Saturday, May 28, 2016

First Impressions - Red Wing Beckman 9011 (Seconds from STP)

An In-Depth Look and Wolverine 1000 Mile Comparison 


Like the end of every Hallmark movie my wife makes me suffer through, after too long a period of will-he-won't-he flirting I've finally said yes to a pair of Red Wing Beckman boots. Truth be told, I was caught in a bit of a love triangle between the Beckman and its sister, the Iron Ranger, but I finally committed during a recent Sierra Trading Post clearance sale that made the Beckmans too attractive to not pick up. And who's to say I can't eventually get the Iron Rangers and have the ideal threesome? My wife actually, and this analogy has gotten weird.

Red Wing Heritage comprises one half of the holy duo of workwear booting alongside the 1000 Mile series from Wolverine (yes, of course there are a lot more but I would say these are at the forefront of popularity). If you appreciate the workwear aesthetic, it's almost inevitable you end up either seriously thinking about or buying a pair of Red Wings. Call it fate. Maybe even...destiny?

The iconic Red Wing scene from Star Wars - Episode V

It's a not so well-guarded secret that Sierra Trading Post has traditionally been an outlet for Red Wing to seasonally unload its seconds quality products - shoes and boots that did not make the cut for general sale due to minor cosmetic defects like scuffs or scratches, though worse have been reported. I've had pretty good luck with seconds with some other companies, so when the price dropped to a closeout $140 shipped for some black cherry Beckmans, who was I to say no?


Materials, Design, and Construction


Let's start with the heart of the boot - the leather. Red Wing uses hides tanned at S.B. Foot Tanning Company, its own tannery founded independently in 1872 in Featherstone Township, MN right down the road from the original Red Wing "Plant 1," acquired by Red Wing in 1987 as its exclusive source for leather.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

In Review: Thinking Eastside of the Box - Naked and Famous Kimono Selvedge Chambray Shirt

Japanese noragi-inspired work jackets/shirts are something I've seen around the net over the past few years and I've always wondered if I could successfully work into my own style. This review is an overview of that pursuit.

Jury's out on what this pose means
I tend to lean towards casual Americana and British heritage menswear, which this style does not fit neatly into. And while it's true that brands like Kapital and have been making Japanese Americana for years, Japanese-inspired clothing has been more of a rarity to see in Western wear that isn't streetwear primarily. In that sense this was a challenge for me to see if I could blend them together without looking something like this guy -->

So I took a chance during the last East Dane sale and picked up Canadian brand Naked and Famous' Kimono Selvedge Chambray Shirt, a noragi-inspired overshirt N&F have been putting out for a few seasons. I've spent quite some time now with it, and I think I've come to a point where I'm enjoying it a lot more than I thought I would.

A closer look below.


Friday, May 13, 2016

Found - Levi's Vintage Clothing and Gitman Vintage (both under $50)

I was doing my normal rounds this week in Philadelphia, and came across a couple great finds at Century 21 (Center City).

Levi's Vintage Clothing, the archival branch of Levi's, produces premium vintage models made with selvedge ring spun denim produced by Cone Mills and all the right details from Levi's archives in San Francisco. The line is fantastic and highly sought after, and I never expected to happen upon a rack of 1967 505 Selvedge Rigid Jeans (normally priced $225) next to a rack of Levi's Commuters. I usually don't even look through that part of the store with the  cheaper brands, but my shopping angel was watching over me today. Someone must have known they were different than regular Levi's because they were priced higher than the standard $30 or so, but $49.99?! Finding LVC online <$100 is rare, but $49.99 is ludicrous. Someone messed up.

Gitman Vintage has been at C21 for a couple months now, first on the website and then in brick and mortars (with online stock taken down a while ago), but now they're on clearance. That puts most shirts at $34-44 and shorts at $30's, compared to usually ~$100 on good sale online. There were a lot of crazy prints, as GV is famous for, but some great oxfords as well in standard solids with vintage detailing. Disclaimer - sizing is very inconsistent for GV. I went up a size for the oxfords, but a cotton flannel shirt was huge on me in that same size (both from Gitman Vintage, both medium). I ended up picking up an olive overdye oxford and a soft pink club collar oxford for $44.93.

Keep in mind, this is one trip out of maybe 15 or 20 that you find stuff like this, but that's why it's a game of numbers and stubborn deal-finding will. When you hit something like this, it's all worth it. There's still a good amount of all of those things available at the time of this post, though I'd guess it will get run through in the next few days.

Honorable Mention - a huge rack of Rick Owens leather jackets from $566. Awesome stuff and a crazy price if it fits into your style...penis holes aside.

Reviews on some of this haul coming in the next few weeks. In the meantime, keep your eyes and ears open, my friends.

On second thought, mostly just eyes.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

East to West Workwear - The Noragi Jacket

Left: Vintage Noragi with Sashiko Stitching, Right: Naked and Famous "Kimono" Noragi

Why are the Japanese so damn good at everything? I remember learning to spin a pen through my fingers in high school and thinking "hey, I'm pretty good" (for clarification, I didn't say "cool") until I came across a video of Japanese kids doing it (not the exact video, but you get the point). Down the street from where I live now, there's a Japanese home store that sells Japan-made products like elegant scissors and beautiful dustpans that have me legitimately asking myself "am I into dustpans now?" It seems the Japanese have had a solid track record of taking and perfecting whatever they can get their hands on for quite some time. They're even the best at being weird - not NSFW technically, though I wouldn't play it around anyone you have respect for or you need to respect you in any way.

Vintage noragi
Following WWII, Japan assimilated much of its menswear style from the US - most famously Ivy, outdoor-oriented "Heavy Duty," as well as craft denim production - and set out to perfect them. Today, the Japanese arguably do Americana better than America. But as much as Japan has borrowed style from the western world, it seems the road hasn't really gone both ways aside from the West readopting cool Japanese versions of Western-inspired clothing with brands such as Engineered Garments, Chimala, Kapital, etc.

Japan's workwear culture is actually older than our own. While our view of traditional Japanese garments starts (and maybe ends) with the silk kimono, hundreds of years ago farmers and craftsmen needed garments practical for work. This is where noragi were born, field clothes made from hemp and later from cotton, worn by the working class.
Vintage noragi - indigo boro fabric

Because clothing was so precious and hard to afford for rural farmers, old garments were repaired with patchwork fabric known as "boro" and "sashiko" reinforced pattern stitching to preserve the life of the garments. Boro is basically the antithesis of modern disposable fashion, and something I've come to admire about the concept of regret of waste, or "mottainai." If you appreciate the age in clothing, boro falls right in line with that, and the unique textiles have garnered a cult following over the years.