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Monthly Archives: July 2013

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“I wish I had a better camera.”

I’ve found myself saying this sentence a lot lately, ever since I decided that shooting film was an expendable expense (sacrilege, I know) and that my iPhone camera would suffice for whatever photos I might to take during the course of a day. But last night at Club Monaco‘s Fall/Winter preview, I felt like I’d been caught in the rain without an umbrella.

I often worry that this site focuses far too much on my aspirations and inspirations, without paying enough attention to my realities. Do I wear bespoke ghurka pants? No. Do I own benchmade white bucks? No. Do I own a Volkswagen Thing, or for that matter, even a car? God, no. Let’s face it, I’m a twenty-one year old living in one of the most expensive cities in the world, and my daily expenses pretty much price me out of ninety percent of what I write about on this site. Which is why if I was being honest, I’d say that Club Monaco is realistically one of the brands that best suits me in my current standing.

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What Aaron Levine and co. have done over at Club Monaco during the past few years is nothing short of remarkable, filling a dual role as interpreter and teacher. I look at Club like a shrewd older brother of sorts, guiding a younger set on what products are actually worth spending our hard earned shekels on, and what pieces are nothing short of passing fads. And the best part of this is that there is no litmus test to shopping at Club – you don’t need to be some twenty-something menswear nerd with enough free hours in the day to scour the internet to find a belted cardigan, all you need to do is pay a visit to your local mall.

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“If a man says he is not afraid of dying, he is either lying or is a Gurkha. And if he’s a Ghurka you can bet he’s wearing some incredible shorts.”

Okay, so maybe I embellished that second sentence a bit (read: made it up entirely) but that original quote by Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw of the British India Army, as well as the India Army following World War Two, nicely sums up the attitude of the Ghurka. They were a fighting force of indigenous Nepalese soldiers that gained notoriety during the Anglo-Nepalese war in 1814. Despite the British victory in that war, officers from the British East India Company Army were so impressed by the Ghurkan’s bravery that they began enlisting their former adversaries to fight for the Queen. Ghurkans were legendary not only for their fearless attitude, but also for their unconventional attire (especially when stacked up next to their British counterparts) which included – you guessed it, those remarkable Ghurka shorts.

Ghurkan soldiers in their signature wide-legged shorts

Of course, back then they weren’t specifically called Ghurka shorts, that name would come later thanks to some crafty marketing by J. Peterman, or Banana Republic, or whichever other late twentieth century outdoor outfitter decided to mass-market the Ghurka short first. Regardless, even as someone that doesn’t currently own a single pair of shorts (a fact I’ve been regretting all summer) Ghurka shorts are impossible not to like. While they’ve been reinterpreted by some designers over the years, traditional Ghurka shorts were constructed from a khaki drill (if you’re not familiar with the history of khaki and India, read up here) and featured what I would call a barrell leg without any taper. I assume the Ghurka favored this thigh opening because it kept the shorts off the skin in the brutal desert heat, and maybe even allowed the occasional breeze to cut up a la Marilyn in The Seven Year Itch.

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Last Saturday I flew out to Chicago to drink a California beer. Ok, so that’s not whole story, I was actually in town for a backyard barbecue to celebrate my uncle’s 60th birthday, an event that just so happened to be laced with a Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’. For my money or in this case, for my cousin’s money) scorching summer days are made for IPA’s, just as unbearable summer mornings are made for IPA breath, and for that matter IPA headaches.

One of my favorite ipas, not just in summer, but year round is Lagunitas’ “umlimited release” Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’. For a 7.5% beer it’s quite drinkable, in fact I’d say dangerously drinkable, packing this pleasant hoppy, yet citrusy flavor that admittedly had me going through bottles a bit too fast.

Fortunately, thanks to the overabundance of craft brew distributors in this country, you don’t have to hop on a flight to grab a sixer of Lagunitas, all you have to do is head to any old corner store. So, what’re you still reading this for? Go grab a Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ for yourself.

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When you’re staring down a figure like 90 years like I was last night at the rooftop party in honor of Samuelsohn’s ninetieth birthday, your mind just naturally starts churning out comparisons. Samuelsohn is well over four times as old as I am. The bar where the event was held is thirty times younger than Samuelsohn. Hell, even the scotch I drank was probably twelve times as young as Samuelsohn.

I was one of the only member’s of the “press” in attendance at last nights event in honor of the illustrious Canadian suit brand’s ninety years of existence, (I was also definitely on the much, much younger side) a fact that I do not share as some of humblebrag, but because it shows the sort of people that actually care enough to show up to a Samuelsohn event.

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Last night, I played the role of outsider, witnessing an event that felt closer to a small town Elks meeting than a market week party. These were shop owners and their families, from across this continent raising a glass to their buddy Samuelsohn, a nonagenarian who has beat the odds to thrive as one of the world’s finest suit manufacturers, even as so many other factories are forced to shutter. 

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Old-time rocking chairs ($350 to $1,000)

Twig brooms ($85)

Rolls of mattress ticking, stone-washed denim and buffalo-check cotton ($35 to $55 a yard)

Flannel shirts ($45 to $97)

Authentic late-19th-century quilts ($575 to $825)

Hooked rugs ($350 to $1,200)

Old postcards ($2.50 each)

New socks ($9 to $16 a pair)

Shearling-lined slippers (about $100 a pair)

Sweaters in American Indian-inspired patterns ($405)

Weather vanes ($425 to $1,200)

Birdhouses ($325 to $550)

No, this isn’t a listing of prices from the latest Brooklyn Flea. These figures actually come from a 1988 New York Times article on the long forgotten “Polo Country Store” which once occupied a corner on the fourth floor of Ralph Lauren’s Rhinelander Mansion (although the article doesn’t use this name) at Madison and 72nd in New York. While Ralph might not have any interest in creating a public archive (something I’ve never been able to understand), the New York Times fortunately does, and it’s there that I came across this incredible article, which quite frankly tells more about the Polo Country brand then I’ve ever read before. Aside from the prices (which really don’t seem to have changed that much over the past two and a half decades, I mean some sweaters still do hover around the $400 mark, although you could definitely tack a 1 in front of those flannel shirt prices), there’s some pretty boastful quotes from Mr. Lauren himself, and a particularly interesting passage on the layout of the store which was inspired by the 1953 Western “Shane” and sounds like it looked very similar to a RRL store. Unfortunately, the one thing the article doesn’t have is photos, but it still provides a fascinating look at Polo Country, a brand that acted as a precursor for so much of what RL is doing today.

Club Monaco's Aaron Levine shot by Liam Goslett for GQ.com

Club Monaco’s Aaron Levine shot by Liam Goslett for GQ.com

There’s no other word for it – this week it’s plain old hot. It’s Serpico in a tunic hot. It’s cook an egg on the pavement faster than you can grab the rest of your omelet ingredients hot. Or as I like to think of it, it’s melt my white buck’s red brick soles into the asphalt hot. While I will admit my own foolishness in wearing (read: sweating through) the same few oxfords all summer long, I like to think that a pair of white bucks somehow balances out my illogical shirt choice, as a shoe that’s smart, in both look and application.

At Pitti Uomo three years ago shot by Tommy Ton

At Pitti Uomo three years ago shot by Tommy Ton for GQ.com

They’re clean, although I think everyone would agree bucks look better dirty, they’re insubstantial, and they go with just about anything, especially in summer when an all white outfit is more acceptable, or when a darker outfit needs a lighter touch. In my opinion they work particularly well with a worn in pair of jeans, a wrinkled cotton blazer, and a sweat soaked oxford. It’s too hot out there to care about perfection, so go beat up your bucks enjoying the heat while you can, because before you know it, that other white stuff will be literring the sidewalks.

 

Pat Boone's bucks

Pat Boone’s bucks

With Zsa Zsa Gabor

“I was following some horses, and I remembered [Porfirio] Rubirosa—who was a flamboyant guy in the period—and it was a really elegant sport. It was a sport of kings.” – Ralph Lauren, Hamptons Magazine.

So, what exactly does it take to be the inspiration behind one of the world’s most iconic brands? Not much, just five wives, diplomatic immunity, scores of Polo accolades, a penchant for fast cars, and a reputation as “The Last of the Famous International Playboys.” When it comes to playboys (a term that used to hold far more value than the a $4.99 tag on a porno mag) Porfirio Rubirosa is still the benchmark. From when he married the daughter of Colonel Trujillo, the Dominican Republic’s brutal dictator, in 1932 to that fateful night in ’65 when he drove his Ferrari head on into a tree trunk to cap off an all night romp in celebration of his Coupe de France polo cup win, Rubirosa was the ultimate mid-century socialite. On one hand he was well-spoken, impeccably dressed, and worldly, and on the other he was also a womanizer, a constant partier, and for lack of a better term – a gold digger, having never worked a true day in his life. Yet to his wives and countless partners, (which included the likes of Zsa Zsa Gabor, Doris Duke, Barbara Hutton, and Ava Gardner just to name a few) he was the ultimate companion – a man who looked like he was born in a suit, and could captivate an entire room.

Zsa Zsa Gabor

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1. Longer Jackets

2. Higher Inseams

3. Knowing when high is high enough

4. Rain loafers.

5. The Kamakura Collar Roll

6. For that matter the classic Brooks Brothers Collar Roll

7. Wicket Shirts

8. Ok, let’s just say Unfused Collars

9. P Johnson’s Driving Shoe

10. Giulio Miserocchi

11. Black Fair Isle Knits

12. Sterling Silver Stamped Navajo Cuffs

13. Patagonia’s New Collection

14. Patagonia’s Old Collection

15. Woolrich Woolen Mill’s Snap T

16. Fishtail Parkas with Suits

17. Double Four in Hands

18. 14 Hope Street, Suite 3A, Brooklyn, NY 11211

19. Wondering Why Levi’s Doesn’t Make A 501 in the US Anymore

20. Milstil

21. Nepenthes x Vans

22. Nepenthes House Brand Button Ups

23. Death To Tennis’ Lining

24. The Simplicity of Barbour x Norton & Sons

25. Rollneck Weather

26. Seersucker Trousers

27. The Backpack Collection at Pilgrim Surf Co. in Williamsburg

28. Italian Made 5 Panels

29. Rugby University Chinos

30. The Ice Sign at Extra in New York

31. 124 Old Rabbit Club

32. Black Knits

33. The Esquire Handbook for Hosts

34. Esky

35. Imagining if Hickey’s survived

36. M Nii’s Surfari Tee

37. Early Steve Martin

38. Cary Grant’s Comfort

39. Cary Grant’s Askew Button Stances

40. Ok, anything Cary Grant

41. George Frazier

42. The National Arts Club

43. Napoleon’s Tomb

44. Made With Rest

45. Lofty Aaron Sorkin Monologues

46. “Molded” Field Notes

47. Hollywood Waistbands

48. Rubinacci’s Pleats

49. Dad Jeans with Mom Rises

50. One and a Half Inch Cuffs

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This Saturday, during the back half of a four day hiatus from the working grind, I decided to travel not to the beach, nor to the mountains, nor to another state even, but over the East River to my new favorite little shop in the whole city. On a particularly sweltering afternoon, I wandered up Greenpoint’s “main drag” Franklin Street, to Bklyn Curated, a storefront that’s a hodgepodge of southwestern jewelry, mid-century modern tsotchkes, sun-faded outdoor gear, and everything in between. I suppose Bklyn Curated, which is owned and operated by Kevin Jacob (who I believe to be the ex-creative director of RRL), is most easily summed up as an antique shop, but I would say that hardly does it justice – taking that first step into Bklyn Curated was like leaping across those 1,968 miles between Greenpoint and Santa Fe in a split second.

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