As an American and a frequent Amtrak Acela Washington, DC to New York Penn traveler, I can’t help but comment on the EuroStar passenger rail service.  What is commonplace in Europe and some other parts of the world, is always a wonderful experience for me.  Traveling EuroStar style between Florence and Milan at almost 300 kilometers per hour taking in the beautiful Italian countryside was joyous.  Now I did upgrade to first this time, so the seat was a bit more comfy, but the last time I had this experience it was in economy, and short of the drink service it was just as wonderful.

Alton Eurostar

 

If you are in the market for new and lesser known brands with wonderful offerings, then Pitti Uomo in Florence, Italy is a must do.  It is an expansive event spread across several buildings, and there is something for every type taste.  It is also one of the best places on the planet….yes that’s right, to take in men’s street style.  BDMOTP candidates at every turn.  My team and I attended over three days, braved the heat, and covered a lot of territory.

I encountered many brands that I had not heard of, several that in my opinion are outstanding.  Among my favorites are:

Tabacchi

Great line of casual coordinated pieces.

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Viacomte A

Beautifully tailored garments, with a preppy French flavor.  Ralph Lauren-esque.

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Brodska

Frankfurt based designer and manufacturer of pocket squares, scarves, and neck ties.

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Pasotti

For the man who has everything, they offer a line of beautiful umbrellas, walking sticks and shoe horns.

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Check out our Pitti Uomo Day 1 and Pitti Uomo Day 2 Recaps for more info!

 

It is fairly easy moving around Florence, Italy if you are comfortable with a map.  Even then there are a few major landmarks that help….Santa Maria Novella train station, Duomo, and River Arno.  Great city for walking, and walking, and walking, and walking.  Chatting with a gentleman he mentioned that some friends were averaging 11 miles per day on their pedometer over a few days.  I didn’t have a pedometer with me, but I am certain I eclipsed that figure on a couple days.  Just have comfortable shoes…no revelation there.

Getting a taxi on the other hand can be a bit of a challenge.  Unlike New York City, London, or most other large cities for that matter, you cannot just step to the curb and hail a taxi.  You need to call for a taxi or reserve one the day before.  On busy days like Pitti Uomo, even when you call ahead, you may be waiting.

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Waiting for a taxi…waiting…and waiting…

We walked to Fortezza da Basso, the Pitti Uomo venue, after it became apparent that our taxi was not showing up.  The walk turned out to be not so bad.  We got a jump on our 11 miles for the day!

London Collections Men SS14 – Days two and three were packed with more exhibits, presentations and runway shows.  First up was to Hunter Gather.  The HG shop felt good and the clothes chic casual.  My favorite piece was a real funky T-shirt, in an eye-catching black and white print with a mint green collar.  It would add a little color to an otherwise basic black and white ensemble.

Hunter Gather (4)

Next was the Olebar Brown presentation, with a theme that takes us to Monaco.  They offered a great line of casual wear in unique shades, Riviera Blue and Marshall Orange.  Something for the yacht owner, gran prix driver, fan and pit crew.  A merchandised line of pieces perfect for strolling Bd des Moulins or Av Atlantica for that matter.  By the way for you intrepid executives, I recommend the Design Suite with Panoramic view at the Le Meridien Hotel in Monaco.  Sweet curved rooms with “the” view.  Now back to overcast London.

orlebar brown

Then to the Hospital Club and spent time with Frank Phillips of  ToBeFrank, Jae Wan Park, and ESK cashmere company.

TOBEFRANK blazer with velvet lining

TOBEFRANK jacket with velvet lining

In between all of that I stopped by Victoria House to see a couple of brands that I met at this same event in January 2013.  The most exciting shoe designer Diego Vanassibara and a great accessories brand Marwood.  Both of which we have big plans for!

Alton with Diego Vanassibara´s line of shoes

Marwood (4)

We also stopped in on the Oliver Spencer runway show.  Tailored as expected with his combinations of colors and fabrics.  My favorite piece was a navy peacoat with brown collar trim.  Very well done.

Oliver Spencer

I ended Day Two at the Marylebone Cricket Club.  The Savile Row Association put on a phenomenal event, The English Gentleman, showcasing what seemed to be 100 ensembles designed and produced by Savile Row shops.  Difficult to pick just one, but one of my favorites was by Edward Sexton.  It was a pistachio sports jacket worn with White Oxford Bags, and shoes by Manolo Blahnik.   You can read more about the event in our post on The Savile Grand Match.  

Savile Row (11)

On Day Three we had time for one show before taking off for Florence.  The James Long runway  show was a splash of color.  Wonderful separates with sublimated horizontal print patterns.  Splashes of color for a season.

James Long

For more on these designers, visit our Day 2 runway show post and our Day 2 presentation post.  

Flights delayed, missed my connection, got bumped from AA to BA, but eventually found my way to London to begin my European Mens Fashion Weeks tour.  The first event, London Collections Men SS14 – Day One started for me and my team at the Hentsch Man Presentation.  Casual pieces that all looked  comfortable yet rugged.  One piece in particular caught my eye, a gold jacket sported well by model Chris Chasseaud.  We are off to a good start at LCM.

Gold Jacket Hentsch Man talking to Alton

We then scurried over to the Spencer Hart runway show.  When we entered the room to the sounds of James Brown, I had a good feeling about the show.  Once they broke into Parliament Funkadelic “Knee Deep” as the show began, I knew it was on!  As I danced in my seat, I enjoyed and appreciated the entire line.  Moderately edgy yet very wearable, top to bottom.  My favorite piece was a blue linen topcoat.

Spencer Hart

Although a bit jet-lagged the shows/presentations offered just enough excitement to get me underway and through the day.

The Hakan Akkaya Show at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Istanbul was the show I enjoyed most.  Beautifully tailored menswear of wonderful fabrics, solids and plaids.

Alton Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Istanbul

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2013-03-15 Hakan Akkaya

A few of my favorite looks.  In that lot, my favorite piece in the show, a plaid top coat.  Might have to get one.

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Hakan my friend.  Send me that coat!

You can find out more about Hakan Akkaya at his website.

While in town for Mercedes Benz Fashion Week, I found a little time to do menswear shopping in Madrid. With no destination in mind, I took off from my hotel, the Urban on Carerra San Jeronimo, to see what I could see. On my way to Puerta del Sol I ran head on into a protest (see “Protesting….” post), so I reversed course and walked with them a bit to support the people.  After a few blocks I turned off and headed to Gran Via.

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I came across a nice menswear store named Cortefiel. I hadn’t heard of them, but they are a Spanish company with many stores throughout Spain. Several nice mid-priced items on the main level. I debated a navy DB casual knit jacket, but passed because it was a bit too close to a sweater that I have. It was nice though. Then went down to the basement and was pleasantly surprised. Very nice full line of mid range pieces. Great value, quality for price, on sweaters and suits. I pushed a few racks and found a sweater that I liked. I knew that the silhouette worked for me because I have something close, but it was a dark green color which I did not have. It looked great on and was on the sale rack so I couldn’t pass it up.

Cortefiel green sweater

I pushed on and went into Nino’s. A very small boutique, that I might have walked by but a sweater in the window called me in. I tried the sweater, but it didn’t work for me. I looked further and found a sweater with a unique leahter closure on the shoulder. It looked great when I tried it and the price was reasonable so I bought it. I must admit that in my haste, I did not check the content label, and once I got back to the Urban I discovered it was acrylic. A fabric that I generally stay away from because they peel sometime, but at the price I’ll get over it and see how the fabric performs.

Cortefiel  gray sweater

Next stop was my most exciting find, a boutique called Eduardo Rivera.  It was full of great items but I did not have time to check them out properly. Check out the pictures. I assured the manager that I would have Lori, our multi-talented Madrid specialist, come by and do a follow-up post on the shop. I’ll definitely look forward to spending more time there on my next trip to wonderful Madrid.

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Madrid is a great place to find nice garments reasonably priced.

Tip

1.  Be certain to take the time to check out the fabric content in a new garment purchase to fully appreciate the value.

While there for Mercedes Benz Fashion Week I was going out to do a little shopping when I walked head on into a group protesting in the streets of Madrid.  As many of you know, the economy in Spain is facing severe challenges, not least of which is high unemployment.  In particular for young people, with more than 50% with no job.  This protest was well organized and the people resolute.  Out of respect and solidarity I turned around and joined them, if only for a moment!

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This particular protest was about the need for transparency and information.  Public radio and television are very important medium to get information to the masses.

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If you are exploring opportunities for a holiday, add Spain to your list.  Beautiful country…beautiful people.

Spending some time down south(USA) for the holidays, I had plans to do some after Christmas sale shopping in New Orleans on December 26, 2012. I was staying at the Loew’s Hotel on Poydras St. which is a short walk to Canal Place Shopping Mall. My favorite place for after Christmas sale shopping in New Orleans is Saks. How do I know?…I’ve done this sale many times.

It’s not New York City, so it’s a smaller store. For the fewer more stylish guys in this smaller market, there are many wonderful items to choose from after Christmas and less competition for them. This season did not disappoint, as there were lots of great pieces to desire.

I got up early on the 26th and walked over as they were opening the doors. My strategy for this sale is to quickly peruse the racks looking for complementary pieces to round out my wardrobe. I pushed and pushed racks, collecting pieces for a couple hours.

What did I pick up?

Hugo Boss Orange Label Navy Jacket from Saks

Hugo Boss Orange label navy jacket. Great fit and concept.

Vince bd Black Sweater Saks

Vince Double breasted sweater in black.

I have this exact sweater in navy, and like the fit and look so much I had to have it in black. Here is a case where patience paid off, because I had seen this sweater in Saks Chevy Chase, but decided not to spring for it at the regular price. Saved some lunch money!

MK Pinstripe Jacket Saks

Michael Kors Flannel pinstripe Jacket with zip in lining. A cool look to keep warm.

MK Sweater Jacket

Michael Kors sweater jacket. A unique piece.

Gucci Patent Leather Shoe

Gucci Formal black patent shoe.

Suede Lace Up Boot

Suede lace up boot in brown.

Bally Red Driving Slippers

Bally Italian driving slipper in red to match my red Italian sports car.

I’m pleased with my purchases at Saks, as each piece is wonderful and at these prices a great value. A couple I never would have bought at this point, if they weren’t aggressively on sale. I spent a couple grand yet saved about a grand. Not bad.

For a break from a 38th parallel Northern hemisphere December, Singapore is a great destination. Well, once I got there anyway. For you intrepid executives out there, I did DCA-JFK-HND-SIN, 23 hours out and SIN-NRT-JFK-DCA, 31 hours(extended layover at Narita) on the return flight. Got rained on a bit while there as well, but the weather was mostly great compared to what I left in DC.

I chose the Grand Hyatt on Scotts Road because I wanted to be near the main shopping district on Orchard Road. After an afternoon and night of sleep to recalibrate, the next day I got out and walked around Orchard Road. The street was bustling and everyone was out, all social and economic strata. I popped in a few of the malls on the street, and saw all of the usual suspects…venerable global brands that you would find in NYC or London. I know that I overlooked them or didn’t know where to look, but I didn’t see much in the way of mens boutiques that was unique or remarkable. (I later had drinks with my B-school buddy Laurent, a fellow BDMOTP who now lives there, and he mentioned a couple nice boutiques but I didn’t get to check them out this trip…next time)

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Although not in the Orchard Road district, I heard about a custom shoe boutique, ed et al, and wanted to make certain that I visited before leaving Singapore. I took a 15 minute taxi ride out and found it on the side of what seems to be a small apparel mart called The Mill.

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I took a look around the shop then spent a little time with the owner of the boutique, Edwin Neo. He gave me the basics on the different product lines and the particulars of their custom made(from S$800) and bespoke(from S$1500 + one time S$1000 last) shoe processes.

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Bespoke is a pretty straightforward process, but you need to be in the city for a few days to come back for multiple fitting. This was a problem for me, as I was flying the next day with no plans to return.

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Not to worry, there are many wonderful off the rack shoes to choose from for a realtime purchase. To make sure I saw as much of the line as possible, everything is not on display in the boutique, a salesperson brought me a catalog and offered a drink. Several styles caught my eye as I sipped a bottle of water, but a taupe lace up boot really stood out. I tried them, they looked great, are well made, and are a reasonable price(S$350.) so I bought them.

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I thanked Edwin for a wonderful experience and promised to see him for a bespoke appointment on my next visit to beautiful Singapore.
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The next time you are in Singapore, visit with Edwin at ed et al, and make sure you tell him that Alton from BDMOTP suggested you stop by.
ed et al @ The Mill
5B, Jalan Kilang
Singapore 159405
HP: (+65) 8383 2685
Skype: edetal
edwin@edetal.sg
Tips
1. The shop is on a small side street, so make sure to plot the location on a map to hand to your driver beforehand.
2. Ask to see their catalogs, as everything that is available is not on display in the store.
3. Remember, if you want a bespoke, make certain you can arrange multiple fittings.

While at The Mill, I stumbled upon a custom tailor, Kevin Seah Bespoke, in the building and popped in to take a look at their offerings. They did very nice work, had some nice linen pieces on display, but a bit pricey for a whim purchase. However, it is certainly a place I’ll plan a proper visit to on my next trip to Singapore and will also check out on Facebook.

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Finally, after grabbing a bite (in some mall, I don’t recall the name), I came across a wonderful Asian textile company by the name of Sahib. They had some of the nicest shirts I have seen in the most beautiful fabrics. I was rushing so I did’t buy anything, but will certainly plan a visit again. These shirts could be the focal point of any ensemble. They also had a host of other interesting items, including storage trunks, and some womenswear as well.

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Plan to visit these boutiques when in Singapore. It is worth your time.

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