Friday, August 26, 2016

First Impressions: Levi's Vintage Clothing - 1967 505 Rigid Jeans

It seems that every time I turn around, Levi's has come out with another line of jeans I don't really understand the concept of nor the need for, but Levis' Vintage Clothing I get completely. LVC is Levi's archival collection, featuring jeans and clothing from different points in their storied history.

I was rummaging through the Levi's racks at Century 21 a few months ago, a section I don't normally take the time to sift through (I'm not really looking for 511's or Commuter jeans, regardless of the price), when my hands ran across the surface of something I didn't expect to feel - raw denim. You would imagine my surprise to find they were LVC's 1967 505 rigid jeans for $49.99 (!), and in the dressing room to discover that the fit was very approachable, even by today's standards. Yahtzee.

Levi's introduced the 505 in 1967, the "Summer of Love," and it quickly became a favorite among rock stars and the rebellious youth of the day. The Rolling Stones featured a pair of 505's on the cover of Sticky Fingers, and all four members of The Ramones wore 505's for the cover of their eponymous album.

Design, Materials, and Construction

Selvedge line and characteristic arcuate stitching

The 1967 505's are made in 14 oz (medium weight) sanforized Kaihara selvedge denim woven in a standard right-hand twill, though there were actually two versions made at some point - one with the Kaihara and the other using 12 oz Cone Mills (as they were originally). The selvedge line, originally plain white, moved to white with red stitching running through it to identify the exclusive XX denim made for Levi's. The fabric itself is a medium dark shade of indigo with with a nice tight weave and a moderately stiff hand. It's good stuff; nothing to particularly fetishize about like a super heavy weight or something with a ton of slub or nep, though you wouldn't expect that here. If you're already experienced with quality raw selvedge denim, the 505's should feel very familiar.

Included LVC brochure

LVC include a little brochure tag with their jeans to point out the historical design details you'll find on their clothing. You'll notice a capital "E" red tab label on the back pocket, one of the first indicators that you would normally be looking at a vintage pair, which was later switched in 1971 to the small "e" Levi's tabs we see today so it would read "Levi's" instead of "LEVI'S".

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Inis Meáin at Barneys Warehouse

Inis Meáin Lookbook SS17

A lot of warm-weather Inis Meáin popped up on Barneys Warehouse, and they look awesome. That linen shawl collar, the rolled edge and melange sweaters, that sweater jacket...great classic styles with the type of texture you can almost feel through the screen. If you couldn't live without one of them and bought it now I wouldn't blame you, though linen should be generally cheaper than wool and No Man Walks Alone has a similar range on sale right now for about the same price.
Inis Meain Moss Rib Jacket
Ideally, though, Barneys Warehouse isn't about buying things on sale. Barneys Warehouse is about delaying gratification and buying things on übersale, at an extra 30-75% off sale prices as BW is known to do. For whatever reason a lot of people sleep on Barneys Warehouse, so as long as you stay reasonably on top of your game it's rare to get something you want bought out from under you.

My spider sense tells me that most of these Inis Meáin pieces should be available for a while because the prices are good but not great right now, and get nibbled at by passers by until an extra 30-50% sale comes around in a month or two. At that price they're awfully tempting. Don't forget, BW does returns now (with a restocking fee), so it's not entirely risk free but it's a lot better than the final sale it used to be.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Allen Edmonds 20% Off Clearance

Now through Aug 15th, Allen Edmonds is discounting their clearance an additional 20%, leading to some incredible prices on first quality classic models like the Park Ave, Fifth Ave, and Strands. The big question is, do you like merlot?
Strand Captoe

I love it, personally. It's dark enough to be versatile and works well in most situations that a deep brown would do, but has a depth of color that can't be matched. Horween #8 would be a good comparison - perhaps the most legendary leather color ever made.

The Strand and McAllister come to $157.60, with the Park and Fifth Ave models at $189.60 with 3.5% cash back using eBates. Expect that stock isn't going to last very long.

Link to the sale (no code needed)

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Style Icons - Akihiko Nishi

The first time I saw a picture of Akihiko Nishi, aka gatsby_osaka, I think I said "holy crap." To myself out loud.

I follow a lot of stylish accounts on Instagram, but Akihiko lives in his tailored clothing with the type of quiet confidence and effortlessly grace usually exclusive to the Italians. I cringe typing "sprezzatura," an Italian buzzword hammered into the ground by the #menswear society which is roughly translated into "studied nonchalance," but Akihiko's style embodies that concept perfectly.

For anyone still suffering from the delusion that flat-front pants are the only flattering style out there, just show him some of these pictures and drop the mic.

Though my own style has been moving further into casual territory as of late, Akihiko Nishi is a real source of inspiration to anyone looking for a role model in developing a personal, expressive style - and doing it with such success that he looks equally as comfortable in a three piece suit as most guys only feel wearing a tee shirt and their favorite jeans.

After following Akihiko on Instagram  long ago, he'll occasionally like a post on my personal account of something like a picture of my dog sitting on the sidewalk, and I feel at once honored and embarrassed that I just posted another picture of a taco or something.

But just for the record, he takes pictures of his food too.

You can find gatsby_osaka here on his Instagram or his Facebook page.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Gilt Weekend - Extra 50% Off Final Sale with Code FINAL

I used to hate buying anything at Gilt. Their return policy used to be garbage (store credit only), which ensured that they were going to end up with your money one way or another, and their shipping has always been annoying. A little while ago they changed that to be able to refund purchases to your credit card as well as return items to Saks Off 5th Stores, though returns mailed back would still be subject to a $9.50 restocking fee. The obnoxious tiered shipping system ($7.95 for one time, or $9.95 for unlimited shipping for one month) remains, but in the end the process is much better than it used to be.

Beginning yesterday, they started running a revolving clearance on much of their stock, but almost all categories are fair game today; suiting, tees, henleys, polos, sports shirts, casual pants, denim, shorts, swimsuits, and dress shoes - and not a BS "up to 70% off" type of deal. Gilt is well-known for sending targeted codes out for an ~ extra 30% off your order, which happens every few weeks, but the extra 50% off they are offering this weekend is abnormally high for them, dropping many items to season lows. The catch, though, is that items are final sale, so you have to be sure of your order or be ready to try and flip them on the secondhand market, and savings are capped at $75 total discount. When prices are this low, however, it's usually worth a gamble. Fair warning, Gilt has never been famous for having great size charts or product descriptions (they misspell product names from time to time, even), so cross referencing with other resources is recommended. You also inexplicably find different products by searching the brand name in the search bar than in the 50% off sections, though the code still works. My promotion code also stopped working while I was futzing around with my cart (which they said has been a problem), but their customer service was actually really helpful on the phone and both people I talked with had soothing British accents.

There is an ocean of "meh" to sift through on Gilt, as always, but there are some good finds if you're patient, don't mind searching, or have some great guy posting highlights from the sale.

...Hey, here are some highlights from the sale, which expires this weekend.

**Note - if you don't have an account with them, it's free and you can unsubscribe from their emails easily. Here's my reference code to sign up if you want to join, which would be greatly appreciated.

Billy Reid

Billy Reid's brand is self-described as "low-fi Southern-bred luxury," focusing on classic styles with an emphasis on quality textiles and materials like horn and MOP buttons. I got a chance to stop in at their DC store a little while ago, and my impressions were pretty good. The problem is that there's not that much information on their standard fit vs. their trim fit and Billy Reid's site only offers up a generic size chart that notes "fits may vary by style." Super helpful. I've experienced size fluctuations in the pants myself, as well, in the past.

All I can tell for sure is that the Rosedale is a slim cut shirt, and most of the others seem to be in their standard cut. Measurements are listed for a size medium on Gilt's product pages, so that can help you extrapolate sizing, which seems consistent with Nordstrom's sample measurements for Billy Reid as well. So there is some risk you could choose wrong, but the very low prices here are very tempting.

Wings + Horns

The more of Wings + Horns I encounter, the more I like them. They often manage to pull off an attractive blend of modern and traditional aesthetics, and there are several items on final sale that are pretty interesting. In particular, that ripstop melange sportshirt looks fantastic, and the field pants have some great detailing and subtle interest in their designs (I'm buying these myself). I'm not interested in the whole camo thing, but if you are, all the better because there is plenty of that around as well.

Apolis Chambray Shorts

Apolis is best known for their indigo chore coat, but their entire line is generally quality-made using craftsmen at selected sites around the world. For $22.49, these chambray shorts look to be an easy bet if you're on the slimmer side.

Other things to look out for: Naked and Famous in scattered styles and sizes, Brooks Brothers shirting, GANT/GANT Rugger, and some really cheap Soludos if you need a pair of summer espadrilles. I'm interested in some of the Martin Greenfield stuff given his history, though I couldn't risk a final sale purchase myself, which also goes for Corneliani.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Hunt Smarter - Use a Web Monitor

I enjoy the daily routine of checking my favorite online stores and seeing what's new, what's on sale, and what's dropped in price. But despite that, checking in on my favorite menswear blogs, and frequenting sales alert pages like reddit's r/frugalmalefashion a few times a day, I can't depend on them to notify me when the best sales happen because being second to know about a super sexy deal often means you're the first to find out you missed it.

A webpage monitor helps you stay on top of things by tracking changes on web pages and sending you notifications when they occur. That way you can be the first one to know when something you've had your eye on drops in price or that pair of Red Wings on STP moves to closeout from $199 to $139 - the type of rare event that typically sells out in minutes.

A recent monitor I set up that notified me when a pair of Apolis pants dropped in price during NR's Clear the Rack event

Here's how to use one: