Abraham Moon & Sons

by Eric Twardzik

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

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

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


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).

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.

Stubbs & Wootton Bespoke

by Eric Twardzik

We’ve got a soft spot for impractically. And when it comes to footwear, nothing rivals the Prince Albert slipper for its outright rejection of utility in favor of decor. You certainly don’t need a velvet upper with a hand embroidered monogram to get yourself from here to there—but it makes getting there a lot more fun.

Stubbs & Wootton continues to uphold this old-world art from their home base of Palm Beach, Florida. The slipper-maker was founded in 1993, but feels as if it belongs to another time. Part of that trick is their reverence for traditional shoemaking methods. The other is their borrowing the surnames of two English artists from the 18th century, George Stubbs and John Wootton. The two were famous for their equestrian scenes, making them appropriate namesakes for a brand whose product is inexorably linked to aristocratic excess and flair.

F.E. Castleberry for Stubbs & Wootton bespoke in a Harris Tweed herringbone.

Each pair is meticulously hand-crafted by artisans in Southern Spain and comes fully leather lined, complete with a leather outsole and a short stacked heel. They offer a variety of ready-to-wear styles, ranging from a discreet, solid black velvet to leopard print needlepoint to embroidered smoking joints. Fine choices, all; but their bespoke program is where the possibilities are, well…endless.

First you’ll choose your style of embroidery: monogram, motif, varsity-style sweater letters, or International maritime signal flags. Then you’ll pick from their signature classic evening slipper last or a square-toed UK last with a higher vamp. Once that’s put to bed, the real fun begins—starting with fabrics.

In designing this bespoke pair, Fred supplied Stubbs & Wootton with suiting fabric and tie silk for the commission. He began with a grey herringbone Harris Tweed cloth, set it on their UK last, and then trimmed it with an English repp stripe silk. Then, throwing all caution to the wind, Fred had his monogram hand stitched in 14K gold bullion, a type of metal thread.

English repp stripe silk piping.

English repp stripe silk piping.

Hand embroiderd 14K gold bullion monogram.

Hand embroiderd 14K gold bullion monogram.

Goldwork, the art of embroidery of metal threads, is particularly prized for the way light plays on it. Originally developed in Asia more than 2000 years ago, its use reached a remarkable level of skill in the Middle Ages when a style called Opus Anglicanum was developed in England and used extensively in church vestments and hangings. After this period, it was then routinely employed in the clothing and furnishings of the royalty and nobility throughout Europe.

Today, it’s increasingly difficult to find anyone adept in goldwork. It’s time consuming, expensive, and laborious. Did we mention expensive? Especially when working with 14K gold. It’s a modern day go-to-hell move for the genteel.

As anyone who’s had one too many martinis at a cocktail party can testify, it’s all too easy to place your foot in your mouth. One way to avoid this is to let your feet do all the talking from the get-go…especially if what you’re saying is, “Go to hell (if you don’t like ‘em).”

Drake's Neckties

by Eric Twardzik

“Choosing a tie has to be an irrational act.”
Eugenio Marinella

This maxim, issued by the founder of E. Marinella, comes from a man submerged in neckwear. And yet it speaks to our own ethos concerning the tie. We don’t need them to keep us warm, protect us from the elements, or to wipe our mouths with (though feel free to do so with any Ralph Lauren factory/outlet tie). They serve a higher purpose. As Glenn O’Brien reasons in How to Be a Man, “The tie’s only function is beauty. It is an emblem of art and artifice.” And art is anything but rational.

It’s true that ties have become a rarer sight in our ever more casual world, but we’re not complaining. We’d rather see the necktie embraced by those wearing them out of free will rather than compliance. And if you’re anything like us, there’s no point in volunteering for tie duty unless you’re going to wear the very best—and that brings us to Drake’s.

Drake's spring/summer '18 neckties.

Drake's spring/summer '18 neckties.

The London maker offers scores of new ties with each season. And while the colors, patterns, and prints offer more diversity than a Brown admissions brochure, each collection is united by a triptych of details that have collectively become known as sort of a Drake’s signature.

Almost all feature hand-rolled edges, a flared back blade, and—perhaps the most noticeable peculiarity—blades without tipping. “Tipping” refers to the fabric that backs most modern ties at each blade’s end. While the de rigueur practice of the day, tipping was historically seen as slightly suspect, as if it were concealing lazy craftsmanship.

By intentionally foregoing tipping, Drake’s casually pulls off the sartorial equivalent of a humble brag. The result is a relaxed—you might even say “floppy”—gait that emphasizes the hand-rolled edges, flared back blade, and devil-may-care rakishness of its ancestor, the cravat scarf.

Fred wears  Drake's green sailing print silk and cotton tie  with our made-to-measure khaki cotton suit.

Fred wears Drake's green sailing print silk and cotton tie with our made-to-measure khaki cotton suit.

Highlights from the Spring '18 season employ interesting fabrics from Drake’s enormous offering. There are vibrantly colored tile and medallion prints in Panama silk, a lightweight textile known for its open, textural weave, matte finish, and remarkable knack for retaining bright hues. There is an orange mini circle and diamond print imbued with the luminosity unique to foulard silk. An abstract, rounded square print in navy uses the chalky power of madder silk to leave its mark.

It’s nearly impossible to pick a favorite. But if you really press us, we’ll shamelessly admit to fawning over these preppier designs: the medallions, the dots, the motif of a green sailing boat emblazoned on a silk/cotton blend. It’s just the right mix of texture, sheen, and weight and pairs perfectly with our English khaki cotton suit. The entire collection is so beautifully designed that you can be irrational in your choice and yet still be rationally dressed.

B Sides

We don't know much about B Sides jeans but we know they're cool. We do know they’re designed by Claire Lampert and Stacy Daily. We don't know much about them either. In this age of oversharing, that's kinda cool too (a quick Google search turns up factoids such as Lampert formerly being a nationally ranked competitive downhill ski racer—also cool!).

b sides Vintage patchwork Levi's 505 jean repurposed and hand-worked in New York ($328)

b sides Vintage patchwork Levi's 505 jean repurposed and hand-worked in New York ($328)

It started with a vintage pair of Levi’s 505s. Lampert and Daily began re-purposing denim collected from the American west and east and hand-worked them in New York city. While there are scads of companies repurposing vintage denim, the girls maintain the fit and character of the original denim and instead experiment with scaling, tones, and washes to create patchwork to add to vintage jeans. The jeans end up looking like your mom patched up your blown out Levi's with your other pair of blown out Levi’s. Each pair is essentially a work-of-art-level American classic.

You can shop pairs of B Sides at a handful of boutiques in the U.S., including one of our favorites, Sleepy Jones in SoHo. And by shop we mean try them on. You’re going to want to spend a minute with them in a dressing room. Since they’re 1960s and 1970s vintage, sizing is wildly unpredictable. Vanity sizing? Forget it. Used to wearing a 27” waist ladies? Don’t slit your wrists if you’re buttoning up in a 31”. But not to worry, the ink on the Levi’s leather patch will likely be so faded that no one will be the wiser.

Kamakura Oxford Cloth Shirts

It’s September 12th.
The year is 1964.

In a mass raid, Japanese teens in Oxford cloth button-downs are being apprehended by police in the streets of Ginza. Upwards of 200 on this Saturday night are arrested and questioned. At this particular moment, a wrinkly shirt with a button-down collar which signifies old money in the States, is an indictment of criminal behavior in Japan. Their egregious crime? Looking like a Kennedy.

How did we get here? Japan was gearing up for the Summer Olympics. The Tokyo government simply couldn’t tolerate the mere appearance of unruly loitering teens tarnishing their crown jewel of a district’s image. The eyes of the world would be on the nation in less than a month. The kids in Ivy League clothing had to go.

It is this rebellious spirit that Kamakura Shirts conscientiously weaves into each Oxford cloth shirt they make. The buttons are natural shell*. The interlining is non-fusible. The needlework is 22 single needle stitches per inch. The attitude is nonchalant. The result is a soft-rolling collar shirt for $79, made in Japan. Perhaps they got the exchange rate wrong because we’re still scratching our heads over how they’ve pulled this off.

This spring, Kamakura is introducing a fistful of fun striped Oxford button-downs in all four of their fits. We love them paired with our wool/linen jackets and sport-coats (leave the button down collar unbuttoned). At a price of $79, it’d be a crime to not cop one. As for looking like a Kennedy, you’ll likely be acquitted if it’s JFK Jr.

*Unlike plastic, shell buttons don’t melt when ironed under high temperature. We don’t condone ironing—but then again, we don’t know your life.

Vitale Barberis Canonico

You never forget your first made-to-measure suit. You’ll land your dream job in that suit, ask her to dance in that suit, be the best man in that suit. And it’s because you’ll never forget, that we at F.E. CASTLEBERRY make ours with Vitale Barberis Canonico cloth.

The venerable Italian mill has single-mindedly woven the most beautiful cloths since 1663—the year that Turkey declared war against Holy Roman Emperor Leopold I, the year that Japanese Emperor Reigen ascended to the throne—to put things aptly into perspective. There’s something special there. Maybe it’s the fact that V.B.C. is the world’s oldest cloth mill, or that it’s (still) family owned, or its commitment to championing Italian manufacturing through innovation, its commitment to the northern town of Biella, the environment, its archives, and its moral code. Or maybe it’s because their fabrics simply have a hand that is unmatched.

Vitale Barberis Canonico four seasons super 130s grey twill weave

Vitale Barberis Canonico four seasons super 130s grey twill weave

While steeped in over 350 years of tradition, it is that very tradition that propels Barberis Canonico to the cutting edge. An impossible pattern? They’ll weave it. A lightweight wool? They’ll make it lighter. Impeccable craftsmanship? They’ll pursue it to the ends of the earth (technically, the other side of the globe but that doesn't roll off the tongue as easily). They’re one of the very few weavers in the world that own their own sheep farms (two, to be precise), in the rolling pastures of Australia’s Mudgee region. Owning allows for the breeding of sheep that provide raw wool of consistent quality, a crucial foundation in the mill’s proprietary seven step process.

We love Barberis cloth not only because of their amazingly soft grey flannels and Prince of Wales checks, but also because these extraordinary fabrics are made specifically to meet the needs of hand-canvassing (every jacket we make is fully hand-canvassed). The quality is unparalleled and far from coincidence. It is intentional. Much like us, V.B.C.’s obsession with quality, consistency, and precision borders madness. The result is a garment we’re proud to hand-sew our name into…a garment that wholeheartedly embodies the F.E. CASTLEBERRY spirit.

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