Archives for October 2012 | A Continuous Lean.

ACL x Tokyo

Oct 29th, 2012 | Categories: Housekeeping, Tokyo | by Michael Williams

A note of housekeeping. The last few weeks have had me all over the place — I’ve been to England, Seattle, Portland, New York and will be in Japan for the next week or so. Along the way I have gathered up a bunch of good stuff to share with you from the journey, so expect updates soon. In the mean time here are some pictures from yesterday. Obviously, no trip to Tokyo is complete without sushi shaped donuts. Anything else (new) that I should see? Shout me out in the comments.

Accordingly, the site will be on light duty and posting may be sporadic. Your patience is appreciated. Keep an eye on the ACL Twitter feed and the Instagram updates (same user name, @acontinuouslean) if you want to follow the action live. There should be ample drunkenness.

These Paul Smith windows are some of the best I have seen in a long time.

In the Making | Crockett & Jones.

Oct 24th, 2012 | Categories: England, Footwear, Made in England | by Michael Williams

The history, the shape of the lasts, the legacy and most of all the quality. Those are the reasons which keep me buying and wearing shoes from Crockett & Jones. Every time I am in London I stop by at least one of the Northampton shoemaker’s shops (there are two storefronts on Jermyn Street for some odd reason) in Mayfair to browse and to occasionally take home a new pair of shoes that I plan on owning forever. The New York store is also nice to visit, but not nearly as much fun as seeing these shoes on their home soil.

Crockett & Jones is one of those companies that I have long sought to know on a more intimate basis, partially because I admire the history of the company, but also because I like to wear the shoes so much. Only thing is, Crockett & Jones is a pretty conservative company, one that is much more focused on making great shoes than making much of a fuss on the internet. It rightfully figured it has a loyal following and a strong business, the product is the marketing.

All of this reminds me of Alden. (Incidentally I have basically never had any contact with Alden, but that’s fine because all I need from them is to continue making shoes I love.) The beloved New England shoemaker is another company that doesn’t need to have a heavy hand when it comes to marketing, the shoes and the quality tell everyone all they need to know. Production is limited and it doesn’t want to go crazy increasing it and risk ruining everything. It’s admirable because it works, and also because both Alden and Crockett make such great things.

Shopping London | Anthem

Oct 19th, 2012 | Categories: London, Made in the USA, Shopping | by Michael Williams

When I think about the things that influence my style it only really comes down to a few things: my friends, people on the street, media and stores. Of those things, the two most important are my friends and retail shops. I spent the better part of this past week in London for an event with the menswear shop Anthem in Shoreditch. The event was for the launch of the Club Monaco Made in USA collection —something I have worked on with my friend Aaron Levine for the past few seasons (Club Monaco is a client of mine, FYI)— which makes Anthem one of the few places outside of North America in which you can buy that collection.

What led these Ashland, PA and Haverhill, Mass. and Los Angeles born clothes to land in East London comes down to a simple meeting between Aaron Levine and Anthem’s owners Simon Spiteri and Jeremy Baron. There was an inherent like-mindedness between the three and the partnership seemed obvious given the shared outlook and aesthetic.

Shopping Cleveland | West Side Market

Oct 14th, 2012 | Categories: Cleveland, Food | by Michael Williams

As a kid, my father took me with him to the West Side Market about once a week to accompany him as he made the rounds visiting his favorite butchers, bakers and produce sellers. The market has so much going on, so many things to see smell and taste, it was always an eye-opening event for me and it remains one of my most cherished childhood memories of Cleveland. Getting the opportunity to show off the West Side Market to a few friends that were visiting last weekend, the experience remains as great as it ever was. It’s good to know some things don’t change.

Hero’s Welcome: The Return of Lucky Jim.

Oct 11th, 2012 | Categories: Books, David Coggins, England | by David Coggins

Lucky Jim, Kingsley Amis’s first novel, was published in 1954 and promptly entered the pantheon of British postwar literature. It’s just been reissued by the invaluable New York Review Books Classics, which is the literary equivalent of receiving a case of Laphroaig. Our hero, Jim Dixon, a young university lecturer, grapples with a stream of improbable academic cranks, pretentious artists, neurotic women, a vengeful oboist and his own self-destructive streak. The novel is trenchant, knowing and audaciously misanthropic. It may be the funniest book ever written.

Yes, that’s an absurd statement (Jim himself would surely raise an eyebrow at such a sweeping claim). But Lucky Jim remains the benchmark for satire, misbehavior and the absurd demands of adult life. Strangely, some Lucky Jim partisans struggle through the book’s opening the first time they read it. In fact, it’s not uncommon for people to take pause before they plow their way through it. Why is that? Like watching Shakespeare’s plotting villains or early episodes of Deadwood, it takes some time to acclimate yourself to the incredibly specific, rarefied language. But that makes it sound as if it’s an exalted enterprise: it’s not.

New York State of Mind | Ghurka x Eleven Madison Park.

Oct 9th, 2012 | Categories: Food, Made in the USA, New York City | by Michael Williams

One thing almost everyone I know can agree on is the fact that Eleven Madison Park is one of the best meals in NYC, if not the world. The fourteen year old restaurant recently underwent a bit of a reinvention under Chef Daniel Humm, transitioning to a unique set-up where the only option (lunch or dinner) is a New York centric four-hour tasting menu. The celebrated restaurant, which boasts a three star Michelin ranking and four stars from The New York Times, is on a mission to elevate an already great experience.

This reinvention is a bold move that actually reminds me of what is happening currently at Ghurka. The American leather goods maker which has recently been reinvigorated by its new ownership group and these days everything I see emerge from Ghurka is both well thought out and equally refined, this collaboration being no exception. In keeping with the theme of “made in New York,” Eleven Madison Park tapped Ghurka to produce a handsome group of custom leather goods for the restaurant (coasters, menu covers, placemats, check presenters, table reserved signs).

Carhartt Made in U.S.A. Collection

Oct 8th, 2012 | Categories: Made in the USA, Work Wear | by Michael Williams

This is the label that we all want to see.

Carhartt makes a lot of clothing in the U.S. (57 million garments since 1998), probably more than many people realize. The hard-working family owned Michigan outfitter hasn’t done much up until now to let people know just how much the brand produces domestically. That’s probably because it is an old school and humble Midwest company that prefers to let the conversation be about making quality stuff that keeps people safe and dry and warm. Carhartt is also a complex business that operates in a very competitive marketplace, a market that serves hardworking people who need to be very conscious of price.

While I know the Carhartt has been making clothing in the U.S. since Hamilton Carhartt founded the company in 1889, it hasn’t stopped me from being critical of the company at times. I have done this because, up until now, more emphasis has not been placed on made in USA. Every time I saw the Adam Kimmel collection I wished it was made here. To me, being made in the U.S.A. would have been the most interesting aspect of that type of collaboration collection, one that is clearly was targeted at a different consumer.

With the release of this new Made in USA Collection, the iconic workwear outfitter has made a commitment to offering U.S. made versions of its seven most popular pieces. Apparently, the creation of this collection is a direct response to consumers who wanted the option to buy domestically made goods.