As I mentioned in a previous post, I’ve recently returned from a vay-cay in Portugal. As you might imagine, while there I spent ages and ages, trawling the Lisbon backstreets (on Google maps, by the pool) searching for interesting indie-menswear retailers. And I did find one in the end. It’s called Slou. It’s pretty small, but it packs in a few decent brands. And, to be honest, in the end I walked up a real life hill to get there, so I feel duty-bound to share my pics.
Here’s a new brand for you: Mardon. It’s a stylistic collision of influences drawn from NYC, Italy, Japan and Korea apparently. You can buy into the brand over at Korea’s I Am Shop and right now, it looks like they’re the exclusive retailer.
The Mardon Facebook channel suggests the clothes are, “unpretentious and easy to wear.” Before using their next breath to extol the virtues of the “avantgarde” and “modern minimalism”. Make up your mind Mardon. Are you unpretentious or extremely pretentious? Not that there’s anything wrong with being pretentious mind you. Everyone appreciates look-books full of models with Friar Tuck haircuts, gawping blankly into chasms of asymmetrical architecture.
Once, in the 90s, I wore fancy dress. I went to a ‘circus’ themed party as a Droog from A Clockwork Orange. I thought I looked suitably clownish, even with the baseball bat. I have never worn fancy dress again.
It’s interesting how the counter-cultural appeal of Stanley Kubrick’s essay in ultraviolence remains so pervasive. Decades after my generation discovered it on pirated VHS, it still pops up, referenced in everything from cartoons and pop music, to comedy and digital art. Fashion too. Just take a look at these slogan knits from Jun Takahashi’s cult imprint Undercover.
I’ve been OOO (Estoril, just outside Lisbon if you’re interested) so I’ve slept a little on this news, but Nepenthes have a new brand: The Conspires. It’s a co-creation between Engineered Garments’ supremo Daiki Suzuki and Keizo Shimizu, Needles designer and Nepenthes founder. And the concept? “Simple relaxation wear for adults.” I am an adult (in age if not sensibility) and also quite comfortable with the notion of relaxing. Sounds like a winner, but how do I get hold of it?
In the early 2000s my wardrobe was full of Folk. Arriving back in London, after five years in San Francisco, I found the city head-to-toe in heritage-wear. Barbour Chelseas everywhere. A few clued-up media types I spoke to were extolling the virtues of Folk, a small casual wear brand who were taking heritage and twisting it up. The details were everything; if your gilet didn’t feature a wonky pocket and some climbing cord, you might as well not leave the house.
I enjoyed Folk clothing for a couple of years. And then I didn’t. Folk seemed to be a gateway drug. Once you’d exhausted the range you’d start looking further afield, for more unusual details, more obscure brands. It didn’t help that Folk became popular. Really popular. And in tandem the collections began to sideline the hippy colourways and the ornamental woven pockets. Soon the range was dominated by straight-up navy separates; multiple variations around the blazer and golfing jacket. It started to feel a little tame. That original Folkness seemed to dissipate and with it my interest in the brand.
Yesterday I visited the Goodhood Yard Sale. The selection was pretty measly, I should have walked away. Yet I managed to come away with a pair of absurd Suicoke leopard print sandals and a Nicholas Daley top that makes me look like an athletic Jesus. I think I’ve got a problem.
If I’m honest with myself, I’m most comfortable (both physically and emotionally) in a head-to-toe uniform of baggy navy separates. So why do I keep buying stupid shit?
I wish Trickers made these. In fact they’re from French brand Adieu, which is fine and all that, it’s just my experience with Adieu shoes has occasionally been less than premium. I find them slim, somewhat constricting. Technically I’m a 9.5-10. But the last pair I bought was an 11.
This is almost certainly an issue with my extremities rather than the brand itself. But it might lead you to wonder why I bother at all. Why continue to buy shoes built around a last incompatible with your feet? And this is of course where things get dumb. I like their styles. I’m a victim. On balance, I find a modish, refreshed version of a classic, more appealing than the classic itself. And as slavish as that makes me, I’m prepared to suck up minor inconveniences – like comfort. So now I’m eyeballing these freaky looking olive chukkas.
Based on the evidence of my own eyes, I think I know why most men’s shorts are slim. It’s because most men seem to like them. Admittedly, there are fewer examples on the street now the rain has arrived, but give it one day of moderate sun and the pubs of the capital are immediately surrounded by geezers in slender, thigh-hugging shorts. When it’s warm they’re everywhere you turn; another plastic-pinted phalanx of pointy loafers, short-sleeved shirts and gonad-crushing dress-shorts. With one regulation omission, socks – presumably by the order of the fucking Peaky Blinders, eh geez?
I’m belatedly heading to warmer climes and have to consider the shorter trouser. Unfortunately this area of my wardrobe is understocked to the tune of one cut-off pair of EG Workaday trousers – and I only scissored them because I’d ruined them with Dulux. No, I’m not a friend to the short. I’m like an Edwardian Duchess, I prefer to keep my modesty (and pallid knees) covered. Nevertheless, I’m off somewhere hot, I need some shorts and I refuse to wear slim ones. What do I do?
The Nepenthes London outpost is filling up nicely. The downstairs has recently opened up featuring footwear and South2 West8. There’s also a space devoted to popups and colabs, currently filled with merch by Tacoma Fuji Records, the fictional music-based art collective founded by Tomoro Watanabe. There’s also room in the store (and the webstore) for Sasquatchfabrix, the Tokyo-based imprint that twists-up 90s skate and graffiti culture and turns it into something new.
To make this over-shirt Sasquatchfabrix have used an extremely precise, traditional approach to printmaking called Sumi-Nagashi. A lot of effort to make it look like you’ve had a fight with a family tub of Sudocrem.
These days, two weeknights on the pop means come Saturday evening I’m good for nothing except prodding at a takeaway with Strictly thudding away in the background. In my view it’s a particularly poor year for the BBC’s tentpole entertainment show. The term celebrity has never felt so flabby. I mean look at Emma Thynn, Viscountess Weymouth. She’s managed to sneak under the bar by being a zoo keeper and having a name that references a popular minty biscuit. It’s a new low that amusingly leaves pro-dancer Aljaž Škorjanec partnered with someone he’s comfortably more famous than.
I suspect I too frequently underestimate the challenge some of this site’s styles present. Taking the step into very wide trousers (of the type championed by Needles or Studio Nicholson) is, for many, I imagine a step too far. Similarly, I assume there are a large number of enthusiastic clothesmen who like the idea of standing out, but nevertheless consider a Japanese style Noragi coat to be the preserve of the clinically berserk. It’s a shame. As this wrap-over style, frequently held in place by a single tie, is actually an extremely practical and comfortable choice. No question, you’ll look a bit like a vintage porn actor. But, you know. Bad?
Do you double beige? You know, beige-on-beige. Beige trousers and beige jacket. Admittedly it’s a lot of beige. Mathematically around 50% more beige than you’re comfortable wearing in one go. But, perhaps you’ve seen the popularity of double beige on Instagram. Maybe you’ve encountered it over at the brand Studio Nicholson – they’re big on double beige and have been pimping it aggressively all summer.
As I write, I’m sitting on a train double-beigeing it. I’m wearing a pair of extremely wide beige trousers from the aforementioned Studio Nicholson and a beige raincoat by Nanamica. The trousers are heavy cotton, the raincoat is Gore-Tex, but the exact tone of beige is virtually identical. If I stand still I look like a tomb.
This is a canvas tote. Look at it, you can see it right? It’s canvas. And it’s a tote. I’m going to assume you know what a tote is. Some people carry supermarket totes, presumably to advertise how ecologically woke their preferred supermarket is. Other people carry vintage record shop totes. This displays that they not only like music, but also insist on awkward antique formats. Others carry totes featuring slogans of the sort you might find on your mum’s Facebook page – sentimental truisms so profoundly useless the waste of words actually contribute to their carbon footprint.
This tote, on the other hand, is plain. It’s in a sort of sandy colour and it costs £325.
Following Nepenthes’ lead, Japanese outdoorists Snow Peak are setting up shop in London. Over on their spanking new UK webstore, they’re calling it the, “ultimate Snow Peak outpost in Europe”. Expect it “soon” at 16A Regent Street – which sounds pretty grand. Bricks ’n’ mortar aside, the webstore itself is already pretty interesting.
Is it fleece time already? Is time moving faster, or does this top from and Wander just look like least season’s tops from and Wander? I’m not sure. Wasn’t last winter’s menswear all about burnt oranges, chestnuts and Peruvian browns? Or is that just every winter? Am I stuck in a really specific temporal loop? Doomed to encounter the same piece of Japanese casual wear over and over and over…
So, one minute you’re scrolling through Japanese casual wear site Strato and find a weird looking shirt from a brand you’ve never heard of. The next you’re following a link to Amazon UK, where exactly the same shirt is available for £22.84.
No question, clothes on sites like Strato or Digital Mountain just seem more desirable. Presumably it’s a combination of geography and impenetrable language, but if I see something interesting, I unconsciously imbue it with more value than something I can buy more locally. A position rendered embarrassingly redundant by this find.
It’s mildly remarkable, but also secretly rather pleasing, that the easiest way to turn heads and provoke confusion in menswearland remains the wearing of large trousers. The slim cut continues its strangle-hold on legwear; contrary to numerous designers, from niche workwear artisans to chintzy runway brands, proposing different. As a signifier of taste, baggy vs slim is as divisive as leave vs remain. It just so happens that, as is most frequently the case, the scruffy art students of east London have it right, while regional fake-baked gym-bodies have it wrong. Large trousers make you look brave, challenging and counter-cultural. Skinny or slim make you look like you think All Saints is edgy.
Owning a Sacai shirt is a rare luxury. I’ve been fortunate enough to take advantage of considerable sale reductions on a couple of occasions. However just straight-up buying a full price Sacai shirt remains beyond me. I mean, theoretically I could buy this, but my marriage would be toast, which is also all I’d have left to eat for the month.
I like Eastlogue. Although not everyone seems to agree. The South Korean brand came and went within a season over at west London’s Garbstore. “It just didn’t sell”, I was told; which I suppose when you’re a shop, is probably quite key. In the UK you can still grab pieces over at Kafka and Alpha Shadows, although if you’re taken with this corduroy ‘flak shirt’ you’ll have to look further east.
Turning our attention to power-shirting, there’s this notable example over at Digital Mountain. Seemingly the result of a collaboration between a steamroller and a bag of pick ‘n’ mix, it’s actually the combined work of brands FUTUR and Graphpaper. It’s basically an oxford cotton shirt, but, for want of a more technical term, splodged.
If you remember we looked at some Danner boots just a few days ago. They were a White Mountaineering colab; light grey suede, remarkable fringing detail, about a billion pounds. These boots are Danner again, this time in conjunction with Japanese menswear magazine Lightning. Much more practical than their fringed bedfellows, but still hyper-luxe and ideal for the kind of utilitarian gentlemen for whom manual labour is positively passé. And if you hadn’t noticed, they’re blue. Seriously and unashamedly blue.
One minute it’s summer, then it’s not, then it’s so summer there’s a reservoir of warm brine in your pants and your feet grow to twice their normal size. Do you feel like microwaved croissant? Is your forehead a fountain of sudoric discharge? Well, happy hotness people. Everyone says they want it until they get it, then they moan about it. And with every whiny flap of their trap, little ropes of glossy human dew fly from their upper lip straight into my glass of squash. Fuck this boiling life.
Thing is I never want it to be hot. Ever. I’d be happy if all year it was just okay. 365 days of ‘jacket weather’. Or ‘cardie weather’. Then I could wear this thing from Monitaly.
Over to London’s Clutch Cafe for this tee from Dr Collectors. The label is created and run by revered denim collector and indigo authority Olivier Grasset; read all about him, his brand, processes and ethos over here. We’ll focus on this shirt. Called the ‘Weed’ shirt, it draws on army issue shirts of the 80s, delivering a boxy, wide fit as well as a thick-banded collar. Simple right? Yep, and admittedly this is far from the poke-your-eyes-out pieces we frequently spotlight here. But, a bro’s got to have basics too, especially ones to help combat this long weekend’s needling heat.
Yes, that’s right, another Comme des Garçons Shirt. Thing is, when Comme shirts are too swervy, too ‘designed’, they’re an unwearable hash of felt appliqué and exposed nipples. But, when the balance is right, you get garments that murder the competition. Perfectly symmetrical understandings between the practical and the avant-garde. Enough to out-pimp any menswear pretenders. Not enough to make you look like a mash up between children’s toy and a pole dancer.
This Comme des Garçons Shirt from the Fall drop over at Oki-Ni is bang on the balance.
Fringed booties people. Combining the collaborative might of Japanese outdoorists White Mountaineering and US boot makers Danner. And yes, the result is mind-blowing.
Look upon them, see how they demand both reverence and fear. Have you ever witnessed such hardcore tasseling? Only the seriously headstrong or the seriously headfucked need apply. Are you dude enough to get soaked by this torrential downpour of suede rain?
I dunno what’s happening to me at the moment. I’m fully aware of the kind of stuff that suits me, I know the kind of clothes I’ll get most wear from. I know that dark blues, olives and greys are my friends. Yet I’m increasingly drawn towards clothing that strobes.
If it’s not Online Ceramics and their psychoactive tees, it’s Story MFG‘s most hallucinogenic pieces; daubed in cartoon fungi and dancing butterflies. I’m usually the guy at the back, shrouded top to bottom in deepest navy, a bucket hat and a sneer. I’m not the guy selling hash cakes and shaking a rain stick. The most spiritual I get is ordering a Massaman instead of a Green Curry. Yet here I am spotlighting a Dries Van Noten shirt fit for a practitioner in energy medicine.
Some things are just inevitable. For example, I know the every time I visit my local pharmacy it’s going to take three really slow members of staff to get from the moment I hand over my prescription… to me actually getting my hands on the medicine. I also know that if I want to watch a Colbert video on YouTube I’m going to have to watch five seconds of Wix trying to get me to build a website about cactuses.
Such is modern life. My expectations are rarely off-target. I’m never shocked, I’m hardly even surprised. Is this Sophnet shirt surprising? I mean, maybe… Just the merest whisper. It doesn’t look like the stuff Sophnet normally make, so, you know, there’s that…
The menswear consumer can comfortably be divided between men who wouldn’t wear dungarees and men who would. The former group comprises virtually everyone, the latter, hidden somewhere within the use of the word virtually.
Divisive, inelegant and yes, there’s fucking Mario, the dungaree is maximum workwear. If you’re wearing them you either work with your hands, or you’re on-staff at an international menswear boutique. There’s no middle ground.
Floating in from a similarly hallucinogenic mindset as yesterday’s Online Ceramics, here we have the latest from Story MFG. Again we’re liberated from bothersome rules and best practices and dunked headlong into an LSD-laced apple bob – where the apples are human mushrooms and the water is the sound of a screaming dog. Wrap your sanity in a J Cloth and follow me down the rabbit hole.
Listen closely and you can hear the sitar. This is Online Ceramics, an LA based t-shirt brand, up to their necks in psychedelic shenanigans, full-spectrum shrooms and the language of altered consciousness. Who are you? Who am I? In the world of Online Ceramics the answer to both is somewhere within the smog of a shisha pipe. Safe to say it involves waving goodbye to inhibitions, knocking back a shot of peyote and sacrifice your first born to a god with the head of a horse and the body of a smaller horse.
American designer Robert Geller runs his eponymous line and another called Gustav Von Aschenbach, which takes its name from the central character Thomas Mann’s novella Death in Venice. Robert Geller is a scholar. A designer comfortable theming collections around the Basel School of Design, and littering show notes with challenging German vernacular (Geller was born in Germany). A spot of pretension is no bad thing. This yellowy brown sweatshirt would just be a yellowy brown sweatshirt otherwise. As it is, it’s probably a metaphor for something. The last thing it actually is, is a yellowy brown sweatshirt.
Oh the poetry of the male mating ritual. The steamed mirror, air heavy with Paco Rabanne Invictus, the restless hum of the WAHL grooming clippers; it’s a meticulous program of necessity. Without such preparations, the male risks going unnoticed, neglected in favour of other, more dynamic members of the pack. The burden of beauty is heavy. When the clippers are silenced and the bathroom window popped to release the fug of amateur cologne, then the male must dress. And he may choose a shirt like this. A proud peacock of a shirt. A shirt that says ‘I’m here and I’m ready to party.’ The equivalent of a female baboon’s angry red anus.
This is a nice enough day-to-day standard from NOMA t.d. Fundamentally it’s a cotton chore jacket, but the collision of checks elevates this from the domain of the labourer. It’s certainly an interesting jacket, but hardly a sensation. It’s neither dull enough for you to get lost in a crowd, nor dynamic enough to make someone embarrassed to stand next to you. How does that sound for an enticing Saturday afternoon read? I dunno, if you’re feeling as apathetic as me, the following just might be just the kind of noncommittal, lazy bullshit you’re looking for.
The Engineered Garments shoulder pouch is as simple as it comes. It’s basically an envelope on a strap; big enough for an iPad Mini, or a handful of spectacles, fags, lighters, iPhone, pack of Percy Pigs; the usual contraband. As someone with shoulder-on experience of this pouch I can report with some confidence on its practicality. And packed lightly, it’s slender enough to wear under your jacket or blazer – you know, like they do in the EG look-books.
My old shoulder pouch is plain navy; humble and simple. This season’s are straight-up lunacy. Someone’s been watching Grey Gardens and has decided to go hard OAP. It’s like a raid on Downton Abbey’s attic – giant floral jacquards, geometric roses, some shit that looks like it belongs on a piano stool and is that some kind of tapestry? All of it measured, chopped and sewn into bags intended for a fully grown man to use. Lean in, you can almost smell the granny.
As a look, country ‘n’ western singer meets helicopter rescue crew is broadly underrated. Not so it seems over at Japan’s White Mountaineering. This jacket manages to successfully interpret a hillbilly’s heartbreak when his wife runs away with a paddle steamer captain via the bold plaid. While the strap-heavy utility vest tells the tale of her subsequent fall overboard and winch to safety. It’s the age-old story of love, loss and aquatic rescue.
TOGA was founded in 1997 by Yasuko Furuta, the menswear line TOGA VIRILIS followed in 2011. According to a recent interview with Furuta, the brand is for those who are, “curious, liberal, boundary-crossing, independent and flexible.” As someone who considers himself (in varying degrees) all of those things, this should be the brand for me. And it is, save for two small but important details. Firstly, at £228 for a long-sleeved t-shirt, TOGA VIRILIS will take a scythe to the most healthy wallet. £632 for cable knit cardigan? £430 for a pop-over shirt with a polo-collar? This is Dior-level ker-ching. Secondly, TOGA VIRILIS menswear is a toss-everything-in, miscellany of every style, all yelling at once. Giant paisley, animal print, wild-west, embroidery, velour, velvet: it’s all going on. Plus there are chunky silver buckles all over the place. It’s showy, theatrical and camp. Ideal stagewear for an intergalactic troubadour; think Boba Fett playing the Clavicord.
The semiotics are impossible to ignore. This is cowpoke country. This is the wild west people. Of course, what makes those guys most wild these days is the idea of two dudes kissing. But this shirt is more focused on the romantic idea of America past. Wrangling steers, rickety stagecoaches, six-shooters, and the rape and murder of the indigenous population.
As with so much on this site however, it doesn’t originate in the land of thick cacti and idiotic abortion legislation. It’s Japanese. It’s just another eastern rose-tinted repurposing of American symbolism. The brand is Digawel. And contrary to my laboured US bashing, they do actually make some proper grails.
Japanese imprint Black Weirdos are finally getting noticed in the UK. Back in November 2016 I was banging on about their psychedelic streetwear and quietly, without any noticeable fanfare, a few pieces have turned up over at London’s Goodhood. The obsession with 60’s counter-culture remains, as does the brand’s predilection for loose workwear shapes and condensed-font sloganeering. This is my pick from the Godhood drop. The front of this sweat features a badge that says, “Five levels of conscious expansion.” The back, as you can see shouts out to “Legalize acid.” Profound it may not be. But if getting noticed is your prime directive, this slab of orange text will probably do it for you.
I’m always suspicious when a pair of trousers is advertised as having a ‘cropped length’. I mean, what length is cropped? After all, cropped for some might be clownish for others. I’d rather just have them longer and if I want to give the hem a couple of rolls or set a tailor on them I can. Too much to play with is easy, too little is a mouth full of dicks.
Feeling impatient? Do you want to feel impatient? Do you want to feel anxious, restless and double-thirsty? It’s an easy fix. Check out Nepenthes Japan, or the Instagram pages for the Tokyo, Hakata and Osaka stores. Just look at the shit they’ve got that we haven’t. This is the time of the year when that happens. Digital shelves, so close and yet so far, dangling the promise of garms we won’t see on these shores for time. Come on Nepenthes London. Why aren’t you stocking this insane Engineered Garments parka yet?
There’s one problem with this Dr. Martins x Nanamica collaboration and it’s not Nanamica. From Comme des Garçons to the Nepenthes family, brands too frequently lean on Dr. Martins to create a (relatively) affordable gateway into their worlds. The thing is (perhaps unsurprisingly) they all end up looking like DMs.
I bought two pairs of the recent Dr. Martins x Engineered Garments offering: one olive pair with an asymmetrical lacing system, the other in ‘milkshake’ with a Velcro strap over the laces. I don’t wear them much. I’m an idiot, but doubtless it’s the snob in me. Whatever you do to them, DMs can’t help but look like DMs. And that look, that cushiony, round-toed familiarity, it’s just loaded with poverty-stricken studenty resonance; snakebite and black, The Cure, student discos, sweetcorn on toast. I should probably try and ditch my ancient prejudices. Because looking at these shoes objectively, maybe, perhaps, possibly, they’re just a little bit cool.
T-shirts with rude words. A long standing tradition. A staple of so many counter-cultural movements. Who did it first? Who knows? Who cares? The rude t-shirt is a historical constant, regularly popping up to scream its passion and attempt to shock. Dotted throughout punk, acid house, rock ‘n’ roll and the rest, you’ll spot these wearable billboards. Today, it’s difficult to imagine how they once seemed powerful, anarchic, daring.
What are rude t-shirts now? What are they for? With a digital youth more clued up than the ruling generation (busy working to effect political and environmental change) what’s the point of a t-shirt that says ‘ass hole’?
There’s a lot of tie-dye about at the moment. These tops from the professional subversives over at SASQUATCHfabrix move things on a bit. No amateur-hour, done-in-a-bucket-with-elastic-bands job here. These pieces haven’t even heard of Glastonbury. And they’re bold, right. The colours strike you directly on the forehead, quickly followed by an erratic swing at your snout. Camouflage for the Instagram generation. These have defo got a like from me.
The t-shirt/shirt combo is my go-to as the world beings to broil. Fucking stupid sun. Sharding through windows obscuring my laptop screen. Rendering 80% of my wardrobe unwearable. Making late afternoon drinks parties an ordeal of steaming perspiration, warm beer and fidgety, undercooked conversation. The t-shirt/shirt combo is my only respite. On nodding terms with formality (that’d be the shirt collar) yet relaxed, and if loosely buttoned, suitably airy.
I’m finding this guy’s facial expression rather difficult to read. On the one hand it’s probably just the appropriately imperious gaze of a man chosen to represent Garbstore. It’s one of London’s more progressive men’s retailers after all, so an austere, no-nonsense demeanour is probably called for. On the other hand, I wonder if, deep down, he’s just a little perplexed; maybe he’s trying to figure out how he ended up in front of a camera wearing a long shirt featuring a cartoon Mariachi band.
I own a corduroy parka by Engineered Garments. It’s a few years old. The corduroy fabric is embroidered with a floral pattern. It’s more subtle than it sounds; navy embroidery on navy cord. It won’t take an eye out. Nevertheless, every time I wear it, people tell me how much they like it, often complete strangers.
I’m a friend to floral. But of course, it’s got to be deployed in the right way and at the right time. The only appropriate occasion to wear flowery braces is if you’re an expert on Flog It! While a flowery lining in your business suit just means you once went to a Paul Smith sample sale in the late 90s.
Check this witch doctor get-up from Kapital. I’m pretty sure that anyone wearing this would immediately be able to access some low-level spells and hexes. I’m not saying you’d be able to turn base metals into gold, but I reckon you could curse someone, and their web server would go down for an hour. At the very least this fucking thing is haunted.
Tarvas are a Finnish shoe brand with a focus on practicality and weather resistance. Apparently Tarvas are now a thing. At least it seems Daiki Suzuki of Engineered Garments thinks so. He apparently likes them so much he’s produced the above Tarvas x EG colab.
Up until now I’ve never heard of Tarvas. However an EG co-sign has a habit of making me sit up and re-evaluate my shortcomings. It was the same story a couple of seasons back with the Hoka One One Tor Ultra Low. But now I’m looking at what are ostensibly grandad walking shoes, trying to fathom whether the EG stamp of approval elevates them to some kind of grail status.
Vintage American workwear and military uniform are well mined inspirations for many Japanese and Korean brands. While it frequently results in beautiful, inspiring and meticulous clothing (of the kind we examine regularly here) it does present something of a challenge. How to continuously reinvent? How do you remain true to your inspirations, while also creating products that stand out from the crowd?
Tokyo’s Bru Na Boinne have answered the question by dipping their jeans in a slanted puddle of bleach.
Due to the seemingly erratic nature of indie brand drops, it’s not uncommon to see new(ish) pieces pop up in UK stores even this late in the season. I say ‘newish’ because frequently these pieces have been available in Japan or the US for months and it’s only now we have them on our relative doorstep. The only problem is, these pieces are frequently full-price. They’re from the same season as the stuff in the sale, we just got them late.
This Needles jacket is in the ‘New Arrivals’ section over at Kafka. Stylistically it’s an appealing proposition. The current price is another matter.
These washed-out jeans could be a move for the summer. It’s pleasing to see this tone of denim made into something other than muscle-strangling Love Island-wear. Feel the girth. These are chunky cut, in fact they’re appropriately called, “vast wide-leg jeans.” I dunno whether I’d go so far as ‘vast’; they’re hardly in the same universe as a pair of Needles H.D pants. But for Swedish jeans, I guess they’re pretty radical.
It’s the combination of wash and cut that get these over the line. Wide-cut jeans tend to be darker, frequently pristine unwashed raw denim. While these have evidently lived amongst San Francisco’s Tenderloin district, battled with substance abuse and currently make a living drumming on dustbins and old margarine tubs.
“Just because there’s a wedding, you don’t have to buy new stuff”, my girl says. Logically, I know she has a point. But as soon as we receive an invite to someone’s nuptials, my thoughts, during the following weeks and months, are regularly hijacked by concerns about what I’m going to wear. I keep a rarely worn, 98% prisine, pair of navy Engineered Garments trousers on stand-by for just such occasions. But even with those as a foundation, it still leaves questions around what blazer, tie, shoes, shirt…?
Just to be clear, I am more than aware what a preening, narcissistic bell-piece I sound like. If this comes as a surprise, I can only assume it’s your first time here.
Italian brand Sunnei leans further towards fashion than many of the brands we usually spotlight. They don’t use vintage looms, or reproduce 1940s railroad boiler-suits in high-density, low-sheen nylon; you’re not going to find Sunnei in The Bureau or Kafka. But in amongst the brand’s more outré experiments there are rich seams of wearable, timeless and interesting clothing. Specifically the super-powered shirting.
Let’s have some more sale shenanigans. There are certain pieces that over the course of a season begin to grow on you. Maybe you overlooked them on initial release, maybe you were distracted by more edgy, game-changing pieces. But when the sale kicks in it’s easy to begin a process of re-evaluation. At price X it’s a frivolity, but at price Y it starts to make sense.
This Pertex t-shirt by And Wander is a perfect example. A non-essential at it’s orginal price. But after the swing ticket’s been savagely snipped, well… things start to feel a bit different.
The avid e-shopper can feel it – almost physical, almost tangible. The sales are on, but the most significant discounts are yet to materialise. Many retailers are holding at 25% off. Sales stalkers are holding their nerve, waiting, refreshing, hoping their size will survive to the 40% round. Of course, there are anomalies. West London’s Garbstore went to sale pretty early and in some cases pretty hard. This top from Mountain Research for example, was £220, now it’s £110. A quick consultation with the abacus confirms that that’s a full 50% saving.
The hum of flies in the kitchen. The tropical flare of the sun. The air, swollen and stubborn. British summertime: a giddy utopia for some, a torment of perspiration and wheezy exhaustion for others. Whichever camp you’re in, dressing stylishly in ravaging heat is no simple task.
Typically our indigenous menfolk are panicked by a roasting day. A confusion that leads to a nauseating bargain bin of faded tees and skin-tight shorts. Footwear is typically threadbare Toms or pointy suede loafers. Mandatory accessories include ashen limbs, an angry crimson forehead and 15 tins of Fosters. Not everyone can pull this off mind you, only around 98% of the male population.
If you’re part of the 2%, you might want to consider instead ordering this expensive, Japanese short-sleeved bandana shirt.
The rigours of geometry and the florid concerns of fashion are not natural bedfellows. Yet here we find New York based imprint Bode combining the two into what can reasonably be referred to as a denim spreadsheet. Superficially they’re a pair of trousers. Yet simultaneously a wearable board game. Quite an achievement for a thing of cloth and thread.
If you thought yesterday’s trouser proposal a little too debonair, you certainly find today’s more down-to-earth. Constructed from military-issue sleeping bags and apparently, “one year damaged” these cargo trousers from Japan’s Kapital are the wearable equivalent of a found footage horror film. They look like they’ve been electrocuted and submerged in a bamboo cage full of leeches. They’ve been to hell and back, with a toilet break in Afghanistan. The tales these poor fuckers could tell.
“Relax on an evening out in this luxury pure silk lounge set.” That’s the pitch for this matching Haversack shirt and trousers over at retailer Mohawk General Store. And I like that pitch. “Luxury”, “pure silk”, “relax”; that’s some top-drawer vibing. We’re talking neon, potted palm trees, maître ds offering free Caipirinhas and synthesiser music 24/7. This ridiculous pure silk lounge set is offering me a lifestyle I don’t have and I’m eager to accept it.
This is a bandana patchwork jacket from Japanese imprint Kapital. It’s available in six different colours: green, yellow, pink, navy, black and white. It’s cut in a traditional western style, short and boxy with a single breast pocket. It is, depending on your perspective, a jolly summer throw on, or the quickest possible route to social ostracism.
Here’s a weird one. A brand you’ve almost certainly never heard of: LAUGH & BE. Stocked at a store you’ve almost certainly never visited: Raycoal. And freaky hybrid garment/luggage product, the style of which you almost certainly don’t already own. And that sensation you feel? It’s either the future of clothing slapping you firmly around the jaw, or the sharp realization that a waistcoat that turns into a rucksack is not high on your priorities right now.
I’m almost put off writing about stuff like this because of all the technical hocus-pocus I have to cut, paste and then re-word to make it look like I know what I’m talking about. Apparently these feature a “VIBRAM® RollinGait System sole”. They’ve also got an, “easy adjust magnetic FIDLOCK® buckle.” (Look how lazy I am, I even left the ®s in.)
Still, I do get it, if I was going to drop over £350 on a pair of Hender Scheme shoey-trainers I’d probably want to know the whys, wheres and whatchamacallits. I just sometimes wonder what impact all this trademarked abstruseness will actually have on my day-to-day?
How’s it going for you in the Divided Kingdom? I had a discussion with a Leaver last week. I say ‘discussion’, but that suggests an exchange of ideas. What actually happened was I attempted, as diplomatically as I could, to explain why I thought it was a little unclear what positives might come from leaving the EU. My fellow discussee responded by clamping his hands over his ears, making a noise like the war cry of a Comanche chieftain, while sporadically shouting, “I can’t hear you”. Quite the spectacle from a man in his 80s.
Of course, such things are now commonplace. There’s a liar in the White House. There’ll soon be one at Number 10. Truth is on sale. Facts are now like fashion, 50%-70% off for the foreseeable.
At this time of year, like many of you, I start scoping out the shorts landscape. What’s out there? What’s going on? What are this year’s options in a truncated trouser? How can a man who finds no dignity in the wearing of shorts, expose his nether limbs without wanting to curl up and pray for a flash flood? What can you do when you’re under the kind of duress only a 29C heatwave and a girl who insists on a, “day down the park” can provide?
The challenge is real. Because the fundamental problem with the shorts landscape is that they’re too slim. All of them. All shorts.
I’m on a self-imposed spending lock. Every item of clothing I don’t buy, takes me that bit closer to being able to afford a garden office. Yep, I know, first world problems, what a cock, more money than sense etc… Well sorry and all that, but still. I want a modernist, glassy edifice. It’s been on my wants list for a long time Yet each month there’s a couple of shirts, a new pair of shoes and a jacket that irritatingly demand ownership, oblivious to the financial hooliganism it reaps on my current account. I need to stop buying stuff I don’t need. I should just enjoy the stuff I have. But for a committed menswearman, it’s tough. Particularly during sale time. Especially when there’s a shirt like this calling to me.
If you had to pick a shirt that captured the restless and excitable ethos of east London’s Goodhood store, this would be it. Just look at this thing. It’s a wearable Mardi Gras; check, leopard, stripe and plain all tooting their kazoos, elbowing their way to the head of the procession. Whether a single garment can responsibly modge together four different patterns without risking personal injury is unclear. Only irresponsible wearers need apply.
Sales are incoming in the UK. So the prudent individual will be keeping their wallet on lock until the 30% offs begin flooding inboxes. This site, however, is rarely prudent. With an apparently straight face, I’m about to suggest you invest £142, plus postage, plus proxy service, plus import duty, in a pair of trousers that look like pyjama bottoms. If you’re new visitor, I hope this effectively clarifies why this site is not for everyone.
The appeal of a casual, loose cut navy blazer is eternal. At least from the perspective of the committed wearer. If you’re a EG or Eastlogue head, you won’t need any convincing. Sportswearers, on the other hand, may eye-roll till their skulls splinter. After all, blazers are still very much in rotation amongst the ‘H&M bros’. And be of no doubt, this co-sign from the least evolved menswearists on the food chain has damaged the blazer’s pedigree. A Saturday night in a ‘fun’ pub is no longer complete without a boorish phalanx of ripped ’n’ skinny jeans, tattoos, thin-leather loafers, low-cut tees and emaciated jersey blazers. It goes without saying, this manifestation of the blazer should be drowned at birth.
What we’re looking at here is a different creature entirely.
You should need a licence to wear a backpack on the London transport system. Ostensibly for carrying your junk, a backpack’s primary function these days is to inconvenience others. Backpack wearers on the Tube are, to an individual, toffee-brained, toddling narcissists. Banging into things, forcing themselves through, whirling around, barging, slapping, thumping and thwacking. Fuck you and your idiot bag. How can you not see the space your nylon-Quasimodo is taking up? How can you not be aware that every time you turn to giggle at your girlfriend, you twat three people in the face?
Irresponsible backpackers should be required by law to burn their spine-cases and wear one of these. Read More
Sophnet and Nonnative have collaborated on a capsule collection, available now over at Coverchord. A couple of shirts, some trousers, a number of tees, that’s the extent of it. What I find mildly interesting is the idea of Nonnative (familiar for their clean, elevated simplicity) and Sophnet (who along with their sub-brand Uniform Experiment, seem to trade pretty heavily in logo-splashed, pattern-clashing, youth-wear) finding some common ground. To my mind this shirt is the pick of the result.
Roll up, roll up. Behold the bearded lady, the human cannonball, the bear boy and the monster hat. This offering from Japan’s Kapital imprint is certainly a grotesque. A creature only its mother could love. That it’s a hat in the first place is only really clear due to a peak jutting from beneath the lumps, bumps and folds. Truly we are gazing upon the most John Merrick of headwear. One size fits all. Are you ready to be pelted with rotten fruit?
Trying to stay ahead of the menswear pack is dangerous. With every step you can trigger an anti-personnel mine of bad decision making. Suddenly you’re the knob in the giant orange sunhat. Then you’re the guy trying to bring Farah’s back. When you find yourself at a barbecue wearing a Japanese radiation suit, you know something’s gone wrong.
On the other hand, grey New Balance, APC jeans and Carhartt work jackets aren’t gonna flame-up anyone’s feed. Far enough to be interesting? Not so far that you provoke secretive cackles? Where’s the line? It can be unclear. Either way, I suspect these leather kilties are on the wrong side of it.
Yesterday, my girl was doing some household chores while loudly singing Crazy For You by Madonna. After about 20 minutes, I pointed out that I was now thoroughly aware that ‘it’s all brand new’ and if I ‘touched her once I would know it’s true’. She smiled at me and continued singing. Under most circumstances I’d expect such dry asides to wither a target into submission. A further seven or so butchered verses later and I had to concede defeat. I have to admire her confidence. Totally resolute, utterly fearless. The audible equivalent of this jacket.
So, I’ve basically clowned myself. I saw the above post on the Nepenthes New York Instagram last night. Edgy tee, giant hat, fantastic embroidered EG dungarees; all to be expected. But I immediately became obsessed with the white Malibus. Surely, I assumed, these all-white ones were a Nepenthes New York rarity? I Googled. Discovered that UK store Working Class Heroes had them. In my size. In the sale. For £80. WTF? I bought them immediately. If I’d only checked one Google result lower, I could have had them for £47.70 at Triads.
Turns out they’re easily available over here. I was Insta-gamed. Unthinkingly seduced by the stylistic preferences of a far away city.
Sun’s out – guns have no place in the equation. If you want to stick a vest on and lope about in your no socks, your thin-leather loafers and your calf-hugging denim, fake-baked, with your big fucking arms swinging about like a zoo creature, then all power to you. Just do me a favour and don’t leave the stench of your generic airport-lounge aftershave all over this site. Yes, the weather is warmer. But there’s no need to squash your dignity beneath a mouldy pair of TOMS. Don’t let the sun barbecue your taste. Keep your focus brothermen, when the temperature’s high, interesting, airy shirting is a power move.
The white tennis shoe never goes away. A constant for most right (and some wrong) thinking menswearists. They’re just so damn useful, providing a glacial punctuation to pretty much any fit.
Come the warmer weather, you can yawn your way through any number of mainstream fashion articles (yes, we know John Lennon used to wear Spring Courts) featuring the same brands (Superga – seriously?) and the same breathless pronouncements (OMG you can even wear them with a suit.) However it’s rare for a decent looking new brand to come along. One that isn’t just a blatant Common Projects clone.
This boldly striped hooded anorak from Living Concept is available in three colour-ways: olive, navy and beige. The jacket remains the same, but each colour represents an entirely different vibe. Go navy and you’re a six berth yachtsman, with a charter to party and a buoy in every port. Olive is the urban creative; one hand on After Effects, the other buried in a Peri Peri bucket. And beige? You’re shackled for all eternity to the lead weight of your own immaculate good taste; afeared of Ribena spills and cake crumbs, a handheld vacuum holstered and ready.
Okay, so this is all a bit what the fuck? Where do you draw the line with utilitarian experimentation? Could it be when the bottom half of your jacket is connected to the top half by a pair of braces?
I own a pair of these in tan. I can vouch for their superbness. I can also vouch for the fact that, over the last three or four years, Yuketen shoes have steadily risen in price here in the UK. What used to clock in around the high threes, have risen well into the fours. The low fours have comfortably broken the five ceiling. So while I paid around four for these a few years back, you’re now looking at a non-trivial £535. That’s over half a grand for a pair of casual shoes.
I mention this not because they’re not worth it, on the contrary, they’re some of my most loved and well worn shoes. I just mention it in the hope that maybe just one corpse-witted Brexit-liker will read this, momentarily stop pawing at their Weatherspoons breakfast and wonder if dragging the UK out of the EU has any downside. Admittedly, fans of the Weatherspoons’ ‘Miner’s Benedict’ (black pudding, toasted English muffin, Hollandaise sauce, if you’re interested) are not really this site’s target demographic. But in the country’s current intellectual stagnancy, you can’t rule anything out.
There are rarely any major upheavals in the wallet game. Simple, plain, slim: that appears to the the mandate. I’m currently rolling with a grain leather, tan number from Master-Piece. The use of cash might be on the slide, but you’ve got to have somewhere to store cards, and business receipts at the very least.
I’d argue that a bro’s wallet should be up to the same level as his garb. If your narrative includes anything from Engineered Garments to Wacko Maria you really don’t want to be addressing the bar with an over-stuffed velcro Billabong.
I frequently struggle with VISVIM. Yes, I know, it’s cool because it costs every last fuck in your wallet. I get that it’s all made from Pegasus’ tail and Valyrian Vibranium. I understand that when a crafts-person begins making a pair of VISVIM boots, they’re entitled to a free bus pass by the time they’re finished.
It’s just to me, the brand mostly makes clothes that look like you found them in a wheelie bin. And not a good wheelie bin. A wheelie bin outside a bungalow belonging to an old man who wears tight jeans covered in motor oil badges and has shoulder length hair around the sides and back but a massive bald circle on the top of his head. A man who still listens to Springsteen and does that fucking ‘horn fingers’ bullshit if he sees you across the street.
For me, most VISVIM is a bit too plaid, a bit too weathered, a bit too tatty. These shoes however, are not.
Crossing the streams between 007 villain and Thai restaurant manager, we have this number from Norbit by Hiroshi Nozawa. It’s perfectly reasonable to be afeared of the short-sleeved shirt. It’s a limiting piece. You can roll long-sleeves up. You can’t roll short-sleeves down. And for many, short-sleeves are a bit exposing. Unless you’re the kind of gym-bro who chants stuff like, “sun’s out, guns out” with no comprehension of how prickish it sounds, you’re probably on the fence here. That said, the inventive clothesman can still make this shirt work.
Out the other day with my girl, while wearing my giant Needles H.D trousers, I experienced a spot of verbal abuse. Just as we boarded a train at Peckham Rye I heard it: “look at the size of his fucking trousers”. A group of lads (obviously) augmenting their courage with slurps of Amstel. My girl told me not to look at them. I did anyway. They turned away and continued their ‘bantz’, with a vocabulary as slender as their jeans.
You don’t encounter that kind of small-town thick-wittery too much in London; I’d put money on them not being local. The typical south east London response to vaguely outré clobber is a sideways glance, perhaps a smile, and the occasional request for a street style snap. All of which is nice and cuddly. But looking at the sheer joy exhibited in the jumbo-trousered shots above, I can’t help but think my H.Ds would be even more enthusiastically received in South Korea.
So we’ve got a Nepenthes in London. Which is great. What’s less great is that they don’t seem to stock the pieces I really want. Don’t get me wrong, I want most of the shop. But the pieces I really, really want, the game-changers; well, they seem to be only available elsewhere. Case in point. There’s this Engineered Garments embroidered Dayton Shirt from a few weeks back. Sadly a no from the London store; only available in one shop in Philadelphia. Now there are these Needles trousers. They look like something a late 1980s Robert Downey, Jr. would wear. Appropriate then, as my chances of getting them from the London store are less than zero.
If you look at the top-down silhouette, these loafers look treacherously like the kind of square-toed wazz worn by threadbare commuters. They bring to mind 90’s Patrick Cox shoes; a chisel-ended form that’s remarkably still championed by the accountancy community today. Perhaps the stubby look has come full circle? Could it a thing again? Swedish brand Acne appear to think so.
If I’m honest, the square-toe is a comparatively trivial element of these loafers. Yes, clearly, they’re white. But they’ve also got a sole unit that immediately teleports these from wanker-banker to Kubrick astronaut.
My girl’s been away for three days, at a hen do in Barcelona. Yesterday I got so bored I ate her Easter egg. It was a big Smarties one. I ate it all in one go. I’m ashamed. But it was nice.
Now I have two issues to face. I haven’t told my girl yet, so there’s her disappointment – much more painful than anger don’t you think. And my broadening waistline. Is it bad that I’m more concerned about the latter than the former?
Being in turn indefensibly elitist and upsettingly superficial, this site rarely acknowledges modestly priced clothing. I am aware such things exist. I simply consider them irrelevant. As far as I’m concerned, you’re in the game or you’re not. I don’t care whether you have a perfectly serviceable, olive cotton blazer; if it was purchased from a high street chain you’re not in the game. If you’re wearing Ted Baker. You’re invisible. If you’re wearing Superdry, Thanos may as well ‘dust’ you now.
So, for this site to spotlight a sweatshirt that costs around £50, it’s either an extremely special garment, or I’m just being lazy. In truth, it’s probably a bit of both.
At first glance, the jacket above looks fairly standard. Rumpled linen, plain, loose fitting. And it’s certainly that. Unlined and easy to throw on. It’s a spring/summer staple for a dude somewhere in the stylistic hinterland between terrifyingly obscure Japanese brands, and dancing for pennies and pre-packet sandwiches outside Victoria tube station. It’s a couple of hundred quid that looks like you found it on the pavement, alongside a carrier bag full of garden string and a slightly burned children’s doll. Obviously it’s cool as balls.
But even in it’s apparent simplicity there’s something interesting to note here. It’s utilitarian but progressive; the cut of this jacket is signalling an alternative to the prevalent menswear norms.