Three Techwear Brands for the Urban Outdoorsman

Since techwear officially became A Thing, there are more brands than I can count that are now playing with takes on the “day-hiker in the big city” look, and you can find them from retailers ranging from Dick’s to Mr. Porter. What is it? Outdoor clothing, or outdoor-inspired clothing, that makes the wearer look as though they may ascend an Alp (or several Alps) at any moment. Hardshell outerwear, sweat-wicking mid-layers, safari shorts, and gore-tex trail shoes are the backbone of this look, along with the new required garment for any hip tech brand: climbing pants.

The best thing about this movement is that you can just wear your comfy hiking or trail shoes and feel fine about it. Well, with restrictions – those wide-toed Merrell things are always going to be ugly as sin, but Salomon trail shoes and Danner hikers are firmly established in all the hippest streetwear stores, and they’ve got decent arch support to boot. Rejoice, for the days of mincing around on painfully flat Serena cup soles are over!

Now, there are a few brands making what I think is really cool, wearable, outdoorsy clothing.  The three that have currently caught my eye are New York’s Battenwear, Japan’s Snow Peak, and a Tokyo-based company called and Wander. Although all three brands focus on technical, outdoorsy clothing, they’ve all come up with very different answers to the same question. 

That question, I assume, is “How can I look appear to hike a fourteener while carrying a surfboard without looking like a shapeless blob of nylon and polyester?” In all cases, you’ll have to visit the brand’s homepage to see the full range of offerings.


Snow Peak

Snow Peak is a Japanese company that has been making camping gear such as backpacking stoves and titanium sporks since 1958, but they also make very cool (and occasionally bizarre) clothing that ranges from waxed down jackets to cable-knit leggings.  Their shorts and pants are all of the mountaineering variety; most with cargo pockets and zips and elastic or self-belted waistbands. Crotch gussets feature prominently.  More interesting pieces, such as water-resistant popover midlayers; cuddly, oversized fleece sweaters, and quilted lounge pants add much-needed whimsy that keeps the company from hard-tech goods such as those you might find at North Face or even Fjallraven.

I like to think that Snow Peak’s collection evokes an image of a small group of mountaineers climbing an unforgiving mountain in a whiteout. Sparkly motes wink in the air beside them, and magic crackles through the snow. It’s fairy techwear for a fantasy world, clothing that acts as a cozy, protective cocoon from the blizzard of the everyday.

Shop Snow Peak

Photo: Snow Peak


Battenwear

Battenwear, designed in New York by Mr. Shinya Hasegawa and produced in the USA, offers a more Americanized take on outdoor goods. 60/40 cloth parkas and unassuming basics form the bulk of the collection, although lounge-centric pieces such as impeccably-constructed fleece hiking pants make you wonder why you’re still wearing denim. Mid-20th century cues guide color selection and product design, and in addition to the more experimental pieces you’ll find board shorts and hiking shorts in 50’s-flavored earth tones, florals, and the washed-out pastels of beachside California towns.

1970’s-inspired denim pieces and color-blocked looks add an out-of-time quality to Battenwear’s offerings, and the cuts are generally of the slim-but-boxy variety that is equally suggestive of European backpackers and A-frame tents. It’s all very ocean-to-mountain, and practically begs to be photographed alongside vintage National Park signage.

Shop Battenwear


And Wander

When two Issey Miyake alums come together to make urban-mori clothing, the results are bound to be pretty good. And Wander delivers technical wear that manages to be alluring and evocative of natural pursuits, and keeps the wearer from looking like an advertisement for suburban fitness boot camps. You won’t find neons here – the technical fabrics (nylons and nylon blends feature heavily) come in subdued greens, blues and purples. Don’t be fooled by all-black buys – this brand shines in its use of earth tones.

And Wander focuses heavily on body-centric pattern-making, just as its competitors do. Expect climbing pants that offer a wide range of motion, Coolmax shirting, and lightweight outerwear. Layering the less-traditional pieces, such as the technical skirts and long parkas, keeps the look from verging too far into caricature.

Like Miyake, And Wander shows a gleeful focus on objects and accessories, and non-traditional backpacks and vests are a seamless part of the collection, along with hats and gloves. For fall 2016, they’ve also worked with Paraboot to develop a vintage-style hiker that will – one hopes – keep your feet warm and dry during a slushy city winter.

Shop and Wander

Styleforum Visits Evan Kinori

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“I don’t like calling it workwear,” says Evan Kinori. We’re standing in his beautiful studio loft in San Francisco, and I’m trying to do the horrible media thing where we pigeonhole something special using as few words as possible.

“It just has so many strong…connotations,” he finishes. “Let’s call it…well-made clothing for everyday life.”

This intentional vagueness is a better descriptor than my SEO-verified marketing lingo. Evan Kinori’s line of beautifully clean and comfortable garments is vague, in a pleasant way – even anonymous. Built for everyone, to wear everywhere.

The garments are familiar on first look: a chore jacket. A four-pocket pant. An overshirt. But it’s the details – or their absence – that make the clothes special. Consider the four pocket pants that I wear while writing this. No one but me will ever see the corduroy waistband facing or the veg-tan leather-backed buttons on the fly. Few will appreciate the beautifully finished seam that shows when I roll the pant cuff, or the subtle darting of the waist, or how good your hand feels in the pocket. It doesn’t matter: I appreciate these gestures, and that’s what matters.

Consider also Evan’s reversible denim jacket, a design he’s played with a handful of times since launching his brand. Denim on one side, and wool (or twill, or whatever strikes his fancy) on the other, the jacket is fully reversible – including double-faced buttons to preserve the left-sided buttoning stance, should the wearer want to swap them. Said wooden buttons are hand-dyed in indigo on the roof of the building.

We could certainly draw parallels to other brands, such as Margaret Howell’s chic utilitarianism or even Adam Kimmel’s short-lived workwear experiments, but that would be short-sighted. The back wall of Evan’s studio displays a collection of beautiful vintage garments, ranging from patchwork noragi to Swedish military anoraks to vintage baseball shirts, and that intelligent cosmopolitanism is much more illuminating of the product than sideways references to other brands. Evan tells me that it helped that he “Knew what he wanted to make” before going to patterning school to learn how to make it. He has taken available inspiration, stripped it down, and re-focused the results – and the results are polished.

Evan’s studio, courtesy evankinori.com

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Details: the 3-pocket jacket and 4-pocket pant in rinsed denim.

The clothes themselves are something of a blank slate, made to showcase the process and the fabric. They are beautiful as individual objects, and Evan takes great pride in the clean construction. Each piece is billed as looking “just as nice on the inside as it does on the outside,” and it rings true for everything I saw. Beyond that, Evan encourages various styling options. He himself prefers to wear an oversized pant with a tighter top, but his website shows how items fit across a range of sizes. The pair of pants I purchased are effectively one size up, but many people buy two full sizes up for extra roominess.

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Various offerings on display at the studio.

Evan calls the seasons his “editions.” Each piece he makes is part of a numbered run, and once they’re gone there’s no guarantee they’re coming back. He’ll keep the pattern – say, the four-pocket relaxed-leg overpant, based on a US Navy model – but change the fabric as inspiration strikes him. This season it’s a black Japanese twill, and he’s done rinsed denims, double-indigo twills (the pair I own), and un-dyed twill.

After laying out his ideas and his fabric on the massive drafting table at the back of the studio, he sews the samples and some of the retail pieces himself on an unassuming Juki sewing machine. The rest are produced by a small factory in LA, but Evan double-checks each piece before sending them out to the handful of retailers he works with: one in San Francisco, two in LA, and three in Japan.

He’s focusing on growing the brand slowly, hand-picking his partners the same way he hand picks the fabrics. Because of it, the brand is intensely personal and intensely compelling. This is one young maker I recommend keeping an eye on – despite the familiar shapes, the clothes are forward-looking, and it’s my guess that we’ll be seeing more of Evan in the near future.

Evan’s most recent releases are up now on his website, including a lookbook featuring the new products. Here are a few shots, but you can see the full thing, as well as several beautifully-shot videos, at EvanKinori.com.

You can watch a great video on the reversible jacket here, courtesy of Jack Knife and Evan Kinori:

Evan Kinori • “The Reversible Jacket” from Jarod Taber on Vimeo.

 


STOCKISTS

Currently, Evan Kinori is stocked at the following retailers:

 Reliquary / 544 Hayes St, San Francisco, CA 94102

– RTH / 529 & 537 N La Cienega Blvd West Hollywood, Los Angeles, CA 90048

– County Ltd.  /  1837 Hyperion Ave Los Angeles, CA 90027

Loftman / Loftman B.D. (Kyoto) & Loftman COOP UMEDA (Osaka)

Lantiki / Kobe & Tokyo Locations

–  CPCM /  Tokyo

A Conversation with Daniel Dugoff

Okay, I’ll admit it: while I was wandering around Man Paris last January, the real reason I stopped at DDUGOFF to look at the clothing is that Daniel Dugoff looks really friendly. That, and also because Eric (@noiseranch, our photographer) and I had walked past him three or four times, and the labyrinthine hallways that wind through the building that houses Man are so narrow that it was starting to get awkward. I ended up being really glad I did, because not only is Daniel a friendly guy, he makes pretty cool clothing. 

I think that most people would refer to it as “minimal,” but if I were going to give it an over-simplified marketing descriptor (and we must, mustn’t we?) I’d call it “quirky intellectual,” sort of like Daniel himself. He studied architecture, then interned at Patrik Ervell, worked a stint at Marc by Marc Jacobs, and finally decided to start his own brand. There are certainly echoes of Ervell and Marc in the cuts and the colors, but it’s a much funner brand than either – the kind of brand that would maybe even use “funner” to describe itself, with a nod and a wink thrown in. 

Expect bold prints, shirts with zip closures, and a mix of natural and technical fabrics – including, back in F/W 2015, the world’s comfiest winter onesie. But despite the colors – for which I was thankful, after surviving several seasons of almost drowning in black – Daniel wants his clothing to be everyday wear. I figured we should talk about how he makes that happen.

You can see the full range of DDUGOFF’s offerings at www.ddugoff.com


Jasper:

You trained as an architect before interning at Patrik Ervell and working at Marc by Marc Jacobs. I seem to recall that your initial interest was in furniture design – something about menswear must have resonated with your sensibilities. Were there similarities between the fields?

Daniel:

One of the things that architecture school is really good at teaching is how develop and sustain a project. In school I began to realize that I was much more interested in how design relates to bodies. I was, and am, interested in how design relates to the world around us, but I like to work with it at a scale that I can hold in my hand. When I graduated from college I wanted to work in a design studio where things were being made; not in an architecture studio where the work was digital and for months (or years) just drawings in a computer. I wanted to see what it was like to work somewhere where there were prototypes that were evaluated for their usefulness and their beauty. I wrote letters to a bunch of furniture designers, artists, and fashion designers that I admired, and was lucky enough to land an internship with Patrik Ervell. It was the absolute perfect place to start – a small studio, all hands on deck, working to make incredible menswear happen. I learned about the whole cycle that happens in a studio to make a new season, to produce a collection, to get it out into the world. 

J:

One thing I’ve noticed about the way your clothes are cut is that you’ve got a very keen eye for space, and for negative space in particular. Does that come from your background in architecture? 

D:

It’s very easy to think of fashion as a two-dimensional thing – as a front and a back. But it’s really a bunch of shapes that don’t want to be flat, sewn together, so that they can hold a body, because bodies aren’t flat – they have lots of weird ridges and valleys. I can’t stand when the only interesting thing happening on a jacket is on the front. It should be on the back (a surprise for the person walking down the street behind you) and on the inside (something only you know about). In menswear, where the goal (or my goal) is to make something that at the end of the day is wearable above all else, I can’t get away with what womenswear designers can do to add interest – ruffles, volume, shine – the details that make you love the piece have to be quiet. It has to be a jacket first. It has to be something you can wear all the time. I really do want to design your favorite clothes. My favorite things to wear are usually the simplest pieces. But it can’t be so simple it’s nothing. (Almost) everything should have pockets so you don’t have to carry anything in your hands if you don’t want to. (Almost) everything should have a locker loop so that you can hang it up at the end of the day to wear again tomorrow or the next day. (Almost) everything should be soft and comfortable, unless it’s express purpose is to be rigid and tough. 

J:

That sounds a lot like an idea of ‘utility,’ to me – I think the problem that men (or men’s companies) run into is that so much of the clothing has to be “go anywhere” clothing, and that the end result is excruciatingly lame. I know that a handful of designers have said that working within menswear’s constraints is almost liberating.  Where do you stand on that? Are you looking at peplum tops with envy?

D:

No, not at all – I’m not envious of peplums one bit. What I mean is that I see my job as having to be inventive within such a narrow confine. I like to work up against challenges, both ones I know about from the onset and ones that pop up along the way. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I find the limitations of what “works” as menswear as being liberating, but I like working on a set of products that are meant to be used. Sure, utility can be a little stale, but it’s clothing. It should be useful. It should provide for you. The part of design that I find most exciting is when I’m playing with an idea for days or weeks and all of a sudden a beautifully simple answer emerges. I think it’s often too easy to make bold moves – to make a loud statement often doesn’t require that much thought. There is so much elegance in simple, thought-out solutions. There’s a leather jacket in the Fall/Winter 2016 collection with a shearling panel right where you hand goes into the pocket. It’s one of my favorite details from the collection because it puts the most luxurious texture right where you hand is going to enjoy it the most. It’s subtle. It isn’t a big collar or even a lining. It’s such a small amount of material, but it accomplishes so much.

J:

You’ve said in other interviews that you want to make people’s “Favorite clothes.” When you design a shirt, a coat, or a pair of pants, how do you approach the creation of an object so that it becomes more than that – more than just a shirt, coat, or pair of pants?

D:

When spend so much time developing the prints for each collection. How can a print be subtle enough that it is extremely wearable and be part of your wardrobe instead of standing out from it? How can it fit in while also being unlike things you already have? I play a lot with textures we’re used to seeing and changing the scale or abstracting it from the object it came from. For Spring/Summer 2016, there’s a print that’s from a photograph of a blue plastic bag. But it’s manipulated into an infinite repeat, so you never see the edge of the bag or the handles – you just see crinkly blue plastic. When you know it’s a bag it’s obvious, but before you figure it out, it looks like an oceanic topography and from far away it looks like your shirt is super wrinkled. I love when the answer to a question is so simple you’d never think of it. I’m working on a print for next Spring right now that’s scans of torn paper. Those edges are beautiful.

J:

As objects go, plastic bags and torn paper are pretty un-sexy. Why no florals? Crosses? Rottweilers? 

D:

Haha – why isn’t DDUGOFF more like Givenchy? Because Givenchy does a really good job being Givenchy. Designers all have their own obsessions. I keep coming back to material textures, how birds flock and fish school, stripes, collage… season after season. I did photo prints the first season, taken from iPhone pictures I took from a plane on a really clear day flying from New York to San Francisco. To me, those images were perfect for clothes because they were instantly recognizable as earth while also not being overly specific about location. The clothes should be beautiful and wearable – I’m not trying to sell an ideology above that.

J:

On your website, one of the words you used to describe your brand is “realistic.” How so?

D:

These clothes have to be realistic. They have to be the kind of clothes that fit into people’s lives. I don’t want the people wearing DDUGOFF to feel like they’re wearing a costume – they should feel like themselves. But what sets it apart from everything else all of these people already own? The fabrics, for one, which I source from amazing mills, primarily in Italy and Japan. The make of the clothes is also extremely important. Right now the clothes are all manufactured in the United States. I like being able to go to the factories on a regular basis. I like problem solving with the people making the clothes. Having production happen in New York, New Jersey, and California means that I can stay involved in a way that would be significantly more difficult if it were overseas. This may change as the brand grows, but I am definitely proud of the quality of the products coming out of these US factories. These are clothes that are well made, from materials that are beautiful and meant to last. 

J:

Yeah, let’s talk about costume, because that’s fascinating to me, industry-wide. Like for DDUGOFF, you also designed some kind of quilted onesie a couple of years back – which is totally awesome, but maybe not totally “realistic” for most people. How do pieces like that fit in? 

I get that menswear consumers are, largely, boring as fuck, but you’re in this zone where you’re not making clothing that’s going to fulfill anyone’s James Bond or boardroom fantasies, and you’re also not as wild as Comme. People who wear DDUGOFF are definitely making a conscious decision to do so – who does it appeal to?

D:

Costume is fascinating. And Fashion (capital F) is often more costume than real-life. The distinction I’m making here is: when I put on a piece of clothing, do I feel like myself or do I feel like a character? If I feel like I’m playing dress-up, that’s a costume. The beige snowsuit – the quilted onesie you’re talking about from Fall/Winter 2015 – was teetering on the edge between realistic clothing and something a bit costume-y. A small portion of the collection each season veers towards a more editorial eye. These pieces stand out in the lookbook and usually don’t sell a huge number of units, but they take ideas elsewhere in the collection and amplify them. The snowsuit was made out of a waterproof nylon, with a hefty layer of insolation, and a cotton flannel lining – it was a serious winter piece. The same idea came as an overcoat, and it is an excellent winter coat – super easy to wear, warm, not too bulky, plenty of pockets. When you put on the coat, you feel like yourself in it. That’s the goal. DDUGOFF doesn’t need to be a heady brand where you need to know the back story in order to enjoy the clothes. I don’t want to have to tell you some convoluted story in order for you to appreciate why something is the way it is. The clothes are solid, stand alone products.

J:

It’s refreshing to meet a young designer who’s not afraid to use color. Even your winter collections have largely shied away from black – is that a conscious decision?

D:

In the first five seasons of DDUGOFF, there have been one or two pieces in black. There is such a beautiful range of navy blues in the collection, I don’t feel a need to have black. A head-to-toe navy look is so much stronger than a totally black look – there’s so much life in navy, but black is often so flat and dead. The collection doesn’t take itself too seriously. I’m trying to prove that every day clothes don’t have to boring. Wearing some color, some texture, can break up a monotonous wardrobe. 

J:

I’m a fan of navy – are there colors you wish we saw more of in menswear?

For Fall/Winter 2016, the collection explored all of these rich greens. I liked the idea of using this color that looks good on pretty much everyone, and using it in the winter, when people tend to dress in dark monochromatic outfits (at least that’s the case in New York). The city in the winter is weeks and weeks of grey skies and concrete and asphalts and big black parkas. I wanted to break that up with lush greens that really felt alive. But I didn’t want it to feel neon. It still has to be wearable. Bottle greens, grass greens, and a little bit of ochre all break up the collection which otherwise is grey and navy. I used gold buttons and zippers for the first time for this season as well. I wanted to play with giving winter clothes some life. But, trust me, I understand why we all wear dark colors. I wear almost all navy almost every day. It’s easy and it looks really good. A dark green shirt with navy pants and navy jacket is a good look, too, though.

J:

Do you feel that New York is a sustainable environment for a young designer?

D:

Is New York a sustainable environment for a young designer? I talk about this with my friends all the time. New York is extremely expensive and that’s really tough. But I cannot imagine doing DDUGOFF outside of New York. The city is so crucial to the brand right now. I can’t even quantify how much of what happens with the brand comes from situations like running into someone on the street and having a quick conversation about a gallery show that in turn inspires a print. Having proximity to all of these other people who are doing amazing things with their lives is so important. 

J:

There are definitely some interesting brands coming out of New York these days. Are there other scenes – art, photography, museum-going – that you’re involved in, that end up having a dramatic effect on the clothing you design?

Along with that – when you’re a young brand so surrounded by brands both young and old, how do you stay focused on what you’re trying to achieve, instead of focusing on what someone else is doing and trying to make it work for you? Is it possible to keep your process and your ideas insulated? Is that even desirable?

D:

There are so many people making amazing things in this city. I like making things and I love talking to people about the things they make. Friendships with artists and designers and musicians are crucial because we’re all struggling with the same things – figuring out how to make something good, and how to know if it’s good, and how to know when to show it to other people. That’s a higher-level answer, and then there’s also a low-level, super practical level. An artist friend may be using a material in a really cool way. Or another designer may have found a factory that does a specialized kind of sewing. Or a furniture design friend may introduce me to a film director who works with fashion brands. Being in tight quarters with creative people helps encourage collaboration and sharing resources and knowledge. And I love that.


DDUGOFF Stockists:

California
American Rag
Le Point

New York
Opening Ceremony
Steven Alan
Swords-Smith

Canada
Neighbour
Working Title Shop

Japan
Stock
WISM

Online
DDUGOFF
East Dane
Spring
No Man Walks Alone


Portrait of Daniel courtesy Tictail. Lookbook photos courtesy Daniel Dugoff. Showroom photos by Eric Hanson.

Blue Blue Japan F/W 2016

I’ve been sitting on the photos from the Blue Blue Japan F/W 2016 presentation since back in January, when we saw the collection in Paris. It is, in short, beautiful; showcasing the same brilliant tones of indigo we’ve come to expect, but introducing some new fabrics and silhouettes. Happily, we’re finally allowed to share what’s new.

We saw Blue Blue Japan at the Marziano Bello showroom, alongside brands such as Camo and Simon Miller (itself doing some very nice things with indigo and sashiko fabrics this fall). We were their first appointment, which meant that everyone was barely awake – especially me, but including Sunjin, the bubbly woman who was our contact and the self-described “Korean Hostess” of the showroom, with whom I am 100% in love.

Although there are familiar items – quilted vests, sashiko chore coats and jackets, thick cotton knits – there are also some new shapes that are a bit more elegant than the workwear that tends to make it to domestic stockists. Knit blazers and quilted vests verge into the realm of what is offered by modern workwear brands such as ts(s), but retain the playfulness and ease-of-wear that defines Blue Blue Japan. Shirts continue to be excellent, and act as showcases for the masterful dye variations the company can achieve.

My favorite offering from the showroom is a new, softer-weight sashiko fabric, which Sunjin showed off in the form of a shawl-collared robe/coat hybrid. Weight-wise, it falls between the heavy work fabric used for BBJ’s chore coats and the very light fabric used in the women’s quilted pieces. As opposed to the stiff, hard wearing sashiko we’re used to in the men’s jackets, this fabric is thick but supple, and the robe doesn’t feature a heavy canvas backing. She told us the fabric was chosen specifically with women’s pieces in mind, but I hope that the robe-coat makes an appearance in a size big enough for me to wear.

Blue Blue Japan is interesting in that it offers such a wide range of clothing, which I assume comes from Seilin Co.’s manufacturing reach. The flagship store in Tokyo, Okura (which I’ve written about before), shows the full range of products, but hidden within the azure racks on display in Paris were the occasional pieces made from duck canvas; hunting-style jackets and some other shirts and pants. Admittedly, much of the clothing is overpowered by the indigo theme of the collection, especially when you’re not looking at it with the intent to stock a store. It’s hard to get excited about beige when the indigo is so exceptional. Nevertheless, there is variation in both color and tone, and the collection is, as usual, very wearable from head to toe even if just about everything is bright blue.

Blue Blue Japan F/W 2016

Lovely depth of color on the new sashiko fabric, which Sunjin models below.

Blue Blue Japan F/W 2016

The soft sashiko robe, my favorite piece from the collection. Behind Sunjin you can see the stunning range of blues, quilts, and sashiko fabrics on display for F/W 2016.

Blue Blue Japan F/W 2016

Here, Sunjin shows off a plaid coat featuring faded indigo overstitching, which is how the embroidered blazer on the table will eventually appear. The cotton threads fade at a different rate to the rest of the fabric, resulting in contrasting shades of blue.

 

Blue Blue Japan F/W 2016

 

Blue Blue Japan F/W 2016 Blue Blue Japan F/W 2016 Blue Blue Japan F/W 2016

A men’s sashiko coat, made of a slightly stiffer – but still soft – fabric than the women’s shawl-collar version I loved so much.

 

 

Blue Blue Japan F/W 2016

Denim has long been a standby of the Seilin brands

Blue Blue Japan F/W 2016

Definitely want this piece – a heavy sashiko hunting jacket.

Blue Blue Japan F/W 2016

While the collection is comprised of many well-done earth tones, it’s the indigo pieces that steal the show.

 

Blue Blue Japan F/W 2016

Shades of blue – shirts, sweatshirts, and a jacket.

 

Blue Blue Japan F/W 2016

Shirts and sweaters on display alongside the outerwear. 

Want les Essentiels de la Vie.

Want les Essentiels de la Vie wants you to travel in comfort and style. Their accessories are neither over nor underdesigned, with helpful details where you want them but without utilitarian excesses. Want chooses to be excessive instead with luxury materials and construction.  At Pitti, Dexter Peart showed me what Want has planned for their imagined customer, a long-distance commuter with a penchant for technology, travel, and design.

Their current leitmotif is duality. Many of their standard models are mixing fabrications, and their recurring design touch is in their zips, which are half silver toned and half gold.  The O’Hare tote, an evergreen model, is in Italian waxed cotton with trim in their organic cotton.  Other bags use suede as the context for a calf leather, as in pocket that’s a perfect fit for an iPad–not a rare feature in bags these days, but thoughtfully integrated here rather than tacked on. Elsewhere, caviar leather (stingray) shows up in small leather goods. A fully reversible bag has been made with a double-faced wool blend: one side is gray, one is blue. Want has also made a slipper ideal for air travel: it collapses nearly flat and zips closed. Gray wool matches with cognac leather, and black with black.

At the show all the samples were displayed on collapsible displays of honeycombed kraft paper, topped with sweatshirt gray felt discs. Want is a Canadian operation, and Dexter explained it was some Canadian camaraderie that led them to use furniture from Vancouver’s Molo Design. One stool held a special made-in-Japan executive set, another held their new made-in-Naples gloves in cashmere-lined suede and leather, again with a Want gold/silver zip, and bracelets from a make near Milan. Their manufacturing is diverse–leather bags are made in Italy, some smaller goods in China, and some in Japan. That’s not surprising given the global scale of Want’s reach.

Reversible tote from Want.

Nicest gym bag I've ever seen.

Gym bag detail.

Silver/gold zip on a canvas bag.

Travel slipper in gray/cognac.

Japan-made executive suite.

Gloves and small leather goods.

O'Hare tote in slate green cotton.

 

 

 

Visiting Cheaney shoes at Pitti Uomo

All the English shoemakers at Pitti seemed to be putting their countriest feet forward–Edward Green and Crockett and Jones, associated with sculpted lasts and top drawer finishing, proved they could indeed make beefy, lug soled shoes.  However, I was perhaps more surprised by the elegance on hand at Cheaney shoes, which makes for many private labels and has been trying to grow its own-labeled line (see an interview Nick V. did with Cheaney co-owner William Church). The firm has a 125-year history in Northampton, and a complicated recent history that includes a separation from the Prada group. Cheaney’s reputation is more as a solid value than an aesthetic leader, but the models, materials, and construction on hand in Florence were impressive. Country boots, fiddle-waisted city shoes, and a dose of character in mixed-panel brogues all showed that Cheaney is an important option to consider when choosing your Goodyear-welted, Northampton poison.

Rollin on dubs. (no spinners)

 

Pains me to wear soles like these on pavement.

Bluchers in suede and calf on a reasonably sleek last–not too forward or too broad.

Loved this scotch grain captoe.

Detail on those caps.

Would seem at home with some Engineered Garments gear.

Some country boots with a padded collar in black scotch grain.

Also available in brown.

Takahiro Miyashita The SoloIst at IF

The exclusive collection of Takahiro Miyashita’s The SoloIst at New York’s IF boutique is an homage to wandering. “Keep Walking,” a phrase repeated on The SoloIst site and on Miyashita’s blog, neatly distills the essence of the pieces at IF. Jackets and shirts seem patched from whatever fabric happened to be on hand, and nearly every item is distressed, suggesting the wear of hard travel. On a few pieces, the outer layer of fabric is cut to reveal lining underneath, adding depth to the garment’s surface. Edges are left ragged to give the piece a deceptively unfinished quality. Slashed dramatically with exposed white cotton, a pair of navy linen pants exemplifies the technique.

The abundant detailing in Miyashita’s garments may imply a free and careless attitude, but the materials and craftsmanship leave no doubt that every aspect has been thoughtfully considered. If the clothes evoke a vagabond image, it is an urban vision with a preference for Japanese streetwear and luxe fabrics. An Edwardian brocade jacket of wool, tencel, rayon, alpaca, and cotton (priced at over $2,000), would be more at home in NY or Tokyo, where it can be seen and admired, than in the wilderness it plays on. Another standout, and one of the more accessible pieces, is an incredibly soft jacket in a rich, mocha-toned sheepskin suede (at about $3,000).

The SoloIst work represents a progression from what Miyashita created at the late, lamented Number (N)ine. Number (N)ine was heavy on rock ’n’roll and rebellion. The SoloIst finds Miyashita designing pieces that feel more relaxed; even mature. Long-time fans of Miyashita’s work will still find his signatures in these latest creations, however, and if they’ve mellowed a bit over the years and just want some clothes to wander the city in, they know where to look.

The SoloIst on the racks at IF Boutique.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Details abound on this charcoal double-breasted floral-print jacket.

 

 

 

 

 

 

An incredibly soft sheepskin suede jacket.

The suede on the back is slashed along the seams.

A pair of relaxed navy linen pants.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On many pieces, the surface fabric is cut to show the lining beneath.

One of IF’s friendly sales assistants shows off a 3/4 coat.

The shirts, like that pictured, feature mixed fabrics and patterns.

Accessories including hats and scarves round out the collection.

 

Finamore at Pitti Uomo

Finamore could rest on its old-world shirtmaker laurels (second oldest shirtmaker in Naples; more handsewing than Betsy Ross [more in the black labeled classica line than in sportier models]; renowned MTM program, fabric from top mills, etc., etc.) but at Pitti 81 chose instead to highlight its innovative side, with look-at-me fabrics and treatments, quilted snap-button shirts, and aggressive collars.  I was surprised to see jackets alongside Finamore’s famous shirts; don’t yet know too much about the tailored goods, but we’re checking into it!

Checks and an excellent out of focus roll on the collar. (Apologies for shallow focus on these–it was dark in the depths of Pitti.)

Fina-floral.

The jackets were lightly tailored and used exceedingly soft fabrics. Accessories–ties and scarves–were top drawer as well.

The Italian-only Finamore rep REALLY wanted me to see the washed (but mostly dirtied) treatments on these quilted shirts. Interesting stuff.

Shopping: Il Bisonte, Florence

Just a few blocks up from the Arno in Florence, a shopping district unfolds on the cobblestone streets, the odd angles of which can disorient a man more accustomed to the grid of a planned city. Here you’ll find Italian casual at Happy Jack; streetwear forum favorites from Woolrich, Barbour, Barena, and Beams Plus at WP Store; unique softly tailored clothing at Frasi by Simone Righi, and bespoke from Liverano and Liverano. One of the larger shops is that of Wanny Di Filippo’s Il Bisonte in Via Parione.

Il Bisonte is a leather goods maker with a dedicated following. The bearded and ponytailed Di Filippo started the company in Florence in 1970, and it’s grown to have stores in well-heeled shopping areas in Italy, the U.S., China, France, and Japan. The appeal is in the quality of the vachetta leather and the relaxed and quirky designs. The leather Il Bisonte uses is not the tough, raw hide Di Filippo’s cowboy imagery might call to mind, but a softer, more refined leather that suits his men’s accessories, like briefcases, wallets, and watches, and women’s pieces, mostly handbags, sometimes complemented with colorful canvas.

The shop in Via Parione is an ideal setting for the warm tones of Il Bisonte leather goods–lots of wood, buffalo-themed and otherwise western decor, and touches that attest to the popularity of Di Filippo as a symbol of Italian craftsmanship and idiosyncrasy. Asked why the bison/buffalo association, Di Filippo has said “For centuries these animals have been source of life and future for the people who roamed in Northern America territories. Nowadays it is a symbol that I proudly use to “sign” my product.”

After browsing in a city where you can shop in conspicuous luxury at Stefano Ricci’s palazzo or buy dirt cheap leather jackets whose origins are sketchy at best, Il Bisonte seems to represent good value. Solidly built belts start at about EUR65, while some wallets are under EUR50. Leather portfolios are in the EUR150 range, and one briefcase we particularly liked is EUR366.

Il Bisonte has shops around the world and is stocked at other shops, like Union Made in San Francisco.

Watches start at EUR195; automatic models about EUR700.