California | A Continuous Lean.

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]





Escape to Carneros.

Jan 1st, 2012 | Categories: California, Travel | by Michael Williams

Without a doubt the most relaxing and enjoyable days of 2011 were spent within the beautiful confines of The Carneros Inn. A group of friends and I spent the weekend at the Northern California resort this past fall — an experience I can’t seem to let go of. Having never been to the Napa Valley, the time at Carneros was the perfect introduction to one of the most amazing places in North America. Honestly, I’m disappointed I haven’t visited sooner in life.





Impossibly Cool | Malibu 1965 in Color

Sep 12th, 2011 | Categories: California, Style, Video, Vintage | by Michael Williams

There’s The Impossible Cool, and then there’s this collection of home movies from Roddy McDowall’s personal archive featuring many an iconic actor and actress enjoying themselves on the California coast. Paul Newman (with his can of Busch beer) is present, as is Jane Fonda (looking exceptionally young and beautiful), Kirk Douglas, Anthony Perkins, Judy Garland and many more of their famous friends who make appearances.

While it is truly amazing to see all of these stars relaxed and having fun with one another, it is also amazing to see what they are wearing. The clothing in these films are incredible. The only branding I noticed during the whole series was a few shots of one perfect red Lacoste polo shirt. A fascinating glimpse into an otherwise private and decidedly stylish life. Thanks to Andy for the tip.