Fort-BelvedereLongtime menswear blogger Sven Raphael Schneider is now knee-deep in knit ties and customer care.  As the force behind Gentleman’s Gazette, Raphael has been in the menswear world for a while.

Late last year, he launched an e-commerce shop via Gentleman’s Gazette and is now selling his own menswear line to a global audience.

“I was intrigued by the idea to not just review something but to actually design it, think it through, improve it, source materials, to get it produced and sent to customers,” Raphael told Modern Fellows.

Ft-belvedere-grenadine-tieRaphael has assembled a unique collection of products that includes grenadine and knit ties, collar pins, pocket squares and boutonnieres.

He takes an impressive globe-hunting philosophy to manufacturing that spans three continents, looking for quality over country.

Knit ties come from Germany “because they have special machines that produce superior results to any Chinese, Italian or English knit tie” that Raphael tested.

Alpaca comes from Peru, leather goods and silk boutonnieres from Germany, collar pins from Austria, and woven ties from Vietnam.  Raphael had prototypes of the latter made in England, Italy, France, Germany, US, China and Vietnam, and Vietnam had the best consistency in hand rolling and reliability.

Managing that global supply chain “can be challenging indeed,” says Raphael. Shipments get delayed, promises are broken, and there can be issues with customs agencies.  He spent two years building the shop, taking the time to build a solid work flow chain.

It is a pretty good time to be selling this particular collection, in the wake of the Gatsby and Mad Men crazes, though the brand Fort Belvedere – named after the Duke of Windsor’s favorite country house – suggests an earlier reference point than the mid-20th Century.

Fort-Belvedere-boutonniere

Like the suit? It is from the gents at Black Lapel.

There is such a thing as too many accessories, and tricking yourself out with the entire range of products on offer could give you a reputation for being that eccentric guy at the cocktail hour who spent way too much time on his outfit.  In moderation, however, the Gentleman’s Gazette range adds interest to an outfit.

Raphael says he developed products that he wanted to buy but could not find.

“I liked boutonnieres, especially when I was on cruises, but I could only get gigantic roses that would look bad and would wilt quickly,” he recalls.  “I wanted to create my own because I don’t like the knit or cloth flowers that are obviously fake.”

Other products, he says, like the gloves and collar pins, were suggested by Gentleman Gazette readers.
Fort-Belvedere-Linen-pocket-square

What stands out about the Gentleman’s Gazette shop, after browsing around for some time, is the thoughtfulness of the site.

There is the product mix – up and coming and long forgotten accessories – collar pins, boutonnieres, square-point ties; the distinct fabric selection – grenadine silk ties, heavy silk square ties, linen pocket squares; and the information and photos alongside each product that both describes the specific product and puts it in a broader context for anyone who needs a refresher on what a tie pin is or the dapper gents who wore them back in the day.

There is also the years of information and how-to’s that Raphael draws on, linking to old Gentleman’s Gazette articles to provide more background and history  on the products on offer.

The effort remains a work in progress.  The company will have a new tie collection shortly with a new-and-improved Italian wool interlining and stitching, and is working on new prototypes while rolling out a range of summer accessories.

Still, the effort so far looks great.

Gentleman’s Gazette provided a burgundy grenadine tie, an edelweiss boutonniere, and a linen pocket square to Modern Fellows at no cost for the purposes of this review.

Fort-Belvedere



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