We always love it when we have a visitor at our North American outpost. It provides a great opportunity to sit down and have some in depth talks about how our gear is doing out in the world and perhaps more importantly, allows us to have a beer or a glass of something nice during the day with friends. M.W., one of the original Imperial Black lads, stopped in. Between Peroni’s we managed to talk about a range of topics from our favorite large sedans, the cost of throwaway culture, Guzzis, wine, watches, raising daughters, and of course our wonderful shirts. Just our type of conversation….
M.W. shown in Panarea shirt
IB: As one of the original lads I’m guessing you probably have some Imperial Black shirts that are nearing seven years old. How are they holding up?
MW: “I was actually the first outside your family to have some shirts made, I remember going through the mountain of books and picking the fabrics. Out of those original shirts I’ve had one button chip, no shrinkage in the collar or cuffs on any of them. I wear them once then take them to the cleaners. Light starch.”
IB: We are clearly overbuilding the shirts! Those of us who have some from the original runs see the same thing, a button here and there that’s a casualty of the dry cleaners but little to no shrinkage to speak off. The solidness of our cuffs and collars has much to do with this, extra thick mother of pearl buttons certainly help. Although some of our shirts now fit a bit tighter due to our over imbiding. You are probably in the best shape of all the lads. What are you into these days?
MW: Riding. I just moved away from Look and picked up a Trek 7.9 Madone with vapor paint. Being a US manufacturer they have access to the highest grade military spec carbon fiber. Carbon fiber everything. I’m running Lightweight wheel sets. Even with the electric shifter, and all the goodies it weighs in around 10 pounds. It’s very black.
IB: Whats your favorite ride around here? There are so many good ones close by.
MW: Blood, Sweat, and Gears is a favorite. It starts in Valle Crucis and heads up and around Boone.
IB: We checked it out and it sounds fairly miserable. “A challenging to strenuous full English century”. 8800 feet of cumulative climbing climbing elevation- We’ll sit this one out…
M.W. Shown in High Fields
IB: Speaking of over imbiding we’ve had some fantastic meals with you over the years and you definitely know your way around a wine menu. What are you drinking at the moment?
MW: I just received a shipment from Araujo out in Rutherford. I’m really into their reds. They make an amazing Cab. I don’t drink much white but I like Kistler and Far Niente, both have excellent Chardonnays. I’m a big fan of La Spinetta for an everyday wine. Hard to beat some of the Italian reds.
IB: Our three button cuff is a bit of a nod to our Briitish roots (by way of Italy) but also is a necessity for guys favoring a larger chronometer. You always have something interesting on your wrist. What’s your current daily wearer and what are you eyeing for the next addition?
MW: I alternate between my Daytona and my Panerai 8 day. Just classic styles that you can wear with anything. I’m pretty happy with the watches I have at the moment but I suppose everyone is supposed to have a Patek Philippe at some point.
IB: I agree, I’ve completely fallen for their marketing and think I should have one to give my son one day although he already has his eyes on my Explorer. There are quiet a few I’d like to have before a Patek. I actually like the one you are wearing (A beautiful Ulysse Nardin Michaelangelo on a croc strap).
IB: You travel back and forth to Germany quite a bit, What are some of your travel essentials? Any German phrases we need to know?
MW: I don’t like walking around with big head phones so I stick with my Bang & Olufsen pistons for listening, Imperial Black Moleskine medium sized journal for notes, my Daytona fits nicely under a cuff and goes with anything. I’m usually wearing a dark blazer, dark denim, Gucci or Ferragamo loafers, and of course an Imperial Black shirt!
M.W. shown in Crustacean
MW: Wo ist der Nürburgring? Where is the Nurburgring? What else do you really need to know?
IB: Speaking of cars I know you share our fondness for them. The Audi A8L seems to be our car of choice around here. Do you still have yours and whats next on the list?
MW: Thats right, you guys all have them. Is there a better large sedan? One of the safest places on the road in bad weather. I think it has the best back seat out there. My daughter doesn’t want me to get rid of it.
IB: I used to joke that I first bought mine because the kids couldn’t reach the back of the front seats to kick when they were little. Really is great in the rain although does feel a bit big around town.
MW: Im actually driving my 911S most of the time now. Just the perfect car for everything (except hauling multiple kids). I’m thinking of an A7 or a BMW 550 to replace the Audi though.
IB: You have more than a few of our shirts and some that you had made when we only offered a bespoke service have become regulars in our line up. Any current favorites?
MW: The blue one, Mare. The way the fabric lays. It folds in such a soft way. Has an amazing depth to it. It’s really hard to tell how great it is from just the website.
IB: You know we feel that we have our shirts finally nailed after all of these years and are working on taking the fit and aesthetics to other pieces. Anything in particular you would like to see?
MW: Pants, some denim, definitely a jacket that is good for travel, meetings, and nights out…
IB: Watch this space. Cheers…..
images courtesy of Trek, lightweight.Panerai,La Spinetta,Araujo,Kistler, and Far Niente vineyards.