By Robert James

By Robert James
72 Orchard St. NYC

If you’re ever wondering where the cast of the speakeasy movement are getting their inspiration from, seek no further than this shop on Orchard Street. This designer looks further back than most to colonial-era military apparel, updating and altering the designs to accentuate their inherent other-worldliness, given few other designers offer 60s leather racing jackets and coats with actual vintage World War 2 buttons. Most do not even try to mimic the level of artistry and detail of the era, but Robert James spares neither.

Having bought a tweed blazer here, under the careful supervision of Sir Robert James himself, I can safely say the level of service here is beyond high. It was a piece (yes, I’m calling jackets ‘pieces’ now) I had seen in the window months before, captured on my cell phone, and adored for a few minutes each night before going to sleep.

Sir James had crafted the jacket himself, and provided the source of his inspiration, a picture of Jesse James when he was 20 years old wearing a piece (thats western slang for ‘jacket’) remarkably similar to the one I was trying on. Needless to say when I don the jacket, I mime pulling out my six shooter now and then to random innocents. Pew-pew.

I returned a few weeks later to survey their impressive vintage tie-bar/cuffling pairings, and I told him I had to get the sleeves shortened a bit. He was a bit peeved as they do free in-house alterations, and when I protested it wasn’t his fault, his principle was unflinching: “Well, it’s my name on the inside of the jacket.” I don’t think I’ve ever heard such pride in my entire lifelong retail experience. Also, there is a very affectionate dog in the store. Just saying.

Some of the apparel is beyond theatrical, and some of the t-shirts can be mistaken for the Christian Audigier variety upon first inspection, but are surprisingly tasteful and nuanced upon the second. Unfortunately, the first impression is not a taste so easily removed like bile from the back of the throat. However, if you’re a first rate badass and/or in Interpol you could probably rock this outerwear pretty comfortably.