Friday, August 12, 2011

5 Minutes With Duncan Quinn

Duncan Quinn, the London-born former lawyer makes, slim fitted "rock 'n roll meets Savile Row" suits which are available off-the-rack and custom at his shop on Spring Street in Nolita, NYC, which opened in New York in 2003 as well as his Los Angeles and Miami stores. Quinn's shops also stock 100% cotton shirts, which are made in a London, 100% silk ties bearing Quinn's signature fleur-de-lys motif, woven in England, and sterling silver 12-star and enamel cufflinks made in London, as well as handmade umbrellas, socks and "anything and everything bespoke." Such attention to detail means that Duncan Quinn has attracted a following of sharp-dressed "gentleman rogues" who ascribe to the Quinn aesthetic of classic 1960's style icons and rock stars.

Q1. What was the first record you bought and how did it change your life?

The Jam "Snap!" did it change my life? Ha...if only I could certainly set the stage for much pondering of Paul Weller and the whole punk scene in UK in the late 70s long before I got into the earlier wave of Stones and other geniuses from the late 60s...

Q2. When did you come to New York and what inspired you to create the Duncan Quinn brand?

I came to New York in 1998 to study for a masters in Law at Columbia University on their LLM program. I started duncan quinn the brand when I was practicing as a private equity attorney at Kirkland & Ellis LLP as I was fed up with having to go back to Europe to get a well made but interesting suit and more punchy shirts and ties that didn't fit like a sail or have an Hermes animal printed on them...

Q3. How has the e-commerce and online world effected what you do?

Its very helpful in terms of people's awareness and understanding what we do, but as a lot of our business is making unique bespoke pieces for unique characters and special events its not huge in terms of our overall sales. Its tough to order a $5,000+ bespoke suit sight unseen without being measured by someone who knows what they are doing...

Adrien Grenier in a DuncannQuinn suit

Q4. Savile Row aesthetic represents something quintessentially British-do you think America really understands and does it really matter?

Its tough to generalize but what I would say is that the interest that is taken in presentation, cut, fit, and finish has increased exponentially since the first duncan quinn store opened in 2003 in NoLIta. Back then guys thought a suit fitted them if they could button it up. No matter that it was six inches too big everywhere except the sleeve length!

As to whether it really matters whether or not America understands Savile Row I'm not sure it does. Most of England doesn't understand it so it would be a stretch for America to. Savile Row is an institution which a small group of people with a keen view on the art of dressing and the means to pursue their passion understand. For everyone else it is a street in London where some say they make some of the finest hand made suits in the world. Just as you can't really understand Ferrari until you've had the joy of driving one hard on a beautiful road you can't really understand a real suit until you've experienced the pleasure of how people treat you when nothing else has changed except your external wrapper. Style always cuts the mustard even where fashion is a fickle mistress.

Q5. You have a good ‘celebrity’ clientele. Can you share any funny stories about any of those clients or do you have a ‘doctor/ patient’ relationship which prohibits that?

Ultimately a lot of the guys we deal with are celebrities in their own way, either in the traditional sense or just legends in their own lunchtime in their field. They come to us as they seek something unique amongst a sea of commercial dross. Its not really for us to share the chats we have with them and the funny antics that ensue any more than those with any other client. To get involved with that you need to become a client and get invited to the dinners, wine tastings, car rallies and other shenanigans we get up to as often as we can.

Duncan at the Love Ball in Paris in July 2011.

8 Spring St., New York, NY 10012
nr. Elizabeth St. NYC.

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