Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Debate: What Is A Banana Republic?

Today James tweeted, "In almost 2 years of reading these blogs, [I] don't think I have seen anyone hype Banana Republic once. That cant be good..."  He makes a great point and while I have mentioned BR every now and then through a highlighted product or two they really fail to get any blog love whatsoever - I would even surmise that I have seen more press for Old Navy.  Many times I have checked out their website looking for cool stuff to share with you guys and have come away completely empty handed, even when BR debuted their own "heritage collection".  You could make the argument that their suiting options are decent, but is it just the lesser of evils?  I am in no means trying to be a hater (hell, I'm all about Gap), I'm just trying to get a handle on this whole thing.  

Anyhow, I've obviously been thinking a lot about this today and this is what I have come up with: Banana Republic exists in a pseudo universe where all men are dressed by women.  Seriously, browse the website and see if you disagree.  I'd love to hear your thoughts.


[Editor's Note: Yes, I realize that Gap owns Banana Republic and Old Navy.]

Back In Black

T Magazine points our way to a new collection of special edition Rolex watches given the "all black everything/murdered out" treatment.  All of these redone vintage timepieces were produced in limited batches of 50 each and attempt to channel the now imfamous watches "supposedly released by Rolex in the late 1960s for the Royal British Army soldiers stationed in South Africa."  Check out the website here.  Rolex + mythology + matte black = one bad mama jama.


War Stripes Pt. III

I've talked a few times about Momotaro's penchant for war stripes and just how awesome I think they are so I was pretty pumped when I saw their new hooded sweat shirt on sale at Context.  This aint your average Pac Sun brohoodie, instead being cut and sewn (Japanese 100% cotton fleece) in limited quantities.  Like all of Momotaro's gear the details on this thing are crazy.  Everything, from the war stripes to the neck enclosure to the patch pockets, is on point.  Would you expect anything less from our garment obsessed friends in Japan?  These hoodies are not cheap and even when you factor in their limited edition status it's still fairly hard to swallow.  If you are looking to get your warrior on, you can pick up a heather or charcoal version for $205.  On the plus side, at least it's cheaper than a new set of nunchucks.


Dr. Jones

So much is made about his Indy Boots, flight jacket, fedora and overall badass rugged style that I believe his in class sartorial significance is too often overlooked.  I'd like to take a breif moment and honor one of the best dressed professors of all time, Dr. Henry Walton "Indiana" Jones, Jr. professor of archeology (and Trad) at Marshall College.


Lands End Canvas Crew Neck

Somewhere in between a 20 dollar Champion sweatshirt at Kohls and a 200 dollar crewneck from a Japanese mens store with a goofy name lies the Lands End Canvas crew neck sweatshirt.  It's just under 40 bones, which automatically moves it to the top of my list - right on past the destroyed joint going for more than double at J. Crew.  There's no need to go into the many ways a crew neck can work for you, but I will say that it is one of the most versatile pieces in any guy's arsenal ([insert style icon] would agree) that is perfect for spring layering. 

As a guy who has quite a few pieces from Lands End Canvas I can attest to their fit.  While it's not perfect, and what really is anyhow, it's damn good.  The knits I do own fit extremely well and I don't feel/look like a bum when I walk out the door.  Aside from fit, LEC gives you the standard details you should be looking for in your crewneck - grey and blue color options, ribbed neck and cuffs, no silly branding and the triangular stitching under the collar that has become this garments calling card throughout the years.  I'm not sure how lazy some of you are, but when it comes to purchases like this I often like to grab two sizes (the pricepoint here helps) that I can pick and choose between.  When I find the one that gives me what I'm looking for I just return the other.  LE is notorious for their helpful customer service reps and return policy so have no fear of swimming in a sea of heather cotton.


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Wayfarer Family

Ray Ban's iconic Wayfarer model might be my all time favorite due to their obvious embodiment of everything classic, badass and down right awesome.  With that being said I think that people often jump into buying a pair without giving any consideration to the various models that Ray Ban has to offer.  It's always better to try sunglasses on in person so that you know without a doubt they look good, but at the same time it's also integral to get a handle on the situation ahead of time to prepare yourself for the purchase.  Keep in mind that there are a few other models in the Wayfarer family not talked abut here (the folding RB4105, the hipster RB2143, etc.), but I am overlooking those because you shouldn't be buying those in the first place.

The Original Wayfarer - RB2140

The closet thing being sold to the original 1952 model today, the RB2140 is the standard of old school cool.  When buying these be careful of the lens size (most commonly 50mm and 54mm) because this seemingly small details makes a huge difference on how the sunglasses, which are of the larger variety, look and fit on your face.

The New Wayfarer - RB2132

The New Wayfarer was introduced a few years back as a smaller alternative to the original.  While they definitely are smaller I actually think Ray Ban messed with the proportions a little too much and the glasses seem more "squished" that anything else.  Granted this shape is much more appealing to people who think the original is a little too big or intense, but keep in mind that it does lack some of the edge and angles that made the original so iconic.


This now defunct model, being phased out by Ray Ban, is the holy grail of Wayfarers as far as I am concerned.  It really is the perfect combination of the two styles above, keeping the personality of the original while streamlining the shape just enough with its trimmed up frames (especially around the lenses) as seen on the New Wayfarer.  While it's hard to tell the difference between this and the original on a computer screen, in person you can really see the improvements - I am assuming these minute differences are what caused Ray Ban to discontinue them in the first place as it must have proved confusing to customers.  Keep in mind that you can still buy the RB2113 all over the interwebs and many stores still have them in stock.

In closing, make sure you know what you are getting into before you drop upwards of $100 on a new pair and try them on in person if you can.  If you ever want to see the model number of the pair you are trying on it is always listed on the inside of the left stem and be sure not to overlook the importance of lens size either, even on the same model, as I have often found that is the most important factor.  Oh yeah and before I forget, only black and tortoise shell please - unless of course your style icon is Lindsay Lohan.


[Editor's Note: The RB5121 is an optical version (for prescription glasses) of the RB2140.]

You Look Familiar, Have We Met?

Rugby makes no secret about its love for the prep and Ivy aesthetic and it's always really neat to see their interpretation on all those staples we style nerds hold so dear.  As many of you guys already know much of that very aesthetic lies within the pages of Take Ivy, which makes this new hoodie from Rugby all the more awesome. 

This piece was actually designed by my buddy Antonio, formerly of Rugby, and while his fabric choices as a knit designer were obviously limited he did his best to stay as true to the original as possible.  His version does make some tweaks here and there (i.e. losing the pocket bellow due to fabric constraints and adding a real Indian madras hood liner), but overall is a very cool interpretation of a specific iconic garment.  There's nothing I appreciate more then getting the opportunity to learn about a designer's motivation, inspiration and what drives their work so I thought this would be an interesting little bit to share.


Sails On Your Feet Redux

Don (who also happens to be part of the Bonobos "etail" braintrust) just sent me a link to probably the coolest, most overstated Jack Purcells I have ever seen.  Now this is some serious sailing enthusiasm if I have ever seen it - non WASPs need not apply [Editor's note: sarcasm font on that last statement because it is apparently unclear to some folks].


Sails On Your Feet

Sperry Topsider continues to evolve their Authentic Original and the newest entry into their storied canon is a canvas model that apparently feels like butter on your feet (so I've been told).  I'm always telling people that when it comes to their staples to snatch up the most classic version if possible, but in this case I am on totally on board with forward thinking (or trend forecasting if you're tryna be a jerk about it).  There's not much to complain about with this canvas boat shoe and, as far as I am concerned, it gets the most crucial aspect correct - the white boat sole.  Sperry offers a ton of shoes that come with a black or brown boat sole and that's all fine and dandy, but...c'mon...when we're talking S/S we're talking white soles. End of story.  With three colorways currently available it should be no problemo matching your shoes to your sails or your mini golf clubs if that's your thing.


D.S. Dundee Does Street Style

Being a huge fan of D.S. Dundee I don't know how I just made it over to their blog, but better late then never I guess.  Besides making some of the nattiest country gent garb out they take some damn fine street style photos showcasing the absolute style overload going on in London.  Having been a little disappointed with Tommy Ton's London Fashion Week street style shots for GQ this is a much needed reminder about just how cool our English brethren keep it on the reg.  Highlights include Dr. Swagger mean muggin' his way into the Sart Inc Hall of Fame (bottom center).


Bleu de Paname

I just learned of Bleu de Paname thanks to Junctioned.  The French brand, started in 2008, develops and manufactures everything in France and is a "revisiting of the work uniform with a contemporary vision" via mixing of the functional and aesthetic.  The gear will be available soon at Tres Bien Shop and Oi Polloi, but in the meantime get a feel for the brand with this pretty rad video (it starts slow, but picks up) and some S/S lookbook pics below.

Bleu de Paname AW09 at Très Bien Shop from Très Bien Shop on Vimeo.


Monday, March 29, 2010

Bustin' Out The Funk

Since I recommend Vans Authentics like my life somehow depends on it, I figured I'd share with you guys how I keep my joints smelling fresh.  As you probably already know wearing canvas sneaks sockless in sweltering weather can lead to some funky-ass kicks, especially if you have some seriously sweaty dogs, so here is my method to keeping things fresh to death:

1. Apply a layer of baby powder on the insoles of your Authentics proportional to how bad your shoes actually smell.
2. Make sure everything is evenly distributed and knock out the remaining powder.
3. Place your "dusted" Authentics outdoors to breath for a while (I do this for a day max).
4. Knock your shoes together to make sure that every last bit of rogue powder is out.
5. Place you Authentics in the freezer for a couple of hours.
6. Put on your super duper fresh kicks and go do some damage.

It's that simple folks and the results are the real deal.


Lumina Clothing Co.

Lumina Clothing Company is a Raleigh, NC based brand making handmade neckwear in the good old US of A.  Their southern heritage comes together with modern sensibility in the ties which combine classic southern fabrics (perfect for this time of year) and modern cuts.  All their neckwear comes in three widths ranging from a "skinny" 2 inches to a traditional 3.25 inches.  With bow ties going for $39 and ties $59 Lumina presents itself as another affordable player in the neckwear conversation.  My favorites have to be the printed bow ties, which I imagine looking pretty smashing when paired with a white or blue oxford at your local lawn party.  Break out the mint juleps because it's time to tie one on.


Lusting After: Diemme Roccia Vet Boot

Diemme is a 2 decade old Italian brand making some of the finest boots across the pond.  Their Roccia Vet boot has just hit Tres Bien Shop in limited quantities and is one of the finest hiking style boots I have ever seen.  Coming with 2 sets of contrasting lacing, colored suede, an orange-ish Vibram sole (reminiscent of a red brick sole) and authentic hiking hardware this boot is the real deal for both hikers and lifestyle fans alike.  They are made in Italy and produced in limited qualities hence the $330 pricetag, but the one of a kind looks and craftsmanship more than justify the cost.


Rod Laver Vintage

In the last issue of GQ Creative Director Jim Moore endorsed the Rod Laver vintage sneaker just re-released by Adidas.  As a fan of the standard Rod Laver sneaker I had similar sentiments especially after seeing just how bare bones the new vintage model was.  The vintage model actually reminds me a lot of a slimmed up Stan Smith (an ex-girlfriend of mine actually used to refer to my Stan Smith's as "grandpa shoes") complete with mesh body, which will really come in handy when going sockless.  Part of me also wonders if Adidas was taking cues from Common Projects and their best selling Achilles model.  Anyhow, I can get down with the Rod Laver vintage and it's one of the rare times that I have been impressed with a black sneaker.  Anyhow, you can buy the black colorway from Adidas online and the white and green colorway at J. Crew.  At $75 it is a cheaper alternative to the Common Projects Kool-Aid and a welcomed addition to anyone's S/S sneaker rotation.


From The Inbox: A True Clarks Love Letter

Thanks to reader R2 for pointing me in the direction of what is by far the most amazing love letter to Clarks I have ever seen. If you ever doubted these classic shoes were an institution in the Caribbean have a listen too my new favorite jam. Pay attention to the lyrics too, there a some serious tips to be had - "toothbrush get out the ____ spots." Please keep in mind that despite this awesomeness I do not endorse wearing two different pairs of shoes.


Sunday, March 28, 2010

Hand's On: Millican

I don't go crazy over bags like a lot of my style brethren, but that doesn't mean I can't appreciate a well made, functional carry-all made by some good folks.  Until recently Millican, an England based lifestyle brand, was admittedly off my radar, but I am very thankful they reached out to me.  This "style circle" many of us function in can be so dynamic at times that the very best brands often slip through the cracks unnoticed - I try and do my very best to stay informed, but it is impossible to keep tabs on everything.

Millican is one of those brands that knows exactly what it wants to be and I respect the hell out of that.  With these guys there is no wavering, no trends - just doing what they love and producing real stuff.  For the unitiated, let them break it down:

"We’re a travel and outdoor lifestyle brand for eco-friendly travellers and curiously deep thinkers. You know, the type of people who like the fact that we’ve pumped a lot of thought into every bit of organic fabric for our rucksacks, every strip of vegetable tanned leather for our wallets, every piece of recycled polyester for our travel bags. Like us, they’ve always got one eye on the planet and the other down a path into the woods."

Now that is a mission statement I can get behind.  See, the beauty of Millican extends beyond their bags.  It really is about the journey and the process - a journey and process that are evolving organically.  "We don’t pretend to be perfect. Sometimes, we fail, but we keep trying."  If only all brands were that honest up front I would probably spend more of my hard earned money.  Don't get it twisted, however, as they're isn't anything failing as far as I can tell.

With introductions out of the way, let's get down to the nitty gritty...the gear.  Everything that goes into Millican's bags is the real deal.  Organic weatherproof canvas, organic cotton lining and vegetable tanned leather are the building blocks to their entire collection.  The bags are sturdy, functional and look flat out fantastic.  In the same vein as everything I hold near and dear to my heart, Millican's bags are classic, understated and wholly masculine.  I was lucky enough to get my hands on a sample of the Steward courier bag and I couldn't be more pleased.  It's big enough for that weekend jaunt and not to cumbersome for my commute.  Add in its unique closure system and utility roll-top and you have my new go to right there.  Without a doubt in my mind I can say that my bag search has ended before it even got started and for that I thank the fine folks at Millican.  Give their gear a serious browse when you get the chance and you just might be saying the same thing.