Last Wednesday, Haspel – the originator of the seersucker suit – celebrated its 105th birthday with a New Orleans-themed cocktail party and retrospective at The Griffin in the Meatpacking District. 1930’s to 1970’s suits were on display, as well as Haspel’s Fall/Winter 2014 collection worn by handsome male models.
Among the guests was Joseph Haspel’s great granddaughter, Laurie Haspel Aronson. Bravo’s Andy Cohen – whom I will see in two weeks at the 92Y – Actor Eric West, Haspel designers Sam Shipley and Jeff Halmos of Shipley & Halmos and yours truly.
Without a doubt, it was a big celebration. We enjoyed fascinating music by legendary New Orleans jazz band, Henry Butler & Friends, exceptional cocktails, a fancy photo booth (you know how much I love a good photo booth) and even cake!
Even though it was a night to have fun, I was able to sit down and chat with designers Shipley & Halmos. They told me more about their vision for the brand and the inspiration for Haspel’s limited-edition essentials collection.
What was your inspiration to revamp Haspel when you joined the brand?
SHIPLEY: It’s a 105-year-old company, so our inspiration was the length and the history in which the brand has been successful for so long. We were able to really look back through a lot of different phases of the company and we both settle in trying to represent the business as a century. We tried to pick the most iconic items over the 105 years. Things from the 1920’s to something really great they were doing in the 1940’s, the kind of innovation and development that Haspel stands for.
How would you describe the contemporary Haspel man?
HALMOS: When you look at Mr. Haspel whom really popularized the brand, he was very well travelled. Even thought he was based in New Orleans he spent a lot of time in New York and was in Europe all the time. Laurie’s family is very similar – they’re always traveling. The Haspel man is definitely well travelled, appreciates nice things and understands fashion. We created a more loosen up collection based on Mr. Haspel lifestyle.
What qualities of Haspel are reflected in this collection of limited-edition essentials
SHIPLEY: The first will be American-made. Haspel has been American-made for most of its existence. Laurie made it very clear that she wanted everything made in America. Therefore, we searched for high quality manufactures and designers that make their product in the country.
Something every man should have in his wardrobe for this fall.
HALMOS: We have a very nice camel coat that I personally love. There’s something about it: it’s not black or navy, it’s light thus you can wear it during the day but it also has a very classic silhouette so you can dress it up.
SHIPLEY: I always come back to the same thing, a white shirt. There are so many variations, to find the right white shirt that represents your personality its a hard task.
When purchasing a suit, what is the most important point to consider?
SHIPLEY: Fit is hugely important.
HALMOS. It’s not about price despite what most guys think. It really is about fit, how it fits in the shoulder and across the chest, the rest of it you can tailor. Pants, on the other hand, ALWAYS tailored. I don’t care who you are or what you do always tailor your pants.
What are three things every gentleman should consider when trying to achieve a dapper look?
SHIPLEY: A watch, pressed clothing – it really makes a difference –and the hem of the pant.
If you could get rid of a menswear trend, current or from the past, which would it be and why?
BOTH: They’re so many…
HALMOS: I don’t really know if that was really a trend or not, but the popped collar… I never had a place for the popped collar.
Your personal style motto in one sentence…
SHIPLEY: Oh man! Well people usually describe our brand as smart-casual. I will say an element of fancy plus an element of comfort and relax.
HALMOS: Casual and comfortable.
What can we expect from Haspel in the future?
HALMOS: This is only our second season with Haspel. Firstly, we wanted to identify the core of the brand yet, there are plenty of opportunities with neckwear and footwear. There’s a temptation to expand beyond. For us, the most important thing is to get all of the essentials right, although sport-wear is developing. Hang in there!
You can tell how Sam and Jeff took the main qualities of Haspel and injected them with a brand-new and contemporary aesthetic without compromising the essence of the brand. I’m looking forward to seeing how far these talented guys can take it.
Not just a pretty face