Updated: Jun 6, 2019
"A sharp look with unparalleled craftsmanship"
War Doll had the opportunity to interview Grayman co. on their cutting edge suits, made with the modern warriors operational needs in mind.
WAR: What motivated you to start Grayman & Company?
A: I have a good bit of time in the security industry including executive protection, surveillance, investigations, threat intelligence, etc. mostly through the corporate security lens. Working with private and public sector in a few countries, I have seen many cops, mil, security officers wearing suits so ill-fitting you get the feeling they wear it just to box-tick the requirement of wearing a suit.
This is something you will see in many civilian professions, as well. Some see a suit as a uniform. But so many security disciplines require fine-tuning of how one looks as a professional competency of its own. Surveillance guys need to blend. Cops need to establish rapport and present a professional image. Executive protection guys need to protect the image and reputation of their principals.
I have ruined a ton of bespoke suits after having to go ‘hands-on’ (and once capoeira breakdancing at a wedding), so I understood there was definitely a functional element to wearing something baggier and oversized. But I think that’s sometimes used as a crutch or excuse. Sometimes you can see guys with acoustic earpieces wearing jackets with the sleeve cuffs extending down to their thumbnail. How would you even grip your weapon?
The more I talked to them, the more I realized there’s a curatorial aspect to this. The general population of men have a hard enough time understanding the minutiae of style and tailoring. It takes a lot of time investment to research, learn and inculcate style and for many it’s not a priority. And our culture of professions-at-arms prides itself on practicality and scoffs at vain and frivolous things like aesthetics and fashion.
We all know that’s only partially true in the contemporary LCF tacticool gear industry as it is today, but you can’t expect someone who tunes their Glock trigger by half an ounce to pay equal attention to roll a lapel wider by half an inch. But if you look sharp enough that a bad guy thinks you’re a Hollywood PR agent and point his gun at someone else first, those extra couple seconds you get to draw are just as good or better than the tenth of a second you’ve shaved off your drawstroke by testing out ten different holster cants.
So I decided on this quixotic mission to make the entire security forces industry look better. To convince skeptics that it’s important and it bestows a practical advantage. And I’m starting by removing the obstacles; making these garments functionally robust enough to allow for attractive fits and styling. And I’m jamming these aesthetic sartorial principles into people’s eyeballs along the way.
WAR: Who specifically (private security, secret service, close protection, etc.) did you have in mind for the creation of these suits?
A: The first clients I had pictured were definitely close/executive protection officers. Their turn-out reflects directly on their principal and so image and presentation can make or break their career. Beyond image management is the tactical advantage of camouflage: a soft profile makes you more discreet. The best bodyman will successfully blend into a principal’s entourage. They could be the PA, the publicist, or the lawyer.
Then I started working with police detectives and plainclothes officers who ‘looked like a cop’ and thought about how a softer image generated by a stylish silhouette and a pocket square could help to confuse and bypass some of the initial walls when interviewing a skeptical or cagey subject who is expecting a completely different kind of personality.
And as I explored the market, I quickly realized the largest market is civilians who conceal carry. Professionals who wear suits to work and may actually have a very developed taste in fashion and tailoring but find that they are prevented from truly embracing the stylish cuts they want to wear by the functional restrictions a more attractive suit may impose. And this is definitely the largest growth sector in the tactical gear market right now.
WAR: There's so many great features on these suits, such as the velcro lapel and collar, the cut resistant sleeves, the RFID shield pockets - but what would you consider your favourite feature, or the most innovative feature?
A: The Action Back will definitely have the biggest impact on your day-to-day comfort and convenience, and you don’t have to draw a weapon or make J-turns to notice the difference. I still have some old favourite sport coats and a couple suits in my wardrobe. I keep them for a particular unique fabric I like or styling detail but more importantly when I put them on I get nostalgic for the adventures and good times I had in them.
But holy shit, once you get spoiled by the Action Back, the armholes and sleeves on a conventional suit feel really constricting. You feel it all the time doing something as simple as tying a shoelace or reaching for a handrail on a subway train. The Action Back is really freeing, especially when you pair it with stretch fabric. You’ll find that you start moving differently. You’ll look more relaxed and your posture will be less rigid.
I also really love the heritage behind it. It’s an evolution of the old bi-swing back, which was designed for British hunting jackets.
WAR: The suits look incredibly sharp, can you tell us a bit about what materials you use, where the materials come from, and what style your aiming for? I'm getting a modern look with a vintage touch vibe, but maybe you can touch on that more.
A: Currently the only Premium line fabric is the ‘mooving’ stretch line by Loro Piana. I had to go certain lengths of salesmanship and politicking to secure the vendor (they’re very protective of their brand and heritage) and get the price down a more accessible point (their in-house brand make $2500 cashmere sweaters).
To mil/LEO/security customers, I also offer a Cordura-reinforced fabric called ‘Active’ by Reda, which is a famous Italian mill with a heritage dating back to 1865. Their objective was to make a durable performance fabric so the handfeel isn’t quite as luxurious as Loro Piana’s mooving line, but it’s much more rugged. I have a lot of respect for Reda’s ambition in pursuing qualities outside of their traditional Italian tailoring heritage and think they did a great job blending the worlds.
As for what style, we’re influenced a lot by the zeitgeist of the tailoring world but ground ourselves in what our clients need and feel comfortable in. Currently, the most in-vogue sartorial style is Italian sprezzatura, which harkens back to old tailoring styles like very wide lapels and high trouser rises but makes them casual or ‘effortless.’ For our concierge bespoke clients, I will suggest nods to these current trends in the details.
But for the majority of our clients, the pattern and styling that come standard is a bit of a mélange of influences that really speak to what is popular today. Obviously, we are very effusive about the inspiration we take from the mythos of Savile Row, but the strong roped shoulders of truly British suits often feel quite formal and stiff. So to keep our suits versatile and adaptive to all the different places and occasions our clients could find themselves, we have adopted what has effectively become the global pattern or standard for premium tailoring: British waist suppression and high armhole, softer shoulders, equal parts Italian and American with just a bit of padding, Italian button stance and lapel gorge.
We also take the Italian fetishism of the details, like handsewn buttonholes and surgeon’s cuffs. Our suit is not out of place anywhere. We like to say you could wear this from boardroom to ballroom, though some traditionalists may take issue. The truth is that the heritage of distinct tailoring styles has really converged with the global market and has homogenized a lot and that’s something that we need to roll with. But that won’t stop us from making a suggestion or two if we notice something about their figure that would clearly be better flattered by a traditionally British, American or Italian hallmark.
For more information on Grayman co. you can visit their website.