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Monthly Archives: April 2013

Summeeeerrrrr

A few weeks ago I gave you all “the only photo you’ll need this spring,” but I’ll be honest, I’m already over this season. For the past month or so, we’ve all basked in the warm haze of sun-filled afternoons, only to wake up the next day and discover dreary mornings that call once again for down filled jackets and more than a few layers. I for one feel duped, this is not the tranquil season I was promised after a seemingly never ending winter, this is an inconsistent, insult of a season that makes a mockery out of all spring’s that have come before. Have you had enough of my strained, mid-week prose yet?

Anyways, since I have personally declared this spring to be dead to me, I would like to bypass it as soon as possible and skip straight to summer, which brings me to this photo, which has been occupying crucial real estate in my bookmark bar since I first came across it nearly a year ago. But alas, it’s time to set this image free upon the menswear masses once again. I’m sure you too have seen this photo before, in fact, you probably follow the very Tumblr that I found this photo on to begin with (all credit to Antonio, I only hope we see some elements of this photo in an upcoming collection for a certain brand.) I often begrudge the internet for erasing all traces of a photos actual origin, but here I am guilty of that very act. I couldn’t tell you who took this photo, or where it’s from, but I can give you an overwrought analysis as to why it’s the only photo you need for this summer.

“Says who?”

Says me.

First off, dark shades that actually fit this guy’s face, not swallow it whole. Below that, we have the open, lightweight patterned shirt with lower armholes, and a loosely cut body. It might “anti-fit,” but make no mistake, it still fits. Of course, this guy went with white denim, which I’d say is one of those few “summer staples” that every blogger and magazine back issue says you must own, that you really must own. And hey, his espadrilles actually match his surroundings, which is more than I can say for most people that I see wearing them (myself included of course.) Interestingly enough the look is broken up by an unexpectedly traddy ribbon belt, with what looks like some sort of engine turned buckle on, which leads me to suspect that this fellow is a Connecticut Yankee in Re Arturo’s Piazza.

So there, I just gave you nearly four hundred fifty words on a single photo and I couldn’t even tell you it’s source. Gee, what a long, strange week it’s been.

Ever since I first wrote about the French worker’s jacket back in August, I’ve been on the lookout for one that I could call my own and have as my go-to for spring. Unfortunately for me though, the days of the mythical cheapo hardware store jackets that Cunningham once bought, seem to be long gone, so most of the pieces I come across these days stretch well into the triple digits. I finally caught a break this weekend though, when I stumbled upon the Emperor of Mercia’s eBay store. While the French worker’s jackets that “the Emperor” lists still go for a decent sum (that is once you factor in the twenty-five dollar shipping costs), the store itself is a treasure trove of deadstock workwear, militaria, and moto jackets, with a few nautical pieces and other oddities tossed in there for good measure. It’s the sort of vintage gear you’d expect to find at Brimfield or in the back of some old barn in Brittany, not in an eBay store from East Sussex. Then again, what else is the internet for, but finds such as this.

Interesting Double Breasted Chore Jacket in a houndstooth check

Interesting double breasted chore jacket in a houndstooth check

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John Fiske in Free & Easy

John Fiske in Free & Easy

It’s only been a couple months now since Ralph Lauren decided to close a major chapter in their edition of the preppy handbook by shuttering Rugby after eight uneven years, so it’s tough to say what sort of legacy the brand will have a decade or so from now. Only time will tell, whether or not Rugby will be looked back on will the same kind eyes as Hickey, Nom de Guerre and other bygone millennial brands, but I am happy to see that in the brand’s immediate wake, it’s the style of Rugby’s two torch bearers, Lee Norwood and John Fiske, that’s left the strongest impression. I always felt that Rugby’s concept was best represented not by some long-winded mission statement, or by any individual collection or pieces, but rather by its designers. No one could make the Rugby look seem natural quite like style Norwood and Fiske, and so I’m glad that the brand was immortalized through shots of each guy wearing what Jeff Hilliard informally dubbed “The Rugby uniform.”

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If there ever was a genre for “good ol’ American films,” I have no doubt that The Great Escape would reign boastfully at the top of that list. It’s the ultimate World War Two era drama, pitting a rag-tag team of Allied POW’s against a flock of German soldiers that are at once both clueless and ruthless. Released in 1963, the film is a great piece of Cold War propaganda, using a tale of WWII triumph and sacrifice to remind the viewer that we must always march onward in the face of evil. Aside from its rah-rah patriotism, The Great Escape has long been heralded for its style, especially the epic motorcycle jump courtesy of Steve McQueen during the film’s finale. Of particular note for me though was the knitwear on screen, which was just as varied and roughed up as the film’s characters.

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James Garner’s looking a bit too neat in a rollneck sweater and fresh-pressed pleated pants combo, while standing next to James Coburn in a remarkably threadbare knit

As an interesting aside, it was actually The Great Escape that helped immortalize McQueen as one of Hollywood’s first “superstars,” with all the baggage that comes with such a title. The cast and crew of the film recall McQueen being temperamental at best and impossible at worst, as he drank, screwed, and complained his way through the shoot. Nonetheless, McQueen and the rest of his motley brigade, which included the likes of James Garner and Charles Bronson, still managed to scrap together one of the greatest war movies ever made. If you somehow haven’t seen it yet, I suggest you head over to Netflix and give The Great Escape a watch on the double.

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I’m always shocked when I hear someone boast about not owning a library card. I realize that it’s easy to think that internet has “everything worth knowing” these days, but that’s just ridiculous. Take for example Gentry Magazine, the mid-century menswear magazine that unfortunately has been largely forgotten overtime. There’s only a handful or so articles on Gentry online, and issues can fetch as much as a few hundred dollars on eBay, but I’ve still always hoped to check it out for myself one day, and this past Friday, thanks to my library card, I finally got that chance. The New York Public Library has all twenty-two glorious issues from Gentry’s short six year run, and after spending the day flipping through all of them all I can say is if you ever get a chance, I implore you to head up to the NYPL and read through as many issues as you can. Gentry covered everything from classic literature, to Renaissance art, to Eastern philosophy, to what can only be described as 1950’s street style, and it all comes together as one of the greatest resources for men ever published. While I wish that I could have scanned these issue wholesale, I was able to take a couple hundred pictures of specific details from the magazine that really jumped out to me, and so here are my favorites from that crop.

Buttonless Polo coat with an accompanying fabric swatch

Buttonless Polo coat with an accompanying camel hair swatch

A great pairing of suede chukkas with a two on one double breasted jacket

A great pairing of suede chukkas with a two on one double breasted jacket

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Sleepy Jones

If idle hands are the devil’s workshop, then Andy Spade must be the most godly man in this city. It’s been a couple years since we’ve seen Spade unleash a new project onto the clothed masses, but that hardly means he’s been laying low. Between the Warby Parker flagship store, the Harry’s shaving supplies launch, and a new crop of Target ads, the Partners & Spade machine continues to whir along. And yet somehow, in between all the work that his studio is churning out, Spade and his partners Anthony Sperduti and Chad Buri, have found the time to reemerge into the fashion world on his own, more comfortable terms.

Sleepy Jones1

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Nigel Cabourn Womenswear2

Nigel Cabourn once humbly introduced himself as “supposedly a designer,” but I believe a more fitting title would be “anti-designer.” Perched in his studio way out in the English countryside, Cabourn has been dreaming up pieces for over four decades, drawing most of his inspiration from a collection of three thousand military pieces that he has accumulated over the years.

Nigel Cabourn Womenswear5

 

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The high temperature today is sixty degrees. A couple days ago that figure was in the forties. A week ago we saw temperatures hit the mid-seventies and for all I know a week from now it could either be thirty-two or a hundred-two. Lately, it seems as if the word “spring,” has been rendered meaningless, acting as little more than a taunting memory of a mythical time of year when the weather is actually enjoyable. Or at the very least reliable.

Now I chose to live in this East Coast climate, so I can’t place the blame anywhere except squarely upon myself. But that doesn’t stop me from begrudging the weather gods on those mercurial mornings that make my favorite season seem so far away. Of course, it’s not spring that I’m referring to here, it’s a far more important time of year: popover season. If you’ve been following my work for Esquire.com, you’ll already well aware that there’s something about April and the changing of the weather that restarts my obsession with the half-placket shirt. While the popover’s origins remain nearly impossible to pin down, the shirt was widely documented throughout the mid-century Ivy heyday as a favorite item for Hollywood’s more sartorial minded figures. Yet the most legendary popover moment belongs not to a star of the silver screen, but to a man whose name is inescapable in the sphere of men’s style – Gianni Agnelli.

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On this week’s episode Kyle, Jeff and I delve into the career of Turkish designer Umit Benan Sahin. Since his debut as the “Rising Star” of the Fall 2009 edition of Pitti Uomo, Umit has become somewhat of a folk hero for the young menswear community. In this episode we discuss his ability to meld tailoring with streetwear, his familial influences, and even his tattoos as we try to determine what makes Umit Benan one of the most fascinating figures in modern menswear.

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