When I first went into Russell Wade's mens' clothing shop, I felt a strange pang of jealousy and disappointment at the fact that I wasn't born a man.
Frankly, I don't know why any man living in the area would want to buy clothes anywhere other than Russell Wade Clothing. And as far as women's wear shops in the neighbourhood are concerned, nothing even comes close.
Russell Wade's two-room shopfront on Darlinghurst Road, just across from the Darlo Bar, is part of a Victorian-era terrace house group, listed on the City of Sydney council's heritage register.
His shop is also home to the finest collection of menswear in Sydney. Each shirt is made from unique, secretly sourced fabrics and finished with the greatest care for details, such as buttons, button-holes, collars, cuffs and pockets.
There are colourful shirts, conservative shirts and absolutely fine early 19th Century-style shirts. Most have two useful pockets, and buttonholes top-stitched in contrasting colours, so they are not only practical, they are pieces of art.
And to add to the wonder of his shop, there are dozens to choose from:
There are styles that are quirky:
All the clothing, which includes trousers, jackets and oh-so-beautiful-waistcoats, is made in Sydney and designed by the genius that is Russell Wade. He also sells sunglasses, the most luxurious-looking, Italian-made leather shoes, as well as ties and bow-ties.
Part of the joy of going into Russell Wade's shop and browsing through the racks is to meet the excellent man himself. In appearance and mannerisms, Wade is like a cross between Seinfeld's neighbour, Kramer, and Doc from the Back to the Future movies.
He is tall and kitted out in the finest designs from his collection and wildly moves his hands around as he talks enthusiastically. And he is happy to talk about anything and everything, but most recently we have discussed design, vegetarianism and crop circles.
Wade subscribes to Nexus Magazine and the last time I was in his shop, he waved around an article about crop circles and insisted I read it, right then and there. Wade is also a passionate vegetarian and made me take home a copy of an article he had photocopied about the environmental impacts and health concerns related to the digestion of animal meat.
He also usually has a book about history, photography or design on the go and last time showed me a stunning picture of a model wearing nothing else but Alexander McQueen's 12-inch, lobster-claw-shaped Armadillo heels:
On another occasion, Wade was wading through a Historic Houses Trust book that featured police mug shots from 1912 to 1948. ''Look at this great waistcoat,'' he said, pointing to a photograph of a well-dressed crook. No doubt, the design cropped up in one of his later pieces.
Wade was happy to let me photograph his shop but wouldn't allow me to snap his portrait, so you will have to make-do with my illustration below.
Or, a better idea: pop in to his shop, meet the tailor and replenish your wardrobe.
Russell Wade Clothing
269 Darlinghurst Road
Darlinghurst NSW 2010
0415 335 042