The basic recipe of the plain white t-shirt is remarkably simple: two short sleeves, a cotton weave, an ovular neck, a flat hem, maybe a chest pocket if you’re feeling adventurous. And yet, for the past decade or so, it seems that brands have been dead set on transforming this uncomplicated template into an increasingly complex formula. Like mad menswear scientists designers have revamped fits, developed high-tech fabrics, and utilized elaborate techniques to create the elusive “perfect t-shirt.” While Marlon Brando would probably object to all this tinkering of his t-shirt du jour, the tee has come along way since the fifties, so let’s delve into the teeming world of high-quality (and often high-ticket) tees.
Peter Buchanan-Smith, the founder of Best Made Co. describes the brand as, “a window into the wilderness.” To Buchanan-Smith and COO Ben Lavely, the axes, first aid kits, prints, jackets, and countless other items that make up the BMC collection are meant to transport the customer from their office or apartment into the great outdoors, if only for a moment.
This notion of carrying shoppers away into the wilderness is what defines the brand’s White Street flagship. As one of downtown New York’s wealthiest neighborhoods TriBeCa is hardly the first place you’d assume a utilitarian outdoor brand would set up shop, but for Best Made, the location fulfills their ultimate goal. Once inside the shop, which opened just about a year ago, the urbanscape that lies on the other side of the door seems to slip away, and you’re transported, at least mentally, into the wild.
It could be said that Italian menswear is in the midst of a rediscovery period. Classical tailoring and high fashion are no longer the Sharks and Jets of the clothing world, occupying the same territory and yet perpetually in combat. Now, more than ever, it is not enough for a tailoring house to simply make garments, they must also be “designers” in all senses of the word. An Italian tailoring house should cater to their diehard roster of bespoke customers, while also appealing to the whims of those that diligently observe the comings and goings of runway shows throughout Europe. The key to this (as in most things clothing related) is balance – don’t alienate the clients that brought you success all along, but don’t appear complacent.
Summer is all about fabrics that are just a touch absurd. From seersucker to patchwork madras, warm weather gear is often as lighthearted as it is lightweight, but nothing mirrors the jovial summer spirit quite like terry cloth. After all, what else is simultaneously as summery and as nonsensical as wearing a towel disguised as normal clothing?
As evidenced by the above shot of Sean Connery in a terry cloth onesie (undoubtedly one of James Bonds most regrettable outfits), during the sixties this fabric was primarily used for outlandish leisure wear. Fortunately for us all though, brands such as Orlebar Brown and Engineered Garments have recently begun to rethink this ultra-soft fabric, bringing it from the pool deck to everyday life.
Can clothing be spiritual? Can a single brand make you see the light?
As both a consumer and commentator of clothing, we’ve been plagued by a series of nagging questions lately. Why another brand? Why does this brand deserve my attention? And for that matter, why do they deserve my money? These questions can raise doubts in the mind of even the most levelheaded observer, and after a while it becomes tough to discern if you like something simply because it’s new, or if you like something because it’s actually worth your admiration.
That distinction, between something novel and something noteworthy, was made crystal clear to me as we leafed through Pilgrim Surf Supply’s twelve piece debut collection. Admittedly, at first glance, PSS’s offering is not striking, but this was a deliberate decision by their design team. The palate is derived from Pilgrim’s shoreside roots, most notably the sun-burnt oranges and washed out blues that appear on a variety of pieces throughout the collection. On its face, the collection evokes visions of salty beaches and cresting waves, which is a predictable aesthetic for one of New York’s only surf shops, but it’s what lies below these washed out colors that elevate the collection beyond a simple store collection.
White bucks are the blank canvas of menswear. Each year, as the temperature rises, they reemerge like red soled birds flying south for the season, primed in a flat white coat that will be marked up, dinged out, and just plain dirty come Fall. There’s something unnatural about a pristine white buck – it’s too clean, too pristine, not worn in enough. On the other hand a beat-up buck proves that you’ve been living, and living well. Each pockmark and spot on a pair of bucks is earned and from that first time you nick up a fresh pair of bucks, you’ll be recording a seasons worth of wear and tear. As designer, and legendary buck wearer (seriously he’s been wearing them for over forty years straight) JP Williams puts it “they take on your personality.” So, here’s to a season of worth of grass stains and spilled cocktails, because a beat up buck is just a better buck.
On a summer morning in 1946, while attending a convention in Florida, Joseph Haspel Sr. donned one his company’s signature seersucker suits and waded out into the Atlantic Ocean, all the way up to his neck. As stunned beachgoers watched on, Mr. Haspel reappeared on shore, soaked to the stripes, and returned to his hotel room, where he hung up the suit to dry. Just a few hours later he resurfaced at a banquet in that he very same outfit, causing quite a stir amongst the attendees.
Founded in New Orleans in 1909, Haspel was one of the first brands to utilize cotton and seersucker for their tailored collections, forgoing the standard mohair and wool fabrics that were far too cumbersome for the heat of a southern summer. Sr.’s seaside stunt was in line with the brand’s unorthodox approach to summerweight suits, and it was the initial step in Haspel’s evolution towards the wash and wear suit.