Monday, December 14, 2009

Hong Kong Trip pt. 1 - Hackett does Rugby

Our Kinkade Rugby from Fall 09

The Hackett version -release date TBD

I saw it immediately as we walked into the Chinese factory showroom. Our rugby shirt. My rugby shirt (my college colors that is). My first thought was that we don't make our rugby shirts in this factory, but Hackett does. I guess imitation is the highest form of flattery.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Hong Kong Hiatus

I'm off to Hong Kong tomorrow for my first factory and sourcing trip. Won't be back until the 12th. The following video documentation should keep you occupied in the interim. Enjoy and I'll catch you all when I get back.

Gino Iannucci in Trilogy

Peter Smolik in Fulfill the Dream

Fred Gall in Timecode

Guy Mariano in Video Days

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Borrelli, De Corato & Attolini - A Tale in Neapolitan Tailoring

I have always appreciated having a Borrelli store in the building where I work. Its easy to become completely immersed into the culture here and Borrelli's tailored Neapolitan aesthetic has continuously served as a reminder of my own identity and allowed me to keep my own design sensibility in check. On a recent visit I noticed that the sign above the door had changed. Upon entering, I realized that the name wasn't the only difference. David, the store's head buyer, explained that Fabio Borrelli's recent arrest just prior to the spring Pitti Uomo had forced the brand to cancel most of their orders. With the Borrelli company's future in limbo, the decision was made to take the boutique multi-brand. The newly named De Corato's current line-up now includes, among others, a made to measure shirt program by Finamore as well as tailored clothing by the unrivaled Neapolitan masters Cesare Attolini. The acquisition of Attolini is a true coup for De Corato as the move forward to encompass the entirety of the Neapolitan tailored lifestyle.

Enrico Libani of Cesare Attolini

Attolini's history in American menswear has been a brief one. Until recently, it was only available through Domenico Vacca, but the retailer and the suitmakers severed ties a little over a year ago, leaving the New York market wanting.

The boat shaped breast pocket

"We have a small but loyal following here. They understand that no one can match our quality," said Enrico Libani, the company's U.S. spokesman. Cesare Attolini, the company's namesake, developed and fine tuned his current manufacturing techniques with longs stays at Isaia and Kiton. Every single stitch is sewn by the hands of Neapolitan master tailors and their attention to detail is unparalleled. "Notice that the 'boat-shaped chest pocket' is curved. That is because your chest is curved. It takes an extra 45 minutes to baste this pocket so that it follows the curve of your body with more integrity. We have over 100 master tailors but we only produce 30 suits a day. Its our attention to detail that separates us from the others," said Libani.

The 2-button-tongue waist closure

Without knowing who I was, Enrico spent a similar 45 minutes with me, detailing the rest of the manufacturing process, fit and history of his company. This was done not as a sale or PR tactic, but because of the love and conviction he has about his product. "Its all about education," he told me as he guided me through a lesson on the interior construction of their tuxedo pant.

The shirt sleeve insert shoulder

Just like their tailoring process, Attolini educates their consumer the old fashioned way - the undertaking is longer and more tedious but the end result leaves a substantially more lasting impression. Congratulations again to David and the whole team at De Corato. You have made the best of an unfortunate situation and turned the excellent into the exceptional.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

13&W Approved - Gino & Guy

Gino Iannucci

Guy Mariano

For as long as I can remember, my family has chosen its favorite sports teams based on the vowel at the end of name of its star players. Despite being from Philadelphia, Dad's whole neighborhood rooted for the DiMaggio's Yankees. When I was growing up in Vermont everyone always found it odd that we were Miami Dolphin fans. When Marino retired Dad switched to Testaverde. Despite my marginal interest in team sports it carried over to me as well. I've been skating Girl & Chocolate boards for close to ten years now, mainly because of the two guys above. Like DiMaggio, Marino & Testaverde (in college at least) these fellas' skills transcend their ethnic background. The vowel doesn't hurt though.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Things Found - A J. Peter MAN

All illustrations borrowed from J. Peterman

End of Summer Waxed Coat - $192
Irish Sweater - $250
Annapolis Shirt - $149
Moleskin Pants - $129
Hoof Pick Belt - $98
Dominican Bay Rum - $18
Handsome Thug Cap - $119
Leather Trolley Case - $2,600

I didn't even know J. Peterman still existed but, thanks to my good buddy Kip, I do now. All Seinfeld jokes aside, the writing and illustrations in Peterman's Owner's Manuals are top notch. I put myself on the mailing list ten minutes ago and you should too.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Influential Imagery - Know when to Think and when to Act

Michelangelo's Lorenzo de'Medici, Duke of Urbino
image borrowed from here

Michelangelo's Giuliano de'Medici, Duke of Nemours
image borrowed from here

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Ravioli - A Ciongoli Thanksgiving Tradition

To most Americans, the fourth Thursday of November means turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce and sweet potatoes. In my house it is a little bit different. Of course we have all these things but all anybody really cares about is ravioli. Its a celebration pasta, only eaten on holidays. My father looked forward to Thanksgiving for two reasons alone: the time with his family and the time with his grandmother's ravioli. The clip above is from another one of his appearences on Mary Ann Esposito's Ciao Italia cooking show. This time he shares the recipe for our family ravioli. Try it today to add a hint of Italian culture to one of America's best traditions. Happy Thanksgiving everybody. The recipe and video can also be found here.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Fleeing the Flea

I stopped into the Pop Up Flea twice this past weekend. Was it to ogle the overpriced workwear both real and J.Crew? Nope. It was to try and score a business card from this guy. Sadly, I missed him but our overall conclusions about the event were the same. His response was so insightful that I won't sully it with a summary. You can read New England's best thrifter's detailed analysis here. Keep fighting the good fight Giuseppe.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Finding your "Style Sweet Spot"

13th & Wolf contrast cutaway collar oxford - $125

From the first day I launched 13&W I’ve been endorsing a style that is a balance between classic American and Italian. There’s a great pragmatism and utility in traditional American menswear that can’t be ignored. Similarly, Italian tailoring conveys a precision and sense of elegance that is unrivaled by anything made on this side of the pond. The mixing of the two is, to me, the perfect juxtaposition – my “style sweet spot.” The images above are two examples of this idea: taking the best ideas from both style lexicons and uniting them to create a truly enlightened garment. The first, one of our new 13th & Wolf contrast cutaway oxford cloth shirts ($125), is constructed in a sturdy, well-wearing blue oxford cloth with a barrel cuff but that is where it's similarities end with the boxy, Brooks Brothers icon. This one has a white poplin cutaway collar, French placket, no breast pocket and rear darts. The overall effect is something more crisp & polished (and honestly cooler) than its forebearer. The second, is a black pinstripe suit jacket by Boglioli. It is single breasted with a notch lapel, 3/2 roll and two button cuffs. While many of the details here would be familiar to a J. Press customer, the jacket’s cut, color & shoulder give it a decidedly Italian feel. First, the distinctly southern Italian cut is significantly more form fitting with front darts, a highly suppressed waist and rear vents. Second, the color is an urban, modern update to the navy pin. Finally, the shoulder is what I call a natural rope with no padding except for a small amount at the sleeve cap to create the subtle roping look. This type of shoulder is, in my opinion, the key to this look. The lack of padding on top of the shoulder denotes the sign of expert tailoring and the understated roping adds a great deal of strength and solidity to the overall impression. The point is to pick and choose the details you like from both style languages to create one of your own. It takes some practice to speak fluently, but when you do, it will show.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Fall Staples - A Vested Development

It’s close to 60 with the sun shining and a slight breeze in the air. You can’t beat a fall day like today in NYC, not with a stick. Weather like this is by far my favorite because it allows for so much creativity in layering options. I have found that a basic, tailored vest in tweed or flannel is one of the most versatile pieces a gentleman can own for such weather because of how easily it can be mixed with outerwear, tailoring, knits and so forth. The opportunities are endless. Above are a few ideas I like to run with. I hope they inspire you to find some of your own.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Today's Kit - Spring Style/Fall Fabrics

Swap the nantucket red chinos for wide wale cords, the navy twill blazer for a wool melton binded club jacket and a silk glen plain tie for a cashmere one
The last remnants of tanned ankles will be hidden by my grey heather wigwam socks soon, but not yet

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Fall Inspiration - Sartoria Partenopea

In Italy, its all about the jacket. Napoli's Sartoria Partenopea masterfully demonstrated that idea this fall by utilizing light grey flannel and khaki trousers as the perfect blank canvases for their beautifully cut and patterned blazers. I kick around the idea of elegance in my head a lot and the more I think about it, the more I move in this direction.

Friday, October 30, 2009

13&W Approved - Rugby's Thermal Rugbys

With the majority of Rugby's first holiday delivery up on its website I am excited to finally share with you two of my favorite styles from the line. Simple and effortlessly cool, these thermal rugbys are the exact sensibility that initially drew me to the brand. The term "Preppy with a twist" gets thrown around a lot but I've found that the usual result of that idea is a fake, bastardization of the prep aesthetic. With these, we took the most classic rugby body, details and trim and ran them with an unexpected fabric. That's it. No cheesy logos, no tacky tie stripes. Just classic style. The result, I think, is an overwhelming success. I've got them both and they will be layered into my rotation all through the winter.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Family first, don't ever forget where you come from, do it now.

We lost my Father one year ago today. Over that year I have tried to transcribe some of the most important lessons he taught me on this weblog. My hope is that they have inspired some of you the way he inspired me. Today's post is no different although today the words are not my own but my brother's. His speech at my Father's funeral was both eloquent & insightful. I hope you enjoy it.

Thank you for joining us here today on behalf of my family: my mother, my siblings, myself, and my dad. I had thought I would begin by describing my father, but as I look around the room, it is clear to me that virtually everyone in this room knew him. Nonetheless, my father, as you know, was a remarkable man. He was brilliant, he was dignified, he was elegant, he was selfless, generous, he had a great sense of humor, he was passionate. The assembly of such a personally and professionally remarkable group of family and friends -- and the condolences of hundreds more from across the world who wished they could be here to join us in paying respects to my father says more about my his accomplishments as a human being than I could hope to in words.

Indeed, as I thought about the daunting task of paying appropriate tribute to my father this morning, I was at times overwhelmed at where to begin. To chronicle and praise my father’s achievements would be impossible: he quite simply did everything and excelled at all of it. And he wouldn’t have liked that anyway, he would have viewed it as boastful. I also thought about my fondest memories of my father, but knew immediately that I had no hope of getting through those without sobbing incomprehensibly.

I thought about what my father would have wanted me to do today, and it quickly became clear. Life, for my dad, was always about lessons – lessons taught and learned. He looked for the lesson in everything he did, and he relished the opportunity to share them. Anyone who has eaten with him is familiar with what one of my friends aptly dubbed “lunch and lecture.”
And while he certainly could make any setting feel like a classroom – I suspect that is why the Socratic method of law school seemed so familiar to me – it was always clear that he did it out of an intense curiosity, a joy for human interaction and a belief in constantly trying to make the world a better place through mutual understanding.

So today, it seems most appropriate that, on my father’s behalf I share with you three essential lessons that he imparted to me over the last 40 years.

The first one is deceptively simple, but it was his overriding mantra:

Family First

My father was an incredibly busy man. He never had fewer than three full-time avocations: physician, writer, Chairman of the National Italian American Foundation, pundit, restauranteur, political advocate – and that leaves many out. As we reflected this week on all that he accomplished in only 65 years, my brother Greg wondered aloud whether there had been three of him. Indeed, each of you undoubtedly feels like my father spent a significant amount of his time speaking to you, and yet he had time for all the people in this room, and more. I have no idea how he did it.

And yet, no matter what my father was doing – from seeing patients to meeting with Presidents of the United States – he made unambiguous to everyone that he would drop anything for his family. For my dad, any success he achieved in his life was a direct result of the complete dedication and self-sacrifice of his parents, and he wanted his family to have no less advantage. And we didn’t.

His dedication to and love for my Mom is the stuff of fairy tales. We each can only hope to have that kind of true love in our lives. She was his inspiration and his rock, and he was hers.

For the five of us, his children, he was always there. He worked tirelessly to provide for us, and raise us to be strong, moral and self-sufficient people. He coached our baseball teams, edited (or in some cases wrote) our college admission essays, and advised and opened doors for us as we each pursued our careers. He gloried in our personal victories and assuaged our defeats.

And when his seven grandchildren came along, my father was a grandfather in the model of his father. And for those of you who knew my grandfather, you know there is no higher compliment.

And then there was his extended “family.” I remember when I was about 8 or 9 and it suddenly dawned on me that I had a lot of “aunts” and “uncles” given that my dad was an only child. But that’s because my father defined family broadly to include all of those that he loved. And for those who became his family, you know the same awesome sense of total security he provided. There is nothing like it.

The confidence that my father’s total selflessness to us provided was essential to that which we have acheived. I truly believe, as he did, that if each of us put our families first – before career, before personal fulfillment, certainly before politics -- each of us would be happier, and it would solve most of the world’s problems.


Don't Ever Forget Where You Came From

As an Italian kid from a modest beginning in this very neighborhood, my dad went on to do things that few people do. And yet he never forgot, and indeed trumpeted where he came from. As I’ve already said, he never received any honor or notice without using it as an opportunity to extol his parents and the tenets of their Italian-American culture.

He constantly said that life is not a single-generation race to collect the most toys or “tickle your hypothalamus” in the most ways. The key to life, for my father, was to remember that it is multi-generational. That you are where you are because of the sacrifices and lessons of those who came before you.

It is this approach that informed so much that was inspirational about my dad: his wisdom, his humility, his selflessness, and in particular his strength when facing adversity.

Each day I remember, and am thankful for where I came from because of him.


Do It Now

It is an understatement to say that my father's life was tragically short in time. I find solace, however, in the fact that my father did not waste any of it. He devoured life. He always had a project, a conference, an article, a trip, an idea. If there was a subject that interested him, he would study and master it, seeking out the experts in the field to hone his understanding. And I used to marvel at both his capacity for learning information, and the confidence and ease with which he would strike up friendships with highly talented people he didn’t know at all. Even more extraordinary was his ability to tell these experts that they were wrong about something on which they were the expert.

When he became interested in architecture, he sought out noted architect Robert Venturi. When he became interested in law, he befriended Justices Alito and Scalia. When he was interested in politics, it was Rudy Giuliani, Mario Cuomo, and Congressman Guarini. With literature it was Gay Talese and Jay Parini.

Getting sick didn’t change any of this. In the last year and a half, my father approached life the same way he always had – living every day to its fullest. He traveled to Italy for conferences, went to Alaska because he had always wanted to go, though exhausted from a 25 day cycle of radiation, he attended and spoke at my brother Tonio’s wedding. Indeed, just two weeks ago, though wheelchair bound and visibly affected by his sickness my father attended the annual gala of the National Italian American Foundation in Washington to be honored and celebrate the end of his four year term as its chairman.
Carpe Diem doesn’t do it justice. My father’s example always reminded me that each of us does not know when we will leave this earth, so if you want to do something, do it now.


Shortly after my father was first diagnosed last year, he sat down and wrote each of us – my mom and my brothers and sisters – letters for the time when he wouldn’t be with us anymore. It was his way of providing lessons he knew we would need for the future. In the letter to my mother, he noted that you achieve immortality through your children. What he meant by that was that if you do your job as a parent right, your children learn the lessons of how to live life, and they try to make the world the kind of place that you spent your life working towards. The best honor I can give to my dad is to live my life according to these lessons: Family First, Don't Forget Where You Came From, Do It Now. To teach them to my son, Nicholas, and to share them with you today, that you might help me make my father’s life continue in its most important ways. Thank you.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Fall Staples - Truly Timeless Bean Footwear

All images were scanned from a recent ebay acquisition; the Fall 1959 L.L. Bean catalogue

Friday, October 16, 2009

Blazer Buttons - A Lesson in Self Expression

image borrowed from the web gallery of art

One of the most profound lessons my Father taught me was just to be myself. This lesson is a general as it is simple but as with most things on this site I'll try to apply it to timeless style. Its been my experience that a man never looks better or more comfortable in his clothes than when they are a direct reflection of his own personality. My Father would have argued that a man is who he is largely because of where he came from. So how does your background effect your style?

A while back I got a great deal on a well cut blue blazer with hacking pockets. Its only major flaw was the set of cheap, faux horn buttons that adorned its center and cuffs. The tonal effect they lent the jacket was suggestive of my early Alzheimer's as clearly I was forgetting my suit pants. The sole remedy for this premature onset of dementia, short of scraping the blazer all together was to invest in a new set of buttons. After asking around, I decided to check out Tender Buttons on E. 62nd St. The shear amount of choice was staggering: Gold, silver, mother of pearl, leather, French, American, Spanish, antique, contemporary...its enough to make one's head explode. Thankfully, the vowel at the end of my name guided me straight past the waspy gold emblazoned options to the boxes of silver choices. My eyes raced up and down through the various buttons, quickly filtering out anything of French or English origin until a familiar, comforting image stopped them dead in their tracks. There on a shelf in upper Manhattan, cast in in silver, the brave Roman soldier St. George rode on horseback, his lance poised to mortally strike the dragon, his legendary adversary. As a Renaissance art history enthusiast (or a Mitch Hedberg would say, a guy who likes the Renaissance), this image holds special meaning to me. It was used as metaphor for the enlightenment overcoming the darkness of the middle ages by the Quattrocento sculptor Donatello. His rendition in rilievo stiacciato, which I visited frequently when I resided in Italy, also incorporated the first use of linear perspective in marble since antiquity. The buttons are not only a symbol a lifelong thirst for knowledge but a reminder of my roots and my own coming of age in Rome. I could not think of an insignia more personal, perfect, or inspiring.

And I also happen to think they look pretty damned cool.