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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. 
Covid:
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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Clarks Originals: For an audience who’ve never heard of Campag Velocet

For me, Clarks Originals are the 90s. Katie Puckrik on the box, Sliding Doors in the cinemas and a nation of youths greeting each other with an affected “alright our kid”, while swaggering bow-legged, like orangutans in parkas. I find it impossible to detach Clarks Originals from all this cultural baggage.

Whether you aligned with the The Blurs or The Oasises, it was a period of pretence. Kids from the Midlands acted like they were from Manchester. While kids from Surrey zipped up their funnel-neck trackies and deleted their aitches to live their best park life. Any cultural cache the Clarks Wallabee enjoyed as the de facto footwear during the early days of acid house was demolished. Suddenly everyone and their uncle was nodding along to Supergrass in Desert Boots and Desert Treks.

It’s clear that for many, this period never went away. Your head-to-toe Oi Polloi guy still dresses for a night at Checkpoint Charlie’s or speculative queuing at the Atlantic Bar & Grill. And Clarks are always in the mix. Those signature colours, those slender gum soles, that distinctively Clarksian last. These days Clarks seem as anachronistic as Mickey Pearce in Only Fools… propping up the bar in a 90s disco wearing his 80’s grey fleck suit.

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F/CE: the only blips of real joy

Is it Christmas yet? Has it already happened? Did I get anything good? When every day’s the same it’s difficult to keep track. Wake up too early; coffee; smoke; laptop; sandwich; laptop; Six O’Clock News; TV; bed; repeat. Could Daedalus himself design an ordeal more wretched?

My spine is now ossified into the curve of the sofa. My eyes are dry and itchy. I begin every day with a heaving sigh. What shall I have for breakfast? Toast with peanut butter. Or jam? Or marmalade? The unyielding banality of it all.

Interesting clothes offer the only blips of real joy. Exciting and weird stuff, glimpsed via distant websites. But even then there’s just a fleeting moment to covert, before the crushing truth of our circumstance surfaces once more. No one’s going anywhere. No one’s seeing anyone. Socialising, the fundamental catalyst for the clothes game, is cancelled.

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The Conspires: remember to keep breathing

According to a recent poll by Hope Not Hate, 17% of Britons believe Covid-19 was released on purpose to reduce the size of the population. That’s over 11 million people in this country. You might want to let that sink in.

A massive 25% believe ‘global elites’ are in thrall to secret satanic cults. Which basically means a quarter of people right now, living in the UK, genuinely believe Christopher Lee is back daggering virgins as Michelle Obama prostrates herself before Pazuzu.

Of course this is all QAnon’s doing. One anonymous post on 4chan back in 2017 and now look where we are. From within the casual racism and prolapse gifs of the world’s grottiest message board has risen a new level of global idiocy. People, and a lot of people at that, are believing this nonsense.

If it teaches us one thing, it’s to never underestimate the stupidity of others. And just to be clear, I’m not casually bandying the word stupidity about, in this context we’re talking proper, soil-brained, lemming-level thickery. It’s remarkable these fuck-wits remember to keep breathing. And look at the percentages, you may well have one of these loons living next door.

All the more reason to protect yourself. By which contrivance we can now turn our attention to this idiot-proof vest.

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Typing Mistake: like a wearable technical drawing

As a career keyboard-prodder, I’m inevitably going to be drawn to a brand called Typing Mistake. If only to learn the rational behind the unorthodox choice of name.

Fortunately, with the help of Google Translate and our irony detector bleeping madly, we can learn:

“Typing Mistake is not an inspiration from a point that flashes like a flash, but from a very simple mistake caused by a typo in Korean/English keyboards.”

So it goes without saying:

“Completed and incomplete, right and wrong, correct and incorrect answers are like the innocence of young children who bravely stand up and walk again even if they fall without boundaries, and sometimes even small mistakes can be more beautiful than any other perfection.”

Exactly how this appreciation of literary baboonery manifests in a white shirt with black stitching is unclear. But I guess, like the innocence of young children who bravely stand up and walk again even if they fall without boundaries, I couldn’t care less.

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Bru na Boinne: don’t try and tell me this cardigan isn’t alive

It’s possible NASA will uncover alien life beneath the frozen red desert of Mars. But it appears they could’ve saved themselves a lot of rocket fuel. Galactic intruders are already among us. They’re hiding in plain sight within Bru na Boinne’s winter collection.

Aggressively fibrous and entirely irregular; don’t try and tell me this cardigan isn’t alive. It’s clearly sprung from the bowls of some poor sap, straight onto a coat-hanger to await its purchaser and permanent host. Ever seen the Mexican sci-fi The Untamed? It’s an shokushu goukan freakshow of galactic sex-tentacles and willing human participants. Put this cardie on and that’s your fate. An erotic ravagement by an unearthly being made of wool and acrylic.

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Pras: Once in the cultural stratosphere, you can’t be seen to drop down

I went for a socially distanced bowl of chips the other day. I asked the waiter if I could get some ketchup. What he didn’t day was, “yes, of course I’ll get you some ketchup.” Nor did he say, “no I’m sorry we don’t have any ketchup.”  Either being a perfectly reasonable response.

He said: “sweet life.”

I asked for ketchup and he said “sweet life”, then ran off to get my ketchup.

Sweet life.

I mean, I guess there’s a sweetness to ketchup. Besides ‘savoury life’ doesn’t really have the same ring to it. But that wasn’t what my server was getting at. He was saying ‘no problem’, or ‘good choice’, or perhaps an amalgamation of the two.

Sweet life? I’m all for seeing the positives in life, especially now. But if we’ve got to the point where requesting a condiment warrants a ‘sweet life’, you know times must be tough.

That said, I do have another theory. I like to imagine the poor lad was so intimidated by my progressive streetwear, he assumed I would only respond to nonsensical urban patois. Maybe I just look like a ‘sweet life’ kind of guy.

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Digawel: Cool enough for you?

My girl frequently pulls a face. When I drop crumbs on the sofa. When I tread a single leaf in from the garden. This time it’s because of music I’m playing.

“A bit full on isn’t it?”, she says.

Secretly I’m pleased she’s noticed.

“It’s a new album called Harvest Vol-1“, I say, “on the label More Rice.”

“I see”, she says.

“It’s a collection of electronica from South Korea, the Philippines and Thailand. Pitchfork described it as ‘dancefloor weaponry’.”

“I only listen to dancefloor weaponry”, I add.

My girl frowns. Smiles. Then starts singing, “this is the rhythm of the night”, over and over again, while chasing me round the room, flicking at my bottom with a tea towel.

I don’t think she entirely appreciates how cool I am.

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Pherrow’s: A tranquil, egoless prospect

There’s a quiet modesty to London retailer Clutch Cafe that I’m starting to find addictive. While other (admittedly great) stores focus on seasons, unceasingly peddling the new, Clutch seems content to sit back with a strong coffee and an incomprehensible Japanese magazine about motorhomes, in a shirt that whispers, rather than screams its heritage.

Clutch Cafe don’t sell ‘household names’ like Engineered Garments, Needles, Noma T.D. or Sasquatchfabrix. They sell Soundman, Jelado, Belafonte and Coherence. Small, artisanal imprints. Brands which command fewer column inches, but remain extremely considered, superbly made and offer a tranquil, egoless prospect.

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Covidstyle: How to choose the right mask for the right occasion

The countdown to bumwipe rationing starts here. Corona’s back baby, and it’s pissed off.

Most people with the ability to read recognise that the UK Government’s response has been shocking from the get-go. Words like inept, bumbling, even idiotic, don’t begin capture the sheer scale of the horrorshow.

We’ve had: ‘Stay home, protect the NHS, save lives’. Then: ‘Stay alert, control the virus, save lives’. Then: ‘Hands, face, space.’ And, because Boris assumes most of the population can’t count past three, come Monday we’ll have a new ‘Three Tier system’.

Let’s be frank. By this point everyone’s confused. Some stay locked in. Some occasionally nip to the corner shop. And then there’s everyone else.

You can get a good sense of ‘everyone else’ from the vox pops on your local news. “There are too many people out shopping”, moans the woman out shopping. No sense of irony, completely stoney faced; it’s remarkable. Our nation of complainers have finally turned on themselves. Then you’ve got your textbook angry Englander. Brainwashed by decades of tabloid abuse, this ruddy-faced genius stares the camera down and barks about how we should, “forget the whole thing and just bloody get on with it.” Even as these respiratory droplets of bullshit hang in the air, he’s already thinking where his next can of Skol Super’s coming from. We’re not talking Mensa members here.

Within the fecal matter of our societal prolapse there remains the humble mask. A simple cotton symbol of right-thinking decency. A badge of honour for anyone with a conscience. Of course we’re bored of them, but they’re essential and they’re not going anywhere. So it’s only right and proper that the more sartorially minded might give some thought to the mask. In particular which style is right for which occasion? You wouldn’t wear a tuxedo to a brunch. So it follows, a man of menswear might want access to a range of masks to reflect both circumstance and mood.

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Comfy Outdoor Garment: I want a bubble made of moisture wicking, quick drying fleece

Interest in Japanese outfitters Comfy Outdoor Garment seems to be growing  — at least in my digital echo chamber. Championed in the UK by Manchester till-ringers This Thing of Ours, the brand offers urban technical, acid rambler style kit. Mountains of drawcords, zippers, quick drying fleeces, micro ripstop and breathable waterproofness. It’s vibe somewhere between a dystopian free-climb and a saucer-eyed Balearic session. Top one, etc…

This Thing of Ours are hyping this cyber-top as their favourite piece of the season, and no doubt, it’s a power choice. But for some reason I can’t stop feeling this Ribenary fleece.

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Kapital: “It’s not about the image, it’s the thirst”

This the ‘Maze’ pullover‘ by Kapital. If you look closely, you’ll see there’s a graphic of a maze upon its torso. See the little man about to enter the maze? If you trace his route you’ll discover he’s about to enter perhaps the easiest maze ever devised. I’m not sure it even qualifies as a maze, really it’s just a spiralling path. I’m not sure the little man could get lost if he tried. You might also notice that there aren’t actually that many mazes on it. Most of the graphics look more like targets.

To title a pullover ‘Maze’, then fail to deliver on either quality or quality of mazes feels like an oversight to me. This is England goddammit. We’re used to well considered, luxury products like Brexit and Test and Trace. Come on Japan, pull your finger out.

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Bru na Boinne: Boo-hoo me

I keep getting up too early. This nouveau lockdown is twisting me. These four walls are everything; work, family, relaxation, sustenance, joy, despair; it’s one shifting morass.  When does a cocoon become a tomb? I nap in the afternoon. I stay up too late. I can’t lie in. I’m up at 7am on a Saturday, gawping at my Mac writing this. My candle has been burning at both ends for so long I can no longer see the middle.

I’m sure it’s the same for many. But as the murk of winter descends, as the rain sheets against my windows, you’ll excuse me if take a moment of mournful introspection.

What are you doing? Are you working through this? I mean, I know we’ve got a love of menswear in common, but what else do you do? I smoke; outside, in the drizzle, with my hood up — a pathetically idiotic vision if there ever was one. I watch obscure 60s and 70s films — they seem to bring me a more profound sense of escapism than modern cinema. I eat a lot of sandwiches for lunch. Always accessorised with plain Walkers; I find their inherent blandness works with everything.

Electronica; walk round the block; Deliveroo; Citalopram; Netflix; Google Slides; Amazon Prime; Slack message; Slack message; Slack message… Boo-hoo me. Boo-fucking-hoo.

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Kapital: Reason abandoned in the face of savage animalistic threat

So, Trump’s got Covid. Are you allowed to hope for the worst? When the most loathed man on the planet contracts a potentially life threatening disease, how many of us secretly hope it’s the end of him? “Well of course, I wouldn’t wish death on anyone.” That’s what we say. But what do we think?

I’m going to plead the fifth on that one. I’m not craving the attention of the CIA. But it’s an interesting question. What’s the sustained impact of a monster like Trump on your moral centre? I’m wondering if it’s like Straw Dogs — reason and civility are slowly abandoned in the face of savage animalistic threat.

These trousers represent a threat of sorts. Less existential certainly, but enough to make you double-check the mirror before you head out for a pastry.

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Danner x Snow Peak: Positivity from somewhere

I’m a little underwhelmed by the season’s first Engineered Garments drop. I know, right, it’s almost heresy. Maybe I’ve reached peak EG; finally fatigued by fatigues. Although I think it’s more to do with the palette. I get it’s autumn, but all those blacks and stormy prints, they’re making me miserable. Back in semi-lockdown, with shares in bum wipe rising and America’s orange psycho barking on the box, I don’t need any more gloom. It’s probably why I’m sitting here at 7.30am, typing in a ludicrous leopard print Monitaly top, with a ten minute mix of Frankie’s Welcome to the Pleasuredome on loop — a brother’s got to get some positivity from somewhere.

If I was going to drop on some new EG, I’d probably go for this tan and orange checked Loiter. It’s not really me a bit countryfied, a bit Peter Bowles in To the Manor Born  — but at least it’s not grey. Of course it’s ideal for a grouse shoot  — fortunately one of the few activities exempt from the ‘rule of six’, courtesy of our ‘man of the people’ Prime Minister. What laughs I could have deliberately coughing on a bunch of poshos, as we blow the heads off some peaceful wildlife.

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Comme des Garçons SHIRT: The delusion remains intact

Have you seen the Comme des Garçons SHIRT x Futura collection? Take a look. Would you wear it?

When it comes to Comme des Garçons I know I’m indoctrinated. Since the earliest collections in the 80s, I’ve happily convinced myself that Comme is it. The most important and radical brand of my lifetime. For me, cool begins and ends with Comme.

I’m so throughly self-programmed that I can overlook the genericism of PLAY sneakers and CDG, the tatty, logo-daubed yard sale. And when faced with the Comme des Garçons SHIRT x Futura collection, I may roll my eyes, but my delusion remains intact.

It’s tempting for viewers of the recent Netflix documentary The Social Dilemma to assume such brainwashing is a recent, digital phenomenon. But the right brands have always had such power.

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Fennica x orSlow: The gateway to a risqué lifestyle

I don’t wear jeans. I realised this back in July while looking at some jeans by Fennica x orSlow. Or at least, I don’t wear jeans in the truest sense, nothing that looks like what people think jeans should look like. I’ve got baggy cargo-style trousers in a lightweight denim. I’ve got denim ‘trousers’, with the kind of ample pleating you’d find on 80’s business slacks. But nothing that looks like a 501.

Mostly I wear trousers in cotton or wool. My daily goal is to look like a cross between a creative polymath and a quietly subversive lover. And I tend to feel trousers, rather than jeans, are effective in getting this point across.

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Clutch Cafe: Oozing with confident idiosyncrasies

The last thing I bought from London’s Clutch Cafe was a hat. Built from thick ecru cotton, it’s a thing of beauty — generous floppy brim, robust neck cord, leather detail: the quality is superb. The only problem is the brand name: Mr Fatman. I never want to say Mr Fatman out loud. If anyone asks where I got my hat, I say, “Clutch Cafe.” Not Mr Fatman. Never Mr Fatman. For a dude with a committed relationship with family-sized bars of Dairy Milk, it’d be asking for trouble.

Regardless of Clutch Cafe’s passion for oddly titled Japanese brands, it remains a top destination for those with an appetite for millinery. There are two total weapons in store right now. Both will lobotomise your wallet. And both go super-heavy on the boro/sashiko. The ignorant will assume you found your hat in a skip. But you’ll know you paid a fortune. Who’s laughing now?

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Wellder: The funnel-neck strikes back

Within the genre of higher-neck garments the funnel-neck doesn’t get much play. It’s always roll-neck this and mock-turtle that. Put simply, a funnel-neck is wider, more gapey. You might remember them from the ladies section of the Littlewoods catalogue. In there you had all manner of anodyne blondes, leaning against garden furniture, wearing camel knits with necks like baggy foreskins.

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NOMA t.d: Be afraid

As bad sequels go ‘Lockdown 2: Lives or Livelihoods?’  has loads going for it. A super-dumb back story for one. Masks in shops but not in pubs. Two metres, one on a Sunday. It’ll all be fine by Christmas. Get a test. There aren’t any tests. Stay home. Stay alert. Hands. Face. Cardboard box.

Just a couple of weeks ago it was the public’s moral duty to work in the office and eat out. Now it’s not. The government’s decision making would stretch credulity within the most trashy airport page-turner. And we’re supposed to believe there’s some kind of strategy at play here?

Of course every sequel needs some new baddies. This time we’ve got the anti-vaxxers, QAnon and the Rule Britannia crowd trying to out-thick each other over at #thinkingforyourself. It’s just the kind of nuclear-stupid a sequel needs. According to one Bolton resident, quoted recently in The Guardian, “people (are) laughing and shaking their heads at others who are wearing masks.”

The first one was just the virus, now it’s the virus plus the great British idiot. Be afraid.

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Nerdys: Handle with care

Contrast stitching can be a cruel mistress. Make no mistake, she’s a commitment. Once you’re in, you’re in. And unless you resort to a tub of Dylon and a messy afternoon in the bath, there’s no escape.

Part Frankenstein’s monster, part 90’s Jay-Z, contrast stitching turns the utilitarian right up. Which, when handled responsibly, suggests the casual insouciance of an international troubadour. When handled irresponsibly, you just look like you work with an acetylene torch and sheet metal.

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Nicholas Daley: Just got to tough it out

Just a few weeks back The Bureau had some cropped Monitaly sweatshirts in their sale. I didn’t buy one. They dropped to around £60 and I still didn’t push the button. I’m an idiot.

Annoyingly now I’ve got cropped tops on the mind. Not, I should clarify, ‘crop tops’. I understand the market for middle-aged male pole dancers is fairly modest. I mean slightly cropped, as in the hem sitting around the belt-line rather than concertinaing down the body. I’ve got it in my head that for winter, my buffet of looks won’t be complete without a truncated, plain navy knit or sweat, worn over an untucked shirt. It’s the old ‘play on layering’ game. I’ve shuffled a stratum of gilets, waistcoats, long jackets and short jackets, now I want to add knits to the mix.

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JieDa: Oversized or just too big?

This is the era of the ‘oversized’. A time when the right size is the wrong size and bigger is apparently beautifuler.

I’ve often thought making an oversized garment must be fairly straightforward. Surely it’s just a case of making a medium sized garment and labelling it a small? (That’s a degree from The London College of Fashion for you.)

But of course there’s more to it that that. Oversized isn’t too big, not in fashion terms anyway. There’s proportion to consider. An oversized garment needs to be big in the right places. You might want a longer hemline for example, but maybe the sleeves should be the right length.

All of which makes this oversized coat from Japanese designer Hiroyuki Fujita’s label JieDa so interesting. Excuse me if I’m missing something, but is this oversized, or just too fucking big?

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Nothanksfreewifi: One less act of ecological butchery

TK Maxx is now the UK’s sixth-largest fashion retailer. The ailing Topshop is now number seven, seemingly unable to compete with Maxx’s bazaar of bad taste.

I’ve never understood advocates of TK Maxx. I get that for the super-young it can offer a cheap(ish) and cheerful(esque) pipeline of 90’s style trophies. But for anyone older, (physically unable to wear a Roberto Cavalli muscle-T with anything approaching youthful irony) the racks are positively gruesome.

Among the (and I quote) “high end designer labels” on offer are such dusty stalwarts as Armani Collezioni, Giuseppe Zanotti, DKNY, Dsquared2, and Michael Kors. But what do these brands even mean any more?

“No way, is that a Michael Kors bag?”, said no one ever.

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Bru Na Boinne: Embroidered life beyond the homemade

We can think of embroidery as print’s older, more sophisticated sibling. Everyone’s at it these days, stitching-on a sense of luxuriousness to simplistic and otherwise mundane pieces.

Increasingly we see embroidery aping the ‘naive school‘. Crude and crafty, like this piece from (yesterday’s spotlighted brand) Heresy. This is clothing reflecting back our DIY digital culture — where any Herbert can scribble something into Procreate and (amongst the right peer group) be hailed a genius. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with that per se  — I happen to enjoy cosseting my own graphic experiments within the auspices of the naive school. But there is embroidered life beyond the homemade. And these new sweats from Japanese brand Bru Na Boinne illustrate the point.

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Heresy are already anticipating our new topsy-turvy world

Looks like we’re heading for Lockdown 2: Electric Boogaloo. Who would have thought it, seems like encouraging people back to restaurants, schools and offices isn’t the best way to stop folks coughing all over each other.

What does a second lockdown even look like? My money’s on full societal regression. With Johnson’s crew breaking the very rules they espouse, brazenly offering multi-million pound deals to their mates and now sticking two fingers up to international law, there’s no hope left. Our moral centre is being shat on by the very people we elect to enforce it.

I anticipate mass looting, urban fox hunting, and men and women wearing furry knickers like Raquel Welch in One Million Years B.C. And in Rees-Mogg’s Britain cows will wear bowler hats, even as toddlers begin to bark.

We can also expect the rise of paganism, the original religion of the peasant class. And in such thinking it looks as though Peckham creative cluster Heresy are well ahead of the game.

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Adieu x Très Bien: Precisely the amount of attention I have spare

Parisian cobblers Adieu are rarely without a collaboration or four on the go. Insatiably creative? Or simply a reflection of French attitudes to fidelity? Difficult to say, but right now Adieu are enjoying a ménage with Undercover, Etudes and Très Bien.

The latest brand to catch Adieu’s roving eye is Kickers and together they’ve sired an unearthly burgundy hybrid. Both parents are acutely visible in the mix.

I think it’s their work with Très Bien that most frequently delivers the goods. Check out the hairy madness at the top of the page. Those aren’t shoes, they’re pets. But pets you can wear. Which in my book makes them 1000% more useful than any other pet.

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Curly: As my incompetence becomes clear

Ever Frogtaped the edges of a wall, painted, peeled the tape off and had to go over the many irregularities with a tiny artist’s brush while balancing on a stepladder? What about putting up a solid wood floating shelf when you can’t find the studs in the wall? I began a week off with such DIY ambitions, only to feel them slowly collapse as my incompetence became clear. Last night, faced with four cupboard doors I couldn’t line up I admitted defeat. My girl called a bloke on TaskRabbit while I hid under the covers.

Four days of electric drills and rock hard paint brushes has done for me. My back aches, my neck’s sore. As I doze in the morning I see the contents of my Bosch 33 Piece Drill Bit Set marching Fantasia-style. I dream I’m on Shutter Island: but rather than investigating a missing person, I’m just trying to screw on miles and miles of shutters.

My limitations are clear. I’m fundamentally incompatible with spirit-levels. I’m a thinker not a doer. I’ve decided I function best when left alone with a Scandinavian crime drama and an M&S Victoria sponge. Nice and comfy. Probably in a cardigan like this.

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Adish: A window into different days

The current headline show at The Design Museum in London is Electronic: From Kraftwerk to The Chemical Brothers. And as electronic music neither begins with Kraftwerk nor ends with The Chemical Brothers, I wasn’t surprised to find the scope of the experience a little restricted. Impossible perhaps to comprehensively nail the most influential musical form of the last 50 years in an hour’s museum tour.

Still, there is much to love: Laurent Garnier’s ferocious soundtrack — a seamless interlocking of the familiar and the obscure and the experimental graphics used across years of labels, releases and posters — all attempting to visualise a mood, a sound, an energy. Seeing the original Chicago fliers for nights boasting Ron Hardy, DJ Pierre, Adonis and Phuture is worth the price of admission alone.

Rounding things off The Chemical Brothers, and a room blitzed with more strobes than the human eye can process. Impressive stuff.

There wasn’t much clothing though. No focus on the dungarees and pastel Kickers of the acid days, no reference to the leather-trousered John Richmond and Nick Coleman fan-boys as house embraced glam.

I remember the Blackburn raves, all the girls wore tops like this one. Clothing designed for jumping about. Practical and androgynous. A signal to every opportunistic herbert like me that they were there to dance not romance.

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Kolor: A cocktail of phlegm and nasal mucus

I dislike generalisations. Yet I make them all the time. “Of course, it’s wrong to generalise…”, I say, before doing just that. Does inserting such a caveat insulate the speaker from idiocy, or simply magnify it?

I’ve lost count of the times I’ve railed against the spray-on jean bro (the ripped knees, the driving shoes, the socklessness). Lumping them all together as an easy target for derision – shorthand for herd mentality, cheapness and unsophistication. I really am a terrible person. In my head I’ve blindly ascribed my other pet hates (misogyny, hypocrisy, public spitting, eating on the Tube…) to anyone with even the faintest whiff of Boohoo.

Of course I’m too lazy to finesse my argument with any scholarly learning. Far easier to assume anyone in a muscle-fit knit is a bell. If a guy was to hock up a cocktail of phlegm and nasal mucus and gob it on the pavement, would he be more likely to be wearing a low-cut v-neck tee, or a Sasquatchfabrix Haori shirt?

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Bru na Boinne: What I’ll wear when they come for my tinned ravioli

Autumn then. After a brief spell of luminous optimism — during the weirdest summer in living memory — it’s time to face facts. It’s getting chilly. What will that mean for viral infections already on the rise? And what about the tanking economy — didn’t someone mention catastrophic job losses just in time for Christmas? Trump seems to be balancing the books too — his tacit approval of humanity’s dark side is again stirring the angry and empty-headed. And Johnson’s keeping his head down. Is it better to have no leader or one who can’t tell the truth?

Scary times. Hole up, sit tight, ride it out. Stock up on tinned goods and buy a baseball bat. If you’ve got any hatches, now’s the time to batten them down.

Unfortunately your joyful floral shirts and printed shorts are now useless — fold them into plastic tubs and bury them in the garden. The end times are coming. You’ll need ready access to baked beans, toast, blankets and fresh water. And maybe a blazer like this. I mean, if doomsday lands on a Friday or Saturday night, you’re still going to want to look good.

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Beams+: A question of credibility and cultural worth

The other day I read a piece about Congolese sapeurs on The Guardian. I’ve read about them a number of times over the years. But it reminded me that for these remarkable dandies, Pierre Cardin remains a label of desirability and prestige. So I visited the Pierre Cardin page — a sad digital window into a once vital brand. I looked at the current Pierre Cardin offerings over at House of Frazer and discovered you can get two branded Pierre Cardin sweaters in 100% acrylic for £20. I remembered that my first ‘designer’ fragrance was a prized and vaguely phallic bottle of Pierre Cardin, bought in the early 80s from Boots. I couldn’t afford Armani. I can still recall the smell.

It made me think about the collapse of credibility and cultural worth. Either through over expansion and dilution of the brand (as was the case with Cardin) or through the loss of an eponymous designer — Helmut Lang, Martin Margiela, Alexander McQueen, Jil Sander.

I considered how all these thoughts stemmed from seeing some beautiful pictures of African sartorialists. And how the mind is this remarkable muddle of half-remembered facts, sensations and emotions, lying dormant. Just waiting to be threaded together, to be patchworked into a whole.

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N. Hoolywood x Undercover: A total coating in violent plaid

Where do you stand on an outfit made entirely from one fabric? Is it, as the old joke has it, as far away as possible?

It might be on-trend right now, the whole matching trousers or shorts and shirt or jacket, but I don’t know…? A suit I get, obviously. But when you’re talking about a full human carpeting in one hazardous pattern (like in this collaboration between N. Hoolywood and Undercover) I’ve got some issues.

I mean, who’s the target market? Harajuku kids probably. But I live in Peckham. And while I like N. Hoolywood and (to a degree) Undercover, I have to wonder… would I be okay picking up my Snappy Snaps prints in this? Or heading to the ‘world famous’ Khan’s Bargains for some screws? Or enjoying a battered animal part in Roosters? I’m not entirely convinced the N. Hoolywood/Undercover lifestyle is compatible with my own.

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Amachi: Suspiciously arable

This the ‘Meeting Jacket‘ by Japanese brand Amachi. I like the idea of a jacket specifically designed for meetings, although I’m not sure this would suit the kind of meetings I have to attend.

I tend to meet a lot with technology clients looking for creative digital solutions. If I turned up in this I expect they’d consider me suspiciously arable, a bit of a straw-chewer.

That said, it’s an interesting, albeit rustic piece. Pity I’m not in business with sheep castrators or Witchfinder Generals.

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Nigel Cabourn × Maison Mihara Yasuhiro: The warped antithesis to conveyor belt sneakers

I’m surprised that Studio Nicholson’s purple over-dyed Moonstars haven’t flown out. Released a few weeks back, I was convinced their rich Ribena-ery hues would prove a winner. Seems not. All sizes are still available; while, predictably perhaps, the plain black has sold out.

I wonder if the same fate awaits these nuclear Tango numbers from Nigel Cabourn × Maison Mihara Yasuhiro?  Could it be bros don’t want shoes the colour of convenience beverages?

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YSTRDY’S TMRRW: Gucci via David Cronenberg

The stock in loafers is pretty low right now. They’re routinely associated with Love Island style, an ignominy that’s almost done for them. Loafers are, sadly, integral to the shambles — in amongst the tatty beanstalk jeans, polished hair and expansive displays of bare ankle. Or at least, they’re things that look like loafers.

These are slip-ons as prisoners of war — miserable and emaciated, their vamps cut as low as their pride. Sometimes they pretend to be driving shoes. Sometimes not. But they always look ridiculous — suede sodden by puddles, the eternal full stop at the end of skin-tight denim and British veiny feet.

Shoes like these from YSTRDY’S TMRRW give hope to proper loafer-likers. Goodyear welted, high front, solid leather sole; perhaps it’s not too late to reclaim the slip-on from the spray-tanned hillbillies.

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Zattu: It’s nice to be reminded that bags still exist

For me, the principle function of a bag is still irrelevant. The threat of the lurgy remains too great. So I have no need to transport things from a place I’m currently in to a place I’m currently not. I’m not taking trains, or cabs. I don’t bicycle. I haven’t ventured beyond walking radius of my house for months.

I kind of miss bags. After all, for those of a certain mindset, they’re in integral piece of a look. My go-to navy Porter rucksack is gathering dust. A bloated concertina of other bags hang from pegs in the hall, unused, almost forgotten.

It’s nice to be reminded that bags still exist. And this knotty freak-show from Japanese makers Zattu does just that.

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Hender Scheme: Nauseatingly cool

Whether it’s undeniable must-cops, or subversive fleshy monstrosities, at least you can’t accuse Hender Scheme of being boring. There are few brands more eager to constantly reimagine footwear classics — deconstucting and reconstrucing, twisting the familiar into the unusual, stitching weirdness into every vamp.

It’s remarkable to see how ahead of the pack they are. When you look at Hender Scheme it’s difficult to believe we live in a time where some blokes still stride about in pointy brogues with lime green welts and red laces.

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Comme des Garçons Homme: Strong disposition required

On Friday night I went to a pub for the first time since Covid. I wore olive Needles HD pants and polka dot bucket hat, a flowery Engineered Garments jacket and a pair of navy Yuketen Blutcher Rockers. And I felt a bit ridiculous.

Our al fresco drinking was punctuated by trips indoors to the loo — requiring the further addition of a mask. I walked in and caught sight of my costume in the pub’s grand mirrors. And I felt uncomfortable. Embarrassed even. For the first time in years, I questioned the way I dressed.

The root of this paranoia is lockdown, or rather emerging from it. For months I’ve been nowhere, seen no one. Life has been a daily cycle of plain tees and battered shorts, there’s been no call to ‘dress up’. So Friday night came as a shock to the system —  it actually made me wonder if I’d been getting it all wrong. Do I really dress like a clown?

I’m a butterfly released from its chrysalis. But no one ever wonders if the butterfly actually likes its new look?

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Porter Classic: Difference in the margins

Ohmygod no. Ohmygod totally. Ohmygod I love ahht. I sometimes listen in on my girl’s Zoom calls. They all speak like that in fashion. Ohmygod, Ohmygod… The words bound so tightly — miniature detonations of habitual punctuation, precursing everything. They all do it. I especially enjoy the prenounciation of ‘it’ as ‘ahht’; a sort of mash up of vocal fry and west London posho.

Three girls walk ahead of me. They laugh as the passing cars kick-up roadside puddles. They’re all wearing the same giant fluffy sandals. Black and matted, fake fur dragging on the tarmac. All three of them identical.

It’s interesting what people will do to fit in.

Blue chore jackets. Everyone’s got one and this jacket looks much just like other jackets. But look closer and you’ll see. The sashiko stitching. The variations in texture. The pocket finishing. It’s actually not like other jackets at all. Subtle sure, but this is what happens when you try to eke out your difference in the margins.

It’s interesting what people will do to stand out.

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Undercover: Yank it on, you’re good to go

Storms in London. Good. I’m tired of lying starfished on my bed, my finest underpants sodden, glued to me like molten tar. I don’t do heat. But I’m no hypocrite. I’m not one of those people who whines that it’s not sunny, then whines that it’s too sunny. I  never want it to be hot.

The thing is, my entire sartorial ethos is built around layers. One layer, a t-shirt or the aforementioned underpant, is not layers. It’s just a single layer, worn only to conceal my erotic dignity. I need more than that. I need to wear piles of clothes dammit. This Undercover knit would be a good start.

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White Mountaineering: A pleasingly ironic outcome

Hunting. Horrible. I could never pull the trigger on a laughing deer. Yet I’ve no problem with Mr Moo Cow sliced and served into Tesco’s Finest Chuck and Brisket Burgers. I’m unprincipled. I’m a hypocrite. I like sausages, but I couldn’t hatchet a pig.

So when it comes to ‘hunting’ shirts my fraudulence is complete. I’d wear this shirt. Even though it’s basically a celebration of murder.

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Ambush: Deliveroo for t-shirts?

Are you Deliveroo-ing your groceries? As the kind of paranoid/sensible individual continuing to lead life under 85% lockdown, getting supplies from key-tap to doorstep in 20 minutes is invaluable. It’s not just corner shop stuff either. M&S is on there, as well as Morrisons and Co-Op have just expanded their range of dubious looking puddings. Of course the corner-shop connoisseur is still catered for — I can even get a Ginsters delivered from my local Shell garage – but for me the revelation is the standard kitchen produce.

I’m surprised there hasn’t been a Guardian ‘culture’ piece on this phenomenon. I’m equally surprised no one’s extended the service to t-shirts.

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Needles: Can you look at this objectively?

How does the wild west look fit into UK life? Awkwardly, I suggest. Sidesaddle, at best. It’s difficult to separate the look from its intrinsic theatricality. Over here it’s the preserve of line dancers and the lonely middle-aged bloke in the corner of the pub wearing cowboy boots. Not exactly what you’d consider cool.

I was banging on about this kind of thing just the other day and now Needles have hopped into the stirrups.

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Death to Tennis: One million would do it

Yesterday I asked my mother-in-law for a million pounds. I explained that I do enjoy my job, it’s just that I think I’d enjoy lockdown much more if I could just give it up and spend my days watching TV and eating M&S caramel crispy bites. She laughed so loudly she couldn’t hear me reading out my HSBC details. Thing is, she’s got a couple of bob. She probably wouldn’t miss it.

I’ve often thought that if rich people knew how happy it’d make me if they simply gave me a million pounds, they’d be lining up. I’m not greedy, one million would do it. I’d say goodbye to the mortgage, buy this yellow blazer and snuggle in for a Vera marathon.

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Ryo Takashima: Embracing samurai minimalism

Where do you go next when you’ve compiled a wardrobe full of orSlow and Engineered Garments standards? The answer, for an increasing number of men is what we’ll call samurai minimalism. Super-sized straight trousers; boxy half-sleeve blazers; tie-fastened wrap jackets —the look is arch, arty and straight-faced. Konnichiwa fuckers, you’re Hong Kong Phooey on Citalopram.

Embracing the voluminous samurai minimalism look might not seem a huge leap from your existing loose fits. But it can be. For the novice, discretion is advised. Take it from a guy who’s elephantine clobber has panicked friends into thinking I’m suffering from some kind of wasting disease.

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Funset of Art: An anime Buster Scruggs

This is one of those ‘I dunno?’ pieces. Lying precisely on the fault-line between essential and head-slapping mistake.

There’s so much going on, it’s difficult to make sense of it all. Four different blues, bandana patterned trim, turbo-cowboy pockets — what’s it trying to be? As a picture of the Wild West through a Japanese lens, it’s difficult to imagine anything more literal. Add a Boro patched stetson, a faithful horse with giant spinning eyes and a pistol that shoots dreams and you’re ready to star in an anime version of Buster Scruggs.

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Efilevol: For those non-existent occasions when a sensible number of pockets isn’t appropriate

When is too many pockets, actually, properly, too many? We’re all familiar with excessively pouchy clothing. South2 West8 won’t knowingly release a garment with fewer that six pockets. While Engineered Garments and Sassafrass appear to be in a battle to see who can stick the most pockets on a pair of shorts — I still maintain there’s room to store a book of matches between a man’s scrotum and anus.

Of course you usually see this kind of compartment-heavy gear in denim, chambray and ripstop cotton — tough-guy fabrics, intended for proper blokes who like tools, bags of tools and mending stuff with tools. But then they actually end up on Nesquik drinking softies like me. And I don’t know one end of a claw hammer from the other.

Is it all a bit fraudulent? I don’t need battle-ready cloth and an absurd amount of pockets to sip a latte and make a gif. Maybe I just like the idea of people assuming I’m as useful as Bear Grylls, without actually having to bite the head off a fish?

So what about a more lifestyle-friendly approach? What if you parked the action-man fabrics, but kept the stupid amount of pockets? Would that work? Fortunately, Japanese brand Efilevol are all over this shit.

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Real Bad Man: Less edgy than Benny Hill

The grand reopening of pubs has proved something of a damp (and evidently contagious) squib. So it’s no surprise that back gardens have become the new nightlife venues. Last night, two houses over, it was a deafening reggae toasting session. Three nights before that, next door choose to host a barbecue; giant plumes of smoke drifted through neighbouring windows to a soundtrack by The Red Hot Chilli Peppers. Fumes I can handle, middle-aged funk-rock I cannot.

I suppose this is what you sign up for when you live in Peckham. Even so, this DIY festival culture is giving my liberalism a knock. I’m starting to feel like a pearl-clutching curtain-twitcher — what are they doing now? Where’s the number for the council?

And this t-shirt doesn’t make me feel any better.

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Paraboot: The clothing conversation for people who know nothing about clothing

I imagine, on slow news days, the ‘debate’, such as it is, still rages amongst the denizens of the Daily Express letters page and Loose Women. Socks with sandals, surely not? It’s one of those interesting clothing conversations that seems to attract only people entirely ignorant of clothing.

They say, only geography teachers wear socks with sandals. A statement that is both rooted in some kind of Brexit-style picture-book past, and factually inaccurate.

Socks and sandals are not only worn by geography teachers. Tens of thousands of people wear them. Are they all geography teachers? How many viably employed geography teachers do we have in the UK? And I don’t have the data to hand, but I expect there are some actual geography teachers that don’t wear sandals at all.

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Nuterm: Fool me twice

I counted it up yesterday. Since the Brexit vote, I’ve said the phrase, “people are idiots”, out loud 34,562 times. What do I mean by ‘people’? I guess, everyone that isn’t me — it’s remarkably easy to fall into generalisation when all your information is piped into your lockdown bunker.

People are, “surprised and outraged”, when their Spanish holiday is canceled in the middle of a global pandemic. Brexit looms — because of course, a second buggering of the economy is what’s missing right now. Donald Trump Jr can’t work an apostrophe. Virgin Galactic are pressing on to space, while yet to master the working train toilet. And then there are the pubs.

The government cancels daily Covid briefings and simultaneously opens pubs — a calculated measure risking human life in return for economic stimulous. Exactly as planned the nation’s bumpkins assume the plague has gone, stuff the pubs and (surprise and outrage!) catch the virus.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice — go for it I’m dumb as shit. There’s only so much facepalming you can do.

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Fennica x orSlow: I just realised I don’t wear jeans

Yesterday I realised I don’t wear jeans. I thought I wore jeans. I have jeans. But now I can’t remember the last time I actually put any on.

I have never seen my father in a pair of jeans. In my formative years I learned something of the history of denim and bought into their totemic importance to counter-culture. I wore jeans and went to acid house parties. My father did not.

Spin forward to yesterday. I’m looking at the jeans pictured and the denim penny drops. When did I become a ‘chino man’? I wear some variation of cotton trousers, pretty much always. A realisation I’m not sure I’m entirely comfortable with.

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Phipps: This is a top that you can wear

This morning’s helpful email from Mr Porter was titled, “A foolproof guide to wearing shorts.” I haven’t read it. But I do wonder who needs a foolproof guide to wearing shorts?” My guide for wearing shorts is broadly:

  1. Buy some shorts you like.
  2. Make sure they’re the right size. (This rule can be applied to all clothing.)
  3. Choose a day that isn’t freezing.
  4. Make sure you have one leg in each leg hole. If you find you have a giant bottomless pocket on one side, you’re doing it wrong.
  5. Fasten the fly so no one can see your knob.
  6. Congratulations, you are wearing some shorts.

I expect the Mr Porter guide goes on to explain the right shorts to wear to the Glyndebourne Festival. But I’ve also found that it’s possible to choose and wear shorts entirely free of pseudo-aspirational marketing.

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Visvim: The strange appeal of inauthentic authenticity

A pebble is an authentic pebble. A tree is authentically a tree. But in a world where every flat white needs a narrative, it’s not surprising the meaning of the word ‘authentic’ has been refitted to feed the demands of the marketing landscape.

Authenticity is now a byword for ‘not mass produced’. A false equivalence of course, as even mass produced stuff is authentically mass produced. But so what? People no longer care about stupid things like the meaning of words.

Visvim is probably one of the most authentic brands in the world. Certainly the most authentic brand that goes by a meaningless name (look it up) and sells shirts with authentically pre-ripped elbows.

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Nerdys: The era that taste forgot just got tasteful

The influence of the 1990s and early noughts has been strong menswear for some years now. But the addition of 1970’s signatures is starting to make things interesting. I’m not talking about the kind of catwalk brands that regularly trade on porny gigolo luxe. Rather the more street-level imprints. Needles’ wild-west shirting is getting ever more late-period Elvis, while the flap of the kick-flare is audible over at SasquatachFabrix. And if you want to head down the rabbit hole of late 60s early 70s graphics, LA’s Online Ceramics have an acid flashback in your size.

Of course, this doesn’t mean you’ve suddenly got to dress like background character in a Blake Edwards comedy. But there are pieces with nods to the era that taste forgot, that actually look pretty tasteful. For example, this blouson from Japanese brand Nerdys based on 1970’s American vintage.

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Itten: Incompatible with Facebook

Whooping comedians in cowboy hats; exploding buckets filled with Mentos mints, baking soda and Coke; middle Americans shrieking that masks are actually muzzles: Facebook is a horror show. Even sidelining Zuckerberg’s moral belligerence, it feels done — closer to the cultural irrelevance of MySpace every day.

Of course these opinions aren’t new. But during a lockdown when we’ve all exhausted every entertainment opportunity, anyone can be forgiven for taking a peek back through Facebook’s window.

Here’s a picture of when we were younger. I’m having a glass of wine and it’s only a Tuesday. Carole Baskin’s cover of ‘In Da Club’ is ‘magic,’ declares 50 Cent.

There’s only so much eyerolling you can do. Facebook is truly the Primark of the internet.

Today I was looking for Japanese brand Itten on Facebook. They have a page, but it hasn’t been updated it since 2015. It appears Itten have long known the score. 2015, that’s around the last time Facebook was relevant.

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Toga Virilis: Beyond the heritage safety net

The idea of form over function turns a lot of men off. Pieces like this parka from Toga Virilis, that carry unusual embellishment, get sneered at by some for being too fashiony or dramatic.

It’s a shame as I think heritage is sometimes used as a safety net of sorts. Engineered Garments, orSlow, A Vontade, President’s, all safe — with their familiar navies and olives, their pockets and hoods. There’s lots of tradition in there, modernised certainly, but still retaining a clear inheritance from the past.

It’s interesting that some are comfortable to move beyond reworked fatigue jackets and have begun to seek a heritage far from their own, through kimono fastenings and nehru collars. And yet, often for these very same men, the strikingly new remains off limits.

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Interview with Russell Cameron of Kafka Mercantile

The guys over at Kafka are certainly good sports. Shortly after posting a celebration of the mysteries of Kafka Man, they got in touch, answering a Q&A I’d sent them a couple of weeks before.

Owned and run by brothers Russell and David Cameron, Aberdeen’s Kafka Mercantile has been operating since 1990. With a brand mix including Visvim, Eastlogue, Blue Blue Japan and the Nepenthes family (including The Conspires) plus oddities like the revivied Texan shoe brand Autry, the store is a pillar of quality menswear.

The last couple of years have seen beloved indies like OTHER/Shop and Present shuttered, while many others have downsized. Kafka’s resilience (alongside The Bureau, Garbstore, Oi Polloi, Goodhood, Hip Store) is a blessing for the more discerning consumer.

Here’s Russell on the mighty Kafka Mercantile.

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Kapital: Risk it all for a future filled with happiness and immense Japanese trousers

Take chances they say. You’ve got to risk it for the biscuit. But in truth, most of us don’t. We stay in the underpaid job, or the unfulfilling relationship. We stick with what we have; an uncertain future remains the greatest fear.

Such is the dilemma when faced with Kaptial’s Shimokita Nore-GI pants. You already know what normal trousers do. You’ve got normal trousers. They work. So why rock the boat? Why get involved with giant, cropped baggy trousers covered in elastic bits?

Ultimately it’s about taking chances. Dare you risk disaster and embarrassment against a better future? A future filled with happiness and precious stones and immense Japanese trousers. Never forget, he who wears wins.

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Hender Scheme: The domain of the perpetually unaffordable

Like the Sacai sweatshirt we looked at the other day, Hender Scheme shoes exist in a domain of the perpetually unaffordable. Ever thought about buying a pair of their classic sneaker clones? The natural leather finish invites you in, the £700 plus price tag reminds you it’s members only.

I’ve just spent the last 45 minutes searching for these shoes in a size 10. For Hender Scheme they seemed reasonably affordable — around £350 on Japanese sites. But of course there’s not much demand for size 10 in Japan. So I end up at Bodega, in the good old US of States, who’ve kindly stuck an extra £100 on the price.

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Mysterious, versatile and mildly terrifying: who is Kafka Man?

This man models for Aberdeen’s Kafka Mercantile. On the store’s website, he’s the leading man in the Curated Edits section. He wears clothes. He’s photographed in those clothes. But is that the end of the story? No. No it is not.

Kafka Man is perhaps the most mysterious man in menswear. The clothes may change but the sunglasses always remain. He’s perfected the ability to wear clothes whether standing on rocks, soil or in the middle of a cornfield. He often looks like he’s planning to strangle someone with his shoelaces. There are layers going on here. 

Let’s examine the evidence.

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Sacai: A heart-stopping sense of volume and quality

A thing of terrifying beauty. A diptych of delicious nightmares from the brush of Hieronymus Bosch? John Carpenter’s The Thing, startled mid-assimilation? But which is the monster, the cotton or the nylon?

Japanese brand Sacai produce these scandalous hybrids season after season. Brutal conjoinings between sweatshirts and MA-1 flight jackets. They’ve become the brand’s signature. A queasy trademark, at once bewildering and aggressively seductive.

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BHR: The difference is obvious

From an outsider’s perspective the line between great and shit can be impossible to navigate. For many a pair of cotton trousers is a pair of cotton trousers; whether laboured over by a small team of artisanal perfectionists, or coughed off a mechanised production line. To some ears the bleeping electronic music ringing from my neighbour’s garden is the same as my bleeping electronic music. Even though his is basically an H&M soundtrack album and mine is the product of Bandcamp’s obscure and tortured. To some the difference is obvious, to most, imperceptible.

If this sounds pretentious, snobby even, it’s because it is. It’s also simply fact. How many times has someone questioned your sanity when you’ve taken the time to explain the heritage (and awkwardly reveal the price) of an ostensibly simple garment? You paid what? But it’s just a denim shirt. You have heard of GAP?

Likewise, the outsider will never appreciate this t-shirt.

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Malibu X Battenwear: Suddenly, a living breathing audience

So the great unlocking has come. It’s now over to the collective intelligence of the British to carefully weigh up the odds, before getting ten beers in and having a fight. At least it’s something to tut at on the news.

For the menswearist, the relaxation of rules does mean you can now legally pimp about in all the new kit you’ve stockpiled over the last three months. Suddenly you’ve got a living breathing audience for that questionable sale shirt — a reminder, if any were needed, that the full length mirror in the spare room never rolls its eyes at your fits.

I suppose this has coincided nicely with the end of the sales. They were really starting to stink up the place. It’s still a gold mine for Needles shirts that nobody wants over at Mr Porter. But on the positive side, new season pieces are starting to appear. Like these sandals over at New York’s Blue in Green.

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Mfpen: The punchline apparently erased

Elasticated trousers used to be a joke — mostly spotted in the old folk’s ads in the back of the Daily Express. Perforated leather slip-ons, motorised awnings and yes, rubbery waistbands; a boon for the arthritically fingered. The only other market demanding a similarly pliable midsection was (and presumably remains) the uncommonly vast. Gentlemen with so much pork on the loin that regular trousers simply can’t cope.

It’s unclear when this particular trouser fastening moved from Viz piss-take to highly desirable. At some point during the frenzy of the last ten years — the global explosion in men’s fashion, the rise of athleisure, the west through the eastern lens, the continual hybridisation of menswear’s past and future —   elasticated trousers just felt right again. No jokes about, “having room for your pints.” No suggestions that you’d come out in your pyjamas. All of a sudden the stretchy pant was simply part of the landscape. Their former life as a punchline apparently erased.

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Magic Castles: An adequate metaphor

It’s well documented that Boris Johnson lies. But it’s how he lies I find interesting. Listen to the rallies between our PM and Keir Starmer, during Prime Ministers Questions and it becomes irritatingly clear. Johnson uses the phrase, “everybody understands…” a great deal. Commonly as a precursor to a statement many people don’t understand. “We’ve been very clear that…” is another one. Teeing up information which remains unclear to most.

The promised app was once a vital part of the defence against Covid, now it’s the “icing on the cake.” But of course, “everybody understands” that. So much fluffy rhetoric. So casual with the historical revisionism. You wonder how he has the gall, but then you remember who he is.

As long this amoral sasquatch remains our leader we’re just hostages to this bullshit. What’s a good metaphor for that? A shirt with pockets like the bars of a prison? Yeah, that’ll do.

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YMC: Right under your nose

Far from the bewilderment of eastern retail I spotted this jacket. Affordable and straightforward, but with a ruggedly appealing design sensibility. I occasionally check in over at the YMC brand site. Much of the product I find rather anonymous, lacking in the kind of fabric choices and baffling details the Japanese often use to elevate the familiar. But each season there’s usually one or two braver pieces.

My last buy was a pair of drop-crotch checked trousers that make me look like Alison Moyet. It’s a good look. Sometimes you can spend so long looking farther afield, that you miss what’s right under your nose.

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AiE: Huffing and whining like a giant cry-baby

The Coverchord sale started yesterday and within moments the navy Suvsole sneakers I’d been stalking for weeks sold out in my size. And not to me.

When a window of retail opportunity slams shut and you’re not around to hear it, does it make a sound? I’m not a philosopher, but I made a sound. A drawn-out whine. Then a loud moan. Beasts in the wild come running when their mates are in distress. Yet I could still hear my girl typing in the next room.

Finally, I exhaled with such force I could have unblocked a trombone.

“WHATTTTT?”, she shouted.

“Nothing”, I said.

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N. Hoolywood: Fancy a Covid-99?

I’m being tormented by an ice cream van. It plays a horrifying version of Yankee Doodle. Up and down. All day, every day. Clang, clang, jangle, jangle. Like it’s being scratched out by a wind-up monkey with two screwdrivers and a steel drum.

Do I fancy a Covid-99, with two flakes and extra cough sprinkles? Do I trust Mr Frosty not to have picked his nose and scratched his arse before having at it with his red syrup? No I fucking don’t. Don’t get me wrong, I like ice cream and I’d have one if it was delivered to me by one of those government scientists from the end of ET, all tucked up in his boiler-suit and gas-mask. But it’s not. It’s in a van outside my flat. Advertised by the sound of a Dalek falling down a fire escape. Go away ice cream man. I’m never going to suck your diseased Soleros.

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5 sale things I didn’t buy because I ran out of money

As the sales advance, so my spending power retreats. During the last few weeks I’ve bought a number of pieces for myself, while in parallel funding a conveyor-belt of new Simone Rocha and Shrimps accessories for my girl. I’m a busted flush. Yet I keep scouring the sales. I see my remaining savings like an un-pinned grenade. To save myself (and my mortgage payments) I’ve got to throw myself on top of them, accept the pain and leave sale shopping behind.

The nag of the ‘coulda woulda shoulda’ is mine to endure. But the least I can do is share the five things that for one reason or another have evaded my grasp. Maybe you’ll buy one of these picks. And enjoy it. But if you do, never forget I saw it first. I wanted it first. And in many respects, even as you wear it, I’m there clinging onto your back like a haunted rucksack, whispering in your ear that it should have been mine.

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Eighteen East MFG: Incompatible with a publicly voided anus

A bit of decorum. That’s what’s needed. A little dignity. Often my girl accuses me of snobbery. And yes, I suppose I have reasonably specific views on clothing and film and literature. And interiors and art and design. And bars. And learning. And music. It’s true. I can become quite exhausted from eye-rolling alone. Recently my neighbour has taken to playing Born Slippy loudly in his garden. Yet my tutting remains audible. It’s 2020 for fuck’s sake, sort your taste out.

I’ve also got reasonably specific views on not taking a shit in a cardboard box on a beach — in that there’d have to be a gun to my head. But what a surprise. No sooner had Johnson pretended he had confidence in great British common sense, than 500,000 great British simpletons descended on Bournemouth for an orgy of knives, booze, drugs and scat play. As a left-leaner sometimes it’s tough to support the people, when the people are so frequently pricks.

Bring back decency I say. Try ‘being a grown up’ on for size. It’s a journey that can start with this utility vest.

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Kapital: Drink responsibly

Two cans of lager in and this pink jacket and hat are starting to look plausible. I’ve hardly touched the booze during lockdown — my enjoyment of the hop and the grape is too predicated on debauched socialising. But I’m far from the shitwits on Bournemouth beach. I’m just here, lying in my garden. It’s late, the sun has gone. And I’m wondering how fucking ridiculous I’d look in this combination from Kapital.

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Hender Scheme: A thing of gristle and teeth

It’s over to the people now. No more Downing Street Covid briefings. Two metres is now one metre, plus something vague. Pubs are back. Restaurants are back. Hairdressers are back. It’s party time again. The reggae chugging on my street last night said it all. Thank God it’s all over. Except it isn’t.

Boris blustered on about how well the government had handled things (if you conveniently ignored the mountain of evidence to the contrary) and how now things were certainly safe enough for you to hurl your savings at stuff you don’t need, Chris Whitty and Patrick Vallance stood stoney faced. They weren’t going to take the rap for this. If anyone actually listened to the boring smart blokes, all they did was reiterate risk. Boris conjured Bacchus, the scientists championed caution.

Outside the tide is changing. People are bored. Just like during the first few weeks of the crisis, our uniquely British idiot is, once more, beginning to think Covid just happens to others. Of course the daily infection rate suggests otherwise, but who reads that anymore, amiright? Fuck it. Let’s crack some cans. Let’s get pissed. Fuck one metre, who’s for some blowbacks? Cough Roulette anyone?

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Sasquatch Fabrix: Shouldn’t bucket hats always have fringes?

Using Deliveroo for grocery shopping is embarrassingly extravagant, but occasionally surprising. Finally, Marks & Spencer have joined the party. I’ve had my first pack of Extremely Chocolatey Milk Chocolate Rounds in three months.

Another discovery are Co-op’s Rainbow Uni-Cones. For the uninitiated these bad boys are basically a Cornetto with a Queer Eye makeover. Vanilla and raspberry ice cream, raspberry sauce, white chocolate coated cereal pieces, and strawberry flavour pearls, all atop a black cone. Forget the calorie count this is lifestyle ice-cream. They’ve taken a classic, hauled it through Accessorize and on to Vauxhall’s drag bars. Too much is not enough.

It’s the same story with this new bucket hat from Sasquatch Fabrix.

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NOMA t.d: My god, it’s full of SARS

Ghhrrrrrr… the social pressure to go out. Come to the park they say. Just a couple of gins in tins they say. We’re all two metres apart. Over the weekend I finally relented.

Even when there isn’t a global pandemic I’m not into the park. There are bees. There’s soil. It’s uncomfortable. As we approached the park I was struck by the sheer amount of people actually in the park. My fear of catching an illness that can liquify your lungs surged.

“My god, it’s full of SARS”, I said. Before my party’s withering half-smiles put me back in my box. Has no one actually watched 2001?

It’s unfathomable to me how anyone can enjoy the outdoors without a full suite of exorbitant Snow Peak equipment. Although as I’m yet to commit £215 to even just the bamboo folding chair, I had to rough it on a rug. Like a rotting dog.

I could have done with a shirt like this too. It looks positively diseased. Anyone would think twice about spinning their frisbee at a man who appears to be sweating bleach.

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She’s Lost Control: swerving into Goop territory

With the greatest of respect, you’ve got to be fucking kidding me. I love Goodhood. But they appear to be swerving into Goop territory now. Have you seen their new stock by the brand She’s Lost Control? Check out the ‘Handcrafted Herbal Ritual Bundle‘, instructions: “use the aromatic smoke to charge the smoky quartz crystal and then set a positive intention.” And only 32 quid? Can you believe it? I must say I’m having trouble.

This is proper Paltrow territory — what next, actual snake oil and fanny candles? If there’s anything worse than a spiritualist it’s a trendy spiritualist.

Or maybe you fancy the ‘Luck Giftset‘. This one includes a pyrite crystal which apparently helps with “money manifestation”. Here’s an idea. Don’t spend £32 on a Herbal Bundle and don’t spend £24 on a Luck Set, knickers, knackers, knockers… you’ve manifested 56 quid.

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Midorikawa: quarrelling with the very idea of maleness

Where do you find comfort? Now the shock has subsided, now the unusual has become the usual. Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett nailed it for me over at The Guardian. The country is split in two.  You’ve got your don’t cares and your don’t dares, and I’m steadfastly in the latter camp. I refuse to leave lockdown until I think it’s safe to do so — the government’s seesawing guidance only makes me more resolute.

So I’m seeking succour in the familiar. I’ve lost count how many times I’ve browsed the same sites, the same Engineered Garments pieces, the same reductions. Although I’m also comforted by the nostalgic. Peering back at my own past through dopey re-runs of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century and The Equalizer. God help me, I even did some Airwolf the other day. Often I go even further, hijacking a past that wasn’t strictly mine. Forgotten 60’s and 70’s British cinema is my current balm. Performances by Paula Wilcox and Hywel Bennett, one-time household names, consoling an uncertain future from their place in the past.

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Needles: Can anything at 50% off ever be a mistake?

At sale time 50% off is where it starts to get interesting. Don’t get me wrong, any discount is good discount, but half-price… You know the retailer is still getting a bit and you’re getting a premium piece for a comparative steal — it’s a win win.

Undoubtedly the prospect of getting carried away hangs heavy. At 50% off even the most rational punter can be hypnotised into buying for the sake, or worse, copping a risky piece that ultimately neither suits nor satisfies. But, and I say this with all due hypocrisy, fuck that. Enough with the baby talk, it’s 50% off. What are you waiting for man? Someone to hold your hand?

This oversized Needles jacket is 50% off right now. Available in all sizes. It’ll suit you. It’ll suit anyone. You’ll never think buying this was a mistake. Definitely. Probably definitely.

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BAL: wonky and unfathomable

You can’t argue with this. You could try. But you’d lose. It makes as much sense as queuing to get in Primark. Albeit with a considerably higher level of taste.

Featuring art work by Tokyo based artist Kazuma Ogata, this is a sweater by Bal. It looks like something Dr Strange would conjure up after a night on the pop with Thor. Wonky and unfathomable, but with a mystical beauty of rare seduction. I don’t know why one arm is orange and purple. The monochrome shapes on the chest are a mystery. But by the power of Vishanti I’m sold.

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Unfil: a sense of schadenfreude

All of a sudden fashion is out of fashion. Watch as those at the top of the tree frantically about-face in an attempt to remain relevant.

Giorgio Armani, at 85, and with Armani Collezioni, Emporio Armani, Armani Jeans, Armani Exchange, Armani Junior, Armani Casa, Armani Dolci, Armani Caffé, Armani Fiori, Armani Hotels and Armani Ristorante under his belt, has now decided that the churn of high-speed fashion is “criminal” and “absurd”.

“We really need to rethink what this industry stands for”, ponders Anna (Nuclear) Wintour, after building a career around the persona of a self-important monster, and for years, fielding criticism around the lack of people of colour in her publication, along with tales of bullying and unreasonable behaviour.

It’s difficult to watch this unfold without a sense of schadenfreude.

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ERKN: there’s a Nobel Prize in that

Anyone else enjoy watching our brave lions stick it to the man yesterday? By ‘brave lions’ I mean a pin-brained mob of Viz caricatures. And by ‘stick it to the man’ I mean punching a police force ordered to protect exactly the same statues they wanted to protect in the first place.

It’s this kind of block-headed thickery that we English stand for. It was about time we proved we could out-stupid Brexit. I dare say yesterday’s riots caught the attention of the world’s natural historians. A new human sub-species, you say? White, adult, male and with the cognitive ability of soil? There’s a Nobel Prize in that.

This level of dumb can help you clarify your place in the world — kind of like a mental palate cleanser. If I ever doubt my morals, my intelligence or my purpose, I can take comfort from the fact that I never choose to openly piss on a dead policeman’s monument while surrounded by thousands of smartphones.

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Necessary or Unnecessary: a lumpy mouthful of syllables

There’s a certain irony in a brand called Necessary or Unnecessary putting out a shirt like this. See that button fastening. It’s all skew-whiff.

The guys over at Necessary or Unnecessary have seemingly concluded that regular, straight-up-the-front buttons are unnecessary, while buttons on-the-wonk are considerably more necessary. I imagine they’re in the minority in this. But it hasn’t stopped them putting out five different colour-ways of what they call, ‘The Sidewinder’.

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Niche: Lovely flowers

I’m having déjà vu with this shirt. I don’t think I’ve posted about it before. Or have I?

I guess we’re all vulnerable to our mind’s weirder whispers right now. Is it one metre or two? Why am I the only one in the park wearing a mask? In the US people are fighting for the right to risk catching a life-threatening disease. Crowds of protesters are hurled together, surely not all virus free. Is life now just a level of risk?

Will the Garden Rescuers ever run out of gardens to rescue?

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Kapital: just the right side of berserk

It’s Monday 4.45am. I didn’t set an alarm, I just woke. My mind honking at me — Mr Porter sale, MR PORTER SALE…

So yeah, as I scribbled yesterday, the Mr Porter sale is now live. I’ve just tipped my wish-list into my shopping bag and copped hard. Might take a little longer to arrive, they say. But that’s fine. I’m lucky the things I wanted had been chopped by 50%.

This is sadly not the case for all the pieces I recommended yesterday. I banged on about a patchwork Kapital sweatshirt which is stubbornly refusing to move from its hefty £520. Some Kapital pieces have conceded to the scissors, but to my mind, they’re either too generic, too spenny, or too deranged.

The Kapital fan looking for a piece that’s not too costly and just the right side of berserk would do well to check out these hats.

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Mr Porter sale starts tomorrow

I’ve got a love-hate relationship with Mr Porter. For every pair of Yuketens, they field ten pairs of Louboutin trainers. They stock an enviable selection of carefree Kapital, yet their editorials seem obsessed with rules. Slim-suits with roll-necks. Bajillion quid Jaeger-LeCoultre watches. That incessant Mr this and Mr that.

Madmen was just a TV show.

Still, their sale starts tomorrow and on such occasions I’m happy to make hay with Mr Hypocritical — I’m going to drop some bucks while turning a blind eye to myself. The day after that, my usual tiresome programme of reverse snobbery will resume.

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Reproduction of Found: Reassuringly old-timey

Straight reproductions of vintage kit have never been my thing. They remind me of ageing ravers — committed to the idea that electronic music ceased being good after they stopped dancing. Of course, veneration of the past can be rewarding. Just as long as it leaves room to appreciate the possibilities of the future, or even just the now.

Usually these kicks from Reproduction of Found wouldn’t do it for me. But these are unusual times.

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Snow Peak: Perfect for boosting the spirits of the flagging lockdownee

So to drizzly days. The sun’s siren call has faded and for now, our parks and walkways are free of the giddy and incautious. Time to button up. Time to bolt down. It’s back to beans on toast, jigsaws and chill-beating button-ups.

Snow Peak are great at outdoor wear for indoors. They know life can’t always be lived around modernist field ovens and bamboo picnic tables. So here we have a shirt designed for wherever and whenever — lightweight, oversized and with a quick-dry capacity that’s as suited to spilt Chardonnay as it is a downpour.

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Itten: A great beer garden shrug-on, some day

The human heart can be lifted by the most curious things. The recommissioning of a beloved TV show. The scent of a freshly vandalised easter egg. Your mum’s face when you play her a minute of left-field techno. A loose-associate’s misfortune.

This jacket raises my spirits. The world is a tempest of disease and racial protest. The head of the most powerful country on the planet is the stupidest being ever to be categorised as a ‘human man’. And yet, today, through the smears on my screen, I saw this jacket and felt happiness. It’s by the brand Itten. Just a pleasing thing of cotton and buttons.

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Bode: A lovely drawing — whatever it is

The lockdown rules. For me, they’re now a Netflix drama I used to watch — I caught a few episodes, got confused and dropped out. Many others have stuck with it though. So I occasionally pick up snatches of the ongoing plot. Apparently you can now finger up to four strangers in a car park. While OAPs are allowed out for five minutes a day to mumble some casual racism, before being shoved back inside with a special broom.

I heard something about sport too. During a plague for which there is no cure, it’s important that highly paid, low IQ individuals are allowed to kick, bat and throw balls on TV. Otherwise pointy-shoed blokes will have literally nothing to think about — they’ll begin to paw at their own faces and stumble into traffic. Autopsies will reveal completely hollow heads.

These shorts feature characters doing a sport. It’s a detail that makes me like this garment approximately 100% less. But you never know, one of you out there might be a fan of whatever it is they are doing.

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White Mountaineering: Contemporary colour pairings

While wearable menswear rarely deviates too far from traditional shapes, colour always can be relied upon to keep things current. This tee from White Mountaineering is a fine example, boasting specific hues of russet brown and azure blue.

Taken alone the tones may seem unspectacular — cover an eye and look at them on their own. It’s easy to imagine each as a yawnful block-colour tee by M&S Blue Harbour. Yet together they present as ultra-modern. I find web-tools like Shape Factory’s Pigment to be of particular inspiration when exploring contemporary colour pairings.

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Nanamica: I don’t believe a word of it

So, from next week six people can meet up. Six people from the same family. Or different families. Or some from the same family and some not, or four entirely unrelated people and a couple of strangers, or an entire party of strangers, but only if you’ve driven 360 miles to get there with a pensioner in your car and stopped half way to look at a castle…? I’ve lost track. The only thing I’m sure of these days is that I don’t believe a word of it.

Is this based on science? Or does Johnson just want us to focus on anything except the fact that the serpent-faced necromancer he pays to hiss in his ear made the rules, then broke the rules and half the country thinks he should go?

I expect the other half of the country is probably lapping this up, shaking off their picnic rugs as we speak. As I say, fuck knows. Our proudly idiotic isle is incapable of surprising me any more. Unlike Nanamica, who’ve dropped a shocker with this shirt.

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Kapital: Worn in a very specific way

Unconventional, unprecedented, avant-garde: it’s inarguable, the clothing from the Japanese masterminds at Kapital is truly unique. No one does it quite like them. Melting smiley faces, bandana jackets, frantic patch-working and an approach to trousers that’s simultaneously amusing and mildly terrifying.

Head-to-toe Kapital is only for the headstrong. Even in London, it’s rare to spot such a spectacle. For most, it’s far more feasible to wear one piece at a time. A single demented statement, sensibly framed by the more conventional. This tends to be my approach to Kapital. Put simply, I’m never going to wear a pair of leggings with a skeleton bone print. But I would wear this hat, in a very specific way.

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*A Vontade: Become the real you

Even during the best of times, it’s rare enough for stories concerning menswear to surface in the mainstream media. While the ongoing pestilence has naturally banished such foppish coverage completely. Or so I thought. Call it Covid fatigue, but over the last few weeks a number of outlets have jumped on the idea that sustained lockdown is encouraging men to dress as they’ve always wanted to.

All it’s taken is a pic of Armie Hammer in a crop top, some dude (apparently married to Gwen Stefani) with a homemade haircut and a handful of ‘only famous in the US’ types with pink mullets and it’s a ‘thing’.

Supposedly, now free of social pressure and the formal demands of work, us blokes are now free to revert to our most comfortable form, the drummer in Green Day.

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Comme des Garçons: Something I don’t understand, but need to be part of

That (given the opportunity) I would happily wear one of these rings is a source of some disquiet. I don’t want to be an idiot. I read a great deal, I write, I learn; the human condition is a passion. Still, I want one of these rings. These giant, vulgar, Vegas slot-machine rings. And I know it’s only because they’re from Comme des Garçons. They’re designed by Rei Kawakubo herself and that’s enough to make me assume some level of irony at play, some deeper meaning — something I don’t understand, but need to be part of.

They don’t fit my personal style. So I think I should bend my style to meet them. Yet I know for certain, if these absurd rings weren’t by Comme des Garçons I wouldn’t care. Were they to carry the stamp of a different brand — Dior, Givenchy, Prada say — I’d simply see them as the splashy lunacy they undoubtedly are. I’d think them a joke.

Sadly my blinkered devotion to the house of Comme is such that piss becomes gold. Nonsense is the only sense. As I say, I don’t want to be an idiot. I just fear I am one.

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Smock: Not ‘just like’ anything

Florals, like so many elements of menswear, are easily mishandled. A blossomy Engineered Garments parka worn beneath a navy field vest looks superb. An equally florid shirt teamed with thin trousers and driving shoes makes you look like you’ve been dressed by your wife.

Quality, brand, print, colour — florals are a broad church, and I’m sorry but your flowery H&M shirt is not the same as a jacket like the one above from Smock. This blazer features an impressionistic suggestion of flowers; muted yet bold; gaudy yet sophisticated. A flowery H&M shirt is just what knobs wear.

 

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Eastlogue: Is there anything as dumb as not buying this jacket?

Yet again the country appears split in two. There are those that think it’s safer to stay locked in and those that think otherwise. I’m very much in the former group. Having given it some thought, I’ve concluded that I’d rather not risk catching a pestilence that might kill me dead. For me the choice between nodding off during episode cajillion of Homeland, and nodding off permanently in an ICU is no kind of choice.

For reasons I cannot fathom, many, many people appear to disagree. They seem perfectly happy to enjoy a daily game of Covid Roulette — gambling prolonged group meets and a couple of gins-in-tins against being throttled to death my their own lungs.

And bizarrely there’s increasing social pressure around this. On a couple of occasions now I’ve been dammed as a pearl-clutching hysteric because I don’t think socialising is all that wise.

Fuck ’em I say. I’d rather a lifetime of watching Carrie Mathison’s bottom lip tremble than risk an early expiration date. To think otherwise is just dumb. Perhaps even as dumb as not buying this Eastlogue jacket.

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Belafonte: Why the fuck have you got a lion on your sweater?

Yeah baby, you’re the mountain lion. Yes you are. You’re a big bad mountain lion, poised, alert, ready to strike. Today your pray might be a packet of Cheetos, but tomorrow, who knows… You’re a bad man, a powerful man, a man of urgency and unspeakable erotic tastes.

At least, this is what I tell myself during my morning meditation. It never makes me feel much different though. I remain a lethargic lump who moans when the TV remote is out of reach.

Perhaps I need to dress the part.

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Jungle: This shit is the piss

I’m a very exciting man. I’ve got loads to say, lots of compelling opinions on everything from current events through to 1970’s Italian horror movies. I’ll happily talk for hours about underground electronica. Everyone I know knows this. It’s not surprising that when I arrive at a pub my friends suddenly have an important phone call to make, or they have to run home to put the cat out. I get it. They feel inadequate.

But I’m self-aware too. I know not everyone’s as enchanting as me. Some dudes need a little help in grabbing and holding people’s attention. Which is where this hat comes in.

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les Briqu’a* braque × Fennica: Treat her like a lady

Yum, yum, fucking yum. And a yee-haw for good measure. We’re talking embroidered polo shirts from les Briqu’a* braque × Fennica. We’re talking candy store colours. We’re talking stripes. We’re talking hand-stitched wild west motifs.

I’d like to take one of these shirts out for a good time. Treat her like a lady. Steak dinner, bottle of mid-priced wine, cocktails, casino, Premier Inn, the works. Conversation might be one-sided, but the electricity will be real. We’ll both feel it. No point fighting it. We’ll both know the evening will end with mini bar Cointreau, a quick flannel bath and silent but respectful coitus.

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Why BBC2’s Dave is your new menswear god

People that are always recommending TV shows are the worst. It’s just one of the things we’ve learned from lockdown life. We now know Zoom bingo gets boring very quickly. Kipling’s Cherry Bakewells and creme fraiche is all sorts of wrong. And untimely death is a massive inconvenience.

We’ve also learned that everyone thinks their taste in TV is brilliant. If I watched everything I was told to watch I wouldn’t be writing this, I’d be squatting on the sofa in my own piss, square-eyed, as an English/American/Spanish detective solves a murder/kidnapping while also keeping his teenage daughter from falling in with a bad crowd/arguing with his ex-wife, while drinking too much lager/bourbon/sangria.

That said, you’ve got to watch Dave.

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Moonstar x Fennica: Sometimes I think it’d be easier ordering through a Ouija Board.

A couple of weeks back I rolled the dice and ordered some sneakers from Beams Fennica. It’s a Japan only brand, so I had to resort to a proxy service. Using proxies makes me nervous. I sob molten fury if an Amazon order doesn’t turn up when it says it will. Add in a faceless intermediary, a proxy website seemingly designed on a VIC-20 and a language that looks like a spilt packet of Quavers and I’m ready for a psychiatric ward. Sometimes I think it’d be easier ordering through a Ouija Board.

And yet, the sneakers turned up. Beautifully packaged. Mint condition. They took about seven days from mouse-click to doorbell. I should have more trust in people.

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Sasquatchfabrix: I am deeply self-important and pretentious

As everyone knows Comme des Garçons invented the colour black in 1981. Prior to that nighttime was dark blue and coal was brown, just like soil, which made it very difficult to find. Now of course black is used everywhere, frequently to denote the most important things in life like TVs, TV remotes and Mars bars.

Black clothing is typically used to announce pretentiousness. If you’re wearing black you look intelligent even if your head is full of candy-floss and unicorns. Fashion PRs wear a lot of black. Art students wear black too. This is so they can appear convincing when discussing the profundity of some blancmange smeared over an old pair of tights.

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Engineered Garments: it’s goodnight from him

Terrestrial TV sucks right now. You know something’s gone terribly wrong when it’s a toss up between Doc Martin or something called Dogs With Incredible Jobs.

They’ll bring back Barrymoore next.

This jacket reminds me of TV. Or at least what guys on TV used to wear. Nice bold checked jackets. You know, like The Two Ronnies. Say what you like about the Ronnies, but no one ever found a dead man with a ruined ringpiece in their pool.

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Unaffected: not for use, just for being

Here’s a question for your next Zoom quiz. Outside of their prefix, what connects the words unrivaled, unused and unaffected? Why, whey’re all East Asian men’s casualwear brands of course. And for an extra point: two are from Japan, but which of the three is from South Korea? Answer: Unaffected.

Feel free to add that to your next family quiz and watch as your parents nod off through the sheer excitement of it all.

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Naissance: gin and elderflower and a few short stories from The Glue Ponys

From my lawn I can smell the barbecues. And the portable pizza ovens (this is Peckham after all). Kids howl, footballs sail over fences; the pull of the saw, the fizz of the sander, the clump of the hammer — such is garden-life during lockdown.

I’d rather just sit in the sun and read quietly. But one of my neighbours thinks differently. He prefers to fill his garden (and thus mine) with bush-league club music, streamed via Spotify complete with deafening ad breaks. Perhaps this is just the rich tapestry of diversity you get when you live in London. I prefer to think he’s just a cunt.

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Kenneth Field drops at The Bureau

Give me strength. Global economic prospects look dire. Everyone’s furloughed, going part-time or taking voluntary pay cuts. I can’t seem to get hold of crunchy peanut butter anywhere. And yet the exciting menswear drops keep coming.

New in at the ever mighty The Bureau in Belfast is Kenneth Field. Sounds like a character from an 80s sit-com (I’m seeing Anton Rodgers or Keith Barron) but farcical misunderstandings aside, it is of course a beautiful range of casual wear.

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Kaptain Sunshine: terribly, terribly grown up

Yesterday I sat playing Modern Warfare Free-for-All. I’m concentrating. Headphones on. Lost in the sounds of automatic gunfire, grenades and player chat.

Then from nowhere: “Rampboy I’m going to fuck your mother.”

I admit I was surprised. There are millions of global Modern Warfare players. What were the chances that I’d ended up playing against my mother’s lover?

A quick phone call to my mum put my mind at rest. She remains a grandmother in her late 70s happily married to my father for over 50 years. I’m beginning to suspect my gaming rival was merely annoyed that I’d shot him in the face three times in a row.

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HAVERSACK: mission accomplished

So the UK have the highest death toll in Europe. That’ll show the remoaners. We don’t need the EU to win at death. Once again we’ve proved why Her Majesty’s England knows best. Suck it Johnny Foreigner.

After such a triumph we all deserve a good sit down. Let’s pour ourselves a tall G&T, get Her Majesty’s The One Show on and snuggle up in a cosy cardie. Maybe one like this. But not this one obviously, it’s made in Japan. What have that lot ever done for us? Mission accomplished.

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Merely Made: the longest journeys are in the imagination

I went for my first walk in six weeks yesterday. I felt like Veronica Cartwright in Invasion of the Body Snatchers — pokerfaced, unemotional, but afraid that at any moment passersby would start pointing and screaming. My walk didn’t last long. I turned a corner and came within a metre of a mum and her buggy. My legs went. My girl had to hold my hand all the way home.

During a lockdown there’s a certain irony in selling trousers called ‘Nomadic Pants‘. Nevertheless, here they are and with a blanket 20% off over at Korean makers Merely Made they’re an appealing proposition.

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SUVSOLE: standing between me and any clear sense of happiness

Occasionally I’ve spotted Japanese brand SUVSOLE crop up at UK retailers Size? and Footpatrol. One style here, one style there, no consistent buys. Currently SUVSOLE is absent from both store’s brand rosters. It’s a shame, because this trail-runner murders.

If you’re about the Hoka One One life, but, like me, haven’t dropped on a pair, these are the niche alternative. I do love Hoka’s (the Engineered Garments co-sign doesn’t hurt) but I’ve now got it in my head that they’re too common.

Let’s be clear, obviously they’re not. I’ve only ever seen one dude in them IRL and he was a ridiculously on-point Japanese dude queuing for a Simone Rocha sample sale. Outside of that, I’ve only spotted them on Nepenthes’ Instagram channels. But (as regular readers will recall) when it comes to menswear, I’m prone to irrational snobbery. It’s a condition that all to frequently stands between me and any clear sense of happiness.

Don’t pity me. I’m a twat. Besides I want a pair of these now.

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Document: a decent enough metaphor for the times

So, how you getting on? I must say I’m struggling to keep up. Apparently at the weekend, parks were both full and empty, depending on your chosen media outlet. Testing goals are now not about how many people you test, but how many people you could test if people could actually get to the test. Boris Johnson calls it an, “invisible mugger”, but if you remember, it’s a mugger he was happy to keep shaking hands with as the world entered lockdown. Is he tough on crime or not? It’s conundrums such as these I ponder, sitting here, sipping my Peroni with a Domestos top.

Chaotic times call for something simple, and this here baggy tee might do the trick. But look closer. Can you see? Even this isn’t as straightforward as it might appear?

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Homeless Tailor: a bit Victorian Dad?

Got to love a pleated trouser. Sure, you’re struggling to raise a smile as antique comedian Lenny Henry trots out his Flavor Flav stylings on the BBC’s Big Night In. Yes, you’re eating dry toast because you’ve run out of butter. No, sunbathing is not the same as exercise. But look at these aggressive pleats. Pointy and stupid and brilliant. High waist, low pleats. It’s possible I’m losing it, but I’m grinning in a way Lenny Henry shouting, “boomshakalaka” will never achieve.

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White Mountaineering: like dressing up a Ken doll as Action Man

I can’t remember when I last wore a pair of lace-up shoes. It’s getting that way with trousers too — I haven’t been out of shorts for weeks. Every day it’s cut off Engineered Garments trousers, or giant Sasquatchfabrix techno shorts that crackle when I walk. Up top I dress for Zoom, off camera it’s a world of knees.

Consequently I’m feeling these White Mountaineering shorts. They’re militaristic, but perhaps a little too delightful — like dressing up a Ken doll as Action Man.

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YSTRDY’S TMRRW: stumble and squint your way outdoors

I hate short sleeved shirts. I like this short sleeved shirt. I hate short sleeved shirts. I like this short sleeved shirt. My sister, my daughter, my sister…

Lockdown’s knotting my mind like a sausage plait. I don’t know what I think anymore. I’m listening to a track called ‘Approach It Like A ‘90s DnB Banger‘ by Fear E on loop. I have a permanent soft headache. I’m suspicious of the skirting boards. Is it okay to eat soap?

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Engineered Garments x Kafka: tough times call for tough clothing

Toughing it out at home is no joke. Whether it’s rearranging your objets d’art or hoovering up all four eps of Unorthodox. Every day there’s the same news. There’s the same pair of shorts to put on. There’s another celebrity gurning on Zoom. Have a shower, have another toasted sandwich. Open a coffee table book, close a coffee table book. And that Ocado delivery won’t unpack itself.

Tough times call for tough clothing.

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NOAH: the hypocrisy of snobbery

I’m a slave to snobbery. I’ve never had any interest in the brand NOAH. Those multi-coloured logo hoodies did it for me. Why was everyone suddenly dressing for an Australian pub quiz? And those caps. With the little + under the brand. Yeah, we get it, you’ve got £48 to spend on a hat. Logos, logos, logos… gah.

But this shirt is a different beast. No brazen branding, no threadbare aphorisms. It’s just a simple white shirt with splash of visual poetry on the back. Because I’m such a hateful snob I struggle to admit I like it, but I kind of do. If you’d told me this was by Yohji Yamamoto and only cost £148 I’d bite your hand off.

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RANDT: in more sane times I’d fear it

Every day the same. Same people, same four walls, same back pain from working on the sofa, same boxset recommendations over and over. I don’t care what you say, I’m just not that interested in watching a schlock doc about a hilIbilly who wanks off tigers.

Lockdown is like a general anaesthetic for the senses. Social paralysis, intellectual numbness; I actually think someone could saw off my leg and I wouldn’t notice. A friend told me yesterday that they’d been spying on a family member’s rightwing Facebook feed. Apparently it was full of  ‘brave Boris’ posts — get this, some pricks actually want to clap for Boris’ recovery. It’s the first thing in weeks to make me feel anything. Utter despair, for the interested.

And then this jacket hit my Instagram feed.

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This is what lockdown fashion looks like

So now Holby City are donating ventilators. As if this madness couldn’t get any more unreal. Let’s not forget that back in 2017 the Tories cheered after blocking a pay rise for nurses — now props from a BBC drama series have become the key to someone’s life or death. Johnson waved to his carers as he left the ICU. It seems the main reason people rail against politicising the virus is to try and dodge this gruesome hypocrisy.

As I scribbled the other day, there’s no dodging the impact on the garment industry. Sure, there are many tales from frightened Boohoo workers saying yokels won’t stop buying £5 swimsuits. And it’s possible such online shithouses will do well out of this catastrophe. But the smaller indies, freelance designers, journos, models, stylists, make-up artists, snappers — it doesn’t take a genius to realise they’re going to face serious hardship.

So what does fashion look like under this new normal? I’m sorry to say, it looks like the above.

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Camiel Fortgens: another coolest guy on the planet

Money fucking supermarket! This dude’s grabbed my attention. What a confident bro — sun’s out, guns out. And look at the scale of those trousers. He looks like an egg being swallowed by a snake — but in the coolest possible way.

This guy’s modelling Camiel Fortgens‘ current collection. I’m not that familiar with Fortgens, or his work. But anyone who would put this badass, in these pants for their look-book has got to be worth your attention.

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Story MFG: Love the indies? Support the indies!

This is the longest I’ve gone without buying anything. Outside of the necessary survival goods — vegetables, bread, milk, personal paper — my debit card has fossilised. There’s been no running to a buzzing door. No feverishly murdering parcels with the kitchen scissors. I haven’t daubed a wonky signature onto one of those grey boxes that look like 80s mobiles for weeks.

That changed on Tuesday.

I bought this Story MFG jacket. It arrived today.

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Studio Nicholson: frisbee in the park

If I stand in my garden I can hear sirens. The echo of emergency vehicles is distant, but frequent. They have not yet reached my road.

It’s a daily reminder of this new normal. And that I’m lucky to have a garden in the first place.

Last weekend I watched as, between strained breaths and tears, hospitalised sufferers urged the country to stay indoors. Last weekend I watched footage of people picnicking in busy parks.

If Brexit taught us that this country is home to millions of dumb fucks. Then the parklife footage suggests there are thousands even dumber than that.

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Sillage: the hardest of hardcore

Regular readers will know I’m all about that semi-smart jacket life. You know the sort of thing, unstructured blazers, or shirt-jackets, with a hint of lapel — a second layer with a nod to formality.

I rarely use grown-up structured tailoring. While I can’t help thinking a parka, jeans and sneakers belongs in Camden Market thumbing though Elastica CDs. I prefer the stuff in-between. Not smart enough for a wedding, a bit smart for the pub darts team — that’s my bullseye right there.

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Eastlogue: getting excited just doesn’t feel right

The shops are shut. Inboxes fill with discounts and pop-up digital markets. Beloved indie brands cling to their fans through social media; often not to sell, just to talk.

It’s an uncomfortable and introspective time for those of us who consider clothing to be one of life’s great pleasures. Getting excited about a colourful jacket just doesn’t feel right.

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Zucca: downright optimistic is what it is

If there’s one thing that’s going to get us all through this, it’s the idea that one day soon, a man, perhaps a man like you, will be able to freely wear this exact Zucca jacket in the kind of pretentious east London bar that has graffiti in the toilets, and fellow patrons will glance enviously at it, while pretending not to be looking at all.

We can but dream.

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Eastlogue: a new leader will rise

Good to see Eastlogue offering pieces outside their typical palette of navy, olive and beige. Proper stoner territory this. Maybe the brand have been inspired by LA’s none-more-bongo Online Ceramics. Or is it just a reaction to the virus? This looks like the uniform of a new religion?

Think about it. After months of Loose Women and Cash in the Attic your mind’s going to start eating itself. Your intellect will perish beneath the teeth of stupidity; you’ll start to argue that Love Is Blind is an important sociological experiment; Boris Johnson will sound plausible.

Then you’ll be completely susceptible. A new leader will rise. A Pastor. American. Dressed in a top like this. Probably some beads. He’ll speak to us all through Zoom video conferences. He’ll teach us not to fear the virus, but to embrace it. But not before transfering our savings to his church.
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Loewe: Day three in the Big Brother house

Already Covid-19 has developed a new symptom — conference calls have gone viral. Tinny voices shrieking from smartphones. The robotic echo of bad connections. Hello, can you hear me, I’m here, I’m heeeeere, [fuck me], do you need to restart? Hello, hello…

It’s piss, no doubt. But there is one upside to this lockdown culture. If you’re using video conferencing, you at least get to show off the top half of your daily flex.

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Engineered Garments: Don’t cry, we’re all in this together

Don’t sneeze. Scrub your hands. Incinerate used tissues. Shit man, welcome to armageddon, population everyone. Required viewing: David Cronenberg’s Rabid, George Romero’s The Crazies and forgotten BBC gem The Mad Death. I wonder how things will look by Friday 10th April — 28 days later.  My Aesop Aromatique hand-wash is already taking a hammering. This is the new normal. And quite right too. According to this frighteningly smart piece, businesses should go into lock-down immediately. My work-work is shuttering on Monday. So I’m hunkering at home for the forceable.

But amongst the chatter about the uselessness of masks and predicted infection curves, there’s one conversation notable by its absence. Sure, we’ve got to look after the elderly. But what about the impact on international menswear fanatics? If we’re all locked up indoors, who’s going to see how banging my new South2 West8 blazer is? It’s time for real talk people.

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Yuketen: I want, I want, I want…

I’ve just had a pair of these resoled. Not these exact ones, mine are tan, I’ve had them for years. I took them to Hoxton Shoe Repairs and they did an excellent job. It doesn’t stop me wanting this pair as well though.

Yuketen Blucher Rockers (with the kiltie) have been my favourite shoe style for a few years now. I’ve got two pairs, the tan and a pair in green suede. But two is not nearly enough. I think five pairs would be a respectable amount. But I don’t appear to have a spare £485 to buy these. A fact that leads me to believe I probably don’t have £1455 to buy three pairs. Mathematics can be a real kick in the tits.

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Bru Na Boinne: who dares wins, who cares doesn’t

Don’t like this jacket? You’ve made a mistake lad. Probably you were looking for boohooMAN and took a wrong turn. The internet’s confusing right? It’s okay. I expect you want some jeans with holes in the knees, or a pair of those big white rip-off McQueen trainers. No problemo, here you go. Any of that stuff will look boss after a quick 15 on the elliptical, a spray tan and a nicely oiled side parting. Mate, you’ll look ‘banging’. Up for some proper top bants I bet. I’m sure you and your identically dressed ‘crew’ are a right laugh.

Now off you go. Get yourself up West. And keep those legs spread on the train. You know what the birds like.

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ATHA: giving conventional forms of beauty the finger

Deconstruction in fashion is a cruel mistress. For every fêted Comme des Garçons mutation, there’s another brand’s creation that looks like it was made by you, in ten minutes, with a pair of kitchen scissors. Frayed hems, unfinished button stands — you know the sort of thing.

Against a glittering 80’s backdrop of Lacroix, Fendi, Ferré et al, such dishevelment appeared radical. The stuff of artists, architects and visionaries. Of course deconstruction doesn’t pack such a punch these days. Yet it remains a familiar trope. Stylistic shorthand for avant-garde dressing and giving conventional forms of beauty the finger.

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Barena: suffocating a snitch with a carrier bag

Somewhere between Jack Nicklaus and a mafia button man lies this. Yeah, strap in anarchists and ne’er-do-wells, it’s geometric knitwear time. A style beloved of louche 60s crooners and the shortest Two Ronnie.

This piece is from Barena, a brand rooted in the stylistic history of Venice, and it certainly looks the part. After a hard day’s punting, I can see your average gondolier tossing the stripy tee in the wash-basket and wearing this out for a few pints of Negroni.

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BY H: when there’s nowhere left to go

Sometimes you’ve got to just take a breath. Camo, fluoro, leopard prints, colour clash, retro illustration, colliding geometry, idiot words. Synapses firing too fast. So many t-shirts with Droogs on. Too. Much. Pattern. This is menswear today, a  street-fight where the Queensberry Rules take two diamond-encrusted fingers to the eyes.

With so much noise there’s nowhere left to go. What can you wear to stand out? How will you get noticed amongst 1000 hoodies covered in pop-art machine guns and paintings of Jesus hanging from a noose? There are only two approaches. One, beat the boujee anarchists at their own game and wear a top featuring a grinning picture of Jimmy Savile and the words ‘Pedo 4 Life.” Or, assuming you’re not ready to tackle that level of irony, just wear a plain cotton shirt.

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Studio Nicholson: just a very very fat man

I own one pair of Studio Nicholson ‘Volume pants’. After the notorious Needles HD Pants, they are the biggest trousers I own. At least around the legs. Thing is, I was lucky to get them. I’m just going to say it, I’m not a fat man. Nothing against the turbo-sized. I just don’t think, by any scientific measure I qualify as fat, or even that large. And yet I can only fit into the XL. I was lucky there was one pair of XLs in the sale. And I do wear them. But too frequently I feel the bite of tight fabric around the waist, followed quickly by the thought that yes, I must be a very very fat man.

I mention this because Studio Nicholson are offering some savagely cool suiting. Bought as separates, but ideally worn together. So now I want a Studio Nicholson suit. Yet the brand seems to think I belong on a stage next to a pair of conjoined twins and a bearded women.

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Story MFG: a couple of pillowy fistbumps to the eyes

Our favourite eco-exorcists Story MFG have just dropped new pieces for Spring. In the mix you’ll spot a heady rework of the ‘Short on Time’ style, dubbed ‘Second Trip‘. It looks like designers Katy and Saeed have been swigging from the lava lamp again — check out those grinning suns, spiky marijuana leaves, peace logos and tumbling mushrooms. It’s a simultaneous representation of the globally conscious and the bong-induced unconscious.

But this is the zeitgeist right here if you ask me — wear it to catch one of A24’s nuevo-folk-horrors, or maybe while idly (but theatrically) flicking through the pages of Weird Walk zine in some asymmetrical Shoreditch espresso hole. Dank Rowan Morrison vibes brah!

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Magliano: a cardigan for a sex-dragon

This is from Italian brand Magliano. It’s called a Rave Cardigan, although I suspect it’s never seen the inside of a rave. Over at South Korean retailer, I Am Shop, they say it’s got the, “feel of ancient Greek nostalgia.” To me it looks like posh 90s casual wear. The sort of thing worn by expat gangsters on the Costa del Sol.

It’s something of an anachronism. Totally out of step with the prevailing mood of almond lattes, organic hand-sanitiser and motivational memes. This is a cardigan for a sex-dragon. A dude who looks like a blend of Hunter from Gladiators, 80’s man-model Fabio Lanzoni and Salvadore the yoga instructor from Couples Retreat — “yesssss, encouragement.” It’s to be worn bare chested. It’s to be worn while slowly eating cherries. It’s to be worn erotically.

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Andsox: stupider than they already are

I’m finding the illustration on these socks oddly prescient. All that’s missing is a dusting of nuclear fallout on the top of the tent and a couple of unnaturally hairy children fighting over a badger carcass.

My patience is over. Last night hoards of turnip-faced simpletons clashed their G&Ts in time to Big Ben’s chimes. They sang a song requesting that a fictional entity take special care of an old women. They fell prostate before a facist called Nigel — a being with the brain of a frog and the face of a frog. They wheezed and puffed and shrieked with enthusiasm, welcoming a future that anyone with actual expertise predicts will be a pile of shit.

Hope is dead. We live in a land of cunts.

Still, these socks are quite nice.

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Sasquatchfabrix: looking like a dick was not central to their moodboard

Sasquatchfabrix’s denim pieces don’t seem to get much play in the UK. Goodhood et al have been offering coats, trousers and the familiar prints for time, but the brand’s denim experiments are rarely seen outside Japan. Perhaps this jacket explains why.

I can’t remember ever thinking that my outerwear would benefit from less front. Blazers, parkas, chore jackets — at no time have I considered the absence of a giant hole in the front to be a bad thing. Perhaps it’s just me. Maybe denim jackets with an orifice advertising your beer belly are a thing now? I spent last weekend in the Midlands — have things really changed that much while I was away?

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JieDa: a visual statement so profound you can’t decode it

Today let’s get into artistic territory. Of course, we all enjoy US vintage through an eastern lens etc… blah… etc… But is there not also a place for some righteous pretentiousness? Is there not a place for oversized, overlong garments? A place for garments with abstract prints. Garments designed to be worn while standing perfectly still, with an utterly straight face; as though you and your clothing represent some kind of grandiose communiqué, a visual statement so profound even you can’t decode it? I would say yes. There is a place for it. Not in my wardrobe of course. But there might be in yours.

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Polyploid make interesting coats, if you can find them

Polyploid is a German brand. They’re unisexual, which is obviously an open door policy for partner-pilfering. But they do make really interesting coats. Not just coats I should say, they also do a cool line in oversized trousers. But the coats, long-line and minimal, feel pretty good for now.

For a brand so close to the UK, it’s remarkably difficult to figure out who stocks Polyploid. I clicked on the stockist link on their website and it just says, ’email for details.’ The journalistic laziness kicked in — I didn’t bother. That said, they’re definitely stocked at Tokyo based Coverchord. And while Japan seems a fair way to go (proxy) for a German jacket, I can’t help but respect the fact that I’ve never heard of them. And as we all know, a good brand nobody’s heard of is worth around 1000%* more than a good brand everyone’s got.

*Figures hypothetical at time of writing

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John Elliott: just a fleece with rectangles on it?

I’m liking the colours here. Chocolate brown (big colour I’m betting this year) a laser-powered yellowy orange marigold and a handful of neutrals. And what about that pattern — somewhere between a close-up of a LEGO wall and the naive motion graphics in The Lawnmower Man. I’m fully digging it.

The concept? Surely a study of the industrial linearity of man meeting the amorphous irregularities of nature. Or could it just be a fleece with rectangles on it? You can never be quite sure.

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Needles: beautifully useless

It’s difficult to review clothes. I mean, one man’s chicken liver parfait is another man’s Gregg’s Steak Bake. But with these Needles bags at least, I can confidently speak to the practicality. I don’t own one of these specifically, but I do own an Engineered Garments equivalent — a very similar arrangement of cloth pouch and over-the-shoulder handle. Bags really don’t get much simpler. Nor, I would argue, more out of step with the demands of modern life.

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Kapital: a single doppelgänger

I know we had Kapital the other day, but I can’t let this scarf pass by without comment. It’s a double-ender. It’s pulling double-duty. Beyond schizophrenic, this thing’s a doppelgänger and yet there’s only one of it. There’s a Gobelin (historic, French) tapestry on one side. There’s a dead fake leopard on the other. One side’s taking tea with grandma, the other side’s tearing grandma to pieces and scoffing her withered liver.

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South2 West8: the me that I think is me?

My girl caught up on my last few posts last night. She seemed concerned by the apparent through-line of despair and downright morbidity. I explained I was fine. But, to change the subject and illustrate I retained some remnants of joy and optimism, I enthused about this jacket. She didn’t like it. Apparently it would make me look like:

  • The kind of guy who introduces himself as an artist while never having produced anything beyond secondary-school-level daubings.
  • The kind of guy who constantly bangs on about how ‘off his face’ he was.
  • The kind of guy who goes barefoot in polite company.

I am, I should clarify, none of the above. But it is worrying that my girl considers the addition of this jacket to my wardrobe so perilous. Thing is, I really like it, I think it’s a bit of me. I wonder if the me that I think is me is not the same me my girl watches Death in Paradise with?

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Beheavyer: waiting to crack a smile

Do you find bright and sunny colours lead to a bright and sunny disposition? When the style press suggests adding a pop of colour to scare away the January blues do you think that sounds like a bit of fun and a concept you can get onboard? I fucking don’t. It’ll take more than a yellow body-warmer to make me want to go back to work. And it’ll take more than a duck down interior to make me enjoy another year of conference calls, Google Slides and anaemic on-train wi-fi.

That said, unless I dive under a bus or jump into a canal (both of which sound a bit painy) this is life. And this is a bright yellow body-warmer. So let’s just get on with it shall we.

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Kapital: everything starts 32 minutes ago

Putting to one side Thursday’s meltdown, let’s get back on the sartorial horse.  What better way to ring in the new year than with an animal of a piece — a sweatshirt that’ll snarl as you pull it on and try to take a bite out of your chin. It’ a grotesque beauty; diseased with colour, schizophrenic of fabric. This is what 2020 looks like. You’re welcome to it.

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Emerging from the C-hole

So here it is, merry 2020. Crushed Red Stripe cans carpet Peckham this morning. There’s a note on the door of my favourite cafe announcing its permanent shuttering. The banks are playing catch-up; overnight my balance has atrophied. I notice Well Spent has posted its last.

I don’t start back at work proper till the 6th. I’m one of the lucky ones. I’ve got another couple of days to sit in different cafes, typing rot about menswear, further withering my remaining capital on lattes and exorbitant sausage rolls.

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White’s Northwest Boots: tough fucking tinsel

There’s nothing Christmassy about these shoes. If you’re reading this in a jolly nylon knit featuring a naked Father Christmas and the slogan “I’ve got a big package for you”, stop reading and take a long hard look at your life. If you’ve ever swigged a can of lager in a floppy Santa hat on the Tube go away. The Mrs Brown’s Boys Christmas special has your name on it.

We’re back at Clutch Cafe today. The other day we looked at their terrifyingly expensive Setto Indigo Label cardie. Now the spotlight swings to these terrifyingly expensive White’s Northwest shoes.

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Setto Indigo Label: the people’s cardigan

Hooray. We’ve only gone and done it. We’ve won another five years of quietly selling off bits of the NHS, throttling the BBC, and ignoring those irritating layabouts in their sleeping bags outside Tube stations. Isn’t it brilliant. Once we’re rid of Johnny Foreigner with their inconvenient health and safety rules, we’ll be free to munch ourselves stupid on as much of Trump’s chlorine-washed chicken as we want. And if this vote has taught us anything, it’s that the climate crisis is just a storm in a tea cup.

Best just to forget about politics now, we’re in safe hands. Let’s all get back to doing what we do best, believing we’re better than other countries, being emotionally repressed and watching idiots try to fuck each other on Channel 4.

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Sunnei: a stab at what feels right for now

Famously, you can’t please all of the dudes all of the time. There are heritage denim fanatics — the kind of guys who typically shop at Son of Stag or Clutch Cafe. Then there are guys who certainly appreciate the beauty of 22oz rope-dyed denim, but are also drawn to more modern fits.

These jeans from Italian imprint Sunnei are more likely to appeal to the latter. If the denim here has a back-story, one of antique looms and irregular weaves, it is not mentioned on the brand site. Rather I suspect, the denim here is good and serviceable, but nothing that demands documents of authenticity. Basically, these are fashion jeans. Or, to put it in a way that’s less likely to induce vomiting, we’re talking leading-edge design, having a stab at what feels right for now.

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Kapital: like some kind of gynaecological oddity

Kapital’s Ring Coat is well known amongst scholars of modern menswear. It’s an elephantine parka which, when fully buttoned, smothers the wearer like a dumpy succubus. Wear it loose and the swathes of fabric corrugate at the front like some kind of gynaecological oddity. The Ring Coat is not for everyone. But for fans of head designer Kiro Hirata’s twisted take on military attire, it’s a classic. You might already own one.

This is a Ring Coat, but also not — technically, it’s a Ring Coat liner. But as retailer Kafka point out, it’s perfectly good to wear on its own — a position I wholeheartedly endorse.

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Norbit by Hiroshi Nozawa: a weapon of a coat

It’s worth keeping an eye on Alpha Shadows right now, the store has gone early with reductions — preparing the way for a significant reimagining next year. Consequently, with 25% all orders, some pieces that were well beyond the reach of the average wallet, are now less well beyond the the reach of the average wallet. You’ll still need a big wallet is what I’m saying.

Having said that, if you’re in the market for an investment piece, then this weapon of a coat by Norbit by Hiroshi Nozawa might be what you’re after.

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Nisica: Not a Christmas shirt

If there’s one thing I hate, it’s most things. But especially right now, the use of the term, “living your best life”. Ahhhhggg — it’s physically uncomfortable to even write it down. Why is this asinine expression of empty-headed enthusiasm so popular? It’s like having your teeth pulled by a phrase.

Thing is, I like slang. At least I like slang that’s the result of unique cultural experiences, burgeoning friendships, cultish music fanbases, specific passion centres. What I object to is the wave of empty, colourless terms presumably born of an internet meme and then repeated endlessly, in every possible circumstance by the middle-class and middle-aged. Come on mum of two, put down that ‘must-have’ & Other Stories top and say ‘bantz’ for me. Come on, say ‘winninggg!’ — specifically every time something wholly unremarkable happens. Even the BBC are at it, they’re now peddling the idea of “living your Christmas best life”, or some such twaddle.

Fuck this life. Here’s a shirt.

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YSTRDY’S TMRRW: a fleece of a different hue

A fleece means different things to different people. To the vast majority it means something body-conscious from Berghaus — a garment with a griege anonymity so powerful it’s the closest we’ve come to developing an actual Harry Potter Invisibility Cloak. To others a fleece is what your gran wears to do the gardening. To a Shetland sheep it’s the only thing standing in the way of an abattoir hook. To Jason and his Argonauts, it means something quite different again.

On this site, a fleece means a boxy shape. It means a truncated length. It means a few utilitarian or vintage style details. And colour-wise it usually means camel. But not so today. This number from YSTRDY’S TMRRW ticks all the stylistic boxes, but presents itself in a rich turquoisey blue. The colour of a idealised ocean. Or a fine piece of Lalique. Or the Co-Op logo.

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Soulland: schizophrenic shirting for the individualist

I find myself drawn to the brand Soulland. For a reason only clear to my subconscious, I’ve previously viewed Soulland as something of a gateway brand — a quick way for a novice menswearist to wear a logoed-T that didn’t originate on the high-street. There was a period a handful of years back when, in central London at least, branded Soulland pieces seemed a prevailing trend. I suspect this coloured my view. Either way, I decided to swerve the brand and have done until now. But this season’s shirts are making me reconsider my position.

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