This story originally appeared on the Gents Cafe Newsletter. You can subscribe here.
Meet Mr. Christopher Modoo (@chrismodoo), founder of a menswear consultancy, Urbane Outfitter Ltd, that provides styling, merchandising, editorial and design services to the fashion industry. He’s also the co-founder of Kit Blake, offering ready-made English-style trousers in proper cloths.
Chris, what does it mean for you to be a Modern Gentleman?
It is an ability to put others at ease with your behaviour and to give others respect without the need for it to be earnt. I am still aspiring to be one.
When it comes to style, where do you mostly get your inspiration from?
Film and television; Kind Hearts & Coronets is the most stylish movie ever made but I also love 9 1/2 weeks, The Talented Mr Ripley and School for Scoundrels (the 1960 version).
I have quite the library of menswear books that I have collected over the years. With so much information available online I enjoy taking the time to do my research the old-fashioned way. A book that I find myself re-visiting throughout my menswear career is Men in Style: Golden Age of Fashion from Esquire, the illustrations really capture the drape of the cloth and I love the tone of the copy.
But when I am designing, my biggest inspiration is modern life. I fear that a lot of English brands have clung too tightly to 20th century dress codes that do not service the lifestyle of the contemporary gentleman. There is a vain hope in some quarters that the lounge suit will return as our native dress, but there needs to be innovation for it to remain relevant and not become regarded as formalwear. The more intelligent brands offer tailoring as separates where individual pieces have an intrinsic value.
What’s your personal style signifier?
Pleated trousers with a higher waist and side-adjusters. I have quite the collection.
What are your favorite wardrobe essentials?
Kit Blake flannel trousers and a sweater has become my uniform. I prefer not to wear a shirt underneath my knitwear so usually wear Alan Paine as even their Shetland wools are soft enough to wear next to the skin.
At the neck I will wear a scarf from Anderson & Shepherd and if I am wearing a blazer you will find a Rampley & Co silk square decorating the breast pocket but I am more likely to be wearing a field coat these days – my favourite is a silk/wool blend made for me by Caroline Andrew.
What are your main passions and how do you cultivate them?
During the first lockdown I took up running – I hated running but was encouraged by my wife to give it a go and used the Couch to 5k app. I now run 2-3 times per week and recently completed my first half marathon. Running gives me good thinking time without distractions but it is also great to be part of the sport as they are a very inclusive community. I also enjoy growing my collection of Iffley Road running kit.
Tell us what can never miss in your liquor cabinet.
Gin: my go-to brands are Tanqueray 10 and Plymouth, but I have recently discovered Good Life gin which is distilled locally. My favourite cocktail is the martini and I make them very cold and dry with Dolin vermouth and a pink grapefruit twist. You will usually find a bottle of Canadian Club, which is hugely underrated, that I enjoy either neat, in a perfect Manhattan or mixed with root beer. Right at the back of the cabinet, there is probably a bottle of Malibu for when only a Pina Colada will do.
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