It was the first glance of an emerald green Edward Green shoe box that initially piqued my interest in a small artisanal men’s clothier, Robert Jones Menswear, just below the gleaming gold RBC Tower of Toronto. Mind you, at the time I was just in the nascent stages of my career and it took perhaps a year longer for me to muster the courage to go in and try on my first pair of Edward Green shoes. Over the years, as I have been visiting the store, I have gone through perhaps a sartorial evolution of what my style might be.
As a young sartorial enthusiast, my first step was to buy a suit from a department store and wear it to work. What I did not appreciate at that stage of my life was to dress appropriately to your role. However, as dress codes have relaxed a great deal over the years, it is easy to find yourself over-dressed. That does not mean, however, that you cannot look well-dressed without a sport coat and dress pants.
What I have learned visiting Robert Jones Menswear is about the world that exists in the gulf between basic denim and polos to refined Kiton suits. This is where I learnt how to pair a nice classic Edward Green shoe like the Ullswater with a slim pair of Jacob Cohen trousers along with a well-fitting Inis Mean sweater. Such a pairing is extremely comfortable and looks office appropriate for someone who is not meeting clients. The quality of these items is such that you do not have to buy very many and each time you put them on they feel special.
The greatest advantage of an intimate owner-operated store like Robert Jones is the personal connection you make and that goes a long way in making wise sartorial choices. The understanding you establish helps the store staff guide you to clothing which fits your lifestyle. Ken Wendland, the owner, and all of the other staff do a great job in putting together inspiring looks which are wearable in the real world.
One of the benefits of the relaxation of dress codes is that you can use the same ‘workwear’ for polished weekend wear. You can go from the office to a casual evening dinner in the same attire and look comfortable and elegant. As Luciano Barbera once said, “Dress up your sportswear and dress down your formal wear.” It is this motto by which I tend to live as I progress in my sartorial journey.
A small, privately owned shop like Robert Jones Menswear has to be very judicious in how it buys for each season which is why they stick to brands which manufacture themselves. They do not buy from companies which are just brand holdings who do none of the manufacturing. To stay relevant and competitive, Robert Jones ensures to source the best of manufacturers for each item so that consumers can be educated about the value they receive from such specialists. When you buy a glove, a scarf or a jacket, you can rest assured you are paying for real quality and not just marketing hype.
Due to the excellent location of the store in the heart of the legal and financial center of Canada, the store regularly dresses some very influential men and also continues to inspire and set off many young men on the path to sartorial success. As the popularity of online shopping and large scale department stores increases, there is a great deal of value that goes under-appreciated that is offered by the personalised service of an institutional store like Robert Jones Menswear. Robert Jones will be celebrating its centenary in 2019 and we wish them success for a great many years to come in the future.
Photos: Casa di Sartoria