Drape Yourself in Sulka
Back in the 1920s, Nancy Kahn’s grandfather was welcoming patients into his home office on the east side of Manhattan, wearing shirts and ties exclusively from A. Sulka & Co.—“much to my grandmother’s chagrin,” says Nancy. Sulka was in the midst of its rise to prominence as a haberdasher to American royalty, like Kennedys, Rockefellers, and Hollywood leading men, as well as actual royalty, like the Duke of Windsor. While Nancy’s grandmother may not have appreciated the expense of a Sulka wardrobe, she recognized the quality of the silk and workmanship, and saved her husbands neckwear—from subtle to loud; richly colored, printed silks in stripes and abstract patterns. Sometime in the late 1920s, according to family lore, she deconstructed the ties, ironed the silks flat, cut them into triangles, sewed them by hand into squares, and sewed the squares into a 60-inch square quilt with black satin backing.
The quilt was handed down to Nancy, who has put it up for sale in her Etsy shop. Although the opportunity to drape yourself in silks from one of the world’s great lost men’s clothiers is rare and tempting, Nancy recommends this as a decorative, rather than functional, item. Which is true to the spirit of neckties as well.
- Pete

Drape Yourself in Sulka

Back in the 1920s, Nancy Kahn’s grandfather was welcoming patients into his home office on the east side of Manhattan, wearing shirts and ties exclusively from A. Sulka & Co.—“much to my grandmother’s chagrin,” says Nancy. Sulka was in the midst of its rise to prominence as a haberdasher to American royalty, like Kennedys, Rockefellers, and Hollywood leading men, as well as actual royalty, like the Duke of Windsor. While Nancy’s grandmother may not have appreciated the expense of a Sulka wardrobe, she recognized the quality of the silk and workmanship, and saved her husbands neckwear—from subtle to loud; richly colored, printed silks in stripes and abstract patterns. Sometime in the late 1920s, according to family lore, she deconstructed the ties, ironed the silks flat, cut them into triangles, sewed them by hand into squares, and sewed the squares into a 60-inch square quilt with black satin backing.

The quilt was handed down to Nancy, who has put it up for sale in her Etsy shop. Although the opportunity to drape yourself in silks from one of the world’s great lost men’s clothiers is rare and tempting, Nancy recommends this as a decorative, rather than functional, item. Which is true to the spirit of neckties as well.

- Pete

Handmade in Italy

Before I started blogging about this stuff, I was an avid reader of menswear blogs for years. One of my favorite blogs was A Continuous Lean, partly because I shared Michael’s passion for knowing how my clothes were made, not just how they were styled. Some of my favorite posts by him were those that showed the manufacturing process behind the stuff I loved so much. 

So, given my (well documented) love for Italian menswear, I thought I’d share a special set of videos of hand craftsmanship in Italy. The videos were produced by Mad About Town, an online boutique that brings some of Europe’s most exquisite luxury items to customers around the world. 

There are three videos. The first is of a Genovese tie maker, Finollo. Lapo Elkann once named this as one of his favorite companies, and given that their wares are so beautifully handmade, it’s easy to see why. The second is of Riccardo Bestetti, an Italian cordwainer based out of Vigevano. Bestetti handmakes everything from Italian styled double monks to British styled wingtips to American styled cowboy boots; the man has an incredible range. Finally, we have Barbisio, a hat company inspired by the Italian notion of La Dolce Vita (“the good life”). These hats were big in Italy during the 1940s and ’50s, and men would wear them to tell the world they’ve reached an apex in their careers. Today, Barbisio makes hats with the same machines they used a hundred years ago. The manufacturing process is truly something to behold. 

There are two other videos that I haven’t included here. The first is of Nicky, one of the finest tie makers in the world. The company was founded in Milan sometime in 1920, and since then, they’ve been hand making incredibly elegant ties. The other is of Valigeria Beretta, another Milanese company. They handhandcraft luxury bags out of French and British leathers. I’ve left them out because they’re not motion picture videos, but rather a sequence of photographs. However, you can see the two videos here and here. I do think they’re still worth watching, however, if you’re as into European menswear as I am.