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Gentry

Gentry
If you aren’t familiar with Gentry (the store that is not the magazine), I can’t blame you. “Gentry” only surfaced in relation to a New York retail outlet over the past few months, prior to that, the store which now bears the Gentry name was called H.W. Carter, which is a name that I’m sure many of you are familiar with. Now, as far as I can tell (and of course I could be wrong) the H.W. Carter label, which included both the store and a house line, is gone entirely. I could only speculate on why this occurred, I have heard it had something to do with licensing issues, but who really knows.
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Regardless of why it happened, Gentry has now replaced H.W. Carter, leaving behind a store that never really seemed to understand what it was to begin with. H.W. Carter might have looked like an independent boutique from the outside, but it carried a selection of products that covered too many styles at once, without covering any set style that well. Yet, in a brilliant move (at least thus far) the team behind the shop have hit the reset button. By closing the book on H.W. Carter and redirecting the ship, Gentry now has a chance to bring something significant to the New York market.

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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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Gentry Magazine was the sort of publication that could never exist today.  It was laid out with an obsessive compulsive level of precision, the writing wasn’t the least bit watered down, playing to an educated set that could actually afford the clothes they profiled, and the features were immaculate, bordering on being almost too thorough, as evidenced by the magazine’s famous finishing touches that included fabric swatches and artist’s prints.  At the same time, in a lot of ways Gentry carved out the path for our modern publications.  It wasn’t only about menswear, Gentry also covered music, art, sports, food (James Beard was a frequent contributor), and other more general lifestyle topics, it’s staff understand the importance of imagery in keeping the reader intrigued (their “real life” style photographs seem like a precursor to today’s street style,) and their front covers were an art form all their own.

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