Santa Maria Novella

Santa Maria Novella

Simon Crompton at Permanent Style, who is also the Online Editor at The Rake, recently wrote an piece about his visit to Santa Maria Novella in London. Check it out. He did a great job capturing some of the magic of the brand. I take particular pride in the piece because I believe it was I that first introduced Simon to Santa Maria Novella when I sent him some Crema da Barba (best shave cream in the world, in my opinion) and After Shave Emulsion.

Simon does an incredible job with both his personal blog Permanent Style and his work at The Rake Online. In my personal opinion, he is one of the best, if not the best, menswear blogger on the internet. If you have not yet subscribed to The Rake, you owe it to yourself to do so. It is, without question, the best lifestyle publication for those that dress well and enjoy the finer details in life.

Although we are not permitted by Santa Maria Novella in Italy to sell their products online, we do stock a full range of items that can be purchased over the phone. If you haven’t yet experienced some of the phenomenal products, click here to view our selection of Santa Maria Novella items.

Bespoke Lifestyle

In Texas, Bootmakers Reign King

The United States, for the most part, is devoid of much artisanship. Apprenticeship and rigorous trade certifications have never been a part of our culture like it has in Europe. For every 10 bespoke tailors in England or Europe, the United States has one. There are just a handful of true bespoke shirtmakers, primarily in New York. And there certainly are no bespoke shoe makers outside of a few hobbyists. However, in Texas, the custom bootmaker still thrives. And amongst bootmakers, there is one that reigns king: Lee Miller of Texas Traditions in Austin, Texas.

Lee’s craftsmanship easily rivals that of the most accomplished bespoke shoemaker abroad. He is regularly petitioned for apprenticeships and has hosted understudies from as far away as Japan and Europe. His waiting list for new customers is three years long and he has stopped accepting new customers altogether.

At the suggestion of a very well-informed customer in Austin, my wife Bianca and I had an opportunity to spend some time with Lee during a recent trip to the city. What we discovered was an accomplished yet incredibly humble artisan who is the unquestioned master of bootmaking. He uses bootmaking techniques that have changed little over the past century, still using 3/8″ nails hammered on an anvil for his shanks and wooden pegs to fasten the boot waste. The authenticity and commitment to craftsmanship is so incredible yet somehow understated. There is no pomp to what Lee does. His two-room workshop is something you’d expect to see on a distant Texan prairie not in the middle of downtown Austin. And with the exception of the iMac computer, very little looks new. Wooden pegs and shanks are kept in tin coffee cans that could be from the 60’s.

A picture of the 3/8″ nail used by Miller for the shank of this boots, exactly as it was over 100 years ago. The wooden pegs used to secure the waist in place. Most bootmakers use metal nails or glue.

Lee’s customers regularily send in their boots to be resoled. With proper care, there is no question that a pair of boots by Mr. Miller could last decades, if not at least a generation. However, even boots require proper shoe polish, which is why I certainly recommend using Saphir Shoe Polish with your boots. With Saphir, not only are you going to achieve a better shine than with ordinary polishes, but, most importantly, the nourishment that Saphir Polish provides the leather will keep it soft and supple for as long as you take good care of it.

Lee is currently testing some of our Saphir Shoe Polish. I hope that soon he will be finishing all of his boots with Saphir Medaille d’Or, in keeping with his commitment to making the best cowboy boots in the world.

Bespoke Lifestyle

Men’s Valet Focus Group

After the persistent suggestion of many customers, I have begun work on the design of an all-new men’s dressing valet. It has taken me several years to get to this point. Primarily because I have always been unimpressed with what is currently on the market and because I did not have the proper help. However, I have decided to take the lunge and have contracted with furniture designer to help with the project. However, I still need your feedback in order to make sure that this is incredible!

If you would like to participate in my focus group, your help would be greatly appreciated. For your participation, you will receive a 25% discount on our first production batch. These will all be handcrafted here in Dallas, Texas, by one of the most respected custom furniture crafters. By participating in the focus group, you will also have the opportunity to customize your valet with your choice of wood and finish.

A few questions need to be answered

Which of the following items need to be included: shelf, drawers, shoe rack, change trays? What type of accessory drawers need to be designed into the valet to ensure that it is versatile and can accommodate everything one would need while getting ready in the morning.

Should the valet include a seat (like the one pictured) so one can sit while putting on or taking off his shoes?

What else would you include?

What price would be appropriate for a piece made here in the United States from the finest materials? $800? $1,200?

I am hoping to be able to present a first sketch within the next few days to present to the focus group. Once we begin to receive feedback, we will iterate until we achieve something incredible!

Bespoke Lifestyle

O’Mast – The Story of Neapolitan Tailoring

The O’Mast documentary by Gianluca Migliarotti is an intimate portrait of some of the last remaining Neapolitan tailors. This 70 minute documentary provides a rare glimpse into one of the most well-preserved and influential worlds of tailoring: Naples. Almost a tailor confessional, the film does an incredible job of portraying how these famous Neapolitan tailors feel about themselves and their relationship with their clients.

My wife Bianca and I watched this premier of O’Mast at the Style Forum 10th Anniversary in San Francisco. Arguably 20 minutes too long, the film nevertheless is incredibly enjoyable for both tailoring and non-tailoring enthusiasts to watch. For the tailoring fanatic, it provides a rare glimpse into some of the most renowned private tailoring houses. For the non-tailoring enthusiast, it artfully conveys the difference between a bespoke, bench-made garment and something factory-made and the craftsmanship, tradition, and artisanship that goes into constructing a tailored suit totally by hand.

After watching the film, the viewer is left feeling as though he has known some of these tailors for decades and will fully-understand what drives them towards perfection. It is just as much about the art of bespoke tailoring in general as it is about how it is specifically done in Naples. The film yields an easy appreciation for these men, what they do, and the meaning of their relationship with their clients. Without question, I believe that this film is a must-watch for anyone who appreciates craftsmanship, tradition, and, most importantly, tailoring. You will not be left disappointed.

O’Mast is available from The Hanger Project for $35 with free shipping within the United States. CLICK HERE to purchase.

Ami Arad (On the Fly), Kirby Allison, Jesse Thorn (Put this On), and
Gianluca Migliarotti (Kid Dandy) at the Style Forum 10th Anniversary

Bespoke Lifestyle

Special Project #2: Made-to-Order Handmade English Shoes

Handmade Alfred Sargent Shoes


I am excited to announce the launch of our second Special Project — handmade made-to-order English shoes by Alfred Sargent. Handmade English shoes represent the pinnacle of shoemaking and an investment in a pair from a reputable maker should easily last longer than a decade if properly cared for.

Great shoes do not make the man, but they can certainly destroy a wardrobe. Often overlooked, great shoes are essential to the classic wardrobe and represent one of the two last points of detail that distinguish true well-dressed gentlemen from the crowd (the other being his watch).

Why Alfred Sargent

I have the pleasure of meeting Chay Cooper, factory manager at Alfred Sargent, on several occasions. He is passionately committed to producing the best handmade English shoes possible – and his commitment shows in the balance and beauty of his creations. The quality of Alfred Sargent shoes is easily compared to that of Edward Green but for about 2/3 the cost.

Our Alfred Sargents are available in two styles – an Captoe Oxford and Monkstrap – in any of four finishes: three calf skins and one incredibly handsome dark chocolate suede, allowing for an unprecedented number of options. All customized to your exact preferences and crafted just for you!

This is why these made-to-order Alfred Sargents are such an incredible opportunity. Being able to commission made-to-order shoes in any of eight finishes will yield a personalized model totally custom just for you. And the quality of the craftsmanship will ensure that they continue to look incredible and wear great for years to come.

How it works

The process is simple – you tell us exactly what you want, and we’ll have it made just for you. Every pair of shoes will come with a pair of Ultra shoetrees and be accompanied with a Travel Shoe Horn and matching Saphir Medaille d’Or Polish. Suede shoes will come with a spray can of neutral Renovateur. Customers who purchase three or more pairs will receive a jar of Saphir Renovateur and a Full-Length Mortimer Shoehorn.

Bespoke Lifestyle

How to Buy Quality Shoes

Simon Crompton, the writer from blog Permament Style in London, recently wrote a piece I enjoyed on how to buy quality shoes. Shoes are often one of the most overlooked part of a man’s wardrobe, yet one of the most important. A strategic investment in a few nice pairs of shoes can yield dividends for at least a decade. I still wear a few pairs of nice shoes I purchased back in college! And, because of proper care, they still look incredible (actually, even better than when I first purchased them).

And the timing of this article is very is very fortuitous, as my next Special Project is going to be made-to-order shoes from British maker Alfred Sargent. For the money, they are the best value out of all of England.

Read Simon’s article about buying quality shoes.

Bespoke Lifestyle

Renowned Bespoke Tailoring House English Cut Chooses Hanger Project as their Exclusive Provider of Luxury Garment Hangers

Thomas Mahon at English Cut is perhaps the most well-known bespoke
tailor in the world. His blog, English Cut, was the first of its kind to open the private world of bespoke British clothing to the
sartorially-curious and receives thousands of visits daily. English Cut brings forth for its readers the distinctions that define
bespoke tailoring. Kirby Allison’s Hanger Project is proud to have been selected by Tom as his exclusive provider of Luxury Garment
Hangers for all bespoke suit deliveries.
Click the below logo to visit English Cut and learn more
about the world of Savile Row Bespoke Tailoring.

English Cut - Bespoke Savile Row Tailors