Bow Ties Sydney, Australia - Le Noeud Papillon - Specialists In Self Tying Bow Ties


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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Groucho Marx On Dick Cavett - A Truly Wonderful Experience


I cannot say I immediately warmed to Groucho Marx the first time I watched a Marx Brothers film, which I believe was Duck Soup. Like other great comedians, in which I include Woody Allen, Sasha Cohen, Ricky Gervais and Larry David, in order for them to get a certain reaction from an audience they often do things which make you very uncomfortable or in the very least they are cringe worthy.

Of all these great comedians I mention, many are easy to get to know outside of their entertainment because they would give interviews from time to time but Groucho Marx was from a different era and I don't think I had ever bothered to search for interviews where he was present.

However, recently, in trying to find a biography that I could read on him and the Marx brothers, I stumbled upon this celebrated interview he conducted with television host Dick Cavett in 1969. It is the first portrait of Marx I have outside of his on-screen character and one I wish to share with our readers if you have a spare hour.

Marx was born in 1890 so this interview makes him 79 years of age and really, he is so sharp and so on the ball, a truly great comic mind and such a delight to see him in colour.


Friday, February 17, 2017

A Diamond Point Always Bodes Well For The International Groom


It's lovely to see our bow ties turn up in all sorts of places and when we were tagged last night at a wedding in Lake Como, Italy (which is a stones throw from where a portion of our silks are woven),  I had a rather big smile on my face. To think that around ten years ago I walked through the streets of Como trying to find out how silk was made and writing a blog post about it, to now seeing my products being worn in Como for weddings, still made in Australia, well that was worth smiling about.

Congratulations to the bride and groom and remember, a diamond point bow tie is very easy to tie and stows very easily in your pocket. The perfect sort of bow tie to take travelling, especially if you are carrying a few of them for yourself and your wedding party, and very easy to tie. 







Many Thanks Alexander Kraft

The CEO of Sotheby's International Realtor in France is also considered one of the 50 most rakish men alive according to The Rake Magazine. Wherever Alexander Kraft goes he takes a fair bit of euro-chic with him and certainly he has been on our radar for many years and he was also the feature model for Cifonelli who we interviewed some time back in 2016 when they were launching their RTW line. 

It was a pleasure to see our eye shades pop up the other week in his instagram feed along with a super pair of Stefano Bemer tasselled slippers. 

If you don't already follow Alexander, perhaps consider watching what he is up to here



I'm Getting Older So I Don't Like Skinny Ties Anymore


Recently I picked up some glorious ties from Tie Deals and I knew exactly what I was looking for. In my late 20's I was still playing around with 'fashion' - that is, I was just slim enough to try and wear a skinny neck tie or slide myself into Christian Dior jeans or a tapered YSL jacket. That was around 2007, just before the world economy tanked and I got rid of my credit cards.

These days I am less liberal with my money and, being an internet shopper just like most of my blog readers and website customers, I really only go in for the kill when I see something that's particularly stand out, as is the case below with both the Borrelli and Marinella ties, both from Neapolitan makers.

I would say I buy ties rarely and reluctantly - in many respects because we make great ties and in others because the only time I'd need a tie I couldn't make myself is where I don't produce that particular fabric.

And these two are exactly that. Two printed silk twill ties, one which is a classic navy with white polka dots, the other a wonderful contrast tie for a navy silk in a kind of latte/cream ground with blue floral geometric motif.

Both houses are famed for ties but perhaps Marinella more so. The stories that I hear surrounding Marinella have been few, some of which are that Drakes of London used to make their ties, that the silk is sourced from England and that each year when new ties were released at Christmas there would be a line running down and around the street. Of Borrelli I have heard less, but I am aware of the quality that they are renowned for and having owned a Borrelli shirt many years ago I would agree.

The other reason, apart from the look of the ties, is that I am now chasing a wider tie for the breadth of my chest and shoulders, given that, as I am ageing, I have steadily put on more and more flesh in my torso, not necessarily fat, but size. And that size doesn't seem to be decreasing, so a smaller tie is beginning to look ridiculous on me. 

I had always laughed when I picked up my father's old ties that were 9.5 and 10cm - but it seems we have come full circle, with my recent acquisitions being 8.5cm and 9.5 respectively. 

Both the presentation and make of these ties is impeccable but if I had to fault them I would say this. Silk twill is very light, especially in some ties like the Borrelli pictured below. In order to give the tie balance and weight, a heavy interlining is usually sourced to bring more body to the otherwise flimsy twill. However, sometimes this creates a less than ideal handle, where the weight of the interlining is overpowering on the tie because it is being used to keep the tie together, like a very heavy anchor. The Marinella tie was also superb but the silk seemed very slippery to touch and you can feel when you grab a silk twill tie, almost immediately, as to whether it will knot well or be sliding all over the place. I will knot it a few times over the weekend but certainly the balance between the interlining and the silk was perhaps superior to the Borrelli tie. 

I love both ties, I am sure I will keep them for years, but there is something to be said for woven silk jacquards over printed silk twills - one is not necessarily better than the other, but on jacquards you really can rely on the body of the fabric to make the tie and it's handle, not relying on interlining to build up the body. Whereas finding the right interlining and ensuring the silk has the correct handle and feel is so important to a printed silk twill tie. 





Thursday, February 9, 2017

Finally - Some Charismatic Leadership In Australian Politics

So far as folklore goes, nobody in Australia seems to have more than Kerry Packer and Ned Kelly. With regards to Packer, one of the things he once said which has become part of his folklore is "I'd never want to get between Malcolm Turnbull and a bag of money". Probably this comment was not that Malcolm Turnbull was money hungry as much as it was that Turnbull seemed a worthy adversary for Packer with a carefully sharp legal grounded mind and the ability to go hard and cruel if needs be to protect his interests.

Fast forward to 2017 and mostly all we've ever seen is Malcolm In The Middle, Malcolm back peddling, Malcom compromising, Malcolm constantly trying to justify himself, Malcolm trying to be very careful with his words, Malcolm always trying to carry his QiGong with him to present himself as calm and relaxed, even under intense fire. Even when Malcolm was right (mobile phone technology and data services would eventually outstrip the need for NBN so we were better off with fibre to the node to save money), everybody still threw rocks at him.

Then on Sunday night I watched Laurie Oakes, that masterful political commentator who has been with us for so long and through so much, prodded Turnbull in a manner which resembled someone getting right under Turnbull's nostrils with a knitting needle and jabbing it very hard up his nose. Turnbull tried so hard to be careful with his words but you could see he might have, if he'd indulged himself, said something like "listen here Laurie you fat fuck, what have you ever done with your life" - but he didn't. There was Malcolm smiling, holding back his grimace, his forehead showing deep furrows of a man who was getting hammered day in day out. Today it was that Sean Spicer didn't even know how to pronounce his name (#Trunbull), the following day Cory Bernardi was trying to run off with a portion of his party.

Then on Wednesday something changed. Malcolm Turnbull finally - most probably because he was with his back so hard up against the wall - snapped. And he stopped trying to be the composed and unruffled Malcolm and instead he got up and pulled out his acerbic tongue and lashed it at the Opposition leader Bill Shorten. What he said was rough and mean spirited but it was, possibly for the first time in his political life, that we finally got to meet Malcolm Turnbull. The fighter. The man who won't lie down taking it forever. The guy who had been pushed around and maligned as Mr. Harbourside Mansion for too long and without any real retribution. And what came back was frighteningly real and possibly the first glimpse of what Kerry Packer was afraid of. A sharp mind chomping through Bill Shorten like a Great White Shark taking out a seal. Because the truth was that Shorten wasn't 'one of the people' and he wasn't 'for the people' either, his insincere speech after he knifed Julia Gillard was the thing that gave it away from my perspective. And these politicians think the people are stupid, but the average Joe like me isn't that dumb and can sniff out when someone is not honest with themselves or with others.

Most importantly, it was a genuine shellacing that came from Turnbull and what Bill Shorten lacked, was that he was disingenuous, even when he was delivering his smarmy and dull repeated insult of Mr. Harbourside Mansion. So Malcolm spoke the truth, even though it was a nasty one - and boy will that go down in history as one of the most animal like attacks in parliament, Keating-esque in its delivery, but very Turnbull in its ferocity.

Maybe that is what Australia needs more than anything - someone who speaks his mind and isn't always trying to kowtow to their party, someone that isn't going to be insulted every day because he made money in business - and no, I don't support Donald Trump!

I am not entirely for Malcolm Turnbull - but for the first time I was happy to see him be himself and hopefully he will harness more of that feeling - that he has nothing to fear or lose. If his party knocks him off his perch, so be it. At least he won't die on his knees.






Sunday, February 5, 2017

Gold Boxes For All Bows Ordered This Weekend


To further entice you to indulge in the Dutch Auction Sale we are offering our limited edition gold boxes on all bows ordered this weekend ending Sunday 5th February. Just a nice little additional touch, and certainly a lovely way to send a gift. Shop the codes live now on the website. 


A Reminder - We Close Out The Sale Shortly


This Dutch Auction has probably been the least successful of all that we've held and it is a great wonder to me since we are offering some of the best products we've ever made. Whether it's Donald Trump and the state of the world right now or that it might be a changing of seasons, too hot Down Under, too cold up North, time will tell. But right now, all I see is great product that nobody is claiming. Hopefully some of you will stop past the Dutch Auction Sale, otherwise, you are welcome to come pay retail at our Sydney Studio. 


Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Silk Eye Shades - Quite The Turn On For Valentine's Day

Someone recently asked me "when you do you wear your eye shades?" and I think he was asking it suggesting that it was something of a novelty never-to-be-used but very ornamental kind of product. As if the next barbed question was "sell many of them?" . 

I responded in earnest "I use them every day" and I really do. I wear them when I meditate, I wear them to avoid sometimes the annoying lights from mobile phones and charging cables and docks and radio alarms. I use them whenever I just needs "lights out" and, music to my ears, the customers that have bought them feel the same. One customer who bought six pairs at Christmas gave them to a celebrity Sydney couple and when I saw him recently he said that they thanked him for the gift and use them..... every day. Especially the wife, who apparently fell in love with them from day one.

You see, unlike most other eye shades, ours are made of woven jacquard silk which encompasses the whole shade. Silk, being a natural protein mono filament derived from silk worms which weave the filament around the cocoon, is made of two proteins, fibroin and serecin. These proteins are very similar to human skin which is why we have such a natural predilection towards silk, its smooth and doesn't irritate our skin. It's why surgeons use it in sewing humans up after surgery.

We then add on the inside a felted wool we get from South Australia which makes this delightful padded wall between the silk that comfortably rests across the nose and eyes and forms the density which means light doesn't penetrate. 

You could wax lyrical all day about them but put simply, they are comfortable, beautiful and functional.

Meditating, sleeping, travelling, siestas, mindfulness and sun bathing - there are no two ways about it, our eye shades are beneficial to all those who own them. www.lenoeudpapillon.com


Sunday, January 29, 2017

A Selection Of Still Lifes To Help Entice You Away From The Doom And Gloom And Help You Focus On Our Sale


For those of our blog readers that work in offices on salaries, I envy you. Apart from the routine jargon and associated games of having to jump up and down when it comes time to assess your KPI's and whatever other bullshit the corporation throws in front of you, I think it would be nice to be able to turn up to an office and know that you specialise in your job, and the guy on the other side of the floor does his. Given that I work on my own, probably the use of the word 'guy' is no longer welcomed in your world and I ought to switch out to 'person'. I envy you. Not always though.

To run a small business is to wear many hats. I am the designer, the cutter, sometimes the seamtress (is there a male equivalent), the janitor, accounts receivable, accounts payable, new business development, the finance director, the chairman, business ethics, IT, human resources and, most importantly, the buck stops with me. 

If I don't meet my deadlines, I have nobody else to blame. If I run late to work there are no excuses, I miss out on sales. If I don't answer my emails I can't blame it on the IT department. This is an emotional roller coaster. Sometimes I will get ten enquiries in one day and drop off 100 units of black stock to one customer, 25 to another and pack and send another 20 to the States. A good day. Then there are days where you just sit and wait and find things to do to pass time because you know that between Donald Trump's first week as President, the Australian Open finals, the rise of nationalism across the globe, Justin Trudeau's attention grabbing headlines, cycling, cricket, parents getting their kids ready to go back to school and about one thousand other tiny little things that are happening in the world right now, people just switch off.

Years ago I watched a superb documentary that showed the way animals responded to drought on the Serengeti in Africa when the rivers ran dry. My favourite was the crocodile, whose response, after millions of years of evolution, was to slow his heart beat right down, crawl into a patch of moist mud and do nothing but wait for the rain. If water is the bringer of life to all nature then cash is the bringer of all life to business. Without it we are all crocodiles waiting for rain.

And so, pondering on all this yesterday I spent the afternoon trying to take my mind off customers and cash flow and all of that which causes me great anxiety and might well put me into a mental hospital if you took it all to heart. Instead I did something which I've been wanting to do for a long time, still lifes of our bow ties with flowers using silk as a backdrop. 

Last week I attended a Canon workshop at their HQ in Sydney to learn and understand macro lens photography and in doing so I picked up some wonderfully handy tips on how to better shoot out bow ties. I am very happy with the results and the most wonderful thing was that it took my mind off the trials and tribulations of a small business. 

I hope you like them and incidentally they make quite lovely wallpapers for your phone. 






Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Parker Goes To The Sumo Wrestling In Tokyo

Globalisation is often frowned upon and said to destroy jobs and pull communities apart and uproot industries, peoples, environments. But from my perspective globalisation allows this bow tie to be on Parker Allen in Tokyo as he attends a Sumo wrestling match. A small piece of silk, sold to him on an internet site, dispatched to Japan and now firmly a part of his wardrobe. Parker wrote in yesterday to say that every time he wears one of our bow ties he receives many compliments. I love that. When I started, I think now it might be 9 years ago, I had no expectation that our bow ties would end up in such places. At best I thought we might corner the Australian market. To see our bow ties in the Ukraine, Russia, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Canada, the USA, Japan, Hong Kong, China, Nigeria, Singapore, Malaysia .... it is a privilege and an honour. From my perspective, globalisation is great. And so long as we make products that people don't chuck away after two wears, that they cherish and maybe even hand over to their children or grandchildren - well then, I don't feel we left much of a carbon footprint either.




Bravo Dandy - What A Show Club Swizzle Is!

Club Swizzle, which will finish at the Sydney Opera House shortly, was one of my highlights this summer and I was taken completely by surprise. I was expecting a jazz band to sing and dance and that was about it. But instead it was one fantastic act after the other, opened by comedian Murray Hill and featuring roller skaters, acrobats, entertainers, performers and more. By the end you felt as if you knew every one of the entertainers personally and then as the conga line made its way through the venue with most of the audience joining in, you could not help but feel like you were at a party with your best friends.

A big thank you for Dandy who looked spectacular on the night in a royal blue double breasted jacket and one of our limited edition silk graffiti bow ties.

If you want to see one great show this year, go see Club Swizzle before it closes.



Tuesday, January 24, 2017

A Dutch Auction Is Coming ...

Now would be a good time to join our newsletter as we are going to have a huge Dutch Auction prior to Valentine's Day. Click here to join the newsletter. 


Andy Poupart - The Man Behind Style After 50 - On Clothes And Style.

The thing that drew me to StyleAfter50 was that he reminded me of the Police song 'Englishman in New York' - there was a sort of Old World elegance about him in a place that was renowned for being hyper forward - Silicone Valley. I have enjoyed watching Andy dress appropriately with the seasons and especially his posts where he is amongst earthy nature and wearing earthy colours to complement the environment around him. He dresses in a more G. Bruce Boyer fashion, which amongst many of the purists, is considered the Holy Grail of menswear. But different. As with all men who dress well, eventually they carve out their own little niche and whilst you might see some similar thematics, the individual always shines through.

Andy wears soft tones that often complement his surroundings. 


Andy, from the media, as consumers we are told that software engineers and Silicon Valley types are mostly wearing sneakers and jeans, adding a hoodie for more formal occasions …. Are you an anomaly for the world and culture in which you exist and can you tell me a little bit about your professional life and how dressing well plays a part in it?

I am very much an anomaly. The stereotype is actually accurate. Indeed, until a few years ago, I mostly wore jeans, sneakers, and a polo shirt to work. I’ve always had an affinity for jackets, though, and I decided to start wearing some of my jackets to work. At around he same time, I lost about 35lbs, which necessitated buying many new clothes. I started to indulge some of my ambitions and desires and started on this sartorial journey I seem to be engaged upon.

Dressing well plays no part whatsoever in my professional life. I’m simply fortunate, in a way, in that my employer has no dress code, so I’m free to dress more or less however I want. On any given day I am the only person on campus wearing a tie or a suit, or a jacket.



I notice you have a love for hats and they suit you well – can you tell us about the quality of the materials and types of shapes you look for in a hat and can you tell us some of your favourite places to source them?

I like Fedoras and Panama hats. I have one or two caps (one or two in linen and a Kangol in red wool). I like the size, especially the brim width of a Fedora. I have one custom Fedora from John Penman, in Oregon, and the rest I have purchased from Bates’ Hats in London. My Panamas are all from Brent Black, who does business as Panama Hats Of The Pacific, out of Hawaii. Again, my preference is for a fedora shape, but I also have a classic optima shape, too. I find trilbys too small for me, generally, and homburgs seem not to suit me. I am eagerly awaiting a new hat, called a Cruiser, being made for me by Steven Temkin (who does business as Leon Drexler) in Toronto. This one will be a kind of lightweight felt hat in a pork-pie shape, sorta. It’s intended to be a felt hat that one can wear in summertime.

Earthy tones are sometimes offset by the brightness of silk. 


Your dress sense is that classic British style of dress where you seem to favour comfort and drape over the need to look tightly fitted into your clothes. Is that a factor of your age or were you always dressing like this. For example, in the 80’s would you have squeezed yourself into tighter jeans?

Yes, most of my bespoke clothing is in the Anderson & Sheppard school. Comfort was important back in the day and it’s important now. Fit is paramount. If your clothes don’t fit, then you’ve wasted your money. Tight clothes (at least in the way I perceive you to mean) do not fit.

It might be a factor of my age, I don’t know. My jeans are now, and always have been, Levi 501s. I’ve almost never worn any other kind, certainly not since I was fifteen. I’ve been considering a commission at Chittleborough & Morgan or maybe Huntsman, to get a more structured look, but even there, fit will be the primary driver.

Can you tell us about the evolution of your style and if you ever experimented with types of dress or style habits that you no longer enjoy or perhaps which even conjure up some level of shame ? 

For example, in the early 90’s before I decided I was desperate to be ‘cool’ I used to try and copy exactly what my father wore which was rather gawky, well, the clothes weren’t but I was because I was 15 going on 50.


In the seventies I wore highly flared jeans, tie-dyed shorts, cheesecloth shirts, velvet jackets, and so on. I’ve tended to try different things. I had a Harris Tweed jacket when I was twenty, and I bought a bespoke dinner jacket & trousers when I was twenty-one. So, I have ranged far and wide. Color has always been important and I am not afraid to stand out because of what I wear. So, absolutely, there are things that I wore at various times in my life the memory of which makes me cringe now.

Looking back, I suppose I’ve always liked tweed jackets. An early influence, if you can call it that, was the British TV series “All Creatures Great and Small”, based on the James Herriot books. Robert Hardy’s character, Sigfried Farnon, wore a beautiful lovat Tweed jacket and a tweed hat. To this day I would love to get a jacket that looked like that one, and I have searched for decades to find the hat he wore, to no avail.

Colour still plays a part of Andy's wardrobe but it is often limited, such as the bezel on his watch face or the Le Noeud Papillon silk bow tie he wears on his neck in this photo. 


I have a love for great neckwear but I am not that clued up on classic tie brands. Can you tell us a little about the long neck ties you wear, the silks and blends you look for and what size blade suits you?

I prefer a 9cm tie width. I do not care for skinnier ties. These days, that rules out Drake’s. I usually go for a 147-150cm length. I like grenadines, and madder silks. I also have come to like wool challis, too. And linen, shantung, and matka. Sam Hober makes perhaps the best ties in the world. Harry White, in London, and Gerald Shen of Vanda in Singapore are in the same ballpark. I also like Marinella, E.G. Capelli, Shibumi. There are lots of quality brands, I think, but these are the ones I have direct experience of.


I loved your recent deep forest green velvet smoking jacket. Can you tell us a little bit about that ensemble and who made it? Can you tell us who you use as your tailor and if you could use any tailor, who might you choose?


Well, I was in London about a year ago and saw some amazing velvet dinner jackets and decided I would get one made up at some point. Then, this summer I decided to do it, but my original concept was to go with burgundy velvet. I requested some Holland and Sherry swatches from my tailor and he sent me a burgundy and also a bottle green. The bottle green was a much nicer cloth than the burgundy. I also looked at a burgundy velvet from Cacciopolli. Turns out theirs is a wool velvet and it’s fantastic. I’ll get it made up, too, at some point. Anyways, I wanted a shawl collar jacket, with grosgrain facings, and standard dinner jacket details. For this job, I used Hemrajani Brothers, who make a lot of things for me. They did a great job on it for me. If I could use any tailor, I might go with Dege and Skinner, but when a tailor has your fit nailed down, why change? I will probably have a classic black dinner jacket made up next. I have a nice and rather unusual seersucker dinner jacket that I use quite a bit, but my dinner jackets are one of the few remaining things I have that were not custom made and I’m less and less happy with them over time. So probably I’ll replace the back one first, then the ivory one, then get this burgundy Cacciopolli velvet made up.

Your wife has become very much a part of your thread – has she also begun to take a more keen role in her dress sense since you started documenting your journey? 

I would say yes. She has always dressed well, but we encourage each other, so I think she dresses better on a more consistent basis than she used to. She is, day in, day out, the best dressed person in her office.

If you could recommend one menswear product or brand to our readers that they might not know about, what product would that be?

I don’t think I know of any “unknown” brands, not that I purchase from and could therefore recommend, anyway. I believe though, that when you find a brand or a product that works for you, stop experimenting. So for shoes go bespoke or use Edward Green. Scarves, pocket squares use Drake’s. Cufflinks, Longmire. Socks use Pantherella or Mes Chaussettes Rouges. Hats, go custom or use Bates’.

Above all, dressing well should be enjoyable.

Andy

When it comes to evening wear, Andy knows how to dress black tie well, and classically, but with a twist, as is done here with a forest green smoking jacket from Hermarajani brothers and a diamond point Le Noeud Papillon bow tie. 


Sunday, January 22, 2017

James Macauslan - Also Known As The Cutter At Budd - On Shirts, Shirt Fabrics And More

This week we heard back from James Macauslan who is the cutter at renowned shirt maker Budd Shirtmakers. Over the years some of our customers have been Budd devotees and on that basis alone I wished to know more about this business and who better to ask than the cutter who knows every inch of his customer's torso and how to sculpt an impeccable shirt.

James, in the past shirting fabrics companies didn’t seem to offer so many blends but now I see cashmere/cotton, silk/cotton, linen/cotton, wool/cotton and a host of polymer based fibres which can be used in making shirting cotton. In your opinion are there any blends or single fibre fabrics that you prefer to work with and what do you prefer to wear on your back?

Once you have tried luxury fibres nothing ever compares. So I would never wear a poly-cotton, not only because there is no comparison in comfort but also because natural fibres are designed by mother nature to do a job - be it keep you warm or cool you down - and they always let your skin breath. If you spend all your time wrapped it blends with plastic you are suffocating your self and your skin will not thank you.

Although you can get so many different weaves of cotton, my personal favourite shirting is a cotton in a zephyr weave with a 170s thread count called Zephyr Soyella. It comes from a Swiss mill we use and it is so light and soft it feels as if you are not wearing anything at all.

As for blends, I love to wear cotton and cashmere in the winter and linen in the summer. They both have a very slight natural spring to them so they do not restrict the movement in the way a cotton can if the shirt is too tight. So on top of being soft to wear they also react to give you extra comfort. Any cloth that has been well woven is a dream to cut as the sheers will glide through them like butter, but personally the thicker the cloth the less it moves which makes my job easier. Something like silk and linen tends to slide around under the blades so you have to take your time to get them right.




When you set about making patterns for customers I noticed you use a knife of sorts. I have seen on cutting tables band saws, rotary blades, scissors and knives in the past but none quite like yours. Can you tell me about some of the tools a cutter deploys in the cutting room and how you go about your daily business when a new customers comes through?

The tailoring trade in London is incredibly old and passed down through generations rather than taught on mass. As a result the tools are passed from master to apprentice. The tools you have seen me using have been passed down to me from Mr Butcher who has been in the trade for 50 years and adopted them from his master. So the knives and shears I use are possibly as old as the trade itself.

We use lead weights, some of which where moulded from tobacco boxes made by tailors of old. One of mine is a lead weight for scales of old with the George the 5th stamp on it. Mr Butcher says he didn't work here long!

Our knives are used to cut the delicate parts such as collars cuffs and yokes. We cut them on a soft wood butchers block. And our knives need to be extra sharp and delicate enough to cut with precision. We struggle to find anyone that makes knives to do this so we have to spend most of our time bringing the points back on old knives. Being bespoke shirtmaker each shirt has to be exact. So there is no point in cutting big lays (more than 5 shirts at once.) which more factory makers will do using a band saw or rotary blade, this is great for getting volume done at once and making more money but not good for the precision of bespoke.

For every new customer the first thing I will get them to do is select the cloths, for our first order we need them to select at least 4. Then there is the process of taking approximately 12 measurements from the customer, including their stance and configuration into account. Once this is done we run through how they would like the shirt to fit. (Most people are under the false impression that a garment fits well if it is skintight but this is not true. A well cut garment will hang off the shoulders with the balance sitting clean (not pull or ripple anywhere) however the degree at which the shirt hugs the skin is a personal preference. The collar and cuff details and any other style details they would like are also taken into account.

The next stage would be to cut the pattern and the sample shirt, which is one of the 4 ordered. Once made, we will have a fitting see what alterations need to be made to get the fit just right. They are often minor tweaks that are needed and if so we are limited as to how many alterations we can do to a shirt, so it may be required to remake the sample to be sure the shirt is perfect.

Once we have achieved perfection I will cut the remaining shirts based on the now perfected pattern. This process is more involved than a conventional retail experience but it makes life easier for the consumer in the long run because if they change shape it is easy for us to alter the pattern and continue making shirts that fit to perfection. We look to gain life long customers rather than singular sales.

A lead weight stamped with the insignia of King George V, part of the tools handed down from master to apprentice. Weights are used to hold down cloth whilst cutting to ensure the cloth doesn't move. 


In the past I have loved wearing luxury cottons with thread counts as high as 200/2 ply but I have found that they crush after each use. In your opinion, what sort of a fabric weight should men look for in daily business shirts to get durable wear out of them?

I was once told that the wealthiest or most powerful people in the world look awful because they have no need to impress anyone. In a meeting you dress to fill the client with confidence. However if you are the one being impressed what need is there for you to dress to impress?

Comfort is your main priority. Such high quality cloth does crease but is unbelievably comfortable. I also think there is a certain charm to no one knowing your shirt is better than theirs and sitting in your own cloud of comfort. Having said that a lot of clients do get upset at the idea of shirts creasing and the best happy medium of a silk-like shirt with better durability is a 170s poplin weave. This is one of our best sellers and we all in the cutting room swear by it.

A bespoke customer pattern which will be used to mark the pattern of the of the shirt on the cloth.



Of all the weaves I have worn, very fine twills and Oxfords seem to be my favourite. What are the weaves you most like to wear yourself?

It depends on the occasion, an Oxford shirt is more casual and a twill herringbone or royal oxford are much more dressy. I tend to stick to poplin myself and will only really go for a fine twill or subtle herringbone. The cloth merchants are always playing with the weaves so every so often I see something which makes me contradict myself.

Many of the men I see on Instagram who are dressing to the nines seem to often overdo the shirt and tie combination. My understanding is you can have a busy shirt but then you need a solid tie or vice versa – but to do both is a faux pas. Can you tell our readers what are some helpful tips in matching a tie to a shirt?

You are right, a pattern on a pattern is very aggressive but to say it is a faux pas is dictatorious. Foremost, I personally believe that no one should tell other people how to dress. What we wear is our way to writing our own autobiography, and if we do not express our individuality then we are telling people we have nothing to say, no life or culture to us. A loud colour or pattern on a loud pattern is a contrast and it says you are the sort of person that doesn't colour inside the lines. If you think it is right then it is, and people telling you not to wear it are telling you how to live your life.

However, to contradict myself. Amenability is key to social standing. If you are in a meeting full of sombre people it is best to dress in a calm and inoffensive way. A navy tie on a navy suit with a crisp white shirt may be dull to some but there is so much you can play with in the sense of weaves shades and fibres that the small elements of your personality can still be portrayed.

Of course your question refers to what you have seen on Instagram where the beauty of subtlety does not come across. Lens technology has not go there for phones just yet. So as a social forum the strong contrast look is the best way to stand out and get noticed but walking down the street it might make people question your ability as a stylist.

I personally feel the best way to sand out without looking like a child's scribble is to follow tones. Be it earthy tones with a green/brown/burgundy or a conservative tone grey/blue/black. Also it is best to think about your hair skin and eye colour. Colour can play amazing tricks on the eye. To bring out a tone that matches your eye colour will make your eyes pop and people wont be able to break contact with your eyes.

There are endless tricks like this with styling I could go on forever but maybe it is best to leave on this: remember to express yourself and maybe not try so hard.

The best way to wear something is as if you are not wearing it... Said someone once.

Times have changed rapidly and in Sydney you find very few men wear cufflinks to work. Are French cuffs still popular in England or are they also on the demise?

England will always be more formal than most of the rest of the world. Cufflinks do still play a big part in our dress code although in decline with the advent of new technologies in the work force. We do far less customer facing duties as more machines do it for us, so perhaps cufflinks are less desirable as is the need to dress to impress. That and notwithstanding that men find them difficult to put on. I think it is a shame. Women get to wear all these necklaces and rings so this is our one chance to wear something shiny and precious but people just don't want to make the effort.

The world of shoes has seen a resurgence of interest in English shoe makers. Do you have a preference for one brand or maker over another and can you tell us who that is and what sorts of shoes you like to wear both during the week and on the weekends?

Oh gosh. There are so many! First and foremost one of my friends works for Fosters. I simply love their shoes and quite often get slippers made from them. Being on my feet all day I am in demand for comfortable smart shoes and dress slippers fill the void perfectly. I am currently in a fave of having slippers made in matching cloth to my suits, A four piece suit. A company called Joseph Cheeney used to be based opposite us in the arcade before moving to a bigger premises on Jermyn Street. I used to spend a lot of time looking out of  my window into theirs. I ended up buying quite a lot of Cheeney shoes! They are beautiful, and there are many others but those two come to mind first.

Being tall and thin I don't like to wear shoes that have too much of a pointed toe to them. Other than that I will wear anything. Chelsea boots (more in the winter.) brogues or monk shoes. You name it I will most likely love it.

James says he currently has an interest in trying to match the fabric of his shoe to his favourite suits. He recommends Foster & Son shoes amongst other English makers. 


If you could have any tailor in England make you a suit, who would you use and, also, what shirt would you make yourself to go with it?

Same as above, there are so many and they are all very good friends. Oddly enough during my years of study and apprenticeship I learnt a lot about making suits by working with tailors, so the suit pattern I use to make my own suits on has had the expert eye of almost every Savile Row tailor glance over it.

Kathryn Sargent is currently making one for me, A navy three piece. And when I get it I will cut a blue and red stripe shirt with a white tab collar and white cuffs. I would love my friend Nina Pendlington who works for Gieves and Hawks to make one. She is a deeply creative person and I'm sure the suit would be beautiful, smart, mental and fun, so the shirt would have to match. Stephen Hitchcock is also a great tailor,  his look is more of a relaxed soft shoulder look and he believes more than most in the craft of tailoring and putting the work into a finished suit.

Dario Carnera is an amazing cutter with possibly the best eye for the fine details of fit. Patrick Murphy is a fantastic man who like Stephen and Dario are descendants of tailors and have the craft in their blood.

This is very prevalent when you meet Patrick because he does not look you in the face but rather studies your shoulders. His eyes dart back and forth across them as you talk to him, and I get the feeling he has been doing this since he was a child. I like to think he would cut something more modern for me, so a houndstooth shirt maybe for more of a weekend suit look. I can go on like this forever and I can't favour one over the other because it would be unfair to all of my friends.

James MacAuslan
Shirt Cutter
Budd Shirtmaker's 

It's Coming Around Again - Why I Am Falling In Love With 80's Music Again



Yesterday, and also one night last week, I was asked to help some young recording artists write songs for their latest EP. These boys grew up on beaches in Western Australia, they were full energy and enthusiasm but they probably lacked some of life's experiences because of their age.

In the eighties when I grew up I fell in love with the music that was on the radio but as a child I rarely understood exactly what these artists were saying other than to be able to sing along to the chorus.

As an adult when you come back to that music and with the advent of being able to search the lyrics of any song you love within moments on the internet, you can go back to those things that you loved and gather new meanings and a new emotive power that ran through the song.

One song which I recently could not get out of my head was Carly Simon's 'Coming Around Again' which, as a young parent, seems to resonate with every couples experience that  I know of who are trying to maintain some semblance of a life whilst raising a child. And it's enormously soul re-assuring when you realise that, despite the fact that my own parents put on a good smoke-screen during those formative years of my childhood, it's nice to hear these soothing words of Carly Simon which echo long after her own role as a young mother.

I suggest, if you have time, go back to the 80's songs you love and google the lyrics, you might fall in love all over again.

And from Carly Simon:

Baby sneezes
Mommy pleases
Daddy breezes in

So good on paper
So romantic
But so bewildering

I know nothing stays the same
But if you're willing to play the game
It's coming around again

So don't mind if I fall apart
There's more room in a broken heart

You pay the grocer
You fix the toaster
You kiss the host goodbye

Then you break a window
Burn the souffle
Scream a lullaby

I know nothing stays the same
But if you're willing to play the game
It's coming around again

So don't mind if I fall apart
There's more room in a broken heart

And I believe in love
But what else can I do?
I'm so in love with you

I know nothing stays the same
But if you're willing to play the game
It will be coming around again

(Love)
Baby sneezes
(I believe in love)
Mommy pleases
(I believe in love)
Daddy breezes in
(I believe in love)

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Very Amusing - I Just Stumbled Upon Aunty Donna - The Australian Comedy Trio

Once upon a time I was the manager of the Sydney Comedy Store at Fox Studios, and at the time I was probably the youngest person to ever manage a stand-up comedy venue that size, the largest in Australia. I had tried my hand at comedy stand-up but when I felt the venue was run down I approached the then owner and asked him for the chance to re-vamp it. He saw my enthusiasm and milked it for all it was worth and a pittance of a salary. But such is the exuberance of the young, they often overlook the cunning of the older people who will gladly exploit that enthusiasm.

Janey Sweetapple, I think that was the name of the existing theatre manager at the time, who did not know about websites, internet ticketing, digital marketing etc. It was when the world was making that sluggish change from advertising in The Drum Media newspaper to new digital means such as MySpace, and Facebook was still 2 years away. I soon took her job.

In the year I spent managing the unusual temperaments of comedians and slowly exhibiting what was possibly the early stages of alcoholism, or, at the very least, alcohol dependency, I could feel myself being sucked into the world of comedy. A world of dark places where in order to conjure up the funniest and wittiest remarks you needed to have a very dark side which you went down the rabbit hole of to come up the other side holding a gag.

On the weekend I was discussing this experience, which was circa 2002, with a documentary and television producer who was delving in the world of comedy more recently. We discussed the fate of some of the comedians we both knew of and one of the sad facts about a life in comedy is that most of the comics don't make it. A handful can sell out the Enmore or the Opera House, fewer have the stamina to maintain it as a lifelong career and even fewer end up making it onto the silver screen and beyond. What is more, it's often hard to find really fresh new talent. Which brings me to my point. The said television producer asked me if I had seen the recent trio Auntie Donna - which I hadn't. His son then piped up 'Dad, it's weird, it's not funny' which immediately piqued my curiosity.

Aunty Donna is fresh talent. And though I cannot tell you why I laughed that hard, and whilst I cannot say that I found it quite as funny on my second and thirtieth viewing, it certainly is fresh and it is absurdly funny and I love that it contains a lot of humour that very much relates to Australian society. My favourite episode being the Tea Party which I post below.