Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The Grass Is Always Greener - A Trip to the Bay Area

Bodega Head
My wife and I have family in California, and we generally use any excuse to take a vacation out there. I particularly love San Francisco and the Bay Area, where it's almost always shoulder weather at some point in the day and you're a short trip from wine country and the jaw-dropping rocky coasts of the Pacific Northwest. I live on a block of Philly that abuts an alley the entire city's homeless population uses as a restroom, so it's not actually a reach to say traveling to CA is a real breath of fresh air, or at least air without the slight twinge of urine stinging the nostrils. Don't get me wrong, I really like Philadelphia, but SF is the sort of magical place that makes a small part of me resent people who are able to live there (including Ian Anderson/From Squalor To Baller and Derek Guy/Die Workwear).

This time up, I jumped on the chance to stop into a couple of menswear stores I've always wanted to visit, Unionmade and Self Edge.


Unionmade - Mission SF

If you care about the things you own, you probably know Unionmade Goods, a SF-based mens shop focused on quality menswear, footwear, and accessories. A couple of times a year their online store runs an archive clearance of past seasons' stock - hands down one of the best and craziest sales of the year for both price and quality of selection. It's not really a surprise that their physical storefront is also a bit of a mens' wonderland. When I went the retail space was split into two sides, with new stock on one side of the store (including a beautiful wall of Aldens and some interesting Japanese brands like Tomorrowland) and the other side housing their sale items.


Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Nordstrom Clear the Rack - Extra 25% Off Picks

Nordstrom Rack runs a "Clear the Rack" event every couple months or so, which includes the online storefront (prices as marked online, in store extra 25% off red and blue tag clearance). Prices and availability usually are better in store, which is where I got my last Rag & Bone jeans and chinos for around $30. Looking through all 3000+ items can be somewhat of a chore, but there are some real gems in there if you look carefully.

I can't spend anything at the moment as I ended up picking up that Monitaly shawl collar field coat from NMWA during their winter clearance sale (it's awesome) and I'm not looking to incur any additional matrimonial wrath. Your situation may differ. You may also notice my main picks are all heavier weight/colder weather items, which makes sense. If you buy end of season/out of season, your yield will be generally higher for the price.

Inis Meain Oatmealaron Cable Knit Sweater - $149.98

For reference, Aliotsy from Thisfits.me posted a deal with Inis Meain sweaters in the $200's at Club Monaco, and that was considered a good deal. For an 80% baby Alpaca (if you've never owned Alpaca before, it is amazing) and 20% silk blend woven in a versatile charcoal, this sweater is an instant win. Be aware there's only one in medium, and also be aware that many say to size up one from your normal size, so I'd call this a small by normal standards.

*AM update - as expected, looks like that was snatched up

Friday, March 18, 2016

Dare You Not to Smile - What Ali Wore

Photos from What Ali Wore

If you're ever feeling bogged down, uninspired, or just taking menswear a bit too seriously, there aren't many things out there guaranteed to put an instant smile on your face than What Ali Wore.

What Ali Wore started, like many things magical, as a matter of fortunate happenstance. Australian-born photographer Zoey Spawton noticed Ali as he passed by the coffee shop every morning where she worked as a waitress and one day asked him if she could take his picture. What began as a side hobby grew into a close friendship and one of the most enjoyable blogs I can remember. Though their lives have taken them in different directions over the years, they still see each other from time to time.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Good News for International Purchases - Minimum for Import Duties Increased to $800

More than a few times I've seen a sale posted with great prices only to realize that the products are coming from Europe or some such place and >$200. It's a little strange, given that you were able to bring in goods up to $800 personally from an international trip into the US, but those same goods incurred customs duties if shipped with a price greater than $200. Worse, it was difficult to tell exactly what those fees would be, and on top of that companies like FedEx and UPS may charge brokerage and ancillary fees.

As of March 10th, a new act passed in the US raised the de minimis level (the minimum value of certain goods below which no formal customs are required and no taxes levied) from $200 to $800. Now you can order goods from foreign shops without the specter of import duties under the cap. This should also speed up shipment times on average and lead to more predictable total costs. Link to the Act (Warning: It's Pretty Dry). Personally, I'm looking forward to taking a closer look at shops like END, Cultizm, Haven, Japanese stores, and some nicer footwear shops like Carmina.

Our hearts go out to the Canadians as well as some other countries with crazy low import duty thresholds. Then again, your healthcare is free. But my shoes were cheaper...Difficult to say who's winning.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

In Review: Schott 619 Hand Oiled Lightweight Brown Naked Perfecto

Marlon Brando in his Schott Perfecto
Irving Schott got his start in 1913 working out of the Lower East Side selling raincoats door to door with his brother Jack. Schott was certainly never afraid of innovation, and a three years after becoming the first to put zippers into use on jackets in 1925, he designed and created a new distinctive, shorter length motorcycle jacket, naming it the "Perfecto" after his favorite cigar as he didn't think his Jewish name would sell well. Selling for $5.50, the jacket was an instant success, and it would continue to only grow in popularity throughout the years. In 1954, Marlon Brando wore a 618 steerhide Perfecto in the film "The Wild One," catapulting the popularity of the jacket to new highs. Sine that time, the Schott Perfecto has been incorporated into the very fabric of Americana - worn by people from just about every walk of life, plucked out of the motorcycle world and beloved for its bold styling, tough character, and touch of rebellion.

I bought my Perfecto during one of the past Mr. Porter sales in 2014. Somewhat awkwardly named the "hand oiled lightweight brown naked Perfecto," it's a special 619 model made with full aniline cowhide, a lean but classic silhouette, and all the things we've come to love about arguably the most famous leather jacket ever made.

Aside from this one, maybe.

Cha' mone!

Materials and Construction

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Wolverine 1000 Mile 2nds on STP for $139.96 Shipped

This won't last very long. Wolverine 1000 Mile boots are among the most beloved rugged workwear/Americana footwear out there. I own the bison leather centennial version, but I'd pick these up in a heartbeat if I could justify it (to my wife. I can always justify it to myself - come on now). Every time they show up on STP they clear out in a hurry. Note they're seconds quality, which is usually a cosmetic blemish of varying degrees (usually small and sometimes unnoticeable, but they can be worse in rare cases). 

Conventional wisdom notes to size down 1/2 to 1 size from your Brannock size/normal dress shoe size. Also note that "Cordovan No 8" is just a color, not actual cordovan. You wish.

You will need an extra discount code to get the price down to $139.96 with free shipping. You're free to use my code KVR6059B, but it is used up after a few purchases. Best to sign up for their Dealflyer so you have a code ready when needed. You can find some rock bottom prices on occasion if you're patient.

Update 3/9/16 - Yeah, they're gone.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Inventory Magazine to Stop Publishing

It seems painfully timely that we were just discussing the lack of quality menswear and style magazines just a few short days ago. I recently signed up for notifications in hopes of subscribing to future editions of Inventory Magazine, a biannual publication started in 2009, after getting my hands on a few copies while browsing through the Self Edge store in SF.

Company Overview:

"By offering a unique and global perspective on design, craftsmanship and culture, both forgo the temporariness of trend to instead focus on the brands, designers and artists whose bodies of work reflect a commitment to quality, and a desire for innovation. Working with established and emerging photographers, stylists and writers, the magazine places equal emphasis on accomplished journalism and beautiful imagery, and seeks to represent contemporary icons alongside future influencers."

Yesterday they sent out an email to their subscribers and posted on their site explaining that "the publishing landscape has shifted" and they are ceasing all future publications.


Mashable writer Jian Deleon wrote an interesting article at the end of 2015 about the slow death of menswear magazines that's worth a read. It also discusses the evolution of content consumption today versus what it was closer to the beginning of this menswear renaissance/revolution, noting that the "new breed of content creator is more than likely a handsome guy who looks good in a suit or whatever featured product is gifted to him, a stark contrast from the clothing nerd of five years ago. In many ways, it’s indicative of a dumbing down of what #menswear stood for, 'get the look' versus 'get the story.'" I have to say it's something I've noticed myself through many forum comments and postings, especially within the younger generation. I personally always want to know the story - I think that's vital to truly appreciate any product. In that sense, I'm proud to be the clothing nerd of five years ago.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

The Moment When You Know You Should Have Canceled Your GQ Subscription Years Ago

As if it weren't enough they got rid of Style Guy Glenn O'Brien last year, I've been searching for reasons for a while now to let a subscription I bought 10 years ago keep chugging along, aside from my own laziness to call and cancel. The one thing I have in common with anything on that cover is the inability to grow a decent moustache.

It got me thinking: are there any menswear print magazines worth reading? I'm considering The Rake as well as Inventory, but it's a little crazy to think there's nothing in the US targeted at readers with more than a casual interest in menswear.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Clarks Desert Boots and Wallabees at STP (from $55.96 + Shipping with Extra 30% Discount)

Sorry for the lack of posts recently - got back from a vacation today and had to catch up a bit. You truly never know what you'll find at Sierra Trading Post, but in browsing through new items I came across the Clarks Desert Boot and Wallabee on pretty deep discount - around the lowest I've seen on a quick background search.

Clarks Wallabee Lows in Sand Suede
The desert boot chukka is easily in most top 10 lists of boots every man should own, and the Clarks version is the prototypical model. These are often confused with the Bushacre models, which miss the crepe sole and strip them of a large part of their appeal, in my opinion. The Wallabee is clearly not as versatile as either of those, though I go back and forth between hating them and thinking they are really cool when worked into some higher level outfits. Conventional wisdom notes to size down from Brannock 1/2 to 1 size for the DBs, though I've heard Wallabees run not quite as large.

Do not buy these without an extra discount code. Here's my most recent extra 30% off code with free shipping over $100: NNF0406W, which should work for a few orders (they expire usually within a couple days or a certain order count), but you should really sign up for their Dealflyer if you haven't before. More info on that here if you're new to STP.