The Finest Menswear in the World, the book on luxury craft I began writing three years ago, had its European launch recently at the newly opened Cifonelli store in Paris
Published by Thames & Hudson, a hardcover, coffee-table book of some 200-odd pages, it is chock full of beautiful imagery from Andy Barnham and some rather in-depth writing from me.
Each of the 14 chapters runs through the aspects of an item of menswear that make it perhaps the finest in the world. So it explains the benefits in cut of a bespoke suit; then the benefits in make of a bespoke suit; it explains how styles vary between houses; and then that Cifonelli has all of those, plus perhaps the finest finishing and greatest creativity.
Brent Black makes some of the finest panama hats in the world because he hires the best weavers and doesn't let them work for anyone else. Loro Piana makes among the best knitwear because of its quality control and often access to exclusive materials. Begg has an intrinsic advantage in focusing just on scarves.
'Simon has dedicated several years understanding and familiarising himself with every nook and cranny of the bespoken menswear world, if anyone were to write a book such as this it needed to be him. And frankly, its long overdue.'
- Tom Chamberlin, Editor of The Rake.
Some of these points are necessarily subjective; often you are picking among pretty similar, high-end makers. But these distinctions are always clearly highlighted. And by running through all the objective points (a slip stitch on a tie; a hand-attached collar on a shirt), it educates the reader, helping them to make discerning choices wherever they buy.
Most books with a brand per chapter are little more than PR puff. They tell the story of the company and explain what they do, but there is no context, no relative analysis. There is a great deal more to The Finest Menswear in the World, its methodology and its writing. I think - I hope - that this separates it from anything that has come before.