Wednesday, September 30, 2015
Monday, September 21, 2015
It's long been a frustration of mine how guys in America seem to often try and "get away with" the most casual thing they can wear anywhere. I saw this quote from this article on PutThisOn a couple days ago, then recently came across the full interview. Definitely worth the read:
Some Personal Thoughts
While I find the article really interesting and agree on a lot of points, I don't think her conclusions tell the whole story behind casual wear attitudes in the US. Casual wear encompasses many more styles and genres as opposed to getting "dressed up," which generally still means a dress shirt and/or suit (though I would point out that wearing a suit or more formal attire still affords a great deal of individuality and personal expression - just look at the Italians). So in terms of the numbers, the math simply favors casual wear for having the most amount of styles and silhouettes as a means of expression. But as much as I want to think the casual attitude of American dressing is rooted in a greater freedom of self-expression, I don't think that's it.
A lot of guys get overwhelmed when trying to buy a suit, dress shirt, etc. because they don't know what they're looking for, and often many things can go wrong when starting out. At the end of the day, for many men it's a lot easier just to throw on the ol' cargo shorts and a T shirt than taking on the task of learning an entirely new way of dressing. I think this is the major reason behind the casual culture of Americans. It has nothing to do with style or expression.
Fortunately, the past decade has seen a lot more men really start to take an interest in the clothes they wear. With streetwear really hitting its stride, it very well could lead towards more casual trends in menswear, but hopefully for all the right reasons.
Wednesday, September 2, 2015
My wife likes to hike. I don't like to hike. So we hike.
To this point I've always done most of my outdoor activities in the same pair of Nikes I wear to work or wearing casual shoes like Jack Purcells. It hasn't been ideal, and with a trip upcoming with a lot of hiking planned my wife forced me to look at getting a pair of more outdoor-oriented shoes. What she meant was probably a cheap pair of cross trainers or something to throw around. What I heard was the opportunity to buy something I would actually like. Too late, no backsies.
Since I don't hike that much, I didn't want to break the bank. Ideally, the shoes/boots would also be something I could wear outside of hiking to get more use out of them. That eliminated 99% of hiking shoes/cross-trainers for me, which I've always felt have been aesthetically designed like the footwear versions of a Pontiac Aztek or a Suburu Outback.
Fortunately, traditional hiking/backpacking boots offer some refuge in this regard. Rugged and stylish in their own way, there are a lot of brands who have been making quality hiking and backpacking boots long before they became trendy a few years ago (such as Danner and their well-known Mountain Light line). Though I've had my eye on some models for a while, I could never justify paying for them.
Enter Alico, a relatively lesser-known Italian brand (at least here in the US) distributed through Sierra Trading Company, an online storefront I've come to love for value-hunting. Alico bases production out of a small factory in the Dolomites, making everything from firefighter to skiing boots. Their website looks like something that was made in the 90's for free, and they don't have a lot of information on their site. What you can garner from the brief product pictures and specs, however, is that their boots are all business and look tough as hell. The Tahoe model caught my eye, and with over 550 reviews and an aggregate 4.5 out of 5 score, they clocked in at $121.96 shipped with discount code. Definitely worth a try.
Here are some first impressions after a few days with them.
A lot of blogs have spotlights and product awareness pieces, but there aren't a lot out there that will tell you when something is NOT worth the money. This will hopefully become a series of posts focusing on some of the worst values money can buy. Keep in mind, statements made here are personal opinion.
Shinola watches burst onto the scene a few years ago with some slick marketing, an arguably decent design aesthetic, and a barrage of fanfare focused on the concept "Where American is Made." When you bring up their website, a popup jumps to the center of your screen declaring "The Return of American Manufacturing." It's clear the company places a tremendous amount of emphasis on its American heritage, the premium quality of its products, and a sort of "renaissance" of American craftsmanship.
In a relatively short amount of time, Shinola has enjoyed an impressive rise in consumer awareness as well as commercial success. Awesome, right? Wrong. As a watch nerd who also has a soft spot for all of those things, I have to admit I was intrigued when I first heard about Shinola. However, once you begin to scratch the surface appearances quickly fall apart and you begin to realize how "clever" marketing can affect brand image, price, and product sales without having anything worthwhile to show for it.