A lesson in value from Cary Grant: How to invest in your wardrobe

Below is an opening extract from an article I recently wrote for aandhmag.com. Follow the link at the bottom to read the complete article.

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The modern era etymology of the word ‘value’ makes for a depressing conclusion. In its contemporary day-to-day usage ‘value’ has become synonymous with ‘low-cost’; when one says, ‘that’s good value for money’, too often they mean it was cheap, period. And that is a shame.

Value should mean something very different. If we limit our attitude towards value to a simple cost analysis without the necessary benefit counterbalance – without consideration of quality – we deny ourselves the virtue of true value.

Fortunately, the modern man is showing signs of rediscovering a passion for excellence.

I’m going to deal something of a sartorialist’s low-blow here by evoking Cary Grant’s wisdom in favor of my own argument. That’s a little unfair when arguing the nuances of men’s style since, well, who’s going to argue with him? But he was invariably right; never more so than with the sage advice offered in this pull-out from the 1967/1968 winter edition of GQ:

I’m reminded of a piece of advice my father gave me regarding shoes: it has stood me in good stead whenever my own finances were low. He said it’s better to buy one good pair of shoes than four cheap ones. One pair made of fine leather could outlast four inferior pairs, and, if well cared for, would continue to proclaim your good judgment and taste no matter how old they become.

Watertight – both the shoe and the argument. Yet, since those words were written, there’s been an explosive proliferation of fashion brands and manufacturers, the majority geared towards mass production and responding to short-lived trends.

Continue reading here.

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Harrison & Fyfe: The modern gentleman’s collection

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What makes a great men’s brand? In truth there are infinite answers, all of which are subject to opinion. But for me, a great men’s brand will always radiate two things: timeless style and masculinity.

Fashions come and go, often at the expense of retrospective embarrassment; there is hackneyed expression – hindsight is a wonderful thing – which applies here, and it’s true to an extent. But what separates the stylish from the faddish is a more wonderful thing still: foresight. The gentleman who can see past the fashion industry’s spin and identify all that is amaranthine in men’s style will forever be a Well Dressed Man. And the brand that provides the latter of the two will forever be a favourite of mine.

Though it launched only yesterday, I’ve seen enough to convince that Harrison & Fyfe is one of those brands.

Founded in Glasgow on a bedrock of experience in the fine art and design industries, Harrison & Fyfe’s cultural heritage shows. It’s aim is to present “a range of beautiful accessories from the finest independent brands and designers in the world”, it’s definition of ‘the finest’ “based around process, materials, ethos and passion”.

The garish and androgynous has no place here: this is a selection of simple, handsome, masculine products. The highlights of the range include April Look linen pocket squares,  Daniel Wellington watches, Graham Withers ties, and some truly majestic Steve Mono leather briefcases. Even taking a economical route, one would have to travel some 7,000 miles – from Sweden to Lithuania to Madrid and then on to New York – in order to buy those products where they were originally crafted.

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Harrison & Fyfe has made a remarkable first step towards success by its own measure: “to provide the perfect online retail experience for the discerning man”.

It should take encouragement, too, from Tim Little, owner of British shoe label Grenson, who told Esquire magazine’s Big Black Book recently: “I think modern, affluent men are rediscovering the pleasure of buying something that’s well made and has an interesting story.” He’s absolutely correct, meaning that Harrison & Fyfe, with the peculiarity of craft and narrative that comes with its products, will surely be a hit.

@SSymposium

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