Seth Box. A Sartorial Man.
In an effort to connect the world of luxury menswear and fine jewelry, the JOTT blog is giving you a peek into the world of men’s fashion with Seth Box, a professional from the renowned men’s boutique Hubbard Clothing Co.
The jewelry and luxury menswear worlds both focus on similar core principles:
Bespoke pieces made with care by experienced craftsmen.
Family and/or small businesses supported by the local community.
Premier customer service delivering a unique shopping experience.
In the case of Hubbard, they even offer a customer experience involving a lounge, an in-house barbershop, and more! There is so much that the menswear and jewelry industries can learn from each other. Seth is a young menswear professional specializing in consulting and tailoring as well as design in colors and fibers. His perspective on his industry offers a unique insight that can be applied to the world of jewelry as well as fashion.
Watch the video above from our YouTube and check out the highlights from this interview below!
JOTT: Let’s go ahead and get started! Everybody, this is Seth Box. He is a men’s fashion professional and one of my favorite people in the world. Seth, why don’t you go ahead and tell everybody a little about yourself.
Seth: I work in men’s fashion in a luxury clothier. We specialize in handmade Italian clothing. I kinda got into it a few years ago and I’ve been doing it part-time in addition to school so it’s been a fun hobby that’s become more of a lifestyle.
JOTT: Tell us a little bit about Hubbard Clothing Co., where you work.
Seth: It’s kind of an adaptation of a traditional haberdashery. Kinda that old school thing of “everything a guy needs in one stop.” We have a barbershop inside, a private lounge for our members, everything from socks to suits as far as clothing goes, and anything you need to shine your shoes. Just any of the accoutrements to keep you looking good.
JOTT: Haberdashery is such a great word. Your industry kinda has its own language, can you talk a little about some of the words that you use?
Seth: Yeah, a big one in the menswear world is the term “sartorial” which means intentionally crafted, tailored clothing. It’s meant to describe and give credit to the people who handmake the clothes.
JOTT: Sounds like men’s fashion is really embracing custom, family, and individual craftsmen who take pride in what they do.
Seth: Absolutely. Donny [Hubbard] has traveled to Italy a few times to meet our vendors and partners and they’re all just great people.
JOTT: And Donny has quite a name for himself in the industry as well, right?
Seth: He’s been in the industry for 20/+ years, he started right out of high school. He’s owned a few stores and worked for several big stores across the country. He knows everybody, he’s very well connected.
JOTT: The men’s fashion industry seems like a small industry comparatively speaking.
Seth: Yeah, I would say so. It has its niches. High fashion, the ready-to-wear-world, and everything in between. You have the art side of it which is more what we’re in. We’re in the luxury market…“Luxury” in the sense that someone spent a lot of time crafting this piece of clothing for someone to wear.
JOTT: I think that aspect of your business is so similar to so many jewelry stores I know. It’s crazy how many similarities there are between the fine jewelry world and the luxury menswear world.
Seth: Is bespoke a term you use in jewelry as well?
JOTT: Yeah, I was so surprised to hear it in the fashion world. I feel like fashion and jewelry don’t really talk to each other, for some reason they’re so…separate.
JOTT: Seth, you really have your thumb on the pulse of everything. I would love to hear your perspective on some of the trends in men’s fashion right now.
Seth: Everything is kinda coming back around to the ’50s but they’re integrating a lot of modern milling techniques into that. The style is coming back to the ’50s: the cut of everything, sizes of the lapels, tight waist, bigger shoulders, straight legs, things that aren’t really tapered and modeled. Jeans are coming in really hard, people are wearing jeans with everything. Which is fun, but I think there’s a reservation of formality. We’re coming back around to it, it’s just gonna take some time.
JOTT: This brings up something I wanted to mention — Seth, you wear a suit everyday.
Seth: I do. For a few years now.
JOTT: When someone asks you, “How do you wear a suit everyday?” What is your response?
Seth: “I just put it on.”
That’s what I say to everybody. People ask “Where are you going? Do you have something to go to?” and I’m like “No. It’s just Wednesday. Tomorrow’s Thursday.” Days that end in “y” are good occasions to wear a suit.
JOTT: Same for jewelry! Can you talk a little bit about the suits that you have?
Seth: I’m kind of a suit collector, I have close to 50 now. It’s hard now to decide which one I’m gonna wear. I think there is a garment for every occasion. Picking the right color, fit, and texture is all a part of it. Having a lot of options is nice. I’ve narrowed it down to pretty much everything being handmade Italian. Some made partially by machine.
JOTT: You tend to wear quite a few accessories, is that right?
Seth: Yep, I’ve got a couple necklaces I wear and a bunch of bracelets. I wear a watch. I wore a pinky ring. People are starting to wear smaller but more pieces, specifically, in the menswear world. Men are wearing a lot of rings, but they’re not big, gigantic rings.
JOTT: Yeah, I would love to hear more about this. At the wholesale level, I don’t necessarily interact with the men who are buying jewelry. Even jewelry stores aren’t necessarily interacting with the men who are buying jewelry. A lot of men feel too intimidated to go into a jewelry store and ask for jewelry for their selves. What kind of jewelry are you seeing, more specifically?
Seth: It varies. We’re seeing a bit more personality be applied to what people are wearing and they’re taking into consideration not just the fact that they might enjoy it, but how other people are going to enjoy it on them. So it needs to match personality and size. I have small fingers, so I don’t wear big rings. I wear small, simple rings and that matches my personality too. People are becoming more mindful of that, specifically in the menswear world.
JOTT: I’m glad to see men expressing themselves artistically and taking some ownership in their own wardrobe. I feel like we’re seeing men more motivated to express themselves creatively and decorate themselves, not just with jewelry but also other accessories — the shoes you sell at Hubbard are SO cool.
Seth: Absolutely. Another cool thing about the job is that when people do get a pair of those shoes that are $1,000 and are completely handmade with top-quality materials, they need to know how to take care of them. So we get to take on the role of educator and tell them how to take care of their shoes so they’ll last like they’re supposed to. Shoes weren’t intended to be disposable, they were meant to be something that wears with you and goes with you as time progresses. That’s something that’s coming back too. People are wanting to take care of what they’re wearing and make it feel more like an investment.
Seth: There’s a quote that says — ‘You have three people that know everything about you, whether you like it or not. Your minister, your spouse, and your tailor.’
Something unique about our approach is that we’re selling clothing to people that have or want a lifestyle. A style that fits their life, lifestyle. So when we’re selling them clothes, they’ll want to wear it and get more enjoyment out of it.
JOTT: Somebody told me that if a suit fits well, it should be the most comfortable piece of clothing you own.
Seth: It’s like wearing pajamas. It’s hard not to just sleep in them! [Suits are] so comfortable.
JOTT: What type of men do you work with?
Seth: It’s all across the board. Anybody from a 16-year-old going to prom to a CEO of a Fortune 500 company, and everywhere in between. You never know who is going to walk through the door at Hubbard Clothing Co.
JOTT: What are some of your favorite brands? [in men’s fashion] Where is a good place for jewelry professionals to start learning about the men’s fashion world?
Seth: There’s so many. One brand we do really well with is Maurizio Baldassari (click here for Instagram). It’s very elegant. They are classics with the sophistication of the Italian mindset, still very practical. They invented this thing called the “swacket.” It’s like a sports jacket made of sweater material. They’re killing it with it! It’s like a cardigan but you can throw a dress shirt on and go to dinner. It looks like you’re wearing a sport coat, but you’re wearing a stretchy, comfortable sweater. Their product is high quality, functional, and comfortable.
My favorite brand for custom clothing is called Principe d’Eleganza. They do everything by hand. I don’t know if they even have a machine in the factory. They make some of the most beautiful garments I’ve ever seen. The staple that everyone loves the most is Canali. Their product is really top of the line, half machine-mand and half handmade. I just found this out: When they get everything ready for their fabric to rest into place, they will hang up the jacket in a room by itself for a week so the garment sets into its own and doesn’t get stressed out. They treat fabric like it’s a living thing. It’s really cool, and it’s true, especially when you’re talking about wool. Wool actually has memory and can remember shape based on how you treat it. You can stretch it, you can shrink it, you can manipulate it to fit a certain way. To stretch a certain way, or not stretch. They’ve got it down to a science.
There’s so many [brands.] You’re familiar with Eleventy.
JOTT: I love Eleventy!
Seth: They’re incredible. They’re another brand that does really unique stuff with fabrics. Their construction is really comfortable, really high quality.
JOTT: This gives us a good point of view of the industry. It seems like a designer-oriented industry. Is there a world outside of Italian?
Seth: Oh yeah. There’s also the English style of things, which was the original menswear. That’s where it all began, an English guy invented the suit in the 1700’s. He was an ex-military guy who decided he wanted to combine the military-look with elegant-wear for balls and occasions.
JOTT: So English fashion is a huge deal?
Seth: Yeah, it’s much older. More traditional. Most of Europe is [important to fashion.] Japan actually has a really cool menswear scene. They’re a very precise people, the traditional Japanese poignancy principle is applied to the elegant garments. They have their own thing which is really cool.
JOTT: Your store deals in a lot of Italian, custom menswear. Can you talk a little bit about the pricing in your store?
Seth: It depends on what category of clothing you want to get into. A good metric, I would say, is just a two-piece suit. We start two-piece suits by a brand called MaxMan, and those start around $595 for a simple, classic navy blue wool suit. It’s a tailored garment made completely by machine. The fabric is high quality and they know what they’re doing. It’s a well-made garment, but it’s not going to last as long as a handmade suit made with higher quality materials.
The next step up is made-to-measure. We can take your measurements and send it off to a factory where they cut a suit for you from scratch. It’s made for your body with a more premium material. Those start at $1,000.
And then there’s a step further than that, that’s our custom program. You can design, from scratch, everything about a garment. Even the way they put together certain stitches. You can pick from any material in the world. You can pick tablecloth linen if you want to, or the most expensive material in the world which is around $70,000 to start.
JOTT: Suits can be tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands of dollars?
JOTT: What is an average suit from your store going to cost?
Seth: We sell the most of $1,300 to $1,500 suits which is kind of the entry-level to our custom program.
JOTT: It just keeps sounding more and more like the jewelry industry! You can get a mass-produced piece that is inexpensive but doesn’t last as long or something custom that lasts for generations. Is handmade always better in fashion?
Seth: There are people who don’t know what they’re doing that make suits by hand (like me) that fall apart in two days. There are people who really know what they’re doing and [the suits] outlast the people they’re made for. As far as quality and construction go, they can be almost indestructible.
JOTT: Do you ever have customers who have inherited an heirloom suit and they’re having it tailored for them?
Seth: Yes. That’s something we do at our store. I inherited a suit from my granddad, who was a banker, so I got that suit resized so I can wear it on occasion.
JOTT: Do you mostly sell suits?
Seth: The majority is non-suit things, right now with covid and everything. Everyone is home so much, the more comfortable it can be made the better. Most of our business right now is with technical garments. Slacks, dress pants, suits, shirts. We’re seeing a resurgence of people taking natural fiber, like wool, and weaving it the way you would cotton so that it’s naturally stretchy. Those types of garments are becoming popular as well. Like wool polos, they last forever. Wool is one of the best to have. Even jeans are being made out of wool and woven a certain way so they can be more comfortable.
JOTT: These are still luxury clothing items? Higher price point than you would find in a typical store?
Seth: Yes. People who know clothing know that it’s really worth the investment.
JOTT: The men that you see, what is their attitude toward buying?
Seth: They’re figuring out that there is a pleasure to dressing. Rather than coming in with their wives, we’re seeing men come in by themselves and picking something out that they look forward to wearing. That excitement is building and builds with customers quicker, which is something I’ve noticed over the last year. It’s something you can take pride in, as an investment.
As far as accessories go, it’s slow to this area. It’s making its way, it’s getting there. There are definitely pockets of people, I notice when I travel, that are into the finer details of things: necklaces, rings, lapel pins. Things that will subtly pop to the people who notice, but you get to notice it first.
JOTT: There was a time when men wore more jewelry than women. Even for a lot of the 20th century, that kinda started to die off when the price of gold went up. Then it stopped being a manly thing. But it’s not. We’ve had this temporary time in our current society where fashion and jewelry have become a “woman’s thing,” but for most of history that wasn’t the case. What we’re experiencing right now is the anomaly. You wear a lapel pin and an ascot. And men notice them, right?
Seth: Absolutely. It’s funny, when I started dressing I was very aware of people noticing when I walked into a room. Now I don’t notice it at all. I just walk in like it’s another day. I take first into account whether I like it or not, and that’s what clothing and jewelry are all about. It doesn’t matter what people think about it, as long as you enjoy it you have it made.
JOTT: What are the “power words” that people are responding to when choosing a brand?
Seth: Every piece is so unique and art-based. We hand-sell everything in the store. It’s a part of our service, but you have to because of how unique the product is. Our brand, as Hubbard Clothing Co., we operate on word of mouth. We don’t ask people to do that, they’re really generous.
JOTT: Your local, you’re a one-store operation.
Seth: We only have one store, but we have several lounges around the area. We just started another operation — Two cabins on the lake, a gentleman’s fishing club. We’re having a lot of fun with that project.
JOTT: I think that Hubbard is a great example of retail stores that are adapting to the 21st Century by expanding outside the four walls of their store. Giving the customer an experience beyond just buying. With what you’re offering, you’re creating a brand where people can find you from different angles and it all comes together. You’re giving people an experience they want to have with the lounge and that guides them when they start looking for clothes or any number of things you guys offer. It connects. People love that. It feels local, it feels personal, they feel connected to you.
Seth: It’s nice to be a part of the community and provide in the unique way that we do.
For more information about Seth Box, visit his Instagram.
For more information about GemTek lapel pins, click here.