July 14, 2014

The English Summer look, with Royal Male

As we walked through the royal red Dutch door of the Royal Male, we found ourselves instantly transported through space and time. Like a kid in a candy store, we were overwhelmed with wonder. Richly colored accessories, vintage military uniforms and bits of British memorabilia were tastefully strewn about the pre-revolutionary building. We were immediately welcomed by Etienne de La Villette, dressed in that subtle yet dapper Scotch manner which his brand so tastefully captures.

The fascinating New York native masks his heritage with a refined Scottish brogue which, along with his French name, lends an air of mystery to an already mysterious individual. After discussing the origins of Tennis, the finest boarding schools in Scotland, and the availability of vintage champagne buckets, Etienne told us about the company’s inception.

“Both my Mother and Father were working in New York City. My father was with the Fur department at Saks Fifth Avenue, My mother was a buyer for Saks. They were always in retail, but they wanted to get out of New York City. They wanted to do their own thing.” Etienne tells me, while brandishing a pair of skillfully crafted Spanish-made boots.

“Filson, Barbour, Belstaff… a little more traditionally European. Wools, Waxed Cottons, older, more traditional fabrics for the outdoorsman rather than new Techno fabrics like polar fleece and nylon. That was not their thing. They wanted to have fun with their store.”

We fell into a serious conversation about quality, what it meant, and why it was lacking in modern fashion. “I am more interested in the quality of the material and the construction of the product rather than the label slapped on.” He tells me. “That’s where the customer comes in. Our customers share the same belief in the quality of the construction and material and goods.”

Of course, I asked Etienne why it was that he carried Kiel James Patrick amongst his stubbornly European collection.

“I carry Kiel James Patrick because he walked into the store and was looking at Barbour jackets. He said something about how the people he sells to carry them. I asked him what he made, he showed me his belt. I said “That’s a nice belt...but where do you make them?”. That was the important question. If they were made in China, I didn't want to buy them. He said they were made in Rhode Island. I placed an order.”

Etienne proceeded to peruse the racks to help us find the perfect look for an English, or New England summer. Offering advice on fabric, style, color, and combinations, we somehow ended up in a Mackintosh jacket, ascot, driving loafers by Austen Heller, and accessories by KJP. See the complete look at http://www.fivepointfox.com/.

“When a friend asks me, “what is the point of the store?” I always tell them the same thing: "We want to sell good stuff, good stuff that we like.” He replied. “British, French, Italian, Austrian, Irish, American made clothing. With Dad growing up in Europe, Mom in Northern California, me going to boarding school overseas, it just kind of feels like… well... us.”

Next time your wayward vessel drops anchor in Newport, make a pilgrimage to the Royal Male. You will not be disappointed. In fact, you will probably leave a little wiser, a tad more polished, and most assuredly, better dressed.

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