Ones to Watch: Bespoken

by Harry Sheff

A Family Affair

Liam, Sam and James Fayed have bespoke in their blood. They grew up working in Turnbull & Asser’s stockroom learning from their dad. (Their father, Ali Al-Fayed, owns Turnbull & Asser.) They were always inspired by T&A’s traditional craftsmanship and quality, but wanted to inject a bit of their rock & roll edge to reach a younger, more modern customer. And so, Bespoken was born. James (the oldest brother) now runs Turnbull & Asser and handles the behind-the-scenes stuff for Bespoken. Liam and Sam head up design, and Paulo, the only non-family member, is in charge of e-commerce and branding. (Paulo met Sam after he answered an ad for a new drummer in Sam’s band. The two shared many common interests, one being menswear, and so he launched the line with them.)

Bespoken, sold at stores like Saks, Odin and American Rag, is a collection of slim-fit shirting (produced in Turnbull & Asser’s factory in Gloucester, England), two-button suits made with traditional English tailoring techniques, modern one-button suits in unconventional fabrics, knits made with high-grade and specially produced cottons, Japanese denim and accessories such as ties and footwear. Shirting retails from $145 to $285, blazers from $495 to $975, outerwear from $525 to $745, knitwear from $115 to $225 and trousers from $245 to $365. “The collection has these subtle elements that turn classic tailoring on its head a bit, whether it’s being more dressed down or a bit grittier. In the past, tailored clothing received criticism because it was considered dated or reserved only for the dandy or the sophisticated dresser,” explains Sam. “But now, we’re seeing it become more accessible and essential to a guy’s wardrobe.”

Retailers look to Bespoken for functional tailoring with a snug fit in interesting fabrics and subtle patterns (like light tonal dots). Saks launched the line for spring 2012 after watching it evolve and mature for a few seasons. Saks’ fashion director Eric Jennings explains, “Bespoken has been on our radar for several seasons. We launched it for spring without much fanfare and it has had a fantastic first season simply because the product speaks for itself. Best-sellers have been the made in England wovens, novelty polos and some of the tailored pieces.” The spring 2013 collection is inspired by photographs they found of 1960s gypsies wearing suits. When asked for their hero or mentor Sam is quick to answer, “Sir Paul Smith. He reminds us of the John Lennon of fashion: quirky and wildly creative, but always consistent and sharp.” Not surprisingly, similar to how one might describe Bespoken.