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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Dog’s Undercarriage: Adam of London

Before trotting through the door of Adam’s take a look down to your left. You’ll see the following sign, “All clothing for sale on these premises are exclusive to us in Great Britain. If you want to be exclusive and look the dogs bo**ocks please come in. However if you want to look like a bag of sh*t then we suggest that you go to the shops in the high streets around the country”.

Just the Facts

A range of suits, shirts, coats and ties adhering to the design rules of London’s tailoring scene in 1963 64/65; authentic detailing, quality construction and incorporating some modern twists. Popular with bands and bankers alike, you probably won’t find a closer cut off the peg suit.

Who you’ll meet: Adam Shener (Designer & Owner), Richie Shener

Services: Ready to wear suits, shirts, coats and accessories.

Price Range: Suits £300 (average), Shirts £50 (average), Ties £19, Coat £200Cut: Suits: very tailored ideal for those of a slight build or toned, but just forgiving enough for the rest of us. Shirts: tailored but not slim fit with a longer than average sleeve lengths on larger sizes.

Location: 11 Portobello Green, 281 Portobello Road, Notting Hill, W10 5TZOpening

Hours: Tuesday to Saturday. Website: none

The Knowledge


This shop offers a slice of our nation’s sartorial history, that classic English look of the early 1960s. But be under no illusions, this is not some kitsch retro costume shop. As for Adam Shener, the owner, I really rather liked the guy. He doesn’t mess about; he says what he means, and means what he says.

So you think you know the sixties?

If you chat to the Adam for a short time you’ll soon realise the chap knows exactly what he’s about, as well he should. His father was in “the rag trade”, and in 1964 Adam started his apprenticeship as a tailor, designer and pattern cutter at a company in north east London. He opened his current shop in 1994, but prior to that he had shops in Chelsea and Carnaby Street.

Adam was a true Mod and is dismissive of a lot of people who claim knowledge of his era: “a lot of those professing to be designers from the sixties weren’t even born then, or were children”.

What Adam does is a classic look from a precise era, 1963/64/65, before the big lapels and bell bottoms came onto the scene. While chatting he explains, “A lot of people confuse the sixties and group it as one. There were certain eras to the sixties. Some people call what we do the Mod look. But that’s for want of a better name; because that’s what they were. Kids then dressed the same as their dads; 3 button front, very tailored suit just like their father”. According to Adam, today’s customers range from bands to bankers and said with a smile, “Our stuff is so classic it’s almost super trendy now”.

All in the cut

So what are you buying into exactly?

Well, aside from a few seasonal tweaks the style of suit remains the same; three buttons on the front; four buttons on the cuff and working button holes; narrow lapels (6cm); suppression on the waste of the jacket; long side or centre vents; slightly slanted jacket pockets with flaps, plus a ticket pocket; hand stitched edges; good quality coloured lining; straight legged trousers without pleats; side adjusters on the waist band and side/front pockets.

Now, do a lot of those features sound familiar? Like a bespoke suit? Now you understand what, for me, clinches the deal. In the era Adam recreates reasonably priced tailors were plentiful in London –most often Jewish immigrants- and any man worth his salt had one. Bespoke was necessity not luxury.

One final detail, which rates this shop above others, is the very, very tailored cut. As Adam points out; “Cut is the most important thing. Most off the peg retailers are trying to fit a guy who’s sixteen stone and a guy who’s fourteen stone in the same suit”.

Sizes here range from 34 to 46inch chest. But for 34, 36 and 38 Adam does a small fitting. So, if you’re a guy of about 5ft.6 /5ft.7, of slight build and normally swamped by even small sizes off the peg, With Adam’s suits you should get a really close cut suit. Speaking for myself, I am yet to find a sharper, more closely fitting suit off the peg -and I look very hard.

Look at the picture to the left, this suits is not pinned at the back to make it fit that manikin. That is the genuine cut of the garment. And the average price for a suit? Without alterations, £300.

Think of England

Another feature that floats my boat is the use of English cloth for the suiting. Adam believes English cloth to be the best in the world, “In Japan it sells for £150 a meter. England has been making beautiful worsted fabrics since fifteen something”. As far as he’s concerned, Italian cloths are too limp, whereas English cloth is easier to work with and harder wearing.

As to the range, he offers pure mohair, mohair and polyester mixes, pure wool and even polyester and viscose. If you’re currently turning your noses up at the thought of a polyester and viscose suit, Adam put it bluntly to me, “there is polyester and viscose, and then there is polyester and viscose. There are some nasty cloths out there and some you would never guess”. As one prone to cloth snobbery, on inspection I couldn’t tell the difference from the pure wools.

You can’t have too much of a good thing

To complete the look Adam stocks a good range of shirts and ties. They come in plain colours, strips and various patterns; are 100% cotton and come in at £50 and £60. While stocking standard collars and cuffs, he predominantly carries tab collars. As to the fit, they’re tailored (as opposed to slim) with darts at the back. Sleeve length is slightly long, so a 15.5 inch collar has a 35 inch sleeve.

My particular favourite was a navy blue Bengal stripe, single cuff with small yellow flowers on the body and cuff, perfect underneath a regular suit or with jeans. The ties are silk, skinny and come in plain colours, dots and stripes, selling for £19.

As a final touch Adam makes an overcoat in pure wool also incorporating classic 60’s features; 4 buttons, ticket pocket, long centre vent all with velvet collar and coloured linings. He carries black, navy, small and large checked cloth and all for an average price of £200.

Never mind the bollocks

I asked him why he does what he does. Adam refused to pull his punches, “I just want to see guys dress better. If you look at how men are dressed in the UK, then they look quite shabby. They wear really badly fitting clothes. And sometimes they like to call it fashion, but it’s not. The art of fashion is subtlety and something fitting correctly. If the cut is wrong forget it, don’t even go down that road”.

Who could argue with that.

As ever if you wish to see more of Adam's fine kit simply check out BespokeMe's Face Book Group.

Labels: , , ,

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