Style » Fashion

The Measure of a Gentleman at Louis Purple

by Mark Thompson
EDGE Style & Travel Editor
Saturday Sep 29, 2012

For a sartorial gentleman, certainly one of the most haunting scenes in the entirety of American literature is the scene from "The Great Gatsby" where Daisy Buchanan weeps at the profusion of gorgeous, made-to-order shirts that Jay Gatsby shows her in a rainbow of colors and fabrics as he tosses them onto a table in a pile of "stripes and scrolls and plaids in coral and apple green and lavender and faint orange with monograms of Indian blue."

Daisy weeps, she explains, because she's never before seen such beautiful shirts. What's unspoken, of course, is that the shirts represent Gatsby - and all his endeavors in his pursuit of her.

As the adage goes, it's the clothes that make the man - and no one knew that better than Jay Gatz, the Midwestern boy who grew up to become Gatsby.

Louis Purple knows it as well - and were Gatsby to appear in New York today, it's likely that he'd direct his driver to the tony, made-to-order men's haberdasher in NoHo.

Opened in France in 2009, Louis Purple offers made-to-measure garments for everyone who needs a suit, regardless of body type. Now with eleven shops in its home country, including Paris, as well as other stores in Bucharest, New York, Prague, and Belfast, Louis Purple provides an affordable luxury: bespoke suits, tailored with style to your body, starting at 699 USD.

On a postcard-perfect autumn afternoon, I made a visit to the New York location where I was warmly welcomed by founder Charles Brunold, an impeccably dressed Frenchman with a love of sartorial detail and a keen sense of humor (which might have been developed during Brunold’s stint as a contestant on a Malaysian reality show called "What Women Want").

When asked about Louis Purple’s inception, Brunold responds, "I loved the concept of made-to-measure because you can create your own style, whatever it may be. I wanted men to feel like they’ve created their own look - instead of wearing someone else’s clothes."

Choosing a suit that suits you best

If the clothes make the man, then it’s the details that make the clothes - and Louis Purple offers a plethora of choices in order to insure that the suit or shirt you choose is completely personalized to your own sartorial nature.

For example, the New York shop (which opened in 2011) offers more than 300 fabrics and 60 different types of lapel and three different jacket styles, resulting in more than 18,000 combinations of fabric, cut, and style. Suiting fabrics come from renowned houses such as Loro Piana, Cerruti, Dormeuil Luxury Cloth, and Vitale Barberis, while the more than 300 Italian fabrics available for shirting include Thomas Mason and Tessiture Monti.

With such a multiplicity of choice, the process of choosing a suit that suits you best might seem daunting, but Brunold’s relaxed approach and amiable manner make the entire process as pleasurable as choosing the right wine. As Brunold responds when asked what it is that makes Louis Purple special, "It’s about customer service and patience - and making people happy."

To start, Louis Purple offers three jacket cuts: one with a natural shoulder that works well on a slim body for a timeless, elegant look and another with a soft American shoulder, which enables ease of movement and is designed for those with a larger body type. The third style is a very lightly structured jacket, made for those who love a blazer during all seasons. You know the type: the sort of man who always looks both sophisticated and casual at all times.

Over the course of the next hour, Brunold, whose background includes the launch of an online custom apparel shop, explains to me the distinction of various details, such as a high gorge (the notch in the lapel), which furthers the illusion of height. In other words, if you need a few more inches, then you’ll desire a higher gorge. Stressing that Louis Purple covers all body types, Brunold admits that the most popular cut is a European fit with a tapered shape and a long, lined lapel.

These are but a few in a series of small details that you’ll consider in your pursuit of the perfect suit, which will also include such matters as functioning sleeve buttons and contrast stitching on buttonholes and one vent or two.

"Men want the process to be easy..."

Measurements are taken in-house at Louis Purple, after which they are entered into the computer and sent to the master tailors in France for review. The garments are then assembled in a French-owned factory in Romania and then, three weeks later, your bespoke suit arrives in New York. Any further alteration needed or desired is done in the New York studio by master tailor Antonio.

The price of a bespoke suit at Louis Purple is approximately 50% less than at other made-to-order haberdashers, primarily because of Louis Purple’s access to mills such as Holland & Sherry and Dormeuil Luxury Cloth. "There’s no middle man," as Brunold explains, which is perhaps one reason for the large number of private label clients served by Louis Purple.

Apart from suits and shirts (which start at around 130 USD), Louis Purple also makes made-to-order overcoats, trench coats, and trousers. A bespoke cashmere overcoat, using cashmere by Loro Piana or Cerruti, might start at 900 USD, which is a price that would encourage Gatsby to purchase an even dozen.

According to Brunold, weddings comprise between thirty and forty percent of Louis Purple’s New York business - and a wander through the Louis Purple Facebook page reveals a series of postings from happy grooms and their groomsmen. As one aficionado noted, "I actually had fun buying my suit." Brunold concurs, explaining, "Men want the process to be easy and we make sure that happens every time."

For those grooms interested in something particularly memorable, the Louis Purple Collection Crystal features suit lapels and pockets edged completely in Swarovski crystals. Imagine a walk down the aisle, your guests blinded by your sparkling brilliance.

In December, Louis Purple will open a new showroom at 57th and Madison - just in time for the holidays. Think about your father and your brother and your lover and your husband. Reward the men in your life with a made-to-measure garment from Louis Purple - because when they look good, you look better.


Louis Purple


A long-term New Yorker and a member of New York Travel Writers Association, Mark Thompson has also lived in San Francisco, Boston, Provincetown, D.C., Miami Beach and the south of France. The author of the novels WOLFCHILD and MY HAWAIIAN PENTHOUSE, he has a PhD in American Studies and is the recipient of fellowships at MacDowell, Yaddo, and Blue Mountain Center. His work has appeared in numerous publications.


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