e. v. Empey

About e. v. Empey

Mr. Empey is the type of guy who prefers English style in the winter and Italian style in the summer. Or at least he used to. Now he's uncertain where he stands, since he travels a lot and has to visit a fair number of places where Americana workwear would be the best option. His appreciation of menswear stems more from a love of artisanship, so naturally, he also appreciates other crafts including cocktails and quality cuisine.

Looking Beyond Blues and Greys: Green in Menswear

Last year, green was quite popular as a color pathway for menswear, and I must admit I think I’ve picked up more green items in the last year than I have ever purchased before. In the past, I had purchased a green accessory here or there, such as a a pocket square or a tie, or a pair of green socks (Vert Academie of course!) but green clothing was fewer and far in between; a waxed Barbour jacket, a pair of cotton trousers, and a sport coat in a linen silk blend were the only green items present in my closet.

Despite the lack of green clothing, seeing all the outfits posted on Styleforum and Instagram, I came to a realization that green is not an enemy; green garments are quite useful in most people’s wardrobes, providing lots of diverse shades and hues for each season. Even if it seems that green is not year-round as an option, I have come to believe that green is one of the perfect colors to use in your wardrobe as a unifying color pathway, but with different ranges for each season, providing ample selections that are appropriate strictly for either Fall/Winter or Spring/Summer.

One problem is that most people–myself included–fail to understand just how diverse green can be: when you think green, oftentimes one or two shades pop up in your mind. However, you have to break that conception and look beyond your a priori imagination of an outfit. For instance, green includes the various tones that form other colors that you might have in your wardrobe already. These include olive, dark khaki, moss, in addition to the more common or true greens like bottle green, hunter, forest, and the like. With plenty of different shades and hues to choose from, the color suits many different occasions.

I find it easiest to think about the overall wardrobe by categories, organized by functionality and type. By dividing your wardrobe into garment types, we can categorize them in the following ways which will allow you to then better understand what colors serve which roles in each category: outerwear, tailoring, trousers (bottoms), tops, shoes and accessories. If your wardrobe is already established-following internet suggestions, most likely you have a lot of a few staple colors–either blues, grays or browns. However, green can go well with most of these colors and has a place in each wardrobe segment. As I noted above, the green shade/hue varies depending on the time of year and the garment type. As a general rule of thumb, the less vibrant a green is–like most colors–the more appropriate it is for winter or fall garments.

As follows is a brief analysis of each category:

green menswear classic style

Tops obviously include all the garments you wear at base layers above the waist. For green, I believe that in many cases, a sweater or cardigan is more likely a better garment to invest in than a shirt (honestly, how many green classical shirtings can you think of?). That isn’t to say that a shirt in your wardrobe in green would not look nice, it is just to say that it is less likely you are going to find a staple piece you are going to love; plus, a sweater or cardigan can serve as a layering piece, meaning basic blue and white shirts would be appropriate underneath it. The only exception here is that polo shirts may be a cheaper and easier to find options for a forest green top.

Sweaters, especially with forest green or sage green tones, work wonderfully for fall/winter staples, seeing as how they go with all the earthy tones that you would have access to, without adding something too contrasting in an outfit. The goal in selecting a green sweater would be to add visual interest to the top half of the outfit; instead of using go to hell pants and lending visual interest at the bottom, green sweaters work as a color block for the upper body when the sweater is the final layer. If it is under a coat or jacket, it can serve as a mid-contrast layer to bridge the color of a coat and the shirt or pants. On the opposite spectrum, you might choose to wear a warmer sweater to provide contrast, blocking your lower body with green-toned trousers (think moss or dark khaki).

For shirts, you can likely imagine more vibrant colors working best without additional layers (no one wants you to wear a lime green shirt let alone with a sweater over it). In fact, I would go out on a limb and say that saturated colors, being more summery, require fewer layers to achieve that light visual aesthetic. As such, pastel or mid-toned greens work well as a shirt or top when paired with a more neutral cream or light colored pant.

 

green tailored suit menswear

You see plenty of pants that have green tones in them. While go to hell colors work for summer or spring (bright mint or ivy green pants), you are better off investing in forest, olive, moss, and in general earth-toned green shades, seeing as how they are easily used as replacements for pants that you would normally wear (khaki, tan, brown, navy). In addition, because the green adds visual interest to the bottom part of the outfit (color blocking the bottom in place of the top) solid green trousers can make patterns look less busy on the top: for instance, a tweed jacket with a windowpane check will look milder when paired with green trousers than a similar jacket worn with brown or a more similar tonal pant. The darker nature of most green trouser options helps balance out the top half of an outfit. In this case, dark hunter green, pine green, forest green or the like are excellent color choices.

green sartorial outfit

The most expensive additions to your wardrobe should be your outerwear and tailoring. Outerwear is perhaps my favorite category in my wardrobe. And the beautiful thing about outerwear is that there are easy to find green options: old military jackets, field jackets, waxed cotton jackets, parkas and the like are all traditional or relatively easy items to locate which serve plenty of use. Many of these garments have a specific color that is characteristic of them: for instance, Barbour with it’s olive waxed cotton; or military jackets like the M-65 with its army green or the Vietnam-era jungle jackets; parkas with their green or dark khaki fabric. Because outerwear is oftentimes used only for three seasons, the colors for the garments lend themselves to darker, less saturated colors. Naturally, there are exceptions: If you don’t mind an eccentric touch, a coat in panno casentino in its traditional, saturated emerald color, is a great addition to a sartorial wardrobe.

green in menswear

If you are a Styleforum user, chances are tailoring gets you excited. Whether you are buying off the rack, made to measure, or bespoke, it isn’t as if green options do not exist. Regardless of wherever you source your green sport coat or suit, I would suggest erring towards the side of darker and muted green, as you don’t want to run the risk of being mistaken for a leprechaun. The best part of green in tailoring is that it can be found as an accent in a lot of different weeds; plaids or checks provide you the opportunity to feature some green in your outfit without looking over the top. It also works well in that sense for winter, seeing as how such fabrics are oftentimes heavier weight.

With that warning aside, personally, I do have a jacket that borders on Cyan/Green, which is appropriate for summer months, but seeing as how it is almost a mint cream, it works only with lighter colors that have no sort of warmth in them at all (optical whites or light blues or cool grays). That isn’t to say I can’t make a good looking outfit wearing that jacket–it is just that it is less versatile and in that sense, it becomes a more difficult piece to use–and therefore it is harder to justify its existence. Lighter colored greens in tailoring should probably only find their way into your wardrobe if you live in warm or perpetual summer locations, or you wish to exhibit a bit of a Riviera style while on vacation. They do not really look appropriate at anything other than a spring/summer party or a coastal getaway.

My other true-green garment is a mid/dark green hopsack sport coat that works well for winter and fall, mostly because the colors lend themselves to other shades, and it doesn’t look too festive or overwhelming.

green clothes tailored

The easiest way to up your green game is to use accessories. Most blues or browns will go well with some ties or pocket squares that contain a green element. They are the cheapest path for you to invest in using green as an accent, and you can identify which colors will go well with the green by just holding it up to a jacket or shirt that you are thinking of wearing it with. Silk printed squares help you identify what shades of green complement or contrast other colors, enabling you to better understand how that particular shade will work in your wardrobe with different colored articles. Because pocket squares are oftentimes some of the cheapest accessories (outside of socks, though not everyone attempts to show off their socks), investing in green accessories is the perfect way to change up your wardrobe if it is already firmly established with the essentials and you are not seeking any other major investments in tailoring or the like.

While shoes can be classified as their own category in your wardrobe, green leather is not that common, and I’ve only rarely seen a pair or two of green shoes (in suede!). As such, I would treat the shoes as an accessory here, and will only write that browns without warmth and red tones, meaning browns with greener tones, will pair nicely with greens in your wardrobe.


Obviously, certain shades of green invoke different sentiments or tropes, so paying attention to what you are wearing is still a necessity. It doesn’t make sense to dress completely in green unless you wanted to look foolish (or you’re an “influencer” visiting Pitti Uomo). However, the diversity in the color and the fact that many of us spend time outdoors now instead of just stuck in an office means that green has become an acceptable color pathway to utilize, and therefore should be treated as another major asset in our menswear toolbox, alongside blue, browns and grays.

Rethinking Undershirts: A Review of GIIN’s Undershirt

Day 1: I wonder when I’m going to launder this shirt… Maybe I should wash it in the sink as I’m traveling…

I had the genuine pleasure of meeting Francis and Jennifer at the Styleforum Maker Space this year during Pitti. The two minds behind GIIN are–without a doubt–a pleasure to speak with about many things, including their products. It is genuinely a pleasure when you meet people who are passionate about their work; on account of shared interests in menswear, the satisfaction is multiplied. Speaking with them about their materials, manufacturing, the ideas that went into the design, and their brand goals, therefore, was a remarkable experience.

GIIN’s slogan is Elevated Essentials, which precisely sums up their products. Between the boutonniere (see my review here) and their undergarments, you get the sense that Frank is striving to do things differently with his products. The products have been imbued with Frank’s desire to improve and innovate, and are in many ways his attempt to elevate something as humble as an undershirt into something that transcends the norm. 

Day 2: Why not wear it again… it doesn’t smell?

Over dinner at Berberè, I recollect both of them speaking about how much waste they find in the clothing industry. The prime example for them were generic cotton undershirts, designed–more or less–to be disposable. These undershirts serve their purpose, being worn a few times, then they disappear into landfills when they no longer are in pristine condition. Following them from a commodity chain perspective, everything becomes an afterthought: the quality of the cotton; the rapid production; the cheap mistreated labor. Every aspect of what is ethical or warrants quality is ignored to streamline prices.

Instead of approaching their products as if they were disposable, GIIN chose to approach their clients with sincerity and a desire to show their products quality and refinement. I’ll provide an example of this sincerity–if you were not aware, GIIN had a giveaway and a Styleforum member won the contest but was outside of the sizes that they made. Rather than turn the winner away with an apology, they custom made the product for the client, because they felt everyone should be entitled to quality products.

As such, quality to Frank is in the details and life cycle of the object. The products that Frank is creating and has created, he won’t bring to market unless he’s more than satisfied; he tests all of his products repeatedly before they are made for the market. Each shirt he wears and washes around 100 times, in order to ensure that they maintain quality. As such, the life of wear that the shirt receives is accelerated in order to witness first hand how well the product will hold up.

Day 5: I’m surprised by how comfortable this shirt has been as a base layer under the Texas sun… I thought I would be sweating to death…

When talking to Francis, I mentioned to him that I never wear undershirts except when I’m wearing something like a turtleneck sweater. I know that there are two schools of thought concerning this: one that extra layers make you sweat more and overheating; the other that extra layers help prevent you from showing sweat stains and protect your shirt. Having lived in humid Houston, I fell into the school of thought that more layers == bad sweating. Of course, that is only true when outside, because after wandering indoors from the summer heat, you feel trapped inside an icebox.

Frank offered to change my mind by offering me a shirt and a pair of underwear to see how I liked them. He firmly believed that I would come around to his mentality after I would have tried his engineered undergarments. Just so you understand, this was pure generosity-nothing was expected in return except that I provide my honest feedback to him. I told him sure, and decided to start wearing the garments the next day or two so I could provide him feedback immediately.

After wearing the garments for one day, I decided I would write a review, because I actually liked the garments. I will point out that–in the end–I’m still not a wearer of undershirts all that often, but I see that they are useful, and even when worn in warm/hot environments they actually serve a use to prevent odors and staining.

I provided Frank my feedback regarding the undergarments. One note is that I actually put them on inside out the first day, seeing as how there are no stitches or sewn in labels. Instead, the fabric pieces are bonded together using a high-end seamless bonding method. The raglan sleeve adds for ease of movement, and the laser cut ends without seams lie invisibly under shirts or other layers. Frank is especially proud of his boxers because they have a three-dimensional aspect to them which help support the male package, rather than squeeze it flush against the body or leg. Of course, in so doing this, there is no fly, which might be a deal breaker for some men.

For me, however, while I will sing praises about the undershirt (hence the title of review), I will note that I’m not the biggest fan of the boxers. I enjoy the support that they provide and I don’t mind the lack of a fly opening, but rather, the biggest complaint that I have is that the underwear is a low/medium rise; I personally prefer higher rise, but this is a personal preference. It isn’t as if the boxers are even unreasonably low rise: it more is just that this cut of underwear is not something that I would normally gravitate toward. However, there is a benefit here for some men: the lower rise works well with lower rise pants or jeans.

giin elevated garments undergarments shirt undershirt review

Day 8: They do not know… No one has said anything… Perhaps undershirts really do work well at preventing body odor?

Frank told me that I could reuse the undershirt when traveling by washing it in the sink/shower, then hang dry so it would be ready the next morning, stating that odors would disappear. I tried that at first, but came to realize that just by hanging the undershirt, the smells took care of themselves without added washing. As such, when I was embarking and packing for an almost two-week trip, I decided to take both the boxers and the undershirt to put it through its paces, seeing how it holds up in a wide variety of environments, temperatures, and under various garments.

In the end, I spent close to two weeks (thirteen days total) wearing the same undershirt. Of course, yes, it took on some odors over that time, but after hanging it up every night it rid itself of any scents, leaving barely perceptible–if any–noticeable odors.

Day 10: I mentioned casually in conversation to some of the others with whom I was traveling that I‘m testing an undershirt for someone, that I’ve been wearing it repeatedly… since we were in Texas, DC and Iowa…

As I’ve said before, normally I don’t wear undershirts since I sweat a lot; I find them stuffy, I find that I sweat more than normal with the extra layers, and I find them not helpful. But this might actually be not a function of the undershirt, but a function of the terrible quality cotton that goes into cheap undershirts. However, the GIIN undershirt works exceptionally well at preventing excessive sweating because of the wicking nature of the fabric (the fabric is a combination of high twist cotton, polyester and lycra). When I’m stuck in a middle seat on a plane, I normally smell terrible by the end of the flight because I’m sweating since I can’t spread out my arms. However, coming off the plane each time, I wasn’t scolded and avoided by anyone (including those I work with). I noticed changing at the hotel that my shirts did not smell bad; if anything the undershirt acted as a shield to prevent further sweating. Because the shirt is seamless and form-fitting, it is not noticeable that you are wearing an undershirt either.

Day 13: I’m coming home to my spouse… I wonder if she–with her sensitive nose–will put an end to this experiment as delusion…

At thirty dollars a piece, before trying one, I would have said the undershirts were pricey. However, after seeing what they can do, putting it through the paces, experiencing the quality and construction first hand and hearing about went into designing and manufacturing the product, I feel the price is completely fair.

For sizing, I got a small, which in reality might be a touch tight when it began being worn. I probably should have gone with a medium; however, they are fairly forgiving seeing as how the fabric has a lot of stretch. As such, order either true to size, or if you order a size smaller, you will feel just more support from the tighter fabric. I think that the tighter fit also helped improve my posture, seeing as how the tighter fit on the raglan shoulders made me more conscious of how I was sitting, and that I should sit up straighter. That, however, is another story, and for each person to decide.

Day 14: Although it doesn’t smell… Maybe I should put an end to this experiment for the sake of my wife. I also have a bunch of other clothes I can wear again…

For those that were curious-or just plain repulsed-yes, I did wash my other clothes as I was traveling. 

giin elevated garments undergarments shirt undershirt review

You can purchase GIIN undergarments on the official website.

If you have questions regarding the product, you can ask them on GIIN’s Official Thread on the forum.


This is not sponsored content. To read Styleforum’s review policy, please click here.

Atelier Bertrand Reversible Leather Belts – Review

Despite being ubiquitous, belts are oftentimes overlooked as an accessory. Like many others on the forum, I personally wear a lot of trousers with fitted waistbands or side adjusters, so I oftentimes go out without wearing a belt for the simple fact it isn’t necessary. However, a good belt can make an outfit more polished or–to the masses–a bit more complete. I’ve been asked more than once if I left it behind at airport security. On the other hand, I oftentimes receive compliments when I wear a nicer belt, and I have never received as many comments on a belt (especially within such a short time frame) as the ones I’ve gotten for these belts from Atelier Bertrand.

The mastermind behind the eponymous, Parisian Atelier Bertrand, is Jerome Bertrand. The brand is a reflection of his idea that high quality, luxury leather goods can be available at a reasonable cost. Jerome has been an extreme pleasure to speak with; he is enthusiastic about his brand and is knowledgeable about every aspect of the product, the different leathers, tanneries, artisans, et cetera. I’ve rarely experienced this level of knowledge and passion from someone in the industry.

I received an offer from Jerome to write a review of one of his reversible leather belts. After thinking through my collection and wardrobe, I decided I ought to get something that was unlike the other belts I owned, so I opted for his taupe and navy blue. It was a hard choice because many of his belts have interesting color pathways (e.g. the cigar and red), but the taupe boxcalf won my heart with a sort of particular elegance. Jerome was generous enough to send me another belt in the black and Prussian blue pathway since I had remarked to him about how lovely that color was as well. Because of this, for complete disclosure, in addition to reviewing the belts, I decided to help Jerome with the English copy on his website in order to show some extra appreciation and help him out as a young brand.

THE LEATHER

Upon receipt of the belts, I was impressed by the leather quality, especially on the box calf side. The tumbled/grain leather is also lovely, partly on account of the particular shades of blue, but unlike most belts in a grain leather, the boxcalf reinforces and lends structure to the end product. In my extensive email dialogue with Jerome, I learned that he selects leathers from quality tanneries like Haas or Deggerman for a variety of his products. For his belts, he uses lesser known and smaller producers that maintain the same level of quality. Because his products and brand is based in France, he has access to a large network of tanneries, many of which employ still historical, artisan methods in their work. The box calf on the taupe belt is some of the best I’ve felt (and would be lovely as the secondary color on a pair of spectators). For both belts, for each side, there are no noticeable muscular/fat striations or blemishes, and the full grain calfskin holds its own as a truly luxury leather in both appearance and feel.

GIVE REVERSIBLE BELTS A CHANCE

I had never owned a reversible belt before, so I didn’t know what to expect going into this review, and it took me a bit of time to understand that the tongue of the belt is actually supposed to go under the belt and buckle, making it appear very streamlined. Jerome commented that the reversible belt is ideal with a suit because it provides a clean look (and I couldn’t agree more). After using it a couple times, it became quite logical and easy to put on and take off the belt.

SIZING

Please note that when you purchase a belt, I recommend going for a belt that is a size up from what you would normally wear. Jerome sells his belts in European sizes, and after a long discussion, he convinced me upon his recommendation I get the size greater than what I thought was a direct conversion for what I normally wear. In the secondary belt Jerome sent me, he gave me the size I originally asked for, which, though it fits, was more difficult to tighten because of how you push the belt buckle through the hole directly, rather than slide it on with a more traditional belt buckle. I measured the length of the holes to the buckle, and even though the length was the same, I had a harder time fitting into the smaller belt (this could also be from the Fall Winter gut I’ve been accumulating from all my culinary indulgences). However, as with most clothing fits, your mileage may vary.

FINISHING

In terms of construction, the finishing on the belt is top notch. The stitching is done as a mix of both machine and hand, with the hand stitching reinforcing the machine stitching so that the belt lasts longer. The thread matches the colors of the leather, and there is no contrast on either side of the belt. The holes were punched cleanly – and you can spot that immediately given the sleek and minimalistic look of the belt. The edge is extremely consistent and even, and it also matches the darker color of each belt’s pathway. The solid brass (nickel free) buckles are made in Italy and are only available in a silver tone. This quality finishing is a reflection of the type of manufacturers that Jerome uses: Entreprise du Patrimoine Vivant.

FRENCH MANUFACTURING

For those of you unfamiliar with French manufacturing, companies can be classified as living heritage companies, or Entreprise du Patrimoine Vivant, EPV for short. These companies are essentially the pride of French manufacturing and tradition and make goods in traditional methods. Jerome chooses to work with EPV companies as much as possible, simply because he ends up getting better quality goods. The leathers he uses are from EPV tanneries, and likewise, his EPV manufacturer is in Limoges and produces goods for luxury brands renowned for quality.

While talking with Jerome, I asked if he was using the EPV companies in part as a marketing tool, since in Europe, especially in Italy and France, there is a strong appreciation of culture and heritage; for the French, it is an appreciation for “cultural capital.” However, for Jerome, it is less about the marketing of methods that are part of historical French culture; he employs EPV makers because the heart and soul that goes into the objects made by these heritage brands oftentimes result in a better product. Although this is a qualitative measurement–the ethos of an object cannot directly translate into a sort of material value–I would agree with his assessment.

The appreciation of such products, however, comes with an awareness of the nature of a product: for example, people who know about shoes tend to love Edward Green not merely because it is a status symbol, but because it has a cultural heritage that imbues the objects with value; you know what type of care went into making it. The same can be said for hand-sewn shirts and suiting. Likewise, Atelier Bertrand provides excellent quality goods which are worth the price to informed consumers because they recognize and understand what is quality in such goods.

Jerome is looking to provide reasonably priced leather goods by offering pre-orders each month, offering products made from high-quality tanneries like Haas. He can thereby reduce their cost because he already has sold some of the product, ensuring demand and not ending up with a lot of dead stock. With leather goods this excellent, Atelier Bertrand should have no problem selling its wares, and I can highly recommend them if you are going for a streamlined European look with belts such as these; their wares are on par with and are a more affordable luxury than Hermès (who he is clearly taking aim at with these belts), and you can experience higher quality when compared to many traditional brands while not devastating your wallet.

Atelier Bertrand Official Website


This is not sponsored content. To read Styleforum’s review policy, please click here.

The Best Shoes for Rainy and Snowy Weather

“Watch out for that first step, it’s a doozie.” Winter weather comes and goes, repeating itself every year. While many of us love layering, wearing coats, heavy flannels, tweeds, and the like, sometimes it feels like it is a Groundhog day every day, every winter. With the snow, the rain, the sleet and ice, we have to be more cautious with our footwear, in order to protect it and ensure it sees its maximum lifespan. As such some shoes are better than others for tempo di merda, so here are some examples of what I consider the best shoes for rainy and snowy weather.

With the recent inclement weather throughout Europe and the US, you are bound to see some wear on your soles, especially if you accidentally wear leather soles out and don’t realize it’s going to seemingly spontaneously hail and rain in the “ever sunny” Los Angeles. Even if you escape the season’s unpredictable rain, you might just step right into one of those puddles that appear shallower than they actually are as you are crossing the street. Let’s start by acknowledging that there is no such thing as waterproof shoes (unless we consider rubber Wellingtons an acceptable footwear option). However, the good news is you can invest in shoes made for inclement weather, like the infamous, and forum favorite, L.L. Bean Boots. Originally designed in 1912, the boots have long protected feet from wet environments for over a hundred years. They are probably one of your best bets for winter storms in the American Midwest or Northeast, seeing as they won’t look completely out of place.

Sometimes, you need or want something a bit more elegant: for this reason, rubber-soled shoes are a popular option since they work reasonably well in winter weather. Although many people might prefer a Dainite sole for a dressier look (when compared to a commando-style sole made by Vibram), Dainite soles are not optimal for wet weather since they provide little in way of increased traction–they are marginally better than leather soles at best. However, the Dainite sole helps to prevent wear to the sole of the shoe, increasing the lifespan tremendously. Because they are rubber, even though they are not high grip on wet surfaces, they work well in light snow or preventing water from getting into the cork bed or upper. I have a pair of Loake 1880 Chukka boots with Dainite soles which is my go-to travel shoe when I’m uncertain what the weather might be, seemingly because they are casual enough to be worn with denim, but elegant enough to go with odd trousers.

DAINITE SOLE
Loake 1881 “Kempton” Chukka Boots
Allen Edmonds Strand Cap-toe Oxford

 

If your style leans toward streetwear, you could look for something with more traction: I would consider a Vibram branded sole or a commando-style sole. The commando-style sole has all the lugs to provide extra grip, which add more visual weight to the sole, providing heavier-chunky appearance that belongs with streetwear more than tailoring. However, that isn’t to say you probably can’t find a place in your wardrobe for a pair of Alden with a commando sole to go with some moleskin or corduroy pants. These are excellent for heavier snow and provide the protection and grip that you need when the weather is at its worst. In addition, the higher sole helps provide more distance between your leather upper and the salted ground.

STREETWEAR APPROVED
Alden “Indy” Boots
Cobbler Union “Miquel” wholecut

If boots are your thing, but you prefer classic style, you’ll want something that is a bit more pragmatic than leather-soled boots when the streets are wet and slippery. That said, those of us who want something a bit more sophisticated and elegant -but still need grip or water protection- might consider a pair of boots such as these from Cobbler Union that feature studded combination leather and high-density rubber sole. The soles have some minor lugs set into it, which help to break up the flat surface and provide traction; simultaneously, the upper part of the sole and the welt are leather, contributing to the elegant look of the boot.

DRESSIER BOOTS FOR INCLEMENT WEATHER
Cobbler Union “Guillaume”
Tricker’s “Stowe” with double leather

Not all stitched soles are created equal. The stitching methods favored by the Italians, Blake method stitches the outer directly to the upper and insole, leaving out a welt, and thereby permit more water into a shoe. In Blake-rapid stitching, there is slightly more waterproofing on account that there are two stitches like in a Goodyear welted shoe (separating the stitching channels for the shoes): the Blake stitch that goes between the midsole, outer and insole, with the rapid stitch that stitches the midsole to an outsole. By adding in a midsole, the stitching for the inner part of the shoe is not exposed to the elements from the bottom sole as much as in Blake constructed shoes. Goodyear welted shoes, on the other hand, see the sole attached to a piece (oftentimes made of leather) called a welt, which acts as a medium for stitching between the upper and the sole. Besides allowing for easily repaired soles in the United States and UK, the welting process helps keep water out of the footbed.
You might further consider waterproofing your welted shoes by seeking out stormwelts on Goodyear welted shoes. In this case, the manufacturer puts a storm welt on the shoe when performing a welt-stitch (either handmade or Goodyear welted). The storm welt is a wider piece that bends to create a seal between the upper and the midsole. These are seen oftentimes on shoes from makers like Tricker’s.
A final stitching method that provides the most waterproofing is the Norwegian stitch. You now see Norvegese construction more often on the work of higher end Italian shoemakers (in terms of quality, not “designer” priced). The Norwegian construction features two stitching lines, one which connects the welt, upper and insole, and the other connecting the welt upper and sole. When joined together, they create an even more closed channel, helping to further keep water out of the shoe.

IT’S ALL ABOUT THE STITCHING
Heschung “Richmond” with Norwegian welt
Grenson “Fred” with triple welt construction

Finally, you might be stubborn and wear leather soled shoes everywhere. If that’s you, I encourage you to invest in galoshes. In environments with snow and salted roads, the galoshes serve to protect your leather from salt stains. Swims makes a good pair of galoshes that can go around the leather soled shoes and provide protection from the elements, helping to extend the lifespan of your shoe. You can keep a pair in the office or in your car so that you’re not caught unprepared in case of unexpected showers. However, I will warn you that they do not have the best traction on slightly slick surfaces. I’ve slipped and fallen walking in them when I was walking over metal grates. A commando sole will be better for traction.

IF EVERYTHING ELSE FAILS, CONSIDER SHOE CONDOMS
Swims Classic Galoshes
Tingley Overshoe

In the end, the lesson here–just like when I’ve stepped into that bottomless puddle–might just be to pay a bit more attention to where you step.

 


 

Please note that a correction was made to clarify Blake vs Blake-rapid construction.

A Perspective on the Styleforum Maker Space

Since the middle of December, I’ve been in Italy visiting the in-laws. We made a few little trips here and there for purposes of tourism, did a short tour of Emilia Romagna, enjoyed many delicious meals, and–of course–did some shopping during the Italian seasonal sales period. Additionally, we visited Florence as well, partly because it is a city filled with art, but also because my wife was working there during Pitti Uomo. During Pitti, I managed to make it into the Fortezza briefly, but I spent most of my time helping out with the Styleforum Maker Space. And I have to say it was a blast to hang out with so many charming people-while having bountiful aperitivi with decent wine, tasty mozzarella di bufala from Caserta, and salumi from the Tuscan countryside. The conversations ranged from materials and construction methods, to typical wines and dishes, to customer service and business practices.

Unfortunately Winson shoes couldn’t attend because of visa issues, but the other artisans more than made the experience great. At the Styleforum Maker Space there were Salvatore from I Sarti Italiani, Marco from Belisario Camicie, Alya from a.b.k. leather goods, and Frank and Jen from GIIN. Everyone was quite friendly, knowledgeable about their respective crafts, and their products were all impressive. If you had visited, you would have found yourself talking to individuals who genuinely find joy in their professions and care deeply about their crafts. From each one, you would have learned little secrets, such as the differences between types of mother of pearl buttons and shells, or which sections of a shirt or jacket require hand stitching and which can be machine stitched.

Over three days, talking with Frank and Jen from GIIN provided me with inspiration their passion and enthusiasm for their product, brand and work is enthralling. Frank is turning under garments on their head, making bonded products with a mix of long fiber cotton and polyester, blending the two together to create a fabric that exhibits the best of both worlds. He provided me with some to try, and I have to say that I am convinced (look forward to a review in the near future). On the other hand, the boutonnieres, the mainstay of their exhibition, were exquisite as always. Their display showed the materials at different steps, and they spoke with great respect about the Japanese artisan who created the process. These flowers were a hit with the Italians, who were shocked to see delicate flowers that were outside of the normal flow of time.

The leather goods from a.b.k. were impressive, especially for those who have a more street wear or rustic aesthetic. I talked with Alya about saddle stitching and vegetable tanned leathers as she sat in the corner hand stitching a pair of shoes that were being custom made for a foreign client. Her leather goods exuded a sort of aesthetic that embodied her personality itself, a reserved but passionate spirit that cares about the quality of the goods and the materials. She told me a wonderful story about the leathers that she works with, most of which come from a small tannery in the south of France that is run by two elderly gentlemen, who have been processing hides for many years in natural and historical methods. Her work combines this historical artisanship for materials with handcrafted methods to craft pieces that would last for a long time, growing more beautiful as they develop patinas through use.

I had used Belisario Camicie in the past to order online some shirts, and they came out well, so I decided to talk with Marco Belisario about modifying my shirts to the exact way that I wanted them. I ended up ordering a shirt with all my vezzi preferiti, including manica mappina and hand sewn buttons a giglio. I was amused that I had recently seen a friend of mine order a su misura shirt from another well-established shirt maker in Italy, only to have a fraction of the options and measurements taken in contrast to Belisario. Marco took a large number of measurements and some photos to create a paper pattern to compensate for my uneven shoulders and sleeve lengths, as well as for my watch on my wrist. He even consulted with the tailor from I Sarti Italiani to best determine how to address my bodies particularities. We discussed the size of armholes, and settled on a slimmer, high armhole as per my preferences. In addition, Marco allows you to choose which handsewn properties you want on the shirt, so I settled for what I most wanted aesthetically. They have a wide selection of different choices for collars (including one of the best one piece, open collars I’ve ever seen–they call it Ischia), buttons, and offer both fused and unfused cuffs and collars.

Last-but not least-was Salvatore Ioco, a 29 year old tailor who has been a tailor for 15 years of his life, learning the tradition from his grandparents. Salvo, the representative of I Sarti Italiani, is incredibly friendly and jovial guy. Based in Palermo, the smaller company is a consortium of 12 tailors and 3 cutters, all of whom work together to realize the garments in the style that the client desires. They produce mostly canvassed garments, but will do minimal canvassing (no fusing) if you desire in order to get an even lighter, more relaxed and casual garment. Salvo brought a wide range of fabrics in his books, showing off both more luxurious fabrics as well as base ones, and we talked about my preferences. I will have him make me a garment, but I’ve yet to decide on a fabric; in the end he took my measurements, talked about my physical abnormalities and my stylistic preferences. I’ll figure out whether I want to do something from him that is Cut-Make-Trim, or rather a suit manufactured in house with him and the other tailors using fabrics to which they have access. Of course, I’ll have to return to Italy for a few basted fittings, once we figure out what direction I want to go.

In the course of the three days, the various artisans had conversations among themselves, creating new dialogues; it comes as no surprise then that all the artisans shared a sort of mentality concerned with making durable goods. Even though reasons for making quality goods might have diverged slightly, they all overlapped in their pursuit of quality. GIIN seeks to preserve our resources by discouraging waste or using natural processes. Alya and a.b.k. is focused with maintaining a low environmental impact through sourcing environmental sound leathers (vegetable tanned), while also creating products that were useful. Belisario and I Sarti Italiani handcraft their clothing with rigor, in hopes of creating pieces that remain in your wardrobe for an extended time. This thoughtful mentality reminds us why craftsmanship and passion is still important today in a world overwhelmed with wasteful consumption.

Here you can see some pictures of the Styleforum Maker Space:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Review: GIIN Boutonniere Flower

GIIN will be part of the Styleforum Maker Space this January at Pitti Uomo. The Styleforum Maker Space is a combination pop-up shop and wholesale space, geared towards exhibiting fantastic small brands and makers to Pitti’s influential and knowledgable visitors for both wholesale and retail.The Maker Space runs from January 9-11, 2018.


When I was told that I would be writing a review of a boutonniere, several questions formed in my head, but instead of inquiring about the product, I just said “okay.”

Why bother with a series of questions when all they want me to do is write a review? Because boutonnieres are usually associated with weddings and are live flowers, I wondered to myself what it could be that I would be reviewing. And I figured, if I didn’t know anything about the product, I would be less judgmental when I received the item.

I put this to the back of my mind because I’ve been traveling often, only to come home and find the postman with that small nondescript package for me. Perhaps this is the way all reviews should work: the reviewer should be given something in order to look at it without any a priori knowledge, assumptions or requests.


You can imagine my surprise when an unexpected little bubble wrapped envelop was given to me by the postman. The package looked like it came from one of the Alibaba solicitors shipping their wares into the United States at a discounted penny-rate; I opened this international parcel to find a lovely box from GIIN, a Styleforum affiliate whose motto is “Elevated Essentials.” Inside the box was a flower, poignant and pristine, with a few of the leaves showing the small delicate imperfections that one can find on flowers in the wild. Yet the flower itself, however ephemeral originally, looked somewhat at home in the box, radiating a sort of delicate beauty as it was now shaped and formed into a more permanent form able to survive being shipment from across the world.

Peter wrote an excellent article on the boutonniere that discusses how and when to wear one, as well as the value of real flowers. However, there is something positive to be said about these new alternative boutonnieres-flowers that will neither wilt nor decay, preserving their very nature and beauty indefinitely. GIIN markets these boutonnieres as a form of “Enduring Elegance,” and I could not agree more. These artisanal flowers retain a sense of two of the most important concepts in nature – imperfection and beauty.

 

Many of you have probably heard of the Zen-Buddhist concept of wabi-sabi, an aesthetic ideal that places value on the impermanence of objects shown by their use over time. While wabi-sabi is all the rage in a lot of menswear concepts, illustrated by a love for foxed shirt collars or natural patinas on leather, this flower does not work in that aesthetic framework as it is frozen in time. However, the Japanese have another framework that is quite apropos for GIIN’s artisan boutonniere: kire.

In Japanese aesthetics, kire, or “cut,” is a concept in the Rinzai School of Zen-Buddhism rooted in the teachings of Hakuin Ekaku (1686-1768). Zen master Hakuin believed that the nature of oneself is only understood once one has cut the root of their life; in other words, you let go of something completely, only to have it die and return again to life. These flowers, which have been taken from nature at the height of their glory, have been disassembled and recreated outside of their ephemeral nature, only to be positioned reborn as an object that exists in perpetuity. Rather than being beautiful for the sake of its impermanence (another aesthetic concept known as mono no aware, or the “pathos of things”), GIIN’s flowers are ascribed elegance as it lives after death.

GIIN crafts these flowers by hand, taking miniature rose petals that have been treated carefully, by arranging them into the shape of a small rose on the end of a pin. The pin has a small safety cap, so after running it through your lapel (or through the buttonhole), you can pin the flower to your lapel as you would a normal boutonniere. The flower looks – and in many ways probably is – delicate (I wouldn’t go in for a giant hug only to crush your lapel), yet it is simultaneously resilient seeing as it stands outside of the flow of time.

There is a lot of merit to having a flower that withstands decay, i.e. serving as a memento. I personally think my spouse would have appreciated it if I had given her one of these for our wedding; something that could be used later when we have an anniversary dinner, serving as a continuous symbol of our love.

It is appropriate then to understand GIIN’s boutonniere in the framework of kire seeing as how that concept is tied closed to the floral arrangement art of ikebana, literally “making flowers live.” GIIN has created a wearable version of an ikebana arrangement by ascribing life to the flower after its death through the processes used. It serves as a living flower, bringing a little flair and life to an outfit, despite being dead. It serves as a reminder of the various life events during which you wore it. Their miniature rose flower, lacking any sort of roots to ground it in nature or to keep it fresh, still looks at home regardless of wherever it is, their ethos becoming a symbol of enduring elegance in a world of impermanence.

GIIN’s boutonnieres are available now for $95


This is not sponsored content. To read Styleforum’s review policy, please click here.

The Best Ties For Summer

Even though most of us dread the unbearable humidity and heat that comes with summer, we still need to dress professionally. While we can likely endure wearing year-round or three-season suiting in air conditioned offices, the clothes that tend to bring us the most joy in summer – as in winter – are those made from fabrics specific to the season. Our garments for summer can be as particular, as interesting and as beautiful as those for winter, in that they have different characteristics in make, color, weave, and the like. However, in order to complete the outfit, you still need the right accessories; only then will you ensure that the ensemble is complete.

Fabrics for summer ties are similar to those for our garments. While there are ties that can work all year long, or for most seasons – grenadine, silk rep, printed silk all come to mind – you might want to add a little seasonal variation by adding an interesting element into an outfit. Just as is the case with an odd sport coat, crunchy or slubby textures, open weaves, or unstructured designs all help make a tie more summer-friendly. Playing with color, as you would with said odd jacket, also helps a tie to be more appropriate for warm weather – pastels or subdued neutrals work well for summer. Personally, I enjoy a six or seven-fold tie for less structure, especially when paired with a more open weave, such as grenadine in a light but muted blue or green. It gives it a sort of nonchalant look that works for most occasions, excepting the most formal or serious business meetings.

Shantung, or tussah silk, offers a slubby texture that helps bring an informal element to the tie. This is a wild silk that is obtained from silkworms that feed on leaves in an uncontrolled environment; because there is less control over the process, the silk worm hatches to break the filament length, creating shorter and more coarse fibers, which provides a more ‘matte’ look.

Ties made of linen or linen blends have the benefit of inherent slubbiness, but they wrinkle easily. They do retain that crisp nature that all linens share, which allows these fabrics to drape well especially when lined. Just keep in mind that they work best for less formal outfits, and work especially well when paired with linen or cotton suits.

Cotton and cotton-blend ties are similar to linen, serving as a more relaxed option. They tend to wrinkle – like linen – but do not have that crisp characteristic; this means that they exhibit less of an elegant drape. I recommend cotton ties for the most relaxed environments, and they would be at home more with an odd jacket or a cotton suit.

Here is a list of some examples for summer appropriate ties that we think are worth considering, and a few tips on how to pair them.


This tan shantung silk tie from Calabrese 1924 via No Man Walks Alone provides a classic stripe, but the subdued, neutral tan and the slubby fabric help to make it more of a summer affair. This self-tipped tie provides a structured neckpiece that could work in most occasions.


liverano summer tie

This Liverano&Liverano seven-fold silk tie is the epitome of a tie for the more conservative striped style. The colors scream Ivy League (if you ignore that the direction of the stripes are European instead of American), and it begs to be worn under the staple hopsack blazer in everyone’s closet. The orange almost evokes that quintessential go-to-hell attitude that you might not dare pull off with colored trousers.


drake's tie linen summer

This tie from Drakes features tussah silk in a natural color. Paired with an odd linen sport coat, the tie would wear well, seeing as it has hand rolled blades and less structure than a normal tie.


seersucker tie vanda fine clothing summer

How many times in your life have you seen a seersucker tie? This gorgeous muted green tie from Vanda Fine Clothing is extremely neutral, and would pair lovingly under blue, tan and brown jackets. The handrolled edges and light lining complete the nonchalant air.


vanda oatmeal tie summer

This tie made by hand from Vanda Fine Clothing out of Solbiati linen is a great warm weather accessory. The texture and wrinkles with the classic Glenplaid pattern and subdued neutral colors makes this an exceptional tie under a wool-fresco or linen jacket.

A Review of Lanieri: Su Misura Suiting

Note: for a limited time, Styleforum members can take 200$ off a new Lanieri suit by using code STYLEFORUM200 at checkout! This offer is only good from 5/19/2017 – 5/28/2017. Visit Lanieri to make your order.


Although I buy a lot of stuff online, with clothing I’m usually hesitant unless the place has a good return policy or I know how it will fit. I especially don’t want to deal with the difficulties of returning clothes internationally. So I usually just go with makers that I know – probably like most of you do as well. However, sometimes I have placed online orders through online Made-to-Measure manufacturers in pursuit of a specific style, fabric or pattern.

I had often seen Lanieri online, and had also spent some time browsing through their thread on Styleforum, in which Riccardo Schiavotto – one of the founders of Lanieri – showcases the expanding range of options that their company offers. Browsing their website and the thread, they make clear that they manufacture 100% Made-in-Italy garments. They use fabrics from prestigious fabric mills and merchants, including Reda and Vitale Barberis Canonico (both of which are investors in Lanieri), which provide choices for a wide range of tastes and budgets. They use a well-established Italian tailoring house to make their garments in northern Italy, and the cutting, stitching and finishing of the garment is done entirely with Italian labor. More or less, Lanieri is trying to remind their customers that – like food – Italians still take style and quality in manufacturing seriously.

Their attention to detail extends to customer service and marketing. On Styleforum, Riccardo listens to the concerns and feedback from the community, answering questions about the manufacturing or materials, while also working to incorporate more customization. For instance, Riccardo has pointed out that their pants feature horsehair canvas in the waistband, or that they offer a selection of horn or mother of pearl buttons. He has taken the time to listen to the community, and soon Lanieri will offer full-canvas suiting, sometime by the end of summer (currently their structured jackets feature a true half-canvas).

So when Fok, Styleforum’s owner and administrator, asked me if I’d like to write a review of Lanieri in exchange for a suit, I jumped on-board and said yes. Please note that I am under no obligation to review them in any specific way. My only compensation was a suit of my choice from a selection of their fabric offerings. You can read Styleforum’s Review Policy here.

—-

Designing a Garment

Lanieri has a number of options that allow you to create your own garment so that it meets your sense of style. Personally, I appreciated the online visualization of the garment, which updates to show the various options you’ve chosen as you design your garment. You receive a feel for the overall look of the garment you’re creating. Of course, you are not able to see or feel the real end product, with all its nuances, until it is in natural light in your hands–but for what it is worth, the visualization gives you a sense of whether you are designing an abomination or your dream suit.

Their buyers vary their selection of fabrics each season, and offer a range of staples in addition to more exciting and more nuanced options. The fabrics have descriptions that showcase a wide range of weights, Super numbers, and weaves. The more interesting fabrics currently include some linen mohair blends, tonal Prince of Wales checks, or wool-silk blends. If all else fails or you need a staple, there is always a range of essential wool suiting.

review of lanieri lanieri su misura lanieri review styleforumLanieri provides peak, notch and shawl collar options, both in more “modern” slimmer lapel widths and wider configurations. Their buttons include a range of polyester, horn, mother of pearl and/or pearlized choices.  I’m a sucker for horn buttons, and would rather get a suit that already has them on it, considering that many ready-to-wear makers do not use them. Of course, you get to choose the interior qualities, including lining style, color, contrast stitching, et cetera.

You can also include any notes you want them to see prior to making the garment. I had opted, after speaking with Riccardo, to go with spalla a camicia instead of their standard suit option, spalla con rollino. If you want spalla a camicia, just put it into the notes. Riccardo has stated that one of the reasons it is only available to those that ask is because most of their clientele don’t seem to like spalla a camicia on account of the extra fabric in the sleeve head. I ended up finding that they sew it with less fabric than what you would see in a spalla mappina.

Ultimately, I opted for a half-lined Solaro suit in a nine-ounce fabric by Drago (you can read about why you want a Solaro suit here) with dark horn buttons, a mélange melton collar and beige lining. The final cost for the garment as made was $920.

After designing the garment, you fill out your measurements, guided by a somewhat campy (but not in a bad way) video featuring instructions on how to measure yourself (or rather, how to have someone else do it for you). Included in the measurements process are qualitative visualizations in order to help them understand your shoulder shape, gut and posture.

Of course, my wife had difficulty measuring, and so we had to repeat several measurements. Lanieri actually reached out to me, stating that some measurements were strange, and to please confirm them. After confirming them (good thing I did…) they sent it off to begin cutting, and the suit’s fate was sealed.

Inspecting the Result

review of lanieri lanieri su misura lanieri review styleforum

Working cuffs, horn buttons.

After a little more than three weeks (my order coincided with a lot of holidays in Italy – Easter, Pasquetta, and Liberation Day, among others) my order was shipped via FedEx International Priority. Two days after shipping, it arrived at 10 AM in sunny California placed in a giant cardboard suit box; they arranged the suit folded on a wooden hanger inside a canvas garment bag. Included were spare buttons, and some information on how to care for your garment, reminding you of the importance of proper maintenance to ensure the quality and integrity of your garment. Personally, it always serves as a nice reminder to treat your clothes well.

Overall, the final product was nicer than I expected; the Solaro fabric by Drago has a wonderful hand, drape and overall color. Living in Southern California, I feared that it would be a bit too hot, but it has a surprisingly open weave. The cupro bemberg (another plus) half-lining helps keep it breathable. The buttons are solid, well shaped natural horn, and the garment has even and durable machine stitching throughout.

Because my jacket and pants are half lined, I opened them up to take a peek. Sure enough, they are using light horsehair canvas throughout the waistband (a split waistband, as the Italians like to use), and in upper half of the jacket. The shoulders have some light padding to assist in drape, and the fusing (running the bottom half of the front of the jacket) is much higher quality than what you would see in most RTW makers. I was impressed with the softness and the quality of the half canvassed garment, providing an extremely nice balance between soft and stiff construction.

review of lanieri lanieri su misura lanieri review styleforum

You can see the lapel roll and the “Spalla Camicia”.

With regards to fit, the jacket fits well out of the box. The shoulders hang well with a fairly good sleeve pitch. I think the sleeve length is spot on (and they have to be, since they include working cuffs). I have narrow shoulders, so oftentimes I end up rejecting off-the-rack tailoring that is either too tight in the chest or too big in the shoulders. The only thing that I would note for a future order is that I prefer my jackets to be cut longer, with most of my jackets averaging about two centimeters longer than what Lanieri chose to provide. Additionally, if they offer higher armholes, I’d prefer that too (the armhole is on par with many of RTW Italian makers) Having lived in Italy, I know the Italians do like jackets to be shorter. And I find this to be acceptable, especially with an informal fabric like Solaro. At least the jacket appears to be covering my ass.

The pants are another matter for me. While they fit in length, the waist was larger than I would prefer (especially with a split waistband since I prefer the waist snug), and the seat could be brought in slightly in order to help it drape better. Additionally, I have a forward leaning stance, so I feel they need to be be cut wider in order for the pants to drape better, since the fabric accumulates on my calves when wearing OTC socks. With shorter socks or no show socks, I don’t have that issue with these pants. I’ve since taken it to my alterations specialist to correct this.

I will note that the garment had a couple loose threads in the seams and that they did forget to include the two rear suspender buttons in the trousers. Both of these are difficult to correct, but it is a minor annoyance.

The good news is that Lanieri wants to ensure that you have a perfect fitting jacket, so they will take into consideration these alterations (you submit a form with the alterations to them in order to get a refund) for future orders, or they will remake your garments if they are deemed uncorrectable. Like any online MTM program, I wouldn’t anticipate getting perfection on the first try, but because Lanieri is invested in keeping you as a customer and making you happy, I think the opportunity here is to build a relationship between client and company.

Price, Quality and Final Thoughts

Lanieri isn’t bargain basement dirt-cheap, but for the price ($920 as ordered), you get quality fabrics, good construction, the ability to design your garment in your style, and Italian manufacturing. Within the range of fabrics that Lanieri offers, they have cheaper and more expensive options (all of which are good fabrics from prestigious Italian fabric mills); this allows you to cover your wardrobe requirements with cheaper work suits or more expensive suiting for special occasions. I think that within the market segment, they offer a product that is certainly capable of meeting your needs, and which also provides you with the opportunity to – eventually – order well-fitting garments in your own style without the hassle of alterations.

Lanieri has a wide range of sales, including ones timed to holidays. These sales provide you the opportunity to get what you may need without breaking the bank. Outside of the sales, Lanieri is worth the price, considering that staple suits from quality makers are hardly ever found in a decent sale. For a reasonable price you can get a good garment that will last you quite some time and suit your needs.

Soon, Lanieri will expand by opening an atelier in New York, providing customers the opportunity to be measured in person and see the quality of sample garments prior to purchase. In addition, with the launch of a new full-canvas option, Lanieri will be placed extremely well as an accessible option within the market for quality made-to-measure menswear.

Note: the Solaro fabric shown in the review – named Riviera on Lanieri’s website – will be back in stock on their website in the middle of June.

 


  • This is not sponsored content, however, Lanieri is an affiliate of Styleforum. To read Styleforum’s review policy, please click here.
  • If you’re interested in browsing Lanieri’s options, you can do so here.
  • To read Lanieri’s Affiliate Thread, please click here.

Shopping Menswear Consciously

 

shopping menswear consciously fashion revolution week styleforum

When you dine at a hip restaurant, they love telling you about the plate and what went into it – the provenance of the meat, the endangered heirloom vegetables, and the hand-harvested produce fresh from the restaurants garden. But it doesn’t stop there. We often can’t help but learn about the goods we buy, especially when buying high quality products. Oftentimes, companies are putting faces to the makers, showering us with images of their workers, the designers, and their facilities. In response, we buy into it–we care that we receive quality food, or that we are having skilled workers make quality, sturdy products.

So is there any reason why we can’t know about our clothing as well? Sometimes we know about who made our clothes or the materials that went into them, but that oftentimes isn’t a factor for why we buy it. Much of the time, we choose clothes because they suit us, because they are a bargain, or because we need it for a certain circumstance. Sometimes we make a choice because of who makes it–but we oftentimes choose it because it’s a specific brand that makes it, not a person.


shopping menswear consciously fashion revolution week styleforum

Ask your favorite brands: “Who Made My Clothes?”

The Fashion Revolution week was born in the UK to commemorate the disaster of Rana Plaza, in which 3639 workers lost their life when the building they were working in collapsed. These people were working in extremely unsafe conditions to produce garments for brands like Primark, Walmart, JC Penney, and Benetton.

The founders of the movement want to raise awareness among consumers and invite them to ask “Who Made My Clothes?” to the brands that they support. You probably came across a few pictures of friends on social media who wore their clothes inside out to expose the label and tagged the brand to ask who made their clothes.

The aim of the Fashion Revolution is to address and raise awareness of consumers shopping at big box stores and “fast fashion” brands. For us clothing enthusiasts, these stores do not make up the bulk of our wardrobe, and rarely make it into our dressers. But sometimes we buy our disposables (underwear, t-shirts, lounge pants) from these stores or places like them. We want to feel like we made a good purchase and to know what we are buying.


With regards to consumption, two questions come to mind: First, how much of the information that we receive about a product is accurate? Second, should we really care about who is making our stuff?

To answer the first question: part of the problem is most of what we consume is the marketing that brands churn out, urging us to buy their products. And brands pick up on that fact, thereby developing more and more marketing campaigns around their producers. They sell to us that they have family providers or old factories. But it doesn’t mean that this information is not misleading; we see products made in Italy that are just “finished” in Italy. We see pictures of excellent working conditions when they are terrible. We hear that the product is “full grain” but in reality the marketing team picked up on the word and doesn’t know what that means. As consumers, we have to be more particular, more critically-minded, and more informed in order to pick apart these marketing campaigns and really determine just how accurate the PR is.

Whatever happened to “union made goods”? There are still plenty of these products, but we don’t seem to care as much anymore. That is in itself a shame. We should realize that economically it makes sense to compensate people accordingly for their time, so that they in turn can contribute to the economy.

This returns us to the second question; the answer to which is yes, we should care. We oftentimes look at small producers and decide that we want to buy from that small producer because we like the quality of their goods; we know that what we are going to get the person stands by their work. Similarly, when we choose to buy from larger brands, we have the power and the right to ask who makes the clothes. By asking this question, we show that we are invested in their product and perhaps these brands will invest more in their labor.

It is important that we become more conscientious consumers. Obviously we should buy goods if we like them, but perhaps we should change our criteria. Instead of buying something because it is the cheapest option, we should budget and buy what is the best option for within our budget. By doing so, we are likely to get better quality goods. Instead of buying something because it’s on sale, we should save and buy things that are more likely to be worn. Instead of buying from a giant chain store and disposing of our apparel when it wears out, we should buy more clothing (or anything at all) of high quality and treat it well. Instead of buying new shoddy crap that falls out of fashion quickly, we can (and many Styleforum members do) find stylish gently used garments that have a long lifespan both in durability and in aesthetic.

By doing this, we not only contribute to slowing down the pace of our apparel consumption, but we also avoid wastefulness. In return, we fill our lives with clothes that we are going to enjoy for a long time, and that will see a lot of use, providing us with satisfaction.

shopping menswear consciously fashion revolution week styleforum

Bowties from Vanda Fine Clothing: each one is handmade in their workshop in Singapore.

Harkening back to days gone by, in which we had tailors make us this or that–we never really had to think about who made our clothes. And for some of us today, we don’t have to do that either, especially those of us buying suiting or classic menswear from smaller makers or tailors. We know that the work is happening on site, we can and oftentimes meet the cutters or the tailors. Even having a garment altered, we see who is working on our clothing. And just think, how much happier you are when you get that garment made just for you, when you see how well it fits. We should still be in awe, seeing a swatch of cloth and seeing the finished product. It’s like magic: that joy in the hearts of both the maker and the recipient should be enough to remind us that from where we choose to buy our clothes matters.

3 Valentine’s Day Cocktails

Visit a bar and meet someone. Go out on a date and enjoy yourselves. Have a couple rounds with your friends. Or–perhaps, alone at home. The options you have for celebrating Valentine’s Day are plentiful, and, should you opt to imbibe, the selection of drinks is far broader than the common choices from which most people select. Here are three classic short drink options for the cocktail aficionado, with names and flavor profiles aptly suited for differing situations and contexts (although you may choose to enjoy them all, regardless of whatever plans for your Valentine’s Day).


The Aviation – it’s the wind beneath your wings

Just getting to know this person? Want to have a few rounds this evening before dinner without feeling remorse? Best to try the Aviation, a light, floral drink with a lot of interesting flavors mingling together.

The history of the Aviation is a long one: originally listed by Hugo Ensslin in this book, Recipes for Mixed Drinks, published 1916, the cocktail called for crème de violette. However, over the years, other ingredients started being used instead, as crème de violette became increasingly difficult to find inside of the USA. Replacements included Parfait d’Amour, Crème Yvette or ultimately blue curacao, used to provide the drink’s characteristic blue hue. For reasons of taste of course, you will likely want to stick with crème de violette, using Parfait d’Amour or Crème Yvette only if you are seeking a cocktail with more citrus or vanilla driven tastes.

The drink is refreshing and light, works well as an aperitif, and also can help to freshen your breath, thanks to the lovely floral scent provided by the violette-based liqueurs. Classically, you would shake the drink (on account of the inclusion of the lemon juice), but if you want to experience the true aromatics in the gin, you can take your time stirring it in order to ensure adequate emulsion and dilution. Note that the precise ratios of this classic recipe are still highly debated, but as we at Styleforum don’t like our cocktails too sweet, we suggest the following:

    • Eight parts dry gin
    • One part maraschino liqueur
    • Two parts lemon juice
  • One part crème de violette

Combine the ingredients in a shaker tin over ice; shake the drink well; serve up in a chilled coupe. Garnish with a Marasca cherry.


The Bijou – or, I couldn’t afford anything from Tiffany and Co.

Just finishing dinner but you need something to relax you further? Or you want to provide a good-looking gem to someone without breaking the bank? Try the Bijou, an herbaceous and heavy cocktail.

Another classic drink, the contemporary Bijou originally appears in Harry Johnson’s Modern Bartender’s Manual (1900). The Bijou, meaning jewel in French, stands strong with a glorious amber hue that entices the imbiber with its smooth mouth feel and attractive appearance. Johnson’s version of the drink is incredibly complex on account of the use of two strong components with plenty of aromatics and layers of flavor (Italian vermouth and green Chartreuse).

The cocktail works better as a digestif, considering the strong body and alcohol content. Historically the drink was made with equal parts, but in the modern day you want to provide a bit less of a kick, so reducing chartreuse and vermouth help to bring the cocktail into the 21st century. Additionally, for this drink, Plymouth gin works wonders, seeing as how both green Chartreuse and Plymouth gin feature coriander, and the creamy body of the Plymouth can extend the already rich mouth feel of Chartreuse and sweet vermouth.

Stirring the cocktail works best, and if your significant other likes strong drinks, this will serve as an excellent nightcap to your most assuredly already enjoyable evening.

    • Three parts Plymouth gin
    • One part Italian (sweet) vermouth
    • One part green Chartreuse
  • 1 dash orange bitters

Combine the ingredients over ice in a mixing glass. Stir the drink to emulsify it well and provide adequate dilution. Strain and serve with a twist of lemon and a Marasca cherry as garnish.


The Widow’s Kisswhen this Holiday just doesn’t suit you

So your evening is spent alone, or you really just want to have a strong drink before bed. The Widow’s Kiss will serve you well.

Likely first published in George Kappeler’s Modern American Drinks (1895), the Widow’s Kiss is a drink that packs a punch on account of the three strong alcoholic components that make up the body of the drink. The drink has seen itself published identically in a few other cocktail guides, including Bill Boothby’s and Harry Craddock’s. As such, despite not being well known, the cocktail serves as a true classic, providing you an interesting drinking experience that is directly a blast from the past.

The Calvados can be replaced with Applejack if Calvados is not available in your area, seeing as how they are similar spirits with similar flavor profiles. Each is a distillate of cider, and both have a wonderful note reminiscent of fall, dead leaves and freshly plucked apples. On the other hand, the Benedictine and the Chartreuse are both historically created by monks, and include numerous herbs and spices that provide strong, memorable flavor profiles that are interesting enough to enjoy neat on their own. Each of these liqueurs have their own notes, but in harmony they begin to exhibit and complement each other, providing a more interesting drinking experience.

The cocktail is incredibly deep and complicated thanks to the herbaceous liqueurs, and the high ABV content of the drink serves well to keep you warm on a chilly night.

    • Two part Calvados (or Applejack)
    • One part yellow Chartreuse
    • One part Benedictine
  • Two dashes Angostura bitters

Pour the ingredients together over cracked cubes of ice in a mixing glass. Stir well, ensuring the drink reaches adequate dilution. Strain, serve up and garnish with a Marasca cherry.


Enjoy your Valentine’s Day, whichever stylish way you imbibe.

e. v. Empey