A Masterpiece of Fabric

Dominik Bachmann, owner of Boutique Kenner in Basel offers tailor-made clothing and tailor-made suits. Originally trained as a lawyer, this designer and men's outfitter impresses with his refreshing manner and a fine eye for detail.

Mr. Bachmann, we are here with you in your Boutique Kenner, which is located in Basel's largest industrial estate, called Dreispitz. Can you give us an idea what your customers experience during a visit?

The first reaction is usually surprise. We are surrounded by industry, trade and logistics here, a somewhat unreal and rustic environment for a men's outfitter. But at the same time, it opens up a whole new world for the customer, when entering our boutique. The aim is that he should be able to forget about time a little, feel good and completely at ease. The fusion between the two worlds up here, provides the character of our place and enhances it.

One of the most central parts of our initial service is to find out more about the requirements and wishes of a client. Most of our customers visit our location because they need a tailored suit for their wedding. Sometimes it is even their very first suit or first dinner jacket - and so there are no expectations or specific ideas in the room. It is part of my job to present our customer with possibilities, so he may find out what he likes and then can make his own decisions in the end. It is always a wonderful moment to accompany a customer. They may be looking forward to their wedding - a unique experience in a person's life - and everything should be perfect for that special day - even the suit. A business customer on the other hand, usually comes in with a clearer picture for his next suit or shirt. He tends to know about fabrics and patterns and often already has his favourites. Our conversations here get down to the nitty-gritty pretty quickly. At the same time I try to keep an overview of the wardrobe so that the customer does not have too many identical pieces.

You are a person who is curious, modern and with a great eye for detail. How do you go about dressing a customer?

The first and most important question for me is - what will the suit or garment be worn for? Is it a special occasion? The next question is whether it is a festive occasion with a clear dress code, because then you tend to have to observe certain rules, regarding colour and design. In a more relaxed atmosphere on the other hand, you can give free rein to your creativity. This could mean using a special fabric or a certain pattern. It is important however, that a customer always feels comfortable in his suit - only then will the suit look natural and can shine. This may go so far as to choosing fabrics, with or without pattern, that match the skin of a client. In recent years, more untypical combinations have become fashionable - for example, sneakers and suits. "Anything goes", if you do it right. A few years ago, I met an older man in New York City, dressed in sweatpants and I think it was a tail, and that convinced me. The right garment, worn at the right time by the right person.

You work exclusively with selected partners such as Scabal or the Swiss hat manufacturer Risa. Do you prefer local partners and "quality first"?

A few years ago, I discovered Scabal, a traditional Belgian brand, that started in the 1940s in the cloth trade. Today they are a world leader with regard to the development of new fabrics. So the new figures of yarn density, such as 110 or 140, originate from the laboratories of Scabal. The cloth is of highest quality, both in materials as well as workmanship. If you compare it with other productions, from Asia for example, it naturally costs a little bit more. But the level of wearing comfort and its durability are unbeatable. And all Scabal products are manufactured and processed in Europe. This is particularly important to me, also when you consider working conditions in production.

In Fashion, it is said, that certain rules must be observed. What is your opinion about these?

These rules are actually not as rigid any more as they used to be. Lawyers, I have noticed, usually don't wear ties any more, except when they have to be in court. Even banks are slowly beginning to relax their dress code. What I think is strange about this development though, is that I see that many people are striving for individuality, but by taking off ties, for example, they are giving up precisely these elements of individualisation.

However, I do not think that the suit will disappear, quite the contrary. The jacket is more popular than it has been for a very long time. A good jacket is the best garment available to a man. The silhouette is attractive, an appearance with jacket is an entrance, it opens doors, you can store your wallet and telephone and it keeps you warm.

Finally, would you like to tell us your favourite accessory?

My favourite accessory is the lapel pin. Practical, small and delicate.

You can find Boutique Kenner's website here.

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