That Dapper Chap visits Monsieur London, one the most stylish of men’s boutique stores in the heart of London
I stepped off the tube train at London’s Piccadilly Circus and turned up the collar on my wool suit jacket and held it tight against my chin in an effort to keep out the harsh January chill that did its best to creep into every available space.
After a short walk along Regent Street, passing huge stores with famous names and glittering window displays, I turned towards Royal Opera Arcade and spotted Monsieur London; a quaint little store nestled among the grand architecture of its surroundings. Protected and hugged by these huge buildings like a little Brother being looked after by bigger siblings.
|Yours truly with Monsieur Londons dapper mannequins|
Monsieur London is a welcome retreat from all of the huge brands that sit a stones throw away, with their mass produced stock, over smiley staff, huge displays and prices to match. Monsieur London is all about the individual; it is warm and welcoming and feels like stepping back in time to a more gentile era, when a gentleman could expect personal service and staff who know their items inside out.
|The interior of the store, small but perfectly stocked|
Everything in Monsieur London exudes class and is beautifully presented, and this includes the owner Valentin who met me with a firm handshake and a warm smile. Wearing a tweed cap and a jaunty pocket square, Valentin took me through their collections of high end, top quality men’s accessories, all of which are at astonishingly affordable prices. The concept for Monsieur London is to have a British heritage feel with a French twist.
|The Proprietor Valentin in his tweed cap|
Where it all began
Back in 2011 you’ll have found Valentin working as a Political Journalist. But bored with their Jobs, Valentin and friend Thibault resigned and decided to travel. Not satisfied with a small jaunt across to another city, the two of them decided to hitchhike from Alaska to Argentina!
|Thibault and Valentin back on solid ground|
While in Columbia they met a gentleman making suede lined, fine leather bags and they both fell in love with them. So much so that it planted the seed of opening a gentleman’s boutique, selling high quality bags and accessories. A few months later and the friends landed in London. By this time, that small seed had been nurtured and had grown into a full concept, and Monsieur London was born online in 2013 and since then they haven’t looked back. Their first store, just off Regent Street opened last year offering a wealth of fine accessories for the discerning gent.
Thibault and Valentin are passionate about providing the highest quality products and they have their products made by hand wherever possible. Many of their products are designed in the basement of their store and they source all of the fabrics and elements that make up their products themselves. Valentin even designed the Hare/Rabbit logo himself, studying videos of running rabbits and hares on YouTube.
|Is it a rabbit or is it a hare?|
On a small table in the middle of the store sits a range of delightful neck ties. There are a selection of pure silk ties, all made in the UK, with the silks printed in the Macclesfield UK and stitched in Robertsbridge. There are also ties in grenadine weaving, Royal Irish poplin and also ties in silk and merino wool which travel extremely well as they do not crease.
|stripes and prints. Something for everyone|
|Beautiful handmade ties in fantastic printed silks|
|Just a few of the selection of ties available|
You’ll find the current range in sumptuous autumnal colours with some brights thrown in for those that wish to make a statement. With patterns including pine cones and the Monsieur London rabbit/hare, along with a more traditional diagonal stripe, there really is something here for everyone, and also something different for those that wish to stand out from the crowd.
In store you’ll also find a range of knitted ties that are not yet available on the website, so it’s worth a visit.
All ties are handmade and are a snip at £38-£66
|The selection of fine wool knitted ties|
If you’re more of a dandy fellow or want a change from the neck tie, why not opt for a bow tie? They are of course made in silk and are available in a range of colours and patterns. All bow ties are self tie but, to help out the first time bow tie wearer, they are available pre tied for you, so you are able to wear it straight away and then learn how to tie it later with the instructions that are included in every box. These handmade bow ties are available at £42-£44
By the window is a selection of 100% silk and 100% cotton pocket squares in a range of prints and colourways to suit every outfit. At 36” square you’ll find classic paisleys and polka dots and my personal favourite the Fontainebleau which has a slight medieval pattern and depicts running stags, made from a mix of wool and silk which gives a heavier and luxurious feel.
|A wonderful array of pocket squares to choose from|
I fell in love with the Monsieur London gloves. Made in Millau in France from the finest lamb skin and lined in silk they are very soft and give a great fit as the leather will adjust to your hand when worn. The fineness of the leather results in a less bulky glove allowing the wearer to feel beyond the glove.
Some question why the gloves are lined in silk and not cashmere. This is because silk retains warmth better and gives a lighter result than a glove lined with cashmere. They currently stock four styles in the Bouquingan range in plain black and brown, black and brown with a contrast edge between the fingers and a plum leather for the gent that wants something a
|The plum coloured Bragelonne silk lined gloves £141|
In addition to the traditional glove they also stock driving gloves in four colourways each with a dash of contrasting colour on the trim. These gloves will last you years and get better with age. At £134-£141 a pair they are a great investment.
|The Treville driving gloves £134|
I am not the only fan of their gloves however, and Valentin was proud to tell me of an American customer who collects gloves and now owns over four hundred pairs. Not only does this gentleman of impeccable taste buy the range of gloves available but Monsieur London offers a bespoke service where an individual may have a pair of gloves made to any specification that they wish and he takes advantage of this service also.
Belts and Braces
I love the Monsieur London braces. Not only are they available in a fantastic range of colours and made in the UK, but they also come with both clips and leather button fastenings so the buyer can choose how he fastens his braces to his trousers.
Easy to alter you can take them from clip to button on in a moments notice. As a bonus you’ll also find the necessary buttons inside the box! If you need instructions on how to sew buttons to your trousers just take a look at the article I wrote on braces for Bespoke Unit here.
|Buttoned up to avoid a loose trouser moment|
The range of belts available is also very impressive. Made from British leather, they are another item made and hand stitched in the UK. And if there isnt a belt available to suit your needs, why not have a bespoke one made just for you? They’ll also monogram your belt for a small fee to make it even more individual
|Beautiful Belts £107-£112|
Hats are the most popular items sold at monsieur London and I can see why. Made in France by one of the very last hat makers, they are available in five sizes from 56 to 60 and available in a great selection of colours. The Monsieur London Antoine hat is made from 100% wool felt with a satin lining. This hat comes with instant elegance built in.
|The Antoine hat in green and cognac|
In addition to the stunning range of felt hats, Monsieur london also offer a more summery selection and have in stock the classic Panama for £58-£95
At this time of year every gent needs a great scarf, not only to keep out the cold and be functional but also to look good. If you’re going to invest, go for quality natural fabrics like the selection valentin and Thibault have in store. With merino and lambs wool, you cannot go wrong.
All hand loomed in Ireland, they scream quality and at just £108 they are a must have items right now.
|Some of the selection of beautiful scarves in store|
So, with a solid concept, a beautiful store and a loyal fanbase, what’s next for the chaps at Monsieur london. Not wanting to rest of their laurels, Valentin and Thibault have many plans for the coming year.
The last year has seen them travel with their concept and open pop up shops in both London and Paris. In fact the pop up in Paris went so well that they are planning to open a store there in July.
They are keeping things to themselves so far and staying true to the Monsieur London brand. There are no plans to open in other stores or sell wholesale just yet as they want to keep prices affordable for all.
Whatever happens in the future I know that with their passion, Valentin and Thibault will make it a huge success and I wish them all of the very best of British (and French) luck. I just pray for an invite to the Paris store opening!
Find Monsieur London