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A man’s pumping ass poking from under my sleeve

The other night, while suitably ‘refreshed’, I stumbled into a 24 hour shop with the intention of purchasing a low quality pre-packed sandwich and other assorted comestibles. I left the shop with a new lighter featuring a picture of a woman wearing an inadequate swimsuit.

A couple of factors influenced this result. Firstly, I rarely see rude lighters sold these days. Just like pens featuring women with disappearing dresses and porno playing cards, they are items now deemed wildly out of step with contemporary values. Secondly, as I say, I was leathered.

All of which makes me wonder who’d buy one of these erotic bangles?

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Sexual in a way a fully grown adult man can just about get away with

Paraboot have been making their Michael silhouette for over 70 years. And it’s taken that long for me to take notice of it. As I’ve touched on before, I’ve previously relegated the brand Paraboot to the pile of brands that are lovely and well made and all that, but rather too ‘available’, too commonplace and easy to buy, to get excited about. My encounter with, and subsequent purchase of, this limited edition cow hide pair a few weeks back has changed my perspective. And while I’m unlikely to seek the Michael out in a standard tan or brown, I am now on full alert for more interesting versions, the freakier styles Paraboot appears to produce for certain indie retailers.

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An extra in your own life

Everyone has their own comfort level when it comes to standing out. Too gaudy? You’re self-aware, everyone’s checking you out, you feel like a dick. But too subtle (and regular readers will surely get this) you’re an extra in your own life; you’re background noise; no one’s even clocking your triple-stitched pouch-pocket. Miserable.

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Navigating the obstacles of a sofa-hopping Yuletide

Japanese brand Sassafras produce clothing inspired by (and presumably intended for) gardening. Utilitarianism dominates, with pockets, snap buttons, hanging tabs and more pockets, littering shirts, jackets, trousers and, as we see here, vests. Horticulture might be the original design intention, but for me, this piece would also be extremely useful while navigating the obstacles common to a traditional sofa-hopping Yuletide.

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Just shrugging, “WHAT?”

I’ve been waiting some time for Primury to release a sneaker in blue rather than their typical black. And now, for SS19, they have. However, unfortunately for me and my financial arrangements, they’re overshadowed by these. I’m not sure if they should be. It really depends on your position on camo. Is it still a valid symbol of countercultural cool, or has it been so thoroughly rinsed by teenage hypebeasts as to render camo impotent?

Having given this issue literally seconds of thought, I’ve decided I don’t care. I like them. I’m even prepared to endure the kind of “mid-life crisis” mumblings inevitable at certain (unenlightened) yuletide gatherings.

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The art is you

Haven’t we all, at some point, hung around outside a London art gallery, wearing an assortment of imported menswear, attempting to convince passing patrons that the most exciting art isn’t in the gallery, but rather it’s you, it’s what you’re wearing?

If I’m not eating, sleeping, working, showering, playing Black Ops 4, reading Julian Barnes, watching Strictly: It Takes Two with my girl, watching Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter on my own, shopping, Googling stuff, taking photographs, drinking booze or browsing Bandcamp it’s definitely one of the things I like to do most.

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Life’s lactations are to be gargled

You’ve probably encountered the old saying; dress for the job you want, not the job you have. It obviously infers that by ditching your old suit and buying a new (more up-to-date) suit you’ll be next in line for a promotion.

Of course in reality that’s just half the story. What happens when your boss feels challenged by your new look? Now they feel scruffy and out of touch, disempowered in front of their team. So they take their insecurity out on you through excessive criticism, undermining you at every turn. Despondent, and unmotivated, you leave, to take a job for a smaller salary, just to get away from a diabolical manager of your own making.

Fortunately in these increasingly post-suit times, this is less of an issue. Besides, I say, why aim for just the job you want. What about dressing for the life you want. Case in point, this ridiculous robe coat.

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Losing sleep over the legacy of Only Fools and Horses

It’s expected that different independent stockists will choose to stock different Yuketen styles. What I find difficult to grasp is that frequently they’re styles unavailable on Yuketen’s own webstore. Take these leopard print loafers. Recently dropped over at San Francisco’s Union Made, yet, based on my Google prowess, unavailable anywhere else – including Yuketen direct. I guess that’s the game. If such garmentry was easy to find, some of the allure would be lost. As a side point: it’ll be interesting to see if interest in Nepenthes depreciates once their London outpost in Euston opens in the new year.

I have a pair of Yuketen’s in this print. They’re lace ups with a (apparently uncleanable) gum sole. The Vibram 2021 sole on these loafers is much more appealing. But be advised (and speaking from some experience) if you have leopard print shoes poking from beneath your salvage denim, uninvited wisecracks will be forthcoming.

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An elaborate chocolate fancy

This rollneck from Chamula is a serious winter heater. It looks like a knitted M&S Belgian biscuit collection. Yet is entirely free from pecans, almonds and eggs and is safe for nut and peanut allergy sufferers. That said, there’s a lot of brown going on. And that hefty ribbing. You could be quite tempted to take a bite, were it not for the fact that you’d just end up with a mouthful of damp fluff.

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A tail of superfluous nylon

I’m currently enjoying the nylon belt. In current rotation I have a couple: a navy one by Hobo and a camel one by Meanswhile. More than the nylon itself, I’m appreciating the ‘clunk-click’ fastening; somewhere between a seatbelt and climbing equipment. The Meanswhile belt also features a magnetic clasp, resulting in a satisfying snap and the feeling that your belt’s actually compelled to fasten.

This belt is by Japanese brand Bal and it appears to share the same hardware as Meanswhile – both from German fastenings experts Fidlock. Bal is pretty under the radar in the UK, but this salmon coloured belt makes a compelling case to check them out.

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The purple one

Last week I visited Garbstore. There was a guy in there wearing a bright orange padded vest. I was in the middle of buying a considerably more sober navy padded vest.

“I like what he’s wearing”, my girl said, gesturing towards bright orange padded vest man. I didn’t say anything. I just bought the navy padded vest. Then sulked.

Cut to now and bright orange padded vest man is still tugging at my mind like a deranged puppeteer. Should I be in the market for a padded vest in a bolder colour? If I got one would my girl love me more? If I don’t get one will I die cold and alone, tortured by the vision of a youngish bloke in a bright orange padded vest? Could I be any more of an ignoramus?

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Off-the-charts berserk

When you’re Google Translating text from Japanese menswear sites into English, it’s rare to find much of worth. Usually you get an apparently abstract block of breathless adjectives. And from this you try and pull the ethos of a freaky-looking brand you’ve never heard of.

However, in the case of this coat from Humis two words stick out. “Overwhelming presence.” It’s a phrase at once perfect and arguably inadequate. This coat is legion. A great wall of fabric and pocketing seemingly built to withstand elements both known and unknown. Should you to be performing a wartime exorcism I can imagine no better place to store your grenades and rosary beads.

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Layabouts and libertines

There was no fanfare when this Dr. Martens x Nanamica colab dropped a couple of days ago. Just the whisper of a page refresh and there they were, for sale over at Garbstore and End. Entirely at odds with the recent Nepenthes x DM drops, which bruise my social feeds for weeks on end, these have seemingly come out of nowhere. Admittedly, they’re subtle. But arguably no more so than the asymmetrical ghillie by Engineered Garments. Either way, I think they deserve a nod.

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Store visit – Blue In Green

Like a cathedral for the worship of weathered denim, Blue In Green sits on 8 Greene Street in New York City’s SOHO district. The modest entrance belies a cavenous interior, rammed to the rafters with cult brands: and Wander, Goldwin, Monitaly, N. Hoolywood, Foot the Coacher, Blue Blue Japan and Kapital. A lot of Kapital. For the first time visitor, it’s a paralyzing vision of desirables.

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Colossal, difficult pants

We looked at Prospective Flow back in May. Based in LA, but with a clear reverence for traditional Japanese clothing, the brand offers loose, boxy pieces; perfect for an aspirant karate kid.

The range is designed for layering. But beware. When you start piling on elongated collarless shirts and dropped crotch, wrap-waisted trousers it can end up looking a bit costumey. You know, a bit sacred. A bit devotional. All spiritual and that. Like the kind of bro who’s all about the human soul, not material stuff. Which would be a bit rich. These trousers cost a good $200.

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Acquisition for the sake of it

If you’re reading this, it’s probably safe to assume you already own a jacket like the one above. Some variation on a blue chore coat at least: high buttoning, utilitarian in style, plenty of pockets. So why would you need another one?

In my head at least, the line between actually needing, and wanting for the sake is frequently blurred. Is the specific function of a garment genuinely absent from my wardrobe? Or am I just (sub)consciously building a collection because it makes me happy?

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Just being kind

I woke this morning with the full intention of tubing it to Shoreditch High Street, marching to Goodhood, trying these trousers on, convincing myself I could get away with a large (in the absence of an extra large) and buying them. That I didn’t is more due to the angry weather than any eleventh hour injection of good sense on my part.

They’re Our Legacy and, as is clear, nylon. They’re a track pant, or sporting trouser of some kind; shinyish, crinklyish and lightweight. I have it in my head that these trousers, teamed with something more formal, a boxy blazer and shoes say, would result in a devastating fit. I also have it in my head that the shininess might look a bit like leather from a distance. So there’s a risk of looking a bit Suzi Quatro.

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It was never really there

The last time British tweeds looked so absurdly on-point it was the mid-80s. Christopher Nemeth and his House of Beauty and Culture collective were chopping remnants into remarkable bomber jacket/cloak hybrids; with all the spectacle and impractically that this suggests. What we’re looking at is from Norbit by Hiroshi Nozawa and is more restrained in cut. Yet it confidently mashes numerous tweeds and corduroys in a manner that would surely have met with the late Nemeth’s approval.

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Arcane hocus pocus

Without wishing to fuel the lunatic enthusiasms of any passing Brexiteers, I will say we do occasionally make some interesting stuff in this country. While the attention of this site is frequently focused on the output of Japan, South Korea and the US, now and again a brand like Block & Last pops up to remind us that desirable attire also originates closer to home.

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An orgy of fabric

This pattern looks like the curtains in a 70’s suburban key party. What acts did it’s forebearers witness? A pair of middle-aged moustaches frotting a fatigued librarian? A couple of mums coerced into toying? An Alabama Hot Pocket?

Of course there’s nothing literally retro about this TS(S) sleeveless pullover. It’s from the brand’s current AW18 season. And yet. Look hard enough and you can just make out the lava lamp swirl, the bubbling fondue, the single tear of a hesitant wife. Read More

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A tangerine fever dream

The most conspicuous birdwatching jacket ever? Or some bedevilled copulation between a fireman and Crocodile Dundee? Either way, this weapon from Japanese brand Digawel is noticeable for all the right reasons. Just look at the contrast between the satsuma body and those, rich brown pockets. Squint and you’ve just smashed a Terry’s Chocolate Orange – the shiny wrapper, the splintered insides – if this wasn’t made of fabric I’d happily eat the whole thing with a builder’s brew and a boxset.

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C’H’C’M’ – store visit

I was in New York last week, with just enough time to check out a few stores. Seeing Engineered Garments, Needles and South2 West8 en masse over at Nepenthes is always a pleasure: one Londoners will enjoy when our own outlet opens early next year.

For the first time I was able to visit Soho’s Blue in Green (which I’ll cover soon) as well as C’H’C’M’, the subject of today’s post.

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See-sawing confidence

Here’s a knitted, hoody, sweatshirt type thing. I don’t want to go down the whole Paddington Bear route, but, you know… those of a certain age will be thinking it. It’s by Engineered Garments, it’s chunky, bold and vaguely childlike. Whether a fully-grown man should be poncing around in this is obviously down to personal taste. However EG head man Daiki Suzuki obviously thinks so and, after a brief discussion with myself, I’m inclined to agree. Looking like a woolly cartoon character is okay. In certain circumstances. Circumstances I’m having difficultly imagining, but nonetheless almost certainly exist.

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Subcultural opulence

New York label Agent launched earlier this year. They offer clothing and, as you can see, an interesting line in sneakers. I was in NYC this week and saw the footwear over at indie retailer C’H’C’M’ (store report coming soon). It’s impressive. The range features a chunky sole unit, with stylistic echos of Primury’s DYO, while advancing a real sense of opulence. At £500 a pair you’d expect that. But seriously, if you want your neutral sneaker game to stand apart from the Common Projects crowd, you could do a lot worse.

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As your agreeable smile splinters

Action man gear for the Pumpkin Spice Latte warrior. Sure, this multi-toned quilted top from Eastlogue has a military lean, but make no mistake, this isn’t a garment for men of war. But it does offer a kind of protection. This is a garment for men who think for a living, or at least pretend to – expect to find it in a beard twisting, creative meeting. The nylon shell and cuddly 3M Thinsulate insulation will offer some sanctuary for any despondent graphic designer, as accusations of pedestrian typography and sloppy kerning are levelled by a dissatisfied client.

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The key word being ‘marginally’

While Junya Watanabe’s relentless collaborations with brands such as New Balance and The North Face leave me cold, I have marginally more interest in Junya’s tailored pieces; ideally when he’s making tailoring do things you don’t expect tailoring to do. The key word buried in there being ‘marginally’.

Each season I look to Junya to produce something startling, something essential. Yet each collection seems to exhibit similar ruminations on American sportswear and technical gear, expressed through patchworking and heavy-handed top-stitching. And I get that that’s Junya’s thing. It’s probably just me, but it like watching someone re-ploughing the same furrows; they might get a little neater, but broadly they’re the same as before.

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Your biggest waste of time

Deveaux is a brand that’s worth a look. Launched in 2016, it’s all designed and produced in the US and has just hit San Francisco retailer Union Made. Like yesterday’s bad-dream coat, again we’re in the land of the luxe. Deveaux appear to make beautifully cut casual-wear, with an emphasis on straight-pimping fabrics. Yarn-dyed wool flannel shirts mix with tweed and cashmere knits; this is gear for the trust fund crew.

I’m especially drawn to this over-shirt in a brushed wool blend, which chooses to exploring the colour yellow, by being yellow as all fuck.

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Diseased phosphorescence and sunburned bubblegum

This is the Blaine Alpaca Raglan Coat in rainbow. It’s by the luxury New York City brand Sies Marjan. According to their brand website, “Sies Marjan evokes a narrative of colour, proportion, and subversive fabrication.” It’s a sentence that tells you everything you need to know about Sies Marjan.

The brand’s focus on colour, proportion and subversive fabrication is clear from this coat. The key bit of the sentence is, “evokes a narrative.” Which basically means ‘tell a story’, just in fancier words.

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The touch of a sculptor

Perfectly simple. This Sanca shirt might not twist heads in your direction. But among the right audience of menswearists, it will certainly provoke green-hued squints. Make no mistake, this is a thing of beauty. It can be entertaining to examine difficult garments; working out how a piece with no neck hole and two backs might perform on an everyday commute. But this, this is a different league. It;’s basically a modern classic. Worn over a simple white tee and beneath a wrinkly Comme des Garçons blazer you are at the apex of disheveled smart. The epitome of contemporary menswear. The coolest guy in any room.

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Insufficiently avant-garde

Like a mullet, this sweater is business up front and a party round the back. Viewed from the front, it’s a standard looking navy crew-neck, albeit with some neat weave detail around the upper arms. From the rear it looks like you had a boxing match with a JCB.

Called a, “re-make design”, over at retailer Blue Button Shop, this Digawel sweater is certainly a tale of two halves. One half presentable and conservative, the other a shredded shambles; shredded in the name of artfulness no doubt, but a shambles nonetheless.

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Not an extraneous, what’s-that-for triviality

Simultaneously remarkable and unremarkable, you’ll have seen Engineered Garments shirts like this a number of times. Constructed in NYC’s Garment District, with an attention to detail that’s specifically EG, it’s a beautiful, elevated-basic of the kind most serious menswearmen already own. You could say there is little fresh to see here. Although that buttoned tab, running from pocket to pocket, has me thinking.

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Visual shorthand for artisanal or counter-cultural escapades

Jackets with this kind of boho-beatnik feel rarely come in black. They’re more frequently seen in shades of olive or sand; in-keeping with the woolly lifestyle of the professionally lazy.

Now, I’m no fan of black in menswear right now. Worn too frequently as visual shorthand for artisanal or counter-cultural escapades, it has, in my view become tired. Straight cut black trousers (hemmed slightly too short) and black sweatshirts now appear mandatory in east London. While the athleisure cliche (leggings, shorts, baggy top half – often a CDG branded mac – and a pair of Kanye West’s piss-dreadful sneakers) simply suggests an individual for whom the idea of personal style is alien. All that said, this style of jacket, in black, still feels fresh.

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A personal statement of political dissent

Look deep into the weave of this Anonymous Ism hosiery and see despair. Feel the radiation sickness begin to itch. Sense the crushing impermanence of love. Watch as the vapours, diseased and haunted, rise from the whorl of the River Styx.

These socks are cotton sadness. They’re that queasy nightmare where your penis turns to charcoal and crumbles in your hands. Why not buy a pair.

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A little too enchanting?

As is frequently the case, I’m totally on the fence here. From one perspective, it’s a jacket by Japanese brand Kolor; highly desirable, off most people’s radar, now available at London’s Present. From another perspective it’s quilted.

Quilted stuff often comes off a bit shiny, a bit fancy-boy, a little too enchanting. It’s frequently the preserve of vanilla poshos. West London types who think something bubbly and gleaming with Moncler stamped on it is the perfect accompaniment to a pair of Tods and a pernicious air of entitlement. While at the other end of the quilted debate, there’s the Tan Shoe Army. The endless commute. The regulation Barbour Chelsea. The triangular footwear all pointing the same way, down the escalator to mediocrity.

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The detail’s in the agrarian voodoo

I own one shirt by Tender. It’s ecru, has short sleeves and a long body. And when I say long, I mean long. If I fist it inside my trousers, it gives my groin the topographical appearance of broccoli. If I wear it hanging out, I look like a Edward Woodward being dragged to The Wicker Man. Put simply, I bought a size too big. But such are my avaricious instincts around sale time, I can frequently be blinded to such fundamentals as, appropriate size, style, colour and do I look like a dick? This isn’t to say I’m down on Tender. Far from it, they make fantastic, interesting clothing. This shirt is a good example.

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Progressive sartorial purpose

For the menswearman looking to make inroads into being notable, a simple fleece just isn’t going to baste any turkeys this winter. A year or so back, just stirring fleecewear into your blend would mark you out as a debonairist. A fucking lunatic, but with progressive sartorial purpose. Now a vanilla fleece is back to being the shit people wear to visit standing stones. If you want to fleece things up, but have little or no interest in Neolithic remains, you’re going to need something next level. Something with panels. Something that looks like the guts of a cuddly toy poured over a satin puddling, then fucked with a cock made of zips.

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Basquiat off his box on Ya Ba

If it’s not The Bureau it’s Alpha Shadows. If it’s not Haven it’s Present. Over the last week or so there’ve been frantic, sizeable drops from big-hitters Kapital, Needles, Monitaly and more. Just when you think you’ve got your wearable ordnance on lock, here comes a load of new stuff to make your old stuff feel less weapon. And naturally this leads to a perpetual reexamining of your finances, internal vows to save more next month, and long periods of stubborn silence when you explain to your partner that the purchase of an asymmetrical Kaptial tabard now, will lead to an enhanced commitment to saving for a city break later.

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Zurich-troubling, side-parted, business cool

For those with a longstanding appreciation of corduroy, the trendification of the cloth, particularly pronounced this season, may chafe. Cord in myriad tones of coffee, brick, ocre, and wheat are sagging the rails from Nicholas Daley to Oxford Street – once more the catwalk-to-strip-mall cycle references a signature of more ‘authentic’ clothing. Still, it will take more than the fleeting attention of the dodgem-car-sneaker crowd to sour corduroy’s appeal. Hardwearing, smart-but-scruffy, distinctively-not-denim; you know the drill. It’s an essential part of your rotation. But what about corduroy in its most formal incarnation? What about the corduroy suit?

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Boom and, to no lesser extent, boom

Sometimes it’s the simple things. A stripy top with a white collar. Doesn’t sound like much, but it can be a game changer. Add this to your regular flex and watch it dismember your crumpled olive greens and navy blues with ferocious geometric lines. And check that  dazzling punctuation at your neckline. Simple, but effective. A one-two punch of semi-formality. Boom and, to no lesser extent, boom.

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The Marni lifestyle is broadly free of dropped kebabs and canine feculence

I mean, come on. You’ve got to at least see these sneakers. Over the years this site has occasionally drawn criticism for spotlighting the unwearably absurd. And I have three answers to that: 1) Personally, I think it’s positive to respect a broad range of interesting menswear; even if I’m not recommending the item as a wise purchase. 2) Unusual clothes can be funny. 3) If you don’t like it, feel free to go and make your own site that only covers Barbour and tan brogues.

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That could be you that

Cardigans don’t get a lot of play right now. As an outer layer they can work. But sandwiched between a shirt and a chore jacket or blazer, they frequently look a bit like a waistcoat, a bit la-di-da. It’s the wrong kind of dressed up. You can easily end up looking like a beater on a grouse shoot. Sidestepping tweedy bumpkinery, this attempt from Nanamica instead embraces Thermolite wool and artful nylon patchwork. To my mind, it successfully wrests the cardigan from the poachers palms and into something approaching a Rick Deckard cyberzone.

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The swarm of high street raptors

OTHER/Shop (3 Berwick St, Soho) are hosting a pop-up with Danish brand mfpen on Thursday, September 20. I think I’ll check it out. Don’t own any mfpen, but checking their site and gram it appears they’re exploring that stripped back, roomy-dad-wear vibe so beloved of brands like Our Legacy and Tres Bein. I like the look of these cords. There is an irritating ‘trend’ for ochre, clay and other soily colours of cord right now. But that won’t last. Once the swarm of high street raptors have passed, the more discerning clothesman can get on with enjoying modern and functional corduroy clothes like these.

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If any clothing has a soul…

While the Comme des Garçons Homme Plus line chooses to inspire, excite, but also terrify, Junya Watanabe’s output at the frequently overlooked Homme line continues to offer just-twisted-enough takes on wearable menswear. I’m a fan. Anything that boasts the Comme DNA, that also slips easily into rotation works for me. Excluding PLAY obviously, I’m not a tourist.

Of course loads of brands bang out multi-fabric, patchworked coats like this one now. But they didn’t used to. In fact, you can clearly draw a line from nascent Comme, with it’s frayed edges, mismatched cloth and unstructured, slumping lines to much of today’s menswear. Everyone’s doing it now. But it was the original Comme vision that had early 80s fashion editors coughing out their coffee. If any clothing has a soul, it’s Comme. And if you believe that, you’ll understand why this multi-fabric, patchwork coat is more valuable than the rest.

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A semi-tumescent towel

Kapital, the Japanese brand so frequently lauded on these pages, has landed in Peckham. Alpha Shadows has received a huge drop; a no-filler assembly of coats that defy coat hangers, and tops thrashed into revealing their beauty through relentless and arcane washing techniques. There are socks that look like quilts and scarves that look like pillows – haberdashery as clothing is something of a Kapital signature. I’ll leave you to discover the more expensive pieces yourself and instead concentrate on more some more pocket-liking entry-level pieces, the scarves.

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Sagging like a grumpy duvet

This Sage De Cret liner jacket has been tucked away over at Superdenim for a few weeks now. And it seems like they’ve still got all the sizes. Evidently no mad-stacks-packing lunatic has come across this yet. Where do you find one medium, one large and one extra large dude who each considers £545 a triviality? Not sure. Maybe they’re reading this now? If you’ve got a fat wallet and fit within that general size scheme you might want to read on.

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Gots to keep things fresh

Never owned an Engineered Garments hooded interliner. Been tempted. It’s a season-on-season staple for the brand; a vaguely odd, one-size-fits-all shoulder sheath, tied at the side and worn, at least according to the Nepenthes style guide, over or under anything whatsoever. I’ve stayed on the fence due to questions I have around the interliner’s practical value. I mean, what weather demands half a sweater? And a hood?

While doubtless interesting as an object, I’ve always felt the balance of justifiably practical and dangerous affectation was pitched the wrong way. All of which would suggest that a version featuring both a monochromatic check and a knitted floral would register, at least to me, as unbearably outré.

And yet… and yet…

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