Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Reader Questions: Tailors In Durban

Hey man! I just stumbled across your blog. Really great stuff, thanks.

I wanted to ask you very quickly if you could recommend a good tailor in Durban?

I am currently looking to buy a suit as I'm starting a new job soon, in London and it's important to me that I am looking as goo as I can be.

I am tired of dealing with salesmen in suit shops trying to upsell me on overpriced items when they don't have even the first clue about the fundamentals of style, let alone fit.

I will probably by a suit off the rack (budget restrictions), and then have it adjusted. I am also thinking of getting some shirts custom made.

Any help you can offer would be absolutely fantastic. I am open to anything in the Pietermaritzburg/Durban area.

Kind regards,

Hi Duncan

Thank you for your email and enquiry. I have tried a few tailors in Durban over the years and I have two that I use exclusively: Soli Omar Tailors and The Tailor Shop. The former is in central Durban and the latter in Montclair, 10 minutes south of Durban. My experiences with them have been varied, for different reasons, however I’ve been more than happy with the end result on all occasions. Whether it’s been work I’ve had redone due to an improper fit or an enquiry, I have always been a happy customer.

At the moment I’ve been frequenting The Tailor Shop, owned by Vic Gobrie, a whole lot more simply because of its proximity to my home. Their work is commendable and their customer service is exceptional. They engage the customer, carry out instructions to the tee, and they also offer suggestions where applicable. I’d advise that you speak to them and ask questions because they listen to everything. Also, don’t be hesitant to  push the envelope because they are willing and the best they can do is try. Currently, I have a jacket that is being reworked into a waistcoat and I’m just waiting for the final product, maybe it’ll work, maybe it won’t, but, at least Vic will have tried.

I don’t have any experience in custom suits, therefore, I think it’s best if you say you’ll buy off the rack and then have it altered. I have read too many blogs that all speak the same thing when it comes to the fundamentals of custom suits that I have my doubts when it comes to South African tailors. I, honestly, really wonder about the quality, craftsmanship and handwork that goes into a custom suit made in SA. On this issue, I will encourage you to speak to Vic because through our many interactions I have come to know that he also make custom suits. This of course is another direction that this blog has been yearning to take.

I have absolutely nothing unpleasant to say about Soli Omar because I have had stellar results on all the work they’ve done for me. They are experienced, have been in existence for many years and everyone is knowledgeable in menswear and tailoring. In everything always communicate what you want done and that’s what must be carried out. At Soli Omar speak to Mohammed or Yunus, they are the two gentlemen I work with and they are definitely on top of their game.

I also like the idea of getting custom shirts and this points this blog in another direction which will be useful to us. I’m sure there are other reputable, quality tailors between Durban and Pietermaritzburg…I just need to get out more.

Soli Omar: 331 Monty Naicker Rd (formerly Pine str), Durban, 4001
031 305 5856

The Tailor Shop: 141 Jacobs Rd, Durban, 4001
031 465 7408

I sincerely hope you find what you’re looking for and get the best results.

                                                   PG: Man to man, generation to generation.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Style: The Anatomy Of A Shirt

These are the basic terms used for all the different parts of a shirt. Men's clothing is a vast subject which takes time to learn, especially on a subjective level. These images evince just what is most important on a shirt and where it is located. I suppose, as much as you will learn from it, your tailor, shirt maker or salesman in the store should and must know what the anatomy of a shirt entails. There's so much to the subject of shirts, the collars, the sleeves, the buttoning, the cuffs, the fabrics, and the patterns. What is cannot be disputed is that it forms an integral part of an outfit and it definitely says a lot about attention to detail.

PG: Man to man, generation to generation.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Pick Of The Week: Cutty Bright Chinos

If there is slight apprehension from a gent regarding the incorporation of bright colours into your wardrobe then allow spring to be your guide. This is a start when it comes to bringing diversity to your wardrobe, in a stylish and subtle way. There's no better place experimenting with bright and vibrant colours than these Cutty chinos available from Runway Sale. A little about these chinos; they are made from 100% cotton with a slim leg fit, side tabs, branded buttons and a branded leather trim above the back pocket. They are pretty standard, quality chinos that subscribe to the spring palette and weather conditions.

Using colour to make an outfit fresh works, especially in spring when one can take it a step further by wearing garments with bright colours. In winter bright can be worn with accessories like socks, shoes, bags, etc, but spring is a real opportunity to work in something more substantial socks or shoes. 

I'm one of those gents who is slowly working his through the bright colour scheme (I'm going to be wearing white pants for the first time in my life, I think) therefore if I was looking wear any of the chinos featured here I would definitely play it safe with the rest of my ensembles. They're bright and command a lot of attention in the first place, therefore anchor them down with blues. Think of a navy blue blazer; you can pair it with everyone of these pants. It is the safest but most stylish way to complete this look. Pairing them with a white shirt is also playing in the safe zone.

Bright chinos are not your average man's wardrobe staple.In fact, when it coves to summer trousers, most men play it safe. Navy blue then is the colour of choice for most men. These colours are light but not loud and are safe for any gent looking to start the alternative colours route. This is an opportunity to kick your style into a higher gear by confidently wearing bright chinos. I'm of the opinion that once you pull off bright chinos, colourful, bright jackets aren't too far behind. This isn't my pick of the week if the price isn't right, and for R249, I'm sure we can all agree that that's value for money.

PG: Man to man, generation to generation.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Style: Men's Denim 101

I've had questions relating to denim for a long time, and it's being one question upon another because of the things I was discovering about denim. For instance I was under the impression that jeans and denim are the same. Only to find that a jean is a style or design of pants and then denim is the actual fabric. So there is a difference. Then things got a little more complicated with something called selvedge denim because during the earlier years of this blog selvedge denim was all the rage. I wanted to know more about it but I just didn't do the research because to me a pair of denim jeans is just that. Rue La La has recently launched a guide to men's denim. The guide provides information on everything from cut, color and washes of the classic wardrobe staple. I obliged because this is an opportune time for this type of post and the fact that it has immense educational value. Therefore without further delay I will let them take it away. Please click on the pictures to enlarge them.

                                Read more about denim trends on the Rue La La blog, The (Style) Guide.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Style: Can You Stand The Rain?

I remember a scene from the Steve Harvey where he posed a question to his class where he asked,
 "who was Christopher Columbus?". After much commotion, Sarah, a learner, responds rather ignorantly and says "Columbus was a TV detective with a cigar and trench coat". You know who she was referring to, right? Well due to the rainy weather we've been  experiencing to mark the beginning of spring, I finally got an opportunity to break the Strellson trench coat. Yes, I did try it on when I bought it but I wasn't ready for the perfect fit it would show when I wore it with a suit. On a rainy day last week I definitely felt confident enough to rock it.

I'm a happy customer. I am happy with the fit throughout the body, the length is perfect as well because it hits just a smidgen above the knee, the sleeves are long enough and in relation to shirt and jacket sleeve, the coat sleeves allow for both to show. The belt and buttoning fit right in as well. I'm glad that I didn't have to take it in for any kind of alterations.

As stated before this trench coat is very light and although it was rainy and chilly, it added a touch of warmth as well. The collar stands quite rigidly and does a good job of protecting the neck. One thing I did miss mentioning about this coat is that it has a small top button on the lapel and a 
 button hole on the opposite lapel to give it complete closure. Almost like an English hunting collar on tweed jackets.

I can definitely stand the rain in this trench coat because it fulfills all its functions, most impressive is that it is waterproof and in the light, unrelenting rain we experience in Durban I know I'll be dry.

PG: Man to man, generation to generation.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Pick Of The Week: The Chino Suit By Combatant Gentlemen

Slim Fit Chino Suit $140

A cotton suit is a soothing alternative to the typically dry, firm feeling of wool. Now it's time to transition to a cotton suit which will work in both business and casual settings. Allow me then to point you in the right direction. I've posited a little bit about Combatant Gentlemen when I did a review of their windowpane shirt and this time I'd like to nominate their khaki/ navy cotton chino suit as this week's pick of the week. I couldn't think of a better choice other than the proverbial footwear that always seems to be in the spotlight. I really like the fact that they've introduced these suits in neutral colours which makes them versatile with endless options at your disposal. The khaki suit may not be business but it's definitely spring wedding ready, conversely, the navy suit is all business and more. And let's not forget that as temperatures start rising you need an alternative to the wool, flannel and tweed suits you've been wearing throughout winter and these two suits are exactly what an image conscious gent ordered. 

The specifications I picked up from the website are as follows and I have listed them as pros and cons:


·  100% Italian Cotton
·  2 Button Jacket Closure w/ non-functional buttons on the sleeve
·  Flat Front Pants
·  Dry Clean Only
·  36" inseam, unhemmed
·  Soft shoulders
·  Double-vented jacket
·  Half-canvassed jacket
·  Notch lapel
·  Pick stitching
·  3 interior pockets


·  Poly/Rayon Blend Lining
·  Lining: 60/40 viscose and rayon blend
·  Non-functioning buttonholes on jacket
·  Pants are lined to the knee for enhanced comfort
·  Slim fit

At a glance, I'd say that the Combatant Gentlemen chino suit is an affordable suit that will serve many functions and will work in many settings. It's definitely stylish as well and as a spring suit it would make a great choice. Extra points to the gent who buys both at once.

                                    PG: Man to man, generation to generation.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Style: The Spring Essential: The Trench Coat

While most of the country is experiencing high temperatures, Durban has been cool for the most part. And now that spring is upon us, for people on the KwaZulu-Natal coast that means we will be experiencing wet weather for most of the season, right into summer. I've always wanted a trench coat but I just couldn't find the right design and fit until I made a trip to Benoni and found a coat shop that would be an outerwear enthusiast's dream. When I started searching and digging one of the wares I came away with was this stone trench by Strellson.

It features three buttons, a wrap-around belt, a middle vent and inner pockets. It also has a high collar and a D-ring buckle. Whereas trench coats are historically double breasted, this one is single breasted. Some of my research also revealed that trench coats were originally invented by Burberry's uniform department as a waterproof military coat for wear in the trenches during war sitatuations. This one doesn't have all the traditional features of a trench coat like high flaps which fasten across the chest but it definitely serves the function of shielding me from the rain and keeping me dry. Trench coats are traditionally made of woven cotton garbadine to make them water proof. This one is made of a blend of polyester and wool, it is waterproof, it's light, however, it does make me a little apprehensive at wearing in heavy rain or constant rain because it means it might become heavy.

You would expect a brand like Strellson to produce something from superior fabrics but this proves that we sometimes pay for the name and not the craftsmanship. The one enduring quality about a trench is that its supposed to be light enough not to weigh you down and waterproof to keep you dry. This one in my opinion has passed the test.

PG: Man to man, generation to generation.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Pick Of The Week: Hudson Boots

Two types of boots you need this spring, especially if your aim is to avoid getting your feet wet and your shoes damaged; the Hudson boots available from Stylemology. The Hudson with its broguing is slightly dressier than its counterpart, the Herman, however they both serve the function of keeping your feet dry up to your ankles. Spring does get quite cold in Durban therefore the Angus would look good and complement a wool suit or even jeans, chinos and a sport jacket. The Herman on the other hand should be dressed down for spring. I imagine that it would look really good with a flannel suit in winter because there's congruency. However in spring dress it down as part of a casual ensemble. Think jeans, a sweater and a lightweight trench coat. The Angus is made of washed leather and it also features a leather outsole. The Herman, which is the more impressive of the two, has a contrasting leather upper, antiqued eyelets and waxy laces. It also has a leather outsole and goodyear welt construction. The prices listed below are mark down prices and I consider them to be a steal. This is how you start getting a spring in your step.

PG: Man to man, generation to generation.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Brands: Combatant Gentlemen Pink And White Windowpane Semi Spread Collar Shirt

Combatant Gentlemen is a relatively new online menswear store looking to jostle its way in the fast and ever growing space of online menswear retailers. Established in 2012 it can still be referred to as new because the online menswear business is very fickle and unpredictable. Couple that with sensitive and choosy customers then the recipe to success and longevity can become quite elusive. For a two years old business, however, I'd say it's making quite an impact on the online community especially when taking into account all the reviews one comes across all over the internet. A few months ago I received an email from Combatant Gentlemen offering me a few items from their online store. I was offered a suit, shirt, tie and knitwear. I had to weigh the pros and cons of receiving items from an international company and how this would affect my pocket because being in South Africa automatically places me at somewhat of a disadvantage because of the disparity with the foreign exchange rate. After weighing up my options this became an offer I could and would not pass up.

When it came to the choice of shirt I settled on the pink and white windowpane shirt with a semi-spread collar. Before one criticises Combatant Gentlemen for being newbies and thus inexperienced in the game, I have to say that their clothes are quality items that look and feel good. Give or take a few minor glitches in terms of finishing on some garments, I say give them a try.

I was looking for a shirt that I don't have in my closet as well as something that is compatible with all four seasons. And I think this mini windowpane shirt is just that. Lately it's on heavy rotation complementing business and business casual looks. I've seen pink and white gingham, plaid, box plaid, etc, but it's the first time I've come across a pink and white windowpane check and once I saw it I was settled and sold on it. One thing about Combatant Gentlemen is that their shirt selection is quite extensive and one is spoiled for choice, the part where they rein in this vastness is in the shirt styles and collars. This is a great start for them because I think it helps the online customer to familiarise himself with what is on offer and not get too confused by a litany of styles.

Combatant Gentlemen sells off-the-rack garments, so it means you have to be very sure of your measurements before placing an order. Sizes are offered in centimetres, however, the availability of a sizing guide makes it easier for gents to locate their size. This shirt is made of wrinkle resistant 100% cotton twill. It is indeed wrinkle resistant, not in the literal sense of the word, but even after being folded you can get away with no ironing at all as wrinkling and creasing are minimal and almost invisible. More appealing details are the double button cuffs and the removable collar stays. It feels really smooth to the touch and since I requested a size regular, it covers the skirt. The only drawback could be in the fact that it was awfully short in the arms and this can be attributed to the wrong size from me and a disproportionate body.

Combatant Gentlemen is ideal for gents who have a desire to dress well but don't have the big budget. This particular shirt is available for US$40 and this places this company at an advantage even though it finds itself in competition against the likes of H&M. Combatant Gentlemen will definitely appeal to gents who want to start building a wardrobe with quality items and pricing on their side. They definitely receive my stamp of approval.

                                        PG: Man to man, generation to generation.