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Too much of a tosser to just buy a pair of Converse

As a genus, the canvas sneaker is over-subscribed, over-worn and, arguably, over. Do you go lazy and pick up a pair of Converse (they’re the 70s heavy ones honest) or street-kid-wannabe and grab some Vans? Want to look like a European tourist? Go Superga. Still seduced by what John Lennon used to wear? Get some Spring Court. Thing is, none of these brands provide any stand out. They’re all too available. Too popular. Too well known. Paradoxical it may be, but to generate canvas sneaker stand-out, you need something less conspicuous.

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Ideal for the easyJet to Marbs

It’s always impressive when someone I know checks in on social media at a place that isn’t their home. I appreciate the selflessness of the act. Giving others a glimpse into their exciting lives, allowing friends to take vicarious pleasure through their actions. Some people think that checking in at a place like Soho House for example, is just a digitally legitimised instance of vulgar and asinine boastfulness. I won’t hear a word of it. I never get tired of seeing check-ins at Pop Brixton, or an airport, or a regional pizzeria. It’s all so thrilling.

I see this coat as a physical manifestation of this phenomenon. It’s a coat so bombastic, it’ll check you in at your destination before you arrive. Although whether it will generate as much envy as a long weekend in Venice is of course subject to taste.

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Visiting an independent printers

Taking a walk to a local independent printers to get something printed is the kind of commonplace and entirely innocuous task that, to my mind, demands a studied, premeditated approach to attire.

Where are you going to keep the precious USB stick? What if you encounter some rough terrain? What if a bloke walks towards you clearly sporting a superior garment? What if he knows he’s wearing a superior garment and just blanks you, without even once eyeballing your fit? What if you remain plagued by thoughts of what you should have worn for the rest of the day, and well into the early evening? A conundrum to be sure.

So clock my ‘visiting an independent printers’ look. And just be thankful you’re not that other guy walking towards this overcooked firestorm of menswear and insecurity.

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Unbecoming holdall to jacket ratio

Here’s a garment akin to the film series Sharknado, only with pockets. Pouchnado if you will. This is what happens when pockets attack. An inappropriate array of flaps on flaps on flaps. I’m all for having somewhere to stick your essentials. But I’m not that bothered about being able to transport an entire fossil collection, geological hammers and a pneumatic air scribe.

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Stick two fingers up to practicality

Rarely have the sartorial requirements of both winter and summer been exhibited so effectively in a single garment. On the bottom, it’s loose, light-weight cotton. Around the neck, a throttling knitted tube. Interesting to find a garment so vociferous in it’s desire to stick two fingers up to practicality. It’s almost as though it doesn’t want to be worn.

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Practical and inarguably sensible

As non-essential essentials go, this is right up there. Unless, I guess, you’re actually into hunting? Like, actually shooting, spearing or snaring living beasts for fun. If that’s your bag, would you mind leaving this site, you’re a 1000% prick. If on the other hand you appreciate the idea of hunting inspired menswear, but plan on using those pockets for nothing more murderous than an iPhone, some headphones, a tasteful wallet, your house keys and a packet of Extra, then please stay. The more I stare at this non-essential, it’s looking much more essential than non.

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Weaponry for the sartorial braggadocio

I like the brand Tender very much. I like its ethos. I like the bedraggled, shagginess of it all, the  sheer crudity: a perfect encapsulation of vagabond chic. I don’t own any though. Never quite got to the point where 300 coins on a high-necked, high-pocketed knot of creased linen seemed like the right move.

This denim piece over at Present would at least sidestep the wrinkles. And assuming you’re happy looking like a cartoon train driver you’re in the right place.

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If you can buy it in Selfridges I’m not interested

If you enjoy this site I can make a couple of assumptions. Firstly you are interested in menswear. Secondly your ideal of what is cool will fall into one of two camps. In camp one is a guy who wants labels at least some of his mates have heard of. Norse Projects, Our Legacy, AMI, ACNE, YMC, Battenwear, Beams Plus, Nanamica maybe, perhaps even Sassafras if you’re an Oi Polloi blokey. In camp two there are tossers like me. Guys who rate the success of their purchase based on how obscure the brand is. If you can buy it in Selfridges I’m not interested. If the sales guy in Liberty has even heard of it, forget it.

For a loser like me, a garment doesn’t have to even be that exceptional, as long as it’s from a brand that’s bloody awkward to get your hands on. Exhibit one: this shirt.

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A conundrum I feel I could probably have unraveled

My girl nabbed one of these bags last season. Hers is in light pink. I’ve never borrowed it. This colourway is a bit more me. Probably a bit more you too.  It’s called, “white forest printed sacoche.” Basically it looks like a camo that’s been kicked around the bins a bit.

Those of a logical persuasion might be looking at this and wondering, if the bag was full, would that cord bite into your shoulder, rendering the whole exercise one of teeth grinding discomfort? Interestingly, I can reveal the answer to that…

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Sitting for hours, on your own, in the damp

Built for pleasure or for pain? For function or fancy? Seemingly systemic in its codification of all that is prominent in left-field menswear, this monster features flap pockets, zip pockets, breathable sections, side zips, dangling cords, metal loops and (naturally) a pom-pom on the sleeve. No prizes for knowing what this garment is for, but I’ll give you a multiple choice. 1) A night down ‘Spoons surrounded by blokes in Ted Baker shirts. 2) Fishing.

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Space-brothels with three-nippled ladies

These shoes are called Mutation 2. Presumably because, in a sort of way, they mutate. Not sure I ever saw Mutation 1; must have gone straight-to-DVD.  Anyway, as I say they ‘mutate’. In so much as there’s a big panel that velcros over the laces. You could wear it up or (presumaby) hanging down and danging. Mutate. MUTATE. Is it me or does mutate seems quite a strong word for a velcro patch?

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In the market for a level of discomfort

Just when it appears there is nothing to be added to the whole plain-t-shirt-with-fancy-pocket conversation, these appear. I don’t know much about Japanese imprint Habanos. They refer to themselves as HBNS on their website. And a quick Google Translate reveals the usual patter about, “expressions“, “work, military and surf” and experiencing things through “nature“. But beyond peddling the ecosystem of feels, the brand seems to concern itself with sporty windcheaters, roomy, pleated shorts, patchworky denim and putting weird pockets on t-shirts.

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Another sporty but ephemeral, hypebeast-heater?

Facetasm is one of those oddball streetwear brands that resides in the Dover Street Market basement. It’s an imprint as crackpot as it is inscrutable, boasting a pricing structure ruinous to all but the most muscular of checking accounts. Their billowing tees and jumbo backpacks suggest Facetasm is just another sporty but ephemeral, hypebeast-heater. But look closer and you’ll find some solid, wearable pieces in the mix.

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Musical poetry about highwaymen

It’s often Chamula’s none-more-chunky knits that get props in menswear circles. Handmade by Mexican craftspeople, audacious of pattern and immersive of pile. They’re shaggy-dog garments, designed to be worn for a lifetime, and moult bits of themselves wherever your travels take you. Personally I find the idea of knobbly, lived-in knitwear fairly repellent. And yes, I’ve tried battery powered knitwear de-bobblers. They don’t work. If I’m going to trouble the Mexican artisans of Chamula, it’ll be for these shoes.

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The gentrification of punk motifs

There comes a time when pretty much every design house resorts to the artful splash. An apparently random application of complementary colour, seemingly flicked onto the product. Shirts, jackets, jeans and yes, those tiresome Margiela sneakers; when inspiration is a no-show, reach for a couple of tins of Dulux and a taut brush.

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Why Denise?

DENISE“, he shouted. Then silence. Then, with a whisper, “Denise.” When he shouted, he crunched up his face as though wracked with torment, he held his fists aloft and glared to the clouds. When he whispered, he sank back, shoulders slumped, as though vanquished by the power of his own emotion.

What do you think?“, he said to not Denise.

Why Denise?, ” she said.

Dunno“, he said, “just a funny name.” She peered at him with a straight face.

It’s acting“, he said, grinning. “It’s my best acting, you know, like I’ve just lost a lover or something. Like in a film. I’m acting for you.

I’m not convinced” she said. “I’m not convinced by that dreamcatcher round your neck either.

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The backbreaking labour of devising intercontinental synergies

More from the house of Nepenthes today. After yesterday’s fancy-boy EG shirting, here’s a Fall 17 piece from Needles to get us back to the relative safety of blue jackets. It’s a blue jacket. Chore style. Fairly standard on the whole cut front; four pockets, a collar, some arms. It’s made of wool Serge, which for those in the know means a twill fabric with a diagonal weave, and for those not in the know, well now you know. The most interesting thing about it (other than, let’s be honest, the Needles label) is its irregular dye job.

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I mean, this isn’t 1997

Engineered Garments routinely interweave florid prints throughout the navys, greys and khakis of their workweary collections. Often the patterns are relatively muted, particularly within the Fall collections. But check out the kaleidoscopic horticulture on this. And the butterflies.

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A pound or two of superfluous fabric

Short-legged men I know tell me wide trousers are off limits. Their comparatively diminutive stature when paired with a giant pant, results, so they tell me, in a significant truncation to their elevation. In other words, they look short and wide, as apposed to just short. Of course, it’s just an optical illusion. Their bodies are the same, it’s just the volume of trouser in play has significantly increased.

The weird thing is, I’ve heard the same hesitancy around wide trousers from tall men. The most frequent reasoning being that, “baggy trousers on tall men just look stupid”.

Not sure I agree with either camp. The wearing of a trouser, frivolous in fabric allocation, is one of the fundamental rights of a gentleman. Upstairs it’s feigned nonchalance, downstairs it’s Hammer time. If a man can’t stride about boasting a pound or two of superfluous fabric in his trews, then really, what is being a man all about?

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If anyone tells you otherwise they are, by any reasonable scientific measure, an idiot

Patterned suits are a thing and I’m extremely happy patterned suits are a thing. If you are on the verge of  attending a summer wedding, you should be planning to wear one. If anyone tells you otherwise they are, by any reasonable scientific measure, an idiot. You should cast them from your life with the kind of indifferent farewell usually reserved for a flushed plop. Then buy a patterned suit. Then, if necessary, attend the wedding alone.

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It’s where people who love Made furniture go

I’m on the fence when it comes to Suicoke sandals. I’m doubly on the fence when it comes to J Crew. So where these collaborative velcro numbers are concerned, I’m on a fence, on top of a fence, on a fence.

Suicoke just creep into the acceptable brand camp because, well, even though they crop up too frequently in the indie-retail mix, you never actually see anyone in them. J Crew on the other hand… It’s where city boys’ wives go. It’s where people who love Made furniture go. It’s struggling to find an audience and being suffocated by corporate debt. It’s doing preppy, still. It’s a high street shop so help me lord.

So, as you can imagine, it’s extremely difficult for me to type the following words: I really like these Suicoke X J Crew sandals.

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Keep it jim jams

Whether you think that pyjamas (or at least things that look very like them) are plausible UK streetwear is probably aligned to your level of susceptibility for all things Japanese. Many will quickly disregard the idea due to the following facts:

A) They’re pyjamas
B) Pyjamas are commonly associated with wearing in the home
C) Even at home no one wears pyjamas

Regular readers can rightly assume I take a different view.

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Bin-worthy to some, hobo-porn to others

No matter the level of toil that goes into making new jeans look old, they don’t. Not truly. I have yet to see an industrial level process that accurately captures the unmistakable result of prolonged wear. Whether sand blasted, enzyme washed or honeycombed with laser beams, distressing by committee just doesn’t quite convince. Which is fine if your sartorial ambitions are best described as ‘Polyester Bruno Mars’. Toss on your regional box-fresh Converse, a short sleeved Ted Baker slim-fit shirt and an Urban Outfitters Trilby. Job done. The more exacting will have to look further afield.

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By ‘innovation’ I mean the exact opposite

If there’s one thing that keeps me up at night, it’s the tedium of knowing, come morning, I’ll have to yet again face a pair of shoes with laces in their predictable place, on the front of a shoe. On they go, down I’ll bend and have to knot them up, every day the same. Sure, it’s a practical. Yes it’s a tried and tested formula. And yes, it’s easy, neat, it looks good, people know it, like it and are comfortable with it on a global scale. But putting all that to one side, wouldn’t it be better if the laces were on the heel?

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This post is of interest to no one

An extremely small number of people will be interested in this post. Which is a good thing. If we agree that mainstream, popular clothing is broadly bad. Then it follows niche, independent, small-run clothing is broadly good. By applying that idea to the editorial policy of this site, I conclude that content which is read by only few and ignored by the masses must be good. Hence these trousers. Camouflage (which will immediately put many people off) linen (which is good for only a couple of months out the year) and crucially, at sale time, they’re still full price at a demoralising £355. Success. This post is of interest to no one.

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A friend to the avant-garde

The hinterland between seasonal menswear drops is grim. Last season’s offerings, once so lustrous and covetable, droop in price as consumer lethargy grows. New stock to come. Old stock still here. The Japanese, notoriously languid when it comes to servicing western retail, have yet to deliver. So what have we to look at? The answer, is this.

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Story mfg SS18 lookbook

Story mfg’s sustainability credentials are to be much admired, but it’s their design savvy that dominates in these SS18 shots. Titled Earthshine, the collection wallops references together, managing to create a diverse, but totally coherent next step for the brand. Early 80s hip-hop track-suiting, eco-politicising,  geometric skate wear; one minute you’re a flirtatious yogi, the next you’re Schoolly D.

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I bought a ladies’ coat

Not sure if these are womens’ glasses? Even if they were, it wouldn’t be my first dalliance with female attire. During secondary school I bought a ski jacket. It wasn’t till I got it home that I realised it was a ladies’ coat. Subsequently I spent countless terms having to ball it up every time I took it off. No one could read the style label, which simply read “Gina.”

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Still for the locals

There’s a lot of cultural tourism right now in Peckham, particularly at the weekend. The cafes and bars are becoming home to a surfeit of White Company couples and their accompanying stockpile of child-rearing apparatus. While at night, it’s becoming easier to spot the rugby shirts. Cartels of the boorish, overcompensating for their cerebral dissonance by jumping on each other’s shoulders and being loud; no doubt hoping their antler rattling will capture the attention of an appropriate dimbo.

Fortunately, during the week, Peckham is still for the locals. Calm. Interesting. Stylish.

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Beyond beyond

Like literally, fuck ya’ll. I’m in this Haversack linen robe and I’m, like, beyond. I’m beyond you. I’m beyond beyond the most beyond you’ll ever be.

It’s sunny. I’m in the park. I’m wearing some shorts and a tee. Can’t remember where they’re from. It doesn’t matter. Clouds smother the last of the afternoon sun, and I toss on my robe. I’m wearing shorts, a tee and a fucking robe. I adjust my sunglasses, light up a smoke and squint into the distance. I’m not just the man. I’m every man. And more.

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From high street also-ran to fearsome garmsman

Imagine a dude was looking to completely change his game. Totally upscale his look. Planning to take the leap from high street also-ran to fearsome garmsman. You’d expect a ruinous level of expenditure right? Going from just another pair of ASOS jeans supping IPA with the rest of the Brewdoggers, to an extinction-level hemline juggler in a white leather cowboy hat? That’s gonna rupture a bro’s Maestro card. Or is it?

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It’s a real shame

Looking for a summer sale featuring insane bargains, tinged with an uncomfortable sense of capitalising on someone else’s misfortune? You’ve come to the right place. Gentry, the Brooklyn based stronghold of left-field menswear, is very sadly shutting up shop. The store had been offering peculiarly large mid-season sales for time, but announcement that the store will close at the end of July has now come.

I was fortunate enough to visit the store last year, received an amazing welcome, became introduced to brands such as Death To Tennis and Abasi Rosborough and left feeling like I’d visited somewhere special. It’s a real shame.

That said, guess we should look at some bargains…

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Punch me for being confusing

A long, long time ago I used to frequent a discotheque in Stafford called The Colosseum. These were glitterball nights. Nights when any pair of threadbare trousers and leather lace-ups equalled ‘class’. While anything too casual was viewed by the venue with deep suspicion. The doorman, squeezed into his polyester tux, knew nothing of style, yet remained happy dismissing youths ambitious enough to try and convince the barely sentient oaf that chambray was in fact not denim. I can’t help but wonder how I would have fared in these denim shoes?

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Slightly luxe-up your stylings

Over in their (fairly) new Soho outpost, OTHER/Shop are still quietly going about the business of decking out London’s most arch in a uniform of baggy, truncated leg-wear, simple plimsolls and wallet-blitzing Lemaire shirting. While new brand, the fossil-fuel-tutting Fanmail are getting the OTHER/Shop push right now, I still find myself drawn to their house imprint and this corduroy jacket in particular.

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Floating mountains and underwater spirits

Amongst the indigenous people throughout various chunks of America, the thunderbird remains a prominent mythological symbol. A super-creature of considerable power; legends boast of its feats of strength and paranormal abracadabra-ness. Thunderbirds hang out in a floating mountain according to tribes in Northern Wisconsin. While the Chippewa people believe thunderbirds spend their time fighting underwater spirits. According to my research it is only the Japanese loons at heritage-manglers Kapital who choose to picture the mighty bird puffing away on a tab.

 

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A once every two-weeks-er

Sure, this is square cut, it’s got a bunch of useful/ornate pockets and it’s got that sort of a shirt, sort of a jacket thing going on. Bang on utilitarianism. Thing is, it’s also busting some power-patterning. Such is the tricky duality of this piece from Japanese imprint Sassafras. From one perspective it’s a day-to-dayer. From another it’s the shirt your peers will notice. The piece you hoped would form a regular lynch pin of your weekly wardrobe quickly draws unsolicited, “ha, got your big shirt on again…” witticisms.

So is it a good buy or not? Such are the serpentine puzzles facing the modern menswearist.
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I want to be somewhere else

The wind tugs at the clouds, heaving them, seemingly inch by inch. Sunlight is screened, then it’s not, then it is, then it’s not… Clouds are hauled, warmth interupted. The sky drags on. An eternal conveyance. The sun, a sushi dish that never quite arrives.

People love parks. I don’t. They’re uncomfortable and vapid. Their allure mythic and specious. I want to be somewhere else. Watching a film. On a plane. Somewhere I can make out my laptop screen. Somewhere that doesn’t poke me with wirey grass. Somewhere my bottle of orange juice won’t get warm. Anywhere.

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From blazing sun to torrential rain within an hour

More meditation in origami than garment, there are, believe it or not, four different ways to wear this reversible banger from Meanswhile. I will leave the exhaustive explanations around inside-out-ness, what buttons go where and when to deploy the two-way zip front closure to retailer Alpha Shadows. What I can confidently state is that pieces as confident, crisp and downright fascinating as this don’t come along that often. I’d commit a minor felony to own it.

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A soft target for those on the outside to gleefully point at

I find there’s little point engaging your regulation simpleton on the subject of socks with sandals. It’s the kind of thing that immediately provokes people with no business commenting on personal style, into a frenzy of knee-jerk opinion. “Oh no“, they say. “Hahah“, they jeer. Seemingly oblivious to the ramshackle chain store debris they’ve got wrapped around their own carcasses. Fashion, or style as I prefer, is provocative like that. A soft target for those on the outside to gleefully point at, while furiously agreeing with each other about how ridiculous it all is.

Anyway, here’s me minding my own business in socks and sandals.

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Avoid any confused stares

A fundamental aesthetic clash within menswear right now is that of paired back, progressive minimalism (think Our Legacy, N. Hoolywood, Wooyoungmi, Lemaire…) versus the kind of woke dandy, beads ‘n’ bongos vibing going on over at VISVIM, Needles and Japanese upstarts Bohemians. Personally, I’m a bit half rice half chips on this one. I think both have their place in single wardrobe; different needs, different moods, different requirements, different levels of bead-craft. What’s your ratio like? If you’re too heavy on the concealed pockets and architectural lapels, maybe grab one of these bags and add a puff of incense nonsense to your fit.

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A navy jacket sufficiently different from your other navy jackets

I was talking cloth with an associate at the weekend. “Problem is“, he said while peering at a smart piece on my phone, “I’ve got too many navy jackets.” I suspect many of you will feel much the same. On the one hand you wear them all the time and want more of them. On the other you’ll have to justify to your significant partner why this navy jacket is different from all your other navy jackets. And why you need it. And why is it different exactly? You could say the pockets, you could say the collar, the colour, the fastening. You could say all that. But the truth is, it’s different because it’s a navy jacket you don’t own.

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Watertight blazering for the sex-funk set

Neither one thing or the other, but weirdly effective for it, this blazer/coach jacket hybrid from N.Hoolywood is killing it for me right now. Yes, you’ve got some freaky wet-suit like material going on, and a cropped blazer silhouette that brings to mind the stage attire of 80’s Word Up! sex-funker Cameo. But with the nation’s high streets still chock-to-the-balls with yawnable New Balance and Palace tees, perhaps a bit of electric-bass eroticism is what’s called for.

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Dong shaped chest pocket

If you’re looking for T-shirting that doesn’t howl its branding into the eyes of passers by, these fits from Burlap Outfitter are a move. Perhaps the best tees I’ve seen this season, they’re all about the supremacy of fabric, finish and pocket detail, rather than twatting someone around the chops with a giant sans serif font.

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Less knotty and labyrinthine

There’s a precociousness to Kapital’s clothing that isn’t for everyone. A steely adherence to an aesthetic which, at its most wearable, appears complimentary to brands such as Engineered Garments, Nanamica and Post Overalls and at its most challenging seems to exist only to service ageing Japanese greasers.

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Becoming subordinate to your own outfit

How long have I been looking for a pair of shorts with a colourful Tyrolean-inspired woven detail running down and off the leg seam? It’s difficult to apply a time scale to the question. But if forced I’d say around 0.27 seconds. I’ve just seen these and now I want them. I have no doubt that I’d look like a guy who’s had his trouser legs ripped off while trying to paint a moving Waltzer. But then I’m sure GQ said that was a big look for summer.

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Store visit: Envoy of Belfast

While in Belfast a few weeks back I visited The Bureau, my favourite menswear store. But also probably the best womenswear store I’ve ever seen, Envoy of Belfast. The two stores originally grew out of the same location at 4 Wellington Street, but while The Bureau relocated further out of town, Envoy remains; entirely womenswear, entirely like a female version of The Bureau and entirely full of premium garmenture.

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You’re on your own

Sure, there’s something of the ornithologist about this – tucked away in a hide, peering at a Kittiwake, tin foil parcel of cheese and cucumber triangles just an arm’s reach away. But look past the moss green and the hood and you’ll discover an abundance of Japanese tricksiness. Fiddly, desirable details, the sort that get menswearists refreshing their PayPal balance.

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