Funky Fresh Flannels feat. Alexander Sumner
September 29th, 2014
The world of menswear is a relatively small one, but it’s full of interesting characters. I love meeting entrepreneurs in the business to learn how they got their start and understand the vision behind the brand that they’ve built.
During my last trip to New York I met with the crew behind NYC Clothier Alexander Nash and had some particularly great conversations with founder Alexander Sumner.
Alex is a lot of things. He’s a teacher, a designer, a family man, a hardcore deadhead, a former velvet rope gatekeeper (shout-out to my man Frans), etc. And as you would expect from a man who runs a tailoring business – which specializes in true bespoke suits handmade in NYC – he has an impressive wardrobe full of unexpected details.
Here he gives us a taste of some of his favorite funky flannels for the F/W season.
1. Bring the Pane
“Both of my parents had a strong impact on the development of my style. My father, being a staunch New Englander and educated at Yale, loved his colors and his boldness was transferred in whole. My mother painted, wrote, and refinished antiques. Her sensibility spoke volumes to me; as per taking what is old and rich in character and making it new and unique.
She took me to my first Thrift Shop when I was 12 years old, which helped shape my eye and began an obsession. She gave me the understanding that in fashion (especially menswear) there is truly nothing new under the sun… I was exposed early to the benefits of classic silhouettes and wonderful craftsmanship… All of this shortly began an almost daily ritual of thrift shop treasure hunting for me.”
I love this in-your-face chalkstripe windowpane. On a heavy flannel fabric the loud stripes are somewhat mitigated by the “fuzz” of the fabric.
If you’re going with a fabric this bold, then go just as bold with the styling. Don’t shy away from a trim double-breasted cut or a wide 5″ lapel (keeping in mind Alex is about 6’3″). In this case I also like the touch of the contrast button-holes (on the lapels and sleeves) since they’re about as visible as the chalkstripe.
Alex is a man of detail, as seen by the cutaway/club collar, the intricacies of the tie knot, the burnishing of that incredible leather duffle bag, and the f-you-ness of the jacket lining.
Also, check out the custom-sized hip pocket on the trousers to hold his IPhone. It’s a detail that comes on all the A. Nash suits, “to keep the bulk out of your pockets”.
2. Winter’s Bone
“I’m an educator by heart and by trade, having worked for the NYC Board of Education for ten years teaching Middle School Social Studies and Technology in Brooklyn through the 90’s. In order to survive on a teachers salary, I also worked at least 4 nights a week in the nightclub world, either as a Doorman or VIP Host.
Besides helping to pay the rent, the evening work also tapped into my love of dressing-up… (One night) a chance encounter at the door of the famed club Pangaea (where I manned the ropes for two years) connected me with the owner of Mood Fabrics, which changed the course of my life dramatically. Suddenly I had access to use fabrics of my own choosing…with tailors I’d been working with for 10-15 years tweaking my vintage finds. So I started experimenting and making silhouettes of my own choosing… Eventually my personal pieces started piquing the interest of some of my colleagues around the city and soon I was making clothing for them…
The art of dressing for the evening has very significantly defined my designs and overall sense of style; 25 years of nightlife work has left its mark.”
I appreciate the non-corporate touches to Alex’s suits, like the green herringbone flannel, the short-sleeved shirt with wool bowtie, the orange floral lining, the formal-cut waistcoat complete with one-sided covered buttons, etc.
“My advice on building a wardrobe is to start by making sure you’ve mastered the basics. The navy suit and the white shirt. Simple Levi’s with a white t-shirt and Jack Purcells. Get that crisp shawl tux and the clean grey suit. Most importantly, understand that FIT is everything… Recognize the beauty of the human silhouette and strive to accentuate it with clothes imbued with a flattering fit.
Beware of trends. No word should make you more fearful than ‘fashion’. Style is timeless, classic, scarcely dictated by market manipulation or fads.”
3. Velvet Rope Bespoke
“Having a sense of style is hardly a matter of life and death. If one eats daily only to nourish oneself, then the world of varied and delicious cuisine is unfortunately overlooked. Tapping into ones sense of style reaps great rewards as does developing your writing or reading skills or developing the skills to play an instrument.
I must emphasize that my sense of style is something that I’ve continued to develop, shape, (reshape!) and nurture. Saying that your sense of style has arrived is to grossly misunderstand the magic of exploration and growth. Most importantly, the development of my style has allowed me to have tremendous fun!”
“The navy topcoat-suit was made for wearing outside on cold evenings when I was operating the door at a prominent nightclub. I wanted to be able to shield myself from the wind so I chose a 14oz flannel cloth and made the jacket knee-length… The double-breasted windowpane suit in the first look was also created with hypothermia in mind.”
Again with the attention to detail – navy eyewear and navy monks to complete the look!
Thanks, as always, for reading and special thanks to Alex for participating!
Yours in style,
Photography by Alex Crawford.