California | A Continuous Lean.

North Menswear | Shopping Anytown USA

Jul 16th, 2014 | Categories: California, Made in the USA, Shopping | by Michael Williams

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The excitement was palpable. The feeling of exhilaration was present because of the unexpected nature of it’s arrival.

While on a weekend trip to Southern California I was pleasantly surprised to meet North Menswear in Laguna Beach and I probably got more excited about it than normal. Surprised and delighted to be exact. Part of this is due to the fact that North is a great shop, but the real reason I was aflutter is because I wasn’t expecting to see anything like this in Laguna. I was expecting to languish in the Real Houswives vibes and here I was browsing a great collection of menswear.

Over the past few years something amazing has happened: A version of North (basically a cool men’s shop with an Americana slant i.e. Unionmade) has opened in cities across America. If you expand out from Laguna Beach you’d get Orn Hansen in Long Beach, Lone Flag in San Diego, Berkeley Supply in Denver, Askov Finlayson in Minneapolis, Willy’s in Detroit, Cincinnati has Article, there’s Supply & Advise in Miami, Reserve Supply Co. in Houston, Federal in Washington D.C. and a million stores in the Northeast.

Five years ago there were only a few shops keyed in on this. Steven Alan, Context in Wisconsin and Need Supply in Richmond to name a few. What was very much the of the blog world for a period of time seemed to have given rise to a new market for menswear. And it wasn’t until I stepped into North that it really made sense. I knew there were a lot of people all over the place interested in this stuff, but when you’re a little off the beaten path (not that LB is really out of the way, but it’s not TriBeCa) and you see a shop as good as North do you really realize the scope of this thing.

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North Menswear founder Pete Surprenant.





Get In the Van(s).

Jul 10th, 2014 | Categories: California, Jake Gallagher, Shoes, Shoes of Summer | by Jake Gallagher

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“Man, I need Vans.”

From an Anaheim, California warehouse in 1966 Paul Van Doren churned out the first pair of Vans. They were basic canvas creations, outfitted with a diamond patterned sole and compact rows of laces, but before long those rubber sneakers would send southern California, and eventually the rest of the world into a frenzy.

Today, you can still walk into really any shoe store in the world and pick up a pair of Vans that looks almost identical to the pair that Van Doren produced back in the late sixties. While their contemporary models are now made abroad (come on guys, where’s the Made in the USA Vans collection we’ve all been waiting for) they do still retain that laid-back, easy wearing vibe that made them so damn popular nearly a half century ago. What’s best about Vans is that their irresistible simplicity has made them an ideal platform for countless obscure patterns, collaborations, and revamps. We’ve rounded out ten of our favorite Vans from the past year or so to add some rubber to your summertime shoe rotation.





Patagonia: Going its Own Way.

Sep 27th, 2013 | Categories: California, Menswear | by Michael Williams

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A few months ago I took a trip to visit Patagonia to get a look at the Ventura-based brand’s new Legacy Collection capsule. I also got a chance to see a lot of awesome archival Patagonia stuff, which was worth the trip right there. But what I really learned that day (which I spoke a bit about in my previous post about the company), was how thought-provoking it was to see the Patagonia culture first hand.  Being there and learning about the company’s values pushed me to think long and hard about my own values and to think about how a company can find success through two simple ideas: 1. Be committed to your values (act accordingly) and 2. Doing things differently can be the key to success.

These aren’t the only keys to Patagonia’s success, but they are the things that stand out to me. While I went to Ventura specifically to look at a clothing collection, I left with much more than just photos of the archival products (though that stuff is great as you can see below). I walked away with my mind racing, thinking about how to live my life, how to run a business and how to generally be happy. This year I have also spent time at Nike, Dreamworks, Google and various other large and small companies — all the while thinking about the role a company’s culture can impact personal success and overall happiness. Having worked for myself for the past 9 years I’ve pushed hard to build a successful professional life. At the same time, I’ve worked hard to take the time to actually enjoy my life and be happy. This was possible sometimes, and at other times it was completely impossible. But all of this energy directed at finding happiness and success at work and outside of work made be a strong believer in the importance of a positive culture.

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Introducing the Patagonia Legacy Collection.

Jul 11th, 2013 | Categories: California, History, Menswear | by Michael Williams

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A few months ago I made the trip to Ventura, California and stood in the parking lot where Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard embarked on one of his first climbing trips to Argentina. The point of my journey to Patagonia the company wasn’t to tour historic parking lots, it was the see a new collection of clothing that was inspired by the early and important Patagonia clothing that Yvon Chouinard created in that very same spot. Launching this September, the Patagonia Legacy collection is a small ten-piece capsule of product that traces back to the original items from the forty years of Patagonia. The scale of the company has grown over the past four decades, but the mission and the core values remain intact, much like the building in which it all started.

Before I made the trip to California, I saw the Legacy collection at a small preview in New York. I was, admittedly, pretty nervous going in to see it. Often times, these types of historically slanted collections can be tricky and scary to the purists. The last thing we want is some heavy-handed re-interpretation for no good reason. I learned at that preview, and also later in Ventura, that heavy-handed is not Patagonia’s M.O. The Legacy collection is a subtle and steady take on the already great items from the Patagonia’s past.

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The foundry where Yvon Chouinard first started blacksmithing metal climbing instruments under the Great Pacific Iron Works name that is still on the front of the building. The shop remains completely intact and is still fully functional. I’m told occasionally Yvon will still work in this shop as a blacksmith.

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Checking In | La Jolla’s La Valencia Hotel

Jun 9th, 2013 | Categories: California, Checking In, History | by Michael Williams

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It took a lot of coaxing to get me to visit San Diego. Having spent so much time in L.A. and San Francisco for work and increasingly for fun, I had honestly relegated San Diego near the bottom of my list of places to visit in the Golden State. My girlfriend of nearly two years, who grew up in La Jolla, was determined to change my thinking (a talent girlfriends wield skillfully) on the subject of San Diego. Her weapon of choice? The historic La Valencia Hotel in La Jolla. Knowing my appreciation for provenance, this was a shrewd and ultimately successful move.

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Saturday at ICON

Feb 13th, 2012 | Categories: Autos, California | by Michael Williams

There can’t be many better ways to spend a Saturday than to drive out to the valley and visit with Jonathan Ward, founder of ICON. I’ve been threatening to come and visit for some time, but hadn’t stepped up to make the trip until last week. The shop and showroom aren’t open on Saturday, but Jonathan didn’t mind coming by and showing me around on his day off.





ICON Derelicts

Feb 6th, 2012 | Categories: Autos, California, Uncategorized | by Michael Williams

LA-based Icon is one of those companies that I try to avoid. I mean this in the best possible way. I avoid it all because I want one of those fucking trucks really bad. I actually think it has transcended want, I need one of those things. The truth of the matter is, it ain’t happenin anytime soon. Unless I win the pick six next time I am at the track (Luck, anyone?), an Icon truck is sadly far away on the horizon.

Being aesthetically awesome (and retro), but still functioning well enough to be a daily driver is the whole point of the company. The guys over at eGarage caught up with Icon founder Jonathan Ward about the mission of the company and a little program that it is launching called Derelicts. Want to know more? Watch the film. Want an Icon? Get in line. [ICON]