Tuesday, May 30, 2017

You Already Know What It Is - Mr. Porter Summer Sale Starts

The Mr. Porter summer sale just dropped as everyone is still stuck in the refractory period following Memorial Day purchases. If you didn't know, Mr. Porter sales are generally unrivaled in regard to value for the level of inventory available. It's not really a time to be buying J. Crew chinos. It's a time to be buying things you absolutely love for years.

Link to the Sale

In terms of strategy, the first tier of the step-wise discounts - up to 50% off - is best for buying things that don't normally go on sale. Think classic staple items or big purchases (like my Hand Oiled Schott Perfecto from a few years ago). Something like this Private White VC Twin Track Jacket that Ian Anderson/From Squalor To Baller did a review on a few months ago - a really nice price for what's essentially a next-level Barbour, and what I'd be looking at myself to pick up if I was in the market. I doubt all sizes are still going to be available come morning.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

A Guide to Proxying Japanese Clothes

Kapital Moleskin Ring Coat auction at Yahoo! Japan (current bid ~ $107 USD - most close around $150-200 USD)

Cultivating an interest in Japanese clothing can be a tough gig here in the US. Your options are often limited to a small number of third party retailers offering an even smaller selection of stock, and on top of that prices generally include the cost of import/taxes/duties + retail markup - all of which can add up quickly to a sum guaranteed to keep that frown upside up.

The problem would be solved, in large part, if you could just order what you wanted from Japanese sites and have them ship your purchases straight to your door. Unfortunately, the majority of Japanese retailers don't ship outside the country, and when trying to communicate with the other side of the world, things can easily get a little...


Enter proxy services - companies who will act on your behalf, buy and receive your items in Japan, and then ship them out of the country straight into your loving arms. In return, proxies normally charge a small fee for their services, but on the whole this method of buying can save you a lot of money and give you access to things you wouldn't otherwise be able to purchase.

In this post, we'll be going over the reasons you may or may not want to consider proxying, how the process works (in this case using From Japan's proxy service), and the places and searches I've been using over the past few months.

Why Proxy?

Cost - Saving money is the most obvious upside to using a proxy. The more expensive the piece, the more savings in general, especially once you take into account international shipping.

Kapital Japan Web Shop - approx $192 USD

Here's a real world example: Unionmade, one of the best menswear stores in the states, carries this Kapital denim jacket for $405. On Kapital's e-store, however, the same jacket retails for approximately $192 USD (tax has not been factored in on either price). When you add in proxy fees and shipping prices to that, a rough estimate would probably put you around $230-260 USD, depending on how specific proxy fees are calculated and what shipping options are selected. That's still ~$150 less than you'd pay in the US - no small amount of money for most guys, including myself. And that's at retail pricing. Used Japanese clothes tend to be in very good condition (and are often graded for condition), and you can get some very good prices for like new or new condition clothes on the secondhand market.

Unionmade Site - $405 USD

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Archive Sale at No Man Walks Alone - 3 Days Only

With the amount of sales that occur during the year, it can be hard sometimes to get a sense for what a good sale is and what could probably be passed over. My favorite online store, No Man Walks Alone, just launched their private archive sale for just the next three days. As a reference, for the quality and range of inventory on sale, you should know that prices are not just low, they are stupid bananas.

It goes without saying that purchases are final sale - so I guess it does go with saying. But if you're not sure about sizing and are as averse to risk as I am, Kyle at NMWA has been really helpful to me in the past with measurements and size recommendations. Things are moving fast, so I'd suggest you do the same if you have your eye on something. I would also highly recommend looking through the entire selection, but some specific pics below.

Link to Sale

Some Picks:

ts(s) Duffle Coat (size 4) - $168: 

Easily one of the highlights of the sale. I have a slight aversion to most duffle coats, but ts(s) hit the nail right on the head with their more interesting and sophisticated take. Sometimes I'm glad when things aren't in my size, because if it was I'd definitely have to buy this and then explain to my wife why I need another jacket. "BECAUSE LOOK AT IT" has never achieved the desired effect, from my experience.

Monitaly Shawl Belted Field Coat (size 44) - $159: 

I bought this a few years ago for about $350 and it was worth every penny. $159 is just stupid. My awkward fit pics here (you can also find some of Greg (from NMWA) on the Styleforum affiliate thread. The geometric stripe wool patch pocket jacket also on sale piques my interest as well, though that would never make anyone's capsule wardrobe list.

*update - field coat just sold out*

Buttero Side Zip Boots - $192: 

If you read Put This On and Die, Workwear, you might remember a few articles about wearing side zips (in fact, one was just posted the other day with some options, including Buttero). These Butteros on sale are fantastic and should fit the bill easily. If you're unsure about the sizing, shoot NMWA customer service an email and they should be able to help you out.


Buttero Tanino Suede Sneakers (multiple colors, taupe linked) - $126-130: 

I love my own Buttero Taninos, which have only been getting better with time. These prices are as low as I've seen. For me, the regular suede version looks great in taupe, but there are some perforated models available as well for slightly lower prices.

Camoshita Suit (size 54) - $393: 

Versatile it is not, but a great example of what makes Camoshita so desirable and unique in the marketplace today. It's not quite the price I've read about recently on a once-in-a-lifetime $75 secondhand Camoshita pickup at Street x Sprezza, $393 for a new Camoshita suit is still unheard of.

EoToTo Collarless Trucker Jacket - $105: 

I've actually been keeping my eye on this jacket and have gotten close to purchasing it a few times, but I've never been sure I could pull it off personally. A statement piece for sure, NMWA featured it during a tongue in cheek stylist contest for some reference fit pics a while back. For only $105 now, it's mighty tempting if you're looking for something to inject some life into your wardrobe.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Pardon the Cyberdust

Apologies for any disruptions on the site you might have noticed recently. I've been tinkering with some formatting and layout changes. Despite my Asian heritage and general computer literacy, web design and coding are still pretty foreign to me. And I cheated my way through my college Java class. 


You may continue to see some changes going forward, but I figured the best thing to do was to keep the site up rather than take it down while I figure it out, considering it can take me days to decide on buying a pair of socks.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Two Weeks in Japan: A Style Journal (Week Two)

Cruising in Shimokitazawa

This is part II of II of an informal style journal I kept during our trip to Japan last November (apologies for any formatting issues - Blogger is a P.O.S.). First week can be found here.

 Day 8 - Tokyo (Shinjuku): Isetan Overload

Isetan Men (photo from Match-jp.com)  

  • The Isetan Men's Store in Shinjuku houses the densest, most overwhelming collection of high end menswear I've ever experienced (check out the store brand list here to give you an idea). For some perspective, the mens store has it's own eight floor building apart from the main store. You could just strip yourself naked in there and let the sartorial waves crash over you. The only other thing that would make the moment more magical is if they had Willy Wonka skipping around the isles singing "Pure Imagination." Gene Wilder Wonka. Not Depp.
  • Golden Gai, a small area in Shinjuku filled with bars and small restaurants, is a really cool place to grab a bite and hang out, though most of the bars don't seem to open til later in the evening. A typical spot there has seating for maybe 8-10 people crammed around a small bar. Then you sit, drink, and smell each other. While we were checking out the area, there was a fashion shoot going on in one of the alleys. In the alley behind my Philly apartment, it's mostly a public bathroom/place one goes to throw up.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Better Sweats - Todd Snyder x Champion Collab on Sale at Century 21

I don't really wear sweats. I do coucher-cise in my living room, but cooler months usually find me in shawl collar cardigans more than anything else, which are more easily slipped on/off and tend to look better than the majority of sweats out there. That being said, if I did wear activewear I'd highly consider pickup some up from Todd Snyder, former J. Crew head of menswear design turned eponymous label, who partnered up with Champion a few years ago to create a rugged activewear capsule collection that's become quite popular. In the line, you'll generally find more premium materials, vintage detailing, and a higher level of construction.

Classic Garment-Dyed Sweatshirt (item info)
A number of items just got added to Century 21's site, with their standard garment dyed sweatshirt on sale for $34.99 (what I'd buy myself, currently on sale on the Todd Snyder website for $79 marked down from $98), short sleeved and french terry sweats at $29.99, and a smattering of other pieces for prices lower than I've seen before (you can skip the YOLO-type graphic tees, though). For reference, prior posted sales on deals forums have hit mid $40s range in months and years prior, but that's been a bit hard to come by.

If you've been looking at picking up some higher quality activewear but are not on board with whatever the hell is going on with the likes of J. Crew x New Balance (AKA the worst thing ever), the price of entry has been lowered temporarily. I have to say, even with my own aversion to the genre I've been close to buying more than a few times since they got dropped yesterday.

Link to the Sale (including mainline Todd Snyder items)

Second Link (for items erroneously labeled "Champion" only)

Sunday, May 7, 2017

First Impressions - The Summer Sandal - Chamula Original Cancun and Chichen Huaraches

Chamula Huaraches
Chamula Chichen (left); Chamula Cancun (right)

"You need a pair of sandals!" my wife decreed. I looked down at the old Rainbow flip flops that followed me from my younger years. They had held up admirably, to their credit, until the end of last summer when our new puppy decided to Pacman his way through the leather thongs. I have to say, though, while I've always appreciated the convenience of flip flops, I can't say I've ever particularly liked the vibe associated with them - a sort of graphic tee and board shorts sort of feeling that hasn't translated particularly well for me out of beach wear and into my adult life. In fact, I've been leaning away from flip flops for quite some time now, mostly finding myself in espadrilles during the hotter months over the past few seasons.

Chamula Huaraches

Last summer, I set my eyes on a pair of Chamula Original's huaraches, a line of footwear based on the traditional Mexican woven leather sandals. Now almost a year later with the weather warming, my old flip flops properly chewed up, and East Dane including Chamula in a recent sale, I figured it was high time to graduate to a better summer sandal. I ended up ordering a couple pairs - a closed-toed model called the "Cancun," as well as an open-toed version named "Chichen" to try.

Design, Materials, and Construction

Chamula Cancun
Chamula Cancun - Tan

Chamula Cancun huaraches (in brown) under construction (from Chamula Original's website)
Huaraches are traditional Mexican woven leather sandals of pre-European origin first worn by the working class and slowly assimilated into North American culture over the next few hundred years. First constructed with leather outsoles studded with hobnails, the more iconic form is probably that made with recycled tires for soles, though in modern times they can be soled with pretty much anything. Coincidentally, we happen to have a student of Mexican heritage rotating with us at work, and he told me growing up huaraches were typical footwear in his household. When I asked him about his experience, he remarked on the relative ease of which one might slip them on and off so that "when your parents are mad at you, they always hit you with huaraches." The more you know.

Chamula Chichen
Chichen pattern weaving

Typically, the sandals are made from leather woven in and out of the insole until the entire last is covered. The patterns created can range from the ultra simple to the ultra complex, and different patterns are proprietary to each maker. I'm particularly a fan of the repeating triangle motif on the Chamula's Cancun and the central diamond design of the Chichen model.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Drake's, Inis Meain, and Summer Clearance at Barneys Warehouse

Eidos x Christian Kimber woven sneakers

The weather's been turning lately. It's cooled off a touch for the next couple of days, but it was pushing 90 degrees here last week. At a similar time last year, I was buying a Crombie great coat. Today, it's a good day to buy scarves.

It might seem crazy and impractical to buy out of season sometimes (in this case, pretty much opposite season), but you clearly get the best deals as long as you're okay sitting on your purchases until it gets cold again. Barneys Warehouse, the best of the online outlets, started an extra 25-60% off clearance sale in the early morning today. Included in the extra 60% clearance sale are colder weather stalwarts Inis Meain, Drake's accessories, and some more all-season pieces at an extra 25% like Eidos Napoli and Christian Kimber.

Be warned - things tend to move on the quicker side during these heavy end of season sales for the more highly discounted items. Last year I sat on some Inis Meain items for a day and it sold out. I went to bed last night with another one in my cart and this morning it had sold out again. I guess it's God's way of telling me I don't look good in beanies.

Link to Clearance Section - I'd start here and then work your way outwards to the 25% off "New Season Sale" larger section, which can be a bit of a chore to work through the 4000+ items

Drake's - A good selection of scarves in classic patterns

Inis Meain - Sweaters on sale at extra 25% off, with better deals on other cold-weather accessories like this Aran cable alpaca silk scarf (pictured above)

Eidos Napoli and Christian Kimber x Eidos - A lot of Eidos Napoli, one of my favorite brands, including shoe collaborations with Christian Kimber up on the site right now. Size down one on the sneakers (pictured above), otherwise the sizing runs TTS

Other picks: Zanone knitwear (Incotex sister brand), Tomorrowland coyote fur trim parka, Boglioli sport coats, and a horrifyingly blingy Saint Laurent guitar case (you've been warned). FYI there are a few Crombie pieces out there as well, including a similar great coat to the one I bought last year for $480, but I would expect the discounts to increase on those over the next few weeks to months. You never know, though. As they say: 

"It's all in the game." - Omar