To celebrate its first birthday the menswear site East Dane has tapped a group of designers to create a 24-piece collection of exclusive clothing that you can’t find anywhere else. Which basically amounts to birthday gifts for you — the way things should be. As part of this anniversary collection you’ll find one-off items from stalwart UK brands like Grenson and Mackintosh right alongside the likes of AXS Folk Technology, Gitman Bros Vintage, Golden Bear, Patrik Ervell (which might be the coolest piece of this collection; pictured above) and more. It’s a capsule that encompasses a variety of different brands, from America, Japan, U.K., Italy and beyond into a single stylish expression. East Dane Fashion Director Jonathan Evans helped to steward this anniversary collection and helped to guide these collaborations into a stylish and approachable place — where East Dane resides so naturally. Evans actually says it best. “It’s just really cool stuff that guys can easily fit into their wardrobes.” And we’re on board with that.
“Nothing can be precious.” That’s how Aaron Levine, the Vice President of Men’s Design at Club Monaco, sums up his personal style, but during our discussion I came to realize that this was actually how Aaron views his work as a whole. Club Monaco is no longer the small brand it once was, yet Levine continues to steer the ship as if it were a schooner, and not a barge. He forges ahead, taking the brand into uncharted territory, while all the while maintaining the balance of the brand so as to not tip the whole thing over.
Sure, Levine’s time at (comparatively) smaller labels like Rogue’s Gallery, Hickey, and Jack Spade has certainly influenced this agile approach, but Levine seems to revel in the actual work that goes into creating each collection. Club Monaco (who we should say, is a client of Paul + Williams) has evolved significantly in the three-plus years that Levine has been at the company, but he still finds himself squarely in the trenches, and there’s no other place he’d rather be. We spoke with Levine about this design approach, the way in which menswear has changed, Club’s Made in America initiatives, and even Belgian Shoes.
ACL: You’ve been designing for Club Monaco for three years now, in that time how do you think men’s design has changed at the brand overall?
Aaron Levine: Overall, men’s design has changed in the last, it’s almost three and a half years now, it has changed in that time in terms of, we have upgraded fabrics, we’ve upgraded materials, we’ve upgraded trim, we’ve upgraded and recalibrated fits, and then on top of everything we have cleaned up and edited and honed the aesthetic. So, it really has grown up over the last three and a half years.
ACL: With you saying that about better materials, better quality, and considering your background was at smaller brands at a time when quality became really important, is that something that guides your design at the start?
AL: No. You accrue information and you hone your eye and hone your abilities as you get older and the longer you do it. I think sometimes maybe that’s the starting point, it’s definitely thought of, but I think in terms of when I first sit down and I start to develop a collection, I start at the top with what I want it to say overall. And then as you get into it there are places where you’re pushing more experimental pieces and then maybe there’s places where you’re pushing superb quality, like in tailored clothing.
Book/Shop was founded by Erik Heywood in Oakland, California back in 2007 as a way to showcase and sell his substantial collection of used and rare books. For years, Heywood’s shop remained comfortably in California, with the occasional pop-up elsewhere, but earlier this summer Book/Shop officially found an East Coast home at New York’s C.H.C.M. Tucked in the corner of C.H.C.M.’s Bond Street store, the Book/Shop permanent pop-up will feature a rotating selection of art books, as well as hard-to-find texts of all sorts. These books were no doubt picked as much for their design as for their subject matter, and their arresting covers are the perfect compliment to C.H.C.M.’s sharp space.
At this point, modern air travel is so unpleasant, so inconveniencing, so downright annoying that talking about it almost seems pointless, like shouting into a jet engine. If there is one positive to be extracted from all of our collective airline agony, it’s that it forces us to reflect upon a time when air travel was not only enjoyable, but dare I say, sexy. Shows like Mad Men, and movies like Catch Me if You Can play into our rosy-eyed curiosity with mid-century air travel, portraying well-heeled passengers, sociable stewardesses, and those beautiful modernist concourses. Airports of today are drab reminders of just how far you are from home, but in the early decades of air travel these buildings were sleek, shiny shrines to the future. The terminals that serviced America’s larger cities at this time were designed to not only help carry passengers from point A to point B, but also to reflect the progressive spirit of commercial air travel, which had really only taken off (no pun intended) in 1958 with the advent of the Boeing 707. So buckle up, make sure your seat backs and tray tables are in their full upright position, and travel back in time with us to the golden age of the American airport.
On the left side of the Battenwear showroom hangs a vintage elementary school map of the United States, with each adjoining state painted in a different shade. You might recall a hanging such as this from your childhood days behind the desk, but in Battenwear’s showroom the map appears less like an educational artifact and more like a representative collage of America’s distinct yet interconnected territories. I tend to think of Battenwear in similar terms, as a brand that revels in the open flow of American style while celebrating regional quirks.
“Go west, young man.”
In 1851 John Babsone Lane Soule coined this phrase in reference to the “Manifest Destiny” seekers of the mid-nineteenth century, but his words were still ringing out over a century later as America’s hippified denizens made the pilgrimage to San Francisco. From the Gold Rush onward, San Francisco had been a proverbial land of opportunity for this country’s itinerant masses, a place for like-minded misfits to come together and find acceptance. While this atmosphere has now unfortunately spawned the monoculture of Silicon Valley, the vibrant and volatile spirit of the sixties still burns on.
Portland, Oregon has benefited tremendously from its proximity to the great outdoors of the Pacific Northwest and the vast supply of creative minds who call Rip City home. That must be why the city can boast such an amazing group of outfitters who make clothing and gear there, Nau and Snow Peak among them. While Nau works to infuse function into our everyday lives with a subtleness very rarely seen, Snow Peak has done its best to gear-up every well-to-do camper around with everything from stoves to titanium sporks — an invention which has taken the tiny details to new heights. Recently these two cross-town brands have come together to create a range of clothing which embodies Nau’s love for subtle yet functional design and Snow Peak’s fixation with the little details. The capsule collection was created to seamlessly move with you from your everyday life to places far and near. Nau’s GM Mark Galbraith said it best. “The ‘Portland meets Tokyo’ concept we’ve developed stays true to each brand’s heritage, while giving opportunity to demonstrate a refined modern outdoor aesthetic we both value.”
The collection is heavily influenced by Japanese aesthetics and the importance of both function and mobility. The collection (which consists of both mens and womens clothing and outerwear) is centered on several key pieces including the Checkmate shirt (with easily-accessible and understated zip pockets), the Felt Over Sweater (A fine micron New Zealand merino wool pullover that has been felted to be almost impervious to the wind), the Welter Motil Pant (hidden cell pocket and all) and lastly the breathable but water shielding Hokkadio jacket.