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.

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.