Hiatus

  • I’m taking a month or two off from writing here. I need to temporarily slow my life down in order to speed it up again in the best possible way.
  • I feel like I need a break from thinking about clothes in order to have a fresh perspective on it. I have the how of writing about it down pat, but I need to take some time to really think about the why and the what. I’ve also been strangely content with my wardrobe as of late, so a month of wearing the same stuff should help knock me out of that delusion.
  • The WordPress/blog format doesn’t appeal to me as much anymore. This platform isn’t suited to my irregular posting schedule because people just don’t read this way anymore. Substack, on the other hand, seems more and more interesting to me. The newsletter platform follows the likes of Patreon in helping content creators financially go indie, and is compatible with the (likely) increased ‘hiving’/segregation/siloing/’stan’-ing of internet content. If Substack does more for reader experience, like a unified feed and better social and community features, I could see it blowing up the way old Tumblr did. I might lose some of you all in a switch over, but it’s so cool to be the kind of writer who doesn’t give a shit about that sort of thing, isn’t it?
  • The next month of my life is going to be critical in determining the trajectory of my next few years. I have a lot of hard decisions to make about the specializations I pursue in graduate school this year, the relationships in my life I want to nurture, my base (country) of operations, and the pace of life I want to live.

What’s On My Mind (August 2020)

It always shocks me to watch people on the internet levy ad hominem character attacks toward people they barely know. Sure, lots have been said about how the anonymity of the platform and disposability of ideas on it are able to fan the flames of online hatred, but I still regularly get taken aback by it all. That’s not to say that some clapbacks aren’t justified, though. The internet is filled with bad takes, and in keeping with the marketplace of ideas, bad takes should be countered with good ones. However, I believe that some semblance of courtesy and respect should be maintained in such discourse. It’s so easy to unleash the attack dogs on people, which makes it all the more noble to engage with others on a purely idea level.

But that’s not what I’ve been consumed about. What’s really on my mind as I anxiously pace through my empty apartment is the stuff I could be buying next.

Cool Guy Sunglasses

Jacques Marie Mage, eyewear brand to the stars, has been on my radar for a while now. Its maximalist, sleazy aesthetic is unlike anything I’ve seen in sunglasses recently, and is both literally and figuratively a spectacle in itself. I’ve admired the frames from afar for months, but I’ve never had the impetus (nor the disposable income — they cost $600 and up) to get a pair.

Recently, on a podcast with Dean Delray, Jerome Mage, the owner of the brand, explained in elaborate detail the various design, sourcing and production considerations that go into a pair of their cellulose acetate frames, and that got me seriously thinking about getting a pair. I then realized how susceptible I am to product marketing from French designers; beneath the veneer of the smart writing I’m actually quite dumb.

I’m at a really great spot with my wardrobe. I haven’t been craving a new purchase in a while, and there isn’t a big ticket item I really want. Maybe these frames could be that.

Camp High Spy Dye Sweatshirt

One beautiful thing about the internet is that once disparate communities are able to congregate, far from the judging eyes of others. However, this has also led to the increased prevalence of distinct hive minds and in groups. Typically, people who identify within a particular group are incentivized to like all the same things as everyone else, thus limiting the free flow of discourse and even ostracizing people as a result.

In the subcultures that I’ve been into, it has never been cool to like John Mayer music. John Mayer has always been seen as too soft and squishy for the people I surround myself around, and as such, I’ve been a closeted John Mayer fan for years. When I first heard that he — a well-documented menswear enthusiast –collaborated with hippie sweats specialists Camp High for a sweatshirt, I knew it was going to be good. The result is an ongoing series of sweatshirts that play on Mayer’s signature peeking tie-dye look, in which the sweatshirt has just the collar and waist hems of a tie-dyed tee sewn on, creating the impression of a sweatshirt over a tee without the heat retention and mobility interference of the lower layer.

The latest iteration, the most compelling one yet, comes sun-faded either in green or pink and printed with a creamy Cooper Black. It’s almost sold out, so I have to make a decision fast.

Dover Street Market Fearless Initiative Tees

Dover Street Market, the Commes Des Garcons empire’s avant-garde take on the multi-brand retailer, recently collaborated with some of the coolest designers and artists on the planet for a capsule of “charitees”, with all the proceeds going to supporting healthcare workers. Graphic tees are not usually my thing — I’m partial to the super soft loopwheel feel — but I can’t seem to get the Better Gift Shop ones and Wes Lang ones out of my mind. The latter in particular I find interesting as it’s the perfect confluence of the artist’s signature style and the hand-drawn aesthetic (popularized by Bode) that’s so hot right now.

11 by Boris Bidjan Saberi x Salomon Bamba5 Object Dyed

Of the recent menswear trends, the crunchy, outdoorsy gorpcore is the one that speaks to me the most. While the footwear of choice for folks of that style tribe has always been the Salmon trail runners, I’ve never really rated any of the colorways the brand has put out. From what I’ve seen, the runners only come entirely overdone, exceedingly pedestrian, or starkly minimal in their choices of colors.

The 11 by BBS versions, on the other hand, are extremely compelling. In particular, the Bamba 5 model is object-dyed in wonderful shades of grey or brown, resulting in a preworn yet artsy look that the dark fashion brands do so well. The panelling of fused material on the upper is also proportionally well-balanced and pleasingly organic-looking. They’re a lot pricier than regular Salomons, but it’s a fair price to pay for artisanal handiwork and a completely unique aesthetic.

Ann Demeulemeester for Serax

I, like many others preparing to go back to school in the Fall, and like many whose lease cycles line up with the summer because of school, am thinking sprucing up my new pad, ideally with an aesthetic sensibility that matches my outfits.

While I used to despise black in my outward presentation of self, going so far as to contemplate dyeing my hair a mature-yet-directional wolf grey, it’s been the color I’ve been leaning into the most recently. There’s something about the mystery and anonymity of the color black that really speaks to me now that an invisible, merciless, and deadly virus is in the air.

Ann Demeulemeester, GOAT-fashion-designer-turned-plate-designer, has partnered with Serax to produce and distribute her new line of tableware, ceramics and lighting. The entire collection is incredible, but I’m specifically after this dinner plate that’s hand painted in radial black striations.

Review: UNIQLO AIRism Mesh Boxer Briefs

People have a natural affinity for things that come in threes. Back when I used photography for, *clears throat*, self-expression, I used the Rule of Thirds grid propensely to properly proportion photos. Writers, too, are acutely aware of this phenomenon, using it often in children’s book titles, lists, and one more example I can’t think of but need to include to complete the triplet. And most famously, Apple uses the Rule of Three in its product marketing, helping launch modern design classics as the iPhone, MacBook, and AirPods.

Similarly, if you have sweaty ‘nads, run hot, or live in Malaysia, you really only have 3 options to stave off the summer heat: commando, boxers, and highly-breathable briefs. If you’re part of the third (and superior!) camp (as I am), you must try the UNIQLO AIRism Mesh Boxer Briefs.

To keep it brief, the AIRism Mesh Boxer Briefs is as brief as a brief brief gets. Designed for a minimal look and feel, the undergarment is extremely lightweight, providing just enough support without feeling like there’s anything there. Unlike the obscene Supreme Hanes boxer briefs I reviewed a while back, there is no external branding, which, obviously, is important if you regularly pull your pants down in front of another people.

The real star of the show is the AIRism Mesh material. Lighter and more breathable than the regular AIRism stuff and, really, most other undergarments, the AIRism Mesh Boxer Briefs are the ne plus ultra of summer underwear. If sized correctly, the material has enough stretch and tension to prevent these underpants from the dreadful ‘ride up’ issue that has plagued support-seeking men for centuries.

If sustainability is your thing, you might have to look elsewhere. Because the material is so delicate, it rips pretty easily. In my case, I noticed the first fingertip-sized hole half a year into ownership with weekly washes and wears. They’re also impossible to recycle and they (likely) shed microfibers with every wash.

Sustainability notwithstanding, Uniqlo has, over the years, made tweaks and improvements to their AIRism underwear line to the point where I consider it to be a perfect product. You can get it from Uniqlo directly. Size up. Buy three.

Collected Content #10

In the little more than a month since my last Collected Content, my saved articles list has grown unwieldy. I try to keep these posts to 7-8 articles — crushable in a single lazy Sunday morning — but I now have over 40 saved up. It helps that a lot of the older articles have been rendered outdated by the newer ones — a testament to the speed at which ‘current’ information changes about any subject — but it was still really difficult to edit the list down. I think I did well enough:

Archive of Rachel Tashjian’s Writing for GQ
Rachel is one of very few writers I trust to deliver entertaining yet culturally pertinent takes on fashion. In the last few months, Tashjian has published hit after hit, covering the pandemic, Black Lives Matter, and the various fashion weeks with her unique voice of giddy excitement, palpable absurdity, and the right amount of high-low synthesis. I say read ’em all.

David Shor’s Unified Theory of American Politics by NYMag
This is the single most informative interview about electoral mechanics I’ve ever read. It provides stunning insight into how the American public actually perceives its candidates and policy positions. David Shor, the subject of a recent and widely discussed cancellation by his employer Civis Analytica, is the subject of this wonderful interview and someone I’m going to start following a little more closely.

How I Became a Poker Champion in a Year by Maria Konnikova for The Atlantic
The title says it all. It was such a wild read that had my attention all the way through unlike any longform I’ve ever encountered.

Web Design Museum
I’ve been really into the vintage web aesthetic recently, and this repository of old sites is so inspiring to browse through. We’re fully into the UI/UX thing in web design, optimizing user experience above all else, but it’s funny how a lot of what was done in the past actually trumps modern advancements in web aesthetics in terms of visibility and usability.

‘White Fragility’ Is Everywhere. But Does Antiracism Training Work? by The New York Times Magazine
Many of my friends, acquaintances, and co-workers have taken to Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility as a one-stop shop to get ‘woke’. It was hard for me to talk about why I think the book is submissive in its goal as that argument, through the circular logic of the book, is itself a form of fragility. In addition to explaining that circular logic well, this article provides additional context in the form of the in-person antiracist trainings and cogent counterarguments. To me, in that antiracist trainings keeps white people obedient, it is a net positive contribution to social justice. Ultimately, I see it harming the movement’s march towards true equality.

The Tik Tok War by Ben Thompson
This is the fairest take I’ve seen on Tik Tok’s monstrous rise, recent ills, potential for foul play, and involvement, whether active or passive, in a seemingly likely Cold War between the US and China. Don’t be surprised if Mark Zuckerberg wraps himself in an American flag in an attempt to recover Facebook’s trust among the American populace.

A Plague Is an Apocalypse. But It Can Bring a New World. by Andrew Sullivan for NYMag
In this feature, Sullivan uses past plagues and their monumental effects on the world to predict how the world will shake out post-Coronavirus. As a speculator at heart, I found that this article has given me a clearer sense as to what to expect, as unpredictable as that is. Sullivan has since resigned from NYMag and moved to Substack for his writing, claiming a tension between the left-leaning values of the magazine’s younger editors and his own right-leaning ones. It’s unfortunate to see, but I’ll be following Sullivan’s new platform and I love the indie trend among content creators. I trust him to challenge my own worldview, even if arguments can feel like they were not made in good faith, and I suggest you do too.

Double Review: visvim LHAMO SHIRT

I initially wanted to write a straightforward, informative intro to this article, much like I would before I tried to be all cool and post-modern. However, it just felt wrong to go back. We’re all about growth at brianlee.blog and regression is just not an option. Just to give you a look behind the curtains, here’s what it looked like before I changed my mind:

“One thing visvim as a brand has done exceedingly well over the years is in creating modern, lasting design icons. More so than most other fashion brand, visvim has in its stable a number of distinct brand identifiers such as the VIRGIL boot, 7-HOLE boot, IRIS LINER jacket, CHRISTO slides, 20L backpack, FBT sneaker-moc, and KILGORE jacket.

There are many reasons for this. Obviously, there was a lot of good design work up front in creating those silhouettes in a vintage-modified, pleasing, and wearable enough way as to suit the modern age. The names attributed to these models, christened typically but not exclusively after artists who’ve inspired visvim designer Hiroki Nakamura, are also catchy and unique.

To me, part of visvim’s success in creating icons comes from the rereleasing the same model in different makes over multiple collections. “If you build it they will come” or so the old saying goes. The same, say, work boot, made differently every season in variegated leathers, outsoles, and eyelets, has reinforces the silhouette in the consumer’s minds and, over time, became an object of desire. Because of this, it’s difficult for designers to really gauge if weak reception to a product is a matter of subpar design or wrong timing. There are many reasons why a new product doesn’t hit, and the only way to really test its design cred is to repeat it over many seasons.

Of visvim’s icons, the garments that I’ve been particularly drawn to are the ones that harmoniously integrate Japanese and ‘Western’ influences. A prototypical example that remains in the collection after all these years is the LHAMO SHIRT, a cross between a noragi and a work shirt. As such, I think the model deserves a high-school-essay-esque compare and contrast between the two I own: (1) LHAMO SHIRT CHECK FR from Fall/Winter 2012 and (2) LHAMO SHIRT CHAMBRAY from Fall/Winter 2018.”

Two intros, two reviews. How fitting.

SIMILARITIES

In every iteration of the LHAMO SHIRT, present and correct are barrel cuffs, dropped shoulders, torso fastening ties, and thick open-faced plackets. These are the core elements that define the style and get repeated despite the choice of fabric or cut. Though imitators may try, this shirt-digan has really only been executed truthfully and sublimely by visvim.

Though seemingly relaxed, the LHAMO SHIRT is, in reality, a structured looking and feeling garment. The fit, boxy and athletic, comes from the dropped shoulder, extra chest fabric, and shoulder lining. This combination results in a puffed up fold of fabric in the chest and back that makes for a masuline, square-ish effect. On a smaller guy, this effect can do wonders for creating that masculine V-cut; on a bigger guy, this effect will likely make you look rounder than you actually are.

To some, the LHAMO SHIRT can feel constricting. The relatively tight arm hole and the dropped shoulder construction go against the traditional western shirting norms of providing shoulder joint mobility. Yet, I’ve found that the structure provides a sense of power, kind of like how a suit jacket’s canvassing would.

DIFFERENCES

The CHECK FR is made with a French-milled cotton flannel in a gingham check, which illustrates well the ‘from the yarn up’ design philosophy visvim is so famous for. Its diagonal, alternating olive, navy and brown yarns, all laid over a navy-white checked base, is unlike any textile I’ve seen. From afar, the fabric is houndstooth-esque in its appearance and subtlely; up close, it is fascinating in its weave pattern and wonderfully textured.

The CHAMBRAY, surprise surprise, is made with a Japanese-milled selvedge cotton chambray. Other than vertical slub lines — a characteristic of the best Japanese denim — I couldn’t tell you what makes this fabric worthy of gracing a visvim garment. Regardless, the selvedge ends are thoughtfully applied throughout the garment, fully lining the placket and fastening ties with red-white goodness.

Each version’s fabric largely determines way it was constructed. The CHECK FR, with its more delicate, soft fabric, is given cleaner features. Its silky rayon shoulder lining, for instance, has its stitches blended into all the existing seams so as to not disturb its clean lines. This leads to a floating lining that can be accidentally tugged on when putting the garment on. The CHAMBRAY, a typically workwear/militaria fabric, is built for rough and tumble. Here, a cotton twill lining is completely overlock-stitched down, showing through on front and back of the garment as horizontal lines that break up the chambray expanse.

Thoughtful complements extends to the stitch work, too. The CHECK FR is treated with tonal straight stitches that blend well and disappear into the fabric. The CHAMBRAY is assembled with high tension contrast white stitches of both straight and chain-stitch varieties typical of the material used. With the latter’s high tension stitching, the shirt-digan has started to develop roping along the fastening ties and bottom hem — a cool detail that plays very well with its workwear sensibilities.

To round up the hardware differences, the clean-cut CHECK FR has opaque polyester cuff buttons with an 8 faceted finishing, whereas the macho CHAMBRAY has navy-painted aluminum ones.

The slight tweaks visvim makes to the cut of the LHAMO SHIRT with every passing year compound in the 6 years between when the CHECK FR and when the CHAMBRAY were made. The CHECK FR, made before, as rumor has it, designer Hiroki Nakamura started cutting a la Chloe Ting, fits a whole-size-and-a-half larger than the newer CHAMBRAY. The former’s larger armhole, added length and lower density fabric wears easier and more elegantly than the latter, with its built-for-work sensibilities.

TO WRAP

Just as people change, visvim has changed. As the availability of its product has increased dramatically, particularly in ‘Western’ countries, from 2012 to 2018, the quantity of products made has also steadily increased. As such, it is easy to come to the conclusion that the demands a larger production scale bring have led to a decrease in quality, at least in their wholesale products.

Yet, in a product like the LHAMO SHIRT CHAMBRAY that should be affected by such changes, it is not the case. The CHECK FR, in my view a high point of visvim’s collections over the years, is no more well thought out than the CHAMBRAY. The difference in quality is marginal, and any other difference is merely a matter of design intent than a watering down of product.

You can still get the CHAMBRAY version at some places, but the CHECK FR is long sold out. I’d recommend checking out Grailed or Yahoo Auctions Japan to save on some money if you don’t mind getting one used. The brand also puts out new versions every season, which you can purchase on their website.

Inis Meáin Large Basket Stitch Crewneck Sweater in Grey Linen-Silk

This is my first summer in the United States, and it’s nothing like I expected. In the beach town I currently reside in, I imagine a summertime typified by energy and activity, with very attractive people covering very little skin doing very athletic activities while very drunk off White Claw.

However, we’re a few weeks in now and it is looking more and more like we’re in for a summer of nothingness. As the virus continues to defy the expectation that heat will tame the spread, it seems as though the wind (summer breeze?) has been taken out of any pool parties. More likely, the majority of people will stay under lockdown just as they’ve done in the spring, staving off the incoming heatwave with sloth. We’re already starting to see signs of this — beaches in coastal cities were surprisingly empty this 4th of July weekend.

With no safe way of cooling down in a massive body of water, it might seem as though the existing summer trend of ‘clothes that don’t feel like you’re wearing anything’ would continue. The logic is sound: this summer is expected by Big Weather to be the hottest one yet, and easy breezy clothing helps with that. However, an unfeeling summer and feelingless garments together may be too much nothingness for even the most ardent nothing enthusiast.

Anticipating this, I propose you start taking control of your own summer. Part of creating a perception of feeling this summer, at least for me, is a loosely woven, kinda funky, highly textured Inis Meáin linen sweater.

Not dissimilar to American social fabric as of late, the Inis Meáin Basket Stitch has a relatively open weave. Without tugging on the sweater, you can, albeit barely, see through the other side. This, along with the choice of linen as the primary knit material, makes for an airy sweater that is, depending on how warm your summer days are, mostly three-season appropriate. Despite its breathability, the knit still feels substantial and dense, hanging nicely down the body by virtue of its weight. The knit also has a little elasticity and bounce to it, helping it retain its shape well, unlike what you’d typically expect from linen.

To me, Inis Meáin is unique in that its knits are funky and fashion-y even though the company has its roots making utilitarian knitwear. From afar, this drop-shouldered, low-medium neck-line, large cuff opening, chessboard-for-your-chest of a sweater makes for a unique silhouette and striking visual. Up close, the sheenly yarns, woven with a cool-grey-linen-purple-grey-silk blend, are punctuated with flaws in the form of stray linen knots to create a visually arresting texture. The stitch patterns at the collar are particularly interesting as well, with the top hem reinforced by 3 chain link knits and a braid. Added together, these unique details make the Basket Stitch sweater directional yet grounded in craft.

Lastly, as I mentioned in the preamble, this sweater is full of feeling. Sure, part of it comes from its authenticity, hailing from the island of Inishmaan and sewn by locals and all that. What I really mean, though, is that it is kinda scratchy. Like, knit-knicked nipples scratchy. The sweater has a dry hand and slightly abrasive linen yarns that is atypical of knitwear I’ve come across. Despite this, it never gets irritating or unpleasant against the skin. Rather, I find it enjoyable having something on with just enough of feeling as to provide a sense of security, but not too much as to annoy or constrict. My love of raw denim and boots, despite the many attempts by more fashion-forward folks to clown on this side of me, comes from this need, too.

Inis Meáin has quickly become my favorite knitwear maker. Everything the brand makes, from merino wool-cashmere raglan knits to pima-cotton cardigans, is made extremely well. You can track down its offerings directly from the brand, or from one of the many multi-brand retailers, my favorites being Matches Fashion and Mr Porter.

Review: 18 East Osman Jacket in Tobacco Gauze-Backed Herringbone

Pre-pandemic, it seemed as though the use of irony in Internet discourse had hit an all-time high. Many of the Internet personalities I follow seemed to gravitate towards hot takes tinged in irony and parody. Troll behavior, while not always strictly ironic, had become more and more prevalent, to the point where it was impossible to know whether someone was well-intentioned or not. To be sure, earnest statements outnumbered comedic gestures, but it felt to me as though a significant shift in the norms of discourse had occurred. Heck, even I, as a self-serious, high-brow, straight-shooting, integrity-driven reviewer had trafficked in irony in my writing at times.

However, public tolerance for such behavior has all but vanquished with the virus and the recent protests. To make fun of Black Lives Matter and viral virus virulence, even with the best of intentions, is often seen as taking the other side. Because of this, I’ve come to understand irony and sincerity as cyclical in their appropriateness in the zeitgeist. In the decadent and indulgent pre-virus times, irony was abound; now that people are hurting and fighting for what’s right, sincerity prevails.

But bro this sucks. Sure, chat shit get banged, but my truth-in-irony approach to writing could very easily be misconstrued as bearing bad intentions, and I don’t like that. Speaking of truth-in-irony, though, the 18 East Osman Jacket.

As funky as the 18 East brand can be with its propensity for high pocket counts and patterned, hand-loomed fabrics, its Osman jacket still maintains the core elements of what makes a blazer a blazer. Cut with slim notch lapels, a 3-roll-2 button configuration, extended shoulders, two frontal patch pockets, a solo back vent and a quarter seersucker-lined interior, the Osman has the very elements of a warm weather, casual, American sport coat. I’d usually leave those details out — it honestly doesn’t matter much on a casual jacket — but classic menswear nerds might make me out to be a fraud if I don’t. 🧐 Nevertheless, it’s obvious that the Osman is a casual blazer done right, with details such as fabric grain orientations and voluminous lapel roll done the way a classic menswear designer would.

To me, the best thing about the Osman, ironically, is that it is designed to not wear like or with tailoring. After the first few wears, the cotton herringbone material rumples significantly at the back and the elbows; after a wash, the fabric starts to pucker up like seersucker. This, along with its unlined interior, gives the Osman the form of a blazer without its essence. It’s the stiffness and structure of the blazer that gives it its power and gives its wearer the feeling of command. Just like irony that’s well done, it’s what’s inside that counts. And just like irony, you don’t need any of that power and command nonsense.

With that said, as someone who doesn’t usually doll myself in old people’s clothes, the Osman jacket is easy to wear. Its mid-brown color, casual herringbone stripes and soft construction makes it easy to pair with any earth tone ensemble or to wear over t-shirt and jeans. While it is cut a little oversized, presumably to account for cotton’s lack of stretch, the jacket’s wrinkles (or shall I say, elbow accordions) and puckering help hug the body well. The Osman would be far too casual for IRL professional settings, but over the fuzzy compression and shitty resolution of Zoom work calls, I looked downright sartorial.

The one I have is sold out, but 18 East seems to put one out every season. And don’t let the measurements fool you; they fit slightly oversized yet true-to-size.

Collected Content #9

I apologize for going MIA. As with anyone living in these United States, I’ve spent the last few weeks reflecting on such important things as police brutality, anarchy, racism, intersectionality, liberalism/free speech, and cancel culture. In between wrapping up my senior capstone project, taking my last undergraduate final exam, and figuring out what I’m going to do with myself post-graduation, I was consumed with reading, watching and learning everything I could, and that meant that stupid clothing content just felt unimportant to write about.

I’ve been looking to comedians, ironic yet inquisitive, to help me make sense of the past few months, and Black Lives Matter is no different. Dave Chappelle had an incredibly raw and powerfully self-reflective take on George Floyd. The rage with which he presented the black experience will surely turn any existing nonbelievers. He also rightfully understands that no one gives a shit about what celebs have to say. He meanders without a clear structure — a perfect reflection of how everyone feels right now. We’re still making sense of things as they change by the day, and he has shown that it is okay.

Cancel culture is still alive and well, as my favorite YouTube chefs can attest. That has resurfaced questions I’ve always had about who should be cancelled, for what actions, how long ago. I took immediately to the ‘muh-free-speech’-ness of Jonathan Chait and Andrew Sullivan, both of whom bring up compelling arguments against the woke left. However, as I start to see the parallels between cancelling and looting, and how both are necessary for greater change, I’ve made my peace with the issue. It’s collateral damage. If cancelling Alex Delany (who I am a big fan of) also means removing Adam Rapoport, I’m fine with that; if the desecration of 5th Avenue also means that black people can be free, you take that trade.

To me, this time is strangely hopeful. Even if you’re unhappy about cancel culture, rioting, looting, occupation and all the rest of it, it’s a good thing that police brutality and the white suprematist system supporting it is on everyone’s minds. It seemed like the Overton window shifted dramatically in the span of 72 hours. For once, it seems like we’re on the brink of positive structural changes to a creaky system that helps only the privileged few. I’m also hoping that America will finally restore its global moral leadership Yeah let’s not be silly.

And everything else:

Robert Pattinson Profile by Zach Baron for GQ
A weird, weird read that captures well the messy mind of Robert Pattinson.

Ray Eames, Out of Her Husband’s Shadow by The New York Times
The real carry behind the Eames duo.

Jun Takahashi Profile by Eugene Rabkin for 032c
An interesting look into a great designer. The article talks about the Off-White collaboration, which, IMO, was terrible, a little.

The Dysfunction of Food by Kim Foster
What a heart-wrenching article on the emotional relationship we can have with food, and fast food at that!

The Prophecies of Q by Adrienne Lafrance for The Atlantic
American conspiracy theories scare the shit out of me.

The Fundamentals of Bodyweight Strength Training by Steven Low
For weeks, I have been yearning for the cold, abrasive knurling of barbell grips. Gyms around me have started to open up, but I’m not sure if I should get back in it just yet. For now, this will suffice.

Review: Moonstar Alweather Sneaker

Virgil Abloh, multihyphenate creative and menswear designer of Louis Vuitton, once proclaimed that one need only change 3% of an original design to create something new. In applying this rule, he has created hit after hit, from the mega-popular streetwear label Off-White™ (never forget the TM!!!) to collaborations with legendary furniture maker IKEA Vitra. Say what you will about Abloh’s commodification of streetwear and co-opting of culture; he has shown that design doesn’t have to be overengineered if well-intellectualized.

In the venture capital world, however, people seem to profess a different approach to design completely. In the book Zero to One, its author, Peter Thiel, claims that proprietary technology has to be 10x better than the competition. Intuitively, this makes a lot of sense. A lot of the time, you’re not just facing up the products that already exist, but also consumer inertia and brand loyalty. It takes a lot more than being marginally better to really get your product into people’s hands.

Abloh’s and Thiel’s approaches seem to be completely divergent, the former advocating for a more incremental changes than the latter. On deeper inspection, though, you’ll likely find that the points these two influential thinkers make don’t necessarily cancel each out, but I’m not a smart guy writer with smart guy insight on smart guy topics. Go ask Die, Workwear! or something. What I am is a writer who enjoys providing tangentially related, smart-sounding, confusing preambles to reviews, this time to the Moonstar Alweather.

3%. Made in the same facilities as the better known Shoes Like Pottery sneakers and Nigel Cabourn Army Shoes, the Alweather is as quality as quality gets in the world of plimsoll variants. The hardy off-white canvas, vulcanized rubber outsole and hand-lasted upper, each only marginally better than the competition, together provide a compelling quality argument over, say, the Converse Chuck 70s. My pair has held up extremely well despite only seeing action in the toughest of weathers.

10x. The Alweather has a distinct, polarizing look to it that I absolutely adore. It is part L.L. Bean Duck boot, part Converse Chuck Taylor, all ugly-as-shit in a good way. It appeals to the kind of menswear nerd who’s into funky, Americana-by-way-of-Japan garms like Engineered Garments and Kapital. With its slightly raised outsole and chunky silhouette, it wears like a sneaker-boot hybrid, making it, in reality, very different from the two shoes it was likely modeled after.

Divergent? What’s confusing about the Alweathers, though, is its supposed all-weatherness. With its waxed canvas upper and CrewGuard-esque vulcanized rubber bootie, you get all the wet sock protection of the genre. Unfortunately, the herringbone-pattered gum rubber sole provides little to no traction on the kind of slippery surfaces created by a downpour. In my experience wear-testing these in harsh weather, I have found myself ass on asphalt more than I could care for. Don’t think of the Alweather as a rain shoe, but as just another very cool sneaker.

Distribution stateside has increased dramatically since I first purchased the shoe. You can now find it at Hightide (lowercase m minimalist store), Blue in Green (OG raw denim store) and Tempo Design Store (kind of a mix of the first two but still cool???). There’s also that Fendi versio. Size them like you would Converse Chuck Taylors (half size down from Brannock, or 0.5cm smaller than your JP size).

Collected Content #8

Intertwined Histories Lead the Decor in a Downtown Manhattan Home by Architectural Digest
I guess it makes sense that Emily Bode, whose eponymous fashion brand is built on a unique aesthetic universe, has a home befitting said aesthetic. It’s also very brown which is cool.

Inside the Weird, Get-Rich-Quick World of Dropshipping by Wired
It’s mind-boggling to me how much money there is to be made by exploiting the inefficiencies of global capitalism. This article got me thinking about the many ways Western capital can be taken back by countries whose labor forces have been exploited for years, and it could be as simple as learning English, starting a Shopify site and creating Facebook ads.

Screen Protector by 032c
A wonderful interview with A.S. Hamrah, film critic. I don’t know if I agree with most of his takes — they are extremely scathing and hot fire — but it was nice to read something this opinionated in such an uncertain time as this.

Nature, Nurture, and Weight Loss by Andrew Sullivan for Intelligencer
Andrew Sullivan’s weekly column for Intelligencer is one of the few content drops that I look forward to, and this one absolutely delivers. Obesity is a public health pandemic, and we should approach it with kindness.

Pitch Perfect: The History and Influence of the Pitchfork 10.0 by The Ringer
This article resonated with me on many levels, not least of which because I am a critic of clothes. I’ve always been resistant to wielding power like this, but maybe I shouldn’t be.

My Appetites by Jerry Saltz for Vulture
Wow. A must-read. I don’t even want to spoil it.