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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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Bode: altered state of corduroy

This is Bode. You know, the NYC design house that dusts off vintage textiles, quilts and other haberdashery and reshapes them into contemporary shapes. The brand’s been popping up more frequently of late, at more and more retailers.

But while its rarity decreases, two elements remain unchanged. Its wallet strangling cost. And its nuclear approach to style. Case in point — this corduroy over-shirt and trouser combination. Seemingly derived from the Book of Genesis via a live-action LEGO movie. This is clothing as an assault weapon.

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The kind of beauty you cannot possess (unless you’re an XXL)

Oh dear, oh dear. I first saw this belter from Tender when it dropped at The Bureau a week or so ago. And I was going to spotlight it then, but I got a cold. So I coughed and wheezed. Then moaned and whined. And spent most of my waking hours wondering if a couple of Marlboros with my coffee might actually help matters. What I didn’t do was write anything about this jacket. And now look, they’ve only gone and sold all but the XXL.

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YMC x Solovair: re-embrace the Monk

Monk shoes (shoes featuring a strap rather than laces) had a spike in popularity around 2013. Back then Four Pins was in the ascendancy and Milanese sprezzatura felt fresh and surprising. Menswear fanboys spent much of this period trying to ‘wear’ a pair of driving gloves in their blazer pockets in a way that looked unconsidered. Sunglasses, cufflinks, handkerchiefs, even your brolly had to sync with your ‘steez’. And if your shoes laced rather than buckled, well, you just weren’t playing the game.

Enter these YMC monk shoes. I reckon enough time has passed to re-embrace the strap. And besides, these chunky Solovair-built numbers are a world away from the foot-hugging, pike-tipped dandy-boots worn at Pitti Uomo.

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Seven by Seven: Judas Priest!

I’m not a rocksman. I couldn’t tell you one song by Black Sabbath or Metallica. I only remember the name Judas Priest because back in the late 70s I recall it being used as an amusing expression of surprise. The kerrang of a guitar does nothing for me. And from a sartorial perspective I can happily live without ever experimenting with long lady hair (impossible in my case anyway) spay-on leathers and pointy boots covered with gems. All of which makes the appeal of this monstrously buttoned denim shirt all the more peculiar.

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Needles: how do you feel about wearing the logo?

I don’t like logos on clothes. Or maybe it’s just, I don’t like most logos on clothes. This top is from Needles and features the brand’s butterfly logo; famously inspired by Steve McQueen’s tattoo in Papillon.

Back in May 2017, GQ posted a piece all about Needles –  riding the wave of A$AP Rocky’s interest, they went into the 20 odd year history of the brand and proclaimed that Needles was now the label of choice of the globe’s, “stylish kids.” For many longer standing fans of Keizo Shimizu’s work at Nepenthes and Needles, this was exactly the news they didn’t want to hear.

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Pherrow’s trousers: a club that will have you as a member

This is a strong pair of winter trousers. But they’re not just that. These are from Pherrow’s, a Japanese imprint with a formidable rep for producing vintage inspired re-workings, denim and superb quality sweats. The cut and the cloth really mark these out. The labyrinthine mix of wool, polyester, acrylic, rayon and nylon will certainly keep you warm. And the shape. Well, that loose-thigh-sharp-taper vibe will immediately grant you membership to the kind of exclusive sartorial club populated by David Byrne, Don Johnson and Ozone from Breakdance: The Movie.

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HURRAY HURRAY: laugh in the face of capitalistic blandness

Dunno if you’ve been watching The Deuce, HBO’s criminally underrated drama. The concluding episode was on last week and without wishing to spoil, the final scenes offered a powerful juxtaposition between life back in 1970s/80s New York and today. Once Times Square was a mix of grit, ambition and authentic human experience, now it’s a mall of standardised digital signage and corporate fast food. Chunky tourists in shorts and baseball caps. A Gap on every corner. The very soul of the place diluted with every sip of multinational latte.

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Kolor overcoat: what does meaning even mean?

Wool. Polyester. Checked. Buttons. Savaged with a cutlass. Repaired by the optically challenged. Such is the way of Japanese brand Kolor. It’s tough to get in the UK now, particularly after the shuttering of Shoreditch’s Present. Nevertheless, Kolor continues to peak the interest of a specific type of menswearist. The sort of chap for whom a perfectly sensible checked overcoat rises to the level of a conceptual art work with the addition of some contrasting woollen strips.

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DESCENTE fleece: ideal for the great indoors

Normal service has resumed. The UK is once again chilly, miserable and subject to frequent drenchings. No more freaky late-summer roastings; this is weather I get. Mournful and joyless. Weather that gives Englanders an ashen complexion that lives on their faces and in their hearts. It’s weather to celebrate fleeces – if you’ve the energy to raise a hip-hooray from your womb of worry, cynicism and 20 a day.

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Store visit: SLOU, Lisbon

As I mentioned in a previous post, I’ve recently returned from a vay-cay in Portugal. As you might imagine, while there I spent ages and ages, trawling the Lisbon backstreets (on Google maps, by the pool) searching for interesting indie-menswear retailers. And I did find one in the end. It’s called Slou. It’s pretty small, but it packs in a few decent brands. And, to be honest, in the end I walked up a real life hill to get there, so I feel duty-bound to share my pics.

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Mardon: unpretentious pretentiousness

Here’s a new brand for you: Mardon. It’s a stylistic collision of influences drawn from NYC, Italy, Japan and Korea apparently. You can buy into the brand over at Korea’s I Am Shop and right now, it looks like they’re the exclusive retailer.

The Mardon Facebook channel suggests the clothes are, “unpretentious and easy to wear.” Before using their next breath to extol the virtues of the “avantgarde” and “modern minimalism”. Make up your mind Mardon. Are you unpretentious or extremely pretentious? Not that there’s anything wrong with being pretentious mind you. Everyone appreciates look-books full of models with Friar Tuck haircuts, gawping blankly into chasms of asymmetrical architecture.

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Undercover goes Clockwork Orange

Once, in the 90s, I wore fancy dress. I went to a ‘circus’ themed party as a Droog from A Clockwork Orange. I thought I looked suitably clownish, even with the baseball bat. I have never worn fancy dress again.

It’s interesting how the counter-cultural appeal of Stanley Kubrick’s essay in ultraviolence remains so pervasive. Decades after my generation discovered it on pirated VHS, it still pops up, referenced in everything from cartoons and pop music, to comedy and digital art. Fashion too. Just take a look at these slogan knits from Jun Takahashi’s cult imprint Undercover.

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The Conspires: new Nepenthes brand

I’ve been OOO (Estoril, just outside Lisbon if you’re interested) so I’ve slept a little on this news, but Nepenthes have a new brand: The Conspires. It’s a co-creation between Engineered Garments’ supremo Daiki Suzuki and Keizo Shimizu, Needles designer and Nepenthes founder. And the concept? “Simple relaxation wear for adults.” I am an adult (in age if not sensibility) and also quite comfortable with the notion of relaxing. Sounds like a winner, but how do I get hold of it?

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An escape from Folk horror

In the early 2000s my wardrobe was full of Folk. Arriving back in London, after five years in San Francisco, I found the city head-to-toe in heritage-wear. Barbour Chelseas everywhere. A few clued-up media types I spoke to were extolling the virtues of Folk, a small casual wear brand who were taking heritage and twisting it up. The details were everything; if your gilet didn’t feature a wonky pocket and some climbing cord, you might as well not leave the house.

I enjoyed Folk clothing for a couple of years. And then I didn’t. Folk seemed to be a gateway drug. Once you’d exhausted the range you’d start looking further afield, for more unusual details, more obscure brands. It didn’t help that Folk became popular. Really popular. And in tandem the collections began to sideline the hippy colourways and the ornamental woven pockets. Soon the range was dominated by straight-up navy separates; multiple variations around the blazer and golfing jacket. It started to feel a little tame. That original Folkness seemed to dissipate and with it my interest in the brand.

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I think I’ve got a problem

Yesterday I visited the Goodhood Yard Sale. The selection was pretty measly, I should have walked away. Yet I managed to come away with a pair of absurd Suicoke leopard print sandals and a Nicholas Daley top that makes me look like an athletic Jesus. I think I’ve got a problem.

If I’m honest with myself, I’m most comfortable (both physically and emotionally) in a head-to-toe uniform of baggy navy separates. So why do I keep buying stupid shit?

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Comfort: how important is it, really?

I wish Trickers made these. In fact they’re from French brand Adieu, which is fine and all that, it’s just my experience with Adieu shoes has occasionally been less than premium. I find them slim, somewhat constricting. Technically I’m a 9.5-10. But the last pair I bought was an 11.

This is almost certainly an issue with my extremities rather than the brand itself. But it might lead you to wonder why I bother at all. Why continue to buy shoes built around a last incompatible with your feet? And this is of course where things get dumb. I like their styles. I’m a victim. On balance, I find a modish, refreshed version of a classic, more appealing than the classic itself. And as slavish as that makes me, I’m prepared to suck up minor inconveniences – like comfort. So now I’m eyeballing these freaky looking olive chukkas.

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Why are men’s shorts so horrifically tight?

Based on the evidence of my own eyes, I think I know why most men’s shorts are slim. It’s because most men seem to like them. Admittedly, there are fewer examples on the street now the rain has arrived, but give it one day of moderate sun and the pubs of the capital are immediately surrounded by geezers in slender, thigh-hugging shorts. When it’s warm they’re everywhere you turn; another plastic-pinted phalanx of pointy loafers, short-sleeved shirts and gonad-crushing dress-shorts. With one regulation omission, socks – presumably by the order of the fucking Peaky Blinders, eh geez?

I’m belatedly heading to warmer climes and have to consider the shorter trouser. Unfortunately this area of my wardrobe is understocked to the tune of one cut-off pair of EG Workaday trousers – and I only scissored them because I’d ruined them with Dulux. No, I’m not a friend to the short. I’m like an Edwardian Duchess, I prefer to keep my modesty (and pallid knees) covered. Nevertheless, I’m off somewhere hot, I need some shorts and I refuse to wear slim ones. What do I do?

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Nepenthes London: Sasquatchfabrix over-shirt

The Nepenthes London outpost is filling up nicely. The downstairs has recently opened up featuring footwear and South2 West8. There’s also a space devoted to popups and colabs, currently filled with merch by Tacoma Fuji Records, the fictional music-based art collective founded by Tomoro Watanabe. There’s also room in the store (and the webstore) for Sasquatchfabrix, the Tokyo-based imprint that twists-up 90s skate and graffiti culture and turns it into something new.

To make this over-shirt Sasquatchfabrix have used an extremely precise, traditional approach to printmaking called Sumi-Nagashi. A lot of effort to make it look like you’ve had a fight with a family tub of Sudocrem.

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Could these hats really make Strictly better?

These days, two weeknights on the pop means come Saturday evening I’m good for nothing except prodding at a takeaway with Strictly thudding away in the background. In my view it’s a particularly poor year for the BBC’s tentpole entertainment show. The term celebrity has never felt so flabby. I mean look at Emma Thynn, Viscountess Weymouth. She’s managed to sneak under the bar by being a zoo keeper and having a name that references a popular minty biscuit. It’s a new low that amusingly leaves pro-dancer Aljaž Škorjanec partnered with someone he’s comfortably more famous than.

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Confident enough for a Japanese style Noragi coat?

I suspect I too frequently underestimate the challenge some of this site’s styles present. Taking the step into very wide trousers (of the type championed by Needles or Studio Nicholson) is, for many, I imagine a step too far. Similarly, I assume there are a large number of enthusiastic clothesmen who like the idea of standing out, but nevertheless consider a Japanese style Noragi coat to be the preserve of the clinically berserk. It’s a shame. As this wrap-over style, frequently held in place by a single tie, is actually an extremely practical and comfortable choice. No question, you’ll look a bit like a vintage porn actor. But, you know. Bad?

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Beige plus beige equals what?

Do you double beige? You know, beige-on-beige. Beige trousers and beige jacket. Admittedly it’s a lot of beige. Mathematically around 50% more beige than you’re comfortable wearing in one go. But, perhaps you’ve seen the popularity of double beige on Instagram. Maybe you’ve encountered it over at the brand Studio Nicholson – they’re big on double beige and have been pimping it aggressively all summer.

As I write, I’m sitting on a train double-beigeing it. I’m wearing a pair of extremely wide beige trousers from the aforementioned Studio Nicholson and a beige raincoat by Nanamica. The trousers are heavy cotton, the raincoat is Gore-Tex, but the exact tone of beige is virtually identical. If I stand still I look like a tomb.

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This is a Visvim canvas tote

This is a canvas tote. Look at it, you can see it right? It’s canvas. And it’s a tote. I’m going to assume you know what a tote is. Some people carry supermarket totes, presumably to advertise how ecologically woke their preferred supermarket is. Other people carry vintage record shop totes. This displays that they not only like music, but also insist on awkward antique formats. Others carry totes featuring slogans of the sort you might find on your mum’s Facebook page – sentimental truisms so profoundly useless the waste of words actually contribute to their carbon footprint.

This tote, on the other hand, is plain. It’s in a sort of sandy colour and it costs £325.

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This and Wander fleece brings the déjà vu

Is it fleece time already? Is time moving faster, or does this top from and Wander just look like least season’s tops from and Wander? I’m not sure. Wasn’t last winter’s menswear all about burnt oranges, chestnuts and Peruvian browns? Or is that just every winter? Am I stuck in a really specific temporal loop? Doomed to encounter the same piece of Japanese casual wear over and over and over…

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Dissolving desire

So, one minute you’re scrolling through Japanese casual wear site Strato and find a weird looking shirt from a brand you’ve never heard of. The next you’re following a link to Amazon UK, where exactly the same shirt is available for £22.84.

No question, clothes on sites like Strato or Digital Mountain just seem more desirable. Presumably it’s a combination of geography and impenetrable language, but if I see something interesting, I unconsciously imbue it with more value than something I can buy more locally. A position rendered embarrassingly redundant by this find.

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Truly the Brexit of trousers

It’s mildly remarkable, but also secretly rather pleasing, that the easiest way to turn heads and provoke confusion in menswearland remains the wearing of large trousers. The slim cut continues its strangle-hold on legwear; contrary to numerous designers, from niche workwear artisans to chintzy runway brands, proposing different. As a signifier of taste, baggy vs slim is as divisive as leave vs remain. It just so happens that, as is most frequently the case, the scruffy art students of east London have it right, while regional fake-baked gym-bodies have it wrong. Large trousers make you look brave, challenging and counter-cultural. Skinny or slim make you look like you think All Saints is edgy.

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Sacai shirt: stealth luxury or pretend poverty?

Owning a Sacai shirt is a rare luxury. I’ve been fortunate enough to take advantage of considerable sale reductions on a couple of occasions. However just straight-up buying a full price Sacai shirt remains beyond me. I mean, theoretically I could buy this, but my marriage would be toast, which is also all I’d have left to eat for the month.

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Eastlogue powers up the corduroy

I like Eastlogue. Although not everyone seems to agree. The South Korean brand came and went within a season over at west London’s Garbstore. “It just didn’t sell”, I was told; which I suppose when you’re a shop, is probably quite key. In the UK you can still grab pieces over at Kafka and Alpha Shadows, although if you’re taken with this corduroy ‘flak shirt’ you’ll have to look further east.

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Danner boots: super exclusive, super beautiful, super blue

If you remember we looked at some Danner boots just a few days ago. They were a White Mountaineering colab; light grey suede, remarkable fringing detail, about a billion pounds. These boots are Danner again, this time in conjunction with Japanese menswear magazine Lightning. Much more practical than their fringed bedfellows, but still hyper-luxe and ideal for the kind of utilitarian gentlemen for whom manual labour is positively passé. And if you hadn’t noticed, they’re blue. Seriously and unashamedly blue.

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Do you feel like microwaved croissant?

One minute it’s summer, then it’s not, then it’s so summer there’s a reservoir of warm brine in your pants and your feet grow to twice their normal size. Do you feel like microwaved croissant? Is your forehead a fountain of sudoric discharge? Well, happy hotness people. Everyone says they want it until they get it, then they moan about it. And with every whiny flap of their trap, little ropes of glossy human dew fly from their upper lip straight into my glass of squash. Fuck this boiling life.

Thing is I never want it to be hot. Ever. I’d be happy if all year it was just okay. 365 days of ‘jacket weather’. Or ‘cardie weather’. Then I could wear this thing from Monitaly.

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Dr Collectors and the tale of the obvious weed pocket

Over to London’s Clutch Cafe for this tee from Dr Collectors. The label is created and run by revered denim collector and indigo authority Olivier Grasset; read all about him, his brand, processes and ethos over here. We’ll focus on this shirt. Called the ‘Weed’ shirt, it draws on army issue shirts of the 80s, delivering a boxy, wide fit as well as a thick-banded collar. Simple right? Yep, and admittedly this is far from the poke-your-eyes-out pieces we frequently spotlight here. But, a bro’s got to have basics too, especially ones to help combat this long weekend’s needling heat.

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Comme des Garçons Shirt: is this the perfect one?

Yes, that’s right, another Comme des Garçons Shirt. Thing is, when Comme shirts are too swervy, too ‘designed’, they’re an unwearable hash of felt appliqué and exposed nipples. But, when the balance is right, you get garments that murder the competition. Perfectly symmetrical understandings between the practical and the avant-garde. Enough to out-pimp any menswear pretenders. Not enough to make you look like a mash up between children’s toy and a pole dancer.

This Comme des Garçons Shirt from the Fall drop over at Oki-Ni is bang on the balance.

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White Mountaineering x Danner offer the fringiest boots ever

Fringed booties people. Combining the collaborative might of Japanese outdoorists White Mountaineering and US boot makers Danner. And yes, the result is mind-blowing.

Look upon them, see how they demand both reverence and fear. Have you ever witnessed such hardcore tasseling? Only the seriously headstrong or the seriously headfucked need apply. Are you dude enough to get soaked by this torrential downpour of suede rain?

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Dries Van Noten bringing the sexy Charles Manson look

I dunno what’s happening to me at the moment. I’m fully aware of the kind of stuff that suits me, I know the kind of clothes I’ll get most wear from. I know that dark blues, olives and greys are my friends. Yet I’m increasingly drawn towards clothing that strobes.

If it’s not Online Ceramics and their psychoactive tees, it’s Story MFG‘s most hallucinogenic pieces; daubed in cartoon fungi and dancing butterflies. I’m usually the guy at the back, shrouded top to bottom in deepest navy, a bucket hat and a sneer. I’m not the guy selling hash cakes and shaking a rain stick. The most spiritual I get is ordering a Massaman instead of a Green Curry. Yet here I am spotlighting a Dries Van Noten shirt fit for a practitioner in energy medicine.

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Sophnet: crude and clumsy in the best possible way

Some things are just inevitable. For example, I know the every time I visit my local pharmacy it’s going to take three really slow members of staff to get from the moment I hand over my prescription… to me actually getting my hands on the medicine. I also know that if I want to watch a Colbert video on YouTube I’m going to have to watch five seconds of Wix trying to get me to build a website about cactuses.

Such is modern life.  My expectations are rarely off-target. I’m never shocked, I’m hardly even surprised. Is this Sophnet shirt surprising? I mean, maybe… Just the merest whisper. It doesn’t look like the stuff Sophnet normally make, so, you know, there’s that…

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Do you dungarees or don’t you?

The menswear consumer can comfortably be divided between men who wouldn’t wear dungarees and men who would. The former group comprises virtually everyone, the latter, hidden somewhere within the use of the word virtually.

Divisive, inelegant and yes, there’s fucking Mario, the dungaree is maximum workwear. If you’re wearing them you either work with your hands, or you’re on-staff at an international menswear boutique. There’s no middle ground.

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Story MFG: as brown as a shaman’s pâté

Floating in from a similarly hallucinogenic mindset as yesterday’s Online Ceramics, here we have the latest from Story MFG. Again we’re liberated from bothersome rules and best practices and dunked headlong into an LSD-laced apple bob – where the apples are human mushrooms and the water is the sound of a screaming dog. Wrap your sanity in a J Cloth and follow me down the rabbit hole.

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Online Ceramics: somewhere within the smog of a shisha pipe

Listen closely and you can hear the sitar. This is Online Ceramics, an LA based t-shirt brand, up to their necks in psychedelic shenanigans, full-spectrum shrooms and the language of altered consciousness. Who are you? Who am I? In the world of Online Ceramics the answer to both is somewhere within the smog of a shisha pipe. Safe to say it involves waving goodbye to inhibitions, knocking back a shot of peyote and sacrifice your first born to a god with the head of a horse and the body of a smaller horse.

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Grunting in front of Mad Lizzy

American designer Robert Geller runs his eponymous line and another called Gustav Von Aschenbach, which takes its name from the central character Thomas Mann’s novella Death in Venice. Robert Geller is a scholar. A designer comfortable theming collections around the Basel School of Design, and littering show notes with challenging German vernacular (Geller was born in Germany). A spot of pretension is no bad thing. This yellowy brown sweatshirt would just be a yellowy brown sweatshirt otherwise. As it is, it’s probably a metaphor for something. The last thing it actually is, is a yellowy brown sweatshirt.

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A thrashing rubber dick of blazing colour

Oh the poetry of the male mating ritual. The steamed mirror, air heavy with Paco Rabanne Invictus, the restless hum of the WAHL grooming clippers; it’s a meticulous program of necessity. Without such preparations, the male risks going unnoticed, neglected in favour of other, more dynamic members of the pack. The burden of beauty is heavy. When the clippers are silenced and the bathroom window popped to release the fug of amateur cologne, then the male must dress. And he may choose a shirt like this. A proud peacock of a shirt. A shirt that says ‘I’m here and I’m ready to party.’ The equivalent of a female baboon’s angry red anus.

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NOMA t.d.
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NOMA t.d. elevating the standards

This is a nice enough day-to-day standard from NOMA t.d. Fundamentally it’s a cotton chore jacket, but the collision of checks elevates this from the domain of the labourer. It’s certainly an interesting jacket, but hardly a sensation. It’s neither dull enough for you to get lost in a crowd, nor dynamic enough to make someone embarrassed to stand next to you. How does that sound for an enticing Saturday afternoon read? I dunno, if you’re feeling as apathetic as me, the following just might be just the kind of noncommittal, lazy bullshit you’re looking for.

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Going hard OAP

The Engineered Garments shoulder pouch is as simple as it comes. It’s basically an envelope on a strap; big enough for an iPad Mini, or a handful of spectacles, fags, lighters, iPhone, pack of Percy Pigs; the usual contraband. As someone with shoulder-on experience of this pouch I can report with some confidence on its practicality. And packed lightly, it’s slender enough to wear under your jacket or blazer – you know, like they do in the EG look-books.

My old shoulder pouch is plain navy; humble and simple. This season’s are straight-up lunacy. Someone’s been watching Grey Gardens and has decided to go hard OAP. It’s like a raid on Downton Abbey’s attic – giant floral jacquards, geometric roses, some shit that looks like it belongs on a piano stool and is that some kind of tapestry? All of it measured, chopped and sewn into bags intended for a fully grown man to use. Lean in, you can almost smell the granny.

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White Mountaineering jacket
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White Mountaineering outerwear with a tale to tell

As a look, country ‘n’ western singer meets helicopter rescue crew is broadly underrated. Not so it seems over at Japan’s White Mountaineering. This jacket manages to successfully interpret a hillbilly’s heartbreak when his wife runs away with a paddle steamer captain via the bold plaid. While the strap-heavy utility vest tells the tale of her subsequent fall overboard and winch to safety. It’s the age-old story of love, loss and aquatic rescue.

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Boba Fett playing the Clavicord

TOGA was founded in 1997 by Yasuko Furuta, the menswear line TOGA VIRILIS followed in 2011. According to a recent interview with Furuta, the brand is for those who are, “curious, liberal, boundary-crossing, independent and flexible.” As someone who considers himself (in varying degrees) all of those things, this should be the brand for me. And it is, save for two small but important details. Firstly, at £228 for a long-sleeved t-shirt, TOGA VIRILIS will take a scythe to the most healthy wallet. £632 for cable knit cardigan? £430 for a pop-over shirt with a polo-collar? This is Dior-level ker-ching. Secondly, TOGA VIRILIS menswear is a toss-everything-in, miscellany of every style, all yelling at once. Giant paisley, animal print, wild-west, embroidery, velour, velvet: it’s all going on. Plus there are chunky silver buckles all over the place. It’s showy, theatrical and camp. Ideal stagewear for an intergalactic troubadour; think Boba Fett playing the Clavicord.

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Japanese menswear via rose-tinted American symbolism

The semiotics are impossible to ignore. This is cowpoke country. This is the wild west people. Of course, what makes those guys most wild these days is the idea of two dudes kissing. But this shirt is more focused on the romantic idea of America past. Wrangling steers, rickety stagecoaches, six-shooters, and the rape and murder of the indigenous population.

As with so much on this site however, it doesn’t originate in the land of thick cacti and idiotic abortion legislation. It’s Japanese. It’s just another eastern rose-tinted repurposing of American symbolism. The brand is Digawel. And contrary to my laboured US bashing, they do actually make some proper grails.

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Adolescent politicising aside…

Japanese imprint Black Weirdos are finally getting noticed in the UK. Back in November 2016 I was banging on about their psychedelic streetwear and quietly, without any noticeable fanfare, a few pieces have turned up over at London’s Goodhood. The obsession with 60’s counter-culture remains, as does the brand’s predilection for loose workwear shapes and condensed-font sloganeering. This is my pick from the Godhood drop. The front of this sweat features a badge that says, “Five levels of conscious expansion.” The back, as you can see shouts out to “Legalize acid.” Profound it may not be. But if getting noticed is your prime directive, this slab of orange text will probably do it for you.

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Putting the fun in refund

I’m always suspicious when a pair of trousers is advertised as having a ‘cropped length’. I mean, what length is cropped? After all, cropped for some might be clownish for others. I’d rather just have them longer and if I want to give the hem a couple of rolls or set a tailor on them I can. Too much to play with is easy, too little is a mouth full of dicks.

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Re-evaluate your mortgage commitments

Feeling impatient? Do you want to feel impatient? Do you want to feel anxious, restless and double-thirsty? It’s an easy fix. Check out  Nepenthes Japan, or the Instagram pages for the Tokyo, Hakata and Osaka stores. Just look at the shit they’ve got that we haven’t. This is the time of the year when that happens. Digital shelves, so close and yet so far, dangling the promise of garms we won’t see on these shores for time. Come on Nepenthes London. Why aren’t you stocking this insane Engineered Garments parka yet?

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Maybe, perhaps, possibly

There’s one problem with this Dr. Martins x Nanamica collaboration and it’s not Nanamica. From Comme des Garçons to the Nepenthes family, brands too frequently lean on Dr. Martins to create a (relatively) affordable gateway into their worlds. The thing is (perhaps unsurprisingly) they all end up looking like DMs.

I bought two pairs of the recent Dr. Martins x Engineered Garments offering: one olive pair with an asymmetrical lacing system, the other in ‘milkshake’ with a Velcro strap over the laces. I don’t wear them much. I’m an idiot, but doubtless it’s the snob in me. Whatever you do to them, DMs can’t help but look like DMs. And that look, that cushiony, round-toed familiarity, it’s just loaded with poverty-stricken studenty resonance; snakebite and black, The Cure, student discos, sweetcorn on toast. I should probably try and ditch my ancient prejudices. Because looking at these shoes objectively, maybe, perhaps, possibly, they’re just a little bit cool.

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Gurgle yourself to sleep

T-shirts with rude words. A long standing tradition. A staple of so many counter-cultural movements. Who did it first?  Who knows? Who cares? The rude t-shirt is a historical constant, regularly popping up to scream its passion and attempt to shock. Dotted throughout punk, acid house, rock ‘n’ roll and the rest, you’ll spot these wearable billboards. Today, it’s difficult to imagine how they once seemed powerful, anarchic, daring.

What are rude t-shirts now? What are they for? With a digital youth more clued up than the ruling generation (busy working to effect political and environmental change) what’s the point of a t-shirt that  says ‘ass hole’?

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A permanent Mardi Gras

There’s a lot of tie-dye about at the moment. These tops from the professional subversives over at SASQUATCHfabrix move things on a bit. No amateur-hour, done-in-a-bucket-with-elastic-bands job here. These pieces haven’t even heard of Glastonbury. And they’re bold, right. The colours strike you directly on the forehead, quickly followed by an erratic swing at your snout. Camouflage for the Instagram generation. These have defo got a like from me.

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Poke it with a garden cane

The t-shirt/shirt combo is my go-to as the world beings to broil. Fucking stupid sun. Sharding through windows obscuring my laptop screen. Rendering 80% of my wardrobe unwearable. Making late afternoon drinks parties an ordeal of steaming perspiration, warm beer and fidgety, undercooked conversation. The t-shirt/shirt combo is my only respite. On nodding terms with formality (that’d be the shirt collar) yet relaxed, and if loosely buttoned, suitably airy.

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I bore myself with my own cynicism

I’m finding this guy’s facial expression rather difficult to read. On the one hand it’s probably just the appropriately imperious gaze of a man chosen to represent Garbstore. It’s one of London’s more progressive men’s retailers after all, so an austere, no-nonsense demeanour is probably called for. On the other hand, I wonder if, deep down, he’s just a little perplexed; maybe he’s trying to figure out how he ended up in front of a camera wearing a long shirt featuring a cartoon Mariachi band.

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Subverting expectations around what workwear should be

I own a corduroy parka by Engineered Garments. It’s a few years old. The corduroy fabric is embroidered with a floral pattern. It’s more subtle than it sounds; navy embroidery on navy cord. It won’t take an eye out. Nevertheless, every time I wear it, people tell me how much they like it, often complete strangers.

I’m a friend to floral. But of course, it’s got to be deployed in the right way and at the right time. The only appropriate occasion to wear flowery braces is if you’re an expert on Flog It! While a flowery lining in your business suit just means you once went to a Paul Smith sample sale in the late 90s.

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Seven mojitos and 30 Marlboro lights

Tarvas are a Finnish shoe brand with a focus on practicality and weather resistance. Apparently Tarvas are now a thing. At least it seems Daiki Suzuki of Engineered Garments thinks so. He apparently likes them so much he’s produced the above Tarvas x EG colab.

Up until now I’ve never heard of Tarvas. However an EG co-sign has a habit of making me sit up and re-evaluate my shortcomings. It was the same story a couple of seasons back with the Hoka One One Tor Ultra Low. But now I’m looking at what are ostensibly grandad walking shoes, trying to fathom whether the EG stamp of approval elevates them to some kind of grail status.

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Looking like I’ve shamed myself

Vintage American workwear and military uniform are well mined inspirations for many Japanese and Korean brands. While it frequently results in beautiful, inspiring and meticulous clothing (of the kind we examine regularly here) it does present something of a challenge. How to continuously reinvent? How do you remain true to your inspirations, while also creating products that stand out from the crowd?

Tokyo’s Bru Na Boinne have answered the question by dipping their jeans in a slanted puddle of bleach.

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Lank greasy hair and unwashed cups

Due to the seemingly erratic nature of indie brand drops, it’s not uncommon to see new(ish) pieces pop up in UK stores even this late in the season. I say ‘newish’ because frequently these pieces have been available in Japan or the US for months and it’s only now we have them on our relative doorstep. The only problem is, these pieces are frequently full-price. They’re from the same season as the stuff in the sale, we just got them late.

This Needles jacket is in the ‘New Arrivals’ section over at Kafka. Stylistically it’s an appealing proposition. The current price is another matter.

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Making a living drumming on dustbins and old margarine tubs

These washed-out jeans could be a move for the summer. It’s pleasing to see this tone of denim made into something other than muscle-strangling Love Island-wear. Feel the girth. These are chunky cut, in fact they’re appropriately called, “vast wide-leg jeans.” I dunno whether I’d go so far as ‘vast’; they’re hardly in the same universe as a pair of Needles H.D pants. But for Swedish jeans, I guess they’re pretty radical.

It’s the combination of wash and cut that get these over the line. Wide-cut jeans tend to be darker, frequently pristine unwashed raw denim. While these have evidently lived amongst San Francisco’s Tenderloin district, battled with substance abuse and currently make a living drumming on dustbins and old margarine tubs.

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Dunno why I bother

“Just because there’s a wedding, you don’t have to buy new stuff”, my girl says. Logically, I know she has a point. But as soon as we receive an invite to someone’s nuptials, my thoughts, during the following weeks and months, are regularly hijacked by concerns about what I’m going to wear. I keep a rarely worn, 98% prisine, pair of navy Engineered Garments trousers on stand-by for just such occasions. But even with those as a foundation, it still leaves questions around what blazer, tie, shoes, shirt…?

Just to be clear, I am more than aware what a preening, narcissistic bell-piece I sound like. If this comes as a surprise, I can only assume it’s your first time here.

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Sunnei delight

Italian brand Sunnei leans further towards fashion than many of the brands we usually spotlight. They don’t use vintage looms, or reproduce 1940s railroad boiler-suits in high-density, low-sheen nylon; you’re not going to find Sunnei in The Bureau or Kafka. But in amongst the brand’s more outré experiments there are rich seams of wearable, timeless and interesting clothing. Specifically the super-powered shirting.

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At price Y it starts to make sense

Let’s have some more sale shenanigans. There are certain pieces that over the course of a season begin to grow on you. Maybe you overlooked them on initial release, maybe you were distracted by more edgy, game-changing pieces. But when the sale kicks in it’s easy to begin a process of re-evaluation. At price X it’s a frivolity, but at price Y it starts to make sense.

This  Pertex t-shirt by And Wander is a perfect example. A non-essential at it’s orginal price. But after the swing ticket’s been savagely snipped, well… things start to feel a bit different.

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I’m thinking what I’ll say…

The avid e-shopper can feel it – almost physical, almost tangible. The sales are on, but the most significant discounts are yet to materialise. Many retailers are holding at 25% off. Sales stalkers are holding their nerve, waiting, refreshing, hoping their size will survive to the 40% round. Of course, there are anomalies. West London’s Garbstore went to sale pretty early and in some cases pretty hard. This top from Mountain Research for example, was £220, now it’s £110. A quick consultation with the abacus confirms that that’s a full 50% saving.

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Not everyone can pull this off

The hum of flies in the kitchen. The tropical flare of the sun. The air, swollen and stubborn. British summertime: a giddy utopia for some, a torment of perspiration and wheezy exhaustion for others. Whichever camp you’re in, dressing stylishly in ravaging heat is no simple task.

Typically our indigenous menfolk are panicked by a roasting day. A confusion that leads to a nauseating bargain bin of faded tees and skin-tight shorts. Footwear is typically threadbare Toms or pointy suede loafers. Mandatory accessories include ashen limbs, an angry crimson forehead and 15 tins of Fosters. Not everyone can pull this off mind you, only around 98% of the male population.

If you’re part of the 2%, you might want to consider instead ordering this expensive, Japanese short-sleeved bandana shirt.

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Twitching with silent fury

The rigours of geometry and the florid concerns of fashion are not natural bedfellows. Yet here we find New York based imprint Bode combining the two into what can reasonably be referred to as a denim spreadsheet. Superficially they’re a pair of trousers. Yet simultaneously a wearable board game. Quite an achievement for a thing of cloth and thread.

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The wearable equivalent of a found footage horror film

If you thought yesterday’s trouser proposal a little too debonair, you certainly find today’s more down-to-earth. Constructed from military-issue sleeping bags and apparently, “one year damaged” these cargo trousers from Japan’s Kapital are the wearable equivalent of a found footage horror film. They look like they’ve been electrocuted and submerged in a bamboo cage full of leeches. They’ve been to hell and back, with a toilet break in Afghanistan. The tales these poor fuckers could tell.

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In SE15 you can’t move for youths in multi-pattern bongo pants

“Relax on an evening out in this luxury pure silk lounge set.” That’s the pitch for this matching Haversack shirt and trousers over at retailer Mohawk General Store. And I like that pitch. “Luxury”, “pure silk”, “relax”; that’s some top-drawer vibing. We’re talking neon, potted palm trees, maître ds offering free Caipirinhas and synthesiser music 24/7. This ridiculous pure silk lounge set is offering me a lifestyle I don’t have and I’m eager to accept it.

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Taken to extremes

This is a bandana patchwork jacket from Japanese imprint Kapital. It’s available in six different colours: green, yellow, pink, navy, black and white. It’s cut in a traditional western style, short and boxy with a single breast pocket. It is, depending on your perspective, a jolly summer throw on, or the quickest possible route to social ostracism.

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The future of clothing slapping you firmly around the jaw?

Here’s a weird one. A brand you’ve almost certainly never heard of: LAUGH & BE. Stocked at a store you’ve almost certainly never visited: Raycoal. And freaky hybrid garment/luggage product, the style of which you almost certainly don’t already own. And that sensation you feel? It’s either the future of clothing slapping you firmly around the jaw, or the sharp realization that a waistcoat that turns into a rucksack is not high on your priorities right now.

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As you were

I’m almost put off writing about stuff like this because of all the technical hocus-pocus I have to cut, paste and then re-word to make it look like I know what I’m talking about. Apparently these feature a “VIBRAM® RollinGait System sole”. They’ve also got an, “easy adjust magnetic FIDLOCK® buckle.” (Look how lazy I am, I even left the ®s in.)

Still, I do get it, if I was going to drop over £350 on a pair of Hender Scheme shoey-trainers I’d probably want to know the whys, wheres and whatchamacallits. I just sometimes wonder what impact all this trademarked abstruseness will actually have on my day-to-day?

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I can’t hear you, I can’t hear you

How’s it going for you in the Divided Kingdom? I had a discussion with a Leaver last week. I say ‘discussion’, but that suggests an exchange of ideas. What actually happened was I attempted, as diplomatically as I could, to explain why I thought it was a little unclear what positives might come from leaving the EU. My fellow discussee responded by clamping his hands over his ears, making a noise like the war cry of a Comanche chieftain, while sporadically shouting, “I can’t hear you”. Quite the spectacle from a man in his 80s.

Of course, such things are now commonplace. There’s a liar in the White House. There’ll soon be one at Number 10. Truth is on sale. Facts are now like fashion, 50%-70% off for the foreseeable.

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If menswear is a broad church, then tight shorts belong in the Book of Revelation

At this time of year, like many of you, I start scoping out the shorts landscape. What’s out there? What’s going on? What are this year’s options in a truncated trouser? How can a man who finds no dignity in the wearing of shorts, expose his nether limbs without wanting to curl up and pray for a flash flood? What can you do when you’re under the kind of duress only a 29C heatwave and a girl who insists on a, “day down the park” can provide?

The challenge is real. Because the fundamental problem with the shorts landscape is that they’re too slim. All of them. All shorts.

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This is not a garden office

I’m on a self-imposed spending lock. Every item of clothing I don’t buy, takes me that bit closer to being able to afford a garden office. Yep, I know, first world problems, what a cock, more money than sense etc… Well sorry and all that, but still. I want a modernist, glassy edifice. It’s been on my wants list for a long time Yet each month there’s a couple of shirts, a new pair of shoes and a jacket that irritatingly demand ownership, oblivious to the financial hooliganism it reaps on my current account. I need to stop buying stuff I don’t need. I should just enjoy the stuff I have. But for a committed menswearman, it’s tough. Particularly during sale time. Especially when there’s a shirt like this calling to me.

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A face-full of splash damage

If you had to pick a shirt that captured the restless and excitable ethos of east London’s Goodhood store, this would be it. Just look at this thing. It’s a wearable Mardi Gras; check, leopard, stripe and plain all tooting their kazoos, elbowing their way to the head of the procession. Whether a single garment can responsibly modge together four different patterns without risking personal injury is unclear. Only irresponsible wearers need apply.

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Useful for the extruded corn snack enthusiast

Sales are incoming in the UK. So the prudent individual will be keeping their wallet on lock until the 30% offs begin flooding inboxes. This site, however, is rarely prudent. With an apparently straight face, I’m about to suggest you invest £142, plus postage, plus proxy service, plus import duty, in a pair of trousers that look like pyjama bottoms. If you’re new visitor, I hope this effectively clarifies why this site is not for everyone.

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A boorish phalanx

The appeal of a casual, loose cut navy blazer is eternal. At least from the perspective of the committed wearer. If you’re a EG or Eastlogue head, you won’t need any convincing. Sportswearers, on the other hand, may eye-roll till their skulls splinter. After all, blazers are still very much in rotation amongst the ‘H&M bros’. And be of no doubt, this co-sign from the least evolved menswearists on the food chain has damaged the blazer’s pedigree. A Saturday night in a ‘fun’ pub is no longer complete without a boorish phalanx of ripped ’n’ skinny jeans, tattoos, thin-leather loafers, low-cut tees and emaciated jersey blazers. It goes without saying, this manifestation of the blazer should be drowned at birth.

What we’re looking at here is a different creature entirely.

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Toffee-brained, toddling narcissists

You should need a licence to wear a backpack on the London transport system. Ostensibly for carrying your junk, a backpack’s primary function these days is to inconvenience others. Backpack wearers on the Tube are, to an individual, toffee-brained, toddling narcissists. Banging into things, forcing themselves through, whirling around, barging, slapping, thumping and thwacking. Fuck you and your idiot bag. How can you not see the space your nylon-Quasimodo is taking up? How can you not be aware that every time you turn to giggle at your girlfriend, you twat three people in the face?

Irresponsible backpackers should be required by law to burn their spine-cases and wear one of these. Read More

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Finding some common ground

Sophnet and Nonnative have collaborated on a capsule collection, available now over at Coverchord. A couple of shirts, some trousers, a number of tees, that’s the extent of it. What I find mildly interesting is the idea of Nonnative (familiar for their clean, elevated simplicity) and Sophnet (who along with their sub-brand Uniform Experiment, seem to trade pretty  heavily in logo-splashed, pattern-clashing, youth-wear) finding some common ground. To my mind this shirt is the pick of the result.

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Are you ready to be pelted with rotten fruit?

Roll up, roll up. Behold the bearded lady, the human cannonball, the bear boy and the monster hat. This offering from Japan’s Kapital imprint is certainly a grotesque. A creature only its mother could love. That it’s a hat in the first place is only really clear due to a peak jutting from beneath the lumps, bumps and folds. Truly we are gazing upon the most John Merrick of headwear. One size fits all. Are you ready to be pelted with rotten fruit?

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Octopusing your kicks

Trying to stay ahead of the menswear pack is dangerous. With every step you can trigger an anti-personnel mine of bad decision making. Suddenly you’re the knob in the giant orange sunhat. Then you’re the guy trying to bring Farah’s back. When you find yourself at a barbecue wearing a Japanese radiation suit, you know something’s gone wrong.

On the other hand, grey New Balance, APC jeans and Carhartt work jackets aren’t gonna flame-up anyone’s feed. Far enough to be interesting? Not so far that you provoke secretive cackles? Where’s the line? It can be unclear. Either way, I suspect these leather kilties are on the wrong side of it.

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Totally resolute, utterly fearless

Yesterday, my girl was doing some household chores while loudly singing Crazy For You by Madonna. After about 20 minutes, I pointed out that I was now thoroughly aware that ‘it’s all brand new’ and if I ‘touched her once I would know it’s true’. She smiled at me and continued singing. Under most circumstances I’d expect such dry asides to wither a target into submission. A further seven or so butchered verses later and I had to concede defeat. I have to admire her confidence. Totally resolute, utterly fearless. The audible equivalent of this jacket.

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Keep a lid on your sartorial hysteria

So, I’ve basically clowned myself. I saw the above post on the Nepenthes New York Instagram last night. Edgy tee, giant hat, fantastic embroidered EG dungarees; all to be expected. But I immediately became obsessed with the white Malibus. Surely, I assumed, these all-white ones were a Nepenthes New York rarity? I Googled. Discovered that UK store Working Class Heroes had them. In my size. In the sale. For £80. WTF? I bought them immediately. If I’d only checked one Google result lower, I could have had them for £47.70 at Triads.

Turns out they’re easily available over here. I was Insta-gamed. Unthinkingly seduced by the stylistic preferences of a far away city.

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Weather-appropriate and demented

Sun’s out – guns have no place in the equation. If you want to stick a vest on and lope about in your no socks, your thin-leather loafers and your calf-hugging denim, fake-baked, with your big fucking arms swinging about like a zoo creature, then all power to you. Just do me a favour and don’t leave the stench of your generic airport-lounge aftershave all over this site. Yes, the weather is warmer. But there’s no need to squash your dignity beneath a mouldy pair of TOMS. Don’t let the sun barbecue your taste. Keep your focus brothermen, when the temperature’s high, interesting, airy shirting is a power move.

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Glacial punctuation

The white tennis shoe never goes away. A constant for most right (and some wrong) thinking menswearists. They’re just so damn useful, providing a glacial punctuation to pretty much any fit.

Come the warmer weather, you can yawn your way through any number of mainstream fashion articles (yes, we know John Lennon used to wear Spring Courts) featuring the same brands (Superga – seriously?) and the same breathless pronouncements (OMG you can even wear them with a suit.) However it’s rare for a decent looking new brand to come along. One that isn’t just a blatant Common Projects clone.

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An over the head engagement

This boldly striped hooded anorak from Living Concept is available in three colour-ways: olive, navy and beige. The jacket remains the same, but each colour represents an entirely different vibe. Go navy and you’re a six berth yachtsman, with a charter to party and a buoy in every port. Olive is the urban creative; one hand on After Effects, the other buried in a Peri Peri bucket. And beige? You’re shackled for all eternity to the lead weight of your own immaculate good taste; afeared of Ribena spills and cake crumbs, a handheld vacuum holstered and ready.

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Let’s face it, they’re probably not for you

I own a pair of these in tan. I can vouch for their superbness. I can also vouch for the fact that, over the last three or four years, Yuketen shoes have steadily risen in price here in the UK. What used to clock in around the high threes, have risen well into the fours. The low fours have comfortably broken the five ceiling. So while I paid around four for these a few years back, you’re now looking at a non-trivial £535. That’s over half a grand for a pair of casual shoes.

I mention this not because they’re not worth it, on the contrary, they’re some of my most loved and well worn shoes. I just mention it in the hope that maybe just one corpse-witted Brexit-liker will read this, momentarily stop pawing at their Weatherspoons breakfast and wonder if dragging the UK out of the EU has any downside. Admittedly, fans of the Weatherspoons’ ‘Miner’s Benedict’ (black pudding, toasted English muffin, Hollandaise sauce, if you’re interested) are not really this site’s target demographic. But in the country’s current intellectual stagnancy, you can’t rule anything out.

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Neither the means nor the purpose

There are rarely any major upheavals in the wallet game. Simple, plain, slim: that appears to the the mandate. I’m currently rolling with a grain leather, tan number from Master-Piece. The use of cash might be on the slide, but you’ve got to have somewhere to store cards, and business receipts at the very least.

I’d argue that a bro’s wallet should be up to the same level as his garb. If your narrative includes anything from Engineered Garments to Wacko Maria you really don’t want to be addressing the bar with an over-stuffed velcro Billabong.

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Is the inevitable dirtiness desirable?

I frequently struggle with VISVIM. Yes, I know, it’s cool because it costs every last fuck in your wallet. I get that it’s all made from Pegasus’ tail and Valyrian Vibranium. I understand that when a crafts-person begins making a pair of VISVIM boots, they’re entitled to a free bus pass by the time they’re finished.

It’s just to me, the brand mostly makes clothes that look like you found them in a wheelie bin. And not a good wheelie bin. A wheelie bin outside a bungalow belonging to an old man who wears tight jeans covered in motor oil badges and has shoulder length hair around the sides and back but a massive bald circle on the top of his head. A man who still listens to Springsteen and does that fucking ‘horn fingers’ bullshit if he sees you across the street.

For me, most VISVIM is a bit too plaid, a bit too weathered, a bit too tatty. These shoes however, are not.

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Completely impractical, but 3000% debonair

Crossing the streams between 007 villain and Thai restaurant manager, we have this number from Norbit by Hiroshi Nozawa. It’s perfectly reasonable to be afeared of the short-sleeved shirt. It’s a limiting piece. You can roll long-sleeves up. You can’t roll short-sleeves down. And for many, short-sleeves are a bit exposing. Unless you’re the kind of gym-bro who chants stuff like, “sun’s out, guns out” with no comprehension of how prickish it sounds, you’re probably on the fence here. That said, the inventive clothesman can still make this shirt work.

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It’s just highly likely

Out the other day with my girl, while wearing my giant Needles H.D trousers, I experienced a spot of verbal abuse. Just as we boarded a train at Peckham Rye I heard it: “look at the size of his fucking trousers”. A group of lads (obviously) augmenting their courage with slurps of Amstel. My girl told me not to look at them. I did anyway. They turned away and continued their ‘bantz’, with a vocabulary as slender as their jeans.

You don’t encounter that kind of small-town thick-wittery too much in London; I’d put money on them not being local. The typical south east London response to vaguely outré clobber is a sideways glance, perhaps a smile, and the occasional request for a street style snap. All of which is nice and cuddly. But looking at the sheer joy exhibited in the jumbo-trousered shots above, I can’t help but think my H.Ds would be even more enthusiastically received in South Korea.

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Fucking stupid geography

So we’ve got a Nepenthes in London. Which is great. What’s less great is that they don’t seem to stock the pieces I really want. Don’t get me wrong, I want most of the shop. But the pieces I really, really want, the game-changers; well, they seem to be only available elsewhere. Case in point. There’s this Engineered Garments embroidered Dayton Shirt from a few weeks back. Sadly a no from the London store; only available in one shop in Philadelphia. Now there are these Needles trousers. They look like something a late 1980s Robert Downey, Jr. would wear. Appropriate then, as my chances of getting them from the London store are less than zero.

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From wanker-banker to Kubrick astronaut

If you look at the top-down silhouette, these loafers look treacherously like the kind of square-toed wazz worn by threadbare commuters. They bring to mind 90’s Patrick Cox shoes; a chisel-ended form that’s remarkably still championed by the accountancy community today. Perhaps the stubby look has come full circle? Could it a thing again? Swedish brand Acne appear to think so.

If I’m honest, the square-toe is a comparatively trivial element of these loafers. Yes, clearly, they’re white. But they’ve also got a sole unit that immediately teleports these from wanker-banker to Kubrick astronaut.

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I’m ashamed

My girl’s been away for three days, at a hen do in Barcelona. Yesterday I got so bored I ate her Easter egg. It was a big Smarties one. I ate it all in one go. I’m ashamed. But it was nice.

Now I have two issues to face. I haven’t told my girl yet, so there’s her disappointment – much more painful than anger don’t you think. And my broadening waistline. Is it bad that I’m more concerned about the latter than the former?

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Thanos may as well ‘dust’ you now

Being in turn indefensibly elitist and upsettingly superficial, this site rarely acknowledges modestly priced clothing. I am aware such things exist. I simply consider them irrelevant. As far as I’m concerned, you’re in the game or you’re not. I don’t care whether you have a perfectly serviceable, olive cotton blazer; if it was purchased from a high street chain you’re not in the game. If you’re wearing Ted Baker. You’re invisible. If you’re wearing Superdry, Thanos may as well ‘dust’ you now.

So, for this site to spotlight a sweatshirt that costs around £50, it’s either an extremely special garment, or I’m just being lazy. In truth, it’s probably a bit of both.

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A passerby hands me some change

At first glance, the jacket above looks fairly standard. Rumpled linen, plain, loose fitting. And it’s certainly that. Unlined and easy to throw on. It’s a spring/summer staple for a dude somewhere in the stylistic hinterland between terrifyingly obscure Japanese brands, and dancing for pennies and pre-packet sandwiches outside Victoria tube station. It’s a couple of hundred quid that looks like you found it on the pavement, alongside a carrier bag full of garden string and a slightly burned children’s doll. Obviously it’s cool as balls.

But even in it’s apparent simplicity there’s something interesting to note here. It’s utilitarian but progressive; the cut of this jacket is signalling an alternative to the prevalent menswear norms.

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