New Balance understands you. The American sneaker brand knows you appreciate the classic style of the 990, and they know that you couldn’t possibly wear the same shoes as everyone else. In a world of ubiquitous style this is an important development for us all. Utilizing the New Balance factory in Maine, you can now turn-around a custom pair of 990s in a little over a week from sewing machine to the street. That’s a good development because we don’t off the shelf shoes and no one wants to wait too long for their one of ones.
To some people designing their own shoes presents a major challenge. It’s often easy to know what you like and to know what you don’t, but the sheer number of options can cause a paralysis of sorts. New Balance coaxes things along with a gallery of base-designs that make it easier to understand the possibilities. Once you get into the process it becomes difficult to see how just one pair is going to be enough. Onward to the 990 customization montage.
During a visit to one of his company’s shirt factories in the seventies Ash Wall, the vice president and great-great-great-grandson of Brooks Brothers founder Henry Sand Brooks, picked up a discarded “practice” sport shirt off the assembly line and tossed it on. As he did so, he uttered the above statement in reference to the ten or so different fabric scraps that had been haphazardly stitched together to form this button-up.
Essential. Rarely has there been a more overused word when talking about clothing. Every store, blog, publication, and schmo at the end of the bar seems to be touting whatever item they want to peddle that season as a bona fide essential. While we here at ACL would never claim that you can’t live without any singular piece of clothing, we will declare that summer you should certainly buck up and invest in a Hawaiian shirt. Will your heart stop beating without one? Certainly not. But you will miss out on the one time of year that you can actually wear a shirt that’s covered in flowers without raising some eyebrows. So in honor of our Aloha shirt obsession we bring you the best floral button ups for summer. Short sleeve only, cause you know, suns out guns out.
When is a chukka more than just a chukka? When it’s a Playboy. No, not that Playboy, I’m talking about the chunky-soled ankle boots that became legendary thanks to that other playboy, Steve McQueen. During his sixties heyday, McQueen was inescapable both on-screen and off, and when he was snapped lounging by the California coast, or jetting around town with whatever starlet he was seeing that week, he was oft wearing a hefty pair of chocolate suede chukkas with a big ol’ crepe sole.
Recently, while in Los Angeles, I paid a visit to the new Wittmore pop-up shop on Third Street. The colorful space is brings to life Wittmore’s nicely curated and eclectic brand mix, which up until a few weeks ago has been an entirely digital shopping affair.
The physical and online stores are the product of my longtime friend and mentor Paul Witt. Wittmore is a culmination of Paul’s many years in the clothing business and his varied work across various creative disciplines, a few of which involved me as his underling. The shop presents Witt’s personality well, and represents a playful perspective that very much aligns with his personal taste and style. It’s an inclusive and needed respite from the world of pretentiousness that can often surround so many menswear brands and stores. Wittmore brings a keen eye and an injection of playfulness that makes clothing fun again.
The good people of Garrett Leight recently produced a campaign video that focuses on The Harding, one of the California opticians most popular styles. The frame design and the accompanying video was inspired by the stylish playwright Arthur Miller, a man who possessed stellar taste in both eye-wear and women. As a company, Garrett Leight has been doing good things of late. It seems to be a bit of an anomaly in the eye-wear world as one of the few little guys around. The frames themselves have always been intriguing to me, especially the U.S. made collaboration glasses it did with my good friend Mark McNairy.
A while back I happened to be in LA the same week the company’s shop on La Brea opened and I really like how the brand is expressed at retail. It all feels very unique and I have to say that to me it feels like almost everything Garrett Leight touches is impressively done. I had a chance to catch up with Garrett himself and talk to him about Arthur Miller, their shared appreciation of handsome glasses and this new series of short campaign videos. The full conversation is after the jump.
ACL: What was the inspiration behind these spots?
Garrett Leight: Funny enough, I am actually answering this last because it took me a while to think about it. But the true answer is Steve Jobs. That book and further research after reading that book changed me. Yes I’m a designer, but more than that I want to change the world. And even if its just through creating an eyewear brand for now, its important that people know how passionate I am about our designs, our quality, and our business in general. Our whole team is very inspired, so this is just the beginning in terms of showing what kind of people inspire us, specifically in regards to frame design in this case. Furthermore, I was a journalism major, so I love using my words, and I just feel like a video in some ways is more powerful than the photography in our look books, especially with today’s average attention span.