With the passing of the last surviving cast member of the original cast of the classic BBC series Are You Being Served?, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about haberdasheries. They do not appear to be a mainstay of the more upscale luxury department stores, but even if they aren’t being worn as a matter of custom, they will always be elegant and classic.
Dedicated independent, specialty and vintage shops seem to corner the market on hat-making and selling these days, but one cannot deny the pleasure of trying on a witty chapeau as a topper to one’s outfit. This week we tried on some classic hats in Yaletown’s Goorin Brothers location (the name an inadvertent nod to Grace Brothers on AYBS) and tied a distinctive Borsalino cravat in an Eldredge knot (click for video tutorial).
One of the more complicated knots, the Eldredge starts with the wide end on your left, with the tip at your belly button or a bit below. Leave lots of room on the narrow end on your right. Make a dimple on the left and cross the little end over the front, making a triangle and drawing it to your right. You will then wrap the little end over the front, on the lower side of the triangle, keeping everything tight. This is design demands a compact design, and therefore everything should be tightened. Draw the little end over the centre to your right to create a loop, and you will then circle the little end over the front and through that first loop to your right again. Tighten that up by tugging at the wider loose ends you’ve just created. Then that is sufficiently compact, wrap the little end over the right, and re-create the design by repeating this step. Eventually you’ll realize that you’ve used most of the little end, but it also means there is minimal opportunity for loose fabric. This almost looks like a variation of the Diamond knot, which we showcased at this past fall’s Lao Feng Xiang opening.
A note on the tie to use: I’ve experimented this knot with several of my favourite cravats, but I’ve learned the hard way not to use anything wide or that has a thick fabric. It is very difficult to create this look with anything except a thin necktie with a relatively thin fabric. The good news is that lovers of skinny ties (hello hipsters) are perfectly suited for this.
We shot this week in Yaletown at Goorin Bros. on a rainy Saturday afternoon. Although we don’t get to see many hats being worn these days (not even with the Mad Men revival), the place was full of customers and virtually everyone walked out with a purchase. The connoisseurs included hipsters, stylish fashionistas, and a more distinguished crowd, none of whom were to buy them for costume or fancy dress balls. With such classic styles as fedoras of differing brims and fabrics, flapper hats, porkpies and the Indiana Jones variety (I’m thinking of Star Wars a lot lately), Goorin Brothers know exactly the type of customer who would best appreciate classic style.
It gives us hope that wearing hats, even on occasion, can help elevate the tone of fashion locally. I attended their Gatsby-themed party in October 2013 during the annual Taste of Yaletown event and can attest that this isn’t a mere shop, it has vision, great vibe and energy. Everyone in store this weekend to buy was in good spirits and the mood infectiously playful, even if on a drearily rainy afternoon.
Helen and I would like to thank Goorin Bros. and their lovely staff (Devin, Chris and Sarah) for allowing us to shoot this week.
Tie carefully, yours in knotwerk,
(All photographs by Helen Siwak of THEClosetYVR)