his body. He admits he was a tough fit and most of the vintage garments he had didn’t fit his body perfectly. From this point on, he became immersed in the tailoring and fashion culture. He began gathering fabrics from dealers all over the city and making custom clothing for himself. A hacking pocket here, side vents, let’s make it a double-breasted with a wide lapel. From there, he added beautiful, vibrant silk lining to his jackets. It’s the subtle irregularities that make his work such a work of art. He takes the hand top stitch on a lapel and matches his colors throughout the stitching—something that you would notice if you truly understood the garment you were wearing. Alex’s jackets start as a blank white canvas—and from there he creates. He’s not afraid of colors, tones, textures, and thinking outside the box.
Alex is not only an artist, but an innovator. He’s smart, well-versed in the tailoring world, and extremely humble. You see, Alex isn’t following trends. He isn’t looking through the blogs and the Tumblrs of the world. He goes off what he sees, smells, hears; these are the memories he builds and uses to create works of art in his shop. He let me try on one of his favorite blazers, a light chocolate brown windowpane. It’s honestly the best jacket I have ever tried on. I fell in love, on the spot, not only with the fabric and design itself, but with that euphoric feeling we all get when something truly fits the way it’s supposed to. Yes, we all get goosebumps and gaze at ourselves in the mirror for what seems like hours. I was wearing, in my mind, a piece of art. Alex’s expression seemed to echo the moral of my experience as a whole. Here is a man, whose rise into a tailoring world has been one that has been a continuous educational experience, seeing what his jacket can do to a human being. My reaction was one of genuine admiration for Alex’s work.
In the end, though, the real question is how we can we bring to light this menswear movement and transfer it into a product of longevity. Is this like fashion: just a trend? What will be the true test of time in the rise of the modern gentlemen, a re-vitalized sense of living ,breathing, experiencing what life has to offer. It’s about not being afraid to put on a jacket, for any occasion. Why am I so dressed up? Why are you so dressed down? Understand what goes into your clothes. A hundred years ago we needed tailors. They were part of our every day lives. It’s the story your garments tell, from one generation to another. My motto has and will continue to be “that I one day hope to pass the things I wear down to my sons.” Alexander Nash, like many of the artisan tailors we have seen grown in the States, gives us the opportunity to do so. Alex is one of many that *is* the answer to the modern gentleman. To be completely honest, I’m not sure if I would want it any other way. Special thanks to Alex and Daniel for letting us stop through. Cheers, gents!