Updated: Aug 16, 2019
When I first started out writing about tailoring (or craftsmanship in general), I told myself one thing ―
'while there is plenty to fantasize and romanticize about the traditional houses and their heritage, it is equally important to stay open-minded to trying out new and rising tailors.'
The reason behind this, of course, doesn't necessarily stem from the unfortunate reality that 'newer tailors need more promotion to spread the word about their business.'
Instead, it is about discovering what their aesthetic, philosophy, and perhaps even innovation could bring to the world of tailoring.
The house I'm going to present to you today is none other than The Anthology, one of the rising tailors that everyone in the classic menswear community is talking about lately.
Before we begin, I want to say that my initial discovery of The Anthology is a coincidental one.
I first came across the brand when I bumped into Buzz Tang (the gentleman on the right in the picture above), co-founder of the brand, during a visit to the Merchant Fox's pop-up store on Savile Row last year.
Not knowing about his background at the beginning, I later discovered quite a few similarities shared between me and him ― both being from Hong Kong, being around the same age, and most importantly, sharing a love for tailoring.
And like many of us in the community who get to know Buzz personally, I was similarly rather impressed by how he was able to run a tailor house at such a young age while pursuing his bachelor's degree at the same time.
Ultimately, with a combination of the aforementioned reasons, and of course, my passion for trying out different house cuts, this led to my first bespoke commission with The Anthology.
So I want to start by taking a closer look at the brand's house style.
For those of you who've got a chance to take a look of my recent review of my Whitcomb & Shaftesbury safari suit, you may notice there are quite a few differences between these two in terms of their structure ― one of which is the amount of padding it contains for the shoulders.
Being a strong advocate for soft tailoring, The Anthology's jacket features almost no shoulder pads at all; with the only ones used for to balance the height difference at the shoulder.
What would happen, however, is that because your clavicle (collarbone) usually is not perfectly straight, the shoulder line of the jacket inevitably crinkles a little bit.
My personal experience with the two jackets I have from them is that the amount of wrinkle varies all the time. Sometimes it could be more visually apparent (picture above), other times it sits rather nicely (picture below).
Either way, I think it's important to bear in mind that this is just how soft tailoring would work out in practice. Chances are if you prefer a more casual approach to tailoring, then you probably wouldn't mind this little 'side effect' as well.
Elsewhere, there are also a few other hallmarks which constitute The Anthology's house style that worth highlighting.
First off, picking up on the point about the shoulders; even though they are quite soft as I mentioned earlier, they neither don't look too small nor rounded.
Instead, with a handful combination of factors such as a lower gorge line (a point I'll come back to later), a slightly extended shoulder line, and a bit of roping at the sleevehead, it creates an impression of strength to some degree. (The picture of the brown suit probably demonstrates the point better.)
I think this works very well for certain body types like mine, in particular those who have relatively flat yet narrow shoulders. It keeps it rather formal, despite having a minimal amount of padding.
However, the only problem with that (in particular with the lower gorge line as well) is the breast pocket would be a tad too low, as shown in the picture below.
While the starting point of this feature is that you would be able to see more of your hank by lower the pocket's height, it just seems a little bit disproportionate when it's on my body.
In any case, both Buzz and I agreed that the next time when I'm commissioning from them, we will have the breast pocket to be 0.5cm higher up.
There is also a second point about the handwork that the Anthology takes pride in.
If you look closer at the buttonhole as well as the hand-stitching along the lapel, you would find both very subtle and elegant. The latter, in particular, is achieved because of being a swelled edge one (inward stitching).
This is quite a contrast to some of my existing bespoke jackets, say the one from Tai Pan Row for example, which not only has a very thick and straight buttonhole, but also the stitching comes in a darker shade; making it much more apparent visually speaking.
In any case, this is by no means to compare which approach of handcraft is superior. After all, they are simply different styles and are not meant to be contested against each other.
What catches my eye, however, is how open and curvy the front is.
While this feature is certainly one that is not limited to The Anthology, the extent of its lapel roll and open quarters is probably what distinguishes their cut from other tailors.
Curving in beautifully from the lapels down to the buttoning point, the jacket opens up immediately again from that point; forming quite a sharp, rounded 'X' as a result.
This, along with the shorter length of the jacket and lower gorge detail, makes the jacket more casual and more suited to be worn unbuttoned instead in my opinion.
To put it this way, even Buzz himself pointed out one time, 'everything about us, except the brand name itself, is quite modern.'
With that said, there are two things that I think could be improved for the jackets.
The first one being the angle of one of the sleeves.
I've recently come to realize that because of my posture, I tend to rest both of my arms in a different angle. And if you compare the picture above to the first picture of the post, you could see how it fits the left arm better than the right arm.
This is an issue that I've discovered for quite a few of my bespoke jackets as well, even including the latest one from Whitcomb & Shaftesbury.
Nonetheless, not only could this issue be easily fixed by taking in the back of the sleeves, but also I should remind you that I've only had one trial cloth fitting in total (because of some personal circumstances).
What I should say instead is I am more than happy to see the fit of the jacket being almost perfect despite the errors at the sleeves with just one fitting. Not all tailors could get it right like that.
The second problem is limited to the blue jacket, and specifically its inter-linning.
As you could see from the picture above, the lining isn't lined properly, with parts of the painting all disconnected from one another. I think there are two major reasons behind this.
First of all, The Anthology is a relatively new brand so it is rather foreseeable that its workshop does not have a lot of experience in working with linings like this.
Indeed, as I was talking to Buzz when I was collecting the garments, he stated out that the only other time they worked with a 'more patterned' lining was a Hermes silk scarf from another client.
However, I think miscommunication plays a bigger role here. If you look closer to the lining for the sleeves, they are still made out of the same lining (there are two of the same painting in total).
That actually shouldn't be the case because the two panels I've provided are meant to be folded in half through the center back seam (and only used for that purpose) so that they could connect seamlessly.
The lining for the sleeve, on the other hand, should be made out of other regular lining material instead.
In any case, I think it is important to have the mindset of not overreacting to errors for the linings, regardless of how fancy they would be.
After all, they are fundamentally something for yourself and not for someone else. So even if it messes up, you wouldn't need to be too concerned that others could spot it.
Moving onto my final point ― the fit of the trousers.
The reason why I haven't mentioned anything about them until now is that they are simply in excellent quality that there isn't much to critique at all.
As you could see from the picture above, despite only having one fitting using trial cloth, Andy (fitter and co-founder of The Anthology) was able to precisely pin the amount of cloth that needs to be taken in due to my pelvis imbalance issue.
It is not an easy task. Some tailors would choose to add more cloth along the thighs to accommodate that issue but the cloth might clinch weirdly along that area if it's not done correctly.
Others like The Anthology would choose to add more cloth on one side of the leg opening since people would change their posture over time.
I haven't fully come to a conclusion on which method is a better one. Regardless, I would say the result is indisputably stunning, as you could see from the picture below and the earlier photos.
The cloths I've chosen for the two suits, by the way, are a plain dark brown Crispaire from Holland & Sherry (337046) and a micro-herringbone mid-weight cloth coming in a mid-blue shade from Scabal.
The Scabal suit, in particular, appears to be much lighter in the photos than it is in real life (picture 5 probably shows the best of its actual color).
In any case, both are amazing cloth, with the former being one of the most praised cloth in the tailoring community and the latter being one that works perfectly as a three-reason cloth.
Certainly something I would recommend.
Photography by The Suitstainable Man Team unless specified