Kirby, if a man was to have 3 main things to care and look after his wardrobe, what would they be? Oh, and can you rank them so we know which is the most important.
The most important thing a man should look after for his wardrobe is… his wardrobe. Many men do not even see garment care as a concern. However, a small investment of time and money in caring for one's wardrobe can dramatically extend its lifetime and keep items looking fresh. My father always taught me that if you buy nice things, take care of them.
|A Kirby recommend - a garment bag|
For clothing, the most important concern is shoulder support. Our suits and shirts spend more time in our closet than they do on us, so it is essential to hang them on proper clothes hangers. A hanger that is too skinny or narrow can quickly destroy the drape of a finely tailored suit and make shoulders look saggy. Shirt hangers that are too narrow, can quickly distort softer knit fabrics and cause shoulder puckering on dress shirts. This is why our Luxury Suit Hanger has a 2.5 inch shoulder flare and is available in four sizes — the largest available in the industry. Our Luxury Shirt Hanger is available in three sizes, and we are about to add a fourth.
For shoes, the most important concern is to keep the leather moisturized. Since leather is a natural skin, it dries out. This is where Saphir's Renovateur Medaille d'Or comes in. A mink-oil based cleaner and conditioner, it is like liquid gold for shoes. If you only use one product on your shoes, use Saphir Renovateur. It will keep your leather shoes looking soft and supple, and, most importantly, prevent cracking.
Our Luxury Garment Bag is also very popular. Designed primarily for storage, it is constructed from a high-quality 10 oz cotton twill fabric, has a fully-fused, double-faced gusset, and is available in three sizes. The fabric breathes while providing protection to garments against dust and moths.
How long have you been doing The Hanger Project and where do you operate from, where can you ship to? Is it possible for you to supply Australians with your product?
The Hanger Project is going on its fifth year! Hard to believe that it all started as a small side-project on Ask Andy About Clothes. The Hanger Project started literally as the hanger project! I was merely helping other forum members create the best wooden suit hanger. We are based in Dallas, Texas, and ship all over the world. The most interesting country we have ever shipped to is Kazakhstan. We have a pretty good customer there. We ship to Australia quite often, which probably closely follows Canada as our most-often shipped to foreign country.
What is the most beautiful clothes hanger you have ever laid your eyes on and who made it?
The most beautiful clothes hanger I ever laid eyes on is one we had a woodworker in Dallas carve from solid Macassar Ebony. The wood alone costs $125 a board foot — and the hanger required two. And that's before it is even touched. It was a special project we did for Wallpaper Magazine. It was like a piece of expensive furniture. Incredible. Unfortunately, we'll never be able to make something like this because nobody would ever pay $500 for one suit hanger!
Another one of the most beautiful hangers I ever saw was one sent to me by a great-uncle right after I started The Hanger Project. I sent him a few hangers for his birthday and he responded by saying that "he had something he had purchased a long time ago that I would find interesting." I didn't take him very seriously but was astounded when one of the most incredible hangers I've ever seen arrived! He had even modified the hanger to have a second trouser bar (a long time ago it was customary to purchase two pairs of trousers for every suit jacket because they wore out first). The hanger was constructed in either Italy or Germany, had a huge centre neck, and a tremendous presence. I tried to reproduce it, but was never happy with the results.
A good clothes hanger always seems to go missing – do you offer an engraving service to stop this age old thievery?
We do work with an engraver that can laser-engrave initials or a logo onto our hangers. However, our experience is that it is rather cost prohibitive at $4.00 per hanger. However, it does look incredible! We just finished engraving a bunch of hangers for Jon Green in New York – one of the City's top Bespoke tailors.
What is your best advice for a man about to cross from one side of the world (Australia) to the other side of the world (Europe or the States) for a wedding? How would you pack? What items would help you pack?
My first advice is to wear your suit jacket onto the airplane and, if you are traveling with a tuxedo, carry it on the hanger in a Garment Bag. I always carry my jackets and, for long trips, always pack one of our Luxury Suit Hangers. Our Garment Bag, although designed for storage, is great for travel. It's lightweight, allows the suit to be hung on a proper hanger, and prevents the jacket from being crammed into a small space.
I also always try to travel with suede shoes. Suede is such a robust material. Unlike calf, it doesn’t scuff, so someone can step on a pair of suede shoes without causing any damage. You can bump them into things with no scuffing. And all you need to keep them looking great is a simple suede brush!
If you are traveling with leather shoes, then I normally pack the La Cordonnerie Anglaise Travel Balm (essentially Saphir Renovateur) and a La Cordonnerie Anglaise Lambs wool Mitt or Small LCA Small LCA Horsehair Brush. The Travel Balm can be used to clean the shoe and renew the shine while the Lambswool Mitt can be used to provide a quick buff.
And, of course, every man should have a shoehorn handy when traveling through security. I have a Travel Shoehorn in every piece of luggage I travel with… but, in a bind, remember that even a piece of paper can be turned into a makeshift shoehorn if you fold it three times!
|A regular jacket hanger and its effect on a jacket's drape|
|The support of a large wooden hanger|
Can you tell us which of your products are your favourite (including model numbers) for a) jackets, b) shirts, c) trousers?
Luckily for men, hangers are pretty easy. For Jackets, I use our Luxury Suit Hanger. We have a dedicated jacket hanger, but it's essentially just the Luxury Suit Hanger but without the felted trouser bar. I find that even if you do not use the trouser bar, it adds versatility to the hanger.
For shirts, my favourite hanger is our Sweater & Polo Hanger. The felted ends help control soft-knit shirts and really help keep the shape of the garment. I think it's one of our most under-rated hangers.
When it comes to shoe trees, is there any evidence to suggest that one species of timber is indeed better for the leather than another?
This is the age-old debate! The Europeans see the only purpose of shoe tress is to maintain shape of the shoe, so wood is not important. This is why they primarily use European Beech for their shoetrees. As a hardwood, it has no moisture absorbing or aromatic properties, but creates a heavy, beautiful shoetree. The Americans, on the other hand, use Cedar, which, in addition to helping maintain shape, absorbs moisture and odour.
For me, though, I think it comes down to personal preference and budget. The most expensive American Cedar shoetrees we offer is $35 compared to the La Cordonnerie Anglaise Perfecta shoetree shoetree, made from European Beech, which is $125. Big difference. Needless to say, my closet is filled with our Cedar Ultra shoetree.
What fashion blogs do you follow and who do you think makes the best suits for men?
The two absolute best blogs for men, in my opinion, is the Parisian Gentleman from France and Permanent Style from the United Kingdom. I read these blogs daily.
And the absolute best bespoke tailor for men is Chris Despos, my personal tailor, from Chicago for those who live in the United States and, for men in Europe, Cifionelli in Paris. I do not have the privilege of owning one of the latter, but I've seen many. Lorenzo and Massimo from Cifonelli are style icons in their own right!