Review: Iron Heart Ultra-Heavy Flannel

I’ve written and rewritten so many versions of this review, all of them starting with this Kiya (of Self Edge fame) interview about how Rick Owens bought an Iron Heart Flannel. It was a cool reference to bring up years ago when that article was only known by the real heads, but now I just sound like a plebby bandwagoner. Another gem in that article, though, is this quote about Iron Heart:

I love that brand. It has this certain will to it, like “we will try to find the heaviest things that cannot be put together or stitched together, and you know what? Fuck it, we’re going to do it.”

That really sums the Ultra-Heavy flannel up. It’s so unreasonably thick that none of your sweaters or cardigans will work as a layer over it, that it’s impossible to button up the morning after a night of binge drinking, that all your other shirts become incels after witnessing its chadness. Those may sound to your like drawbacks, but that’s because unlike the Ultra-Heavy flannel, you’re not a chad.

Okay enough stupid incel talk. Not often mentioned with this shirt are the completely unnecessary but nerdily cool details such as the dangly orange chainstitch runoffs and screenprinted wash instructions on the interior. With every new release also comes more interesting patterns than on the one I got a few years back.

The decent-but-uninteresting buttons on the non-Western version leaves something to be desired, the collars look weird when the top is unbuttoned, and at over $300 per, the heaviest flannel shirt in existence comes with an equally heavy price tag. But, it is the ultimate expression and the only true endgame version of the flannel shirt. The process of handpicking wild Andes-mountain cotton followed by shipping to Japan for dying, weaving and stitching is over-the-top in a way that only Iron Heart is capable of.

Go true to size if you want that oh-so-soft double brushed cotton rubbing against your nipples, or go up a size if you’re worried that its constant arousal would distract you from work and want to fit a layer in-between. Support the good people over at Iron Heart America, Canoe Club, or my favorite store, Self Edge.

Review: Anonymous Ism Socks

This is the sock of choice of Instagram boot guys who are oblivous to the fact that heritage workwear has not been culturally relevant for more than 5 years now and don’t see the irony that appropriating workwear is just as phony as avant garde fashion. And yes, I’m throwing shade at myself here. I have 6 of these and I’ve taken more boot-sock-selvedge pics in the past year that I would dare to admit.

Anonymous Ism makes a shit ton of different models, but they can be loosely categorized by construction method into two groups — intarsia and jacquard. Jacquard knits, the ones people usually refer to when talking about the brand, tend to have the appearance of loose threads on the inside and feel more textured, whereas intarsia knits look and feel softer and more 2-dimensional.

Left: Jacquard Knit. Right: Intarsia Knit.

The material composition varies with the patterns and colors involved, but expect some combination of cotton, acrylic, polyester, wool, nylon or polyurethane. I’ve found that ones with a higher proportion of cotton have a better hand feel, whereas the acrylic dominant ones tend to stand out in color more due to the material’s color retention and sheen qualities.

Enough technical talk. We highly cultured, postmodernist dressers know that clothing’s true value is in the feeling it brings us and not in its technical merits (that’s racist, or so Marx Derrida anarcho-communists have had me believe). When I’m seated, I feel all my insecurities and lack of accomplishment in life wash away knowing that other people are seeing those beautiful knits beneath my (obviously) selvedge cuffs.

Shallow, sure. But after you unpromptedly barrage them with the fact that they were made on a machine that can only make 50 pairs a day, think of the number of people who now see you as a true connoisseur. These days, even locals (née normies, plebians, the uneducated masses) have come to see ‘Made in Japan’ as a true taste flex.

These socks are available at your favorite multi-brand retailers at a retail price of about $30 a pair, but you can regularly get them for under $20 bucks on sale. Large-footed readers should stick to intarsia as the jacquard versions are notoriously difficult to put on (even as a Brannock size 8 myself) and shrink temporarily after every wash.

Review: 18 East x Standard Issue Tees Hooded Sweatshirt

Simple logo apparel is usually treated as a cheap(er), money-making entry point that doesn’t actually represent the ethos of the brand. This hoodie OBVIOUSLY isn’t that, just as the fact that I’m OBVIOUSLY the most unbiased reviewer around even though I’ve loved 18 East ever since they were a thing.

I’m sitting here sipping on my beer (Deschutes Obsidian Stout, if you must know) thinking if I should remove I just wrote and not ruin relations with the brand. But, even if the hoodie were a money grab (I still suspect not wink wink), I don’t think it matters. This weighty, slouchy, and comfy hoodie was the only I’ve wanted to wear in the last few weeks.

The imperfect block print, but something something it’s MY imperfect block print

That beautiful purple color, in combination with the volumous silhouette of the drawstringless hood, makes me feel like I’m on some Mace Windu shit in the best possible way, a.k.a. less wimpy death to Anakin, more merciless slaying of Jango Fett. I also forsee the garment-dyed purple fading around the seams, making the hoodie look a lot better with each successive wash or wear.

I don’t know if I buy the whole “best sweats” thing they claim in the description, or if it is that much more insulating that other hooded sweatshirts. I also wish the sleeve cuffs and waist were more elasticated for better silhouette control. But, what seals the deal for me is that the paisley block print on mine is Certified (TM) hand-stamped by the designer/owner Antonio Ciongoli himself. I went by their cool store in Chinatown and I saw that happen in front of my own two eyes. Call me shallow, but the designer-cult-of-personality thing is real.

Many colors have already sold out on 18 East’s website, but you can still get them sans paisley print on the Standard Issue Tee site.

Supreme FW19: My Favorite Pieces

Supreme’s typical interseason is now over and the brand has just released their Lookbook and Preview for Fall/Winter 19.

This is shaping up to be a great season for the brand, using the same formula of remixing loud prints with Americana classics. It also seems to be the most accessible of the most recent collections as most of the pieces feature silhouettes and cuts that most people should be familiar with already.

Here are my favorite pieces from this upcoming Fall/Winter season.

GORE-TEX Contrast Stitch Anorak in Brown or Grey

… A.K.A. flexing in the rain.

Wool Harrington Jacket in Black or Leopard

A classic American silhouette, but with Loro Piana wool. What a great time to be a dad (or a dripped out yet comfy South-East Asian predator).

Iridescent Puffy Jacket in Green, Grey or Purple

Reflective materials are on-trend right now (thanks Instagram, Fear of God and Louis Vuitton), and this is how you get on it.

Leather Collar Puffy Jacket in Yellow

A puffer jacket with an actually good collar has never been done before, but we have one now.

New Shit Tee in Grey

Can’t say if I’ve ever called Supreme to ask if something is in stock before.

Sharkskin Suit in Navy

It’s a suit.

Monogram Shirt and Work Pants

That monogram is sick. Make a good bag in that print and you’re looking at LV and interlocking-G levels of iconic in a few years. You’re welcome for that free consultation, Supreme.

Striped Denim Shirt

Just like the suits, Supreme has some version of these every season and it’s always amazing.

Review: Kapital ‘Rat Brand’ Fastcolor Selvedge Bandana

Introduction

Kiro Hirata, the creative director of Kapital, is a certified bandana nut. As the founder of the Elephant Brand Bandana Museum and author of ‘The Bandana Book’, he makes bandanas that you already know are going to be huge, California wildfire-like FLAMES 🔥🔥🔥.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how to up my accessory game recently. After closely monitoring John Mayer’s Instagram and Getty Images feed, I decided to pick up two Kapital bandanas (shoutout Zenmarket sponsor the blog) to integrate into my wardrobe. Now that I’ve successfully done the John Mayer cosplay thing for a few months, I’m ready to give you all my thoughts.

Specifications

Size (Pre-wash/Post-wash):
Material: 100% Selvedge Cotton
Country of Origin: Japan
Price: 2484 Yen in Japan, typically ~$35 in the US
Purchasing Link: Kapital Webstore

The Review

Right off the bat, it’s evident that Kapital takes a lot of design cues from vintage Elephant Brand bandanas, for better or for worse. The most obvious one is that Kapital calls its line of bandanas the ‘Rat Brand’ as a homage to Elephant Brand, but with Kiro Hirata’s Chinese Zodiac animal — the rat — instead.

‘Rat Bandanna’ sticker

The ‘Fast Color’ designation also carries through here, signalling that Kapital thinks its bandanas hold their prints well. I have no reason to doubt that claim, as I’ve worn the bandanas out of my jeans’ back pocket or cargo’s thigh pocket for a few months now and the prints are still legible with minimal color loss.

To achieve this, Kapital uses discharge printing (basically screen printing with bleach) to redye the fabric with those strange yet beautiful patterns. Check these photos from their Instagram page showing their printing setup:

Speaking of patterns, on my olive drab bandana, the ‘DADS FAVORITE ADAGES’ Kapital has printed on it refer to phrases commonly passed down to boys in Japan. I see a good mix of both noble ideas like ‘don’t neglect your obligation’ and weird put-downs like ‘be a sucker’ — a translation error? Or maybe that last one is Kapital taking a progressive stance and standing with the gays through a coded message. Who knows?

Rectangular Kapital bandana with shorter selvedge side (left to right)

Another feature drawn from vintage Elephant Brand bandanas is its rectangular shape. Because it is not a perfect square, the back side of the bandana shows through a little when folded triangularly, making for a more visually interesting and voluminous aesthetic.

Back side showing through when folded triangularly

The material used here is a super thin, plain-weaved and hairy cotton that is silky smooth to the touch. Nothing really special here in terms of slub or nep. It also isn’t the most durable of materials, but it’s a necessary tradeoff for softness and vintage replication.

Is this cultural appropriation: Thunderbird symbols appropriated from various indigenous tribes

What holds the edges of that cotton together is simple stitching on three sides and a selvedge/self edge on the 4th. That’s right — the feature that makes your fancy and expensive as shit Japanese denim cool is also what makes this bandana cool. Now, instead of needing to hoisting your leg up onto a barstool to show the person you’re hitting on how cool your clothes (and thus you) are, you could just pull out that piece of cloth from your butt pocket to the same effect.

In the past, my readers have complained about the fact that I make way too many stupid jokes in my reviews, and yeah you right. I’m sorry. Please keep reading my blog. My entire self worth is predicated on the reaction to my writing. Please like me.

Tonal lock stitch on the side, blue selvedge on the bottom

Back to the review. The single row of stitching is not the most durable method of finishing the edges — I’ve seen overlock stitches on bandanas way cheaper than these — but Kapital sure loves its vintage so what do?

Conclusion

Kapital bandanas are pretty good in terms of quality, sure, but what really makes em unique is their huge selection of patterns and colors on offer. In an interview with Haven, a Canadian stockist of Kapital, Kiro Hirata said that he wants to “put as much passion into bandanas as my father put into jeans for his generation”, and he has definitely done so in my book.

Fit Check: bandana selvedge matching the top + bandana print matching the footwear + bandana green accent matching the cargo + rule of thirds accent at the cargo thigh pocket = graphic-designer level composition and color matching

Bandanas aren’t exactly the most popular of accessories in fashion right now, but I love ’em and I love Kapital ones the most.