A few months ago, we were approach by the German online retailer Herrenschmiede, who asked us to review a pair of their suspenders. They provided us with a striped pair of braces in white and navy barathea cloth. But first, let’s take a moment to look at the history of suspenders and the reason we wear them.
Albert Thurston History
Since 1820, Albert Thurston has been almost exclusively producing braces and suspenders. The original workshop was located at 27 Panton Street, Haymarket, in London. By the 1850’s, Thurston had made a name for himself and the quality of his braces. At the Great Exhibition of 1851, Thurston was granted an Honourable Mention for the excellent standard their braces. As such, men about town, royalty and statesmen encountered these suspenders and wore them, completely concealed from the public, underneath their vest. Just like underwear today, suspenders were a very private matter in the Victorian era.
After WWI, many men began to favor belts over suspenders, but it was nevertheless the standard for men’s trousers, especially in Britain. After WWII, there was another shift in men’s fashion towards less stiff and formalized clothes, and waistcoats became more and more outdated. Consequently, the suspenders vanished as they no longer had anything to hide under. While pants for braces were traditionally cut with a high rise, pleats and a fish tail back – as you can see in the picture – newer trousers would be tailored with a short rise and a flat waistband. Over the decades, only very few men continued to appreciate the comfort of full cut, fish tail trousers with suspenders.
Why Suspenders and Not Just a Belt?
Lately, there seems to be a growing number of clothes horses that are switching to suspenders. Personally, I prefer suspenders over belts for two reasons: firstly, they ensure that the trousers remain consistently in the same position on the torso, so there is no need adjust them over the course of the day. Not so with a belt; belted pants shift up and down with sitting and rising, which often leads to awkward repositioning. We’ve all seen men hike their pants back up after sitting, and it’s certainly not an elegant motion. Secondly, I can wear the trousers with more room in the waist, since its weight rests on my shoulders.
Moreover, I can feel the belt in my back when I sit, which causes me some lower back pain if I sit long enough. When you wear suspenders, you can also feel them a little bit when sitting, but they are far thinner than a belt and they generally avoid pressure points on the back.
Albert Thurston Suspender / Braces Review
Today, there only a few companies left who make high quality braces, and Albert Thurston enjoys the reputation of being the best.Now, I am always inquisitive and a bit critical when someone tells me about the ‘best this’ and the ‘best that’ because it is a subjective impression rather than an objective fact. Therefore, I always enjoy wearing and testing the products so I can reach a conclusion for myself.
Out of the box, Albert Thurston braces seemed to be very well made. The (non-flexible) barathea fabric is thick, and the nickel coated brass buckles are sturdy. -the leather appears to be of a higher quality than those from Trafalgar, another common braces brand, based on a side-to-side comparison with a pair I already own.
When I put them on for the first time, I was very happy with the look and feel of the braces. It wasn’t until later that day that I noticed a dark fuzz on my shirt. Back home, I realized that they were fine leather particles that rubbed off the exposed edges of the leather loops onto my shirt. Luckily it did not color off, and everything came off after a moment of brushing, but I was still irritated. I hoped that it will stop eventually, and I wore the suspenders a few more times to gauge if there was a change. To date, they still shed black particles, which is especially visible on lighter colored shirts.
My braces may be a lemon, though this experience with Albert Thurston was obviously none too pleasant. Despite the many other nice features – the fabric, the pattern, the feel, the hardware – I still feel disappointed. Have you had any experiences with Albert Thurston braces or other braces were fine leather particles came off? Please share with us, it is highly appreciated!