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Dressing for inconvenience

I like my travel like I like my social media: authentic. So obviously, when I spend £250 on a pair of train tickets, what I’m looking for is a service that runs over 30 minutes late and is so rammed I have to stand for three hours next to some broken toilets. There’s nothing more authentically British than a piss-poor train journey.

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Capitalistic guilt? Ecological dread? Or just too many clothes?

A few notable things happened yesterday.

While at Shoreditch House I yanked and yanked at a sliding metal door until my face went red, only to have a staff member explain that what I’d taken to be access to the swimming pool was in fact welded shut. Looking at my phone on the train home, I found that because I was once distracted by a video of a gurning loon jumping into a gorge attached to an elastic rope, Instagram is now feeding me endless videos of gurning loons jumping into gorges attached to elastic ropes. To cap it off, when I arrived home, there was a fox sitting on my doorstep eating a Swiss roll.

Perhaps for you, none of this is especially noteworthy. However, once I’d shooed the fox away and shovelled its dirty pudding into the bin, I came to a completely unrelated but nevertheless important realisation.

I’ve reached peak clothing.

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Too much of a good thing?

Entry-level pieces present a conundrum for the menswear compulsive. On the one hand they’re an affordable way of adding some freshness to your rotation. On the other, you risk bumping into someone else wearing the same thing, which as we know is medically proven to lead to deep vein thrombosis. Read More

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A sense of impending doom, with sarcastic interludes

My girl is away in New York on business  — a whirl of fashionable meetings in Soho House and dinners at The Wythe. I am at home in Peckham watching Richard Osman’s House of Games.

I’m not jealous. No actually, I am jealous. I’m scrolling through Linkedin looking for a new job, she’s shopping in Williamsburg. I’m writing metres of cover letters, she’s pinging me lists of celebs she’s spotted.

I mean, yes, she’s got a great job, one I’m uniquely unqualified for. And yes, she works incredibly hard and has a positive can-do attitude, qualities that make me feel queasy. But even so, it just seems fundamentally unfair.

I decided to watch Richard Osman, the massively successful presenter, author and TV personality, to get some inspiration. I thought that studying a dude at the top of his game might provide me some insight into what it takes for me to realise my personal ambitions. Twenty five hours of simplistic word games and ironic prizes later, I have learned nothing. Other than my geography is shocking.

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The beans on toast of jackets

Fitted down jackets, contoured to the body, often with a hood. Much like anything featuring Jamie Laing or rabies, they are to avoided at all costs.

We all know the media is rarely critical of clothing  — everything has to be wonderful because the advertising department says so. But I don’t have that problem. I can tell it like I see it. And besides, I’m often asked by non-menswear obsessives for a steer that doesn’t require the complexities of a Japanese proxy service, so here goes…

If you are considering buying a Uniqlo Ultra Light Down Parka or any garment that looks even vaguely like one, don’t. If you already own one, give it to someone, anyone, donate it to charity, give it to Coats4Calais, just get it out your house.

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643 hours of theatrical sighing

For me 2022 has been diabolical. A full-tilt shit of a year. One that’s made me mourn for the comparative certainty of lockdown. 

Mostly I’ve been looking for a new job. Which, it turns out, involves more work than an actual job, but for 100% less money. Worse still, it means spending day after day on Linkedin. Navigating an endless loop of humble-bragging and pound-shop euphoria in the hope that someone’s looking to hire a professional grouch. 

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A shame of two halves

Regular readers will be familiar with my antipathy towards football. Never been into it. Grubby, shouty, boring. I’ve spent my life telling anyone who’ll listen how rubbish football is. But yes, the carpet bombing of peak time broadcasts and daily articles arguing whether Foden or Bellingham is better at kicking stuff have claimed another victim.

I’m now watching the football.

Prior to the Goal Cup I was surprised so many people were vocal about Qatar’s medieval human rights record, yet no one seemed bothered that we were all about to be subjected to weeks of blokes jogging about on a big field before pretending to fall over.

But the thing is, I needn’t have worried. After a lifetime of dodging anything soccer shaped, I’ve finally discovered what football really is and why so many people love it.

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Seven things you can live with without, but maybe it’s better not to

Quite by accident, I recently found myself trying to cross through Oxford Circus just as the Christmas lights were being switched on. The crowds were terrifying. It was like trying to squeeze through a Spartan phalanx made of Adidas Gazelles, H&M bags and iPhones. It’s hardly surprising we haven’t solved the climate crisis, the rise of the far right or the economy, we’re still a race bewitched to a standstill by a string of coloured bulbs.

Yup, it’s mid-November again. An awkward time for the clothing enthusiast. Late-season pieces are still dropping, but you know the sales are around the corner. It’s a weird liminal space, neither one thing or the other: pulling the trigger on a purchase can feel frivolous, but what if the piece you want sells out before discount time? What’s worse being broke or missing out? Plus of course, the festivities are incoming, and with them the joyous inconvenience of having to buy other people stuff.

Being too into clothing is both a delight and a curse.

In an attempt to draw pleasure from the idea of appreciation rather than ownership, here’s a round-up of pieces that have caught my eye but not (yet) my wallet.

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Whine of inquiry

Life at the apex of modern menswear is not without its challenges.

New shoes that start to rub ten yards out the door. Realising you’re the only one dressed like a Pyrenees goat herd at the leaving drinks. Stuff on websites that is clearly wrongly priced  — £190 for a pair of £40 socks, sort your life out Très Bien. And of course, as recently discussed, the crushing obligation to buy something in an austere boutique.

The Raisin Bran of style always has a couple of flies in it.

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A wasting disease

I know I’m grinding my teeth. My eyes are darting about like panicked flies. I can’t stand still. My head is boggling with mental arithmetic. I want to boot up the HSBC app, but I can’t. Not here.

I’m in a small but expensive shop and I’ve been strolling around for a while. A while turns into a dawdle, then a linger and it now feels like a loiter. A loiter with intent? How did I let this happen? I now feel obliged to buy something. I don’t want to buy anything. But I know it’s going to happen.

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Comme des Garçons SHIRT: such exquisite agony

For me this is the only shirt that matters. I won’t call it the shirt of the season, as the very concept of weather is now cryptic and any day now Putin or Xi Jinping will probably drop a dustbin of nukes on Leicester Square  — seasons as we know them may fucked. I’ll simply say that in my opinion this is the best shirt for this minute and leave it at that.

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Rosé doomsday

Something about a nine litre bottle of Whispering Angel. Someone says, “calanques.” An endless coach ride. Irregular paving stones. A fountain chatters in the darkness. Waiting for the lift. Why is the carpet covered in Tyrells?

There’s a nobility in drunkenness. Particularly in France. But it’s a lot harder to get absolutely conkered than you might think. It requires serious commitment.

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Tackling the big questions

Before we get started, it would be remiss of me to allow the country’s deep sadness to pass without comment. I confess, it hit me quite hard. When the news reached me of Studio Nicholson’s collaboration with Zara well… Perhaps we all just need to take a moment.

Today we’re looking at Japanese brand Softhyphen who produce clothes that look a lot like Sacai. They’re more affordable than Sacai, but virtually unheard of in the UK. 

I’m not sure if that makes Softhyphen cooler than Sacai or not? But let it never be said I’m scared to tackle the big questions. 

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Another nincompoop who did nothing except take pictures of himself

I know I can be prone to a mildly nihilistic outlook. But everywhere I turn these days, the spectre of tragedy is prodding me with his scythe.

One minute the world is going to burn, the next drown. Capitalism, it is broadly agreed, will be the death of us, which is apparently inconvenient as there are loads more NFTs to mint. A bag of crisps costs the same as a car. My corner shop is now offering an instalment plan on a loaf of Warburtons Seeded Batch. There are over 100,000 vacancies at the NHS. We’ve got Liz Truss and Ukraine and Pakistan and on top of it all NASA’s forgotten how to launch a rocket.

Even those at the top are hurting. Spare a thought for the gas and electric barons, you could get a nasty paper cut sorting through all those bin bags of cash.

I’m yet to figure out what role an individual motivated entirely by menswear should play in this apocalypse? When I’m being shot at by guerillas and my arm is on fire, does it matter if my Undercover tee is a couple of seasons old? Will Mr Porter‘s swimwear selection be more or less popular when half of London is underwater?

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Bognor Egregious

It’s been a minute. Sorry about that, I completely forgot who I am and what I’m meant to be.

The pitiless inferno that’s been roasting us all alive has incinerated my personal style. I no longer know what to wear, when or even how. I leave the shower, pull on a pair of pants (Palace CK1) start sweating again and immediately want to flay my skin off with a cheese slice. There should be a law against this kind of heat. I’ve been to parties in shorts (formally a complete no-no) I’ve left the house without a jacket (unheard of) and (don’t hate me) I wore a pair of sandals without socks. I was on a beach, but even so.

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New job, same temptations

In a previous missive I revealed I’d been watching too many films. Although that’s not the half of it. I deliberately didn’t mention all the TV I’ve also been watching, for fear of appearing even more of a social inadequate than I doubtless am. But the truth is, both my girl and I constantly OD on TV.

This came to a head the other night when, after gobbling up a particularly icky docu-series, my girl got up in the middle of the night to go to the loo and was genuinely scared she was going to be attacked by Ghislaine Maxwell.

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Transparently affected clownery

It’s a blazer, but with buttons up the back. I like what Engineered Garments have done with the trusty Bedford for winter. Assuming we ever have winter again.

Like much of the population I spent the last few days hiding from the sun  — curtains drawn, regular cold showers, a fist of Mint Magnums in the freezer. If this is the beginning of the end of days, if ecological imbalance truly is mankind’s Great Filter moment, it’s helpful to see the right-wing rags making light of it by calling anyone who doesn’t fancy being burned alive a ‘snowflake‘. Stop whinging peons, if Prince Charles can keep his tie on, just carry on working and spending.

The threat of armageddon is dwarfed by our own stupidity.

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Bad language, good bediquette

I do enjoy hearing younger generations taking pieces of our language and making them their own. It’s almost as much fun as hearing older people awkwardly try to copy it.

I’m feeling (desperately hoping) ‘smashed it’ is finally losing its momentum. Although the equally hideous ‘you got this’ appears now to be in the ascendancy. ‘Them’s the breaks’, you might say  — assuming you take your linguistic direction from our outgoing Anus-in-Chief.

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Mostly films, also shoes

Here’s another dispatch from the frontline of joblessness for you — you never know, it might be useful one day. Principally I’ve discovered that when you haven’t got a job, there are quite a few things you can do to fill the time.

You can pick up a big coffee table picture book, flick through it, then replace it on the pile. Then you can use your hands to scoop up any bits of fluff on the coffee table, cup the bits and then carry them to the peddle bin. You can stare out the window. You can start reading a novel, then put it down after four pages satisfied that you’ve ‘done some reading’. Then you can look out the window again to see if anything’s changed.

I find not having a job also provides plenty of time to think about things I could do. Like repairing that loose handle in the kitchen, or watering the near-dead houseplants. I sometimes erect the ironing board, top up the iron with water and then think about all the shirts I could iron at some point in near future.

Then of course, there are films.

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Spring/Summer 2022 sale selects

Ever get those Instagram ads that show football tutorials? For some reason I’m getting loads of them. You should check out @taiyojr.18  — he certainly knows the business end of a football shoe.

I know less than nothing about the fabulous game. But if I was the Global Head of Football for Team UK, I’d be signing up these IG dudes in bulk. They appear to know all the tricks and, unlike our national soccer squad, they always score and never fall over. Surely they’d net a million goal balls for the glorious us.

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Maybe I could get paid in clothes?

Hello, hello… Linkedin are you receiving me? Recruiters, where are are you? I know you receive yards of cover letters filled with words like ‘inspired’, ‘passionate’ and ‘collaborative’. But I actually am those things. I’m so inspired, I’m always thinking of mad new things; I can’t think of anything specific right this second, but I’m pretty sure I thought of something quite funny just yesterday. I’m so passionate, and not in a sexual way, but also that. And collaborative, I love collaborative; as long as I’m the boss it’s my favourite.

My current work status is: ‘looking for new opportunities’. Rough translation: ‘I’m going to die hungry and alone.’

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Sorted for trees and fizz

If you became unemployed what is the first thing you’d do? Sign up to some recruitment agencies? Lint roller the old CV? I decided to go to a rave. Or, as they’re now called after their gen-now re-brand, a festival. 

I didn’t see much difference. No sooner was I through the turnstile than some urchin in a vest asked me if, “I had any pills?” Perhaps it was my transparent seniority amongst the seemingly adolescent crowd? Or perhaps I just looked like a dealer  — to be fair I have really been enjoying the recent season of Top Boy. Either way, it was the most positive offer of business I’d had in two weeks.

“Nah, sorry mate”, I said feeling ancient, before adding an eye-roll/shrug combination, as if to suggest that it was a damn shame, as I too was gagging for a spoonful of illegal whiz-bangs.

He immediately turned his back.

I still don’t know why I apologised.

Perhaps I should have called him ‘bruv’.

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The mile sigh club

Christ this is heavy. I’m pretty sure there are bits of ham in mine.

I am experiencing The Bermondsey Beer Mile. Not out of choice. I mean, it’s a mate’s birthday (and also one of his mates’ birthdays). There are girls and guys I don’t know; they’re all chattering and cheers-ing. I’m only slightly involved.

If I wasn’t here I imagine proceedings would toddle along just fine. I see myself as an inessential part of the merriment. In fact, the group would probably benefit from the removal of a chain-smoking grump constantly moaning that none of the tap rooms offer anything approaching an Amstel and lime.

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Ditching the ditch

The only reason I visit Shoreditch these days is Goodhood. If any non-Londoners are in any doubt, the area’s once progressive reputation is long dead. Menswearists Present went a while back, Sunnysiders is shuttered and if you’re looking for Artwords books you’ll now have to head to Broadway Market. Even the Ace Hotel has undergone an anaemic transformation into 100 Shoreditch. 

That said, fans of arseholes are well served. The whole area might as well be one bottomless brunch. Watch as excessively refreshed lasses in cheap clumpy shoes and muscle-bros in Palm Angels tees stagger out from ball-pit bars to compete to see who can be the most obnoxiously screamy. Those looking to snap some broken Britain realness should hang around the once trendy Curtain Road on a Saturday. Smashed bottles, volcanoes of sick; if you’re lucky you’ll see a girl down an alley having a poo. This is all during the day I might add. If you’ve got a recent iPhone you’ll really be able to capture the sunshine reflecting off that pipe of manure as it curls past her Weekday drawers onto the tarmac.  

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Rhodes to nowhere

Like the Colossus of Rhodes he stands there. Legs spread, hands on hips, shoulders like landing strips. His Speedos are so tiny you can see what he’s had for breakfast.

On every beach, there’s always one. The muscle man. The adonis. The alpha asshole. He is motionless but for the steady side-to-side of his head, slowly surveying the physical inadequates who have dared to lie upon his sands. 

I know, I’m one of them. I’m double-shaded beneath a parasol and a Kapital bucket hat, fag hanging from my mouth. I reach for a swig of Fanta and notice my knees are the colour of a hen’s comb and that I’ve been dropping ash on my Studio Nicholson shorts. 

A blazing Grecian beach is not the place for a man of clothes. 

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The predictable unpredictability of Comme des Garçons

If I was making a horror film you know what I wouldn’t do? I wouldn’t include a scene where there’s a TV on in the room showing:  

A: a vintage horror film.

B: some blunt metaphorical foreshadowing.

I watched Taiwanese shocker The Sadness the other day. While the rest of the country was getting its collective knees out, I was hunched on the bed, blinds down, gawping at people getting their eyes gouged. At one point a character has the TV on; a freaky vintage cartoon plays, a big bad wolf, some apparently hypnotised kids, you know the sort of thing. It just struck me that this idea has been so tiresomely rinsed it’s now less a novel detail and more an established trope. It’s become predictable. 

Noted academic Naomi Campbell once said, “one word I don’t like is predictable” and I have to agree. Predictability is a rarely trumpeted curse of modern living. The same IG scroll. The same bus replacement service. The same block of Cathedral City in the fridge.  Read More

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Wave hello, say good buy

Easter weekend. A time for familial niceties, stuffing your yak-hole with bargain eggs and hiding impulse purchases from your partner. The latter of course is a year-long pursuit. It just so happens that in the course of writing this execrable round-up of want-want-wants, I took a digital detour to This Thing of Ours and swagged a Norbit bag. I’m incorrigible. Irresponsible. Terrible. And doubtless other ‘ibles.’ If my girl actually bothers to read this, I’m in big trub.

Imminent peril aside, here’s a round-up of stuff. Stuff and things. Luxurious inessential piffle that might, at least for a fleeting moment, stifle the feeling of existential dread.

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Inconvenience magnet

I’m becoming increasingly rubbish at dealing with inconvenience. It’s probably an age thing. But these days anything that gets in the way of me doing precisely what I want, whenever I want, transforms me into a bewildered toddler, eyebrows knitted, sighing and mewing theatrically from behind my Marlboro Gold.

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It takes a lot of thought to look this obvious

As I write, I’m drinking coffee at The Standard hotel in Kings Cross. I decided this morning to simply stop moping, get out the flat and just go and be somewhere cool. Somewhere I’d been told fellow creative professionals go to lounge about discussing ‘projects’ and admiring each other’s beards.

I’m sitting in a wicker chair, next to a real fire, drinking a tepid latte, soundtracked by a mid-tempo remix of Mr Mister’s Broken Wings, it features a little too much reverb if you ask me.

The words, “film, Disney, guest list” float over from the table next to me.

From behind I can hear how Channel Four has never quite managed to capture the excitement of vintage furniture.

I’m where I’m meant to be.

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Time off for sad behaviour

The signs were there. Once your mind is unable to fight off an assault by Right Said Fred’s Deeply Dippy, surely a more aggressive attack of the anxieties can’t be far behind?

So it was that last week I ended up in my local doctor’s surgery.

I felt like a fraud. A baloney merchant. At one time or another everyone feels like their job is a shit-fondue. Everyone is sick of circumlocution and indecision and wakes to a tummy-full of nerves. Everyone is frustrated and miserable, afraid of something indiscernible. On a Sunday everyone screams at their adoring partner to leave them the fuck alone.

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Snobbishness is next to godliness

It’s the banality that gets me. The miserable margarine-on-toastness of it all. Has it really been two years since I’ve taken a plane? Two years since I last passed through Gatwick’s large intestine.

Many of us with a passion for design, art and beauty find surroundings absent of these things a drag. Depressing even. But my typical hang-faced despondency reached its nadir on a recent flight from London to Jersey.

(Reader, prepare yourself for some unchecked snobbery.)

Seriously, what’s happened to everyone? Seemingly 24 months of being locked-down in trackpants has infantilised the entire population.

There’s a grown man in a threadbare two-piece sweatsuit. You can clearly see the outline of his ball bag. Wouldn’t he be happier locked in a giant playpen, sucking on a dummy, flinging his shit at a psychiatrist?

There’s another guy whose business suit is throttled out of all recognition by his vast camping rucksack. Then there’s the woman shuffling along in monstrous hairy slippers. You’re supposed to believe they’re Gucci, even as their bushy tails get yanked along collecting dust.

Are these people confusing an airport lounge with their own lounge?

Everyone, and I do mean everyone, is wearing a high-street quilted puffer. In fact if you want to buy some duty free Jo Malone, I’m pretty sure they check you’re wearing Uniqlo before asking for your boarding pass.

Airports were always no cool zones. But I think things have actually got worse. Gatwick’s departure lounge is now basically a style mortuary, where the very concept of ‘looking good’ gets zipped up in a body bag made of FatFace puffers.

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Kolor: the perfect statement shoe

Good statement shoes are rare. Other garments can be layered, hidden, or otherwise de-powered within an outfit, but shoes, they’re totally out there. The commitment is all too real.

Many, many years ago I bought a pair of Junior Gaultier desert boots. They were brown suede with a simple rubber sole, however the toe extended to a frightening point. I’m not talking about a regular pointy shoe here, these things went on and on, beyond where a normal shoe would end and then on again, eventually finishing with a pickaxe prong. They boasted around ten centimetres more shoe than strictly necessary.

As a committed reader of Arena magazine, I’d concluded that ultramodern dressing was for me and it was my duty to educate the patrons of my local discotheque accordingly.

When I met my friends they tried to hide their smirking. When I tried to climb the stairs in the club they pissed themselves. The stairs weren’t deep enough to accommodate the length of my shoes. I had to waddle up, toes pointed outwards like an avant-garde John Wayne.

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Just imagine my pendulous wang

When the Needles polyester mesh cardigans dropped at the start of last season I was troubled. They made me want to dress like a 70s sex panther. The kind of guy with a banging moustache, a taste for Cinzano Bianco and rotating water beds. I mean, see-through paisley, that’s key-party guest-list right there.

The problem? I’m not a sexy man. I’m a grumpy man. I always take a book to the beach. I’ve never chopped wood with an axe. My dancing is too kicky.

So I didn’t buy a sexy see-though cardigan. I continued buying sensible knitwear and Comme shirts, force quitting any further thoughts of the Boogie Nights lifestyle.

Then I saw this.

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Cruising Farah bruising

In a multi-verse a long time ago, far, far away Farah were cool. A very specific definition of cool, deeply aligned with being at school in the early 80s and wanting to avoid a ‘greeny’ in your hair for wearing ‘gypo trousers.’ Such was the unseemly crucible in which my interest in menswear was born.

If you wanted to avoid a dead arm you wore the ‘Farah hopsack’ incarnation; a stay press model, constructed from an unforgiving, abrasive material , featuring the all important bronze ‘F’ tag round the back. Some clipped the seams away at the ankle, so they flared just so over their Diadora Camaros. The rest of us just wondered how they avoided a massive telling off from their mum.

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£115 or £278? Why SSENSE makes no sense

Seems like no time at all. You close Slack and force-quit the ‘to-dos’ from your tumbling mind. The tree goes up, the first lager and lime goes down. Then before you know it, it’s over. It’s January 2nd and there’s a back-to-school tension in your tummy. Is it me or was Christmas on fast-forward this year?

At least it’s sale time. If there’s one thing that can raise your mood it’s an inbox full of discount alerts and the growing feeling of guilt as you impulse-purchase your way to poverty. 28 more sleeps to pay day.

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Peace on earth, goodwill to all menswear

According to the lateral flow my girl has still got ‘The Rage’. Weird, because it is ten days later. I take another look at the bad line. It is really faint, I suppose she can be unchained from the spare room.

From the other side the cell door, I can hear sporadic, “ohmygods” as she joyscrolls through the My Theresa sale. It’s a shame I’ve got to let her out really. I’ve been getting a lot of things done during my solitude. I sat through three hours of PlayStation 4 updates and I cancelled my bank card because some criminal mastermind had been rinsing my digits at Debenhams of all places.

“Are you 100% certain you didn’t spend £133.99 at Debenhams?” quizzed the bank-bot.

“Baby please, what even is Debenhams?” I almost (but didn’t actually) say.

During my alone time I learned it’s really hard to thumb through Instagram and follow a subtitled Norwegian thriller at the same time. I spent too much time wondering whether there’s a market for fish stuffing  — you know, like Paxo for cod. And (not for the first time) I tried and failed to memorise all the lyrics to Eric B and Rakim’s Follow the Leader; sad really, as I’ve always felt Rakim never quite captured the Midlands’ intonation the track obviously demands.

I also dropped a twoer on a Kapital fleece from the Kafka pre-sale. I haven’t got round to telling my girl about this last one yet.

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Bal: Does anyone really understand radiators?

I could do with a balaclava right about now. My girl has been self-isolating in the spare room for a week, the flat is freezing and I don’t know how to work the heating. What’s the difference between ‘Auto’ and ‘Once’ on a boiler? Does anyone really understand radiators? I keep pulling my beanie down over my ears, my chin is fucking icicles.

It’s remarkable how quickly you revert to type when you take your partner out the equation. Yesterday all I ate was a bag of Onion Rings. Gifts remain unwrapped  — I’ll get to it, I’ll get to it. Recycling mounts in the kitchen. Multiple pairs of shoes litter the floor. On the patio there’s a bucket of frozen fag butts I’ll have to take a chisel to. I can’t even be bothered to switch the Christmas tree lights on  — my festive glow comes from a paused game of Call of Duty: Vanguard.

The balaclava may have come to prominence back in the Crimean War, but I reckon its true calling is to stop idiots like me from shivering while watching Girls5eva.

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Why the queue for the sample sale is the best part of the sample sale

“Homme Plisse from The Box on Thursday. There’s a mark on the back but with a long top you can’t see.”

If you’re into clothing, there’s no better place to meet your kind of people than in the queue for a sample sale.

Increasingly ubiquitous, but rarely discussed; sample sales thrill the sartorially minded, as much as they confuse random passers-by.

“Excuse me, what’s this queue for?”

“Story MFG.”

“Oh. Right. Yeah. Cool…”

There’s a kind of micro-culture to sample sales. If you get it, you’re part of it. You know why you’re waiting an hour in the cold and so does everyone in the line. The sense of kinship and mutual appreciation is tangible.

To the uninitiated, it’s just a shuffling human centipede, apparently ravenous for cut-price crocheted scarves.

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Outside the glowing rectangle

I think digital culture has finally, royally fucked me. You know the old joke about kids trying to swipe the pages on a book? The idea being that they’re so conditioned by touch screens that they can’t comprehend the primitive nature of the printed page. Well, after decades of brain-frazzling computer work and reliance on a trackpad to tell me everything I need to know, I’m now completely inept IRL.

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Tres Bien Atelje: I tried being happy, didn’t like it

Fashion sometimes seems curiously out of step with, well… fashion.

TikTok is chock-a-block with gurns, grins and giggles. TV is beaming with gardeners, hipsters renovating old tables and chefs whipping up lobster tortellini. On Saturday night celebs learn to tango between guffaws, an army of energetic YouTubers encourage you to hoot through your lunges, while workplaces (newly terrified of appearing anything other than 100% woke) are steadily imprisoned behind the gritted teeth of toxic positivity.

You might think that anyone who uses the phrase ‘living your best life’ is a bell, and of course you’d be correct. But nevertheless it seems happiness is in fashion. Which begs the question, why does the dude above look so fucking miz?

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Dressing for a trip to the past

I live in Peckham and over the last few years it has gained a reputation for being ‘trendy’. There are shops that sell vintage Kappa tracksuits next to ones offering cash for gold. There is a Serbian art pop-up. An actor from Coronation Street moonlights as a vintage furniture shopkeep. While all the bread is artisanal and heavy and tastes like clay. Coincidentally there’s also a kiln.

I recently abandoned Peckham for a night ‘back home’ in the Midlands  — old mates, pints and as much battered sausage as my gums could handle.

Now, I don’t want to come off as regional-ist (although I’m certainly about to) but objectively there’s a big cultural difference between the art-house pretensions of Peckham and the more down-to-earth vibes of my destination: the Staffordshire market town of Stone.

If Peckham is veganism, Stone is a carvery. It’s good tattoos vs bad tattoos: yin-yang symbols and manga characters down Peckham way, skulls, wolves, lions, ex-wives and coils of barbed wire in Stone. Personally, I’m not into tattoos of any flavour, but you take my point.

I lived in the Midlands for over 20 years, London almost as long — I speak from experience.

It’s BBC versus ITV. It’s Guardian-reading Remainers, versus angry dudes called Carl dragging around things on chains that don’t so much bark as scream.

I’m not saying one’s better than the other.

I’m just heavily implying it.

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Maximal or minimal: two schools of thought, only one wardrobe

You can’t argue with the eco credentials here. This is the Ardmore Jacket. They’re one-of-a-kinds, made from vintage blankets by LA makers Carleen.

Simple shape: check. Clashing tones: check. Then you’ve got that pleasing sense that these disparate, pre-loved pieces of cloth have come together to create something unique and fiercely of-the-moment. It’s all good.

That said, I find garments like these really illuminate my current sartorial duality. On the one hand I’m probably most comfortable in all-navy-everything. On the other I find myself wanting to dress like an attendee of Woodstock 69, via De La Soul and The Wicker Man.

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Flowers in the wheelie bin

I remember, back in my early teens, gawping with horror at pictures from the 60s and 70s. I thought people looked utterly ridiculous. More than that, I thought they looked alien or possibly ill.

Faces were ashen and cheekboney. Skin seemed pockmarked, spotty, or bubbly with moles. Hair came in one look: oily. For the best part of two decades the human sebaceous gland apparently went into overdrive and pumped pint after pint of ghee into everyone’s scalp. The result was a prevalence of shiny basins, greasy feathers and matted waterfalls  — all seemingly cut by the same arthritic psychopath.

And, my God, the clothes. All-in-one jumpsuits with bellbottom trousers. Satin shirts with collars the size of stealth aircraft. Rollnecks so tight they’d circumcise your larynx.

I remember looking at pictures of the band Mungo Jerry and concluding they were 90% facial hair.

I was I admit a sensitive lad, but the whole thing genuinely made me feel queasy.

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RANDT: One big detail

If there’s one clear failing with modern shirting it is that it does the job of covering the torso too well. No ambiguity, just comprehensive and complete concealment.

Was it once decided by a global cabal of shirt makers that shirts must run uninterrupted from chin to belt? And if so, where does that leave the shirt enthusiast who also enjoys showing off their stomach?

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NCNR: Noiseless, straightforward and inarguable

Followers of culture are often cursed with a nagging mind. I’ve spent the last few days absorbing stuff, then trying to figure out what I think, what I think I should think, and what I think I think while not entirely sure if I think it.

I didn’t like the new Bond, but I think everyone else does, should I change what I think?

Why, when I think human intelligence is our most valuable gift, do I want to wear a cap featuring the words ‘Brain Dead’?

When someone uses the phrase ‘living your best life’, why do I think they should be hosed with old man piss?

Last week I voluntarily attended the Brixton O2 to have my head sledgehammered by a back-to-back DJ set from Four Tet, Jex Opolis and Floating Points. Many attendees pleaded with the bar staff for ear buds. I didn’t. I just shuffled from foot to foot, in some pain, trying to look cool. 2am curfew on a Wednesday night with an 8.30am Zoom in the calendar  —  what was I thinking?

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Unaffected: No shortcut to building a strong wardrobe

In menswear, one man’s mayonnaise is another man’s salad cream. And so it is with the incoming Uniqlo x White Mountaineering collaboration.

It’s not a fashionable thing to say, but think high street versions of ‘designer’ gear are rubbish. All of them. Without exception.

I remember back in 2008 when my beloved Comme des Garçons got into bed with H&M. Dutifully I bought deep into it and convinced myself my bulging plastic bags were straining with grails. Legit Comme, but at a tenth of the price. This feeling lasted until I got home.

I tried it all on. The nylon was thin, the buttons were cheap, the stitching shoddy. Things were wonky that (even keeping in mind this was Comme) shouldn’t have been. The realisation that luxury clothing starts with luxury fabrication was inescapable. Even my adoration for Comme couldn’t save this junk. Back to the store it all went.

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Dusen Dusen: The greatest showman

This is my new oven glove. It’s a ‘show’ oven glove. Meaning it’s not actually to be used as an oven glove, but rather it’s to remain on display, on a peg in the kitchen, to ‘show’ visitors we own a fancy oven glove. 

It’s possible you’ve never imagined such nauseating levels of pretension. But, if you’re a regular reader here, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.  Read More

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Ship a-fucking-hoy

I’m trying not to dress like a fisherman. Which is an odd thing to say. Particularly beneath a picture of me dressed like a fisherman.

I have no interest in fishing. The closest I come to piscatorial appreciation is a fish finger sandwich. But then neither do I have any interest in the US railroad workers of the 1940s. Or soldiering. Or exploring. Or manual labour, in any of its spine-bothering manifestations. So why is 75% of my wardrobe made-up of pockets?

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NOMA t.d: The more you spend the worse you feel

It’s the 18th of the month and I haven’t yet dropped half my salary on clothes. This is progress. Normally by now there’d be something with ‘still with tags’ hanging over the back of a chair in the spare room.

But it’s the age-old problem: I’m at war with myself. One minute I’m guilt-ridden about owning more clothes than I can conceivably wear. The next I’m starring down the barrel of a new Margaret Howell tank-top, convinced that continuing without it would be next to impossible.

I know I’ve made light of this kind of thing on here many times before. It’s just that right now, as I sit typing, I’m genuinely feeling exhausted by it all.

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Mountain Research: Not another tie-dye number with a PhotoMoshed pentangle

Dating back to the 1920s, the ‘sweatshirt’ was originally proposed as an item of sportswear  — an alternative to the itchy and shrinkable woollen jerseys worn by American football and baseball players. If we quickly fast forward (skipping over Brando and McQueen, Ivy, tie-dying, debates over the ‘V-Stitch’, political and social sloganeering, Acid house, vintage, Ametora, giant logos, cut ‘n’ paste rebuilds…) we reach the sweatshirt of today. Still casual, still predominately cotton, but a garment that broadly falls into one of two camps.

1. The purist: This garment will be grey (but it’ll be called Grey Melange) or cream (but it’ll be called Archive White). It will be sold via some extreme close-ups of the neckline, while the product description will use the terms Loopback or Loopwheel at least six times. It will be called ‘timeless’. It will look crushingly boring. This is the sort of product men think will make them look like Daniel Craig. 

2. The Scenester: These sweatshirts come in black, or pastel peach and feature a mix of brands, graphics and phases. The type used to spell out the brand name must be bent, twisted, back-to-front or otherwise just look like it’s been physically assaulted. The graphics should include Mickey Mouse giving the finger in a wheelchair, but also some pagan symbols and mushrooms. Any phases used on these products must be half inspirational quote and half meaningless nonsense. The price of these sweatshirts is £290.

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Don’t dismiss the sweater vest just because they’re fashionable

If you’re anything like me, I imagine your friends, family, peer group and colleagues often refer to you as someone who is into ‘fashion.’

It’s not a great word these days: awkwardly synonymous with the trivialities of the high-street and ecological ruin. But it can be tricky, even uncomfortable, to try and explain exactly why ‘fashion’ isn’t quite right and harder still to express what it is you’re actually into.

Is it simply menswear? Or the vagueness of clothing? Slow-fashion, or the brilliantly pompous, personal style? 

I’ve tried to explain it to people using words and phases like, ‘Americana through a Japanese lens’ or simply ‘workwear‘. I’ve tried saying ‘modernism‘ (which I know to be wrong) ‘nuevo-prep‘ (which I’m not sure is even a thing) and even ‘ametora‘ (as if that makes anything clearer): but still the queries come.

“How’s the world of fashion?”, they say. 

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Perks & Mini AW21 at Goodhood

I can’t even. I literally cannot even. Perks & Mini are on fire right now.

The brand’s latest drop over at Goodhood has rendered my entire wardrobe a joke and placed me in a deep suck about the fact that I do not have a grand put aside for brightly coloured streetwear. I cannot understand how I’ve managed to live this long, yet still not reached the point where I can buy a pair of garish £350 knits without fretting about money.

What the actual fuck have I been doing with my life?

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Sacai: I don’t understand it, I could never buy it, but I’d like to own it, although I’d never wear it

On my last visit to Dover Street Market I saw a Sacai shirt. It was white, with off-white bits and it made my heart stop. 

It’s a complex experience looking at clothes you definitely can’t afford. On the one hand you have to act like you can afford them. A bit of swagger and a modicum of relaxed insouciance is essential  — just keep flicking through the rail, utterly blasé, positively world-weary. 

On the other hand your inner voice is screaming at you to get the hell out of there. That your paltry bank balance is clearly visible in the gathering film of sweat at your brow. 

Then the crushing blow. 

“Let me know if I can help you with anything?” 

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Hatton Labs: The boy with the pearl bracelet

Can’t say I’ve ever thought about pearls much. I don’t mean in the sense of the rising menswear trend (or even just the idea of wearing them) I’ve just never really thought about pearls full stop.

The extent of my pearl knowledge is as follows:

  • I vaguely remember an old film in which a frogman uses his knife to prise open a shell, pulls out a big pearl and gives a thumbs up.
  • I know that Rhea Perlman used to play Carla in Cheers and is married to Danny DeVito
  • I know that comic character Hellboy was played in a handful of films by the actor Ron Perlman.
  • I know that Ron and Rhea are not related.

Without resorting to Wikipedia, that is genuinely it.

Nevertheless, (and believe me I’m mildly ashamed to even admit this) I am drawn to the idea of purchasing a pearl bracelet. Who do I think I am, Harry fucking Styles? I know, I know… Pearls on guys, it’s such a (bile rising in throat) ‘trend’. The very idea is ghastly, and yet, I can’t shake it. I’ve even convinced myself there’s a real logic to it.

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Hender Scheme: I took a chance on a vegan cheese and kimchi toasty

Not sure what’s happened to me. I actually what to do things again. Maybe it’s the confidence that comes with a double-needling (or maybe I’ve just got bored of Covid) but either way, I’ve been out enjoying parks, exhibitions, shops, restaurants and bars; living a decent approximation of a pre-Covid life; just with a mask always close to hand.

I’ve spanked silly money on Simone Rocha socks for my girl in Dover Street, zip-wired across Regents park and laid on impromptu posh-nibs for garden visitors. I’ve chatted to randoms in pub gardens and performed some rudimentary body-popping in front of a DJ playing to about six people. I even took a chance on a vegan cheese and kimchi toasty.

Admittedly these are hardly adventures worthy of the new Indiana Jones movie, but after 18 months of Sauron-like gawping at Netflix, I’m feeling like a socialising super-hero  — I’ve rediscovered my power too, it’s drinking so much lager and lime I insist on sleeping fully-clothed on the bedroom floor.

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Toga: The void is never filled

I can’t keep up. At this point in the season new drops are falling like spilt cutlery; with every clang Google alerts me to some new piece, range, collaboration or brand.

I don’t know about you, but a couple of weeks back (during the bargain-bin period of the Summer sales) my ‘wants list’ had sunk to zero. It was a rare and refreshing feeling to be pining for nothing. I started to think about what I’ve already got. Dreaming up new ways to wear older favourites.

It didn’t last long.

New Needles suddenly appeared boasting giant paisley-patterned tracksuit tops. Studio Nicholson‘s power-pants presented again, this time in relaxing natural tones. Essential EG beanies over at Kafka, Online Ceramics at Dover Street… I want a new pair of Paraboots, but South2 West8 hasn’t even landed yet…

I’m back to chasing the dream. Looking to fill a void with something made of cloth and stitches.

Even as I write these words, I know it won’t work. The void is never filled. There’s always something else. It just so happens that, right this second, the something else is this insanely cool Shaggy Jersey Jacket by TOGA Virilis.

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Trickers x The Bureau: You’re not from around these parts

I’ve just returned from a week in Tiverton in South Devon. For the geographically challenged it is what’s commonly known as the countryside. A place of thickets, mud and weasels. Enormous hounds rub their nostrils on your trousers and you have to travel everywhere on wonky stepping stones. Everything’s wobbly. You’re always slipping down, or hauling yourself up. Things are always snapping, or crunching or falling over. Not least your phone signal.

And everyone stares at you. In London you get used to a comforting duvet of anonymity. In the country your business is everyone’s business. You can feel the eyeballs on you, people by the roadside, people outside a pub, people standing in fields like scarecrows, all unashamedly gawping: a couple of times I had to check I hadn’t left the house accidentally dressed as a one-man-band.

Evidently there’s nothing like a Sasquatchfabrix jacket to suggest you’re not from around these parts.

All of which leads me to believe that while these fantastic shoes (from The Bureau’s latest collaboration with Trickers) look like they’d be at home in the countryside, I not sure they actually would. They’re too pristine, too fancy boy. And as I’ve observed, everyone in the countryside wears stuff made out of nettles and otters.

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The new rule of menswear

Menswear is fond of rules  — typically born of a different age and a slavish adherence to what a bunch of dead people used to do. You know the sort of thing: ‘Never wear brown in town’, ‘your tie should touch your waistband’, ‘always leave the bottom button of your suit jacket undone.’

Of course, there are corners of the menswear-verse that continue to espouse such tiresome restrictions  — usually the most toffee-nosed and unimaginative. But not here. I prefer a more explorative approach: try it out, if it feels right, it probably is.

That said, a recent circumstance has prompted me to uncover one piece of wisdom I’d like to share with you. Not a rule as such, more a strong suggestion.

‘When you’re wearing a shit-load of very expensive casual wear don’t fall off a canoe into a large muddy pond.’

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Toga: I don’t care. I’m broken

How’s your working life? Mine feels like a shit-smeared pendulum of thorns, swinging back and forth, constantly twatting me in the face. Twelve hour days, thirteen, fourteen. I did a fifteen hour day last Thursday: laptop open a 6am, closed at 9pm.

Yeah I know, boo-fucking-hoo. Big baby’s got a job in creative and he’s blarting because there are too many Google Slides to make. Well I don’t care. I’m broken.

If I sound dramatic, then good. I can’t stop clenching my teeth, my hands shake, I get headaches every day, I can’t sleep. It’s been months of this and I’ve finally made it to a week off. I can finally see my mum and dad (it’s been 18 months). I can lie back and do nothing. I can work to rid my mind of its twisted Fantasia  — cursors dancing with ‘unsupported image type’ notifications, to an endless soundtrack of Slack‘s click-clack.

Yes I’m lucky to have a job. No I’m not doing any worthy like a nurse. But it’s still okay to admit when you feel bad right?

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Beta Post: Now where have we seen this before?

“Inspired by the thoughts of street sleepers.” That’s the claim by obscuro Japanese brand Beta Post.

Destitute as muse. Now where have we seen that before?

Mugatu’s Derelicte collection in Zoolander! Ouch.

I’m always surprised when I see artists of any kind revisit themes that have been ruthlessly parodied. But particularly in this instance, as the weirdness comes full circle  —  Derelicte itself was a piss-take of John Galliano’s homeless inspired 2000 haute couture collection.

No new ideas in fashion? Challenging social statement? Simply bad taste? Or just a beige shirt with two carrier bags stuck on the front?

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Kolor: No way out of the Covid disastastrophe

So, ‘Freedom Day’ is upon us. A shame then that Boris Johnson’s William Wallace-aping rhetoric has been repeatedly fucked to a whisper by his own dribbling dick of incompetence.

Freedom day was supposed to be about no masks. What happened? Did someone finally force the gurgling blonde to eyeball the daily case rate? The suggestion is that it’ll now be up to us? Meaning the intelligent will wear a mask, while the country’s idiots (see 60K fans screaming into each other’s mouths at Wembley) won’t. Sounds like plan.

The government recently announced they were to tweak the NHS Covid app to make it less sensitive, then quickly de-announced it, after presumably realising just how dumb they were to even think it. Nightclubs owners are baffled. They’re allowed to re-open, but use of the NHS contact app is encouraged, but not mandated  — it doesn’t take a scientist to predict clubs are a going to become a hotbed for transmission.

Masks on trains, but not in clubs? Who’s dreaming up these rules? I expect our newly infectious Secretary of State for Health, Sajid Javid has had a hand in it. Egghead in appearance alone then.

Anyway… I am aware this is supposed to be a menswear blog. But as regular readers will doubtless recall, I do have a habit of going off on the wrong thing at the wrong time. So in that spirit, let’s hype a piece of winter clothing while the sun’s at its fiercest.

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Sage Nation: If you’ve heard of it I’m outta there

As someone who never entirely graduated from their petulant, needy, self-obsessed teen years, I remain drawn to the highfalutin world of the avant-garde.

Is it too much to ask for everything in my world to be progressive to the point of unacceptability? Clothing, art, literature, music; the more obscure the better; if you’ve heard of it I’m outta there.

Of course IRL this ethos is at best inconvenient and at worst ridiculous. I refuse to sign up to Spotify (far too mainstream) so I end up crate-digging over at Bandcamp and pay quadruple the price for the privilege. ‘It’s for the artists’ I lie, while single-mindedly hunting for tracks that have so far evaded the algorithms. I will not watch reality TV. So I spend my time watching languorous Cassavetes’s indulgences, and even as I nod off I remain convinced I’m somehow cooler than thou.

I am, it must be said, completely insufferable. 

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Yuketen: A little less fabulous

I’ve always found the idea of ‘Bit Loafers’ a little too fabulous. Typically there’s a daintiness to them, a sort of Fancy-Dan-ness: it doesn’t quite chime with my personal brand.

I’m probably not sexy enough to pull them off. Or wealthy enough. Let’s face it, they do tend to crop up on the overly preened, the aggressively tanned and the unnecessarily slim-trousered. From Brompton to Burnley a gold snaffle on your slip-ons screams wonga-alert: check out the indiscriminate spending on him!

Or (depending on your cultural read and/or geographical location) they simply signal a hopeless wannabe. A guy with Gucci tastes but a Boohoo income. I’m fairly sure Frank Butcher used to wear them.

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Tightbooth Production: He looks a bit ashamed

Being shocking for the sake of being shocking? I’m pretty sure that fell out of fashion a long time ago? Are things different in Japan?

I look at this dude and can’t help wondering if, behind the proud white beard, suede cap and architect’s specs, he looks a tiny bit ashamed. I wonder if this assignment came as a bit of a shock?

A mixture of male melancholy and hardcore lesbian sex isn’t something you see every day.

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Byborre: Perfecting your bodywave

According to legendary London clothing retailer Browns, this is an ‘ergonomic sweater’. Meaning that (with a nod to the Oxford Dictionary) ‘it’s designed for efficiency and comfort in the working environment’.

Now. I appreciate the need for a ‘sales narrative’ as much as the next marketeer. But in this instance it doesn’t take much to unravel the whole ‘ergonomic sweater’ concept. After all, can you recall a situation where you’ve felt a sweater impeded your efficiency? Or provided anything other that comfort?

Apparently though I’ve got it wrong: this knit is really, really ergonomic. Like stupidly ergonomic. It must be, Browns are confident enough to say:

“Anyone who likes the way you move hasn’t seen anything yet.”

No one’s ever told me they like the way I move. I mean, after a few sleeves I can be a bit too eager to demonstrate my bodywave. But even then I’m lucky to get a polite giggle. (Which I’d like to point out is not the correct response to a bodywave crafted in front of the mirror over many, many years.)

Point is, getting someone to congratulate me on how I move has never been a major concern of mine. Maybe the simple act of buying and wearing this sweater will immediately cross it off my didn’t-know-I-needed-to-do-list.

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Post-Imperial: Another man’s piss on your Yuketens

It’s last Sunday.

I find a Comme des Garçons Homme Deux shirt in my size, for half price. Obviously, I must act. Doof. Then my girl spots a Molly Goddard handbag. 50% off again. Doof.

I’m worried about my bank balance. Nevertheless, I pull out my app and shuffle some funds about over a salmon omelette at Rose Bakery. Then we’re up and out. Leaving Dover Street, with ‘a thing’ each.

Doof, doof, doof, doof, doof…

There are three topless men pissing against a wall. An addled fool drops a full bottle of vodka on the pavement, it smashes; he grins, seemingly void of shame. There’s a sound system on a passing lorry (doof, doof, doof) and a voice over the PA shouting, “lovely jubbly”.

It’s a protest. Our clubs aren’t allowed to open, and a million pairs of JD Sports trainers jump up and down demanding to know why?

Haymarket is rammed, there’s no escape. So we turn back up Orange Street, past the three topless men still hosing the wall with their dongs.

Ahead, on the left, there’s another chap squirting his fungus up a drainpipe, then another two; we have to step over multiplying rivulets of slash. Everywhere we turn there’s another phalanx of phalli. A man is laughing while forcefully kneading the last few drops from his urethral meatus. 

From Comme des Garçons to piss party in seconds.

I look at my transparent Dover Street bag. I look at the guys pissing in the wind. Did I really need to buy another shirt?

Did someone order a metaphor?

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Sacai: You’ve got to believe in something

Rationally, I know life isn’t a lookbook. I understand when I buy into Comme‘s enigmatic philosophy, or the caramel minimalism at Studio Nicholson, it’s not going to radically alter my day-to-day. But I can’t help being disappointed when it doesn’t.

I’m a romantic (read sucker) when it comes to such things. Why, I wonder, when I’m wearing  magnificently generous Nicholson trousers, can my odious neighbour still disturb my peace with his boil-in-the-bag house music? How come the pressures of my day job are causing my mind to boil over and my teeth to constantly clench even though I’m taking my Zoom calls in a superfly mix of EG, Sasquatchfabrix and White Mountaineering?

Lookbook models never look disgruntled by Ocado substitutions, or irked that they can’t get a seat outside a cafe, or so ruinously hungover that they lie frozen with anxiety by the realisation they’re just another untalented pseud.

Which begs the question, why do I keep falling for it?

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Kolor: Something about sausages and sizzle

Simultaneously welcome and maddening, the sales are in full flow and thirsty for your bankroll. I went in quick and heavy over at Dover Street, leaving me now, mid-month, fiscally fragile. Still the continuing reductions taunt me.

More shirts I don’t need, more jackets… It’s like I’ve been hexed. Somewhere a fetish doll in my likeness is being repeatedly punctured with a tagging gun. 30% off. 40% off. Exclusive pre-sale invitation. Someone rid me of this accursed voodoo.

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Hender Scheme: It’s a hat and a bag, because…

No question, Hender Scheme make some achingly cool things. This is one of them. A neat looking nylon tulip shaped hat. The drawstring ‘accent’ (as such things are frequently titled) speaks to both the aesthetic and the practical, offering pleasing contrast and adjustable fit. All well and good.

Other than it’s also a bag. A small, sort of useless, free-with-a-gallon-of-petrol type bag. I have no idea why this bothers me so much.

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Inch-Master: The shame and the glory

My name is Stephen Pierce and I use the Inch-Master.

God, it feels good to say that out loud.

For the uninitiated, the Inch-Master is not (as you might reasonably assume) some form of penile vacuum (if anything I need a reduction, etc… etc…) but rather a waistband stretcher. An appliance for coaxing trousers that are too tight into something you can tolerate sitting down in.

The thing is, by any reasonable measure, I’m not a fat man. Hardly what you’d call lithe, but miles from obese. When the breeze catches my t-shirt you can see I’m no stranger to a Battenberg, but equally I’m in no danger of having to buy two seats in Economy. I reckon I’m sort of typical(ish).

So why am I soaking the waist of my new Studio Nicholson jeans and throttling them with a contraption a Witchfinder might use to extract confessions?

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Nonnative: The Cross of St. George sponsored by Heineken

The footballers of football are footballing a football. No pub lunch today. The topless and loud will impregnate our drinkeries. Monstrous sandalled feet and shiny heads, swilling plastic pints full of England.

Listen as you pass. The roars, the ‘oooohs’, the ‘fucking hells’; the death cries of Brexit Britain from beneath a Cross of St. George sponsored by Heineken.

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Document: The elements are determined by what I wear

Blah, blah hot, blah, blah cloudy. Is it summer yet? Was that a spot of rain?

I’ve always found it annoying that the most exciting subject in the world, menswear, is so fundamentally bound to the most eye-rollingly boring British preoccupation, the weather.

Do you really need a hat? Won’t you be hot in that? I don’t think I’ll need a jacket. Is there room in your bag for a jacket?

Stupid weather. Sometimes I think it only exists to throw a frosty (or scalding) spanner into the workings of my planned look. If your garden’s in need of rain just put on your new suede shoes. Guaranteed, the sky will swiftly fill with heavy leaden clouds. Want some sun? Go for a day out in a cashmere coat. You’ll be struggling around with that thing under your arm in no time.

I think meteorology is made up. Weathermen are just there to fill time before The One Show. I think it’s all a conspiracy to mess with self-absorbed menswear fans.

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E. Tautz: Enjoy the sun losers

I’m quite used to holding alternative opinions. Pushing against the crowd, drinking the tea, but leaving the biscuit.

I think it started when I was about nine, when I decided that English/Australian instrumental rock outfit Sky were cooler than The Clash. I can now see my position was at best wrong, and at worst deranged, but at the time I was immovable. Even subject to the 1970’s equivalent of a ducking stool (permanent deadarm) I refused to recant.

Call me a dick, but I still don’t understand why everyone else doesn’t agree with me on everything?

My girl loves the grindingly slow Mare of Easttown, but has zero interest in joining me in a grindingly slow Blake’s 7 marathon? Party guests chat politely during my chillwave set, only to jump about like maniacs at the first hint of anything by Whitney.

On a lovely hot Saturday like today, everyone is out and about: in parks, having barbecues, pitched up outside pubs; laughing, joking, enjoying. But I’m not. I’m inside, thinking about the kind of shirt I’d need to wear if I was to go outside. See. Alternative.

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After Pray: Back to basics

I’ve just butchered our newly laid lawn. The rubbish old mower I used chewed up a large area before I’d even noticed. I then bought an extendable washing line, but it doesn’t extend far enough. Our new hose arrived yesterday. I doesn’t reach the bottom of the garden.

I’m starting to think I’m useless at everything except looking at clothes, buying clothes and wearing clothes. And recently, during an internal crisis around the appropriateness of Needles HD pants, I’m even starting to question that.

Hence today’s choice. Back to basics. A beautiful, straightforward, everyday piece. No one can go wrong with a collar like this. 

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Camiel Fortgens: Maximum girth in your upper hemisphere

Super-wide trousers. Sillage: check. Studio Nicholson: Check. Sage Nation: Check. Needles: Obvs.

But what’s the story on top?

If you look like a windsock down below, can you, should you, be giving it maximum girth in your upper hemisphere? I say yes. Although I’m pretty sure my girl disagrees.

When I step out in giant pants and a voluminous coat I’m starting to think she’s a bit uncomfortable being seen with me. She hasn’t said anything out loud, but I can read her expression like a book. A book about things she thinks are shit, including films featuring guns, aliens or zombies, pretentious menus, the outdated slang middle-aged people use, and me in big trousers and a big coat.

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Sage Nation x Garbstore: It’s a humiliating question to ask…

It seems the man-ternet is totally preoccupied with debating the validity (or otherwise) of the five inch short. Yawn. I’m in the ‘otherwise’ camp. End of discussion. So let’s go the other way.

Giant, puffy summer trousers.

Textbook Sonny Crocket style.

With the fashion world still fighting over the carcass of the 90s, it’s nice to see up-and-comer Sage Nation quietly remixing 80s stalwarts. Their signature style boasts box-pleats from waist to hem  — I believe the technical term is ‘mad poofy’. Last year I called them the ‘most important trousers in the world.’ It’s a position I maintain.

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Awake: Deep in the clone wars

Needles much?

Copy? Homage? Or just a high end casual wear brand offering a mohair cardigan that’s marginally cheaper, but remarkably similar to one by another high end casual wear brand?

Does anyone even care at this point?

This article by Rachel Connolly over at the Guardian caught my attention. The gist? All high street shops are churning out the same gear. Part of me wonders if it was always thus. Besides, Connolly’s focus is the high street, and (due to a troubling phycological dependence on feeling socially superior) this site doesn’t do high street.

But it did make me think. Are the kind of indie brands we love also deep in their own clone wars?

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Beheavyer: Nomad swank with a splash of Zardoz

Why does no one stock Beheavyer over here? It’s got the oversized thing going on, the hidden zips, tone-on-tone palettes and bundles of loops to dangle carabiners from (even though no one ever does). It’s all perfect nomad swank with a splash of Zardoz. Seems to me they’d be a great fit for a store like This Thing of Ours.

And yet, Beheavyer has zero presence in the UK of Isles. I guess it’s got a stupid name. Beheavyer. Be heavyer. No one wants to be heavier? Plus, with brand’s like Goldwin, Eastlogue, Norbit, Snow Peak (and 50 others) chasing the backpack-bother’s dime, the competition is real. 

Still, in spite of (or probably because of?) Beheavyer’s absence from local outlets, I’m a fan.

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Lisa Le Strange: The most tolerable aerial arthropod

Once, as a child on a French campsite, I was chased from an outside toilet with my shorts round my ankles by the biggest moth I’ve ever seen. I swear it turned its powdery head and looked me square in the eyes. My relationship with big-bodied winged insects has never been the same.

I see moths as the Yohji Yamamoto of the fluttering pest world  — droopy, grey and sinister. This is no slight on Mr Yamamoto, but moths are fucking evil. It’s not even that they eat your clothes, it’s more their appearance: they’re hairy like a miniature wolf and fat and full of puss. I genuinely fear big moths.

Dragonflies on the other hand (while equally revolting if you ask me) are at least debonaire, more of a Studio 54 insect  — keeping things topical, let’s think of them as a Halston. And then you’ve got your butterflies. Now, I’m significantly less scared of butterflies. Which is weird, because they’re basically a moth with a Versace make-over. But nevertheless, if I had to wear a beanie featuring either a moth, a dragonfly or a butterfly, I’d go with butterfly every time.

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Meanswhile: A cure for what ails you

I’ve got a lot of questions.

Are super-wide trousers going mainers? Hip Store are now knocking out a pair by FrizmWORKS for £100.

Could GQ get any duller? Dylan Jones is off. Cue global cabal of pinstriped droids at the helm: Tom Brady on the cover (again, again, again) anyone?

Is tucking your top into your trousers the new not tucking your top into your trousers? Who decided looking like you work at B&Q is cool?

Why has Brain Dead made a £320 jacket that looks like something from the shit end of Camden Market in 1993?

Just because you use words like like jawnz, jorts and gorp doesn’t mean you’re a twat  —  but does it make it more likely?

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Comme des Garçons Homme: How to get from deceitful hilarity to cha-ching?

I don’t know why I’m surprised. It’s not like this hasn’t happened before.

A couple of weeks back I bought an entirely unnecessary nylon shoulder holster, quickly followed by a Kolor sweatshirt. My girl was displeased. Why wasn’t I saving? Why do I keep buying things that are not that different from things I already own? Why am I never satisfied with what I’ve already got?

I explained that the nylon shoulder holster and the Kolor sweatshirt were the last things I needed. The very last. Once I had them, that would be it for a long time and I would focus entirely on buying new plants for the garden and expensive wallpaper and other sensible things we need to buy that, right this second, I can’t quite remember. All would be well. Let’s be grown-ups.

And then yesterday I received two emails. “40% off”, announced Dover Street. “Sample sale this weekend”, chimed Studio Nicholson.

I could hear my girl sighing from the next room.

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Loutre: The truth lies in the grey area

It’s good to get out of your comfort zone they say. Try something different, push the boundaries.

On the other hand apparently it’s all about personal style, finding what makes you comfortable and sticking with it.

I’ve never quite reconciled these two perspectives. Our culture appears determined to reduce itself down to snackable truisms, but in doing so, it leaves a lot of nuance on the table.

Personal style sounds cool. But can it also be read as apathy? Just a posh way of saying you’ve given up and have committed to wearing broadly the same things till the end of time. And what about breaking out of your comfort zone? There are some things I draw the line at: leather trousers, vests in public, short-shorts, capes. Does my blanket ban on such things mean I’m not fully expressing myself?

As I say, I don’t know, but I imagine the truth lies somewhere in the grey area. And I suspect my grey area looks a lot like this getup from London brand Loutre.

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N. Hoolywood: A night out at Platinum Lace

What do you get if you cross a frat bro’s party shirt with an episode of Ross Kemp’s Extreme World? I dunno, but you’re looking at it. At first glance it’s terrifying. The sort of thing car dealers wear for a night out at Platinum Lace. But then you see those olive inserts, roughly chopped in, and it become apparent that actually the avant is firmly in the garde.

It may look kind of ugly, but it’s a good ugly. A credible ugly. The kind of ugly that costs £192, excluding postage and import duty.

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Kapital: Look at a watch and see a Betamax

As an object that does just one thing, you’ve got to wonder how long watches will be around. With access to smart phones, laptops, tablets and talking speakers, why does anyone need to wear a lump on their wrist that only tells the time? Born with an iPhone 12 in their hand, the children of Millennials (Gen Alpha) will look at a watch and see a Betamax.

Still, much like vinyl, printed magazines and objective fact, watches are hanging in there. From the ironic Timex (from Elizabeth Duke because, you know…) to Audemars Piguet (the brand horologists worship, but only rappers can afford) wearable timepieces remain a thing. Just.

So where does that leave a modestly priced watch with a smiley face on it from a hip Japanese clothing brand?

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Sillage: Doing summer with dignity

I’m broadly ambivalent about the arrival of summer. As far as I’m concerned it just offers up another flavour of extreme weather. Agreed, constant drizzle sucks. But so does being roasted alive like a pagan sacrifice. I’ve never understood the UK’s passion for perching outside pubs in the blazing sun, fluorescent foreheads and sodden underwear all round. I’ve got a banging headache and it feels like I’ve pissed myself, CHEERS!

I know I’m in the minority. My fellow man seems perfectly happy absorbing countless sheathes of lager, while done up in vaguely athletic oddments. Polyester short-shorts, a pair of something inexcusable by Sketchers and vests. Blokes in vests. If there’s ever a garment that has no place in public society it’s a vest. There’s a difference between looking like you haven’t tried too hard and looking like you can’t be arsed.

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Tightbooth Production: Loneliness is a companion of sorts

Day 142 in the Big Brother house. My girl is still away and I have regressed. I’m basically now Neolithic man with better trousers. There are overflowing bins, Amazon boxes to be recycled and stacks of washing up. On the coffee table sit half eaten French Fancies, on the B&O the ceaseless twanging of left-field techno.

I keep looking at the mess. Which is a start. I like to check-in on the mess from time to time. I don’t want to actually do anything about it, but just reminding myself that at some point I will, is oddly cathartic. Besides another sojourn into the less traveled corners of Bandcamp always seems infinitely more important.

Then of course there’s unnecessary and obscure menswear to locate, catalogue and comment on. Who’s going to get that done? My girl may moan at me for not emptying the bin, but really, she’s not seeing the bigger picture.

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Kolor: Dispatches from the front line of lonely

My wife is away all week and there’s a party going on. Invite list: me. I’ve got The Pursuaders on series link and I’m currently watching Murder She Wrote while drinking Strawberry Nesquik. The other night I Deliveroo-ed a Shake Shack. Last night Wagamama. I’m seriously thinking about getting into Walker, Texas Ranger.

Jesus Christ help me. I’m so bored. I’m so very very lonely.

Turns out when you can do anything you want, anything you want is quite dull.

I picked up Modern Warfare again. Then I realised some genius at Activision has enabled mouse-flicking PC maniacs to cross-play with joypad users like me. It’s a massacre.

I’m so bored I spent 20 minutes trying to figure out if bathroom tap water tastes better than kitchen tap water. My findings? Inconclusive.

I know, I know, I’m lucky to have a partner to miss. But, sorry single bros, at least being lonely is your normative state. For me ‘alone’ is new. It cuts like a sword through Viennetta. And sure, I really like Viennetta. I just don’t want to be one.

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Soundman: Looking back for the future

In the constant search for something new, sometimes you have to look to the past. Seeing the camo trousers above you might assume I mean a world war, or Platoon, or Public Enemy. But I’m actually thinking of my more personal past. Specifically a chap I saw at London Fashion Week in the late-90s. It was Iain R Webb a journalist at the time (now Professor of Fashion and Design at Kingston School of Art) and so impressed was I with his get-up it’s been tattooed on my memory ever since. The breakdown of his fit was as follows:

  • Camel v-neck sweater (with a white tee underneath.)
  • Black and white loafers (probably Patrick Cox based on the timeline.)
  • British Army camouflage trousers.

These days that probably doesn’t sound especially noteworthy. But in that late-90s context  — a fashion show, where all the attendees were done up in identikit shades of coal by Margiela and Lang  — the dude really popped.

At the time I was deep into my degree at The London College of Fashion and I remember whittling away my grant trying to emulate the look. I never got it quite right. Perhaps, all these years later, it’s time for another try.

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Eastlogue: I don’t know how I’d wear it

I’ve been very close to pushing the button on this Eastlogue t-shirt a couple of times. But on each occasion good sense has prevailed. It’s a great piece. Extremely well priced at £60 (20% off over at new kids on the block The 5th during the bank holiday). And the fishtail back is a killer detail.

It’s just that, having given it considerable thought, I don’t know how I’d wear it.

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Kapital: Somewhere between a Billy Smart stooge and a grave-robber

Where do shorts end and trousers begin? I wouldn’t say it’s a question that keeps me up at night. And were it not for these classification botherers from Kapital I dare say I wouldn’t even be considering it.

A glance at the style press would have you believe short-shorts are the thing right now. Dinky and hyper-sexual. Very Armie Hammer in Call Me By Your Name. They’re the sort of thing I imagine your average Nandos-bro would find appealing  — perfectly complimenting a lifestyle of McQueen-style sneakers, gelled side partings and girlfriends in twelve quid Missguided dresses.

But I, and I dare say you, don’t roll that way.

For the less templated male these freak-show trouser-shorts might be of interest.

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Mountain Research: Not much use on the Khumbu Icefall

I caught the 2015 documentary Sherpa the other night. Did you know Mt. Everest is now a tourist destination? I had no idea.

I watched as a bunch of western business-alphas lounged about drinking tea and yawning on about their personal goals, as teams of poor Tibetan locals hauled equipment up and down the terrifying mountain. While the inevitable disaster comes as little surprise, the vocal disappointment from the ‘clients’ is truly stomach-churning.

As they come to realise their dreams of being the big man who climbed Everest have been smothered by an avalanche, they’re inconsolable. Not for the 16 dead sherpas. But for themselves.

One especially odious character was properly sour faced. You could actually see his ultimate goal of balling Carol from accounts over the photocopier while screaming, “I’m the king of the mountain!” evaporate.

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F/CE: Make an offer for all of the money…

The bar to achieve selection for Dragons’ Den sometimes appears fairly low. There was someone on the other day who’d apparently ‘invented’ some cooking sauces. Another couple who’d ‘invented’ sunglasses cords. Dunno about you, but I wouldn’t feel especially confident facing Peter (Business Titan) Jones et al. armed with a thing already commonly available, no matter how good my packaging.

For example. I don’t think I’d have the confidence to pitch these trousers in the Den. There I’d be waffling away about the recycled nylon and the cool looking pockets, but at the back of my mind I’d be awaiting the obvious question:

“Haven’t you just put a multi-coloured belt on a normal pair of trousers?”

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Merely Made: “It’s all Jesusy”

I like to consider myself fairly resolute when it comes to buying decisions. If I like something, I might stew on it for a while, but ultimately I’ll push the button (fiscal health notwithstanding). I’ve certainly never considered that my girl might have some sway in the matter.

“Pffhhhh…”, she noised.

“It’s just another Jesus top.”

Fucking ouch.

There I am innocently browsing the Merely Made website, cross referencing the pieces I could more conveniently buy from This Thing of Ours and I mistakenly point out how much I’m digging on this jacket.

“You know what I mean”, she continued, “it’s all Jesusy.”

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Sillage: The perfect wardrobe for un-locking-down

It’s possible many of you are panicking. Lockdown is over and you’ve forgotten to buy a humungous oversized fit covered in a Muay Thai fighters. I know right. You had one thing to do throughout the last twelve months and you’ve left it to the last minute.

It’s virtually impossible to think about successfully integrating yourself back into society without the head-to-toe protection of a bunch of men in underpants kicking each other. Fortunately, it’s a situation the Japanese brand Sillage have clearly anticipated.

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Pattern Portraits: Let’s get shirty

I’ve received an email from Mr Porter with a subject line that reads: ‘Let’s get shirty’.

Let’s get shirty.


What does that even mean?

The word ‘shirty’ used to be used to describe those who were bad-tempered or annoyed. Are Mr Porter inviting us to get more pissed off?

In the context of the email, ‘let’s get shirty’ is of course (what’s popularly called) a play on words. But it’s so lame a ‘play’ as to be nonsensical.

Here’s Mr Porter, all tasteful pencil drawings of dudes with side-partings and videos showing you how to properly pack your Incotex chinos before jetting off to somewhere you read about in Monocle, and the best they can come up with is ‘let’s get shirty.’

Apologies for the rant, but such cut-and-paste editorial really irritates me.

By the way, if you Google ‘let’s get shirty’, the top result is  — the company responsible for those t-shirts that feature slogans like ‘Farewell to soggy bottoms’.

Let’s get fucking shirty, I ask you!

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Native Sons: My inherent shallowness will come as no surprise to regular readers

One of the hinges on my Max Pitton spectacles has broken. My Politicians are disgraced.

Have you ever tried to get the hinge on a non-standard pair of glasses fixed? I’ve been everywhere, in person, online; no one wants to know. I can’t even find a replacement pair of Pitton‘s; I’m wondering if the brand is done.

I’m currently getting by with my emergency back-ups (older, cheaper) but it’s a scenario that cannot be sustained. Every Zoom meeting I take in an inferior pair of spectacles is a step along the path to genericism. I can actually feel my stylistic potency withering.

My inherent shallowness will come as no surprise to regular readers.

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F/CE: Stylistic limitations aside…

I’ve always thought the art of styling deeply underrated. Just take a look at the image above. When I see a belt I always think of it as a device for holding up a pair of trousers, but now I feel like an idiot. It would never have dawned on me that a belt could also be hung over the head. All these years I’ve been threading my belt around my waist when I could have been wearing it as a face garnish.

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Martine Rose: As real as real gets

Yesterday I caught an episode of First Dates Hotel. It struck me that beyond the regional-disco wardrobes and reliable howls of laugher anytime someone orders a Sex on the Beach, many of the contestants appeared to be preoccupied with the idea of ‘realness’.

“I won’t date anyone who isn’t real”, they all say. “Being real is the most important thing”. “A relationship’s got to be based in realness”. And on and on and on…

Consequently I imagine I’d do quite well on the show. Because to the best of my knowledge I am real. I’m really sitting here typing and I’m really drinking some lukewarm Nescafe. Ontological debate aside, I’m as real as anyone else. But so is everyone else.

It is therefore my view that in the context of First Dates Hotel, realness doesn’t mean realness at all. It means honesty and trust. I wonder why Fred has never bothered to point this out?

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Birthdaysuit: A bit of writing here, a shark fin there…

Are chore jackets still a thing? I sometimes wonder if everyone who’s ever going to buy a chore jacket has already bought a chore jacket, meaning making new chore jackets is now a pointless exercise?

You do still see people wearing them though. Around Peckham, where I’m sat, it’s mostly those played-out Vetra styles in French blue: frequently flecked with paint for penniless art student cred. Although now and again you’ll spot a tourist from across the river, out cool-hunting (with his pushchair) in some diabolical, body-hugging moleskin number. Roll up, roll up for a game of ‘guess the dad brand’  — is it Banana Republic or Jack Wolfskin?

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WYTHE: If the ‘tuck-in’ is back you’ll need a dandy belt

I recently bought a Needles ‘Quick Release Belt‘ — the one with the tassel bit detail. It’s fiddly to get on. I’m still working on my technique for achieving the required tightness, while simultaneously locking the ‘quick release’ latch in place. It doesn’t come with an instruction manual.

That said, once in position, it strikes a good balance between Midnight Cowboy street hustler and pirate king. Just the right side of glam   — exhibitionistic without coming off all Kardashian. Although, after years of Andersons and Fidlocked nylon (in every conceivable shade of blue) I have to say it does feel freaky wearing a belt covered in gold bits.

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Tres Bien Ateljé: Striptease meets Excel spreadsheet

Do you ever buy from retailers’ in-house lines? I’ve copped The Bureau x Nicholas Daley (back in the day) and I recently bought a pair of Adieu x Tres Bien shoes. But what about the pure retailer offerings? The Garbstore line? Haven‘s massive range? Goodhood Goods?

Historically, I’ve steered clear. Not because I don’t love the retailers, more because, to my eyes, the products themselves often come off like slightly anaemic versions of lines they already carry. If I wanted an olive utility vest would I choose Haven or Engineered Garments? Why would I go for a Garbstore stripy Coolmax shirt over a Nanamica one?

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By Walid: The right balance between Little Lord Fauntleroy and Bethnal Green rent boy

Sustainable razzle-dazzle. Eco-poshness. By Walid is like a West London version of Story MFG. Very Matches. Seemingly designed for cashmere-haired rugby shirts called Barnaby who bellow their mates’ nicknames across a busy pub.

To my eyes, most of the brand’s pieces come on a little too ‘gap year’. There’s a lot of embroidered silk and heavy appliqué: it seems destined to end up in a car-crash outfit of bright orange Cordings cords and suede driving shoes.

Apart from this hat that is. Somehow, in amongst all the embroidered dragons and trousers made of curtains, this hat manages to strike precisely the right balance between Little Lord Fauntleroy and Bethnal Green rent boy.

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Comme des Garçons Homme: I’ve bought the best blue t-shirt in the world

This is the best blue t-shirt in the world and I own it.

I put it on, jam my hands in my pockets and look sullen. My girl laughs at me and I don’t care. In my head I’m in a Ray Petri shoot with the Kamen brothers. I’m the star of my own black and white art house film where I communicate only in sighs. It’s always raining and I smoke a lot. My Mensa test was off the charts so it’s physically painful to think. I’m designing a social media platform for use on Mars. If I stare at a packet of fish fingers I’ll cry.

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Junya Watanabe: Fully-weaponised price tickets

Every now and again there’s a Junya piece that makes you wish you had enough money to buy Junya. Why it is always even more expensive than Comme mainline remains a riddle?

Like a slightly more elaborate Needles Rebuild, this jacket twists familiar military tropes into something at once crude and sophisticated. From one angle it’s hacked together with a buzzsaw, but look again and appreciate the rare design sensibility. And while it’s an odd statement to make about a garment, this results in something that’s perfectly wearable. Not so flouncy as to make you feel uncomfortable, nor so bland you might as well have gone to Lands’ End (as if).

It’s the exact balance between cool and dull. Sadly, that balance comes at a cost.

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Viron: There’s really no reason not to

While looking at this conscious sneaker brand Viron, I couldn’t help but think back to my schooling in the early 80s.

My house of learning made the borstal in Scum look like Centre Parcs. I remember a lad with unusually long finger nails who was bullied mercilessly, called a ‘girl’ one minute, a ‘bummer’ the next. The solitary black lad was taunted in all the horrific ways you can imagine. While another impoverished soul was regularly terrorised for wearing plastic shoes. There were regular beatings and tears.

1980’s comprehensive school education: the only time in my life when the dumbest and the beefiest could dominate the smartest and most sensitive.

How times have (mostly) changed. Even all these years later, I still wish an illegally unpleasant fate on the nasty bullying bastards I was forced to school alongside. But it is oddly pleasing to me to see how non-leather shoes are finally becoming a serious option. Credible, stylish and politically virtuous. These days there’s really no reason not to.

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Meanswhile: Being showered off by the PE teacher is not a good look

It’s not often I’m drawn to clothing that looks like a cell wall after a dirty protest. I don’t know about you, but I mostly prefer to dress in a way that avoids any association with excrement. There was that time in the playground at primary school, but that was less conscious choice and more involuntary humiliation. Being showered off by the PE teacher is not a good look.

Nevertheless, there’s something appealing about this murky looking pullover. Maybe it’s the techy Thinsulate fabric. Or the simple, baggy shape. Or maybe it’s just because it’s by rare-in-these-parts, Japanese imprint Meanswhile. If any brand can pull off the ‘scat enthusiast’ look it’s these guys.

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NOMA T.D: Doggedly anti-dog

Look at the dog. Look at the dog. Look at my dog.

Dogs. Fucking dogs.

I’d like to make this absolutely clear. I would rather write a dissertation about the surface of a dry concrete slab than look at your dog. I have no interest in hearing anything about what your dog does, has done, or may do. I don’t care what it eats, whether it’s friendly or not, or whether it’s caught a cold and its little nose is all red.

Yesterday a massive Doberman sprinted up to me in a park, ribbons of slobber swinging from its gums. It stopped just short of my shoes and screamed at me.

“That’s a scary dog”, I stammered at the owner.

“No it’s not”, she said, apparently hurt.

On balance, I suspect I’m a more accurate judge of what I find scary than I women I’ve never met. So I’m pleased to reiterate, I found it scary. Not only do dogs smell, but they make noise and drop hairs on stuff and have bumholes covered in dried shit and yes, as far as I’m concerned, sometimes they’re scary. If you’re the owner of a hound and want to cuddle up with it in the privacy of your own home and let its foul tongue lap jellied turkey off your belly, that’s none of my business. But if your beast runs at me, or jumps at me, or howls in my general direction then we’ve got a problem.

One time I was in the park having a picnic with my girl. A dog (think Zoltan: Hound of Dracula) ran over, invaded my camp and started licking my M&S salad. When the owner arrived she appeared astonished that I wasn’t enjoying the scenario.

“Most people don’t seem to mind”, she said.

If I wanted a dog to rub its gums on expensive convenience food, I’d buy a fucking dog and bath it in pasta spirals. But I’m never going to buy a dog. I’d rather eat an entire dog, with chips and peas than have to own the same dog, alive, for half an hour.

Why is it ‘dog people’ seem to think everyone else is a closeted dog person? Why do they assume that the right encounter, with the right little furry friend will convert anyone into becoming a committed dog-liker? I’m just going to come out and say it… I’m an evolved human being. I don’t need to drag a member of the animal kingdom around on a piece to string to feel superior.

I. Don’t. Like. Dogs.

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MAN-TLE: It might as well be raining cancer

Obviously in the UK we are slaves to the weather; a fact that has been thrown into sharp relief during lockdown. How many well-intentioned walks have been abruptly canceled due to a bruised looking sky? A couple of droplets fall and all hell breaks loose. It might as well be raining cancer. Yesterday my girl made it literally three feet out the door before having to duck back in to grab a gilet and a balaclava.

To be fair, the wintery winds and arbitrary downpours do seem especially stubborn this year. One shard of sunlight cuts through and suddenly people with deckchairs are sprinting for an illuminated corner of pavement. Then the clouds fidget back into place, gloom descends again and everyone trudges back inside to de-pause Emily in Paris.

Perchance some rainwear is in order? Something to keep your style high and your head dry.

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Merely Made: I’m nice like that

I wonder what it’s like to be so unintelligent you genuinely believe Covid is a hoax and the vaccine is part of a governmental experiment in mind control?

Science tends to agree that those with higher cognitive ability are better able to empathise with others. So here’s me, taking a moment to humble-brag about my intellect, while simultaneously attempting to fathom the medically daft. I’m nice like that.

Anti-vaxxers, science cynics, climate deniers, Brexit die-hards; the most worrying epidemic in this country appears to be clotism. And it’s difficult to know what to do about it. You would have thought that even the most rudimentary secondary school education would insulate anyone from believing shock-Docs raging against testing and vaccines and generally not dying. But seemingly not. Come on pinheads, remember Dr. Nick Riviera in The Simpsons? He’s meant to be funny.

It appears it’s fine to talk about the dangers of fake news, social media, faux-experts, post-truth politics and confirmation bias, but the elephant in the room remains, a lot of people are just dumbos.

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Haversack: Same vibe, fewer orifices

I never pushed the button on a pair of Engineered Garments FA Pants. You know the one’s —  a five pocket phalanx up front; about as utilitarian as trousers get. I suspect they’ve been a hit as I’ve seen a number of Instagram dudes successfully carrying them off.

They’re a bit too pockety for me. I’m not sure my finely nuanced personalty could overcome the sheer volume of compartments. I don’t want to be the support act for my own slacks.

Hence my interest in these from Haversack. Same vibe, fewer orifices.

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Comme des Garçons Homme: No one’s invented anything cooler

Presumably it’s written in the Dover Street Online brand book: that you say next to nothing about the products, before adding in the colossal price. Maintains the mystique right?

Contrast embroidery. Chest pocket. Buttoned cuffs. Curved hem. £395 thank you very much. Cha-ching.

With Comme des Garçons the story is implicit. No one’s dying anything with woad. There are no highfalutin Prussian blues or tales of Tibetan artisans. You either buy into Rei Kawakubo’s beautiful chaos or you don’t.

All of which is fine. Unless you’re sitting on the sofa, staring at a screen, trying figure out whether a cotton shirt covered in red topstitching is really worth 400 quid.

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Kolor: That old Franco Moschino joke

Kolor is one of those brands that always feels slightly out of reach, both geographically and financially. In the UK the options are a hostile fingering from Farfetch, or a proxy service cowboy job. Choose either and you’ll end up anxiously refreshing a FedEx-page and sobbing into a large void where your wages once were.

The thing is, for clothesmen at a certain point in their evolution, Kolor can seem like the next logical step. The clothes push hard-luxe, but weave in wearability with a doff of the (technical) cap to workwear and athleisure. But Kolor is also bracingly avant-garde. Weird disassembling; wonky reassembling; unrelated garments shocking conjoined. And those colours: exacting hues, at once achingly now and queasily retro.

Whether you like it or not, the style tram trundles on, and if you’ve already rinsed the Nepenthes family, Snow Peak, Kapital, And Wander etc… Kolor offers a rewarding (but costly) path to explore.

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Beams Fennica x Porter: One day soon we might actually be able to go somewhere

How do you feel about the government’s roadmap out of lockdown? Each milestone is (quite rightly) prefaced with caveats. Unfortunately these have proved markedly less popular with the average British brain-box than the prospect of a cheap getaway and a 1000 pints of Carling. So now B&Bs are fully booked and Instagram is strobing with aeroplane emojis.

The thing is, a lot might go wrong between now and a giddily optimistic booking. Boris Johnson says that the Brazilian variant does not worry him enough to derail the plan  — which on currently form means the Brazilian variant is a death sentence, we should be fucking terrified and stop browsing swim shorts immediately.

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Sacai: It’s not the luxurious grandeur that’s the problem

I frequently post about Sacai, the Tokyo imprint founded by ex-Junya Watanabe and Comme des Garçons staffer Chitose Abe. Although I sometimes feel it’s an exercise in futility. Both for me and anyone reading this. The twisted beauty of the collections is not in question; weird hybridisations captured within wearable silhouettes, a positively bellicose approach to cutting and pasting. Some pieces are so rarified, so heavy and ornate to the touch, that you think to own them would render the entirety of your existing wardrobe somehow weaker in comparison. But it’s not the luxurious grandeur that’s the problem, it’s the price.

Unlike your Engineered Garments, your Orslows and your Comfy Outdoor Garments, Sacai is at the pointy end of luxury. When you’re trying to calculate the cost-per-wear ratio of a £560 short sleeved shirt you’ve got to ask yourself if the Sacai lifestyle is really for you? I’m expecting Rishi Sunak’s budget will offer a Sacai stipend specifically for underachieving Londoners.

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Teneo: Getting the details game right

The collaboration between Teneo and The New Order Magazine has caught my eye. Check the Teneo Instagram to see brief videos showing three dudes strolling outside a Japanese shopping centre before stopping for a quick wrestle. Videos of bros getting their wrestle on are not typically my bag. But the clothing is another matter; dark, casual and boasting zig-zagging, contrast lace ribbon detail. Trust. It’s savagery.

I’ll tell you right now, the picture at the top of the page isn’t it. I expect the new issue of TNO to carry a feature, but for now it’s only available at a pop-up in Tokyo’s Estnation store. In the UK we’ll have to content ourselves with the remnants of Teneo’s AW20 collection, which, if you’re not familiar, still deserves a look.

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Studio Nicholson: Less is more (expensive)

The older I get, the less attractive I feel so the less I reach for minimalist clothing. I’ve always thought that really simple, paired back garments look best on the absurdly attractive. I mean, you have to be Gosling-level to make a plain white tee and chinos looks anything other than utterly mundane. Hence I’ve spent the last few years loading up with multi-pocketed gilets, flowery bucket hats and leopard-print shoes  — anything to distract from the slowly withering form within.

And yet, the appeal of the quiet remains. A restrained palette of navy and tan. A reliance on form over embellishment. Just a clean, gently progressive silhouette worn with the kind of confidence common to those with innate good taste. It’s why I keep coming back to Studio Nicholson. And why I can hear this cardigan whispering my name.

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ROTOL: What to do after you’ve finished Cobra Kai?

If, like me, you’ve reached the end of Cobra Kai and crave more sensei-level excitement, you may find this two-piece from Japanese makers ROTOL of interest. It’s available over at Kikunobu Shop as a separate jacket and trouser. But for the full Daniel-San experience, you’ll probably want to double-team them like the long-haired bro in the picture.

It’s not entirely clear why he’s standing in a pile of broken wood. Perhaps he lost his temper with a table and went full Miyagi-do? To my mind he looks a bit disappointed, like he’s just realised he’s now got nothing to eat his dinner off. Even so, his outfit is well-weapon.

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White Mountaineering: Shirts like this will quickly find their purpose again

I ate a prawn on Wednesday. The first prawn I’ve eaten in a year. My girl hates prawns, she says she won’t eat anything with a face. Consequently they are never included in our Ocado deliveries. The store around the corner does sell prawns, but they’re ‘corner shop’ prawns and I have a deep mistrust of anything sold alongside anonymous bags of frozen chicken legs and Dr. Oetker’s Ristorante Pizzas. (Is he even a real doctor?) 

So on Wednesday I Deliveroo-ed a Yaki Soba from Wagamama and ate my first prawn in a year. Quite the shock it was too. Shockingly familiar, it tasted just like a prawn did a year ago. So precisely did it taste like a prawn, I barely noticed it. 

It’s a common worry right now that when things go back to normal it’ll be weird. That people will have forgotten how to make small talk, or buy a train ticket, or drink three pints without publicly shitting themselves. But I don’t believe it. I think that however this plays out, however long it takes before we approach normality, we’ll all slide right back into how we were without much effort at all. Just like my anticlimactic prawn, we’ll be small-talking and using our rucksacks to nab a double-seat and lining up the Jägerbombs just like before. And shirts like this one will quickly find their purpose again.

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Monitaly: I blame Adam Curtis

Did you see Panorama on Monday night? Titled Vaccines: The Disinformation War, it shone a light on anti-vaxers and their twitish belligerence in the face of fact. Truly the psychological equivalent of a Victorian freak show. Roll up, roll up, it’s the Amazing Pea-Brained Woman: hear how she believes Covid is a secret government plan to sterilise the world!

For a little intellectual nourishment I switched to Adam Curtis’ new six parter Can’t Get You Out of My HeadEver have that feeling that your mind is less a biological wonder of endless potential and more like an already overstuffed toy-box? Listening to Curtis connect the dots between Chairman Mao’s fourth wife Jiang Qing and the paranoia of the American suburbs I could actually feel the edges of my brain. As an antidote (‘antidope’?) to the terrifying stupidity exhibited elsewhere it’s a triumph  —  assuming you’re happy to have the limitations of your own intelligence brought sharply into focus.

One TV, one evening  —  jumping between the remorselessly dumb and the brow-furrowingly complex. It’s exhausting is what it is. Something of a refresher is in order, something simple but smart. So here’s a piece designed by the brilliant Yuki Matsuda for his label Monitaly. With all that triple-needle stitching and crazy pocket detail it’s hardly straightforward. But (and this’ll bring everything sharply into focus) it’s half price.

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Cost Per Kilo: a lot of similarly ‘unique’ visions

A bit of this, a bit of that, stitch it all together and wallop. Streetwear’s addiction to generating new garments from bits of old garments remains at full strength. Countless brands are at it: compounding clobber from the mismatched, the misshapen and the misunderstood. For a business that thrives off unique creative visions, there are a lot of similarly ‘unique’ visions.

The results of all this nuclear cut-and-sew swerve from the intelligent to the downright fugly. I’ve seen some expensive, high-end attempts that should come with free travel sickness pills. God knows what butchery awaits the patrons of places like ASOS and Urban Outfitters.

The wearable collage is certainly difficult to get right. But with a little restraint and acknowledgement that not everyone wants to look like a broken gif, garments like this one from Korean imprint Cost Per Kilo emerge. 

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Tatamize: Birthdays, The Karate Kid trilogy and size-free millinery

The lockdown birthday. It comes to us all in the end. For me it arrived last Thursday in the form of a day off with my girl and the full Karate Kid trilogy. It’s difficult to reconcile being one step closer to the gallows and the continuing drudgery of Covid with the idea of celebration. So instead I took the opportunity to use my birthday as emotional leverage. Gently pressuring my girl, through a combination of whimpers and sad eyes, to get her to watch a lot of something she wasn’t at all interested in. 

As any student of the Miyagi dōjō knows: man who catch fly in chopstick accomplish anything. And so it was, through a mixture of my childlike enthusiasm and Daniel-san’s bumbling charm, that my girl fell steadily in love with the world of make-believe karate. She’s now committed to watching Cobra Kai with me. Which is a gift in itself. It’ll give me a much needed break from her choice of film which always seems to involve a heroine who is tired a lot during act one, develops a tickly cough in act two, then spends the whole of act three whispering through a bloody handkerchief as she (all too) slowly succumbs to a diabolical wasting disease.

Anyway, speaking of gifts, I did get some cool ones. That’s the good thing about birthdays, unlike Christmas, you don’t have to pretend to be interested in giving — you just sit back and watch as the conveyor belt of poorly wrapped parcels trundles towards your grasping hands.

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TD by itten: We all know a pair of smart jeans when we see one

From the unconsciously drab to the unconscionably lean. For a garment so universal, jeans run a remarkable spectrum. In recent memory alone, the denim pant has cycled from laughable ultra-wides, courtesy of 90’s sidewalk botherers JNCO, to today’s similarly hulking, but rather more straight-faced, Needles HDs. Jumbled in between, various permutations of straight, loose, high-rise, low-rise, mom, boot-cut, flared, ripped, patched, skinny and super-skinny.

If this constant reinvention has taught us one thing, it’s that some people can be convinced anything looks cool. Legend London for instance, caters exclusively to men who want to look like a perfect bell-end.

You will have noticed the omission of ‘smart jeans’ from the list. This is because, outside of elasticated Sunday supplement denim, jeans tend not to be directly marketed as ‘smart’. Even so, we all know a pair of smart jeans when we see one.

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Sasquatchfabrix: Where are all the dressers hiding?

Do you miss people watching? For most it’s an entirely innocuous act. For the style-minded it’s almost vampiric. Gawping at well dressed people is nourishment. Some dude in camo trousers and two-tone loafers. Eye-fucking someone’s Junya parka. Give me a buzzy metropolitan environment, a decent sidewalk perch and an empty diary and I’m digging in for the day. Keep the lattes coming.

Of course, that was then. Now it’s just a daily lap round the block to dust the cobwebs from my knees. And frankly, the stylistic optics are bargain bin. I don’t know where all the dressers are hiding in Peckham right now, but the people I see on my walks appear to have given up. Bedraggled fleeces, snotty looking beanies, trouser hems dragging in puddles… It’s a Ken Loach reboot of Zombie Flesh Eaters.

The worst is women wearing those black, body-conscious, padded jackets. Semi-athleisure, semi-practical, entirely appalling  —  the sort of thing that sighs off the production line at Sweaty Betty or Lululemon. These are garments so poisonously mediocre, so numbingly ubiquitous that I genuinely believe they’re bad for our mental health. Unfortunately my streets are rotten with them.

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Shinya Kozuka: “They’re. Too. Big. For. Legs”

Have you seen the new Brut ad yet? It’s a dismal parody of a posh fragrance spot interrupted everyone’s favourite intelligence-tumour, Vinnie Jones. Basically, Vinnie gets a little over-emotional because people seem to want to buy fragrances that aren’t Brut.

“Grab yourself some Brut, it just smells good”, he lies.

“No messing about”, continues Vinnie  — proving once more that the advertising industry is happy to glorify the idea of being dumb as soil.

At one point Vinnie points at his nose and says, “use your nose.” You start to wonder if Vinnie actually has to point at things to remember what they’re called.

To be fair the man is now just an approximation of the human form, a sneering megaphone, a bucketful of bull’s knuckles in a Peaky Blinders cap. I’m not sure he even knows what’s going on, is he aware he just said Brut smells good?

I expect anyone under the age of 30 won’t know what Brut is. And I doubt Vinnie Jones’ enthusiastic attempts to regress the UK’s taste levels will succeed. But really, this is some next level trollop.

Vinnie barks on, “forget all this nonsense and use your nut”. ‘Nut’ at this point being a dusty old slang term for ‘head’ that no one in Brut’s target market have even heard of, let alone use.

But Vinnie isn’t done earning his wedge.

“It’s not about success, or being someone you ain’t”, he continues. earnestly trying to puncture the artifice surrounding posh fragrances  — the all too familiar archetype of the raging British dunce.

But then, wallop! We only go and cut to an end slate with bottles that clearly read ‘Brut: Paris 1965’ and ‘Brut: Attraction Totale’. What was that about ‘being something you ain’t?’ Paris eh? That’s where them Frenchies live. And isn’t ‘Totale’ the Italian spelling of ‘total’?

What a fucking palaver.

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Needles: Yeah, I know, I’m a hero

Let’s watch another episode, then go for a walk. Let’s go for a walk then watch a film. For every step on the pavement, there’s a skip down a menu. Existence is a Möbius strip of Netflix and walking.

If I’m not walking, I’m watching. Something’s got to give.

I’m the kind of person that needs something to look forward to. I’m kept sane by that warm mental blip reminding me that there’s something good just around the corner. Maybe even a nice surprise. I assume my girl feels the same. So (in a remarkably uncharacteristic act of selflessness) I bought my girl a surprise.

“I don’t want to make you any more despondent”, I said, “but there’s a white mark on the quilt.”

“On the new quilt?”, she panicked. “For god’s sake. What is it?”

“Dunno”, I shrugged, “you should probably check it out.”

She hurried off to the bedroom. I listened. Silence. Then a loud, “oh my god”, followed quickly by, “what have you done?”

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Xenia Telunts: Perfect for the sofa-based detective

Hold tight, it’s more loungewear. A couple of days back it was kaleidoscopic stripes by Dusen Dusen, now it is giant kimonos featuring splodgy houses and pot plants.

Finally the importance of loungewear has hit home. I’ve got a pair of ‘day’ pyjamas by Nowhaw, but, during this chill we’re all tired of talking about, they’re not quite substantial enough. The thing is, I do a great deal of sofa-based detective work; Death in Paradise; Marcella; Vera; The Bay; The Pembrokeshire Murders. And I can’t concentrate if I’m cold.

Someone is killed to death, there’s a cop with family problems and a familiar rotation of British supporting actors  — to some it’s repetitive, but to the experienced investigator it’s all in the detail. Frequently, my Assistant Constable (my girl) appears less than engaged  — she spends far too much time on WhatsApp for my liking. If she doesn’t get with the programme it’ll be back to desk work for her.

Never forget, the murderer is always the most implausible family member, and while you’re at it, try and train yourself to zone-out the bits where the lead’s ex-partner turns up out the blue wanting to ‘spend more time with the kids’. It’s valuable work.

But of course, a sofa-detective is no use to anyone if they’re always shivering.

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Kapital: Yes. I know. It’s cold.

It seems the hot topic is no longer lockdown measures, or the effectiveness of the vaccines against new variants, but rather: when do you switch the heating on? We’ve been cold before. Yet no one in human history has ever bothered to work out how much heating a home for a day actually costs.

Some are advocates of wool, turning up to Zoom calls looking like Scott of the Antarctic. While others claim to hold out till mid-afternoon before cranking up the boiler. Then there’s the one who shrugs, saying they’ve got the heating on all day  — which means for the remainder of the call everyone is thinking about how much they get paid.

There is of course one perspective absent from the list. The individual who can afford to have the heating on all day, but prefers to spend the money on imported casual wear. Hello there.

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Dusen Dusen: Forget catching Zzzs… it’s pillow fight king or nothing 

At least things are clearer now. Depending on which doctor or politician you happen to be listening to at the time, lockdown is either going to start relaxing in March, or continue forever. It’s the kind of British exceptionalism that makes me wonder if those Brexiteers weren’t onto something. That, and being charged £57 import duty for a pair of Parisian shoes last week.

I guess paying more to import something from France than, say, Japan, is all part of the grand plan. I assume we’re just lulling the world into a false sense of security before really showing them the grand Brexit vision. It will take a minute though, first we have to lay off all the fishermen, relocate small businesses to the EU and close the car factories. Only then will we have those foreigners where we really want them.

Anyway. It appears lockdown isn’t going anywhere any time soon. So none of us are going anywhere any time soon. Probably time to get robed-up. If we can’t promenade around outside in our bestest-bestest, then at least we can lounge inside in a bold stripy gown, doing bad Terry Thomas impressions.

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TOGA Virilis: Take your positives where you can find them

Well that didn’t last long. Biden in  — hooray. Corona variants turn out to be more murderous  — boo. A brief moment of optimism quickly flattened by a sledgehammer of baked shit. Your favourite virus just got better: now available in ‘YOU’RE COMPLETELY FUCKED’ flavour.

‘Back to normal in spring’ has morphed into talk of summer restrictions  — like we didn’t see that coming  — and morale is low. On the plus side the government have brought back the ‘video nasty’. A public information film so terrifying it should finally make any naysayers just as wary of Covid-19 as they were of ponds and pylons in the 70s. I hope everyone watches it.

As we all know by now, you take your positives where you can find them. Wandavision. Vintage David Hockney books. The new Bicep album.

I particularly enjoy performing my attempt at a Botafogo, in my underpants, during my girl’s serious Zoom meetings. I like to thumb at the elastic, slowly revealing a pyramid of pubic hair. Just a little. No knob. For me, it’s all about the poetry of the adult male body. For her, it means muting the call and telling me to ‘go away’ —  but using ruder words.

Other times I just look at clothes on the internet.

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Document: A coat for a calmer world

An emoting Lady Gaga. A warble or three from J.Lo. Mr Tom Hanks himself, speaking words designed to steady and balm. America slightly adjusts its posture and passes an especially painful Trump of trapped wind.

The world sleeps easier.

It seems fit to mark the occasion with a piece that captures this return to regular programming. Something sober and sensible, but also charismatic and refreshing. The nuclear football may now be held by a man so old he’s his own great grandfather, but he’ll do it with dignity. Something, as we’ve seen, money can’t buy.

Fortunately for the sartorially obsessed, money can (and if I get my way, will) buy this. And you know what, dignified is a decent enough word to describe it. Crisp navy. Mid-length. Simple, but complex. This coat will make you look positively presidential. We can say that again now.

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Don’t read this: visit the Nicholas Daley archive sale!

Two reasons to hooray. Firstly, the breathing pile of excrement that’s been stinking out the White House is finally out. These last few weeks have been a knuckle-jangler. I rewatched nuclear-porn Threads (and glossy US equivalent The Day After  — everyone has blinding white teeth and tans even before the bomb drops.) as preparation in case the orange clown-show decided to throw the ultimate tantrum.

As it turns out, he’s, “especially proud to be the first president in decades who has started no new wars.” And if you don’t count the civil one, he’s right.

Still, no naughty-step nukes from The Donald means we can all enjoy my second reason to hooray. The no less culturally important, Nicholas Daley archive sale.

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Engineered Garments: When the new feels familiar

Approaching a year of viroid abuse and nothing seems new anymore. Same drizzle. Same weary ‘what’s for dinner tonight?’ negotiations. Wash clothes, do work, watch news… Life is just a never-ending Netflix homepage  —  don’t stop scrolling, sooner or later there’s got to be something different.

Comfortably numb or uncomfortably numb  — I can’t even tell. Everyone I know is so cold they’re wearing two pairs of socks. Bridgerton is ancient history. It was The Pembrokeshire Murders for five minutes.

This week I watched four wannabe Ant Middletons miming diabolically to a fucking sea shanty. On paper they’re a sickening quartet of lobotomized clones  — deluded exhibitionism, H&M-level taste, meaty cocks proudly folded and vacuum sealed up front. It’s precisely the kind of spectacle that would usually freeze me with fury. Yet I felt nothing.

Even the new feels familiar. Same. Same. Same.

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Pallet Life Story: soak it in milk and chew your way through

Buckle up, there’s a new monster in the hizouse! Dropping on das ‘Gram yesterday, this patchwork clownshow made me cough coffee from my nose. It’s available over at Gloopi-Made  — freaky name, freaky jacket, freaky fucking dancing. I don’t know where to start; there are four different cloths fighting it out; six different colours in the mix. It’s like a bowl of Asda Rainbow Hoops with sleeves. And to be honest, soak this thing in milk and I’d probably try and chew my way through it  — buttons and all.

If the image above doesn’t wet your whistle, you’ve got no whistle. So polish those specs, lightly cup your testicles and let’s take a closer look at this beautiful madness.

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Kapital: Court jester meets incontinence pant

Doubtless there is an entirely sensible reason why these trousers tie up at the knee. Some practical application. Some purpose.

I’m in the dark. To the infantile brain they appear to be a monstrous hybrid of court jester and incontinence pant. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen trousers like this being sold in the back pages of a Sunday supplement.

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Margaret Howell MHL: Striving for gender neutrality

I’ve just bought a woman’s cardigan. A woman’s cardigan I intend to wear myself. Yeah boy  — gender fluidity!

I admit, the decision is somewhat uncharacteristic. I do not, as a rule, shop in the ladies section. I have never worn anything you could reasonably describe as panties. But this cardigan from the Margaret Howell MHL line was too good to resist. Basically, I looked at the measurements, convinced myself the numbers added up and ordered the biggest size they have.

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Mountain Research: bigger, bolder, stupider

As with most sequels Lockdown 3 isn’t as good as the original. As you’d expect, this one is bigger, bolder and stupider  — Boris Johnson is clearly a Michael Bay fan  — and just like any rubbish film, people are choosing to leave half way through to rejoin their normal lives. Which is a bit of a problem.

Of course the media and the politicians can’t just come out and say, “you’re all a bunch a of nitwits, it’s spreading so fast because you won’t just stay at home.” But doubtless they’d like to. Sequels are always stupider and Lockdown 3 is as daft as they come. We’ve got more hospital footage of people knitted with plastic pipes, gasping for breath as they explain they didn’t take the warnings seriously enough. Facepalm alert. Didn’t they see Lockdown 1 and 2? We’ve got people claiming it’s all a hoax because they once visited a hospital and saw a couple of empty beds. There are anti-vaxxers, u-turns, packed schools. And everywhere you look, joggers, like wheezing Spitfires, buzzing our pavements with their spittle-laden breath.

On paper it shouldn’t be boring. But as anyone who’s sat through parts one and two will tell you, we’ve seen it all before. The original was engaging, the second was more of the same, but this one is stretching credulity. Can people really be this stupid? There’s a killer on the loose: let’s split up it’ll be safer that way.

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Kolor: harmonised to form a piece of art

I do enjoy the sales patter employed by certain menswear retailers. A frenzied mixture of hyperbole and (occasionally) outright nonsense, the attempts to justify, convince and ultimately get you to boot-up your Paypal are frequently, if nothing else, entertaining.

Take this example from Korean outlet I Am Shop:

This jacket is a unique product worn by combining a classic oversized blazer and a casual windbreaker, allowing you to feel the world view the brand pursues.

‘The world view the brand pursues’? It’s a blazer and a cagoule. What is it trying to say? That within every birdwatcher there’s a recruitment consultant trying to get out?

Perhaps I’m just not smart enough to understand? According to I Am Shop, “formal materials and sporty materials are harmonised to form a piece of art.” So now I feel even more dumb. This is art. And there was me thinking it was just a way to get punters to cough-up for two jackets at once.

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Needles: like finding a vein of gold, or an extra bit of Titanic

If you visit the Nepenthes London site and click ‘Sale’, then ‘Needles’, you might logically expect to see all the Needles in the sale. However, in-line with the current global topsy-turvyness, this is actually not so. For instance, this hat is hidden away under ‘Accessories’ > ‘Hats‘. It’s Needles, it’s on sale, but for some reason it’s not in general population.

When, like me, you spend an absurd amount of time circling the navigational array of every decent menswear site on the planet, you occasionally discover the odd incongruity. It’s like finding a vein of gold, or an extra bit of Titanic. And the very fact I feel so passionately about this gives you a good idea of how little it takes to get me excited these days.

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Post-Imperial: New year, another favourite brand

So how’s 2021 for you? It seems remarkably similar to two days ago as far as I’m concerned. In spite of the deluge of Facebookians humble-bragging about 2020 being a tough year (you don’t say) and how they just ‘know’ 2021 is going to be great, we’re now 48 hours into the new year and things are still essentially piss.

I’m happy to offer a fake ‘boo-hoo’ and a real ‘told-you-so’ to the residents of Dover, who after voting for Brexit are now apparently shocked it means turning an area of natural beauty into a fuck-off lorry park. In the US a withering Trump is thinking about starting a war with Iran to get his Twitter follower count back up. While Jacob Rees-Mogg silently hovers over the UK in his steam-punk Deathstar, watching gleefully as the proletariat continually flout the rules, resulting in more deaths and expediting his chance at the big chair. Happy new year all.

The one positive on my personal horizon is the acquisition of a yellow corduroy Post-Imperial shirt. New brand: achievement unlocked! My girl bought it for my birthday (which isn’t until February) but when the postie arrived with the mystery box, I badgered and whined to such an olympic degree she gave up and let me have it. Anyway, long story short, it’s amazing, Post-Imperial is now my new favourite brand and, as befits a despicable gobbling gargoyle like myself, I already want more.

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Comme des Garçons Homme: Televised Coronavirus

I have a family connection to the island of Jersey. So last night I popped my ‘The Real Housewives of…’ cherry and watched an episode of ITVBe’s The Real Housewives of Jersey. Suffice to say, after wincing through about 25 minutes, I had to re-watch Threads to cheer myself up.

Trading standards should take note, as the contents appeared to contain neither ‘housewives’ (they all seemed to have jobs of a sort) or any sense of reality  — the infantile script soon shattered that illusion. I can confirm it’s set on Jersey. But not the actual Jersey, more a Jersey of ‘alternative facts’. There are no cliff walks, WWII relics and friendly seafood restaurants here. This is Jersey as seen though the lens of Liberace’s bed pan.

Each interchangeable participant is a random assemblage of creosoted tits and thighs, vacuum-packed inside a drag queen’s nightmare. Each has a vocabulary on par with a Mr Men book. And each appears to spend a great deal of money to look like they shop at QVC. This is an irony-free zone: watch as shameless self-importance ruthlessly fucks modesty in the arse.

The ladies bounce and totter and squeal in a futile effort to repackage the banal as sensational. Lordy, there’s a couple of gay guys. One of them sometimes wears a dress. Look out, one housewife has glanced at another housewife in a slightly displeasing way… OMG scandal!

The show presents the island’s Royal Yacht (the piss-head’s disco of choice) as a venue of sophistication. The wives coo over some local Banksy rip-offs. And when the husbands are wheeled on to mouth their lines you can almost feel the gun in their back.

Naturally the whole thing is plastered together with tone deaf cuntspeak about “loving Champagne and diamonds” and solemn nodding when a character dressed like a Toffee Penny with builder’s carves says something like: “you’ve just got to take every day as it comes.”

It’s televised Coronavirus. Breathless, queasy and if you watch enough of it you’ll lose your sense of taste.

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The art of receiving

So, I’ve opened my Nepenthes-heavy gifts and now I’m browsing the sales for things I didn’t get and don’t need. What a despicable, grasping individual I am. As a child the hinterland post-Christmas and pre-new year was spent playing with new toys. But I’m already bored of playing with my new Needles sweater. I wore it for a Boxing day walk around a graveyard and now it’s not new. I’m sick of Tony’s Chocolonely. I’ve watched Wonder Woman 1984. I want more stuff. Wah-wah. Just hate me why don’t you.

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Needles: A pleasingly premature taste of tomorrow

Typically at this time of year things start to wind down, yet everything’s speeding up. Coronavirus has developed a 70% power boost. Shops barely have their ‘We’re back!’ stencils on the window before they’re forced to shut again. Christmas is on, then off, then on, then off… The French don’t want our lorries, but they might change their mind any minute. Broccoli is now the new toilet roll.

The country is a giant Scalextric track, and the car keeps falling off.

Menswear hasn’t escaped this national tizzy. Thirty percent offs are the norm, then “for 24 hours” a further 10% off that. The Bureau has gone on sale already and Kafka is offering its Patrons an early saving. While over at Nepenthes London they’ve already got Needles SS21 in stock.

I can’t keep up. I haven’t yet grubbed around in the post-Christmas sales and Needles are already tempting me with an age-inappropriate fringed velour tracksuit top.

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BROWN by 2-tacs: A pocketful of sexual repression

Now here’s a piece to wear to Back to the Future’s Enchantment Under the Sea dance. Rev your DeLorean, give your Gibson a thwaggg and biff Tannen on the nose; this is so 1950s it comes with a free pocketful of sexual repression. 

Back to the Future not your bag of candy canes? In that case think T-Birds vs the Pink Ladies. Or, somewhat ironically after the year we’ve had, Happy Days.

It’s squared off. It’s got a chunky hem. It comes with its own Buddy Holly soundtrack. But with fewer hand-jiving greasers, and more greasy hand-sani, does this style still work today?

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Tender: A thousand yarn stare

When you look at this picture do you even notice the jacket? Christ forgive me, hide me from those eyes!

For some reason retailer I Am Shop have decided to style this unassuming Tender jacket on a dude who’s stare could curdle milk. I’m all for left-field model selection (you’ve seen my own attempts at street style) but why combine soft Welsh wool with General Zod? It’s overpowering. Once you see his eyes it’s over; nothing else exists. All you can do is brace for the searing heat of laser beams, before floating away as ash in the wind.

This dude is simply too mesmerising. I can’t imagine an outfit his intense vibes wouldn’t dominate. Which is a shame, as it’s the jacket that really deserves the attention.

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Song for the Mute: Unwrap another Golden Barrel

Whoa! It looked today like we were about to snip the last thread sending us plummeting into a no-deal abyss, and now Johnson has agreed to a bit more talking. I wonder, when the final outcome is clear, which of his two contradictory views he’ll have to pretend to believe? Would no deal have been “a failure of statecraft.” Or will no deal in fact be “wonderful”, as he’s recently taken to saying. Does anyone believe a word our diet-Donald says?

I genuinely don’t think anyone cares anymore. Especially now we’re switching Coronavirus off on the 23rd. It’s not going to be re-booted until the 27th, so we can all pile round each other’s houses, cough, snog and spit on the turkey. Fuck everything, it’s jingletime! Hang the tinsel, pop open the Roses and let’s have a hug in front of the Christmas Strictly. What do you mean Granny says she can’t taste her Baileys?

There’s a grim certainty hanging over everything. Obviously Santa’s going to deliver preventable deaths to thousands. Obviously whatever piss poor arrangement Johnson agrees to will be presented as a triumph. And obviously a nation of duped peons will wake up to a new year with the worst economic predictions in generations, no new job-packed Toyota factories, crippling tariffs on small businesses and the cost of Granny’s funeral to consider.

Fuck it all. You voted for it, you can gobble it up nitwit. I’m going to look at this insanely expensive Song for the Mute jacket. You stick with your Mrs. Brown’s Boys Christmas Special, see where it gets you.

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GoopiMade: Stuck in a hinterland between hope and despair

The other night I sat through Celebrity Antiques Road Trip. Bananarama were on and I watched as they pretended to be excited when a Royal Crown Derby cup and saucer they bought for £25, sold at auction for £35. In a year of depressing spectacles it was still an impressively bleak watch.

For a change of speed I followed it up with Muscle. A new art house film exploring the male psyche against a backdrop of steroid abuse, nuclear machismo and highly antisocial behaviour. I thought it might be fun. One hour and fifty minutes of grunting, crying, casual racism and the most nauseating suburban orgy committed to film later, I can say that ‘fun’ is not the appropriate word.

Banal bargain hunters or high-brow protein shakers? Life’s full of such juxtapositions right now. We’ll look anywhere for something, anything, to break the monotony. It’s not quite Christmas. We haven’t quite got the vaccine. We’re still on the precipice of  committing to the idiocy of a no-deal. We’re all just treading water until we can open our presents.

Do I want art-house or dumbed-down? A takeaway or more boiled veg? Shall I read a book or just boot up COD? Should I clash-up some pattern and colour and become a figure of hopeful optimism? Or just give up, dress head-to-toe in dark navy and vanish into our societal shambles?

You can probably guess from my tone which I’d prefer.

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Kenneth Field: If Romesh Ranganathan was the cure for Coronavirus

At last. Today. The first injectee. Just 68,041,626 to go. Shame it took so long. I recognise the astonishing achievement of the global scientific community. It’s just that if the vaccine for Coronavirus had turned out to be something more commonplace, something more easily findable, we could have saved a lot of trouble.

It’s unfortunate that Uniqlo padded jackets weren’t the cure. Or the smell of an M&S Best Ever Beef Lasagne. Things would have been very different. If exposure to Romesh Ranganathan had been a vaccine, I expect there’d have been no outbreak at all. His omnipresence across all forms of media would have inoculated the country immediately. Although it’s not Ranganathan’s fault. He could never have known that if he’d modulated the delivery of his ‘giving birth is like constipation’ routine in a way that naturally boosted the body’s T and B-lymphocytes, 2020 would have been amazing.

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Byborre: a bicycle-pump for your ego

There’s something exquisitely awkward about self-proclaimed titles. So cringeworthy, like taking a bicycle-pump to your ego. Woo-hoo, over here, check out the status on me.

Scott Disick (notable for impregnating Kourtney Kardashian) bought an English title on the internet. He now prefers to go by Lord Disick. Presumably because he’s a dicksick. And of course you don’t see Anton Du Beke putting up a fuss when Tess calls him “King of the Ballroom.” But then he’s no stranger to a little bogus prestige: as is clear from Anthony Paul Beke’s birth certificate.

Surprisingly this kind of shameless self-applause doesn’t crop up in fashion all that often. So it is queasily refreshing to find Byborre, an Amsterdam based textile innovation studio, quite comfortably self-identifying as the “Masters of Knit.”

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AiE: A confusing entry point

Often the most interesting menswear is quite confusing. What, precisely, is it? What’s it trying to say? And not least, when would you actually wear it?

Kenta Miyamoto, head of design at AiE, is well versed in the art of confusion. As you’d expect from a Nepenthes family brand, AiE collections nod to Needles here and Engineered Garments there, but the overriding sense is one of befuddling chaos. A jumble of ideas, pattern, print, shape and colour fighting to be seen. It shouldn’t work. Yet, when worn en masse, these erratic pieces add-up. The riddle suddenly makes sense.

So where does this leave the AiE beginner? You can’t very well drop on everything all at once. Unless you’ve got a bottomless purse, you’ll need a starter piece. Something that carries the AiE DNA, but is equally at home sitting with gear you’ve already got. Something like this.

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Sage Nation: The most important trousers in the world right now

One of the less discussed, but welcome, results of ‘generation woke’, is that masculinity is no longer measured by the rules I grew up with. To celebrate a man because of his earnings, his athletic prowess (either on the sports field or in the bedroom) his ability to bottle-up emotion or his appetite for sexual innuendo now feels positively archaic. It’s all embarrassingly out of step with contemporary mores.

Yet if anything, with all those old-fashioned machismo measures out the way, it’s now easier than ever to spot the alpha dudes. It’s simple. They’ll be the ones wearing the biggest trousers.

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The Nerdys: a world of hurt

What a week.

I’m having what can politely be described as ‘tummy troubles’. After a phone appointment with my doc I’m prescribed dried apricots. Ever had one? It’s like eating something that’s washed up on a beach.

Then I’ve got my sister sending me WhatsApp videos of my infant nephew having his ‘biffy baff’. My fucking eyes! Why would my sister send me footage of a small boy’s knob bobbing in bubble bath?

To round it off, after hours of back and forth, my girl and I finally agreed to buy an armchair on Vinterior. Then we spotted the extra £150 it’d cost to deliver from the Czech Republic. So that’ll be a grand for a chair designed by some dude with a name like a spilt bag of Scrabble tiles.

What a week of piss.

It makes me want to do something stupid, like lash out 180 quid on a shirt with a silly pocket that I definitely don’t need.

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Post-Imperial: this beaming yellow over-shirt must be mine

Perhaps you remember the brand Post-Imperial from the Engineered Garments collaboration last year. The powerhouse project resulted in some eye-popping pieces, as designer Niyi Okuboyejo combined his Nigerian heritage with EG standards like the Loiter jacket, the Ghurka Short and bucket hat.

I’m a bit surprised the brand hasn’t appeared at stores like The Bureau, Kafka, Garbstore and Hip Store. With its New York base, West African influences and traditional artisanal dying techniques it feels like a no brainer to me. The current collection, available at Matches, boasts some enviable tie-dye sweats in cotton-chenille and look at that corduroy… jumbo and fuzzy, seriously soft and comfortable surely. 

Doubtless the vibrancy of Post-Imperial’s colour palette might frighten some, but for me it’s the opposite. A man can’t live in navy, olive and grey alone. Unless he insists on it, but where’s the fun in that? Consequently, I’ve decided that this beaming yellow over-shirt must be mine.

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Conichiwa Bonjour: part Breakdance 2 ‘dance battle’ part Alison Moyet

I wonder why brands never get bored of making sweatshirts with the names of cities and universities on them? I understand the classical appeal of Ivy. I get Ametora. But in a post-Superdry world  — where every possible graphical permutation of sport, academia and metropolis has already been jacked, morphed and spewed into airless malls  — I would have thought the concept thoroughly exhausted.

New in at London’s Garbstore we find Conichiwa Bonjour. A brand that still seem to do a roaring trade in mutated Ivy staples. You can get a face-full of vibe over on the brand’s Korean site. It’s all sweats, tees, caps, hoodies and liners. Colourful. Unpretentious. It’s streetwear brah. Clothing designed around a glamorised ideal of what people do on streets. I expect skateboarding’s on the moodboard. A closing-time screaming match followed by sick and tears, probably not.

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Comme des Garçons Homme: New COD Cold War update

What’s with Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War developers Treyarch? Of course you’ve got your gun modding, psychological profiles and in-game perks. But is it too much to ask for some character options aimed at the more sartorially-minded bro? Is it just me or is all-over camo a bit 90s? Camo’s okay for a bit of autumn/winter flare, but what about spring/summer? I can’t even find any cruisewear in the menus.

Of course, I want my gunsmanship to do most of the talking. The first and last thing my opponents should see is the flash of my AUG. If they’ve got time to appreciate the cut of my box pleats I’m doing something wrong.

That said, it’d be nice to have a more varied wardrobe. Some days I’m just not feeling utilitarian murder-wear. It might be nice to slice a terrorist’s jugular in a jolly summer-weight tank top.

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Nepenthes London: who’s the real victim here?

The Nepenthes hardcore may have spotted these knits over on the Hakata store Instagram. But what you might not know is that they’re expected in the London store next week.

How these Shetland made sweaters have made it the 9,206 miles to Hakata, before the 735 miles to London is anyone’s guess. I blame Brexit. Let’s not forget (as if we didn’t already have enough to worry about) that clown show is still incoming. I think of it like a third wave of the virus, but one we voted for. I’m sure the country’s already beleaguered small businesses can’t wait to enjoy more checks, tariffs, hold-ups and paperwork come December 31st.

And let’s spare a thought for the real victims here. Overindulged guys like me who have to wait a week longer to buy some slightly unusual knitwear. I said it. What?

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Needles: I like things and I won’t apologise

It’s about this time that thoughts turn to Christmas, specifically Christmas presents. More specifically the receiving of them. Giving’s okay, but let’s not pretend receiving isn’t the reason we all turn up. Watching your Dad open another posh Labour and Wait apron he didn’t ask for, and doesn’t need, is fun. But it’s just the warm-up act, an amuse-bouche before your own animalistic tearing can begin.

Of course, I’m out of step with the mood of the times. It’s all experiences these days, rather than things. But I don’t apologise, I like things, I want stuff. I want to send someone a link in November and unwrap precisely that thing on the 25th.

You might want to do the same with these trousers when you see the reduction in price.

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Niche: sunflowers, daisies, some disembodied somethings and a multi-coloured job

I’m vulnerable to embroidery. A real sucker for it. So much more luxe than a print. Almost anything rendered in embroidery looks cool. For example: I’ve got no particular affection for flowers, yet this new collection of floral sweats from Japanese brand Niche is owning me.

Petals, leaves, stalks; in real life I can take ’em or leave ’em. I canceled my girl’s weekly Freddie’s Flowers drop when Covid began to bite. But embroidered flowers, on a sweatshirt? That’s my kind of arrangement. Sensitive, considerate, friendly: wear one of these and people will assume you’re all those things.

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Primury: detail in the mundane

Stuck in our homes. No outside stimulus. Our view of life ever more abbreviated. Is it me or does the mundane begin to exhibit a level of detail hitherto unnoticed?

I’ve never before noticed that before her Zoom pilates class my girl crawls around picking up bits of fluff from the carpet. God forbid her fellow contortionists think her anything less than house-proud. It’s the digital equivalent of a 1950’s granny scrubbing her front step.

I’ve never paid much attention while my girl cuts my hair either. It’s become so tediously routine, I’ve typically zoned out and let her get on with it. It was only the other day I actually realised the hatchet-job she’s been doing on my eyebrows. There are clearly notches where there should be hair  — I’ve been on business calls looking like Vanilla Ice.

The detail in the mundane. It’s all we’ve got right now. And in menswear terms what’s more mundane than the white canvas sneaker?

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Grei: abnormal circumstances call for triple denim solutions

“You must go for a walk”, says my chiropractor, “every day.”

He’s is wearing a hazmat suit, he looks like one of the scientists at the end of ET.

“I do go for a walk every day”, I lie, as I squeeze past him to escape. 

I don’t enjoy walking for walking’s sake. A walk has to have a point. There must be something to do at the end of a walk, otherwise why walk? But with everything closed, there may well be walking to be done, but there’s nowhere to walk to. When I do drag myself out for a leg-stretch I end up walking in circles, a quick ‘lap of the block’ then back to the sofa for Escape to the Country and eclairs.

There may be no destinations but the pavements are still chocka with walkers and, my personal bête noire, the runner. It’s impossible to enjoy a 20 minute stroll without being swarmed by runners. Runners over here, runners over there, most of them running directly at me. All of them cantering about, snorting and puffing — like they’re trying to prove they’re the most runnery runner who’s ever done a run. And when they pass by (always ignoring the two metre rule) are they deliberately trying to pant germs into my eyes?

No wonder I don’t like walking. It feels unsafe. And unlike my back-doctor I don’t have a hazmat suit. Maybe this three piece denim armour is the next best thing?

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Tilak: ready for adventure

Context in menswear is so important. Take a look at the website of Czech brand Tilak. It’s full of people doing stuff that isn’t watching boxset TV. They’re all wearing primary coloured leggings and body-hugging cagoules, they’re jumping up and down and walking up stuff, apparently for fun. It’s almost like they don’t spend every day moaning, smoking and eating mint Clubs. This is not a cool context.

Now check out Japan’s Collect Store. Here we find Tilak again. But the context is entirely different. Scroll down the homepage and you’ll see individuals doing little more than standing in the street, wearing clothes, looking a bit moody. This is a cool context. Just because you’re wearing a technical brand, doesn’t mean you have to pogo about, climbing trees and playing Poohsticks. It’s quite sufficient to lean against a branch of Lloyds Pharmacy eating Quavers safe in the knowledge that your sweater cost more than everyone else’s.

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South2 West8: the star of a 70s made-for-TV horror film about Yetis

Proper cabin in the woods stuff this. Fuzzy, warm and practical, with a strong retro flavour. There’s something of the ‘video nasty’ about it. This is the gear worn by the local ‘crazy’ warning the kids to stay out the woods. Or perhaps the camp councillor, just before he’s beheaded with a pair of shears.

I doubt such a fate would befall me around Peckham. The only daggers I’d get would be the green eyes of envy from the local style-bros. To which I obviously say, bring it on.

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South2 West8: the sophistication of a Parker pen

That didn’t last long. Just the other day I was tossing my toys out the pram over a lack of sartorial inspiration. Then this monster lands over at Nepenthes London. Hold the phone. Call the cops. It’s back on baby.

Take a moment, look at that pattern and those colours, drink them in. So scarily wrong, yet so perfectly right. It’s like a time-machine to a more naive time.  A time of Harold Wilson, portable cassette recorders and the sophistication of a Parker pen.

I’ve been looking for a reason to regrow my clichéd lockdown moustache and here it is.

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HAAT-ery: who decides what suits you?

Why do so many people think hats don’t suit them? It seems that for many, the simple act of wearing a hat is a big challenge. Believing that hats simply don’t ‘suit’ (whatever that means) is a common act of self-delusion. The thing is, if you wear hats, you get used to hats and come to believe they suit you. If you don’t, you don’t. It’s as simple as that.

But if there’s one thing left that unites the human race, it’s that we’ve all got heads. And in virtually 100% of cases, they’ve got a top bit which will fit a hat nicely. 

Of course, there are hats and there are hats, and today we’re exploring the latter. The Haat-ery is finally open for business, offering an unapologetically unique approach to millinery. These are not your standard hats. Yes, they’re challenging, confusing even. But if you’re a committed hat wearer and ready to explore options outside a Norse Projects beanie, you’re in the right place. 

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Unfil: banishing stylistic impotence

I haven’t been wowed by much this season. Maybe I’ve reached peak clothing. Or perhaps I’ve just been emotionally lobotomised by the constant avalanche of shit news. But I’m not getting excited by anything. Engineered Garments are offering asymmetric zips, muddy patterns and a battalion of belted coats and I can’t get onboard with any of it. And that jazz stuff with musical notes down the sleeves? I’m sure I’ve seen that stuff at Camden Market.

I like the Needles sweater I posted about the other day, but that’s about it. I’ve dozed on Sasquatchfabrix and Monitaly. While CDG Homme are knocking out stuff that looks like last winter’s EG and then there’s that horrible CDG Shirt x Futura collaboration. Everything looks the same (or worse) than stuff I already own.

Doubtless I’m a twat. A spoilt, whiny crybaby with nothing left to buy. Boo-hoo me. Boo-fucking-hoo.

I just want something to come along and smack me out of this malaise. I want to see something I really want, something to banish this stylistic impotence.

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Forget the heating bill, buy this Needles sweater

So what have you been talking about this week? What topics are keeping the traps of your workmates, your family and your friends yapping? I expect it’s much the same as last week. And the week before. And the week before that. In the absence of much outside stimulus, the art of conversation is withering on the vine.

US election: Yes, we still hope Trump loses.
TV: No, a night on the sofa with a boxset doesn’t feel like a treat when it’s all you do.
The Queen’s Gambit: Yes, it’s about chess, but don’t let that put you off.
Work: Yes, we’re working more hours than ever before (caveat: but we’re lucky to have a job)
Christmas: No, it won’t be the same this year. 
Yes, another lockdown is a certainty.  

The one new conversational gambit this week goes as follows:

My flat is so cold… but I don’t want to have the heating on all day… it’d cost a fortune.

Cue universal agreement and, if you’re lucky, a side bar around, “does anyone really know how much heating costs?

Then someone will say they’d rather, “stick another sweater on“, before collapsing in giggles as though they are the first person to ever say such a thing.

Conversational rock and roll it is not.

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Kapital: Like tiers in the rain

This is not a drill. My NHS app alert is high. It might be very high tomorrow. I don’t know what the tiers mean. Can I catch it from TikTok? Can I eat a packet of Nik Naks in my garden?

And the drizzle… It just won’t stop. I feel like Rutger Hauer at the end of Blade Runner: defeated, miserable and a bit damp, with nothing left to do but accept the inevitable.

Impossible times call for implausible measures. I made up some nonsense about the knitted optimism of a bright yellow roll neck the other day. It was so convincing, that I convinced myself. I bought it. It arrives today.

But I think I need more. More unreasonably exuberant clothing. More stuff I can put on to provide some wall of positivity between myself and the end times.

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Heimat: wary of woollens with an aquatic bent

“Should fit snug with initial wears”, says retailer Clutch Cafe of this glorious golden knit. But what if you don’t want it snug? What if your very idea of hell is bright yellow fabric stretched taught across a surplus of tummy? What then?

I’ve encountered this issue with ‘nautical style’ knitwear before. I bought a tightly woven roll neck sweater from North Sea Clothing, it was a size too small, but a steal in the sale. Course when I got it home I realised that it looked fine while standing pin-straight, but as soon as I moved about I looked pregnant. I stuffed it with cushions to try and stretch it out. But as it turns out, serious fisherman’s knits are built to withstand the rigours of light upholstery. Ever since I’ve been wary of woollens with an aquatic bent.

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