I was shopping one day with a friend who had come in from Milan for a visit. He is also in the trade so we enjoy "doing the stores" together, to check out what everybody else is doing. We stopped into L'Uomo, in Montreal, which Alan Flusser called Canada's finest menswear store. The salespeople there love their product, are incredibly knowledgeable about it, and love to talk about it, especially with those who exhibit an appreciation for what they are selling.
That day they had me try on a sportcoat. A Very. Expensive. Sportcoat. The fit was absolutely spot on, the construction was immaculate, and some of the details kind of fascinating. I was a little bit in love. Okay, maybe a lot.
"Buy it", my friend said.
"You are out of your mind", I replied. "This thing costs a bloody fortune and I could make it myself. I can't spend this kind of money on something I could make myself!"
"Bello," he sighed impatiently, "do you think Jamie Oliver never eats out? And when he does, do you think he eats at McDonald's? Buy the damn thing."
Check, and mate.
I couldn't think of an argument. So I bought it. And he was right, in a way; sometimes it's good to try out what other people are doing because it makes you think of things you wouldn't have thought of otherwise. I learned a lot from that coat so I wrote the expense off, in my own mind, to my own education.
Fast forward a few years.
When I was in Spain, this spring, I got to chatting with the designer from Boglioli. He really liked a jacket I was wearing, the one I had made from the Ariston cloth that I bought from Kemp and Hewitt. He especially liked the way I got my collar to fit so we chatted a bit about it. He was making a technical presentation and had some garments with him so I tried some of them on. They are fantastic garments- really soft and lightweight, they feel like you have nothing on. A bit like Kiton, but whereas Kiton looks like a rumpled mess, these actually looked pretty clean. They do a huge amount of research and testing on treatments like washes and proprietary finishes so their garment is pretty unique on the market, but very expensive, due to all the testing. I complimented him on the garments and made some offhand remark about buying one if I had several thousand dollars I didn't know what to do with. Ha.
A few months ago he got in touch with me to let me know that he would be visiting New York in September, and that it would be great if we could get together. We exchanged a few details, then he came up with an idea. Knowing I loved their product, he offered to make me one of their coats in exchange for one like the one I was wearing in Spain. We could meet in New York and exchange garments. I thought this was a great idea. We'll get a chance to turn them inside out and talk about how we did them. I love this kind of exchange, both of ideas and of garments.
So I ordered some more cloth and am making him a sportcoat. I can't wait to see how mine turned out- I will no doubt be posting some photos when I get it.