clockwise from left: Cole Hamels arrived for this issue’s “The Suits” photo shoot on time, ready to go and with his trusty iPad in hand; Celebrating our Fall Fashion issue cover star Nicole Miller (center) with The Palm’s Bruce Bozzi Jr., Jim Haney, and Danielle Grimm; Kiehl’s LifeRide for amfAR drew huge crowds to the store, including owner Chris Salgardo and Tyson Beckford. An appreciation of the art of tailoring is a lesson I was fortunate enough to learn early in life. Our family business, Oakwood Uniform, crafts made-to-measure police and fire uniforms. My grandparents started the company out of their home in 1961 after my grandfather, who was a fabric cutter at the time, decided it was time to break out on his own.
|Jill Martin and Dana Ravich shared style insights in celebration of their new book during a signing event at Nordstrom.|
Though not nearly as sexy as crafting custom suits from fine fabrics, the principles are in many ways the same: the careful cuff of a sleeve, the gentle pool of a pant leg, the subtle tapering of a shirt at the waist. In a world that relies heavily on computers, this is a profession that has been virtually untouched by the 20th century’s advances in technology. The tools to get the job done are still a square of chalk, a box of pins, and a sewing machine. And when the last stitch has been sewn, an archaic presser produces razor-sharp creases on the final forms. If the theory holds true that there is something about a man in uniform, Oakwood Uniform just might know one of the reasons why.
Of course, there is also a business to tailoring, and it is changing. In penning this issue’s fashion feature, “The Suits,” I had the chance to speak to some of the area’s most in-demand names, not just about style insights but also about the shifting nature of their profession. It was career tailor Giovanni Rizzo of Hugo Boss whose words, in particular, resonated. “Nobody wants to learn this trade [anymore],” he said. “My wish is for more people to get interested in tailoring, because it is dying art.” It is a sentiment that my grandfather shared as well: How do you replace a retiring seamstress when no one sews anymore?
The cause could be any number of things: the dwindling number of family-run businesses, or the idea that working with your hands is somehow less valued than working on a computer. You could even blame it on our time-pressed world, one where pulling a piece of clothing off the rack to wear—with nary a seam altered—satisfies the nagging need for instant gratification. But, as Giovanni and my grandfather would likely agree, there is hardly anything more intensely gratifying than clothing that looks good and fits even better.
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