September 16, 2009

David Wilkes, Vancouver bespoke tailor, gets the nod in GQ UK from Douglas Coupland

(photo credit: Cruz)

David Wilkes, bespoke tailor, who will be featured in my fall menswear piece for the Vancouver Sun, not only got the big thumbs up from Douglas Coupland, now the writer is praising Wilkes at GQ UK!

The word:
Your website contains an index of "Couplandisms," one of which asserts that "Once you establish a look, and once everybody recognises that look as your look, you never have to think about fashion again." What's your look?
Headwise, I always kind of knew that everyone goes grey in our family very early—and I was like, it works for me. I started growing my beard and it changes the shape of your skull and your face, and I started seeing my mother's side of the family in myself for the first time. I always get jealous of Prince William because he looks so much like his mom, so that's why I keep this [beard] but it makes me look so old fashioned—I look like an Antarctic explorer or an old Civil War photograph.

And the dresscode?
Bespoke tailoring: yes! I found this one pair of pants—they're Canali—and brought them into a tailor and said, clone these dammit. They just do all the right things. I've got eight pairs in different colors and I never have to think about pants again. The only look otherwise that suits me is like, the Professor from Gilligan's Island. Everyone should have a tailor. David Wilkes, the guy who does my stuff, is like, 'Well you're a writer - do you want a special pen compartment or something?' Bespoke: That's the term you want to get out there.

Congrats, David. To contact David Wilkes, visit

And look out for my fall menswear feature in the Vancouver Sun (coming soon).

Send-Return: My email interview with Douglas Coupland on David Wilkes and bespoke tailoring

If you can spend your cash on designer ready-made suits, ask yourself, “Why?” Off-the-racks, no matter how expensive, are made to accommodate differently shaped men. That can mean extra fabric adding unneccesary bulk to your frame.

David Wilkes of David Wilkes Bespoke in Gastown will cut out the fat by personally hand making a suit for you. On the money for value side, his suits should literally last a lifetime. On the style side, you receive unique fabric, a perfect fit, and understated luxury.

Douglas Coupland has become a fan of Wilkes and agreed to an e-mail interview about his recent plunge into bespoke clothing.

FASHION MONDAY:Where are you and from what are you receiving and transmitting this reply?

Scotland. MacBook Pro 17".

What made you turn to a bespoke tailor like David Wilkes?

I hate clothes shopping and off-the-rack is so insanely boring. There had to be a better way.

What are your thoughts about people turning to fitted and tailored suits/clothing this season?

Don't understand the question. Is this a trend?

(Not a new thing but becoming more and more mainstream, ie regular guys want a tailored look)

Most people I know in Europe are a mix of Muji (a Japanese retailer with a minimal, no-waste, no-logo aesthetic) and bespoke. I think Vancouver's just catching up a bit late in the game. But at least,we are catching on.

How have people responded?

People always notice when you dress better than you used to.

What would be your must-have...what should a man get from a bespoke tailor?

A really good suit that, once they're wearing it, they don't have to think about.

It was Yumi Eto and Sharon Young (pattern drafter at Acr'teryx) who are close life-long friends who put me onto David. What's been interesting for me was watching the way their creative juices flowed when we visited David's Studio. They really, really care about quality and technique and have opened my eyes.
Nighty night.

September 14, 2009

Today, on CBC Radio's On The Coast: Harem or Zouave pants and how to dress down asymmetrical dresses

Two of the more intriguing fashion trends this fall. I discuss with the lovely, the beautiful and deftly clever designer Allison Smith of Allison Wonderland how-to pointers. We're talking about asymmetrical dresses and You Can't Touch This Hammer pants on Fashion Monday.

And let's be clear here: Allison Smith doesn't offer harem pants in her line, she did wear denim, low-crotch jeans this spring. More on her clothes next week when I spend a bit more time at Dream, the boutique!

If you ever feel the need...

You can hear me live on line, On The Coast at's live stream every Monday at 4:49 PM Pacific.

Plus while you're waiting for me to go on air, listen to this mash up:

Do, do, do, do, do do, you can touch this - Hammer pants and asymmetrical dresses

Why will it be Hammer Time On The Coast? Well, JJ Lee, this show's guide to fashion, will be looking at two of the more intriguing fashion trends this fall. And he'll have the help of designer Allison Smith of Allison Wonderland for some how-to pointers. We're talking about asymmetrical dresses and You Can't Touch This Hammer pants, when JJ joins me for another Fashion Monday.

Today on CBC Radio One's On The Coast, 88.1 FM 690 AM, at 5:45 PM!

September 3, 2009

September 1, 2009

John Fluevog, BC finance ministers, budgets, and wearing brand new shoes

It is a rite of Canadian politics. Finance ministers carefully choose their shoes, usually brand new, as a signal of the government making a fresh start.

Recent BC budget speeches and the ministers who must present them have received a lot of shoe attention.

Carole Taylor, as the finance minister for Budget 2007, was lambasted by the NDP's Jenny Kwan for wearing a pair of $600 Guccis. The criticism of Taylor was quite unfair. She's quite the clotheshorse. She was also my former uber-boss as the president of the CBC back in the day.

I loved talking fashion with her in the halls of the CBC (I know, I know, we could have discussed the future of public broadcasting instead) and let me say this: denying Carole Taylor a pair of Gucci's is like denying the Mona Lisa gold-leaf on her picture frame. It's kind of cruel.

Even so, Taylor showed a degree of acumen by wearing resoled red patent Jimmy Choo's in the next budget. How's that for thrifty but stylish?

Unfortunately, I think she picked the wrong pair to refurbish. The patent was far too hard on the cameras. Colour depth is always the way to go with red either with suede or a vegetable dye.

In her last budget, she honed her political/fashion radar perfectly. She wore green Teapot Darjeeling pumps with vamp string lacing by John Fluevog (left, in cherry).

Yes, Taylor snookered her critics. How could anyone complain about a finance minister buying BC - let alone Canadian.

This year, expect current minister Colin Hansen to wear nothing that inspires economic confidence. Instead, he donated 100 children's shoes to the Salvation Army, spending $4000 out of his own pocket.

What are the semiotics of that gesture? Does giving shoes to a charity inspire economic confidence? Today's budget looks like it will be a stinker. Kind of makes you miss the $600 Guccis, doesn't it?

If you want to know what the lovely designer Melissa Cartwright of John Fluevog thinks Colin Hansen should wear, listen to my fall Fluevog shoe preview which aired yesterday on CBC's On The Coast with host Stephen Quinn.