Part of being a classic menswear guy for me is the ability to have products that last a long time. We oftentimes rationalize higher priced purchases because of the quality that goes into them. Suits with full canvassing, tailors cutting a pattern with extra seam allowance so the suit can still be modified fit when we gain or lose weight, or shoes welted instead of glued so that they can be resoled, thereby having a longer lifespan. While for many this is a justification, it also serves as a deciding economic factor or a philosophical factor when purchasing a product.
In the case of Standard Fair, they have designed a product around quality and lifespan. Whereas most other sneakers are not designed to be resoled, Standard Fair bucked that concept and designed a piece of footwear from the sole up, building it to be resolable. The shoes are made in the United States in Maine, sourced with quality leathers from Italian leather mills that work with historic, labor intensive methods to produce vegetable-tanned full grain leather. They have selected leathers from two members of the Italian True Vegetable Tanned Leather Consortium, Conceria Walpier (for white vegetable tanned leather), and Conceria Tempesti (for the other colors). Created on top of camp soles (more on that in a bit), the shoes are stitched using blake methods to allow the sole to be replaced. And while it is difficult to find individuals to resole blake shoes in the USA (not as difficult in countries like Italy), Standard Fair offers a resoling and refinishing service, to help keep your shoes nice and functional. Overall, the company is aiming to provide you with a product that will last a long time with proper care.
When asked to provide a review as a Styleforum user–more so lurker–I decided to let Standard Fair send me whichever color pathway of the Sport Camp they wanted. It didn’t matter so much to me because I own a pair similar to them from another small footwear manufacturer Collegium, also from a similar leather mill, and I own Buttero in both black and white color pathways. In the end, Mike, the well informed, friendly proprietor and creator of Standard Fair, opted to send me black. While they wouldn’t have been my first choice, I had decided that I would go into this review focusing on the quality and design, not on trying to make sure I am overly biased based on choosing a preferred color pathway (which would have been the white for me, seeing as how veg-tanned white leather sounds utterly strange and exciting to me). I’d like to think that this helped make me a touch more objective when considering the shoe.
So you understand, I’m not unfamiliar with “stitched construction” sneakers, especially margom soles. I have bought several pairs of margom cup stitched sneakers thinking that I could get them to be resoled. In the end, I am incredibly disappointed with the longetivity of the margom cup soles, seeing as how I feel the soles wear through rather quickly. After a little under two years of semi-regular wear (with rotation), a pair of shoes from Buttero has horrible soft spots on the rubber. I had reached out to Buttero to inquire as to if they were resoleable, seeing as how they are stitched, and the Italian company confirmed with me and their factory that they cannot be resoled because they are glued, that the stitching is superficial.
As I wrote earlier, part of what separates Standard Fair from other makers, besides the construction, is the transparency in sourcing and material design. Mike is willing to let you know exactly where materials are being sourced, and they have a space on their website showing you from where each component, down to the most minute like the insole or laces, are being manufactured or originated. Their openness is refreshing, seeing as how few other brands are willing to discuss their manufacturers or sourcing. In addition, the choice of manufacturing the products in places such as the USA speaks to their commitment to quality manufacturing. Mike acknowledges that just because a product says its made in a certain country (England, USA, Italy) does not mean that the product is going to be of good quality. However, his careful sourcing of suppliers and manufacturers has put Standard Fair at the top of the game in terms of quality. I feel that the quality of the materials that went into this shoe are better than those that went into Buttero. To me, having felt the two sneakers side by side, Buttero feels more like a fashion brand, while Mike’s Standard Fair feels truly like a quality focused brand.
Aesthetically, Standard Fair opted for a few little stylistic choices to set them off from more minimalistic competitors. The shoes have heel and tongue patches of the same leather, flesh out. In theory, this leather should continue to develop a patina through wear as well. The soles are tone on tone, matched against the leather upper color. There is also a loop on the tongue, to run the laces through and keep the tongue up. Overall they are fairly streamlined, and I can picture the white pair being a staple in my wardrobe. The black works well especially in winter since it doesn’t attract too much attention, especially as the leather has gained a matte patina through the few weeks of pretty intense wear, giving the shoes a more lived-in look.
The camp soles are something that you don’t really see on sneakers. For those of you that are not aware, they are found on a lot of preppier, New England styled, casual footwear, including moccasins from makers Quoddy, Rancourt, and Yuketen. The concept behind the camp sole was to have a lightweight, sturdy yet comfortable rubber sole that would allow comfort based footwear, like a moccasin, to be worn when lounging around outside–during a weekend getaway for instance at your local New England summer lake. Prior to Standard Fair, it would be only common to see a camp sole on a moccasin, oftentimes handsewn. Because the soles have a nice grain to them, they provide good traction, and the wedge cutout found on many of them keep the sole nice and light. It makes a lot of sense to pair this sole with sneakers for that reason and thinking about it, I can imagine we will some other manufacturers emulating this in the future.
Because they are Blake stitched, the sole breaks in a bit more rapidly, seeing as how it features a thick, rubber sole sourced from Sao Paulo. The sole material feels comfortable. I don’t feel any stress standing on my feet since the support on the arch especially is incredibly nice for a sneaker.
While they are true to size, for individuals with a higher instep or a wider foot, I would suggest a half size up. Having gone TTS based on the suggestion of Mike, I found that my feet, especially when laced tightly, by the end of the day wanted a little bit more breathing room. The leather, while it has broken in, is still a stiffer leather (its a feature of the specific leather mill), and so it probably would have been beneficial to have extra space at the beginning, especially seeing as how with thicker socks, my feet feel rather tight in the shoe. Going forward into warmer seasons, the shoes will work nicely with thinner socks.
Would I buy these shoes? Yes. Because of the resolability, the quality materials and the ability to gain a patina, through wear, especially on the Chestnut and Honey colorways, you have a pair of shoes that can last you a very, very long time with upkeep and wear. If you are someone who truly respects quality and craftsmanship, these are for you. They also have a design that many may find that they like, even if it is a touch less minimalist because of the flesh out patches on the heel and tongue. Don’t let those patches deter you from considering the shoes since they are less distracting when on the foot than it appears in photos. Personally, my pick would be the white or Honey color pathways. You really aren’t going to find other sneakers that will last you a lifetime with proper care with good support that will gain a nice patina over time.
Join the discussion on the forum on the Standard Fair Official Affiliate Thread.
This is not a sponsored article; to read Styleforum’s review policy, please click here.
There are a lot of shoe brands out there. Many of the foreign favorites are heritage brands with a strong history in manufacturing; some brands are start-ups, created by shoe lovers, with an emphasize on leaving their mark on the shoe world. Jonathan Abel is a young brand from Singapore, developed and designed by shoe fans, striving to produce something functional and of good quality that would appeal to both a mass market audience as well as shoe fans. The shoes are made in Portugal, a region less known than Spain or England or the US for Goodyear welted designs, but with a few manufacturers that specialize in them, including Carlos Santos. Jonathan Abel’s designs–especially among the Goodyear welted models–are not loud, evoking a classic aesthetic while flourishing a hint of contemporary style in the silhouette.
When I was asked by one of the employees at Styleforum if I would be willing to write a review of my impressions of a pair of shoes from Jonathan Abel, I said sure. Before saying yes, I made sure there were some shoes that I would like, and a few of their styles appealed to me. Because the brand writes that they make Goodyear welted shoes (though you can find Blake welted shoes), I opted to select a Goodyear welted pair, going for their Noah longwing derby model in tan. Normally I like neither longwings nor derbies, but the aesthetic with the last seemed to be more flattering and elegant, somewhat less clunky than normal on account of a good balance between each dimension on the last. I thought I might as well take more of a risk with something that I normally avoid. And I’m pleasantly surprised, having found that the design and aesthetic of the shoe is so well balanced, it’s quickly become a shoe I can imagine using for a variety of occasions. In addition, they have received quite a few positive comments on the street, something which just doesn’t happen with most of my more conservative shoes (like Crockett and Jones).
On their site and in their affiliate thread, Jonathan Abel writes that their shoes are made with leathers from higher-end tanneries including du Puy and Annonay. For this pair, they used leather from Weinheimer Tannery, which, albeit not as famous as du Puy and Annonay (employed for other models), produces some exquisite leather used by other top-end manufacturers. Historically, one of the best German tanneries was Freudenberg Tannery, which moved from Germany to Poland on account of environmental legislation and changes; Weinheimer Leder split off from Freudenberg group and produces leather for footwear following the rigorous methods and techniques originally used by the Freudenberg tannery. Such leather is used by other, more established menswear favorites including Crockett and Jones, Gaziano and Girling, J. Fitzpatrick.
The biggest complaint that I have for the company regarding their site and product descriptions is that they do not list the correct corresponding leather on the site for each model, and I only found out which leather was used by reaching out to them. Many consumers may only be familiar with more well-known tanneries like du Puy or Annonay, let alone be familiar with any tanneries at all, but for sake of transparency and accuracy, I wish they updated the site with better listings.
The leather for my shoe is on the softer side for break-in. One of the creators of Jonathan Abel remarked they selected a softer leather from Weinheimer that is much softer than those from du Puy in order to decrease the break-in period for their clients. This is quite true in my experience; the shoe was rather comfortable from the first few wears. If you are looking for a goodyear-welted shoe that has a quick break in period, go for these. I sometimes feel like I’m wearing something Blake welted, rather than Goodyear welted on account of how comfortable the sole and shoe is. However, in contrast to Blake welted shoes, the soles appear to have much more resiliency for water and heavy use based on running around in them through wet grass, puddles, and other moist terrain.
The leather is nothing to discount either. Over time, the shoes will look amazing with proper care. I think that with a mirror shine and some antiquing on the toe they would look exquisite. As they continue to be used and taken care of, I’ll aim to polish them in that style.
Concerning construction: the stitching is clean, the broguing is clean, and the leather laces don’t feel like they are going to fall apart. To be honest, I’ve gotten shoes from Peal and Co. (Crockett and Jones make) with more asymmetries and little finishing problems then the pair from Jonathan Abel. I do wish the shoes featured closed channel soles. But based on my experience wearing these ones through grass (wet and dry), dirt, rocks, sidewalk, concrete, through puddles, among other venues, the soles have held up exceedingly well, with minimal wear. I also chose not to rotate them with other shoes as I normally would, using only a shoe tree at night, and am still amazed by how little wear the soles show. They didn’t skimp on the leather soles quality.
Packaging wise, the shoes had an interesting box that folds upon itself, with two ribbons that loop through to create handles. I’m sure they could also be tied to make a bow, but during shipping, the courier opened the box to take a look at the shoes.
For fit, I would suggest staying to your normal size. I’m a US 8 or 8.5, depending on the last. However, I oftentimes have problems with certain lasts on account of my foot volume and width. With European lasts, I usually have less of a problem because oftentimes there is more space for the arch of the foot. Looking at their lasts, I decided that the best for my foot would likely be a rounder last, so I opted for something with their R385 (soft round last). Because of my fitting difficulties, when reaching out to them to coordinate the shoe pair for review, they suggested I take size 42 based on my measured foot width, but that actually ended up being a disaster, and I had to send the shoes back because they were oversized with too much volume on the instep. In this case, I overemphasized my difficulties in fitting a pair of shoes, and so they had erred on the side of caution based on foot measurements. Based on my experiences, I would once again suggest sticking with your normal size, because the lasts are fairly traditional. I do wish they made half sizes since I might even consider sizing down half a size on account of the extra room found in a derby.
Overall, in terms of quality, these are quite the pair of shoes. In terms of price to quality ratio, these are a great option for those of your looking for simple, clean shoes that are made with quality leathers and construction. I would recommend them and choose them over Allen Edmonds in most cases since I prefer the slightly more elegant and European styled lasts. The welting is on par with Carmina or Cobbler Union (even though it lacks the closed channel soles you would find on each of them). I quite like the pair I received and would consider ordering from them in the future, especially if another model pops up that I like. I think that should you find a pair that you like and appreciate quality shoes at a good price, or you are looking to start your dress shoe collection, Jonathan Abel is an excellent option to consider.
Please note, once again, that these shoes were given to me to provide a fair, honest review. They provided no input on what sort of content they wanted in the review, so everything I am saying is of my own choice.
Join the discussion on the forum on the Jonathan Abel Official Affiliate Thread.
This is not a sponsored article; to read Styleforum’s review policy, please click here.
“The way it supports, you’ve never felt anything like it.”
Frank and I were chatting during l’ora dell’ aperitivo in Florence at the StyleForum Maker Space. It was the final evening before the final day, when vendors leave the Pitti booths after the sun sets and talk shop with those they’ve met throughout the day over a cup of something viscous. Frank’s company, Giin, is perhaps better known for their lapel hole object d’arte flowers, but his side gig – men’s underwear and undershirts – intrigued me, since I’ve never given either one more than a passing thought.
“Sell it to me,” I challenged, to which he said the opening line. “You see how I’m cupping this glass of chardonnay? That’s the kind of support I’m talking about. It’s there, but natural.” I was a little incredulous – natural wouldn’t describe anything I’ve tried that’s made for down there. Frank must have read my face because he immediately responded with another angle: “You can wash and wear them the next day.”
Now that was something that struck a chord with me. The practical usefulness of something that could withstand a sweaty, pick-and-shovel day in the field and be ready for tomorrow might prove applicable for vacation as well. “All right,” I nodded. “I’ll take a pair and put them to the test at work. Then I’ll take them on my next vacation in Turkey. We’ll see how they perform.”
He chuckled. “I’ve already tested them in Singapore. If they can handle those summers, Turkey will be a cakewalk.”
Frank ended up sending me a week’s worth, “just in case,” he writes, which I tell my wife in the event that she refuses to touch a person who hasn’t changed their underwear after a day. The fabric is fantastically soft, made from a mix of high twist cotton, polyester, and Lycra that Frank says took extensive trial and error to perfect. I put them on in preparation for running power in the crawl space in the Tenderloin’s Salerno Hotel lobby – a sweatbox if there ever was one – and the first thing I notice is the second-skin snugness. Boxers, these ain’t, but after a few minutes, they stretched to the point where I didn’t notice any snugness, and – perhaps disconcertingly – I didn’t notice them at all, meaning I had to remind myself that I’m actually wearing underwear. Part of the reason is the fabric, some magical hybrid of high-twist cotton, polyester, and lycra that is featherweight and silky smooth that was developed in-house. Also, there is a not a single stitch anywhere; instead, the seams are bonded with a thermoplastic film called Bemis that Frank swears by. “Throw them in the dryer if you want,” he challenged. “The fabric will wear out before the adhesive does.” The result is a low-profile non-abrasive pair of chonies that you forget about almost as soon as you put them on.
Up in the stuffy 100-year-old crawlspace, I twisted, contorted, and twisted my day pulling MC home runs over ductwork, underwater pipes, and carefully stepping on black iron supports, and not once did the underwear bind, ride up, or fall down. At home, I finished the daylight with a perspire pool of a Shawn T workout, hopped in the shower and per Frank’s instructions, washed with soap and water, hung to dry overnight, and put on a new pair.
The next day I did the exact same thing – work and workout – except instead of grabbing a new pair, I reached for yesterday’s and did the sniff test. To my amazement, they smelled not just clean, but laundered. No trace of yesterday’s funk at all. Nonetheless, since my olfactory senses have been dulled from years of construction inhalation, I handed them to my bloodhound-nosed wife for confirmation. She took a pair of tongs, held them six inches from her face, and took a deep breath. Her eyes widened.
“Impressive. If anything…” she pursed her lips. “I smell a hint of EO body wash.” And with her blessing, they were green-lit for Turkey.
Bringing underwear on vacation is always a gamble: what if you’re nowhere near a place to do your laundry? You’re better off throwing them in a nuclear waste disposal and buying a new pair than risk repacking them and spreading the odor to the rest of your luggage. But if Giin underwear is truly wash-and-wear…
In short, the underwear wasn’t compatible with the whirlwind ten-day Turkey tour. We did have a shower every night, but since we departed for a different city every morning, there wasn’t enough time for the underwear to completely dry in the hotel before repacking them. However, we bookended our trip with several days before and after in Istanbul, and had three straight days on a boat; in these instances, the every-other-day rotation worked fine. Not surprisingly, the fabric handled the Turkish heat with aplomb, never once feeling clammy or uncomfortable. Additionally, they come in mid-grey and nude, giving them ninja levels of invisibility underneath white pants or shorts. Because even if your aloha shirt is shamelessly crass, at least your unmentionables are modest.
I don’t know of any other real-life stress test to put Giin underwear under, but I’ll bet that they can take whatever can be thrown at them. More than that, they are easily the most there-yet-not-there pair I own, equally comfortable and imperceptible. Just wash, allow to dry for 24 hours, and you’re good to go.
And if you’re wondering about support, just think of Frank holding a glass of chardonnay.
This is not a sponsored article; to read Styleforum’s review policy, please click here.
When I first touched Atelier Wen’s debut watch, I was immediately struck by how different it feels from the typical western-styled watches we all know and love. I don’t see how anybody could mistake it for something produced in the West. In both looks and feel, it’s unabashedly Chinese, but drawing upon a Western framework.
For the Odyssey model we tested, the dial is the first indication of its Eastern bent. The combination of a white porcelain face, heat-blued hands, and blue indices for hours/minutes reminds me of a Chinese porcelain plate or vase. The small seconds hand sits at the 6 o’clock position, and moves extremely smoothly. I honestly have had to double check myself sometimes to make sure it is indeed moving (it always is), because it’s rotating so smoothly. Around the second hand, we find the characters You酉 (top left) and Mao 卯 (bottom right) in a circle with 5-second markers in a pattern that echoes the 5-minute indices. Because I’m unable to do it justice, I’ll just direct you to Robin from Atelier Wen, who explains these characters in Atelier Wen’s Styleforum Affiliate Thread.
The Odyssey’s 316L stainless steel case rides on a deep blue lizard-pattern leather band. It’s a bold choice, and perfectly accents the blue and white found on the dial and hands. Sitting inside the case is a Peacock SL3006 automatic movement– a clone of the workhorse ETA 2824-2. The weighted rotor of the movement is absolutely silent, and I observed a -3s/day drift during the time I tested it.
I was surprised by the heft of the Odyssey. While not overly heavy or noticeable on the wrist, when I pick it up in my fingers, it feels substantial. Contributing to this feeling is the high-relief embossing on the caseback.
The Kunpeng (bird-fish) on the caseback is more gorgeous in person than it ever could be in pictures, primarily because it feels amazing to touch. You don’t notice it when wearing on your wrist, but I can’t stop myself from running my fingers over it when putting it on or taking it off. The embossing really pops, and is my favorite feature of the watch.
Small details set the Atelier Wen apart from its competition. The crown and strap buckle both feature the stylized “Wen” character that Atelier Wen created to represent their company. The case is finished to a high-polished shine everywhere but the top of the lugs, which are brushed. The handset’s bluing is both deep and bright. All of this comes together into a watch that feels like it should cost much more than the Kickstarter’s super-early-bird pricing of $488.
Disclaimer: this is not a sponsored post. To read Styleforum’s review policy, please click here.
Once again, Timex and Todd Snyder have released another variant of the reissued 1960’s-style Marlin. With demand for previous versions leading to very limited stock over the past two years, it’s no surprise that Todd Snyder continues to us new variants of the same classic Marlin. This go-round, it’s in a sliver on silver colorway with a Milanese-style mesh band. Nothing else has changed from what we can see, so you’re getting more of the same classic mid-century style that the re-imagined Marlin originally brought to us in 2017.
Timex was kind enough to lend me a Marlin for this review, and I have to say I’m very impressed (and kind of sad to send it back.) Yes, I am a barbarian of a guy with a 7.5” wrist. Yes, the Marlin sports a 34mm case in a day when even a 36mm watch is considered tiny for a guy. Still, it feels and looks right.
While light enough to not be noticeable during the day, a thin bezel and a thick, domed acrylic crystal make it feels more substantial than it has any reason to be. Overall thickness is 10mm, which is still within dress watch range, and would fit under a cuff very easily.
The band is very nicely done as well. Easily adjustable, and well-finished, it’s comfortable for the whole day. The Marlin’s minimalist style carries over to the band, with a sans-serif TIMEX on the clasp the most overt branding on the entire watch. I’m guessing it could be easily polished off if you were so inclined.
A sticker on the caseback noted that the hand-wound movement is made in China, which is expected given its price point of ~$200. Somewhat surprisingly, I have observed a +2 seconds/day variance in timing during my testing. It’s also quiet and smooth. You’re not going to notice much ticking with this Timex.
If you’re buying this watch, it’s really for the dial. It’s a gorgeous, slippery silver, with a hint of sunburst radiating out from the center. Reflective silver hands point to Arabic numerals on the even hours that are styled somewhere between Art Deco and Art Nouveau. You can see right away why the updated Marlin has been in and out of stock so often– the details are period correct, and correct, period. At $200, it’s a no-brainer. Buy it.
Disclaimer: this is not a sponsored post. To read Styleforum’s review policy, please click here.
By Nathan Flowers
It’s Really Thin.
Crazy thin. Ridiculously thin.
And I like it.
I don’t normally search out thin watches. I’m usually happy to wear a bigass Seiko diver or even my old G-Shock Mudman when I’m outdoors. But I like this watch a lot. Newcomer Twissic has jumped into the market via their Kickstarter with what may be one of the thinnest watches to make it to market in the past year.
The 316L stainless case is a scant 4.8mm thick at its widest point. The watch itself is relatively thin in diameter, measuring only 38mm, but a large dial and thin bezel make the Twissic ride the wrist like a larger watch. Our loaner units were their Enpointe model, which ride on handsome full-grain leather quick-release straps in an 18mm width.
Everything about the Twissic watches we’ve tested feels minimalistic, but also well-designed. Powered by a Swiss Ronda quartz movement (with a six-year battery life), its hands are small but highly polished and easy to read. The dial comes in an attractive black on the rose gold model, and a clean white on the stainless steel. It’s also water resistant to 3ATM, but you won’t be diving with it. It’s a classier watch, for wearing to work, or out on the town.
I’ve worn them for a solid week, and am most impressed with how lightweight they are. The Twissic seems to just melt into your wrist, and you don’t notice you’re wearing it until you go to take a look at it. I tend to wear my other watches a little loose just to give my wrist space to breathe, but with these, I don’t need to. It sits there waiting, unnoticed until it’s needed, and that’s nice.
Twissic’s Kickstarter page has all the info you’ll need to get your hands on one. You can also check out Styleforum’s Twissic Official Affiliate Thread for more info, or to ask the designers a question about their watches. For the next few days, you can still get in on their £109/$145 super early bird pricing, and to me, it’s a good deal.
This is not a sponsored post. To read Styleforum’s review policy, please click here.
By Nathan Flowers
These days, it feels like most watchmakers are following the “bigger is better” theme, with both divers and chronographs seeming to start at 42mm, and getting larger from there. With that in mind, newcomer Hoffman Watches is bucking the trend by introducing two 40mm models, which they have been kind enough to loan us for this review.
Their Racing 40 model is very handsome and feels solid, but not heavy. It has a 316L stainless case that is polished on the sides, and lugs that are machined satin on the front/back. The black leather strap measures 20mm wide, and has a machined stainless buckle. It fits well on my 7” wrist– not too large, and not too small. The Racing 40 echoes a Daytona or Speedmaster in both looks and proportions.
That said, it is handsome in its own right, and our test model stands out with a reverse panda dial in a lighter navy blue background with white under the sub-registers for the chronograph minutes and 24-hour time. Under an AR-coated sapphire crystal, hour indexes are noted by very precise dots of hand-applied lume that give off a greenish Seiko-like glow. This lume is also applied to the high-polished hour and minute hands.
The chronograph is easy to use, and sweeps at 5 beats per second, faster than a typical quartz second hand. The pushers feel nice and mechanical, and the chronograph instantly resets to zero when you hit the bottom pusher. It’s powered by a Seiko VK64 movement, so you know it’s going to be accurate (and it has been during my testing.) Though Hoffman also offers a mechanical chronograph movement (Seagull TY2901) for an additional $199.
Water resistance is a standard 50M, though since it’s sporting a leather strap with a lizard pattern, it wouldn’t be your first choice to take on your fishing boat. However, it would be right at home when going out for beers with jeans and a button-down, or maybe a blazer in the evening. It’s a bit too much of a tool watch for me to wear with a suit, though as a forum admin and IT nerd, my suit-wearing occasions are sadly lacking these days.
Let me get this out of the way now. I am a sucker for diving watches. I dive several times a year and always take 2-3 watches out with me if I’m going to be diving for more than a few days. I also religiously visit Styleforum’s Poor Man’s Watch Thread, and consequently, I own too many Seiko/Citizen divers, like the SKX and the SRP-reissues. The Hoffman Diver 40 is right up my alley.
Our review model is really striking, mainly because of how understated it is– black case riding a black NATO with a black bezel and a black dial. This thing is a Stealth Diver on your wrist. The hands and the indexes both are coated in a blue-tinted Super-LumiNova that glows well for hours after charging with light. The quartz movement is silent to my ear, and Hoffman also offers an automatic option for $99. Both offer 100M water resistance, which is more than enough for most diving.
The uni-directional bezel rotates smoothly, but with a solidity that you don’t regularly see on watches below $1000. Each click passes with a gentle yet firm snap. On the review model, the bezel is marked with black indexes, and arabic numerals at the 15, 30, and 45 minute spots. The zero index is the source of my only qualm with the Diver 40– it’s a glossy black diamond that doesn’t contain any lume, making it less likely to be seen well in deeper or murky water. This fits in with the darker style of our review model, so it’s definitely a stylistic choice. Hoffman also does have models with a white zero index, which I feel would be more suitable for diving. On land, the Diver 40 definitely wears well on the wrist, feeling less bulky and having a lower profile than your typical SKX/SRP. It draws the eye without being obnoxious.
Hoffman Watches’ Affiliate Thread shows many color combinations to choose from (I’m seriously considering a rose gold navy diver for myself), and with a shockingly low Kickstarter 24-hour super early bird pre-order price of $169 for the Hoffman Watches quartz models, you are getting a lot of watch for the money. Frankly, both of these watches feel like they’re worth much more than you’re paying for, and even at their ultimate retail price of $425, I think you’re getting a great piece of kit at a good price.
This is not sponsored content. To read Styleforum’s review policy, please click here.
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.
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.
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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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