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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Perks & Mini AW21 at Goodhood

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then the crushing blow. 

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

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Hatton Labs: The boy with the pearl bracelet

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

The extent of my pearl knowledge is as follows:

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

Without resorting to Wikipedia, that is genuinely it.

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

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

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

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

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

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Toga: The void is never filled

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

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

It didn’t last long.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The new rule of menswear

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

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

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

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

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Toga: I don’t care. I’m broken

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

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

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

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

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Beta Post: Now where have we seen this before?

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

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

Mugatu’s Derelicte collection in Zoolander! Ouch.

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

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

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Kolor: No way out of the Covid disastastrophe

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I am, it must be said, completely insufferable. 

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Yuketen: A little less fabulous

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

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

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

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Tightbooth Production: He looks a bit ashamed

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

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

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

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Byborre: Perfecting your bodywave

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s last Sunday.

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

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

Doof, doof, doof, doof, doof…

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

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

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

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

From Comme des Garçons to piss party in seconds.

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

Did someone order a metaphor?

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Sacai: You’ve got to believe in something

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

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

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

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

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Kolor: Something about sausages and sizzle

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

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

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

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

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

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Inch-Master: The shame and the glory

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

God, it feels good to say that out loud.

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

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

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

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Nonnative: The Cross of St. George sponsored by Heineken

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

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

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Document: The elements are determined by what I wear

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

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

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

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

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

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E. Tautz: Enjoy the sun losers

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

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

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

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

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

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After Pray: Back to basics

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

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

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

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Camiel Fortgens: Maximum girth in your upper hemisphere

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

But what’s the story on top?

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

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

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

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

Giant, puffy summer trousers.

Textbook Sonny Crocket style.

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

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Awake: Deep in the clone wars

Needles much?

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

Does anyone even care at this point?

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

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

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Beheavyer: Nomad swank with a splash of Zardoz

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

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

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

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Lisa Le Strange: The most tolerable aerial arthropod

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

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

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

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Meanswhile: A cure for what ails you

I’ve got a lot of questions.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I could hear my girl sighing from the next room.

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Loutre: The truth lies in the grey area

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

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

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

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

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

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N. Hoolywood: A night out at Platinum Lace

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

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

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Kapital: Look at a watch and see a Betamax

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

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

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

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Sillage: Doing summer with dignity

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

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

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Tightbooth Production: Loneliness is a companion of sorts

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

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

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

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Kolor: Dispatches from the front line of lonely

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Soundman: Looking back for the future

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Mountain Research: Not much use on the Khumbu Icefall

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Merely Made: “It’s all Jesusy”

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

“Pffhhhh…”, she noised.

“It’s just another Jesus top.”

Fucking ouch.

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

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

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Sillage: The perfect wardrobe for un-locking-down

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

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

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Pattern Portraits: Let’s get shirty

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

Let’s get shirty.

LET’S GET SHIRTY.

What does that even mean?

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s get fucking shirty, I ask you!

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

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

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

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

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

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F/CE: Stylistic limitations aside…

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

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Martine Rose: As real as real gets

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Tres Bien Ateljé: Striptease meets Excel spreadsheet

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Junya Watanabe: Fully-weaponised price tickets

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

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

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

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Viron: There’s really no reason not to

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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NOMA T.D: Doggedly anti-dog

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

Dogs. Fucking dogs.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I. Don’t. Like. Dogs.

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MAN-TLE: It might as well be raining cancer

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

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

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

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Merely Made: I’m nice like that

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

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

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

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

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Haversack: Same vibe, fewer orifices

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Kolor: That old Franco Moschino joke

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Teneo: Getting the details game right

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

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

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Studio Nicholson: Less is more (expensive)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Monitaly: I blame Adam Curtis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sasquatchfabrix: Where are all the dressers hiding?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But Vinnie isn’t done earning his wedge.

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

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

What a fucking palaver.

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Needles: Yeah, I know, I’m a hero

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Xenia Telunts: Perfect for the sofa-based detective

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

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

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

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

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

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Kapital: Yes. I know. It’s cold.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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TOGA Virilis: Take your positives where you can find them

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

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

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

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

Other times I just look at clothes on the internet.

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Document: A coat for a calmer world

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

The world sleeps easier.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Engineered Garments: When the new feels familiar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Kapital: Court jester meets incontinence pant

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

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

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Margaret Howell MHL: Striving for gender neutrality

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

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

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Mountain Research: bigger, bolder, stupider

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

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

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

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Kolor: harmonised to form a piece of art

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

Take this example from Korean outlet I Am Shop:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Post-Imperial: New year, another favourite brand

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

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

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

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Comme des Garçons Homme: Televised Coronavirus

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The art of receiving

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

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Needles: A pleasingly premature taste of tomorrow

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

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

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

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

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BROWN by 2-tacs: A pocketful of sexual repression

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

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

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

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Tender: A thousand yarn stare

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

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

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

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Song for the Mute: Unwrap another Golden Barrel

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

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

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

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

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GoopiMade: Stuck in a hinterland between hope and despair

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

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

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

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

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

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Kenneth Field: If Romesh Ranganathan was the cure for Coronavirus

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

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

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Byborre: a bicycle-pump for your ego

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

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

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

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AiE: A confusing entry point

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Nerdys: a world of hurt

What a week.

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

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

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

What a week of piss.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Comme des Garçons Homme: New COD Cold War update

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

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

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

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Nepenthes London: who’s the real victim here?

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

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

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

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Needles: I like things and I won’t apologise

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Primury: detail in the mundane

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

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

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

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

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Grei: abnormal circumstances call for triple denim solutions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Tilak: ready for adventure

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

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

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

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

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

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South2 West8: the sophistication of a Parker pen

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

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

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

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HAAT-ery: who decides what suits you?

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

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

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

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Unfil: banishing stylistic impotence

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

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

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

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

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Forget the heating bill, buy this Needles sweater

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

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

The one new conversational gambit this week goes as follows:

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

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

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

Conversational rock and roll it is not.

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Kapital: Like tiers in the rain

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

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

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

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

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Heimat: wary of woollens with an aquatic bent

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

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

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

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

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

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

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F/CE: the only blips of real joy

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

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

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

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The Conspires: remember to keep breathing

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

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

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

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

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

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Typing Mistake: like a wearable technical drawing

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

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

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

So it goes without saying:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He said: “sweet life.”

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

Sweet life.

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

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

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

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Digawel: Cool enough for you?

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

“A bit full on isn’t it?”, she says.

Secretly I’m pleased she’s noticed.

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

“I see”, she says.

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

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

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

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

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Pherrow’s: A tranquil, egoless prospect

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Bru na Boinne: Boo-hoo me

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

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

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

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

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Kapital: Reason abandoned in the face of savage animalistic threat

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

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

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

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Danner x Snow Peak: Positivity from somewhere

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

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

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Comme des Garçons SHIRT: The delusion remains intact

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

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

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

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

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Fennica x orSlow: The gateway to a risqué lifestyle

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

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

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Clutch Cafe: Oozing with confident idiosyncrasies

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

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

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Wellder: The funnel-neck strikes back

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

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NOMA t.d: Be afraid

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

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

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

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

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Nerdys: Handle with care

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

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

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Nicholas Daley: Just got to tough it out

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

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

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JieDa: Oversized or just too big?

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

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

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

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

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Nothanksfreewifi: One less act of ecological butchery

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

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

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

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

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Bru Na Boinne: Embroidered life beyond the homemade

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

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

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Heresy are already anticipating our new topsy-turvy world

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Curly: As my incompetence becomes clear

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

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

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

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Adish: A window into different days

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

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

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

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

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

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Kolor: A cocktail of phlegm and nasal mucus

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Beams+: A question of credibility and cultural worth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Amachi: Suspiciously arable

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

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

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

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

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

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

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YSTRDY’S TMRRW: Gucci via David Cronenberg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Hender Scheme: Nauseatingly cool

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

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

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Comme des Garçons Homme: Strong disposition required

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

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

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

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

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Porter Classic: Difference in the margins

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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White Mountaineering: A pleasingly ironic outcome

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

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

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Ambush: Deliveroo for t-shirts?

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

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

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Needles: Can you look at this objectively?

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

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

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Death to Tennis: One million would do it

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

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

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Ryo Takashima: Embracing samurai minimalism

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

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

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Funset of Art: An anime Buster Scruggs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Real Bad Man: Less edgy than Benny Hill

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Nuterm: Fool me twice

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Phipps: This is a top that you can wear

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

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

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

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Visvim: The strange appeal of inauthentic authenticity

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

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

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

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Nerdys: The era that taste forgot just got tasteful

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

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

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Itten: Incompatible with Facebook

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

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

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

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

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

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Toga Virilis: Beyond the heritage safety net

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

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

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

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Interview with Russell Cameron of Kafka Mercantile

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

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

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

Here’s Russell on the mighty Kafka Mercantile.

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

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

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

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

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Hender Scheme: The domain of the perpetually unaffordable

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

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

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