As you can probably tell today’s post is on a bit of a delay. I wrote the first draft this morning in my notebook at a deli about twenty blocks from my apartment amongst scores of people fleeing the dead zone of downtown, and here I am finalizing it and posting this from a Starbucks five blocks from the bus station where I’m picking up a ride down to my hometown in an hour. As Hurricane Sandy moved in on Monday night, I quickly became one of the quarter of all New Yorkers that’s now stuck in the darkness with no end in sight. Fortunately I was able to book a bus out of the city today, and as I was getting my stuff together this morning I soon learned that there’s something undeniably eerie about packing and leaving a pitch black city. As overly dramatic as it might seem, it’s tough not to think about value during a moment like this. I choose this week’s theme based on a question: what is it about a product that makes it permanent? And so, as I packed I thought of the five things that I would consider concrete in my life, and from there I thought of two more “fives”. These five things, that I’ve picked up over the past five years are the things that I would hope to still be there in my wardrobe in five years. It’s not because they’re my favorite pieces or what I wear the most, it’s because all of these things have some value that is derived not from how they look or their cost, but because they both represent and shape a part of who I am.
Kevin Burrows was the one I didn’t see coming. When news broke on the identities of the pair that co-created Fuck Yeah Menswear, the National Lampoon meets Naked Lunch meets Aquemini of the menswear world, I wasn’t surprised that Lawrence Schlossman, arguably the loudest voice of this movement, was one of the collaborators on the project, but I can say that I never would have guessed that Kevin Burrows would be the other half of the duo.
Kevin works as a production coordinator for Dreamworks animation by day, but on the side he runs The Windmill Club, an L.A. based label that began as a tie company but is now branching out into other designs. I’ve never met Kevin before, but as any blogger in this day and age I was certainly familiar with The Windmill Club, and with the Fuck Yeah Menswear book launch just about a week away, I was quite intrigued by the chance to interview Kevin about not only his endeavors, but menswear in general. In our two hour conversation I realized that Kevin is one of the most intelligent and opinionated minds I have come across so far in this world, but it’s no wonder that he was he’s part of the team behind the wit and snark that made FYMW famous.
Jazz is the untamable offspring from the turn of the twentieth century. Fueled by the ever-escalating emotions of Blues, Ragtime, Swing, and Dixieland all swirled together, Jazz erupted onto the scene throughout the Southern U.S., riding an uptempo whirlwind of inspiration and improvisation. It was birthed from all the sounds and songs that preceded it, but where Jazz really came from was the gut, a free-flowing genre that ebbed and flowed with the mercuriality of the artist. As volatile as it was beautiful, early Jazz gave a howling voice to those that had been silenced for far too long. America was in flux, and Jazz was the beast that ran wild across the ever-evolving streets of this country. As the Prohibition Era was ushered in, Jazz became the soundtrack for revelry and sheer joy in the face of suppression and flat out boredom. It was the music of the passionately misunderstood, and the understandably passionate, played by those who couldn’t find the words to express themselves, but could certainly find the notes.
A couple weeks back, as I was digging through the Bengal Stripe’s archives (which while unfortunately retired, is still as relevant and well-written as ever) I found this piece by Nico about graduating school and moving away from the “scholarly look.” Nico’s lament about moving forward into the working world spurred a realization that for me the opposite has been true.
Walking into the L.B.M. 1911 showroom this past week, I had one question on my mind: what happens after the hype? When the unstructured wave hit menswear in full force a couple years back, L.B.M. was perfectly positioned. Accessible, well-made, and designed to meet the demands of a younger audience that suddenly wanted to wear jackets, L.B.M. quickly became one of the most talked about menswear brands. The kicker with L.B.M. though was that unlike say Brunello Cucinelli or Thom Browne, the twenty-something bloggers that were writing about the brand, were actually wearing their jackets too.
End of Summer. Early Fall. New York. Vegas. New York again. Leftovers. Keepers. Ephemera and Memories.
A week ago, I sat down at a bar in the West Village for a long overdue drink with a friend. Amongst the white table cloths, worn oak bar, and dusty glass bottles of Cafe Loup I asked him what he’d been up to, and he said, “A lot of this,” motioning to sitting at a bar and simply talking with a friend. I don’t know if it was his sentiment or the setting but reminded me of the creatives of the past. Writers and artists that we all claim to be our heroes, who were never as constantly connected we are, but instead where granted the luxury of time, the freedom to just call up a friend and talking nonsense.
The Beat Generation and the New York School inhabited city haunts like the The Cedar Tavern and The White Horse Tavern while over in Europe, Picasso, Hemingway and their respective crews frequented Parisian locales like Henry’s New York Bar and La Rotonde as a way to let their current ideas breathe, while all the while formulating new new ones. These men and women would pass the hours in bars, talking, smoozing, socializing, but more importantly they were simply getting drunk. Leaving their work was a way to stimulate it all over again.
A few weeks back while I was writing my post about chunky cardigans, I stumbled upon the above photo of Steve McQueen, which has come to redefine my notion of “the quintessential fall outfit.” At first glance it’s nothing more than a simple navy cardigan and khakis, yet it’s McQueen’s chocolate suede chukkas that have this shot so memorable to me. The search for a pair of fall boots can be a struggle. On one end of the spectrum sits the lot of burnt red workwear boots that everyone seemed to pick up in the fall of ’09, while on the other we have more formal dress boots that evoke connotations of British imperialism and Downton Abbey Halloween costumes. Then of course, positioned squarely in the middle are Clarks Desert Boots, a reliable yet all too predictable route that seem to be an essential item for any teenager kid’s “menswear” starting kit these days.
After a seemingly never ending, on again off again Indian summer, this past week has finally felt like the proper arrival of Fall. Well that is until I woke up this morning and saw temperature climb back into the seventies. While I for one welcome the cold with open arms, the one fall phenomena that I just can’t get beyond is the Barbour coat monotony that has hit our city with more force than a nor’east wind.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Barbour’s, in fact my trusty Barbour x Tokito jacket is sitting next to me right now, but it’s the inescapable olive green quilted Barbour Bedale and it’s equally as unavoidable brother, the Beaufort that seem to be the only winter coat options on earth right now. I don’t resent Barbour in the least, they’re one of the greatest outerwear companies of all time, and if everyone in this city seems to be fascinated by their jackets, it’s with good reason. As one of the first heritage brands to get a big co-sign from pretty much everyone in the blogosphere, Barbour’s hundred year history of made in England outerwear has been told and retold countless times.
Over the past few months, as this site has grown, I’ve been constantly kicking around the idea of producing something with the Wax Wane label that people would actually want and be able to get some wear out of. Anything lofty like shirts, or jackets, was just out of the question, and something as simple as a tee just didn’t seem to reflect what I write about on here, so I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to find anything, until my brother proposed an Ebbets Field hat. Founded in the late eighties by Jerry Cohen, Ebbets Field produces quality, made in the USA jerseys and hats that reflect the spirit of the early days of baseball.