Tag Archives: tailored shirts

‘Serge le Temoin de Playboy’ & Co. Sartorial elegance in Congo

I have mentioned this fascinating story before, but it is so gripping, it is worth talking about it again! SAPE stands for “Societe des Ambianceurs et Personnes Elegantes” which translates as the “society of atmosphere setters and elegant people“. Its members put fashion above all the other issues a developing country like Congo is facing right now.

The origins of La SAPE can be traced back to when the first French colonists arrived. They brought with them their famous fashion sense and inspired the locals who regarded the white man as far more elegant and educated than they were. In 1922 Andre Bernard Matsoua was the first local who traveled to Paris and came back dressed as a true French gentleman.

Since then, members of “La Societe des Ambianceurs et Personnes Elegantes” have been trying to get their hands on the newest, most expensive pieces of designer clothes that appear in Europe. There are some luxury shops in Brazzaville and Kinshasa, but most “sapeurs” prefer to get them directly from the Old Continent. This is actually every member’s dream, to travel to Paris and get their hands on killer wardrobes at the source.

Sapeurs spend thousands of dollars on suits, shirts, shoes and accessories, but this doesn’t mean they’re rich. In a country where the average salary is somewhere around $300/month, most of these guys don’t even have a job. Most of them lend their clothes for a living (renting a designer suit costs about $25/day), while those who travel to Europe bring the latest designer labels and sell them for a small profit.

All members of La SAPE have unique styles and crazy names: ‘Parfait le Bodeur‘, ‘Serge le Temoin de Playboy‘, ‘Baleine Sarkozy‘ or ‘Christian Dior‘. They live for fashion and feed off the attention they get when parading on the dusty streets of Brazzaville. The photos below are part of Francesco Giusti‘s La SAPE Collection, which recently won him an award for photography. They really do capture the charm of these special sapeurs. There is a beauitfully presenetd musical photo montage which tells the story too.

Ten Questions to Ask You & Your Tailor

Having a bespoke suit or bespoke shirt made can be an intimidating experience. Hopefully these ten tips from Henry Herbert Tailors will guide you through the minefield:

1. Visit as many tailors as you like. It is a relationship that must be comfortable for you.

2. Familiarise yourself with the different styles and choices available to you.

3. Be advised by a tailor, not pressured.

4. Have an idea of the colour and the cloth you are looking for. It will narrow down the vast selection available to you.

5. It is your bespoke suit (or shirt). Remember there are no wrong answers, merely preferences.

6. A good tailor will comfort you, not condescend you.

7. Expect at least a couple of fittings and at least as many months to perfect your first order.

8. All good suits and shirts should be tailored in England using local cloths.

9. Find the budget that is right for you and make sure final prices are clearly given to you (it is normal for bespoke tailors not to include VAT in their final prices).

10. Enjoy wearing it – every handmade suit and shirt will have its own characteristics.

To book your Henry Herbert Tailor, click here.

Harris Tweed suit by Henry Herbert Tailors

Fabric: Harris Tweed

Cut: Slim, Two button

Occassion: Country

Notes:  A Henry Herbert suit, made with the mystical Harris Tweed.  A finely cut suit that looks striking on the young man wearing it – Marcus Jaye, creative director of The Chic Geek.  The remarkable Harris Tweed is the only fabric in the world that is governed by its very own Act of Parliament 1993:  “Handwoven by the islanders at their homes in the Outer Hebrides, finished in the Outer Hebrides, and made from pure virgin wool dyed and spun in the Outer Hebrides.” The Act ensures that all cloth certified with the Harris Tweed Orb complies with the definition in the Act, and is genuine.

Photography credit: Petra Exton

The pinstripe suit by Henry Herbert Tailors

Fabric:  Pinstripe flannel

Fabric source: Huddersfield, England

Cut: Traditional, Single breasted

Notes: An excellent example of a bespoke pinstripe suit, which remains as popular (and striking) as ever. This creation by Henry Herbert Tailors was made as a single breasted, two button suit with a pure English wool from Duffin & Peace in Huddersfield – believe it or not, there are still some English mills left.

Just what’s inside a Henry Herbert shirt box?

Every shirt we make is handmade to the highest Savile Row standards. We use the finest cottons, Mother of Pearl buttons and brass collar bones. The packaging, shows the care and attention we take when delivering every shirt.  This is a bengal stripe shirt on its way to a customer.

Photography credit: Petra Exton

Glorious Herringbone in a Henry Herbert suit

Bespoke Herringbone SuitHerringbone Suit

An excellent example of a herringbone fabric….but very difficult to photograph too! The fabric is from Hield Mills, in Huddersfield and is a glorious blue. This suit is in its baste stage for one of our customers who works for a large international financial group and who, interestingly, told us that the Chinese save 50% of all of their income. It puts the British to shame. Unfortunately, the photograph may not do the pattern justice, but it will turn out to be a very striking and very sharp suit.

Spectacular Scottish Linen Jacket

Bespoke Linen JacketBespoke Linen Jacket Lining

This is a great example of how linen can work wonderfully well as weekend and casual sports jackets. This is a linen jacket that Henry Herbert made for a gentleman in the military – hence, the reason he is camera shy and wearing the dark glasses. The linen is spectacularly complemented by the lining – great looking Bengal stripe. Both the linen and the lining are from Harrisions of Edinburgh.

A special Henry Herbert shirt

Special Bespoke Shirt Collar Trim

A special shirt we have made for the Managing Director of a large media firm. The fabric is from Acorn, in Lancashire, and is made of an excellent English cotton. The shirt is made even more unusual by the special collar trim and button sewing surround. Every part of this shirt was handmade, in London. Come and visit us (or we can visit you) to find out more about the different processes involved in making your handmade, bespoke shirt.