THE SECRET OF
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y mission 10 years ago was to make the best jeans in the world; that’s still our mission today,” asserts Agave founder Jeff Shafer. “We started with eight jeans; last year we did $11 million in sales, a record for us, just in men’s. My wife Lauren (who retired from the business 16 years ago to raise our son Jacob) is back as my co-designer. We’ve become a luxury label focused on USA-made quality product.”
How do you compete with bigger brands? I knew the secret of making the best jeans was in the denim. I found the best denims from boutique mills in Japan. I focused on fabric and fit, partnering with a Japanese jeans manufacturer with production and laundry in L.A. that made jeans for Levi’s. They knew how to make a jean authentically and accurately. Agave stands for the highest quality jeans, made in the USA. Our customers know this and appreciate our commitment.
How tough is it to work with your spouse?
2012 MARKS THE 10-YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF THIS COOL COLLECTION. BY KAREN ALBERG GROSSMAN
I wouldn’t be a designer today if it weren’t for Lauren. Two companies ago we started working together: I was the owner and she was doing production. We hit tough times and had to let our designer go, and Lauren encouraged me to do the design myself; she actually taught me how. I found my passion thanks to Lauren and I’ve been trying to get her back to work with me for a long time. Last September, our son Eli started high school and she finally agreed. Here’s why it works: We are equals; we trust each other and don’t compete with one another. We try not to discuss work at home. We have the same taste level but complementary skills. We share values.
A DECADE OF AGAVE What’s the next big thing in denim for spring 2012? The news is COLOR in bottoms! One palette is bright and energetic with a wild side: red, yellow, blue and green. The other is more subdued: white, gray, olive, khaki and rusty orange. Selvedge remains important, along with natural looking washes. Whether it’s rinses, slight abrasions or heavy distressing, it has to look like it happened naturally over a long period of time.
Above: Jeff and Lauren Shafer Left: A look from Agave’s spring collection
T H E
U L T I M A T E
T R O U S E R
THE ULTIMATE FINISHING TOUCH AND THE KEY TO A WELL-DRESSED MAN YOU’RE NEVER FULLY DRESSED WITHOUT...
SPORTCOAT 101: THE EASIEST WAY TO ADD STYLE AND ELEGANCE TO YOUR CASUAL EVERYDAY LOOK
The Ermenegildo Zegna 10-Pocket Blazer
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PHOTOGRAPHY: SERGIO KURHAJEC. STYLING: WENDY MCNETT FOR AGENT OLIVER. GROOMING: TREVOR BOWDEN FOR BERNSTEIN & ANDRIULLI
DON’T MAKE THE MISTAKE OF THINKING THAT JUST BECAUSE IT'S WARM YOU DON’T NEED A SPORTCOAT!
AG JEANS WILL GET YOU NOTICED. BY ELISE M. DIAMANTINI HO ISN’T SEARCHING for the perfect jeans, a pair that is both comfortable and sexy? Seemingly impossible standards for most brands to live up to… but AG isn’t most brands. Mixing that form-fitting silhouette with a lived-in feel is what makes AG denim the hottest on the market. The company launched in 2001 as a collaboration between Mr. Yul Ku and “the Godfather of denim” Adriano Goldschmied. (Ku owns 30-year-old Koos Manufacturing, one of the world’s premier denim factories; Goldschmied co-founded Diesel.) The two parted amicably in 2004 and the brand has been on the up-and-up since Ku’s son Sam became design director in 2006. AG manufactures everything in
its own 400,000 sq. ft. facility in Los Angeles, employing over 1,000 workers. The amount of time and personal attention that goes into each pair is astonishing: from hand-sanding and oven-baked whiskering to new eco-friendly laser technologies that help create that perfect vintage look. “We control every step because we’re a vertical operation,” Sam says. “We don’t take shortcuts, or try to save a few cents here and there with cheaper fabrics or trims. We really care about the product and want our consumer to look and feel good in our jeans.” Premium fabrics are sourced from Japan and Italy, many of which are exclusive to the brand. Recently, AG has also impressed
with its non-denim styles, like super-soft pima cotton cords. In denim and other fabrics alike, Sam highlights colored bottoms as one of spring 2012’s hottest trends. Men should try muted colors like sand and charcoal, while women can experiment with a more diverse range: dusty shades of rose and gray, and saturated brights like electric blue and raspberry. The brand has garnered frequent press attention thanks to its many celebrity devotees, including power couple Gavin Rossdale and Gwen Stefani, and Academy Award nominee Anne Hathaway. But Sam gets most excited when he sees someone—anyone—walking down the street in a pair he designed. “For me, that will never get old!”
Incotex and the other brands of the Slowear group - Montedoro, Zanone and Glanshirt - have made specialization their credo, to give life to garments with a modern, unique and timeless style.
SPRING FASHION TIPS FOR HIM
I’ve had some of my suits for over a decade and they’re holding up pretty well. How do I know when it’s time to replace them?
What can I do to make my casual wardrobe current for spring/summer 2012?
My wife switches her closet every season, but I wear the same suits and slacks all year round. Am I doing something wrong?
Just because your old suits aren’t worn out doesn’t mean they’re still in style. Cuts are slimmer now, so if you haven’t bought a suit since the country had a balanced budget, your closet needs updating! Jackets are also slightly shorter, twobuttons are in and pleated pants are out! The trimmer a suit gets the more important fit becomes, so it’s a good idea to invest in well-made pieces. Ask us to show you how quality canvassing, construction and fabrics all come together to form the perfect fit, one that highlights your shape and moves with you without constraining you. We’ll bring you up to speed with updated models that suit your taste and budget. And don’t forget to pick up a few slimmed-down shirts and ties to complete the new you; nothing ruins the silhouette of a trim suit faster than wearing a large, lumpy shirt under it.
Warm weather sportswear can be casual, but never sloppy. One perfect way to update is with the season’s hottest bottoms: think khaki pants, only slimmed down, in a variety of colors. Make sure they hit just at the top of your shoe, or roll up the bottoms for a more casual look. These new styles pair especially well with washed or vintage polos, worn with a lightweight unconstructed blazer or jacket. It’s a great look that’s pulled together but easy to wear. The boat shoe is also back big this summer, offering a perfect footwear option for casual style. Try them with colorful shorts for day, or dark jeans and a blazer for evening. Driving moccasins are also a cool summer shoe; wear them with fun socks or the new “invisible” socks from V.K. Nagrani.
Yes! While some fabrics can be seasonless here in the Northwest, much of your wardrobe should be adjusted according to the weather. So reorganize your closet, putting aside the heavy wools, flannels and corduroys. Even a classic navy blazer will be much more comfortable in a lighter-weight wool. In fact, when it comes to suits and sportcoats, tropical weight wools are the most breathable (and therefore most comfortable) option for warm weather. Other good choices include linen, cotton and seersucker in lighter colors that reflect the summer heat.
ASKLYNWOOD SPRING FASHION TIPS FOR HER
It seems that prints are everywhere, but I’ve never considered myself a “prints person.” Help!
I love wearing white in the warmer months, but what can I do to add more visual interest to an all-white outfit?
Asymmetric hemlines look great on the runway, but how can I translate the look for real life?
From bold geometrics to dreamy florals, our favorite designers are offering all manner of fabulous prints for 2012. With so many to choose from, there’s something out there for everyone. If you’re new to prints, an easy way to introduce them into your wardrobe is with a flowy, romantic dress or blouse. There are no hard and fast rules, so the most important thing is to come in and start trying things on! Don’t discount anything until you see how it looks on you. We promise to help you find a pretty print you can wear with confidence, and put the spring back in your step this season.
If you thought white was boring, or that you could only wear it a few months out of the year, you might be surprised at the lighthearted—and light colored—fashions that dominated this season’s runways. You can add both newness and longevity to your wardrobe by layering different tones (bright white, cream and taupe) and contrasting textures (pique, eyelet, embroidery and knit). This look is all about approachability and ease, so try a loose, sheer blouse over a georgette cami, or top a silky slipdress with a chunky cardigan. And don’t forget to carefully consider your undergarments, the literal foundation for any white ensemble.
Skirts, dresses and tops with asymmetric cuts are hot right now, so you’ll be remiss if you let their tricky fits scare you away! Don’t be dismayed if you try it on and it doesn’t look exactly like it did on the model. This style is all about proportion, but you can always have a piece tailored and tweaked to flatter your particular shape. Working with your associate is key: he or she can point you toward the pieces that will work for you, help you decide what alterations to make, and suggest the perfect footwear to complete the look.
NEVER COMPROMISE OLD WORLD QUALITY, MODERN STYLE. BY KAREN ALBERG GROSSMAN
ounded in 1923, Samuelsohn is a Montreal-based clothing company with a reputation for excellence based on fine tailoring, luxury fabrics, unusual attention to detail and modern style. For Samuelsohn, fine tailoring means fully-basted canvas construction: there is no glue in the interlinings of their suits, so that the garment maintains its shape, fit and comfort even after repeated cleanings. Their luxury fabrics are from the best mills in Italy and England, featuring cashmere, camel hair, superfine wools, Pima cotton, Italian silk and precious fibers like vicuna and yangir. Hand-tailored details include Bemberg linings, corozo or horn buttons, silk threads and labels, and Italian cotton pocketing. But perhaps Samuelsohn’s real secret weapon is its designer, Arnold Brant Silverstone, who grew up working for his family’s clothing company in Montreal before launching his own in the late 1990s. Respected as one of the most talented designers in the industry, he’s also known for his dapper per-
sonal style. Here, we speak with him about tailored clothing, and about what makes a well-dressed man.
What’s so special about a Samuelsohn suit? It’s about hand-craftsmanship: each suit takes six and a half hours of labor, more than many of the well-known designer brands that are almost twice the price.
Are they made totally by hand? No. If we could automate it all, we would. But there are several processes a machine can’t duplicate: the handbasting, the handsewn armholes, the shoulder. Certain steps can be automated and you won’t see the difference, but others cannot. Most importantly, technol-
Samuelsohn designer Arnold Brant Silverstone
HUGO BOSS FASHIONS INC. Phone +1 212 940 0600
ogy has not been able to duplicate a full canvas garment. Cheaper suits look okay on a hanger since the shape comes from pressing. But after dry cleaning, that shape is gone.
Your suits are known for a certain “expression”—what does this mean? It means the garments are not flat: there’s a certain dimension, a softness, a sexiness. After all, the human body is not flat, so a welltailored suit should also have shape and dimension.
What should guys look for when buying a suit? The most important thing is fit: when you put on the garment, it should make you look better. A well-tailored suit hides myriad imperfections and moves with you. The shoulders should be on you, not out to there. Today, men are wearing suits closer to the body, but that shouldn’t mean you lose comfort. It’s like driving a great sports car and really feeling the road. When you wear a quality suit, it moves with you.
How can guys look elegant when they’re not wearing suits? The biggest problem is when men equate casual with not caring, with
Bond, the Kennedys, Cary Grant, George Clooney… However casual the look, it was well thought-out, not thrown together, reflecting their personal style.
What are the key items a man should have for spring/summer 2012? 1) A great summer suit, maybe a tropical wool in British tan or dove gray. 2) A performance blazer or suit, either with high-twist yarns or some Lycra. Most guys these days are traveling or on the move but there’s no reason not to look crisp… 3) A cool outerwear piece: something reversible or with interior pockets or truly transitional and multi-functional. 4) A soft coat. We’re famous for ours: they look tailored but weigh next to nothing.
What’s the secret of success for a clothing manufacturer? Passion! I’ve been doing this for more than 20 years; I inherited the passion from my parents. But in addition to passion, one needs a spirit of innovation. We’re on top of the latest fabrics, fits, technologies. We’re always pushing the envelope, never satisfied with the status quo. We want the customer to say “WOW!” every time he puts on one of our garments. That’s my passion, and my mission.
CLOTHING THAT’S SPECIAL, WITH THE FOCUS ON FIT, QUALITY AND ELEGANCE. throwing on jeans and a T-shirt. The best-dressed men put thought into dressing: casual might mean beautifully tailored cotton pants and a soft jacket or a lightweight knit cashmere sweater or a cool reversible outerwear piece. Think back to the best-dressed men over the decades: The Rat Pack, James
How would you describe your own personal style? I like to look contemporary: not blending in with the crowd but not blatantly standing out. I like clothing that’s special, with the focus on fit, quality and elegance. That’s the way I like to dress and the kind of clothing I love to design!
THE ROW DOES IT RIGHT
“NO MATTER THE SILHOUETTE, WE STICK TO OUR CORE PRINCIPLES OF GREAT FABRIC AND FIT.” —MARY-KATE OLSEN
When Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen launched their highly publicized luxury apparel and accessories collection back in 2007, there were many skeptics. Just because a girl is beautiful, rich, famous and sought after doesn’t mean she can design! (And that goes double when there are two of them!) How the skeptics were wrong! Today, New York-based designers Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen are selling their cool, contemporary apparel to fashionable women everywhere. How did they do it? THE ROW
has always emphasized the classics: the label’s initial mission was to make the perfect T-shirt. With each collection, the pieces became more innovative without becoming overly trendy or straying too far from this classic aesthetic. “We start each season by pulling together images of people and places that inspire us.” The finest fabrics are chosen early in the creative process to help inform each collection. Ashley describes the spring/summer 2012 designs as
“equally modern and tribal” featuring easy, relaxed silhouettes. The designers used a broad ivory palette, with elements of pale blue and a sea animal paisley print, for a very ethereal result. Where will they go from here? Will the designers ever make dramatic changes in their vision for the label? “THE ROW will continue to evolve, but our foundation will always be classic, wearable clothing,” Ashley insists. In fact, asked what they’d do differently, both designers agree that they wouldn’t have changed a thing. “Everything we’ve done has led us to where we are,” says Mary-Kate. “We trust our instincts and keep moving forward.” Ashley and Mary-Kate were named members of The Council of Fashion Designers of America in 2009, a very prestigious honor for a young company. They plan to move steadily ahead, growing the business and expanding their categories with a steadfast focus. Asked to offer advice to aspiring young designers, both jump at the opportunity. Says Ashley: “Establish a clear vision and stay true to it.” As for Mary-Kate, she believes that no matter how talented and/or creative the designer, taking a business course or two never hurts…
ALL IMAGES BY NEAL PRESTON
CELEBRITY, LUXURY, QUINTESSENTIAL STYLE: THIS COLLECTION HAS IT ALL! BY KELSEY WHITE
TAILORED TO PERFECTION
100 YEARS LATER, OLD-WORLD CRAFTSMANSHIP MEETS MODERN TECHNOLOGY. BY WILLIAM KISSEL
RMENEGILDO ZEGNA’s new Milano suit for spring 2012 is an
Zegna suits in a range of colorful natural fabrics that appear to be bleached by the sun.
exquisitely detailed work of art that, one could say, took the Italian clothier a century to perfect. Just in time for the luxury menswear brand’s 100th anniversary, the Milano is a super-soft study in sartorial chic that combines a slim shape, gently fitted waist and natural, semi-constructed shoulders. Like all Zegna suits this season, the new Milano, available in both single and doublebreasted, is interpreted in a range of colorful natural fabrics that appear to be bleached by the sun, with an everso-slight sheen reminiscent of sharkskin clothing from the 1950s. But the Milano is tailored with a decidedly modern sensibility. The jacket is cut slightly shorter and features just a hint more interior canvas—as many as three layers— for structure, yet the finished garment remains remarkably lightweight. The defining element is the barchetta, or boat-shaped breast pocket, a sewing detail that can only be achieved by hand. Initially a cloth producer and later a suit and sportswear maker, Ermenegildo Zegna (pronounced zane-ya) has perfected the art of lighter-than-air suit making like no other designer label in history. The Trivero, Italy-based mega-brand not only constructs all of its own suits in factories around the world (prompting the company to introduce the slogan ‘Made in Zegna’), but the family-owned company
Castel del Monte - Andria
has pioneered everything from the technically advanced fabrics used to make its suits to the su mesura, or made-to-measure, concept often employed to sell them.
HAT MAKES AN ERMENEGILDO ZEGNA SUIT SO SPECIAL—espe-
cially the made-to-measure variety—can only be answered by slipping into one. Each piece is a labor of love tailored to your exact specifications, in the fabric of your choice. You can select the number of pockets and even the buttons and whether or not they work. Moreover, it will be made with such attention to detail that your every physical anomaly—from sloping shoulders and a thrown back to a hollow chest or an enlarged abdomen—is actually masked by the finished garment. (Buying one of these suits is a far better option than going under the doctor’s knife.) “By the time a made-to-measure suit is complete over 500 hands will have touched it and more than 7,000 hand stitches will have been used to create it,” explains image director Anna Zegna. Zegna workers have a hand in every step, from shearing the sheep through the processing of the fiber into yarn (and then fine fabrics), to the cutting and sewing of every jacket using a combination of modern machinery and hand finishing. “The perfect fit of a Zegna suit comes from constructing it with 100 pieces; the lining alone comprises 12 separate components,” adds Zegna. After each piece is precision cut, it passes through the hands of hundreds of tailors, whose singular purpose is to turn one-dimensional pieces of cloth into a three-dimensional garment
THE SECRET of a Zegna suit isn’t just the meticulous way it’s put together, but the innovative cloth used to make it. The company’s founder and namesake, Ermenegildo Zegna, began as a fabric maker in 1910 with the creation of a natural wool weighing roughly 350 grams per square meter, considered featherweight by early 20th-century standards. Today, most Zegna fabrics weigh in at a fraction of that and include such technical advances as Trofeo, a worsted wool made of prestige Australian superfine merino wool with long fibers for added strength and resiliency; and the latest 13milmil13, a vicuna-like fabric made from
merino yarns measuring less than 13 microns. (To appreciate how exceptional this is, one need only reflect on the fact that a human hair measures roughly 50 to 60 microns.) The development of such fine micron wools is the result of Zegna’s 1963 initiative, the Vellus Aureum trophy, which motivates and awards Australia and New Zealand’s sheep farmers who produce these ultra-fine wools. Pioneering fabrics for spring include Zero Weight, a blend of superfine merino wool and silk with a yarn count of 600—the finest silk quality in the world. The company is also moving forward with last year’s Cool Effect, in which fine Australian
worthy of the most discriminating clientele. The waistband, fly and belt loops on a pair of trousers can require more than 20 workers, and it takes the efforts of another 24 tailors to construct the sleeves of a jacket; nearly 190 sewers are involved in creating the body of a single jacket. Even the act of sewing a simple buttonhole “can take an eternity of careful cutting and stitching,” says Zegna. Once the fabric has been cut, corresponding pieces are carefully bundled and passed down to the tailors and sewers to construct the
wool is finished to enable dark fabrics to reflect heat like lightcolored ones. The result: a cloth that keeps the wearer 10 degrees cooler than if he were wearing an untreated fabric. “Fabric represents Zegna’s heritage and it’s the primary focus of our innovation,” says Anna Zegna, noting that the brand offers more than 700 cloth options, including 200 new fabrics each season, as part of its made-to-measure suit service. Over the course of the company’s 100-year history, “Zegna has invented over 20 unique and innovative fabrics in various colors, patterns and textures, which have become staples of our collection.”
garment, which can take as long as four days to wind its way through the 110-step production cycle. Upon completion each suit undergoes an arduous pressing process performed by dozens of workers: six to press the slacks and another 22 to press and hand-iron the jacket before it receives its final inspection. If the finished garment meets the company’s lofty standards, it is literally given the Zegna seal of approval as the signature logo is sewn in place.
IN THE 1960s film La Dolce Vita, main character Marcello Rubini (played to perfection by Marcello Mastroianni) wears a series of form-fitting two-button suits featuring curvaceous lapels, soft natu68
ral shoulders and cigarette-cut slacks. When not wearing a shirt and tie, he opts for Johnny collar knit shirts accented with a scarf or ascot, casually knotted at the neck in a way only the most debonair Italian men are capable of pulling off with effectiveness. No one ever second guesses the character’s (supposedly a journalist) sense of style. Forget the fact that no American journalist— except the occasional fashion editor or perhaps the novelist Tom Wolfe—dresses with such unabashed sartorial flair. In Italy, whether students, statesmen or street sweepers, most men naturally possess a sense of chic that eludes the rest of us. Italians grow up in a culture where sartorial style is taken for granted. “We have a native predisposition for elegance and style, a characteristic that has been developed and improved upon over time,” explains Elisabetta Canali, scion of the Canali clothing family. “Good taste and savoir faire are just a part of the Italian culture.” By way of tailors (found on every street corner), Italian men learn about fine fabrics, the importance
IMAGE BY MICHAEL POLIZA PHOTOGRAPHY
DISCOVER YOUR INNER ITALIAN
PITTI IMMAGINE UOMO / TOMMY TON
DRESS LIKE YOU WERE BORN INTO LA DOLCE VITA. BY WILLIAM KISSEL
FIND OUT ALL ABOUT THE L.12.12 POLO SHIRT ON LACOSTE.COM/L1212
of a razor-sharp fit and how to mix and match shirts, ties and accessories. Moreover, through experience and experimentation they discover that a suit with a high armhole isn’t necessarily tight and uncomfortable—just the opposite, in fact. Most important, they train
gance, sophistication and timeless style are always better than of-themoment trends, which will date the wearer,” offers Giorgio Armani. “As for style, a two-button suit is more timeless than a three- or a one-button. A single-breasted is more versatile than double, allowing you to dress your suit up or down more freely and use the jacket as a separate more easily.” Finally, says Mr. Armani, “Confidence and a sense of humor make a man sexy.” Dressing like an Italian is about discovering a sense of balance, proportion, color and pattern. One can begin to develop Italian-esque style with a few simple tricks: • Wear dark sunglasses, Mastroianni style, in any weather. • Don loafers without socks. • Drape and loosely knot a colorful sweater over your shoulders. • Carry an oversized bag across your chest. • Secure your necktie with a knot large enough to land a small plane on. • Add a notice-me belt (white is an option even in winter) to bring a touch of panache to your jeans. • Wear a coordinating top coat over your suit or sportcoat.
and flat-front trousers. He also recommends brown suede shoes with most outfits to give your look a sporty yet sophisticated edge. The Cucinelli formula is equally distinctive: trim-cut gray flannel slacks or jeans, a knit shirt and/or pullover sweater, and a gray cashmere blazer with suede elbow patches and a turned up collar. Since Armani invented his slouchy suits in the ’80s, few designers until Cucinelli have seen their “look” adopted by such an eclectic assortment of men—from the 70year-old businessman to the 25year-old college student. “I think it’s very important how we put things together,” says Cucinelli, one of the few Italian designers who espouses facial hair with his cashmere blazers. “I like to show clothing, even tailored pieces, in a sporty chic way that is ageless. Because when I’m 50 years old, like everyone else, I want to look younger,” adds the designer (who claims to be 49, despite what it says on his birth certificate). Cucinelli designs each piece so it can be worn on its own and in a variety of ways. “A 25-year-old man is not going to wear a classic pinstripe suit,” he says, suggesting
“ELEGANCE, SOPHISTICATION AND TIMELESS STYLE ARE ALWAYS BETTER THAN OF-THE-MOMENT TRENDS.”—GIORGIO ARMANI themselves not to be afraid of color for fear of being bullied or judged. Just as “it is important for men to choose the right silhouette in order to feel most comfortable, it is equally important to work with color to give each outfit some excitement,” adds Canali. “A man should look for a suit he can wear, and not a suit that will wear him. In other words, ele-
• Consider flat-front red pants or white jeans. If you’re worried about remembering these rules, turn to a designer collection, like Luciano Barbera or Brunello Cucinelli, for inspiration that can help make the process a bit easier. Barbera prefers a bit of formality in his check cashmere sportcoats, worn with crisp cotton shirts, wool ties
that a tailored gray cashmere blazer over khakis or jeans can be equally elegant, depending on the man wearing it. Bottom line: open your mind and experiment with your wardrobe to find your perfect style. After all, you may be able to afford a Gucci suit or Prada loafers, but that cash register receipt doesn’t come with a diploma in style.
MARIO’S FORUM SPRING 2012