Once again College no.9 has sniffed out a new brand offering clothing that should interest Modernists. This time theres no Heritage blag, no watering down of that mid century Modernist look to tap into a mass market. Fitzgeralds Clothiers, will be producing Ivy League shirts and slim ties and they go on sale today! College no.9’s Mannie Katz meets Henry Fitzgerald, (below) a 30 year old Modernist and Ivy fan from Brighton and owner and designer behind the brand, to get the low down on the clothes, the man and his plans for the future.
What are the colours and cloths your shirts will be available in?
The initial batch of shirts will all be Oxford cloth, I’m having them made in 3 different colours, blue, white and a nice light shade of green. The cloth is a 100% cotton Alumo 2 ply 80s Oxford. I have plans to use a whole range of different fabrics in the future, Chambray and Madras are on the cards for this summer.
Is there one brand that you used as a template or are the shirts a mix of brands?
The shirts are a mixture of design details that have been copied from various different vintage shirts that I own. The details aren’t exact copies though, I’ve tweaked bits here and there. The collar, being the most important detail, was tricky to get just right but I’m really happy with the result.
Let the good times roll; The Fitzgerald OCBD.
What type of fit will the shirts be? Will you add different fits and sleeve lengths to your range in time?
The fit of the shirts is one of the things that I didn’t copy. I have quite a few vintage shirts with a whole range of fits, some slim, Gant Huggers for instance, and some very full cut, like Brooks Brothers, I went for something in-between the two as I think it’s a classic look.
To start with the shirts will be sold in 3 sizes, S, M and L, but eventually when funds permit I’d like to expand to a full range of collar sizes and sleeve lengths. I think that the 3 sizes will cover quite a large customer base but obviously we won’t be able to please everyone. There’s very detailed measurements listed on the website.
Have you had to compromise anything between what you wanted and what was possible in production?
As to the actual finished product no, I got exactly what I wanted, but going back to your last question, I wasn’t able to produce as many sizes as I would have liked. I really wasn’t prepared to compromise on quality of cloth or manufacture. I could have gone to a cheaper manufacturer and used a cheaper cloth and been able to produce quite a few more sizes, but I’d rather start out small with a really great product, build a good reputation and then expand on that.
Has it been hard to get your ideas across to your makers?
Thankfully not too hard. With regards to the shirts, I talked to a few manufacturers before I decided on who to use so as to make sure that they could produce exactly what I wanted and that they were open to working closely with me to guarantee that the finished product was just right. They got it pretty much spot on with the first sample and then it was just a case of a few minor adjustments. The manufacturers I’m using are well established and make shirts for a few really high end brands, so I was confident about using them in the first place, the whole process has been really smooth.
The ties on the other hand haven’t been so easy. I found a local company that specialize in bespoke knitwear and had them produce a sample tie. I was happy with the sample so I went ahead and placed an order with them. When I received the first lot of ties they were awful and nothing like the initial sample I had been given, it turned out that they had farmed the work out to a third party. Needless to say that was the end of that relationship and I’m now working with someone else. It’s a shame as it would have been nice to have someone local to where I live manufacturing some of the product and I wanted to have the shirts and ties on the website for the launch, but the ties are still definitely going ahead and will be worth the wait.
Any plans for adding other styles that were popular in the Ivy “Boom years” of the 50s & 60s? Tab & Loop collars, popovers?
I have plans for adding a whole range of styles. I’d really love to do a tab collar as they have all but disappeared and popovers are high on the list. The Oxford cloth button down is the quintessential Ivy league shirt so I thought it the best starting point and it shall remain a staple of the brand.
What do you think your ties will offer that’ll set them apart from other brands?
Well they’re based on a 1960’s knitted wool tie that I own and I think the fact that they’ll look a bit retro, for want of a better word, will set them apart a bit. There’s not to many brands that are making knitted wool neckties, and the ones that are seem to go for quite modern looking patterns and colour schemes.
Whats the length of your ties and blade width?
The ties are 53 inches long and the blade width is 2.5 inches
Any chance of a longer tie being offered for the taller gent? please.
Initially I’m afraid not. I have to place a minimum order with the manufacturer and if I wanted to have two different lengths made it would mean ordering double the amount of ties. I’ll have to see what feedback I get, if there’s a demand for a longer tie then I’ll make it happen.
Wheres production based?
Everything is being made in the UK. This is something that I wasn’t willing to compromise on from the start. I think it’s really important to support what little garment manufacture we have left in this country, if we don’t we may loose it forever. I also think people are getting more clued in on the fact that cheap garments from countries that turn a blind eye to unethical work practice are not the way to go, morally or in terms of quality.
I would consider having garments made in other countries in the EU, but as long as I can get what I want here in the UK that’s what I’ll do.
Where did your interest in Ivy style stem from?
Ha ha, I’d really like to be all cool here and say something like Blue Note jazz album covers, but truthfully the internet.
I started to get into Mod style in my early to mid 20s (I’m 30 now) and I was wearing a lot of stuff that was Ivy without actually knowing it. Through internet forums I began to pick up on what Ivy style was, became fascinated with it, and realized that that’s what I liked and what suited me. I still incorporate some elements of mod style in how I dress, mainly fit wise, but my clothes are pretty much exclusively Ivy these days.
Who are your Ivy style icons?
They’re kind of obvious, but I really like the way Anthony Perkins dressed back in the day and Paul Newman. I have to say though, that I take more inspiration from people who wear the style today and pictures of the general public from the boom years of Ivy.
Are there any current brands that you think are hitting the Ivy mark?
In the UK, John Simons. It’s well documented that he’s the most prominent figure in promoting Ivy style in this country and his own brand John Simons apparel company is a testament to that .I buy a lot of stuff he makes, it’s great quality and has all the right details.
Tugboat Ties, is a brand that will be available later this year. They’re making a really nice range of madras ties and Fitzgerald’s clothiers will hopefully be collaborating with them some time in the near future.
Outside of this country. In the US you have Alden and Rancourt & Co who both make superb quality shoes in the right styles and O’connells who sell a whole range of Ivy style clothing. There are one or two other US brands that I have heard good stuff about but I cant comment as I haven’t seen their products first hand.
Whats your favorite outfit at the moment?
A tweed sports jacket, Oxford shirt, Knitted tie in wool or silk, Flannel trousers, and penny loafers or playboy boots depending on the weather.
Will you offer other garments in the future, sports jackets or knitwear for instance?
I hope so, I really want to expand to having a whole collection. I’m going to see how the shirts and ties sell first and if they do well I’ll add more items. I have some great ideas, watch this space as they say.
Any plans to get your products onto a shop floor some where?
I’d really like to open my own shop, but I’ll have to walk before I can run. At the moment I don’t have enough buying power, or maybe just not the right contacts, to get garments made cheap enough to wholesale them.
Most shops want to put a huge mark up on what they sell and there just isn’t that much profit margin in what I’m doing.
College no.9 wishes Henry every success with his venture. We’ve found over the years that people that actually wear the clothes they design set standards high and value garment quality and customer service as much as the buyer. Jimmy Frost Mellor, menswear consultant, life long Ivy man and member of the College no.9 writers club has raved about the shirts in his review on Ivy blog, Fitzgerald’s Closet (no relation).
Fitzgerald’s Clothiers site will be open at 16 00 (CET) today. You’ll find more pictures and size details on the website.
You can also find Fitzgerald’s Clothiers on Facebook