It’s that time of year of again: the time when so many of my most fashionable male friends are no longer available to try out the latest, greatest New York restaurant (Niche‘s menswear editor, Ben Setiawan) or celeb spot late night at the Boom Boom Room (Mr. Alex Gobo of Ferragamo). Natch, these stylish lads have fled the country to Milan, where the men’s shows are kicking off the semi-annual fashion frenzy that will soon resonate throughout the rest of the world.
Meanwhile, stateside, other men sit totally oblivious to ensuing Italian fashion happenings, feeling just fine in their wide-pleated pants, oversized jackets and frayed, faded ties from college. Surely, there must be a happy male medium?
I met the guys behind custom bespoke clothing label Alton Lane last summer at a photo shoot for Gotham magazine; Peyton Jenkins and Colin Hunter were gracious, smart, articulate and, well, normal – just like their legions of well dressed customers. The line caters to the guy who wants to look good but doesn’t necessarily want to do the legwork (read: shopping) to get there. Alton Lane’s by-appointment-only showroom features a guy-friendly environment including flat screen TVs, a stocked bar, and the latest in custom suiting technology (3D body scanner, anyone?) I sat down with the duo to find out if the suit really does make the man. Spoiler: it does.
Julie Bensman: Who is the Alton Lane customer?
Peyton Jenkins: Our customers range from the 22-year-old recent grad looking for his first suit to the distinguished senior executive looking for ten suits from our highest end fabrics. One of the reasons we do private appointments is because we want to get to know our customer, listen to what he needs, and provide an experience catered to him specifically for all stages of his life and career. We’ve dressed everyone from World Series Champions to Oscar-nominated directors.
JB: How does Alton Lane cater to both men who love and loathe shopping?
Colin Hunter: It’s helpful that Peyton and I have different viewpoints on shopping. I’m one of those guys who hates to shop. I like to wear nice clothes, but often feel like the shopping experience gets in the way of other things I like to do. I wanted Alton Lane to be a place where you can grab a glass of bourbon, sink back into our leather couches and watch a game while you pick out the fabrics you want. For Peyton, who enjoys shopping, our customer experience must be interesting enough to satiate the man who loves clothes. We offer these customers access to thousands of fabrics in a relaxed environment where they won’t feel rushed.
JB: Which male celebs do you think "get it right" every time?
CH: From the screen, Colin Firth and Jake Gyllenhaal have a good sense of style and always look sharp. We like golfer Luke Donald’s look as well, which is bold but reflects his personality.
JB: What are the three most important components of a great suit?
PJ: 1) Fabric; 2) Cut; 3) Personal details
And a glass of bourbon while you’re wearing it isn’t half bad, either…
The Fashion Spot’s Editor-at-Large, Julie Bensman, is also the Entertainment Editor for Niche Media, whose titles include Gotham, Hamptons, Ocean Drive and LA Confidential. Closed Set is a collection of her musings on all things fashion, from an editor’s desk to your desktop.