Benjamin Klemann Shoes – Part 2

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Klemann is a true family business. Benjamin Klemann looks after customers, he takes measurements, and he creates the lasts. His wife, Magrit, makes the uppers, and his two sons, Vincent and Lennert, master shoemakers like their father, are in the workshop, which includes four more shoemakers. Everything is made on the the premises at Poolstrasse 9 in Hamburg. It sets them apart from London, where Cleverley, Lobb, and Foster & Son are supplementing with out-workers. I don’t know, if the centralization means anything for the quality of the production but I guess it is easier to control consistency, if all steps take place under the same roof.

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When measuring my feet, Benjamin spoke about the different types of feet and those challenges they create for the shoemaker. I understood that my feet are a good example of difficult feet. The front foot is broad, the instep is high, the arch is deep and high, and the heel quite narrow. From a geometrical point of view those features lead to a very compactly looking foot, which has very little chances of finding a well-fitting ready-to-wear shoe. They also impose a burden on the bespoke shoemaker. He should be able to create nicely fitting shoes (loafers are demanding though) but making the shoes slender and elegant as well is another matter. Extending the shoes a little is one trick. We’ll see, what Benjamin finds out.

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After drawing and measuring the feet, Benjamin made a print of the feet to get information about the proper footbed. All in all this initial process appeared more careful than what I have experienced at the Warsaw shoemakers, which of course is no guarantee of a better end result. On the other hand, chances of success must rise the more quality data you obtain about the feet.

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We touched upon the old Russian reindeer leather from the vessel Catharina von Flensburg. Benjamin exhibits two shoes in different shades made up from the venerable leather (see above). From what I understood, the Russian reindeer leather is just as strong as modern leathers, if you polish it frequently. Else small cuts can appear in the upper.

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The English and Hungarian roots of his training clearly influence Benjamin’s shoe designs. The formal shoes look very British with rounded or chiseled toes, not pointed like Italian or French shoes, and in regards to derby shoes he likes the Budapester design and construction.

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Lennert and Vincent were working on shoes, when I was there, and I spoke to Lennert about his stay in London, and if shoemaking there differs from shoemaking at his fathers workshop. The biggest difference is the access to tools, he told me. It was a relief to come back to his fathers workshop full of top notch tools. Besides that he experiences that the shoemaking processes are just about the same.

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Both Lennert and Vincent are making sneakers and sports shoes as well. They follow the same quality approach as in classic shoemaking. All models are bespoke, and the sports shoes will be hand-welted. It struck me as a brilliant move, which cannot only introduce the art of shoemaking to less tradition conscious men, but also move tradition conscious men like myself a little forward.

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The shoe fitting will be after summer, when my lasts have been carved.

Photos: The Journal of Style

Posted in German Shoemakers, Shoemakers | Tagged | 2 Comments

A Guide to Bling

Cut, fit, colours, patterns, and textures are more important effects. However, a well-dressed man shouldn’t be afraid of bling. If he applies it with care, he can achieve extra style points. Here’s a guide to bling.

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Tie pins are the easy start perhaps. You have the old-fashioned  tie pin sticks and tie tacks. They were developed for cravats and ties in the 19th Century to keep the knot in place. In means that you insert these two tie pins in the upper part of the tie, just a little below the knot.

Steven-Hitchcock-Tie-Pin-The-Journal-of-Style[Bespoke tailor Steven Hitchcock wearing a tie stick pin]

The tie clip and the tie chain, on the other hand, are meant for the vest-less suit, which began to spread after WW1. You use them to control the tie, when the waistcoat is not there to do the job. You attach them just above the middle of the tie.

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What to do with that lapel button hole? You can insert a flower (boutonnière) in it, yet it can be too much on a daily basis. A less noisy option is a tiny lapel pin. Basically, you’ll find two stylish versions: the ornamentation on a stick, and the (artificial) flower on a stick. Choose what you like, although always insert the pin in the lapel, so it doesn’t stick out on the front.

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Shirt studs are for evening shirts, the tail coat shirt in particular, which will take two or three mother of pearl studs in the stiff front. Many consider shirt studs compulsory on dinner shirts as well. In my opinion they make sense mainly in dinner shirts with a stiff wing collar. The idea behind the (soft) turn-down collar is to move away from a Victorian relic like shirt studs.

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You may argue that cufflinks should be removed as well, if you wear a dinner shirt with a turn-down collar. They are very Victorian too afterall. That I would not do though. Cufflinks are so established.  Save the cufflinks. The linked oval cufflinks in gold are the most traditional cufflinks that you can get.

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Collar pins are another classic bling item. You stick them through the collar points. They can lift the tie knot, and they secure that the knot stays in place. The collar bar will need small holes in the collar points, whereas the safety pin can be used on any pointed soft collar.

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The signet ring is mostly for kings and other etheric men, who have a reluctant relationship to the e-World. The ring may carry your creast or initials, which are to be used, when you seal regulations and envolopes. You wear the signet ring on your pinky finger.

Photos: The Journal of Style, and Fortrove, Rubylane, Age of Jewels, Nothing High StreetTies Planet, Edward Sexton, Etsy, Antiques Avenue, Lover.ly, Kongehuset, The Antique Jewellery Company, Crane Jewellers, Steven Hitchcock og Ragnar R. Jørgensen

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Black Jacket at a Funeral

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The Brits will wear a cut-away coat with black waistcoat and black tie at a funeral, if they follow tradition strictly. Often a dark lounge suit and a white shirt will be enough though.

Butler shows, how you can substitute both cut-away and lounge suit at a funeral for something in between: a black jacket. With greyish striped trousers and black waistcoat the black jacket is a semi-formal colourless daytime attire, which spread after WW1, when cut-aways left the scene.

Unlike the cut-away, which can take a buff waistcoat and a light-hearted tie, I don’t think that the black jacket dress is a good match for a wedding. It is always black, grey, and white, and that appears too serious for a happy event like a wedding. The black jacket is better suited for a funeral.

Jacket & trousers: Steven Hitchcock, London.

Photo: The Journal of Style

Posted in Formal Wear, Guides | Tagged | 6 Comments

A Guide to Captoe Oxford Shoes

Planning to order a pair of captoe oxford shoes at Klemann’s made me once again think about the different designs. Here’s a visualization of my thoughts, a short guide to different designs of captoe oxford shoes.

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The plain captoes in black or brown boxcalf. Unblemished shoes with a lounge suit, yet perhaps a little boring. I have them in black and in brown. In black the best captoes for evenings.

Punched-captoes-Cleverley-The-Journal-of-StylePhoto: Cleverley

The punched captoe, a favourite of many connaisseurs. I have a black pair and a brown pair of them as well. For the lounge suit mainly.

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Photo: Cleverley

A punched captoe with elaborated perforations. In black for your lounge suit and blue blazer with grey pants. In brown for your sport coat as well.

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 The semi-brogue captoe oxfords. In dark brown it could be regarded as the most versatile shoe design, since it works frictionlessly with both business suits, sport coats, and chinos.

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Photo: Cleverley

Lastly among the conventional designs, the full-brogue black oxford, a classic and very conservative business suit shoe model, best in the winter time.

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Other designs tend to appear somewhat dandified. The captoe with perforated toe cap solely is an example of that.

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The Adelaide design, invented by legendary last maker Terry Moore from Foster & Son, is another discreetly dandified captoe. Besides the brogue pattern, the Adelaide is identified by its long vamp reaching from cap to heel, which creates a tongue shape around the laces.

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Photo: Cleverley

Nubuck and suede will make the oxfords less conventional as well.

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The fat shell cordovan leather also twists a captoe.

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Photo: The Journal of Style

Finally, oxford austerity brogues. Like dark brown oxford semi-brogues, dark brown oxford austerity brogues have a very versatile potential in my view. You can use them with your business suit, and with more casual attires.

At Klemann’s I ordered the Adelaide, or “Lingwood”, as he calls the model. More to come about that shortly.

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Massatelier Fasan – A Bespoke Shirtmaker in Berlin

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As you know, I like to check out craftsmen in cities that I visit. Last time, when I was in Potsdam for a fitting at Arnulf’s, I took the opportunity to drop by Massatelier Fasan at Fasanstrasse 28, close to the large avenue Kurfürstendam in Berlin. To my knowledge Fasan the only shop in Berlin specializing in classic bespoke shirtmaking. Arnulf makes bespoke shirts as well but he is foremost a bespoke tailor, not unlike a bespoke tailor on Savile Row, who also offers bespoke shirtmaking.

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The shop Fasan itself is from 1950, founded by Ilse Strelow. Dr. Ferdinand Langenkamp took over in 1975. Three years later, Sabine Anton bought the atelier, and she ran it until 2007, when the present owners, Regine und Heinrich Sabielny, from Düsseldorf, I believe, bought the shop.

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Shirts are made on the premises, and you will get a muslin fitting, before the first real shirt is made up. I guess that they also create an individual paper pattern but I forgot to ask about that. Sewing is done on machine, apart from the buttons, which they attach by hand. Collars and cuffs are unfused. According to their website Mr and Mrs Sabielny continue to employ a couple of experienced seamstresses, who worked for the former owner. All in all Massatelier Fasan seems to be the real deal, with the caveat that I don’t know the training and the experience of Mr and Mrs Sabielny and their shop staff in regards to taking measurements and to do fittings.

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Prices begin at 250 Euros for a shirt. In a normal Alumo fabric, I was quoted 290 Euros for a shirt. You can find more information about Massatelier Fasan at their website (in GERMAN).

Photos: The Journal of Style

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