Paint, if you will, a picture of the menswear misanthrope’s social media feed. Everyday his generic device is flooded with pictures – most of them identical. Well, not literally identical. But thematically it’s like groundhogs day. Pretty young things stand around – extra points if they’re near the Fortezza de Basso – in brightly coloured suits only to be replaced by refreshed images of your average fuccboi, Yeezys and all. Suddenly, almost prophetically, he pauses scrolling through his feed. He sees a few unshowy images, resplendent with indescribable cool. One photo reveals a jacket, its slubby brown texture overlaid with denim glencheck. Another, a doppio petto (read: double breasted), with a generous lapel roll and meticulously spaced buttons. The next photo doesn’t even contain any tailoring! Instead, a golden leaf adorns the frame. The accompanying caption simply reads “follow the leaf”. With such a memorable symbol on the brain, we at TVG took those instructions to heart. The aforementioned leaf is the calling card of The Standard Outfitters – Sydney’s latest menswear lifestyle concept – and it is a pleasure to see an upcoming clothier that, at last, merits excitement.
Imran Ahmed, better known online by his handle ‘Modern Artillery’, explains significant thought went into designing the brand’s logo. “The leaf (our logo) represents the pursuit of perfection, through time and iteration. It signifies the artisan and how our products aim to protect their craft without bastardization through buzzwords”. Imran is particularly wary of the hashtag culture that has become part-and-parcel of ‘upselling’ menswear. For the director of The Standard Outfitters (‘TSO’) acronyms like MTM and RTW are constricting, and obstruct the important element that defines his business. “You can easily have ready to wear garments that require more man hours to produce than bespoke. So, while we don’t shy away from using buzzwords to describe products (where relevant) they are only ever used to refer to a process.” This approach at TSO, of focusing on product quality before all else, is reflected in the two year pilgrimage that Imran and Joe Ha (co-director of TSO) recently concluded in pursuit of the finest menswear in the world.
For the duo it is an undeniably personal journey that has taken them from Tokyo to Naples, to name but a few locales. And a duo they are, for Joe Ha – the uber stylish ‘The Finery Company’ – brings literal years of experience in the clothing industry to TSO. His skill is enhanced by time spent working alongside veteran cutters including Chad Park (of B&Tailor) and Sydney local Bijan Sheikhlary (of Bijan Bespoke). It’s a partnership that is exciting for Imran and one that feels natural. “I’m not sure if you can tell from social media” he wryly observes “but Joe is a bit of a perfectionist”. Imran fondly recalls their initial meeting:
“I met him as a new client having their first experience in the world of bespoke clothing. I wanted to redo his entire tailor’s pattern to work with my ideas. It was crazy and inevitably it became more and more difficult to execute those ideas through the bespoke process. However, the interesting thing was that every time I’d come up with an idea Joe would light up and propose something even better. At some point we had one of those moments where we turned to one another and joked “if we want to do stuff like this, we should just do it ourselves”. Turns out neither of us were joking.”
To briefly describe the business that resulted from their meeting, TSO is the lovechild of wild conceptualism and a process of refinement in the interest of practicality. “Where we landed is a modern lifestyle brand with an overall silhouette rooted in history – it’s the perfect marriage”, says Imran.
Set to launch in December this year, the crux of TSO’s current offering will be tailoring from the Chiaia quarter in Naples [there will also be a sportswear offering]. Historically synonymous with classical menswear, Naples has nevertheless acquired a reputation as a city oversaturated by tailors. According to Imran, this saturation has produced a surfeit of makers who can’t live up to the city’s true tailoring legacy. “It’s no secret that Naples is famous for tailoring but because of this there’s a lot of garbage out there. You really need to dig through all the white noise to find something truly special.” True to TSO’s philosophy of seeking out only the best-in-class products, the brand will be offering truly authentic Neapolitan tailoring from a small atelier with (at present) only limited digital exposure. Think beautifully open jacket quarters and buttoning points that favour lengthening the torso. The directors at TSO are very proud of what they’ve unearthed. The culmination of many economy flights and translators. “He [the head cutter] just happened to live there. There are wonderful tailors all over the world, though what this particular artisan has achieved over the years in Naples has produced a product which translates effortlessly to the international market”. Effortlessly you say? Sounds intriguing.
The Standard Outfitters will open for business in December 2016. Both RTW and made to order will be initially available. For made to order, delivery times (estimated) will be 8-11 weeks from first consultation.
For updates, follow The Standard Outfitters on Instagram here.