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.

Review: 3sixteen Heavyweight Plain T-Shirt

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve started to appreciate brevity above all else. You can see this shift in my writing over the years; gone are the massive, encyclopedic texts with references to material science and acoustics, in are the short, quick-hitting essays on totes. This appreciation of all things short has extended to t-shirts, too. I like the boxy and short-cropped cut of a vintage-style tee — something that seems more and more a thing of the past these days.

Even longer than the hems of tees, though, is every multi-brand retailer’s ‘t-shirt’ category. Recently, I’ve been searching for cool, new, summer-appropriate tees that fit a specific need of mine recently, but that led to hours and hours of scrolling and next-paging — too much effort for such a pedestrian and utilitarian garment. Because of this, I thought to myself: just like shoes are separated into loafers, boots, sneakers, and the like, there should be a better way to break up the ‘t-shirt’ category!

As such, I propose that the category be subdivided into a 2×2 spectrum matrix, with soft-rough on one axes and casual-formal on the other. I had my unpaid (and nonexistent) interns plot me a diagram with all the tees to better illustrate this idea:

From this, we see that the 3Sixteen Heavyweight sits squarely on the rough side of things. Present and correct are the triple-stitched collars, rough hand and stiff fabric that all contribute to its perceived sturdiness. I have never once doubted its long-term durability, but I do worry about my soft, properly moistened (shoutout Cerave) skin after a day of wear as the tee is pretty scratchy. Yet, I do find myself seeking that roughness out from time to time — jeans and boots are no fun if the top isn’t equally uncomfortable, after all!

The Heavyweight’s casualness, on the other hand, can largely be attributed to its easy-fading, garment-dyed, indigo fabric. The tee starts off a dark navy, but fades over time to a beautiful electric blue. Also, the seams and hems, two areas that really show that fading well, have become rumpled and less structured over time, adding to the tee’s dress-down tendencies. As such, it is strictly a tee for workwear ensembles, but a perfect tee at that.

Brand New vs. Old (200+ Wears, 80+ Washes)

Even as I explore the other 3 quadrants of the t-shirt matrix, and as my style diverges further from my workwear roots, I still come back to the 3Sixteen Heavyweights as the tees I put on when I want to feel something. You can get these at many workwear stores in the US (Self Edge being my favorite) or from 3Sixteen directly. It shrinks about 2.5 inches in length after a few washes, but I say embrace brevity.

Review: Noah NY Tote Bag

I’ve been finding it difficult to think clearly these days. Isolation anxiety has been conspiring with post-grad uncertainties to ruin my productivity — the only thing that has ever given me validation in life. One thing that is clear, whether pre or post-quarantine, is my choice of bag. Just as I’m stuffing this entire review into a single paragraph, I’ve been thoughtlessly shoving anything and everything into the one (and only) open-top compartment of my Noah tote bag. Pre-quarantine, I’ve been using it to hold my lunch and other knick-knacks I need for school; post-quarantine, it has become my dedicated grocery (and by extension, whisky shopping) bag. The screenprinted navy-‘NOAH’-text-above-red-cross motif is also the only form of streetwear-esque logomania I’ve engaged with recently. By engaged with, I mean I was prompted by strangers in grocery stores (imagine talking in public in 2020!) on whether I was named ‘Noah’, whether I believed in the Lord and Savior, or whether the tote was from a hip Christian grocery chain named ‘Noah’ (????). I finally get the love for Supreme’s signature box logo — it must be nice being asked from time to time about whether or not you fuck with the highest court in the federal judiciary in the United States of America. Oh, right, you wanted a review. Well, it’s a tote and it works so there you go. You can put money directly into the brand’s pocket tote bag by purchasing one at the Noah NY online store. Alternatively, you could also support the good people at Dover Street Market and SSENSE. Just… remember that your tote bag is not a substitute for a personality.

How Kiro Hirata’s Pants Caught on Fire

A few days ago, Eric Kvatek, legendary lookbook photographer for cult brands like Kapital and 45RPM, went on an Instagram Live with The Ponytail Journal, during which he talked about his past lookbook shooting experiences. Not only did it provide cool insight into the inner workings of the brands Kvatek has worked with (most of which I ride hard for), it also yielded an interesting account at the 18 minute mark about how Kapital designer Kiro Hirata’s pants caught on fire during a 45RPM photoshoot. Liar, liar..?

Check the full interview out here:

A.S. Hamrah Interview by 032c

Went in thinking I’d be getting an interview with a prominent film critic, came out obsessing over the best take cold criticism on hot takes:

I hope what I write isn’t “takes.” “Takes” to me means short-form bursts shared on the Internet, initial reactions that people for some reason think they have to get out in public immediately, without hesitation, right after they’ve seen something—yawns or sneezes of the keyboard. You could say “takes” just means “reaction” or “opinion.” Then, when the takes by definition have to be hot, it’s going to be nihilistic and crummy. If all criticism is just takes now, at least I serve mine cold.

5 Actually Good Summer Loafers

I’m not really a takedown, cancel culture kinda guy. Sure, I see injustices in the world that make me mad. Men ain’t shit, #metoo, #blacklivesmatter all ring true to me on some level, but it’s not like I’m using my platform to dunk on bad actors.

However, a loafer from a small Danish footwear brand has been making the menswear Instagram rounds recently has been rustling my jimmies. It mixes the beefroll of a Bass Weejun, the front curvature and machine-stitched apron of a Euro dress loafer, and the midsole ribbing of a Tricker’s..?. If that’s not blasphemy enough, the brand’s logo is etched into the heel of the shoe, which, by the way, is left unfinished. I’m not one for naming names, but you have all the information you need.

Sadly, with many former streetwear heads aging into more formal styles now, this loafer is one hype cycle away from amassing an unknowing audience. All I can hope for is that people make better choices, of which I can provide five:

Meermin Unlined Loafer ($195)

While notorious for its long break-in period, the Meermin unlined penny loafer has, summer-in summer-out, been the standard bearer of the sub-$200 slip-on. The leather is fantastic, the closed channel welt is a nice touch, and the silhouette is plenty pleasing.

These are the cheapest resoleable shoes that I would go with. There are other newer brands out there touting Blake-stitched or Goodyear Welted loafers at similarly low prices, but the dangers with those options are that (1) they may not have resoling capabilities as of yet and (2) they may not be around in 3-5 years to do that resoling for you.

Aurlands Penny Loafer ($345)

The Aurlands is the OG penny loafer. I love the side profile of the shoe with its bulbous toe area and high heel backing. Distribution is pretty limited outside of its home Norway, but who needs retailer choices when the best one in No Man Walks Alone has you covered?

Alden Leisure Handsewn ($583)

When I think penny loafer, this is the one that comes up. Alden is one of the very few American shoemakers that is still doing right by its customer, and it shows in the fanaticism surrounding the brand. I mean, come on, look at that handsewn vamp that goes right up to the tip of the shoe. Ignore making it as the little guy or immigrant success, that right there is the American dream.

Loewe Collapsible Heel Loafer ($690)

It may come as a shock to some of you, but I do pay attention to high fashion stuff (and dark fashion) (AND techwear) just as much as I do the Heddels New Releases tab. In particular, J.W. Anderson’s work with Loewe and sub-line Eye/LOEWE/Nature has piqued my interest for the longest time.

I don’t know what it is about this croc-embossed loafer that has got me so obsessed the last few months, but it just does it.

J.M. Weston 180 ($885)

Oui oui, the J.M. Weston 180 loafer in black boxcalf is the ne plus ultra of penny loafers. Trust the French to get shit like this right, but I have yet to lay my eyes on a more beautiful shoe. The other loafers on this list are all great, but they don’t even come close to ticking the boxes of what I consider important in a loafer. It is comfortable, has the perfect silhouette, comes standard with a rubber sole, and straddles the line between casual and formal. All you need is 800 dollars for your ascension into loafer nirvana.

Collected Content #7

The shut-in has done a number on my productivity. Motivation for anything is at its all-time low, and it’s been more than two weeks since my last post. I’ve spent more time scrolling on anything scrollable and clicking on eBay’s page advancing right arrow more times than I could care to remember. Thankfully, this means that I’ve consumed a lot of good content, and I’ve finally mustered up the willpower to deliver a collection of them to you, my fine reader.

The Implausible COVID-19 Movie by kottke.org
You know shit is bad when you can’t make reality into a movie.

Baking Bread in Lyon by Bill Buford for The New Yorker
This is straight up the most beautiful writing you’ll ever come across. It don’t matter if you’re not into bread, or if you’re not into France, but it does help a ton, and I’m 100% into both those things.

Colin Forbes on the Structure of Pentagram
I’ve been pretty obsessed with Pentagram in the past few years as I’ve gotten really into graphic design. After reading ‘How To’ by Pentagram partner Michael Bierut, I realized that most graphic design in this world, of which there is plenty, is shit. This essay by Colin Forbes, the design firm’s cofounder, describes well their approach to partnership and its resulting enduring success over the years.

Eastlogue & The Rise of Korean Fashion by Die, Workwear!
Korean clothing has improved so much in recent years, and this is a great profile on my favorite brand in this genre.

The A-B-Cs of Watch Finish by Walts Odets
A classic, this article is required reading for anyone into fine watchmaking.

SSENSE’s Margiela Web Installation

One of my favorite retailers, SSENSE, just put up a page dedicated to the undisputed champ of deconstructivist fashion, Maison Margiela, and it is straight fire. I’m personally not a fan of the recent ‘tabi-fication’ of Margiela’s leather footwear line (it was cute before it got big a couple years ago), and quote Margiela-era Margiela is the best Margiela end quote and all that boomer rubbish, but huge props to SSENSE for well-representing the brand in webpage format.

Not A Review: 18 East x Molloy and Sons Bal Coat

As of late, I’ve created a form, structure and voice that I’m proud of, but I still find it really difficult to put pen to paper, or rather, keycaps to switches. The structure — an irrelevant-to-the-product, wordy preamble, followed by a few brief sentences on the pros and cons of the product, ending with the ‘how-to-buy’ and sizing tips — is, while philosophically true to where my head is at, really challenging to get right.

I feel like I owe it to my readers to provide a service with my writing. Through the reviews, I hope to introduce new brands, emphasize value-for-money, publish timely content, provide comic relief, while having the articles feel unfinished in some way. That means that there are things that I just can’t write about, no matter how much I want to.

But, like the Bal coat from 18 East, writing shouldn’t be that serious. I should be able to write about whatever I please, just as I should be able to wear a massive overcoat in sunny San Diego. No joke, ok maybe some, this coat has simultaneously liberated me of the overly-structured review format and shifted my (and soon, San Diego’s) outerwear Overton.

The Bal coat is remarkably easy to wear. Its raglan shoulder construction, oversized silhouette, neutral color scheme and massive collar mean that it looks great thrown over any outfit. Woven in county Donegal, the Molloy & Sons tweed used here is as tweed as tweed gets, yet doesn’t wear warm enough to induce perspiration — ah, the wonders of unlined wool!

Because it is so easy to wear, I’ve worn the coat so much in my (short) ownership of it that the (initially) mildly scratchy basketwoven tweed has now worn soft. Or maybe it’s because I’ve developed callouses from all that abrasion. Who knows? Doesn’t matter!

Even with warmer days ahead, I still see myself wearing the Bal Coat in the wee hours as my version of the rich guy robe. Ever since I could remember, I’ve aspired to, on a cold Sunday morning in my rich guy robe, sit by my marble fireplace on my Eames Lounge Chair and read the Wall Street Journal. And to end my day similarly, but with a cigar and a dram of Ardbeg’s Lord of the Isles instead of the pseudoscientific, imperialist, anti-regulation publication that I’d likely enjoy when I’m that rich. This coat is not a robe, nor is it made out of cashmere, but it gets me as close to that feeling as I’ve ever gotten.

I can’t call this an ‘official’ review. The Bal coat came to me flawed and incomplete, with a yet-to-be fulfilled resolution from the brand. You also cannot actually buy this coat since it’s sold out, and I doubt that the coat will ever come back in this exact form. But, it has quickly become my single most-worn garment, and I just had to write about it.