A Visit to B. Black & Sons: The Last Tailor Supplier in Los Angeles

I needed a few buttons for a coat my tailor’s making. He didn’t have any natural ones on hand, so I eagerly volunteered to visit one of my favorite shops in Los Angeles to pick some up: B. Black & Sons.

B. Black is an old-school establishment if ever such a thing there was. In a sea of shops selling cut-rate electronics and baby turtles in plastic terrariums, it’s an island of Los Angeles, circa 1922. Which is when it was founded, by the way.

There are tons of fabric shops in Los Angeles’ garment district, but they’re largely of the sort that features a proprietor claiming a bolt of Chinese polyester is real silk, despite an $8 a yard price tag. B. Black is a tailor’s store. They don’t sell cotton chintz for children’s curtains. They sell men’s fabric. Suiting, stuff for overcoats, a little bit of linen. Plus shoulder pads, shears, zippers and other tailoring essentials.

I walked out with a few fabric remnants that will likely end up as pocket squares in our shop, a set of buttons, and the pictures you see above.

(Source: jessethorn)

Spent my Sunday morning with my family at the Pasadena City College Flea Market. Don’t always get to arrive as early as you’d like or stay as long when you’re carting around an 18-month-old, but it’s still worth the trip. The clothes are mostly at the Rose Bowl, where you’re elbow-to-elbow with Japanese vintage dealers carting around huge military duffels… but I still came home with a little something.

The sewing blog Gertie’s New Blog For Better Sewing visited B. Black & Sons, a tailoring supply shop in downtown Los Angeles. It’s one of the very few menswear-oriented fabric shops in the United States, and has an amazing selection of buttons and fittings. It’s really a cool place, celebrating its 90th year in LA.

I was just there, in fact, to buy some trouser waist buckles for my tailor - he didn’t have any on hand for waist adjusters, but I bought a bag for a couple dollars at B. Black & Sons.

(Side note: last time I was at the store, there was actual three-card monty going on outside! What is this, a movie from the sixties about the twenties?)

(Thanks, Abby!)

The Put This On Holiday Sale
Join me (Jesse) and Raul Ojeda of Don Ville Shoes for the Put This On Holiday Sale, Sunday December 9th, noon to five in Los Angeles. We’ll have literally hundreds of Gentlemen’s Association pocket squares for sale, starting at just $20. There are overruns, samples, short runs and one-of-a-kinds. There are even a few squares we made special for the sale from 1920s Japanese silk. Plus we’ll have PTO DVDs for just $10 and specials on Don Ville’s handmade shoes.
Whether you need a holiday gift for a friend, a loved one or yourself… or you just want free beer, stop by and sayhi.
The Put This On Holiday Sale
Sunday, December 9th, Noon to Five
Don Ville Shoes 
113 North La Brea between Beverly and First, Los Angeles

The Put This On Holiday Sale

Join me (Jesse) and Raul Ojeda of Don Ville Shoes for the Put This On Holiday Sale, Sunday December 9th, noon to five in Los Angeles. We’ll have literally hundreds of Gentlemen’s Association pocket squares for sale, starting at just $20. There are overruns, samples, short runs and one-of-a-kinds. There are even a few squares we made special for the sale from 1920s Japanese silk. Plus we’ll have PTO DVDs for just $10 and specials on Don Ville’s handmade shoes.

Whether you need a holiday gift for a friend, a loved one or yourself… or you just want free beer, stop by and sayhi.

The Put This On Holiday Sale

Sunday, December 9th, Noon to Five

Don Ville Shoes

113 North La Brea between Beverly and First, Los Angeles

A couple of months ago, my barber, Jerry, went into the hospital. It’s happened once or twice since I started visiting him, but all the other times, he was right back at work after a week of recuperation. This time, he wasn’t.

After a month or so of calling the shop and getting a recording, I started worrying. In the past, Jerry’s son has gone into the shop to post a sign and record a message with a status update. I got a haircut elsewhere and fretted.

I just called, shaggy-haired after an unexpectedly long trip to the East Coast, and got the voicemail. It was Jerry, sounding a little tired, announcing that he’d retired.

Jerry was kind and quiet, and he worked at Larchmont Barbershop for more than 55 years. Visiting him was always the highlight of my month.

"Hey, babe. How are you?"

I know Jerry wouldn’t be quitting if it wasn’t important. I wish him all the best in his retirement - he can get a chance to drive his 55-year-old Chevy and spend some time with his wife. I’ll miss him.

Above: our grooming episode, featuring a conversation with Jerry. And if you’re so inclined, here’s a lovely little article about him and his family, who’ve owned the shop since the 50s.

Our friends at Rising Sun, who we featured in our very first episode, are having a very cool-looking party on Saturday night in Los Angeles. It runs from six to nine at 2246 Fair Park Avenue in Eagle Rock. If my past experience with Mike Hodis & Co is any guide, there will be a ton of vintage hot rods and motorbikes, and both men and women in overalls, old leather and applejack caps. Should be a great time.

Our friends at Rising Sun, who we featured in our very first episode, are having a very cool-looking party on Saturday night in Los Angeles. It runs from six to nine at 2246 Fair Park Avenue in Eagle Rock. If my past experience with Mike Hodis & Co is any guide, there will be a ton of vintage hot rods and motorbikes, and both men and women in overalls, old leather and applejack caps. Should be a great time.

A Good Day’s Thrifting
After working every day for a few weeks straight, I took a few hours yesterday to pursue some hobby time. I hopped in the car and headed for the west side of Los Angeles to do some thrifting.
I live in East LA, where there are plenty of thrift stores, but precious little quality menswear on the racks therein. The reason’s simple - no rich people, no rich people clothes. There are some thrift chains that distribute across a region, rather than store-by-store, and there are always scores available everywhere, but the percentages are best in nice stores in affluent areas.
I ended up with the pile above. The Polo suit is older, probably from the 1980s, made in the USA, in a beautiful gray birdseye. Perfect fit and a very classic style, especially for a big tall guy like myself. I find myself drawn to Polo from the mid-80s and before, when it was inspired by classic styles of the 1930s and ’40s. The better-quality pieces have held up with time, as well. This suit will require a letting out in the waist and taking up in the sleeves and trousers, but both of those are easily done by my tailor. It set me back $40.
I found the pocket squares in the ladies’ scarves section of one of my favorite thrifts. It’s always worth taking a peek there - pocket squares are usually about 15 or 16 inches square, and scarves for women tend to be much larger, so it’s easy to spot the difference. Only one of the ones I picked up had a brand (also Polo), but all are great options, and they were only five bucks each.
The ties came from a Goodwill that’s been very productive for me in the past. The green striped one was the first I found - I spotted its Kiton tag from across the room. The rest are made by Paul Stuart (in England), Facconable (by Breuer, in France), Brooks Brothers Makers and Andrew of Milano. There was another Kiton, stained, that I left on the rack.
The trip represented visits to six stores, and I shopped at two of them. I spent a total of about $75 (plus another $15 on baby clothes, not pictured). Not bad for half a day’s work.

A Good Day’s Thrifting

After working every day for a few weeks straight, I took a few hours yesterday to pursue some hobby time. I hopped in the car and headed for the west side of Los Angeles to do some thrifting.

I live in East LA, where there are plenty of thrift stores, but precious little quality menswear on the racks therein. The reason’s simple - no rich people, no rich people clothes. There are some thrift chains that distribute across a region, rather than store-by-store, and there are always scores available everywhere, but the percentages are best in nice stores in affluent areas.

I ended up with the pile above. The Polo suit is older, probably from the 1980s, made in the USA, in a beautiful gray birdseye. Perfect fit and a very classic style, especially for a big tall guy like myself. I find myself drawn to Polo from the mid-80s and before, when it was inspired by classic styles of the 1930s and ’40s. The better-quality pieces have held up with time, as well. This suit will require a letting out in the waist and taking up in the sleeves and trousers, but both of those are easily done by my tailor. It set me back $40.

I found the pocket squares in the ladies’ scarves section of one of my favorite thrifts. It’s always worth taking a peek there - pocket squares are usually about 15 or 16 inches square, and scarves for women tend to be much larger, so it’s easy to spot the difference. Only one of the ones I picked up had a brand (also Polo), but all are great options, and they were only five bucks each.

The ties came from a Goodwill that’s been very productive for me in the past. The green striped one was the first I found - I spotted its Kiton tag from across the room. The rest are made by Paul Stuart (in England), Facconable (by Breuer, in France), Brooks Brothers Makers and Andrew of Milano. There was another Kiton, stained, that I left on the rack.

The trip represented visits to six stores, and I shopped at two of them. I spent a total of about $75 (plus another $15 on baby clothes, not pictured). Not bad for half a day’s work.

Part II of Jesse’s interview with Raul Ojeda is now up at StyleForum. In it, Jesse talks with Raul about how custom shoes are created and how much he charges for the service. It’s a great read for those who like to know the nitty gritty of how bespoke shoes are made.
In case you missed it, you can catch up on the interview by reading part one here.

Part II of Jesse’s interview with Raul Ojeda is now up at StyleForum. In it, Jesse talks with Raul about how custom shoes are created and how much he charges for the service. It’s a great read for those who like to know the nitty gritty of how bespoke shoes are made.

In case you missed it, you can catch up on the interview by reading part one here.

We’re running an extensive interview I did with Raul Ojeda, the shoemaker from our shoes episode, over on StyleForum. Part one of three is up today.
I’ve become great friends with Raul since I met him while working on that episode, and I’m so impressed with what he and his colleagues are up to at their new venture Don Ville. Raul and company are making fully bespoke shoes on-premises for less than half of what other bespoke makers charge, and the shoes are gorgeous.
I don’t personally know a lot of millionaires, who have a $100,000 laying around in the budget to buy shoes over the next 10 years, because that’s what shoes cost! You know, Europeans, John Lobbs are about $6,000. Our shoes, the most expensive are maybe $2,000, maybe $2,400 when we have to start a last from the very beginning. I really don’t see how you should be paying 3, 4, $5,000 for each pair of shoes. I think you probably wouldn’t even want to wear them. 
We want to offer shoes for the many of us that love and enjoy wearing shoes. That’s the inspiration for this shop. We want to have people come over, get their measurements, and have the shoe that they really want to wear that fits very well.
(Photo by Gordon de los Santos)
Full disclosure, by the way: I mention this in the piece, but when I heard Raul was opening the shop, I talked him into trading some writing on his website for a pair of shoes.

We’re running an extensive interview I did with Raul Ojeda, the shoemaker from our shoes episode, over on StyleForum. Part one of three is up today.

I’ve become great friends with Raul since I met him while working on that episode, and I’m so impressed with what he and his colleagues are up to at their new venture Don Ville. Raul and company are making fully bespoke shoes on-premises for less than half of what other bespoke makers charge, and the shoes are gorgeous.

I don’t personally know a lot of millionaires, who have a $100,000 laying around in the budget to buy shoes over the next 10 years, because that’s what shoes cost! You know, Europeans, John Lobbs are about $6,000. Our shoes, the most expensive are maybe $2,000, maybe $2,400 when we have to start a last from the very beginning. I really don’t see how you should be paying 3, 4, $5,000 for each pair of shoes. I think you probably wouldn’t even want to wear them.

We want to offer shoes for the many of us that love and enjoy wearing shoes. That’s the inspiration for this shop. We want to have people come over, get their measurements, and have the shoe that they really want to wear that fits very well.

(Photo by Gordon de los Santos)

Full disclosure, by the way: I mention this in the piece, but when I heard Raul was opening the shop, I talked him into trading some writing on his website for a pair of shoes.

I just stopped by to visit our old friend Mike Hodis at his new Rising Sun store in Eagle Rock, here in Northeast Los Angeles. They’re having a sample sale today, and I grabbed some of his beautiful jeans for my wife, along with some Christmas gifts for the family. Mike and company will be there until five, and by appointment thereafter, so drop them a line. Their number is 323-982-9798.