Saturday, January 28, 2012

Boxers, not for Boys

I love the idea of buttoned-up underwear. Irony is nice, but looking debonair in and out of your outfit is much more of a feat.

Gässling's Falsterbo button-up boxers, named after a posh area just outside Malmö

Malmö-based Swedish underwear designer Gässling makes underwear for men who have grown tired of teen-boy briefs and want something new. I applaud their attention to detail; for example, the care instructions are printed inside to avoid that annoying tag, and the waistband is covered in fabric for ultimate comfort.

photographs via Gässling

Thursday, January 26, 2012

American Spirit on ASOS

For this year's Future Stylist competition, online mega-retailer ASOS had chosen me to represent American menswear. The theme was "dressing up denim", and I chose to do my interpretation of the Texas tuxedo: double-denim gone surrealist. As seen on this blog multiple times, my favorite way of wearing denim is with more denim, like a cowboy. I topped off the look with saddle-leather shoes and handcuffs for arresting bandits at the saloon. Photographs are by the immensely talented Ashley Dupree.

Number (N)ine sunglasses, Vivienne Westwood x Lee asymmetrical denim shirt, ASOS necklace and jeans, vintage Florsheim shoes

metallic green ASOS handcuff necklace over the Vivienne Westwood asymmetrical collar denim shirt

silk ribbon from the Rivane Neuenschwander installation at the New Museum, Hermés bracelet, Cartier watch

vintage Florsheim longwing brogues, green laces from Hook + Albert

Vote for me here:

Contest ends on Wednesday, the 1st of February.

photographs by Ashley Dupree
clothing c/o ASOS

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Treasured Items: Number (N)ine Monkstrap Creepers

Style Salvage had asked me to contribute to their "Treasured Items" series of posts on the blog, in which I shared my devotion to my Number (N)ine monkstrap creepers. The post had come up a few days ago, and I thought I'd share it with you, my dear readers.

It would render me practically footless if I lost these Number (N)ine monkstrap shoes that I had purchased at the store's closing sale in New York two years ago. The silhouette is of a classic slim monkstrap shoe, but with punk-rock creeper detailing, tough and extremely walkable hard rubber soles by Continental, rendered in ever-wearable dark beige suede. Their era- and style-ambiguity make the shoes as great a base for dark and conceptual Belgian pieces as they would with full-on Americana, and the high vamp provides ample coverage that allows me to wear them even on the deadest day of winter.

I've worn them so much so that the lines are going squiggly and the weave goes gaping open. There is a faint white stain on the left shoe (toothpaste fell; I was brushing in a hurry) that suggests perhaps a bird might have gone to the bathroom on my shoes, but I think I'll keep it on there.

Number (N)ine is now defunct, and though the designer Takahiro Miyashita still brings his artisanal romance to his new line The Soloist, nothing would compare to the dark, theatrical exuberance that was Number (N)ine. In honor of the brilliant designer, I've affixed medal of sorts on one of the shoes: a vintage shoe clip from Kings County Salvage in Williamsburg. I could only hope that the intense brilliance of the rhinestones against the battered, seemingly bird-defiled creepers would be something Miyashita-san would find at the very least, agreeable.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Dandy Project x Meltin' Pot

Italian denim company Meltin' Pot had approached me to collaborate with them and style my favorite pieces out of their fall collection into three looks that I will share with you today. Shooting it was a lot of fun, and a little painful too, I must admit, prancing around the city mid-December jacket-less, and sometimes pants-less as well, but the clothes were Milanese as they come---form-fitting, without a whisper of vanity sizing, and I, ever the diligent blogger-collaborator, wanted to showcase this best I can. Here are the looks, aptly titled for easier comprehension.

The Rodeo Dandy
(Meltin' Pot denim shirt and jeans, Number Nine shoes, vintage cuff, native American watch band on Casio watch)
I wanted to lend an air of dandiness to the rugged double-denim look by slicking my hair back clean, stuffing a pocket square into the shirt pocket, and accessorizing with bold native American jewelry.

a cock-print Eton of Sweden silk pocket square in the pocket of the denim shirt

my Navajo-customized Casio with turquoise and coral

The Seaside Sweater
(Ray-Ban aviator sunglasses, Meltin' Pot navy sweater, vintage DIY cutoff shorts, Gucci shoes)
This chunky navy Meltin' Pot sweater reminded me of country clubs and yachts and the seaside. I paired it with my own vintage white cutoff shorts and classic Gucci loafers.

adorned with a vintage gold tie clip from my mother

a nod to the Italians: Gucci horsebit loafers in green suede and red webbing

The Urban Huntsman
(Ray-Ban aviator sunglasses, vintage cashmere scarf, Thom Browne cardigan, Meltin' Pot olive green pants, vintage Florsheim shoes)
I loved the fabric and fit on these Meltin' Pot olive green pants, and the color reminded me of an urban huntsman. On a stroll around New York City's Central Park, I wore it with a plaid cardigan and a thick Scottish cashmere scarf.

the mix: a plaid cardigan and a cable-knit scarf all under a vintage camel coat with a pin from Old Hollywood and a lapel flower by Hook+Albert

Italy and America

photographs by Mikee Tuason
clothing c/o Meltin' Pot
Meltin' Pot on Facebook

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Jante Law

French-based pan-European brand The Jante Law was one of the clear standouts for me at the men's trade shows; they were all about creating simple, beautiful men's pieces and had a charmingly irreverent attitude towards their work. Rule one, they say, is: "Don't think you're anything special." It's this pragmatic, no-frills approach that drives them to create pieces as beautiful as these.

I immediately gravitated to this marbled grey turtleneck made out of Alpaca-blend yarn. It's big and chunky but feels much lighter than it appears to be.

Continuing my obsession with mint, a loosely fisherman-inspired mint green sweater in Australian wool. Apparently this one is naturally water-repellent and they say it'll be the sweater of a lifetime. Give me this one with loose white cutoffs and floppy beige suede shoes (and perhaps a little family of Hermés weekend bags all in etoupe) and that'll be the sweater of Spring 2012.

photographs via The Jante Law

Friday, January 20, 2012

Mint and Peas

Mint and peas, and a little bit of carrot: the colors I'm crushing on are not quite jewel-toned, not quite neon, but are darned delectable.

pea green suede New Balance ML574 sneakers (c/o ASOS), mint green and periwinkle striped shirt from American Apparel, orange Hermés looping bracelet

It's the island boy in me craving a bit of sunshine, and on select days in the dead of winter, under my padded parka, you just might find me dressed like a cupcake.

On other days, you'd see me all black and wooly and minimal, punctuated by a pop of chunky classic sneaker in a funny color. (New Balance ML574 sneakers and my superwarm supercomfy everyday socks c/o Stance)

Clutch My Heart, Céline

I like the idea of the smaller-than-A4 portfolio bag, or, dare I say, the clutch, on men. It would look as handsome with a dark suit to lunch as it would be with a tailored coat and sneakers running around town. In this day and age of paperless everything, why bother pretend we're carrying around all-important documents when all one really needs on him is lip balm, a Clif bar perhaps, and a handful of other little unmentionables?

Céline iPad portfolio in black and taupe (manipulated photo via Céline)

The Céline iPad portfolio is so plain and nondescript, it could be mistaken for a Filofax, and that's what I adore about it.

Open it up and the leaves of lambskin expand to reveal pockets of buttery beige suede goodness.

Shoot me for jumping on the Céline bandwagon, I dare you---but not before your fingertips meet the bags.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Bag Maker's Project

A few weeks ago, I met this guy at a party at the Soho Grand, a bag designer, and he pulled out his phone and he showed me his stuff, and it was minimal and masculine and elegant---New York is great just like that, filled with brilliant, creative people who make beautiful things. Last week, I paid a visit to Will Lisak, the designer, and while he let me watch him craft a custom-order for a client, we had a little chat about his line ETWAS.

the ETWAS Standard # 1, the company's first bag (photograph via ETWAS)

The bags are elegant and minimal and simply crafted out of thick, sturdy leather. They are certainly heavy, and though the brand has plans of doing bags in lighter, thinner leather, there is a charm in carrying the rugged, thick-skin leather bags that only become more beautiful with age.

Tell us about ETWAS. What do you make, and what makes it different?

ETWAS is premised on the idea that the design of systems has more impact than just designing products. We want to make graceful objects in an equally graceful way, using means of production to reflect and manifest the aesthetic of our customers. When you buy an ETWAS bag you are not only conveying your sentiments through image, your aesthetic will is acting upon the world in more tangible ways.

ETWAS' designer, Will Lisak, at work

What made you shift into crafting bags after working in graphics and illustration?

I never wanted to make fake things. I decided I needed to pursue a project where I had total control and could design every step of the process. It was impossible for me then to tell a beautiful story via the medium of an ugly publishing industry. I'm not creating stories with vast and ephemeral worlds anymore as I was with illustration, but I am creating a small world and small narrative that is very tangible.

Will walked me through a few of the processes involved in making a bag. Holes are pre-punched into the leather before hand-sewing.

The corners on the thick leather are shaved off and rounded for a better hand-feel.

Lisak uses his own vegetable-based recipe to burnish and condition the leather.

Holes on straps are hand-punched as well.

What inspires you?

People. People with inventive ways of living that allow them to enjoy their lives to the fullest. They are the greatest designers.

my favorite piece, the ETWAS light pack in the special rough out black wax leather

The briefcase can be converted into a backpack by simply untucking the shoulder straps from under the flap.

Your bags are simply made and free of embellishments. What are your views on minimalism and design?

I think for what we are doing it is necessary. We are an egalitarian process, our workers are paid well, we are comfortable, but no one is getting rich. It's not a decadent process. It is empowering to the worker, and on the consumer end it is a bit rugged. Our customers are not afraid to get their hands dirty. So it's a bit socialist in that way I guess. There's not much decadence about it. The design needs to be clean then to be honest, and reflect the values of all involved. Not that I'm against decadence. It's just not suitable for this project.

a tote and the toolbag, which was originally designed to carry tools on vehicles, but has captured the fancy of many a menswear-loving woman

hardware finished with a hand-aged patina

I came across this quote on your website: "Consider not only the things we are making, but the things we are destroying." Tell us about your project, and why you choose to work this way.

I think I may have touched on this in the earlier questions, but basically we are interested in creating the most beautiful thing, and I feel it's cheating a bit when you make a beautiful product in an ugly system, which is easier, but you are making the world uglier at the same time as you are making something beautiful, so you're stuck. Not having much impact, just moving things around. I want to make the world less distasteful.

a sketch of a custom-designed duffel bag for a Canadian client

What are your plans for the future?

Our major plan is take advantage of our means of production in another way--because we are manufacturing ourselves we don't have to place large factory orders, and therefore do not have to standardize so much.

trying out a new mechanical (electricity-free) hand-sewing machine for the possibility of offering a line of machine-sewn bags at a lower price point

I want to make a line of bags that is scaleable, where customers and stores can alter the dimensions to their liking though an online interface. There is a lot of potential in giving people a little freedom, and no one else is really doing anything like this.

Will Lisak, Williamsburg, 1/11/12

ETWAS bags are available here.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Chest Action at Prada Fall 2012

My eyes went straight to the models' chests at Prada Fall 2012: I saw stick pins in twos, napkin-like pocket squares, leather flowers stuffed into pockets, and other goodies. Prada might possibly be the most directional and influential mainstream luxury brand in the market, and if this means in the next few years we'll be seeing men with suits creatively adorned, I'm all for it.

football and pistol stick pins, and what looks to be a gray saffiano leather card case worn as a pocket square

more Prada stick pins: a crown and a sword

Prada stick pins on impeccable Edwardian-dandy suits that buttoned up high

a purple leather carnation stuffed into the chest pocket

the leather flower with a napkin and a pen

creative chest stuffing at Prada

So where is the pre-order link?

photographs via NOWFASHION

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

DIY: The Deer Antler Razor

I've been pretty lean on the DIY posts as of late, and let me tell you why. One can only cut up and metallicize so many shorts and paint-splatter so many shoes before it just gets old; I can't sew, and neither can so many of the creative, stylish men who read this blog. This is why I've decided to branch out into do-it-yourself projects that go beyond just fashion and bring you easy and charmingly odd DIY projects that help you embody the dandy lifestyle. Today, I thought I'd give a facelift to one of the items a well-groomed man makes use of everyday: the razor.

small deer antler from Evolution, Gillette Mach 3 razor

Shaving is one of the everyday activities that makes us feel manly; it is in the upkeep, or lack thereof, of facial hair that reminds us that our bodies produce hormones that make us grow beards, and not breasts. And so I thought manly.. huntsman.. taxidermy.. antlers---let me make a shaving razor handle out of deer antlers! I purchased a piece of deer horn at the Evolution "Natural History" Store in NYC, took my old Gillette Mach 3 razor, and got to work.

I went to the nearest hardware store and had the kind fellows there saw the antler and the razor handle at points I marked. (EDIT: You can very easily do this step yourself with a clamp and a hacksaw.) As you can see, I had the antler cut on two points. I mocked the razor connector up on both the thicker and the skinnier segment, and decided I liked the heft and the organic detail on the thicker base piece so I decided to go with that.

Sawing left the edges rather rough,

so I sanded the ends of both pieces. On a rough emery cloth first to get rid of the splinters,

then on finer sandpaper to smoothen everything out.

I then applied Super Glue to the cut end of the razor connector. It would be wise at this point to have removed the razor blade cartridge from the connector; you wouldn't want to be holding on to the sharp blade during the quick motions of applying the glue and pressing the pieces together as the glue quickly dries.

To strengthen the bond, I added a little more glue to the edges of the razor blade connector.

I re-affixed the razor blade cartridge, and behold, my handsome new urban-huntsman deer antler razor. I love how the wild, organic shape of the deer antler flows into the iconic smooth steel lines of the metal razor.

with my two new favorite bathroom products: Buckler's Chapped Skin Remedy--a thick, hearty skin moisturizer perfect for combatting winter dryness, and Lab Series Root Power Restorative Style Wax--the lightest, subtly shiny hair wax for those days when you want to give your hair a break from heavy product and just let it hang loose with minimal control

Happy shaving.

Special thanks to Ivy for her words of encouragement and her abundance of taxidermy.

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