Archives for January 2013 | A Continuous Lean.

On All Fours | Inclement Adventures in Wyoming

Jan 30th, 2013 | Categories: Automobiles, Cars, Travel | by Michael Williams

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Where I grew up, it basically snowed everyday all winter. Cleveland gets its fair share of Lake Effect snow and after a while it all just becomes routine. Eventually, you figure out how to drive in bad weather. We would get two feet of snow and no one would care, it would just be a bit of a hassle. Being in New York City for the past twelve years has meant that my hard-earned Northeast Ohio winter driving skills have languished in a world with mass transit and very little snow. It’s disappointing because I actually came to enjoy driving in bad weather.

Then one day Mercedes-Benz called and said that they wanted me to go out to Wyoming and test out 4MATIC, their all-wheel drive system on a really nice CLS550. Really? Me? Umm yeah, oaky, I can help you guys out.

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Know Thyself | ISAIA AW13

Jan 27th, 2013 | Categories: Italy, Made in Italy, Menswear, Napoli, Pitti Uomo 2013 | by Michael Williams

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Seeing Isaia’s fall collection is one of the things that makes the trek to Florence worth it. The Neapolitan tailor never ceases to impress when it comes to shape and texture. The styling and strong sense of color also serve as some of the most inspirational corners of the menswear summit that is Pitti Uomo. The brand’s AW13 collection is no let down in this regard. There’s a lot going on in a relatively small selection of items, but the spirit remains and Isaia continues to delight with its willingness to know itself and be the brand it wants to be, not the brand other people want it to be.

Like most of the Isaia clothing in the past, this collection draws its inspiration from Naples, specifically from Januarius (the city’s patron saint) and the Naples Cathedral. The details of these inspirations show up in prints and in other small elements of the collection. The photos here give a nice sense of the fabrics, styling and feelings you can look forward for the coming fall.

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Upward Mobility: The Beard Goes Corporate

Jan 25th, 2013 | Categories: David Coggins, Grooming | by David Coggins

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We’ve ruminated in the past on Lloyd Blankfein’s sartorial strategies and the tradition of executive dressing, particularly among Italian titans of industry who know how to do it. So we were curious to discover recent shots of Mr. Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs, in Davos, with a beard. Apparently he grows them when he’s on vacation and this time he felt confident enough to go on the record before the cameras.

While this did not cause as much comment as the First Lady’s bangs, it does represent the migration of the beard from the urban woodsman to the corporate boardroom. Mr. Blankfein’s beard is certainly not radical—it’s more of a thin layer of snow than an avalanche of white—but it is progress of a sort for those of us who support beards in all tax brackets and all locations, including the corridors of power.





Shopping London | Alfred Dunhill’s Bourdon House

Jan 22nd, 2013 | Categories: London, Menswear | by Michael Williams

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There aren’t many brands that seem to understand how men want to shop. It doesn’t seem to me to be the most difficult thing to figure out, but it is rare that I find a place that captures the desired environment that, as a guy, just feels right. If I were to do a case study on how to do retail for men I would undoubtedly turn to Dunhill and their tremendous retail “homes” as the shining example of how to get things right.

Last year I stopped in on the Dunhill home in Shanghai, which is about as enchanting as a store can be. Then recently I paid a visit to the brand’s flagship London property, Bourdon House. It’s worth making a detour for even just for a look around and a cup of tea in the courtyard cafe. It’s good to know that someone out there is willing to be logical and do menwear retail right.

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The Bull Shot: Where Vegans Fear to Tread

Jan 20th, 2013 | Categories: Cocktails, David Coggins, Firenze, Spirits | by David Coggins

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This is an age of cocktail enlightenment—savvy drinkers aren’t surprised to discover artichoke infused vodka or persimmon bitters in their glass or a shiso leaf as garnish. They venture forth seeking vision and innovation, the eccentric and the unfamiliar. Yet it’s a classic cocktail, of all things, that causes consternation among the imbibing faint of heart. We speak of course of the endangered Bull Shot.

Why is this downright nourishing drink more difficult to find? In a phrase: beef broth. Yes, the Bull Shot is essentially a Bloody Mary that substitutes goodly beef broth for tomato juice. So rare is this historic concoction that on a recent trip to Florence we were overjoyed to find it listed at Harry’s Bar (not the endangered Venetian original, but, after more than 50 years on the bank of the Arno, nothing to scoff at).

At Harry’s, upon ordering, the broth arrives from the kitchen and the barman takes it from there. Where does that Bull Shot take you? Well, it’s a hearty daytime drink, unusually good when you told yourself you were going to take a day away from liquor. It’s downbeat but reassuring—like an old cardigan, like Chet Baker.





Get to Know | Officine Generale AW13

Jan 18th, 2013 | Categories: Menswear, Paris, Pitti Uomo 2013 | by Michael Williams

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The best new thing I saw at Pitti is Officine Generale, a collection that was actually launched last January. Sure, that doesn’t technically make it brand new (the SS13 collection, though, is just landing at H.W. Carter & Sons in Brooklyn, Unionmade in S.F. + more), but when thinking of clothing brands, the second season is still technically new, especially by Pitti’s standards, where things tend to move very slowly and deliberately, much like a Neapolitan dinner. In the end, Pitti’s predictability is actually what makes the show charming. Yet, it’s those unexpected discoveries, like the classic French styling of Officine Generale, that keep us coming back to Florence twice a year (the bistecca fiorentina doesn’t hurt either).

The collection is inspired by military clothing and classic tailoring, and takes elements from both without going crazy. My feeling: a little goes a long way. This collection is positioned perfectly for anyone who wants to dress comfortably and stylishly without screaming where he comes from. Wearing these clothes, you could go anywhere and be from anywhere. Options are not limited. It’s a concept that’s easy for me to embrace. Options are good.

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Great Things Found in Unlikely Places.

Jan 14th, 2013 | Categories: Footwear, Menswear | by Michael Williams

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What if I was to ask you: “What city do you think has the finest men’s shoe store in America?” One would automatically assume to hear the following cities (probably in this order): 1. New York, 2. Boston 3. Chicago. Logic would suggest cities that have strong business communities with lots of banks and other serious institutions where men wear suits and make serious decisions. What if I was to tell you that the best men’s footwear store in the United States is in Honolulu?

“No fucking way.” Would be your response.

Well, add a dollar to the swear jar, because the best men’s shoe store in the U.S. (if not the world) is in the Royal Hawaiian shopping center in Waikiki, Its name is Leather Soul and it will make your head explode.

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