The Rise of Men In Suits: “Men (in slim suits) Are The New Women” At J. Crew’s Ludlow Shop In Tribeca

Italian Cashmere Ludlow Suit at J. Crew. Ludlow suits range from $456 for the Italian chino version to $1,490 for Italian cashmere.

Daniel Craig as James Bond In a Tight, Second-Skin Suit.
Doubt that it came from J. Crew.

Cary Grant, North by Northwest, 1959. The definitive slim,sexy suit:

The last time skinny suits were mainstream was when Kennedy was President. But like all things mid-century and Mad Men, we prefer sexy, retro-sleek men in power suits to men in infantile hipster knit hats, flannel shirts or statement Alexander McQueenish skirts. Unless it’s Craig Ferguson in a kilt. –Landlordrocknyc

Comedian Craig Ferguson In A Kilt

Via NY Times…”Men’s wear sales are surging at double-digit rates. Suits, sports coats and outerwear, nearly all bought by men themselves, are leading the gains, according to Steve Pruitt, founder of the fashion and retail consulting firm Blacks Retail. Blacks projects that men’s suit sales will be up 10 percent this fall and holiday season, and sports jacket sales will be up 11 percent, while women’s ready-to-wear sales remain flat.

“Men are the new women,” Bret Pittman, director of J. Crew’s Ludlow Shop in TriBeCa in Manhattan, told me when I stopped in recently for a tour of the new store, the prototype for a line that will feature men’s suits and tailored clothing.

Entering the store is like stepping onto the set of “Mad Men” or “A Single Man,” the film-directing debut of the men’s wear designer Tom Ford. Millard Drexler, chief executive and chairman of the J. Crew Group, showed me around, pointing out a vintage

Ludlow by J. Crew, 50 Hudson Street, NYC

Mies van der Rohe black leather sofa

Knoll Barcelona Couch designed by Mies Van Der Rohe, 1929.
It is a classic modernist design.

and a Marantz sound system from the 1960s. Some weathered military file cabinets

Ludlow, J. Crew Concept Store in Tribeca.
Encouraged by very strong sales (some customers
buy multiple suits), the company opened a second store in Boston,

and an assortment of hardback books completed the retro look, a not-so-subtle reminder of an era when men looked sharp.

Mr. Drexler, who is known as Mickey, was wearing 484 Selvedge jeans, a white cotton Thomas Mason shirt, a navy Ludlow blazer, and brown Crockett & Jones wingtip shoes, all from J. Crew. “It’s a uniform,” he told me. Even so, Mr. Drexler has recently had to refresh much of his wardrobe.

“Men’s styles are very slow to change,” he said. “But I walked around New York and I saw all these young guys wearing skinny lapels and narrow ties. I came back and looked in the mirror. My lapels looked freakish.= Mickey Drexler, J, Crew

Mr. Drexler and his design team set out to reinvent the suit. “What does a modern guy want to look like?” he asked. “We went to people we admire. How were they dressing?” What he and his team discerned was a once-in-a-generation change in the basic shape of a man’s suit, from a boxy design meant to conceal the body to a fitted look meant to reveal it.

The Ludlow suit was born: slim, fitted, with narrow lapels. “It’s our version of the iPhone,” said Mr. Drexler, who sits on Apple’s board. “We wanted it to be simple, consistent, iconic, with great attention to detail. Use the best fabrics. Don’t charge what name designers charge. And why does buying a suit have to be so complicated? We basically sell one model. That was the vision.”

Like Apple, J. Crew controls both the manufacture and the distribution of its clothing. Suits sell from about $500 to $1,500. “The Ludlow shop was a hit right out of the gate,” Mr. Drexler said. “Guys want their own space. They don’t want to walk by the perfume counter.” As a private company, J. Crew doesn’t disclose sales figures, but a spokeswoman said men’s wear accounted for 24 percent of the chain’s sales and was growing”…NYTimes


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