While in Los Angeles a couple of weeks ago, I got a chance to look at several new cloth books for spring/summer for 2012. I came away very impressed with the new offerings by Italian and English mills. To boot, I saw the following:
- Halstead Explorer fresco with weights going down to 7.5oz
- Halstead bespoke offering. A customer can order a length of suiting cloth from a choice of stripe colors and widths, as well as personalized selvedge if desired.
- Drapers bunches for linen/silk/wool blend, “Solaire”(similar to solaro cloth) and cottons. The Solaires come in lightweight reds and nice blues with the extra vibrancy of solaro-style cloth.
- Drapers summerweight mohairs. These are terrific mohairs. I saw 7oz striped mohairs that could serve as seersucker substitutes in grey and brown, as well as great solid browns and blues including a dark, inky brown that I call a “midnight brown”.
I also happened to meet the new Gladson representative during a visit with LA tailor Enzo Caruso. Gladson has acquired a couple of storied names in British cloth – John Hardy and JJ Minnis – from Huddersfield Fine Worsteds. I saw the new Minnis fresco and the bunches seemed fine. But anyone taking a look at the Minnis fresco book should compare it with the Halstead Explorer range. The range in the new Minnis fresco book seemed a bit smaller than previous years – fewer blues in particular.
Besides cloth, Gladson distributes buttons (London Badge & Button), socks, ties, custom cufflinks. It is also distributing a new ready-made and MTO luggage from Vitale Barberis Canonico, which I saw. The leather pieces are made in northern Italy. Very nice stuff.
In addition, many bespoke customers already know that Lesser was acquired last year by Harrisons of Edinburgh. Lesser was widely regarded for maintaining superlative quality and oversight of the cloths it sold. Many tailors seem happy with the cloth under the new ownership, others less so. I was fortunate enough to purchase a Lesser 16oz mid-grey suiting (29600 for those who are familiar with the book) produced under the old regime, pre-Harrison. This is discernible by the particular numbering on the piece or lot number associated with the cloth length.
In other news, the December / January issue of Monocle has a small feature on Cotonificio Albini, a family-run weaver. Their new Millennium Star shirting is a three-fold yarn creating both resistance to wrinkling and fineness of hand. Albini acquired British weavers Thomas Mason and David & John Anderson in the 1990s.
Change is afoot in the textile industry and the pressure from globalization is probably accelerating consolidation. The implication for the consumer is clear enough. If you see a great cloth, buy it now because it may not be around next season in the same weave, color or finish.