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Join us this month as we spotlight Diverso, an independent menswear boutique. In an exclusive interview, Founder and Creative Director James Reynolds shares insights into their design philosophy, artisanal craftsmanship and the personalised service that sets them apart. Learn more about his passion for St Christopher's Place and what makes Diverso a favourite among its international clientele.

What makes the Diverso menswear brand unique?

It’s a combination of a few core factors we build upon; Creative British design, exceptional quality materials and craftsmanship…fronted by good old-fashioned service. In terms of design - we try to put together something fresh and a touch different but always timeless and a little understated (as us Brits an be).

We combine that with the best fabrics and materials we can source - and make each product in small family-run workshops dotted around Italy. Everything behind the scenes is built on relationships and loyalty, and ‘front of house’ is no different – with all our clients becoming friends and returning regularly over the years.

How do you source your fabrics and materials?

Each Diverso garment starts its journey with fabrics and materials which is typically around twelve months before a needle and thread is even considered!Around ninety percent  of our fabrics are sourced from Italy, home to some of the worlds most prestigious mills and weavers.

We only use natural fabrics and yarns of wool, cashmere, linen, silk, cotton etc - and these are really the ‘ingredients’ of our garments and an area we won’t compromise on to make the best product we can.

As well as the fabrics - all of our trimmings and components are from Italy and typically locally sourced within a 10-20km radius of the workshop that makes that product.

Italy still has a thriving ‘local’ industry where specific areas still specialise in a particular product. As an example; within 7km of our shoe-makers in Tuscany we have our tannery (where we buy the leather), the laser-cutter (if we are making a brogue), the leather sole-maker, the lace-maker, the box-maker and the dust-bag maker. Each one an expert in it’s component and constantly evolving and innovating.

These relationships and the thriving local eco-system is a big part of the reason why we are in love with Italy.

Where are your designs made?

Every garment we make is made in Italy. We partner with small workshops who are specialists in crafting a single product within the collection.

For example; our shirtmakers, a small team of 15-20 craftsmen & women situated near Venice, are now into the second generation of the same family who has been making shirts alone for decades.

On any given day we see the founders (the parents), the current owner (the son) and the next ‘third generation’ (the grand-daughter) of the same family working alongside each other.

We co-ordinate around 12 different family-run workshops like this around Italy – each one with its own rich history, knowhow and un-rivaled level of skill. In reality - this is the beating heart of our brand.

What inspires your menswear designs?

Inspiration can be found anywhwere and I travel regularly between London and various parts of Italy so the people, landscapes and culture is always changing. I’m always in workshops, surrounded by genius pattern-cutters and crafstmen and jumping between mills and different materials suppliers. I’d have to have my eyes closed to not draw inspiration from these things at my fingertips!

I always have a sketchbook at hand which is full of scribbles, sketches and incomprehensible notes.

A huge bonus is that we no longer design and produce collections in strict ‘seasonal’ timeframes – which thankfully gives ideas, concepts and creativity the time to develop, breath and unfold naturally and organically. It also removes the pressure of forcing certain sampes/prototypes if it’s not quite right and needs a little more time.

I want to make the best products we can, not the fastest or the most – and good things usually take time.

What’s your favourite piece in your collections?

It usually depends on a few things like the time of year or if there is a particular occasion.

However recently I’m particularly proud of our new Wool & Cashmere Embroidered Blazer which is something a little diffferent for a special occasion or black-tie event.

It’s our first venture into fabric ‘creation’ and we worked with one of our mills in Biella, Italy to develop a Wool and Cashmere flannel cloth with our own ‘floral’ embroidery.

Combined with our own signature lining (printed in Como, Italy) and finished with our Mother of Pearl buttons – it’s the most complete piece, in terms of research, development and number of people involved - so far.

Tell us about your unique services

We design and produce a full Ready-to-Wear range (from head to toe; total look) as well as Made to Order whereby the client can select fabrics and finishes based on our designs and size blocks.

Made to Measure is becoming a cornerstone of the brand, and it’s certainly the fastest growing area.

As with our Ready-to-Wear, we offer something a little different than the rest; something based on our own designs and house style and made precisely to the clients measurements by the same hands in Italy that make every Diverso product.

So for things like weddings, events or just the joy of designing your own garment that fits perfectly – this is the perfect service.

What do you enjoy about being at St Christopher's Place?

The people and the location.

St Christophers Place has a small ‘local’ community atmosphere, solidified during the pandemic as we all look out for each other and socialise together. It also attracts a nice mix of international tourists, local residents and people who work in the area and I suppose the restaurants are a big factor in that.

A nice mix of unique independant retailers that you can’t find elsewhere give them a bit more reason to spend some time on the estate and relax!

Location wise it is a small hidden oasis away from the chaos of Oxford Street – and it seems people enjoy the “discovery” of the street.

The “discovery” element is also totally relevant to our brand/store as around 90% of our trade comes from people stumbling upon us, trying a product and always returning. So I think the brand and the street suit each other in that respect.

What makes the boutique unique

We sell all over the world online, but this is currently the only Diverso boutique. Here you will find every product and every service we offer in a welcoming and constantly changing environment.

Of equal importance to our products and services is the wonderful team we have in-store that deliver them! We pride ourselves on welcoming, friendly and very relaxed service with a smile.

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