Friday, August 28, 2009

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Remembering E. Digby Baltzell - A Gentleman and Scholar

This article is a great read. It was discovered this past weekend when my brother and I headed up to Vermont to do some much needed cleaning at my parents’ house. He got there before I did and when I arrived I saw that he’d set it aside for me. Apparently, he’d found it mixed in with my father’s writing materials. Digby, like my father, embodied so much of what I love about menswear. Clothes were just one aspect of being a gentleman. The tweed and wool challis bowties were there but the key was to be well rounded. Dad and Digby had as much of an understanding of Plato and Cicero as they did of mixing a martini and running play action in the red zone. Everything was done well, but not too perfect. The gentleman’s c: To me that’s what its all about.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Influential Imagery - Dark Water & David Lees Photography

all flood images borrowed from the LIFE archive

David Lees, the Florence-born LIFE Magazine photographer, was just one of the many amazing people highlighted in Robert Clark's fascinating book Dark Water: Flood and Redemption in the City of Masterpieces about the devastating 1966 flood of the Arno river. The book is required reading for anyone with an interest in Florence or Renaissance art history. As a one time AH major, I can say that it has thoroughly rekindled the flame of curiosity in me. Lees' photographs of the tragedy brilliantly capture the sense of dutiful melancholy that was felt throughout the region by Florence's own people and the rest of the world. They can bee seen in their entirety here.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Grahame G. Fowler - 13&W Approved

Last Wednesday I stopped by W 10th St. to talk shop with Grahame of Grahame G. Fowler. 45 minutes later, I left his store feeling enthusiastic about the brand and the man behind it. Grahame is a menswear verteran and jack of all trades. He has worked with Yohji Yamamoto, designed textiles for Ralph Lauren and had his own stores in the UK and Japan. Currently, he is operating a painting studio in Long Island City, a scooter restoration business and the shop on W 10th. This diverse experience, and the travel that has come with it, plays a vital role in the feel of Grahame G. Fowler. It takes just one look at the garments to see the parallels between the man and the line. Where he is passionate and extroverted his woven shirts, displayed on the rotating laundry rack salvaged from the dry cleaner that previously occupied the space, are a mélange of pastels. His summer suits and odd cotton jackets are cut in vivacious tartans and plaids. “Its for the neighborhood guy on the go,” say Grahame as he sips his espresso. “He lives here because he loves life and that thirst for life takes him all over the world; Japan, India...He’s traveling so much that he basically lives in his suit. That why our clothes are made to be low maintenance. Everything is unconstructed, comfortable and machine washable." I got the feeling that it’s more than a clothing line for Grahame as he pointed to a vintage jacket hanging on the wall during my tour around the small, well-curated space. “It’s the Fowler men’s club. A group of us meet up and ride scooters ever week.” Grahame’s goal of creating a neighborhood hangout has yet to be proven a success but all of the elements are there: A great spot, cool people to talk to and interesting things to talk about (not to mention some seriously well made product to leave with). Made in New York and 13&W approved.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Shooting Sixes with AC Passarella

As promised, my Collective recap with AC Passarella of A Fresh Take/Adam Christopher NY/The Moods of a Man. Enjoy!

What’s your current role over at ENK?
I coordinate and handle all sales for ENK's three men’s shows: The Collective in New York City, which has been around since the early 1980’s, BLUE, which is our other show primarily driven by top-tier sportswear and denim collections, and ENKVegas, our latest show which will have it’s one year anniversary this season in Las Vegas. My daily routine varies: I can be on the phone with retailers one moment, coordinating marketing another or simply devising a sales strategy based on potential brands for a given season. There’s a lot involved from making sure retailers see who they need to see, finding new brands and assuring these brands as vendors are properly taken care of. Aside from that, I also work with the Coterie, Intermezzo (two of our women’s shows) and WSA which was newly acquired and re-branded so there’s a lot going on in my world.

What was your general feeling about the collective this year and what do you think it says about the current state of menswear? Who were your favorites?
Overall, I think the Collective was great. There's obviously been a slimming down within the industry due to the recent dip in the economy but I was relieved to find that buyers are still out there writing orders. While consumer spending habits are shifting, there are a great deal of excellent brands out there who are maintaining what they have always done and will continue to do so. One reason for the Collective's success this year was having Blue take place in the same venue. It was great because you had more classic, tailored driven retailers walking the Blue show and picking up a hipper, more youthful collection like Harvard Yard, who debuted with us this season. Conversely, you had a more contemporary store walking the Collective saying "Hey, what’s Alden doing?" Vendors at Blue were getting exposure to stores that they normally wouldn’t have access to and vice versa. In the end, it allowed for retailers to find new and different brands that makes sense for them and their customer.
As for my favorites, I’m a sucker for the new and old. I have always loved Alden, Edward Green and Drake's. At Blue, Gant was definitely a standout. The Rugger collection is a direct reflection of the brand's quintessential heritage and style and seemed on point for today’s market. Also notable were Steve McQueen, Tailor Vintage, Harvard Yard and What Goes Around Comes Around.

We all know you’re doing A Fresh Take, Adam Christopher NY & The Moods of a Man. What drove you to take the leap into the bloggeshere with three different mediums?
I started all three blogs out of boredom and creative frustration. I thought why not throw in my two cents. There are a great deal of people out there who are interested in menswear and the lifestyle that comes with it so why not satisfy that need from my own personal take, especially if it’s something I enjoy doing. Each one is my perspective from a different angle.
“A Fresh Take” was simply a passion project that has morphed over time - I wanted to show certain relevant brands and paint a picture, be it from an era or by creating an image. I try to mix it by showing a wide range of looks.
The Moods of a Man is an organic blog in that I have on-going images that inspire me woven and grown into a continuous mood board.

A Fresh Take is really concept driven. Its easy to see how any one of your looks could grown organically into an entire collection. Is design something you would be interested in pursuing in the future?
Designing and working on full collections from the initial idea to the finished marketed look is a passion of mine. Whether its a new retail concept or a look for A Fresh Take, I'm constantly writing in my black book of inspirations and adding to my blackberry notes that are a steady stream of fresh ideas. It all stems from the love I have for fashion, music, art, culture, politics, history, etcetera. I continually inspired by one thing or another and jotting it down. I have designed lines based off of everything from the Newport Jazz Festival in 1958 to Edward the VIII complete with color stories and fabrics. Perhaps someday I'll be able to put it all into work when the timing is right and things make sense. For now it's just something i enjoy.

How do you incorporate this designer's perspective into your current job?
I don’t necessarily need to have the mindset of a designer for what I do. Its more important to be someone who understands and can forecast trends on a grand scale consisting of different markets; knowing what retailers are buying and what's actually selling. A good tradeshow is comparable to a good retail store; it has to have the right direction, the right mix of brands and be merchandised in the right atmosphere. I consider it a store selling to stores as well as a place to get a sense of where the market is and where it’s heading. This affects my blogs more than the other way around.

Where do you see our industry headed and how will that be reflected in future ENK shows?
I think our industry is cleaning shop. That’s been said a million times lately but it is true. I see a return to quality and finely made goods as well as a rise in moderate pricepoints. I don't think that consumers will ever be the same as they were pre-recession. Mid-Level retailers and mass merchants make all the money. The smaller specialty stores have taken a beating and so have the bigger luxury retailers. I would compare the fashion industry to what has happened with the real estate and dot com bubbles. Too many brands, stores and people that essentially did not belong. When you have someone saying "People always tell me I dress well so I’ll start a tee-shirt line" or a store that’s when you have a problem. There were too many people involved who didn’t understand the business of fashion on borrowed credit creating a turn for the worst. I feel like we've bottomed out and we are headed for an upswing. People in the know always return to what works best and that's why I think ENK is positioned well for the future. Brands and retailers will always need a place to see what's going on and know what’s what within the market. We can fulfill that need because we’ve been around a long time, we know what works and have the fresh ideas to keep tradeshows relavent.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Joseph Leonard - Champagne on a Beer's Budget

rendering borrowed from

image borrowed from

image borrowed from

I love raw bar. I would probably eat oysters, clams & lobster (preferably on a hotdog bun with drawn butter) for lunch every single day if I could. Unfortunately, the cost of such a meal has always been prohibitive…until now. Joseph Leonard, Gabriel Stulman’s newest west village venture has made my dream of a raw bar meal under 30 bucks a reality. The place offers $1.50 oysters and a $10 lobster tail. “It’s like drinking champagne on a beer’s budget,” Gabriel remarked as he poured me a pint of Molson Canadian, one of my hometown favs and one of only three beers they serve.

“I’m freaking out on the inside, I haven’t bartended in four years.” he laments to my wife and I, though it doesn't show as he seamlessly weaves his way into and out of every conversation at the lively 13 seat zinc bar. He is as modest as his menu is eclectic...with braised pork hock, duck rillette, & shrimp and grits with andouille, I can honestly say that this is a place I could eat at five nights a week.

Monday, August 10, 2009

On the Radar - Grahame G. Fowler

image borrowed from jc/report

My lack of recent posts can be largely explained by a three week, head first dive into the west village rental market. While all my hard work has yielded zero results on a new dwelling, it did lead me to Grahame G. Fowler. I stumbled upon their week-old store this past Saturday in between apartment viewings on West 10th. Colorful woven-clad bust forms surrounded by anchors and vintage vespa models practically begged my entry from their residence in the well-rigged storefront window. The first thing I noticed when I entered the store was a half-lined blackwatch cotton suit. The second: its label read “Made in New York.” The third: it’s price tag read $600. That’s one heck of an opening price point for a half lined suit that’s made in the US of A. After speaking with Mr. Fowler briefly I learned that he’s in his fourth season and while it has been sold mostly overseas until now, his entire collection is made on this side of the pond. Unfortunately, I didn’t have my camera on hand but Mr. Fowler was gracious enough to invite me back for a few more words about the brand and some photos of the new store. I hope to have it for you all later this week so look out for it.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

This lobster is left handed...

The spring ’05 issue of VITALS MAN is my favorite magazine of all time. I still have it in the WC magazine rack at my apartment. It has dynamite recommendations on a Ravello getaway itinerary and insightful spotlights on then-emerging brands like Band of Outsiders and Adam Kimmel. A short piece in the back was entirely devoted to “The Updated Preppy Handbook.” It was in this section that I first saw the belt buckle above. It was labeled as a product of Craftmasters of Nantucket and after I did some research I realized it was only available on island. I’ve spent the past four years trying to acquire it. When I couldn’t find another vendor who manufactured something similar I tried to put it into the spring ‘09 vineyard vines line. Needless to say it was dropped like most of the other things I proposed…J. Crew ended up running a version about a year ago but the claw didn’t have the heft or sculptural quality I was hoping for so I passed.

Thankfully, This past February The Trad began his weekly column The Friday Belt. His first edition featured a Springfield Rifle Sling he picked up from Narragansett Leathers, a small handcrafted leather goods store in Damariscotta, Maine. When I decided to investigate the store further I found that they sell a whole slew of sculptural sterling and brass buckles, including my coveted lobster claw. I procrastinated with the purchase until last week but it’s finally here and I am happy. Thanks to The Trad for the tip and Ann Marie from Narragansett Leathers for being so helpful!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Talese's grant to tailoring

A closer look at the father of new journalism's semi-charitable contribution to the bespoke tailoring trade.