Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Know Your Sources

Came across this priceless old Die, Workwear! post the other day which reminded me to always be wary of a someone who never has anything negative to say about anything. When a site puts out nothing about products but glowing praise you may want to question why that is. At the very least, it should give you pause.

And that reminds me:

Don't buy a Filson watch. They're made by Shinola, a venture capital-purchased brand name that has managed to convince a fair number of people (including some watch sites I really like) that they resurrected industry in the city of Detroit out of the goodness of their hearts and that their watches should somehow cost close to what they do (it shouldn't need to be said that I wouldn't recommend a Shinola watch either). It's disappointing that Filson, with their actual hard-earned reputation for quality products at a fair price, either bought into that cult of nonsense or decided they just didn't care and wanted to cash in.

See my post here about why Shinola isn't what they pretend to be. There are plenty more around the net if you need a second opinion. Or a third.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Mr. Porter Sale Hits 70% Off

...and the site crashed immediately. Looks like some great deals to be had based on the page loading 1 out of every 20 times and then crashing again (around 2 AM).

I'd imagine this should be worked out in the next few hours, but trying to decide if sleep > deals is sometimes a tough nut to crack. #firstworldmenswearproblems. Prior picks here.

Mr. Porter Sale

**Update 4 AM: Most site functionality for browsing/adding products restored, but the shopping cart often gives an error if you try to modify it. By trial and error combined with rote stubbornness I was able to finally check out this Kapital Denim Peacoat at 70% off. If this was anything but the Mr. Porter sale or the Unionmade Archive sale, perhaps, I would have been asleep long ago. Turns out deals > sleep.

**Looks like everything is back in working order. Further discounts likely coming in the next week or two, and stock should be shifting pretty much continually during this time, so this is a good time to really keep on top of an item you really want, even if it's not in stock right now. There's a reason this is possibly the best semi-annual sale out there, bar none.

**Update 6/23 - Got the Kapital Peacoat in the mail today, which I ordered in two sizes to make sure I sized correctly. It's awesome - I'll be sending the Size 3 back, which fits on the smaller side of US small. So if you're around ~145 lbs or less, keep your eyes open in a couple days. Otherwise, look for some impressions or a full review here sometime in the future.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Baird McNutt - Not Just a Great Name for a Porn Star (+ J. Crew Sale Picks)

Baird McNutt for J. Crew

Baird McNutt has been making fine Irish linen for over a century out of County Donegal, first exclusively with handkerchiefs and then moving on to apparel production in the 1960's. Lately, I've been seeing their linen everywhere. Aliotsy at wrote a post featuring some Lands End "Around the World" premium dress shirts a few months ago that included some Baird McNutt linen, and Jomers just dropped their ultra-hyped chinos in four Baird McNutt linen/cotten blends this past week (which sold out in seconds as usual).

J. Crew has a lot of great Baird McNutt linen pieces on sale right now, most within the approximately $30-40 price range depending on the extra % promotion. In particular, the delave/faded fabrics have a ton of depth and a wonderful slubbiness to the fabric that is fantastic in person. There seems to be quite a selection in most sizes at the moment, which is surprising to me considering how much more compelling I find this to be compared to normal run-of-the-mill J. Crew fare. Honestly, it's the first time I've been really excited about something at J. Crew for a while.

You can find the Baird McNutt selection here on J. Crew's site, with  sale items currently running at an extra 40% off with code summer - otherwise just search for "Irish linen." *Update 6/20 - still 40% off, but under a different code (listed at top of J. Crew page).

Some of my favorites below (most of which I bought myself, unless otherwise noted). Prices include online 40% off/in-store 50% off. Embrace the wrinkles.

Irish Linen Naval Popover - $53.99/$44.99

One of the more unique pieces available, a nice take on WWII naval deck smocks done in navy linen with tons of great little details - buttoning stand collar, front flap pockets, drawstring hem. Take your normal size in this. If you prefer a different version, there's a white cotton (not Baird) horizontal striped version that also caught my eye on the sale rack.

End Clothing Summer Sale

I'd be negligent if I didn't mention the summer sale currently in full swing at End Clothing right now, which has a lot of solid deals and quality stock at the moment. Free shipping starts at $250 USD, but FedEx priority shipping for orders under $250 are surprisingly cheap to the US at $11.95. It's unclear if there's going to be an extra __% off discount later, though searching some previous sale announcements it has been known to happen sporadically. Note also that the duty limit was increased this year from $200 to $800 in the US, which also removes a barrier that's traditionally been a nebulous threat of possible additional charges to consider.

Some picks:

Barbour - Starting at $95 (most in $200s)

Barbour Bedale

Barbour only recently started allowing exports from EU retailers to the US, which is more great news. Lots of classic options available on the sale, including the Bedale (pictured at right), Beaufort, Liddesdale, International (my favorite), and a selection of collaborations with brands like White Mountaineering and Triumph, plus some McQueen models of varying attractiveness. I've occasionally seen lower prices (for instance, on Sierra Trading Post rarely that get snatched up immediately), but the scope of selection here is much better than most bargain-bin sales and prices are generally very good. Derek from Die, Workwear wrote a great buyer's guide on PutThisOn in October of last year if you need a reference for models or sizing, which varies between classic and some of the slimmer lines.

I own a fair deal of Barbour myself, but I'm going to take the opportunity to get my dog a waxed cotton coat so we have more of a cohesive style. I originally wrote that last sentence as a joke, but..I guess I was serious.

Edwin - Starting at $55

Edwin Tapered Rainbow Selvedge

Japanese denim brand Edwin, who were there for the start of the Japanese denim revolution 60 years ago, invented stone-washed denim. They invented it. There aren't many other manufacturers that can claim the same level of impact on the industry, and Japan is now generally regarded as the authority in premium denim production. I don't own any myself, but I'm hoping to get a closer look at some of it when I go to Japan later this year (if I haven't already bought some). Be aware that E.N.D. by Edwin that gets posted on some forums is a sister company and does not sell the same product as the Japanese version. From what I've seen I much prefer the design of the originals.

For its pedigree, Edwin is actually pretty well-priced. I'm tempted to try their chambray or western selvedge denim shirt, though with overseas return shipping and the ever-present Japanese sizing question it may be more risk than I'm prepared to deal with.

Buttero Tanino

Buttero Tanino - Starting at $155

I love my Buttero Tanino lows. I love them so much that I briefly considered buying a pair of mids from this sale and trying to convince my wife they were the same pair of shoes as the ones I already had (in what would have surely been a complete failure). That doesn't mean you can't buy them. For reference, under $200 is a decent price on sale for the lows. Around $150 and lower, I don't think anyone can compete with them quality-wise if you like the aesthetic. Size down one from your normal Brannock.

Yuketen Maine Guide Boots

Yuketen - Starting at $259

Probably known best for their Maine Guide Boot, Yuki Matsuda's Yuketen shares the same parent company Meg that includes Monitaly, Epperson Mountaineering, and Chamula (check out the Chamula Cancun huarache - not at End currently). Hand-sewn in Maine, Yuketen footwear has the rustic, old-world soul that's shared by the rest of Matsuda's brands. Not cheap, but assuredly of great quality and an aesthetic that I'm finding myself drawn to more and more. I've seen a native mocassin version I'm not sure I could pull off, but would love to try.

Yuketen also has a clearance page of their own worth a look. There are other clearance sites that carry Yuketen as well (like Yoox), and you can find a black mocassin version at 6PM right now for $377 and the regular Maine Guide even cheaper at Jackthreads here for $363.

*Update 6/20 - Mr. Porter just increased their discounts on Yuketen to 50-60% off, making them the preferred spot to buy Yuketen right now with boots starting at $264 and free shipping/free returns (absolutely no risk). There's also nothing to say that they may go to 70% off or higher in a few weeks, though that end game is always a big gamble. Check them out here.

Other Brands: 

Nigel Cabourn (mark my words, one day I'm going to own some), Aspesi, Bleu de Paname, and SNS Herning, Freemans Sporting Club, Inis Meain.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

A Tale of Two Gitmans

Superlative quality plagued by sizing inconsistencies

I picked up a couple of Gitman Vintage oxfords recently, and I have to say their attention to detail, quality of construction/materials, and their sturdy oxford fabric in particular are all great. Gitman Bros are known for their craftsmanship and completely Made in USA production from start to finish. Their Gitman Vintage branch incorporates interesting and archival fabrics into a "more contemporary silhouette," or slimmer than their main line, to oversimplify things. While I've never been a fan of some of the louder, crazier patterns GV is famous for, they also make some simpler oxfords with the same loving care put into the rest of their work.


Back locker loop, box pleat for movement
Gitman uses the same Cambridge oxford cloth today they used for their first stock shirt made in 1978, which hasn't changed at all over the years. A longer button-down point collar than we are used to seeing today, back locker loop, split yoke, and center box pleat, rear collar button, pleated cuffs, durable chalk buttons, and double track stitching with a stitch density of at least 18 stitches per inch all translate into a shirt that feels substantial in hand and miles apart in construction and fabric from cheap oxfords available, let's say, from a place like Uniqlo (of late cheap oxford fame).

Split yoke, rear collar button

I'm not knocking Uniqlo, as there's only so much you can do at a $20 price point - I own some myself actually - but the discrepancy in build quality is noticeable, and in retrospect I wish I had just spent a little more on something of higher quality to begin with. I also don't buy $165 shirts, but a lot of guys swear by GV and they're not wrong. I picked mine up for ~$40's on clearance at Century 21, at which price I think they're a tremendous value...

...If you can get them to fit you. In person. That shirt that you tried on yourself. In that color.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Staying Warm in the Summer - Buying Out of Season

It's been about 90 degrees in Philly and summer is in full swing, so I bought a greatcoat - a knee-length, double-breasted wool and cashmere beast from Crombie, and I expect it should keep me warm and toasty as I turn my collar up against the beating sun.

Why would anyone buy a winter coat in the peak of shorts season? Good question, and I'm glad I pretended you asked. For one, autumn/winter apparel is exponentially more exciting and interesting to me than shorts and tees, so I keep looking at it no matter what, basically. The second and more important reason is that buying out of season is often when you get the most for your money.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Mr. Porter Semi-Annual Sale

Today marks the first day of the legendary Mr. Porter sale, a bi-annual escalating clearance sale that's one of the best hands down across the board for both price and quality of selection - extra bonus is that items are returnable per Mr. Porter's usual policies, and their customer support is excellent. The sale starts at 30-50% off and increases in stepwise fashion to discounts as high as 80% off during the finale after a few weeks. A couple winters ago I bought my Schott Hand Oiled Perfecto at 50% off during the Mr. Porter winter sale, at a price I haven't seen since.

The best strategy for this sale is to buy right now things that you can't live without or items that will not survive to make it to deeper discounts (such as these Red Wing Beckmans). Otherwise, hold on everything else for the time being.

Take your time and sift through the sale, add things to your cart and sit on them for a while until the discounts start to increase. It's hard, I know. And you have to be at peace with the fact that some things you are watching will inevitably disappear. But if you play the game right, you can score some top quality items at crazy prices.

The game is on.

Mr. Porter Main Site

Some quick picks:

These are first quality, which to compare Sierra Trading Post had seconds quality on clearance at $199 for the longest time before finally clearing out at $140. I don't think you'll do better for firsts, and these won't last. Size down 1/2 to 1 size (1/2 for me). First impressions on my Beckmans here.  **Even if these are out of stock, I'd advise checking in on them or adding them to your wishlist, seeing as sizing mistakes are common and people often return. You'll need to act quickly, though. These are probably the thing most likely to sell out quickly.

RRL Varsity

A wool/nylon blend midnight blue varsity with fantastic vintage detailing. RRL is notoriously hard to find on good discount, and this piece is my pick of the litter, though there are some other RRL items worth taking a look at also. 

Friday, June 3, 2016

Nail Your Alden Sizing - A Styleforum Reference

Alden Parajumper boot in Shell Cordovan #8 (Frans Boone Store)

Alden is one of those companies that everyone into welted footwear wants a piece of. If you're blessed with the ability to afford a pair, you probably have some. If you're not in that position, you're pining after them. I...I am pining after them.

Alden at Epaulet New York
Once in a long while, a sale will be posted that bring Aldens down into attainable territory for guys that wouldn't otherwise be able to justify the normal cost. Those sales also get run through in a matter of minutes to hours, at most - the sort of event that make snap purchases a necessity if you don't want to get left out in the cold...Aldenless.

The guys over at Styleforum posted a useful guide to specific Alden lasts and sizing - something I'd take a look at or bookmark if you want to be in pole position when the next one hits. If you're spending time researching how to size boots you're interested in when a sale actually happens, you're not even in the game.