Had some Holiday fun with the SoCal menswear scene at one of my favorite, if not only, classic menswear stores in Los Angeles! It also happened to be the site of the seasonal Ring Jacket trunk show, which I had always wanted to check out.
The Bloke is a special store. Following in the steps of independent menswear stores like The Armoury, Jeffrey Plankser has created something great in my hometown of Pasadena. The store features a lot of my favorite brands (Alden and Drake’s to name a few) and a few other accoutrements that are curated in a way that evokes ivy-mod style, a unique vibe from the “international classic” that other ateliers tend to go for.
Despite being a bit quirky, they position themselves as the headquarters of classic menswear in LA, as there aren’t many stores like it. The ones that are independent are perhaps a bit old school like Cable Car Clothiers and the now-defunct Carroll & Co. or are more toward streetwear/high fashion (Departamento) or heritage.workwear (Proconsul Clothing). Because of this, they take it upon themselves to bring in brands that many of us (including myself) have only seen online or on rare trips to NYC. This is done through their selection of goods (which now include Carmina!) to hosting trunk shows.
I’ve been to the Drake’s one plenty of times, but I had always wanted to go to one with Ring Jacket. I’ve been a fan of their tailoring and the appeal was only made bigger when I went to the physical store in Aoyama and purchased a balloon jacket for myself. I wanted to learn more about the brand and knew that a trunk show would be the best way to get that, though the last time they were here, I unfortunately had to miss it because of work. I was going to ensure I was free for the next one.
And luckily I was this time!
This past weekend, The Bloke hosted Ring Jacket (headed by Kapil, who basically runs the wholesale for North America/Europe) and included a bit of a Holiday Party complete with complimentary drinks (which many guests enjoyed), extended hours, and live music! I was very excited and blasted the occasion all over social media, since it had a bit a little while since there’s been a menswear event.
Trunk shows are probably the best way to get to know Ring Jacket, as they don’t yet have a physical store in the US. Now The Bloke does stock a few pieces them selves, but I always prefer getting the origin’s opinions (as well as multiple sizes). Luckily for me, Kapil brought a lot of stuff with him, so I (and the attendees) could get as close as we could to the full RJ experience. This meant more than the soft full-canvas jackets and suits they are known for, but their shirting and outerwear too!
Kapil was also taking orders for MTO, which fed from their own archive of cloth to offerings from VBC and such. The lead time is 3-4 months and it is based on their regular block of offerings, but I overheard there is a bit of leeway on the sleeve length and waist fit; more customizations will come when they launch MTM sometime in the future.
There was a lot of people present, not just lurking around like me, but actually buying! Kapil told me that the last one (the one I missed) had a terrific turn out, which made him confident to come back (which he obviously did). A few people bought some RTW suits (he almost sold through all his jersey shirts) and there was even a couple of orders for MTO, all of which was surprising to him considering LA’s casual vibe. Hopefully it’s a testament to classic menswear making a return in my city.
So here’s the fit of the Ring Jacket American model. There’s actually quite a few different fit models if you go to the one in Japan, but the American (or international one) was simply the fit that is best for general customers. And if you’ve got keen eyes, you’ll not that the silhouette is a bit different than my more unstructured-esque Balloon jacket.
This is mainly evident in the shoulders (which are a bit more extended), the wider lapel, and the overall structure: there’s is more heft (though it is still soft) making for a garment with more drape. Mine definitely feels more like a shacket or chore coat in comparison. As a result, these RJ models are more sartorial and give off a more elegant charm.
The one I am wearing above is a size 50 (American 40) which is the same size I got in my Japan one. Everything about it is perfect! The 48 was definitely a bit too tight for me.
At about $1.5k for jackets and $1.9k for suits they are a bit pricey if you’re used to Spier or Suit Supply, but around the same price bracket if you’re used to Drake’s. RJ has more international and sartorial appeal (compared to Drake’s neo-prep), but the price is definitely worth it, especially since they are full canvas. The fact that they have their own special fabric (Balloon) is also note worthy, since the open-weave wool is absolutely ideal for year-round LA wear.
Here we can see the full effect of a Ring Jacket suit, which I think its pretty damn good! MJ is wearing the 48 in the Olive Calm twist suit. It’s basically spot on for MJ; all he’ need to do is get the trousers cuffed and the sleeves hemmed!
You might argue that MJ would look good sized down to a 46, but I like how classic the silhouette is. The shoulders are soft and slightly extended, the lapels wide, the chest full, the length appropriate, and the trousers moderately tapered for a classic leg opening. I haven’t tried on a full Drake’s suit for comparison, but it certainly out classes the silhouette of my Spier Cord suit (though my Ascot Chang custom suit may be the best fitting thing I have).
It’s definitely an investment, but as MJ and I are guys who are fairly normal in body proportions, the price is friendlier than bespoke! This is why Ring Jacket will always be an aspiration for us (in addition to using Balloon, which I’m obsessed with).
Now because it was a Holiday Party that took place on a lovely actually cold day, we used the opportunity to get fun with some layers and cloth! I also don’t really get invited to parties (my friends just chill and do low-key things), so it’s nice to get a bit festive on an appropriate occasion.
This is the most “extra” I’d go for a Holiday Party; there’s no need for tartan dinner jackets or novelty bowties! Under my Ring Jacket Balloon (had to represent for my homeboy Kapil), I rock the turtleneck base layer, which has really been my go-to for most of my weekend attire lately. To be festive, I went with my vibrant red 50’s workshirt, which contrasts nicely against the white turtleneck.
Navy flat front chinos anchor the look, chosen because I didn’t want to do grey flannels (too dressy) or jeans (too basic). If you look closely, you’ll see that I’m wearing mismatched green and red socks to get even further into the Spirit of the Season. It actually worked out because I split up the pairs earlier that week for a separate holiday event.
It’s a fun move for hosiery, and the deep burgundy of the shell cordovan keeps it novelty grounded.
MJ also rocks the Turtleneck Base Layer (in white no less) with my old SJC spearpoint polo, as the opposite of me (I’m in red, he’s in green). White chinos are his bold way for pants, made more casual by the inclusion of suede desert boots. It’s a fun prep-ivy look that definitely plays into his love of color.
He also brings back the 1950’s Mackinaw we last saw during Friendsgiving! It’s a great jacket I haven’t really worn and works as his all purpose piece of outerwear. If you can’t tell, he was plenty warm during the evening; he also looked fly as hell.
We gotta love Spencer’s “newfound” love of milsurp and workwear. Seeing it come to play with tailoring or more “formal” looks during events is definitely a highlight, since it echoes how the Japanese or Bryceland’s do it (which I always look to for inspiration).
Instead of a sportjacket, he has a dark brown corduroy chore coat which is used in conjunction with a burgundy knit tie and RRL plaid workshirt. It’s a cool look that looks sharp and festivities-appropriate all the while keeping things casual. Olive military chinos finish the look (when is he not in them?) as well as suede derbies given to him for his birthday from our friends at 2120 Handcrafted.
Man, I was really loving Hector’s look because it’s something thats very Drake’s/F.E Castleberry.
Hector always complains to me that since he and his family have moved to LA, he’s never had the chance to break out some true fall/winter bespoke tailoring. Well luckily for him, it was pretty chilly, allowing him to break out a hefty light brown corduroy suit. It’s cut the way he likes it, with a few nods to Italian tailoring, but ultimately a soft and classically proportioned suit.
He plays into the “workwear roots” of cord by the way of a chambray shirt and wool tie, though the repp stripes and cream socks definitely nod to the more 1960’s heyday ivy vibe. The red beanie is inspired, being a point of interest that brings some fun into an already fun sartorial fit that already has many aspects of casual within it.
Lastly, we have our boi RJ, who likes bespoke but prefers to make it all himself! Seriously, following him on IG will let you see his own self-taught process. He definitely has a penchant for the late 60s and early 70s take on tailoring, which is evident here; I also just want to say that I love how all of us have different styles within menswear.
The jacket is a light green herringbone tweed that was perfect for the evening. It has broad shoulders (not quite pagoda) with blunted peaks that have a very generous belly. However, I think the real star are his red trousers. Double forward pleated with side tabs and a high rise, it’s an amazing cut and a true testament to his work. They’re done in a tropical wool, as he wanted some fuck-you red pants that he could wear at any time in LA.
I may have to ask him how much he’d charge to make me some trousers…
Hopefully the pictures help show how fun these menswear events can be! The fact that the turn out was so great should really bolster the community down here and should present LA as a viable place for menswear.
Definitely come out to the next one, which should be Dapper Day at LACMA on Jan. 18! It’s not a trunk show, but it’ll still be a great time.
Always a pleasure,