Archives for May 2012 | A Continuous Lean. - Page 3

Clothing Without Compromise | At Work With Outlier

May 7th, 2012 | Categories: Brooklyn, Cycling, Menswear | by Michael Williams

Clothing should be as much about function as it is about style. That’s part of the philosophy behind the bike-commuter friendly label Outlier. Over the past several years the small upstart label has gained a cult following, not just among cyclists, but also by those that appreciate an approach to designing clothes that places equal importance on both looking good and functioning well. This past week I took a trip out to Brooklyn to visit Outlier’s design studio and headquarters to see just how things work at Outlier.

“One well considered object can take the place of many cheaply made ones.”

The company’s loft in Williamsburg is part R&D lab, design center, shipping depot and warehouse all in one. It’s a bright space filled with energy and a sense of purpose. Tyler and Abe both have a strong feeling for the company’s mission and they seem purposeful in their undertaking. As we talked and looked through a rack of current products (and some soon to be released items), the stack of outgoing packages continued to grow and grow as sales for the day added up. According to Outlier, there is strong customer loyalty and the instance of repeat orders is often. As someone that has worn a pair of Outlier pants, this is a statement not difficult to believe.

Outlier founders Tyler Clemens (left) and Abe Burmeister.

So Good it Hurts | Rancourt & Co. Handsewns

May 4th, 2012 | Categories: Footwear, Made in the USA, Maine | by Michael Williams

It’s amazing how you feel once you take the leap from “commodity shoes” that are basically made from plastic which is designed to look like leather (at least that’s what it seems like), to the real stuff that Rancourt & Co. makes from Horween leathers. My affinity for Rancourt started last year with a pair of ranger mocs that quickly became my go-to shoe. After buying those shoes I was hooked. Over the past year I have also come to know Mike and Kyle Rancourt personally and even spent some time up at their factory in Maine witnessing first hand how they do business.

Wearing the shoes, knowing the people and seeing the process all leads me to confirm that Rancourt makes one of the best, if not the best handsewn shoes in the world. It’s a bold statement, but one I genuinely believe to be true. It was with this appreciation that, a few weeks ago, I ordered some new Rancourt shoes — a pair of ranger mocs with Vibram cristy soles and a Horween shell cordovan (#8) beefroll penny loafer. As you can see from these pictures, they turned out as perfect as expected.

Bona Fide | Todd Snyder AW12

May 3rd, 2012 | Categories: Menswear | by Michael Williams

Todd Snyder is an easy person to like. Being from Iowa, he’s got that grounded middle America perspective on life. Generally friendly and easy going, with a good sense of humor.

Nearly twenty years ago Todd took the plunge and moved to New York to indulge his ambition to work in the clothing business. Along the way he’s proven himself at some distinctly American brands, most notedly Ralph Lauren and then J.Crew. Then three seasons ago he launched his eponymous line to much esteem from buyers, press and consumers. After stopping by his studio this week, I can say with certainty that things are even going to get better.

The collection is very much representative of who Todd is as a person: smart and unpretentious. The line mixes military and vintage in a way that is modern, relevant and fresh. The collection includes everything from knits to tuxedos (pictured below underneath a very handsom winter parka), with the standout element being the range of Southwick-made tailored clothing.

Boston Rubbernecks

May 2nd, 2012 | Categories: History, Philadelphia | by Michael Williams

Times have changed, but people have always loved to gawk at a car crash. The Boston Public Library has hundreds of opportunities to rubberneck wrecks from the 1930s. Some of the most interesting below. Please take note the painful lack of seat belts as displayed on the windshields. Also, check out the work wear on the bystanders. Be safe out there.

Wants & Desires | Cielo Sportif Classic

May 1st, 2012 | Categories: Bicycles, Made in the USA, Wants & Desires | by Michael Williams

Go into any bike shop in the U.S. and you will likely find the same three or four big brands that dominate the retail landscape. There’s not necessarily anything wrong with buying a bike from any of those big companies, but it’s important to remember that there is an “independently made” alternative. Portland, Oregon based component maker Chris King’s line of Cielo bicycles are a worthy alternative and a good place to trade your hard earned dollars for a good looking and well made bicycle.

The Cielo Sportif Classic, which is pictured here, is high on my list of things that I need to own. In an age of carbon fiber, the Sportif Classic is designed with the nostalgia of steel framed road bikes of the 1970′s and 1980′s. That steel frame means it is going to be heavier than a lot of bikes out there, but it will also mean that the ride is going to be comfortable and enjoyable. All that said, the bike is great looking and made right here in the United States. The Sportif Classic incorporates many of the quality US-made components that, over the past three decades, have made Chris King such a well regarded manufacturer. The Cielo quality also extends to the styling —each bike is painted entirely in-house with a low VOC (non-toxic) liquid paint without use of any decals, and each detail is masked and painted by hand.