Abraham Moon & Sons

by Eric Twardzik


“I love the mentality of England, the tradition, and the old values. I love the suits of the gentlemen, the way they dress and live in the country. There is a code of light formality in England today. It is something the modern world forgets.”
Valentino

Two-faced tartan polo coat made-to-measurement in Abraham Moon & Sons cloth

Two-faced tartan polo coat made-to-measurement in Abraham Moon & Sons cloth

Valentino was on to something here. The Italian fashion designer poetically places his thumb on an English sensibility that deeply informs what we do at F.E. Castleberry. It’s evident in our anointment of a young David Hockney as a cardinal brand muse, our allegiance to a code of light formality (albeit slightly bent)—the better your dress, the worse you can behave—and our faithfulness to British cloth; especially our faithfulness to British cloth.

Our predilection for houndstooth, Glenn plaid, bold stripes, checks, and Harris tweed is unapologetic and frankly, fanatical; however, in a very un-British fashion, we soften everything up. Our natural—often unconstructed—shoulder and unlined construction give our made-to-measurement jackets and coats a distinctly American, free and easy feel.

That’s why we’re excited to offer a range of wools from Abraham Moon & Sons as part of our AW18 selection. In a field romanticized for its Britishness, Abraham Moon may be the most British. How British is that? Aside from sounding like the name of a untenured Hogwarts Professor, Abraham Moon was the 1995 recipient of The Queen’s Award for Export—presented by none other than QEII herself, at Buckingham Palace—and earned a four-hour visit from Prince Charles in 2015 as part of HRH’s Campaign for Wool (a British campaign we can fully endorse).

Navy flannel chalk-stripe suit made-to-measurement in Abraham Moon & Sons cloth

Navy flannel chalk-stripe suit made-to-measurement in Abraham Moon & Sons cloth

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Even its origins align with the Crown. Abraham Moon & Sons was founded in Guiseley, West Yorkshire, in 1837—the same year that Queen Victoria ascended the throne. They were the first vertically integrated mill in town, and by close of the century their exports stretched from Western Europe to Japan.

Moon & Sons supplied cloth for the British Army in WWI, and survived the wave of shutters that decimated the British fabric business during the 20th century’s latter half. They remain one of Britain’s last-standing vertical mills, and continue to dye, spin and weave in the same building they’ve occupied since 1902.

As a vertical mill, everything at Abraham Moon begins with the raw wool. Their Merino comes from South Africa, the Shetland from New Zealand. The wool is dyed via a closely guarded equation involving time, pressure, and temperature, ensuring that their palette of over 500 colors can’t be replicated. For consistency’s sake, an on-site dye library helps them track standards.

Navy blazer stripe suit made-to-measure in Abraham Moon & Sons cloth

Navy blazer stripe suit made-to-measure in Abraham Moon & Sons cloth

Astoundingly, each yarn of Abraham Moon fabric can hold up to seven colors. The math here means that a tartan containing six colors in reality has 42 that can be picked up by the eye. This translates into murky tweeds and rich tartans with incredible range.

Among our favorites from this season are 100% wool highland tartans, whether they’re classic black watch overlaid with a discreet windowpane or bold, take-no-prisoner plaids that make use of every colored yarn Moon has to offer. There are town tweeds that can (almost) fade into the background with a tasteful, muddy houndstooth, then pop back into focus with a blue-and-green check when no one’s looking.

And then there’s the bold blazer stripe, composed of a navy ground overlaid by chalk-thick lines of dense yellow outlining a bold blue. The pattern makes us feel as if we’re about to lay down an oar at the height of Pax Brittanica or step up to the mic for The Kinks. Its composition is 60% wool, 40% cotton—just the sort of nudge needed if you’re not 100% ready for Fall to begin (we’ll excuse it).

Vintage Omega Seamaster

by Eric Twardzik

For most of history, sea monsters were indicative of where you shouldn’t be going. Dig up a medieval map, and look for those corners of the globe they hadn’t quite figured out yet. In place of South America or Taiwan you’ll see fearsome, cryptozoological swimmers that stand for one thing: “lost.”

So it’s a bit ironic that these creatures had their image rehabilitated by a device that tells you precisely were where you are—in time, anyway.

An embossed sea monster is just one of the things that makes the Omega Seamaster a whimsical, yet classic, piece of design. The half-horse, half-fish Hippocampus of Greek Mythology has been embossed on the backside of the watch since 1958. It’s a fitting icon for a timepiece based on designs made for the Royal Navy during WWII and essentially serves as a secret handshake between the Seamaster and its wearer.

Fred’s 1962 Omega Seamaster.

Fred’s 1962 Omega Seamaster.

Mythological beasts and world wars (not to mention its appearance on the wrists of two James Bonds) ensure that each Seamaster bears a historied origin story before it’s ever worn. But when the model’s provenance is combined with the personal history that can only come from a vintage piece, something inimitable happens.

Fred’s inimitable timepiece happens to be a Swiss 1962 Omega Seamaster purchased from an American Indian Chief. When Fred first came by it, it still had a sterling silver and turquoise watch band. The hands told the time but the deep patina of the watch face told a different story; a tale of where it’d been and who it had known that can’t be divided into minutes or hours. It imbues a mechanical object with something that can’t be priced while simultaneously disproving the notion that a one-of-a-kind timepiece must carry an exorbitant price tag (most models in excellent condition can be found for just under $3,000).

But no matter how Swiss it is, it’s still made up of moving pieces that require attention and care. When Fred realized his Seamaster was in need of servicing (i.e. the hands stuck at 11:17pm each day), he brought it to the city’s best—Grand Central Watch.

The half-horse, half-fish Hippocampus of Greek Mythology has been embossed on the backside of the watch since 1958.

The half-horse, half-fish Hippocampus of Greek Mythology has been embossed on the backside of the watch since 1958.

As its name implies, the shop is located within New York’s premier transportation hub. It’s not exactly Platform Nine and Three Quarters, but its discovery requires a trip down the 45th Street Passage until you discover a wood-paneled shop built into its left wall. It’s there that Grand Central Watch has been restoring life to timepieces from previous decades, and sometimes, centuries, since 1962.

Those 57 years of service have allowed Grand Central Watch to build a library of OEM parts that’s nearly unmatchable. In addition to having the pieces that can restore a 200-year-old pocket watch, they employ a team of experts skilled enough to use their bare hands in minute repairs when a tool might run the risk of damage.

At the time Fred purchased his Seamaster, it lacked the date window magnifier that would have originally been part of the crystal (there’s an interesting story behind that, he’s sure). It came back from Grand Central Watch with the proper crystal and a pristine new date adjust window. He’s enjoying that once-again relevant feature of his watch along with the fact that whoever it comes to next will too.

The F*ck You Buck

by Eric Twardzik

The air in 2019 is rife with four-letter words, and we’d rather not contribute to the chorus unless we really mean it. And in the case of the F*ck You Buck, made in collaboration with Blackstock & Weber, we most certainly do.

So, why the French? We think it’s in keeping with the true spirit of the white buck, which today is viewed through too genteel of a lens. Before the white shoe became synonymous with garden parties and seersucker, it was the shoe of choice for college punks. That’s right, punks. White suede bucks were Dr. Martens before Dr. Martens.

During the Jazz Age, rebellious Ivy League students would lace up white bucks with their tweed and flannels. From grass stains to beer splotches, they’d let their white bucks accumulate as much dirt as possible as a way of politely extending their middle finger towards the establishment.

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Perhaps that’s why the white buck feels like the missing link between Fred’s past and present. During his adolescent punk phase, Fred lived in Docs. So when the opportunity arose to design a shoe with Blackstock & Weber—another made in England shoe label—he saw it as a chance to revive the white buck’s punk spirit by infusing it with Dr. Marten-inspired details.

What kind of details? For starters, we set our buck on a boot last that flaunts a bulbous toe box and a rounder profile akin to the original Dr. Marten 1461. We then bulked it up with metal eyelets, and a chunky, aggressive sole perfectly capable of kicking someone’s teeth in (of course, only when in dire straits).

But we didn’t abandon any of the refined details that have kept the white buck a prep staple through the years. Its upper is made from supple white suede—not nubuck—and has a velvety nap. In keeping with tradition, its chunky Ridgeway sole is made from brick-red rubber with an art deco tread pattern.

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The other features are in line with quality shoemaking (and as Blackstock & Weber employs a third-generation Northampton workshop, we’d expect nothing less). You may know the drill: all-over calfskin leather lining, traditional Goodyear cork lining, and a storm-welted Goodyear construction that seam-seals the outsole, keeping out moisture (i.e. Negronis) and the elements (i.e. other people’s Negronis).

And yet, these carefully considered details will have been in vain if only worn to your annual Derby Day party. We designed the F*ck You Buck for everyday wear through dilapidated downtown subways, on post-dinner strolls, and for snuffing out American Spirits greedily smoked all the way down to the filter. The nappy white suede is primed to bare every scuff, scrape, and stain until they’re as lived-in as the threadbare Persian rug on your living room floor.

Wear your F*ck You Bucks after Labor Day…especially after Labor Day. And if anyone doesn’t like it, well, let your shoes deliver your French for you.

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Slim Aarons: The High Life

Slim Aarons spent his life documenting jet setters, movie stars, and beautiful people doing beautiful things in beautiful places during the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s. In “The High Life,” the story behind some of his most iconic photographs come to light. We loved it and think you will too.

Women We ❤️ Svenja Frisch

Women We Love is a chance for us to interrogate sit down with the women in our lives whose style we love, work we admire, and heart we adore. We give them the celebrated Proust Questionnaire—which dates back to 19th-century Parisian salons—and throw in a few of our own. Grab a coffee, something to take notes with, and get to know the women we love as they ponder love, death, and the meaning of life.

Without further ado, Svenja Frisch.


What is your current state of mind? Enlightened.

When and where were you happiest? Driving home from my favorite beach club (Le club 55) into a setting sun with open windows, sandy feet, wet hair, swimsuit, and blasting “Champagne Supernova” (obviously singing along).

What is your greatest fear? Public transportation.

What is your greatest extravagance? Only one? Silk pajamas.

Which quality do you most desire in a pair of jeans? Absolutely no stretch—stiff as a carton box.

Which quality do you most desire in a man? I love a great cook.

Which quality do you most desire in a woman? Humor.

silk kaftan  Hennes & Mauritz  sequin baguette  Fendi  sunglasses   Linda Farrow   hair  uncombed

silk kaftan Hennes & Mauritz sequin baguette Fendi sunglasses Linda Farrow hair uncombed

What do you consider to be the most overrated virtue? Modesty.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? Impatience.

What is it that you most dislike? Queuing. Aka standing in line, for the American readers.

Which historical figure do you most identify with? Loulou de la Falaise (1947-2011). She was best known as Yves Saint Laurent’s muse, confidante, alter ego—and the virtuoso behind all his famously flamboyant accessories: towering fur toques, clanking bronze cuffs, necklaces strung with coral. Adventurousness typified not only her designs but also her approach to the art of living, in homes of distinguished pedigree in England, Ireland, France, and Italy. Her style had nothing to do with money, and everything to do with taste and imagination.

What is your most marked characteristic? My laugh. I giggle a lot, it’s very high pitched.

In which season do you feel most beautiful? Fall…because of the golden autumn light.

What do you dislike most about your appearance? My forehead.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? Acquire a better posture.

Which talent would you most like to have? I would love to be a better singer and fluent in french.

What is your favorite occupation? Day dreaming.

On what occasion do you lie? When the situation requires a lie.

Who was the last person that gave you flowers? My neighbor.

If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be? To be less neurotic, they remind me of characters in a Woody Allen film.

What is your most treasured possession? The rings my parents gave me for my 21st and 25th birthday. I never take them off, not even to shower.

What do you consider your greatest achievement? Simultaneously surviving puberty and high-school.

What do you most value in your friends? Loyalty and our shared appreciation for Rihanna.

Who is your favorite fictional hero? I only have real heroes.

Ok, who is your favorite real hero? My great grandfather.

Where would you like to live? On a small farm nearby Ramatuelle, France with chickens and maybe two goats in my garden. On the weekend, I’d live in pajamas and cook for my friends. We’d have the grandest of summer parties until the early mornings, dancing barefoot to Fleetwood Mac.

How would you like to die? Dancing barefoot in my garden in the south of France.

If you could choose what to come back as, what would it be? Maybe a yacht?

What is your motto? Santé!

Kirk Originals

by Eric Twardzik

Kids can be cruel. A select few possess a preternatural gift for it. In hindsight, the first revelation of this truth was when a student entered the classroom with newly prescribed glasses. In the early 90s, few things could be as socially damning to a prepubescent as a prescription for corrective lenses.

“Pointdexter.” “Geek.” “Milhouse.” And that unimaginative mainstay, “Four Eyes.” Since age 13, Fred’s been in glasses. At 16 he realized he could turn what was a liability into an asset and enthusiastically adopted a bold, tortoise acetate frame. Since then it’s been a 20-year revolving door of thick tortoise specs. They’ve become a signature of sorts, growing larger with each passing year.

The latest sojourn on that pilgrimage is Kirk Originals, a crafter of sunglasses and optical glasses that are designed in London and then painstakingly made by hand in England, Italy or France (three countries that know a thing or two about style).

Margate optical  ($302), archival tortoise sunglass, and  Monte Carlo  optical ($262).

Margate optical ($302), archival tortoise sunglass, and Monte Carlo optical ($262).

The company’s DNA goes back to 1919, the year its namesake founders chose to leave behind the garment and button business for the eyewear one. Kirk Originals came about in the 1990s, when a trove of mod-era Kirks were discovered in a trunk.

“It was based on that find,” says Gordon Ritchie, Managing Director of Kirk Originals. “That was the ethos of this company—we were going to recreate the original shapes and designs from the 50s and 60s.”

Liam Gallagher wore Kirk Originals during his famed Glastonbury Festival performance in 1994, and soon pairs were decorating the nose bridges of Morrissey and Mick Jagger. Ritchie has a psychological explanation for their success.

“Those elements of classic styles are timeless. It’s like they’re embedded in our psyches.”

Liam Gallagher, Oasis frontman, wearing Kirk Originals at 1994's Glastonbury Festival.

Liam Gallagher, Oasis frontman, wearing Kirk Originals at 1994's Glastonbury Festival.

The mid-century, architectural designs of the Made in England collection by Kirk Originals were enough to make us fall in love—even before we heard the story of their construction. It begins with cellulose acetate, the plant-based, nearly mystical synthetic compound used by the best eyewear makers. The type Kirks uses come from Mazzucchelli 1849, an Italian maker with six generations of experience.

From start to finish, each pair of glasses is made by a single craftsmen. The process begins by hand-dyeing the acetate, which is then cut into shape. Once the desired shape has been achieved, the acetate is heated and pressed in a mold to build the bridge.

Then the real fun starts: the shaping and carving of the glasses with a hand file, which takes a full 72 hours and ends with smooth, remarkably round edges. The thickness of the acetate—an impressive 8mm—makes such shaping possible, and allows the temples to be installed without any visible pins, thus preserving the ultra-clean, modernist look. The process ends with enough buffing and polishing to turn the final product into a reflective surface: perfect for a discreet teeth check after broccoli rabe.

After all of that, the glasses are finally in our hands. But when we position them on our noses and tuck the edges behind our ears, brushing away errant locks of hair and adjusting burglar caps, we’re not ourselves anymore. The rounded edges of the Mason channel David Hockney as we venture to the bodega for Advil. The Aviator-style Reed allows us to be Steve McQueen for an afternoon, no chase scenes required. The Harvey in tortoiseshell turns a coffee run into a live-action remake of North by Northwest.

Kirk Originals aren’t simply accessories that block UV rays or make cocktail menus in dimly lit bars readable. The dedicated carving process transforms each pair into something more: a disguise. And as any moonlighting private eye can attest, selecting the right disguise is key.