- Hypothermia on a fishing trip inspired Eddie Bauer’s first down jacket. [Mental Floss]
- Inside a Porsche engine factory. [Sploid]
- An oldie but a goodie. A look at Brunello Cucinelli’s Solmeo HQ. [Bon Appetit]
- All sorts of crazy 1950s images from Area 51. [Imgur] [Pictured]
- Off Duty breaks down the fashion world’s obsession with Patagonia. [Wall Street Journal]
I tend to believe that you can’t fully know a person until you meet their friends. The company we choose to keep says a lot, often more than we ever can individually, about who we are as people. On a still, late July evening I found myself considering this as I glanced around Nepenthes, Engineered Garments pseudo-flagship store in Manhattan’s Garment District. The store, despite it’s out of the way location, was teeming with people. A cheery swirl of English and Japanese chatter overpowered the shop’s post-punk soundtrack as pockets of friends conversed beside the racks.
Standing on the second story loft looking down at the gleeful guests below, I realized that this was what has made Engineered Garments such a crucial brand, not only for menswear in America at large, but for me as an individual. The event was organized to celebrate the debut of Engineered Garments Spring/Summer ’15 collection, and fifteen years after the brand’s founding, people of all backgrounds, of all styles, of all occupations, were still gleefully gravitating toward the brand.
If imitation is the highest form of flattery, than we’re a pretty flattering bunch. Even in 2014, decades after their respective primes (and in many cases, decades after their deaths) it’s still the icons – the McQueens, the Redford’s, the Newman’s, the Caine’s, et al. that we look to for our sartorial cues. It’s these erstwhile icons that we return to time and time again when we’re citing everything from sneakers to suits to smirking glances. The cause and effect(s) of our rear-view vision are a topic for another time (don’t want to exhaust our bandwidth for this month too soon) but what’s most curious about this backwards perspective is the way in which certain venerable trends rise while others sink like a remake of Alfie.
What is it about bucket hats, shawl collar sweaters, and three-roll-two jackets that made them so popular, while ascots, cowboy hats, and spectator shoes never really caught on again? Sure, there’s the simple fact that most successfully resurrected styles are easy to wear, while those that remain in the past would be considered a bit too ostentatious for contemporary wear. But, what about the turtleneck then?
In the year or so since Agyesh Madan left his position as Product Development Manager at Isaia he’s been busy collecting. Not clothing, the predictable pursuit for a man with Agyesh’s pedigree (to his credit Agyesh describes his personal wardrobe as miniscule) but passport stamps. Born into a military family, Agyesh moved constantly as a child, and he’s carried that transient spirit into his adulthood with recent trips to places like China, India, and Italy. It’s the Italian stamp which I imagine takes up the greatest chunk of Agyesh’s passport. While at Isaia, Agyesh’s frequent trips to Italy to meet with factories and fabric suppliers fostered within him a deep appreciation for the tactile side of clothing design. Since leaving the Napoli based brand last year, Agyesh’s infatuation with all forms of manufacturing has manifest itself in Stoffa, the all Italian-made accessories label which he launched late last month.
Agyesh was friendly with some of the factories that he partnered with for Stoffa from his time at Isaia, but he says that he found many of them by simply driving through the Italian countryside on weekends. These factories are like playgrounds to Agyesh, who despite his formal training (he holds a degree from Parsons) derives the most joy from simply holding a piece of fabric in his hands. He tells me that at Isaia, the actual “design” of a collection took just about a week. The rest of his time was spent in factories, sifting through yarns and studying different production techniques.
Inflation hurts. If you’ve bought a car, or a house, or hell even a regular ol’ cup of coffee lately, you know all too well that a dollar just doesn’t go as far as it used to. And never is this more true than with sweaters. Yes that’s right, sweaters. Or really, just one sweater: the J. Press Shaggy Dog. There was a time, a time that now seems mythical, when you could buy a Shaggy Dog for under a hundred bucks, and I don’t even want to think about how little JFK, or John Updike, or even George H.W. Bush paid for their Shaggy Dogs back in the day. Now, I’m not a complete economic nincompoop and I completely understand that prices rise naturally with time, but Shaggy Dogs now clock at $230 full retail (to be fair they are currently on sale for $172.50), and quite frankly that price hurts.
With all the rules and lists and “wear this, don’t wear that” articles that get lobbed our way, it’s easy to forget that clothing should never be taken too seriously. If what you’re wearing doesn’t make you smile, then you’re probably doing something wrong. Sometimes though, we all need to be reminded of this, and so in the spirit of fun, let’s give it up to the ol’ raccoon coat. As a staple of East Coast style that popped up during the roaring twenties, the raccoon coat is ostentatious, gaudy, and downright fun. Undergrads wore them on game day and blue bloods tossed them over their tuxes. The raccoon coat said, “I’m dressed better than and I know it.” Just look at these guys, they’re dressed ridiculous, and they’re loving it. As styles have changed, today that message reads more like, “I’m trying way too hard to be Jay Gatsby,” but at least we have these photos to remind us that if you’re having fun, you can pull off just about anything.
2014 was a big one for me – bought our first house, a new baby boy arrived in August, I quit my band after a decade of touring and started a new business. With all this change I found myself doing lots of grown-up (i.e. old man) things – cleaning gutters, walking dogs, changing diapers, working long hours and a fair bit of fishing as well. As the new year begins I took stock of the items I use every single day and this is the list I came up with – no sponsors, no pretense – just the stuff that got used and gets used all the time. —Al James
Normally I would say leave well enough alone, but Yvon Chouinard and his Patagonia crew tinkered with their already awesome Nano Jacket and made it better. The Nano-Air has the same lightweight, super-warm design, but now it has a little stretch in the fabric and the texture of the material is much better – softer and lighter. It’s still water-resistant and breathable like the original Nano, but the fit and feel is far superior. This is my go-to for layering up on a steelhead trip, trail running in the elements and for walking the dog every morning and night in the Oregon rain and cold.
When you marry a Mainer you have to resign yourself to the fact that there’s going to be a lot more maple syrup in your life. When our secret stash of Maine Grade D black tar syrup ran out, I started looking for another source and came upon Bobo’s Mountain Sugar. It’s a small family farm run by Tina Hartell and Skye Chalmers in Weston, Vermont and they make fantastic maple syrup. Their tagline is “A Taste of Tree” and it’s right on the money. Their grade B syrup (Dark and Robust) is smoky, earthy and flavorful – suitable for pancakes, granola bowls or (my favorite) after-dinner shots.
I wrote about my Tudor Heritage Ranger back in July and any doubts I may have had about owning and wearing an automatic watch have been abandoned. I love putting this watch on every day and I reference the Heritage Black Bay for this list because that would be the next watch I buy. Like everyone else I dig a Rolex Submariner, but a Tudor Heritage Black Bay with snowflake dials just says something different.