What we’ve learned about our summer style this year

This August will mark the fifth year in operation for Bespoke Edge. We’ve come a long way, for sure. One of the strengths that we’ve leveraged over these past years is the distinct style that each of us bring to the brand. This was apparent to me in a recent team photo shoot and I thought it would be fun to talk about summer style this year in the context of these images.

For a lot of guys, summer style is something entirely separate from work attire. It’s shorts and flip flops and tank tops. While that’s certainly true (in the appropriate setting!), one of the great things about summer is that it can lighten up your work attire and help you to stay comfortable.

What does this mean?

Well, fabrics become more breathable. Out goes the heavy woolen suits and in come the linen, cotton, and blended suiting. Full construction tends to go away too, leaving behind “unconstructed” summer jackets that are lightweight and casual. And colors tend to get lighter in nature too. Earth tones and light blues and grays are perfect for the warmer months of the season.

Some of the traditional details of menswear tend to drift away. Neckties are few and far between. Heavy leather shoes are left in the closet and dress shirts tend to go lighter in color, just as the jackets have done. It’s even OK to wear a short sleeve button-up dress shirt under your suit jacket or sportcoat in the summer.

Let’s take a look at what the three of us have each done.

Brett’s look

As always, Brett is showing us his casual sophistication. His herringbone woven jacket adds elegance to his go-to summer look. It’s also a very young and fitted cut. The jacket length is shorter than most and Brett’s body type fills up the coat perfectly. The result is a jacket that was undoubtedly made for him and him alone.

The open shirt collar is mandatory on warm summer days, but the thoughtful pocket square reminds us that he put some thought into this look. The takeaway? Dressing sharp is easier than you think. Start with a strong piece, in this case the jacket, dress other areas down if you like, but don’t skimp on the details (i.e the pocket square).

I also want to bring your attention to two notable details: His watch and his blue lapel button hole. These may seem to be mere subtitles, but they really add some visual weight to his look.

summer style this year

Ryan’s look

I tend to have a very relaxed yet sophisticated look, what I would call a Mediterranean style. For summer, that means a lightweight and unstructured sportcoat in a soft color (I have blue eyes so I tend to wear a lot of blues). I love white dress shirts in the summer for their simplicity, but always unbutton the top two buttons. And I’m never without a pocket square.

On the pants, during a hot summer day, I’ll go for something light like this grey. However, if I have a meeting that will spill over into dinner or happy hour, I’ll often wear dark navy pants which instantly dress up the whole outfit. The contrast it provides adds an sense of elegance. This coupled with the sock-less look gives me a very sophisticated and young look.

summer style this year

Ron’s look

Year after year, Ron tends to take a different approach with his summer style. From my perspective, he even tends to ignore many of the seasonal tactics I outline above!

First of all, Ron likes to wear a full suit. And although this may look overly warm, his fabrics are of a sufficiently high quality that he actually stays relatively cool. Of course, on exceptionally warm days, he will probably lose out to Brett and I with our unstructured coats, but he will be better dressed than either one of us combined, up until that point.

And Ron’s a traditional guy; he’s often wearing a necktie. In the summer, his necktie will go a little lighter in hue and I can guarantee you, he will always have his pocket square matching perfectly!

Wrap up

You see, we each have different styles that we bring to the table for our summer style this year. And yet each of us is always wearing something that makes us feel good. That’s the whole point, isn’t it? 🙂

More information

Seven summer style essentials

Our favorite summer pocket squares

Here’s one of our videos on what an unstructured suit jacket is:

Our interview with Sword & Plough, a company with a mission

If you follow this blog with any regularity you’ll know that I’m always on the lookout for folks doing interesting work. And recently, I came across a company manufacturing some very cool products that are predominately made from up-cycled military surplus, Sword & Plough.

Bags, jewelry, belts, all sorts of things, but of particular interest to me, are their tie bars and cuff links. The former is actually made from 50 caliber brass shell casings!

To learn more about the company and their beginnings, I reached out to founders Emily Cavness and Betsy Núñez.

[Ryan] First, I’d like to ask you two about the quadruple bottom line — which consists of social impact, environmental impact, purpose, and donating 10% of profit. It seems to drive much of your business decisions. Can you tell us a little bit about why these four items are important to you?

[Emily/Betsy] As a business, what sets Sword & Plough apart is our commitment to a quadruple bottom line: People, Planet, Purpose, Profit. This means that we are simultaneously focused on empowering veteran employment and supporting American jobs, repurposing surplus material, manufacturing in the U.S., strengthening civil-military understanding, and donating 10% of our profits to veteran organizations. Our quadruple bottom line is so important to us because it allows us to sustainably give back to the community that raised us, and the community that Emily went on to serve in.

Here is more detailed information about our quadruple bottom line!

+ Social Impact (People): We support social impact by supporting veteran employment at every stage of our business. This includes the design process, manufacturing, management, fulfillment and sales. Since 2012, Sword & Plough has helped support over 65 veteran jobs through our own company and manufacturing partners. These include positions within our own management team, through our contract manufacturing partners (which are veteran owned or partially staffed by veterans), through our veteran owned fulfillment center, and through our Brand Champion program. Sword & Plough encourages any job-seeking veteran to send his or her resume and cover letter to jobs@swordandplough.com so we can try to help secure an employment opportunity either internally or within our expanding supply chain.

+ Environmental Impact (Planet): Another key part of the Sword & Plough mission is to reduce waste and minimize our carbon footprint on the world. By incorporating repurposed military surplus materials into our designs, we are able to significantly reduce our environmental impact as a fashion brand. We also manufacture exclusively in the U.S., which reduces our carbon emissions. To date, we have repurposed over 35,000 pounds of military surplus.

+ Purpose: Sword & Plough is also committed to strengthening civil-military understanding. Our team knows that veterans are highly skilled technical professionals, problem solvers, and proven leaders who are empowering assets to civilian communities and companies. Through our social media, email, blog and public speaking opportunities, we work to educate others about the value that veterans provide. Our customers love to share the conversations they have when stopped and asked “Where did you get that bag?” or “What is that bag made out of?” Those conversations are opportunities to bridge the divide and increase understanding between civilian and military communities.

+ Profit: Since launching we have made it a priority to donate 10% of our profits to veteran non-profit organizations that align with our mission such as Got Your 6 and Team Red, White, & Blue. We’ve also donated more than $35,000 worth of Sword & Plough products to veteran organizations. These in-kind donations have helped support over 100 additional veteran-related initiatives in areas of employment, education, health, housing, and leadership.

Sword & Plough lookbook

I’m fascinated by how companies find their start. What can you tell us about your company’s beginnings? There was a Kickstarter campaign, right?

Yes, we launched on Kickstarter in April of 2013 with the goal of raising $20,000 to fund our first large production order. We reached that goal in just the first two hours of our campaign and ended the 30-day campaign with over 1500 pre-orders and over $312,000! Just one month later, Emily deployed to Afghanistan. Over the next 7 months, our team communicated over four different time zones, built a large community around our brand, developed a long-term supply chain, and fulfilled all of the Kickstarter orders in time. We knew if we were able to overcome that challenge, we could accomplish anything.

sword and plough worker

What are your favorite products to date and how do you see your product line evolving?

When we launched on Kickstarter in 2013 we had three Signature bags and since then have expanded our line to include more than 60+ SKUs. Our collection now includes leather goods, handbags, purses, jewelry, travel gear, and accessories. Some of our favorite products are the S&P Travel Kits, our recently launched accessories such as our Tie Bar and Money Clip (these are hand hammered from repurposed .50 caliber bullet casings) and our Camo Rucksack because it is made out of the same woodland camouflage pattern that our Dad wore when he was in the Army.

On your website I read that you have repurposed over 35,000 pounds of military surplus since 2012, that’s amazing! Where would this hardware have gone otherwise?

Thank you! As you mentioned, another key part of the Sword & Plough mission is to reduce waste and minimize our carbon footprint on the world. By incorporating repurposed military surplus materials into our designs, we are able to significantly reduce our environmental impact as a fashion brand. We also manufacture exclusively in the U.S., which reduces our carbon emissions. Additionally, we use recycled materials in our packaging!

sword & plough stock

What are some of the biggest challenges facing veterans in the Colorado area? And where can we learn more about veteran non-profit organizations?

Through Sword & Plough, we are working to empower veteran employment and strengthen civil-military understanding which are two challenges that veterans face.

We are very proud to be a Colorado based business because Denver has such a strong and supportive veteran community! There are many great veteran non-profit organizations to get involved with. Here are a few that we support and enjoy being a part of: https://www.swordandplough.com/pages/giving-partners.

Sword & Plough contact:

Like what you see? Here’s Sword & Plough’s webpage and a link to their Contact Form.

How our finest suits are made

Earlier this month, Ron and I flew out to visit one of our vendors in New York state. We believe that it’s incredibly important to have a close professional relationship with our business partners. It’s also very important to all of us at Bespoke Edge that we understand how our products are manufactured. So, it was with great excitement that we flew out for a quick 36 hours to visit Adrian Jules, in Rochester. While there, we toured the factory floor and reconnected with some incredibly talented and kind people.

Personally, this was my very first trip to a suit factory. As a former engineer, I was particularly interested in the manufacturing process. The Adrian Jules leadership was kind enough to allow me to take some photos.

This article is what I would call a brief overview of suit manufacturing. It’s by no means exhaustive. It only begins to answer the question, how is a suit made? With around 280 parts that go into one suit, the process can be quite complex, but this article will show you a lot!

Pattern making

If you have had an appointment with us, you know that we are very thorough with our measurements. Over 20 measurements go into the creation of one suit. After each client appointment, there is a considerable amount of post processing that goes into each order. One to three days later, we’re ready to contact the factory.

For each of our Signature Line suits, or high-end offerings, Ron and Victor will connect on the phone and discuss the subtleties of how each individual suit will fit, per our client’s needs and desires. Shoulder slope and client posture are debated, fabric drape is discussed, and a bespoke suit pattern created.

Here’s Ron with Victor, the Adrian Jules Master Tailor. Victor, on the right, has over 40 years of experience in garment manufacturing, while Ron is just about to hit 40 years himself in menswear sales and service.

american made custom suits master tailor

Cutting

Once the patterns are created the design is off to the cutting room. The patterns for each piece of the suit are arranged as efficiently as possible (i.e. “nested”) on the stock fabric via a computer program. While software certainly helps, there is still a decent amount of oversight required. For instance, some fabrics need to be laid out in such a way that they match other parts. Complex patterns like plaids need to line up perfectly. Afterall, you can’t have a plaid chest pocket whose pattern doesn’t line up with the rest of the suit!

The completed layout is then sent to the cutter which uses a very small, and very sharp, reciprocating saw to cut the fabric to within the width of a human hair.

And even during the cutting process, small adjustments are sometimes made by hand to ensure proper alignment of parts and patterns.

Back in my engineering days, we would employ an almost identical process to cut out pieces of composite to build an aircraft. With composite sheets of graphite or fiberglass, we would pull a vacuum on the composite cloth to hold it in place while cutting. I was surprised to learn that the same technique was used with wool! But because wool is porous there needs to be a sheet of plastic on top such that a vacuum will hold.

how a suit pattern is cut

In the image above, you can see the cloth in navy, the paper backing, and the plastic top that will enable the vacuum to pull down and hold the cloth in place while it’s being cut to size.

The cut pieces are collected and then pressed. And in some cases, the corresponding canvas (more on this later) is pressed as well such that both the fabric and the canvas are a perfect match to one another. Ron and I loved seeing this attention to detail.

Sewing

Once the pieces are all cut out and appropriately pressed, they leave the cutting room floor and go out into the sewing room where the suit jacket will begin to take shape.

Personally, my favorite part of the tour was the lapel station. Here, the lapel is cut by hand to the desired pattern (notched, peaked, etc), but it’s so much more than that! The gentleman in charge of this station has many years of experience (he wouldn’t tell me exactly how many!). And on the wall behind him were dozens and dozens of lapel contours. I watched him as he worked and I was amazed at the care and attention to detail that went into each suit jacket lapel. It’s truly an art.

the lapel cutting station for how is a suit made

the suit lapel patterns

Meanwhile, other parts of the jacket are coming together a few stations over. Here, the pockets are carefully crafted. By the way, the gentleman in the photo below has over 30 years of experience in garment manufacturing.

pocket making in a custom suit

detail on pocket construction

Canvas construction

The following images show something very special. This is a full canvas assembly that will be joined with the chest pieces of a suit. You can read all about full canvas construction here, but the key thing to understand is that this horse hair material (hair from the mane and tail of a horse) will help the suit jacket shape to your body after repeated wearings, but will also help the jacket maintain rigidity and stiffness, something that a synthetic material just can’t provide. This specific canvas has a density of 21 threads per inch, the highest that’s available.

how are suits made with horse hair full canvas construction

I was pleased to see that the canvas had a shoulder pad cutout designed specifically for your clavicle, such that the pad will rest better.

At the risk of sounding clique, it’s the full canvas construction that takes a suit from ordinary to extraordinary.

Underpressing

You’ve probably heard of suits being pressed before. Most likely, it was when you took your jacket to the dry cleaner and it came back nice and pressed and wrinkle free. But pressing also takes place at the factory. It’s usually the final step before being boxed up and shipped to its final destination. However, at the Adrian Jules factory, in addition to final pressing, they are methodical about what they call underpressing. This is the technique of pressing certain subassemblies of the jacket to help form the jacket up in mid-production.

Here is an example of a press that is specifically designed to shape the shoulder section of a men’s custom suit.

pressing the shoulders of a suit

And here’s another press, but in the closed position (this is for a chest piece).

closed suit press

And not all of the presses are for large pieces, as several are specifically designed to press and form details of the jacket.

detail underpress

I want to note that in addition to this underpressing, there is a significant amount of hand molding and shaping that is ongoing throughout the build process.

Eventually, the different panels of the suit are joined together into larger assemblies and begin to look a lot more like a suit jacket.

how are suits made

From here, the sleeves are joined, any remaining basting thread removed, and the finishing touches applied to create a suit that you have probably seen me or Ron wearing!

How are suits made? Wrap up

This was an incredible trip for us. We spent around 7 hours in the factory asking questions and learning about the process. Ron also had ample time to chat with Victor and discovered new techniques for advanced measuring and tailoring that will further refine our process.

And from my perspective, there’s no doubt in my mind that we are offering the finest suits in the United States right now. Ron’s skill in measuring and fitting, combined with the talent and people at Adrian Jules, enable us to offer a very unique and truly one of a kind suit.

Make an appointment today and we’ll make a believer out of you too!

 

 

Newly engaged? Here’s how to get savvy with your financials

If you follow our work here at Bespoke Edge, you’ll know that we build quite a few custom wedding suits and tuxedos for our grooms. Consequently, we’re always working to create valuable content on style and groom’s etiquette. But the other day I was thinking that maybe we’re missing a key component: What happens after the wedding.

And a conversation that will come up very soon after the wedding revolves around financial planning. Clearly, financial planning is outside of my wheelhouse, but fortunately, I know a lot of the right people! I reached out to my friend Todd Miller, a registered agent with the New York Life Insurance Company, with some simple questions that I think are on the minds of many newlyweds…

1. [Ryan] For a newly married couple, are there advantages to sharing certain financial accounts? If so, which ones? And where would you recommend that people begin?

[Todd] Yes, most of the time you can share in a tax-free savings (for a home, college savings for kids, vacation planning or retirement planning) that will grow at a better rate. Essentially, these type of plans would be used in conjunction with life insurance and the reason for their value to grow more quickly is simply because of the compounding returns with more money being added to the account. Most IRA’s, investments and annuities people set up individually rather than as a couple because the growth is determined by the market rate of return. I always recommend that a couple start with whatever goals are most important for them. That could be any of the types of plans I listed above. Not necessarily a certain plan because everyone has different goals and situations.

2. I think that a lot of folks, especially millennials, don’t give much thought to things like life insurance and long term financial planning. How should people be prioritizing this sort of planning?

You’re right, but the best planning is the planning that is done early. It is very hard to “make a comeback” when they are so far behind the 8 ball. The biggest financial problem I run into with my millennial clients is that they feel invincible. Or that type of feeling that “nothing will happen to us, or me.” Unexpected expenses or life events happen to everyone and without the necessary planning in place people fall behind and have trouble getting back to their goals/planning. If they can prioritize their goals and put the necessary planning in place, these life events can really help to thwart the unexpected expenses. Sometimes it’s as easy as setting up different insurances: like disability ins., life ins., auto ins., home ins. etc. And sometimes it’s more on the planning side of having an emergency savings or debt management.

3. What’s the best financial advice that you can give to a 20-something couple? Is it different from a newly married couple in their 30s?

Best financial advice for a 20- something couple I would say is to not wait to start something. A lot of younger couples think that they aren’t making enough or don’t have enough to really make a difference. I firmly believe that if you do the best with what you can, you will in turn get the best possible results. For couples in their 30s I do think it is a little different. They usually have more assets they need to be covered for in the event of something happening against their plans. The more assets you have the more “safe-guard” protections you should need. Of course, in both of these examples every couple and individuals situation is different. Some have been in college longer, working longer, traveling, have bigger assets etc.

Have more questions?

Obviously, this article only scratches the surface, so get in touch with Todd and ask him the tough questions!

Tel: 406-698-3015
Office: 303-403-5600 ext. 5612