Five Years, Five Things

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.

Vintage Rolex: When I graduated high school my dad passed this watch down to me and since then, there’s barely been a day that’s gone by that it hasn’t been on my wrist. It’s not flashy, the face is dinged up, the band’s been changed countless times, but because of that gesture, I know, no matter what, it’ll be on my left side for years to come.

Woolrich Woolen Mills Shirt Jacket: I bought this my sophomore year of college during my two year stint at Penn State before I transferred to school in the city. This was the first piece of what I consider “real” clothing that I bought after I first got interested in menswear. I was at a school that I no longer wanted to be at, I was beginning to feel really disconnected from my surroundings, and then somewhere along the way I just stumbled upon menswear. With the original Woolrich store less than an hour away, I made the trek and amongst the locals buying oversized flannels I picked up this CPO jacket from Daiki Suzuki’s last year with Woolrich Woolen Mills. It’s not really anything remarkable, in and of itself, but it marks the start.

Pendleton Blanket: A few years back during a trip to Santa Fe my brother gave me this blanket. Since I was little, my family’s made bi-yearly trips to Santa Fe, but when I was younger I loathed traveling out there, partially because I was bored, but mainly because I just didn’t get it. But this trip was one of the first where I actually learned to appreciate the calm and culture of my second home.

Epaulet Cutaway Oxford Popover: This was the first piece of clothing that I’ve ever had a hand, however loosely, in designing. I was working at Epaulet and my coworker Matt wanted to order a custom popover, he asked if I would get in on the order. Off hand I said sure as long as they were cutaway. I’d wanted a popover for a long time but I was looking for something to set it off. Getting that first shirt was proof that I had enough of a sense of my personal style that I could turn it into something real.

Levi’s 501 raw selvedge jeans: Until this past week I’d say that raw denim was something that I never really understood, but a few nights ago, just before Hurricane Sandy made landfall, my
brother and I went out into the storm and it wasn’t until he and I were halfway into a flooded 20th street with the east river pouring over that I realized I was wearing my raw Levi’s. With hopefully a decade of wear still to come, I’ll forever remember that the first fades on those jeans will have been set in by the storm that ripped through New York.

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