WHAT TO WATCH FOR: LL BEAN FALL 13

 

L.L. Bean took over a vast loft space in New York this past week to showcase their Fall/Winter 2013 line-up of outdoor inspired clothing and accessories. It was a sweltering day, and refreshing to walk into a cold, alpine scented winter stage. As always, the highlights within the main L.L. Bean collection were the boots, bags and accessories. And the Signature line continues to be a stand out, with it’s more fitted silhouette and modern take on today’s sportsmen. The above hiking boots with double laces get special mention – an item every guy could use this fall. Here are some more highlights from the preview. (more…)

KNOW THIS BRAND: BALL & BUCK

 

 

Ball & Buck is a Boston based lifestyle brand and retailer “built for sporting gentlemen.” Whether that means the new breed of hipsters donning camouflage bow ties in Williamsburg, or an actual pick-up-driving Midwesterner who knows. Either way, founder Mark Bollman’s approach to retailing is genuine and clever. His ability to create a relatively new brand that feels substantive and routed in tradition is no small feat, and is incredibly timely as the love affair with heritage brands shows no sign of abating. For companies that are looking to freshen up their online shop, take a cue from Mark and his creative team. They combine a sharply edited collection of clothing and accessories with smart content, from beautiful photography and short-attention-span-friendly films tricked out to look like 8mm, to choice quotes: “A crown is merely a hat that let’s the rain in” – Frederick the Great.

 

A quick look at their designer collaborations and you can tell they play with the big boys: Allen Edmonds, New Balance and one of the best looking stereo set-ups we’ve ever laid eyes on, by Seattle based SOTA. Most importantly, everything carried at Ball & Buck is American made, which is important to Mark’s customers: “when they’re voting with their dollars, we want them to be able to make that vote for domestic production.” BallandBuck.com

 

BEST OF: FJALLRAVEN

“Fjällräven” means arctic fox in Swedish, so it’s no surprise that this cold weather brand founded 50 years ago by Åke Nordin makes some of the finest parkas and mountain gear out there. And when it comes to testing their products, those ever-practical Swedes decided to keep it real by creating an educational video on how to build a campfire during winter.

 

 

If you’re in the market for a great backpack, look no further than the Vintage 20L, a retro top-loading design with a modern carrying back-panel of mesh keeping the load stable and your back comfortably dry. Available in a variety of colors but khaki gets our nod, $120. The Yupik Parka, $499, protects against the wind and rain while Supreme Micro Loft padding insulates from very low temperatures. And we like that the detachable hood is lined with a warm synthetic fur trim vs. the real thing.

IT WILL NOT ALWAYS BE SUMMER


 

Creating short films to promote clothing brands is nothing new but this film by Ryan Hope, “It Will Not Always Be Summer” takes the genre entirely to a new level. Shot for River Island, a UK based fashion label, the film marks the launch of their new collection in collaboration with designer William Tempest. Director Ryan Hope is part of the incredibly talented White Lodge agency and his lavish, decadent and somewhat dark film lands somewhere between The Great Gatsby and Eyes Wide Shut.

BEST OF: LL BEAN SIGNATURE

 

Playing up the rich history and heritage of a brand is one of the biggest driving forces in menswear, so much so that the new guys in the field are cleverly creating history without history. Brand new leather jackets purposefully frayed and shown next to black and white pictures of iconic movie stars, logos evoking craftsmanship, dubious connections to mills long since closed. But while the movement has captured the imaginations of urban lumberjacks from Williamsburg to St. Paul, if you truly want the real thing and appreciate the originals, look no further than America’s first iconic outdoor retailer, L.L. Bean, founded in 1912. In 2010 they launched their Signature collection with talented designer Alex Carleton at the helm, combining their vast archives with an updated, modern fit more in line with today’s marketplace. For the fall and winter season, the collection has never been stronger, with (more…)

SHOP IT NOW: GQ + THE GAP

Today marks the launch of the collaboration between the Gap and GQ’s 5 Best New Menswear Designers: Ian Velardi, BLK DNM, Saturdays Surf, Todd Snyder and Mark McNairy – at select stores nationwide.  If you can’t make it to a shop, here’s a link to the website where the collection is carried. Everything is pretty awesome and there are some real bright spots, including perfectly tailored khakis from Saturdays Surf and a sharp looking jacket from Ovadia & Sons. Just beware that it has a slight Moncler-like shine to it. In past projects, the best new designers have worked on a capsule collection with Bloomingdale’s to great affect – but this marks a more democratic approach with lower prices and wider availability.

 

TOP SUIT: SHIPLEY & HALMOS

It’s not very often that I get this excited about a new suit. Something about going to work, big meetings and deadlines always ruins the visions of greatness. But on a recent trip to San Francisco I came across a two button, navy suit by Shipley & Halmos, the “Greene,” that is as close to perfect as you can get – one that will make you feel like that dude in those Heineken commercials who can spar with Kung Fu masters and play the flute with The Asteroids Galaxy Tour. Founded in 2007 by two friends who met at the University of Colorado, Sam Shipley and Jeff Halmos, the brand took off, and after just two years was nominated for the prestigious GQ/CFDA Best New Designer Award in 2009. After only a few minutes on their website, you get the impression of (more…)

KNOW THIS BRAND: SCOTCH & SODA

Scotch & Soda is a good brand to know. Founded in 1985 in Amsterdam, they make beautiful, functional clothing with an understated ruggedness. Their menswear collections are “informed by the best tried and tested classic and vintage styles,” which plays so well to the current obsession in menswear with history and heritage. In 2001 the company underwent a change of ownership and lucky for us, began selling to the U.S. There are now 30 Scotch & Soda retail stores worldwide and roughly 7,000 retail partners, in addition to a terrific website. Here are a few of the best items from the collection: (more…)

THE DANNER MOUNTAIN LIGHT 80TH

While walking the Capsule menswear show earlier this summer I snapped a few pictures of this stunning boot from Danner, the Mountain Light 80th. It’s the rich dark brown leather and gold hardware that makes it a clear stand out, and worthy of it’s limited edition status – only a small run of 800 pairs are being produced in honor of the 80th anniversary of the Portland, Oregon based company. Made with Horween leather, a GORE-TEX lining and Vibram Kletterlift outsoles, they’re built for decades of outdoor use. $380, hitting stores tomorrow, August 15th, but you can find them online at Danner. More pics: (more…)

THE BEST OF FALL 2012

The year’s best style season is arriving soon, so get on it and plan accordingly. No sense waiting until October to upgrade your closet, especially when the best new clothes for fall begin hitting stores this week. Here are my top 5 items for fall, starting with a timeless wardrobe workhorse – the sport jacket. Look for classic tweed updated in a fitted and modern silhouette, like this stunning version from Gant by Michael Bastian. $950, available at Gant. (more…)

FAHLGREN TIES AT STAG

I’m excited and honored to have my new spring tie collection carried at Stag in Austin, Texas – one of the top menswear stores in America. Check out their newly designed web shop, a testament to the vision and creativity of owners Steve Shuck, Don Weir, Ted Allen, Bobby Johns & Joel Mozsersky. Their mission statement says it all: “STAG is classic and modern; traditional and progressive; new and old; respectful and rebellious. We’re several parts clothing, part antique, part gift, part accessory, and part apothecary. We’re a modern day general store for every man.”  www.stagaustin.com

SPRING LAYERING

This is an interesting color combination inadvertently put on while traveling on the west coast last week. It was a result of not packing properly, with LA a cold and rainy city. It worked out ok, and even looked refreshingly spring appropriate. Layering darker colors under a lighter color sweater often doesn’t look so hot, the whole thing tends to look unbalanced. But when you start with a beautiful sky blue shirt like this version from Steven Alan, (more…)

TOP SITE: BEST MADE COMPANY

Best Made Company’s website is an example of branding at it’s absolute best. Cleanly laid out, easy to navigate, stellar photography and perfect packaging that all leads to the obvious: higher sell-through. It certainly doesn’t hurt that they sell axes! Sites with flash that immediately launch into a far off journey might look pretty, but more often than not they are annoying. And annoying translates into a mouse-click goodbye. So take a lesson from the boys at Best Made Co and clean it up, par it down and simplify the process. Their still photography in particular is the best I have ever seen on a website. And make sure to always pay special attention to the critical ‘purchasing’ (more…)

BEST OF: J.CREW HOLIDAY EDITION

For over a decade now J.Crew has been leading the pack when it comes to moderately priced, well-tailored clothing that repeatedly does the trick. Their recent endeavors with the slightly upscale Wallace & Barnes collection looks promising, but it’s all the same brand nonetheless. Which brings us to a few top picks from the site that are safe – and thus perfectly suited for the holiday office party: Charcoal Corduroy 18-Wale Sports Jacket. $158. Campus smarts meets cold weather performance. Pay attention to the width of the corduroy, thinner always looks more modern. Norwalk Glenplaid Tie. $69. (more…)

BEST OF: BARNEYS CO-OP

A lot of people equate Barneys with finely tailored, slim fitting, dare we say, precious clothing. But after a quick review of the CO-OP site, many beautiful items can be had that are ideally suited for a weekend in the country (or a city park). Here are five of my top holiday picks from the site, all reasonably priced:

Shipley & Halmos fair isle sweater $179. Muted charcoal color, just enough pattern. Luminox original navy seal watch $335. Tough canvas strap, (more…)

TOP SITE: HESTRA OF SWEDEN

I like how this website from Swedish glove maker Hestra seamlessly blends their rich history with an innovative and well designed layout. Their branding is just about pitch-perfect, including the beautiful photograph and authentic looking logo that makes you want to drop everything and go skiing – after buying a pair of gloves first. The graphic color bars to the left are (more…)

MADE IN THE U.S.A. BY CLUB MONACO

Do men really care where their clothing is made, and, are they willing to pay more for a sport coat if it comes from Westminister, Maryland and not China? Club Monaco is betting that the answer is yes, and not only amongst the fashion savvy, celebrity blogger crowd but mainstream America. From the outside, it looks like a modest and smart gamble, as most of Club Monaco’s 35 stores are based in or around cities nationwide where shoppers tend to follow trends and are more fashion conscious. Is “Made in the U.S.A.” a trendy label thing, or is it an actual movement that will help pull up the moribund American garment manufacturing business? Unfortunately such (more…)

BEST OF: J.CREW WEEKEND WEAR

There’s almost too much to pick from on the J.Crew site so we’ve narrowed it down for you and focused on a few top picks, ideally suited for adventurous weekends spent in the great outdoors. Twill Camp Shirt, $88. The heavier cotton gives this shirt a nice rigidity allowing it to hold up under bad weather and rough conditions. Aviator Ray Ban’s, $139. Timeless classics. (more…)

BEST OF: L.L. BEAN SIGNATURE

L.L. Bean has always been a leader when it comes to outdoor performance gear and apparel. Here are two versatile items for battling the bleakest of conditions, whether in the field, or city. Using a waxed cotton material you might normally equate with a Barbour jacket, this down vest is highly water proof, wind resistant and well priced at $99. For added warmth, (more…)

BEST OF: BARNEYS

Barney’s makes some of the finest private label shoes, jackets and accessories out there. Here are a few highlights to keep you looking sharp while in a dark mood this winter: Dark navy, wool, 3/4 length topcoat $495. Cut nice and trim. Don’t make the mistake of assuming you have to go up a size to accommodate your suit underneath. If you are a 40R suit jacket, you should (more…)

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