Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Good News Indeed - Barneys Warehouse Now Accepting Returns

Shopping Outlets in general are a huge bag of shady junk and more shady junk with sprinkles of gold hiding in there if you know how/have the patience to filter out the mountains of poop. There are some that are better than others, though, and Barneys Warehouse has the best combination of quality stock and heavy price cuts out of the online outlets by far, in my opinion. They often have extra ____% off sales that can drop quality brands to >80% discount, which is where I bought a Crombie great coat a few weeks ago for $400's down from $2450 list. I've also bought some Naked and Famous denim for $40's, Alex Mill sweatshirts for $30's, and they've had Buttero Tanino's recently for $130's, a ton of Drake's, Ermenegildo Zegna, Isaia, etc.

The downside to those types of deals to this point was that all sales were final, and not the J. Crew or Bonobos type of "final sale" where you could just ask them to make an exception and they would let you off the hook. I even ran a few searches to see if Barneys ever made exceptions, and prior customers noted that unless something was clearly wrong with the product on arrival and you sent documented proof of such, you could not return anything ever. They had to be approved by supervisors who reviewed the evidence, and so on.

That's a pretty big deal because Barneys Warehouse sizing advice is basically nonexistent, and that makes buying any items a risky endeavor, let alone expensive ones. Those N&F jeans I bought before? I had to sell one pair off immediately because I got the sizing wrong on a fit I hadn't tried in person (it's cool, the price I paid was so low I actually made a few bucks on it, but still).

This morning BW sent out an email that they are now accepting returns on men and women's clothing, although that comes with a $9.95 return fee with a prepaid label for shipping back. Even with the return fee, it's a hell of a lot better than being on the hook for a $600 coat that doesn't fit you, and don't forget that shipping on purchases is free. At most, you're committing ten bucks all-in on a deal that could save you hundreds easily on a good find*.

My general BW strategy is to line up pages showing 96 items per page by designer or recency (I usually use recency because I've been through the thousands of old items already) and then adding things to your cart to keep track of them - unless it's something you can't live without at that moment. Every few weeks/months, they have an extra 30-60% off sale that rotates through shoes, outerwear, clearance, etc, and that's when you can score great pieces at prices so low you can't help but smile.

Returns being a standard part of the system now on all clothing changes the game by reducing the risk of purchases being an all-or-nothing gamble to this point. It's definitely something to keep in mind on one of the best deals sites on the web.
*Note that none of this (except free shipping) seems to apply to accessories or other non-clothing items, so those would still be final sale.
**Unrelated Pro Tip - if there's a lot of a particular brand available on sale, be wary of why that is. Also, house brands may look interesting and/or well-priced, but they're usually very hard to trace in terms of quality and consistency, so I would avoid them in general.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Bloomingdales Private Sale Picks - Some Stacking Goodness

Tiered sales as some of my least favorite sales in general - you have to hit a certain threshold to make it worth your while, and often the discounts at those thresholds aren't that great. However, Bloomingdales is running a pretty good one right now that stacks with further discounts. I've run a few items through to checkout, and there are some really good prices out there. Now through 4/25, the sale automatically takes 20% off when you spend $249-499, 25% off $500-999, and 30% off $1000 on select items. This stacks with another discount that takes $25 off every $100 per product using SHOP25, and it works on sale items as well with free shipping over $150.

Keep in mind you have to hit a threshold of $250 to enter the conversation (so that usually means shoes and outerwear for me), but the rewards are pretty high. Picks below.

Buttero Tanino Mid - $160.06

I absolutely love my Buttero Tanino lows in dark brown, but if I had to pick another I would pick exactly these. Tuscan leather, off white margom sole, padded collar, cotton laces through brass eyelets. They're gorgeous. If they were in my size I would have bought them this morning and started working on a circuitous and meandering logic argument I would then present to the wife as they arrived in the mail explaining why I needed another pair. These sneakers are beyond awesome, and this price is as close to as good as it gets. Review here with fit pics (size down a size if you're not familiar). If you like a black sole that's available as well.

Monday, April 11, 2016

In Review: Tuscan Soul - Buttero Tanino Low

"Vachetta leather does not lie. It is not afraid to be the testimony of time."
 - Consorzio Vera Pelle Italiana Conciata Al Vegetale

I recently went on a hunt in search of simple and well-made low profile sneakers that I didn't have to baby and would age well - like good scotch, or Helen Mirren. This search ended up steering me towards a focus on high quality leather and craftsmanship as well as, to some extent, avoiding white sneakers (heresy, you say!). Don't get me wrong, I think minimal white sneakers (i.e. CP Achilles, etc.) are attractive and incredibly versatile but they can lack a bit of soul, and most crispy white sneakers aren't crispy white sneakers after a month or two. Many I've seen have a tendency not to look as fabulous when they get a little long in the tooth.

After some time considering all the options and factoring price and value into that equation, I landed straight on the doorstep of Buttero and a sneaker named the Tanino.

Established in 1974 in the hillside town of Cerreto Guidi just thirty minutes from Florence, Mauro Sani started Calzaturificio Buttero with the goal of crafting high quality riding boots anchored in the local materials and old-world craftsmanship the region of Tuscany is internationally renowned for. Named in tribute to the old cowboys of Tuscany, Buttero has since built up an international reputation for high quality footwear beyond its boot manufacture now with modern shoes and sneakers. They now have somewhat of a cult following, and I just drank the Koolaid. It tastes good.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Schott NYC Leather Beachwear - FINALLY

I love my Schott Perfecto, but I'm always disappointed when I can't take it into the ocean to go swimming or even just take a dip into the old hot tub. Well, the sleepless nights and crying days are over as Schott has finally listened to its customer base after years of outcry, countless phone calls, and some strongly worded emails with more than a couple negative emoticons >:o Schott has just released a full line of beach and swimwear guaranteed to upgrade your summer style, and people are understandably stoked. Here are a few of my favorites, of which I've already started putting money aside for :D

One Piece Leather Perfecto Vintage Swimsuit - $900

This is an investment piece; the kind of thing you could pass on to your son one day. Thanks to the ingenuity of Irving Schott those many years ago, the snapdown collar and belt help to minimize unsightly flapping as you slice past the hot ladies through the water like a Great White sex machine. The zippered pockets are also thoughtfully lined with mesh for optimal drainage, avoiding the much-feared "water bloat" that's turned many a handsome traditional one-piece wearer into a water balloon-like blob.

Given the quality of the leather, it should take on a unique patina throughout over the years as you stealthily pee into the depths of Neptune time and time again while acting like you're just resting and looking around.

The Sons of Stan - An In-Depth Look into Modern Minimalist Shoe Options

Buttero Tanino Low (captoe version)
I have to admit I've never been much of a sneakerhead. In fact, my hierarchy of footwear has generally been boots >> goodyear welted shoes > sandals/espadrilles > sneakers. I have a pair of leather Chuck Taylor Highs and Jack Purcell Lows from maybe a decade ago I can't remember the last time I wore and a dying pair of Nike Free running shoes I wear to the hospital every day. I recently started looking for a pair of sneakers to replace my hospital shoes but ended up coming to the conclusion that I'd rather just wear a cheap pair of sneakers to work that wouldn't kill my soul to get blood (or worse) splattered on - it doesn't happen often, but it has happened before.

During that process I also came to the conclusion that I need to upgrade my general sneaker game (outside of work) and that there are some really great options in the style of Adidas' original Stan Smith that cater more to my style; simple options that pair better with traditional/vintage Americana than, say, Yeezy boosts. I've actually got no problem with those styles (in fact, I really like a lot of them), but they just aren't my thing. If you're anything like me, take a look at the list below for some viable options in this classic leather minimal aesthetic.

There are a lot of quick sneaker lists out there, but this should be one of the most detailed, for better or worse, highlighting what I think are the strengths and potential weaknesses of each.

Common Projects Achilles - The "Gold Standard"


Common Projects Achilles Low in White

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the Common Projects Achilles, which has become the championed minimalist sneaker of the times, enough so that they've almost become a cliche in some circles. But honestly, who cares? They're clean, balanced, with a graceful shape and excellent materials and detailing, including the signature numbering found near the heel corresponding to the size, model number, and colorway of each pair.

Various 2015 Achilles models at Opumo

There are some potential downsides, however: 1) they're expensive, even on discount - something like $200's on a good day and a bit high at retail at $300-400s 2) they're becoming ubiquitous, sort of like what Canada Goose has become for the down parka market, and 3) they are minimal to the point that they feel a little bit sterile to me. That's not necessarily a bad thing, especially since ultraclean minimalism seems to be having its heyday right now. It's also something mirrored in competitors' shoes as well, so there are plenty to choose from, though the Achilles seems to be the bar that everyone is trying to surpass currently.