I will be offline for a few weeks while I’m away participating in Paris-Brest-Paris for the second time.
If you are curious about randonnering, a form of ultra distance cycling w/roots in France, here’s an NPR report on the history of the sport (w/a soundbite at the end by me). I’ll post a gallery when I get back, emphasizing custom bikes, canvas bike bags, roadside eats and wool jerseys.
A spot check on the Beams Boy Instastory redirected me to this curious “office style fair” capsule collection. I’m still trying to put my finger on the persona or segment archetype represented by this clothing.
Denim for women is tricky. After many years, I have narrowed my own brand make/model preferences down to Levi’s LVC 501 (1947), Rogue Territory Stanton, and Sugar Cane 1947. I prefer old school, mile wide leg openings, high rises, and huge cuffs. I’m a not-so-curvy, shortish woman, so I can get away with modifying men’s models to fit my body. That being said, many friends ask me what jeans I like and what to buy. Rather than sending them on an impossible journey of denim discovery (minimum five year timeline), I’m trying to short circuit the search process and drum up some readymade recommendations.
Criteria: denim that is well made, durable, washable, stylish, and includes historical design features. Pricepoint is a separate issue. Most friends are willing to pay under $200 for what they identify as premium denim. Women who are looking for workwear for use outdoors may wish to pay less (given that the pennies-per-wear model stategy doesn’t really work when you are replacing your jeans every six months or so).
My current denim workwear recommendation is Gamine. Gamine started out producing denim for gardeners. They have expanded their audience to “geologists, farmers, and weekend warriors.”
Even when I am in austerity mode, I love to browse Rakuten to see what is on offer for Japanese shoppers. A decade later, I remain fascinated by all the licensed euro brands that show up in small Japanese web shops (Kempel, Danton, Yarmo, Sierra Designs, Brady, to name a few). I cannot think of another place in the world where brands and styles are imported, reimagined, and than sold exclusively to a domestic audience. Fortunately, Rakuten has developed a worldwide shipping service that has opened many webshops to international customers. I tend to browse the new shops for brands and than sift the used clothing sites for bargains. I am always looking for updates on staple items or cues as to how stylish Japanese customers are sporting their garb. Here are so recent finds.
FWK Engineered Garments lab coat paired with rolled trousers and Parabook loafers. As someone who locked in my high water pant height years ago, I love the Japanese commitment to the extreme ankle exposure and socklessness.
I love Japanese appetite for special white and off white color treatments. You won’t find these Brady bags or Barbour jackets in the US or UK.
Several fave web shops have reached stasis in they model catalog clothing. The approach applies to men and women and goes something like: knit cap, long chore or lab coat, baggy trousers, socklessness and sneakers, clogs or loafers.
Interesting twist on the UK Lavenham equestrian jacket. I like the idea that a summer jacket would be designed with a quilt lining. The pockets on the jacket are pitch perfect.
I’ve seen a number of web shops market kids clothing to women. For me, this proves that a customer base exists for heritage clothing resized to fit women (without compromising design details or creating separate colorways). I only wish more US apparel companies would adopt this approach (or at least expand the size offerings of the kids lines to include XL and XXL).
Danton is my new FWK Engineered Garments. I love the round collar, windproof jacket. I already own a few copies and anxiously await a new release in a melton wool or cotton twill.
I first encountered Japanese brand Anatomica via a Paris shop that carried canvas deck shoes (Sperry repros) and modified last Aldens. Recently, I started following the Anatomica Instagram feed which provides a better optic on their Tokyo store offerings (from brogues to berets). I’m primary smitten by their spare, unisex, sanded down military styles (lots of olives, beiges, flight jackets, khakis, anoraks) modeled by both men and women. Engineered Garments for an older, upscale audience. The Anatomica IG feed provides daily surprises like the sudden appearance of a broom motif or creative color blocking. At the moment, I’m wishing I could purchase the recently featured, padded pullover puffer which I’m declaring the official garment of 2017. Look for yourself.
Even as folks declare the death of heritage as a codified style gents (think: workwear, historic brand revivals, heavy denim, plaid shirting, work boots, tin cloth cruisers, etc.), I still remember its beginnings. I remain fascinated by this mode of dress especially as it exists (or does not) for women. In a recent Reddit thread on the closure of Archival, the highest vote betting comment was from a gent who wrote: “Bong bong bong, death tolls for the heritage trend.” I find the heritage dirge ironic given that I started my own blog in 2006 because no heritage garb existed for women (hence, my mantra of shopping from the past to find what I could not find in the present day).
In a future post, I’d love to document what amounts to brief but tepid history of heritage offerings for women from some of our favorite heritage labels from 2008-2016: Barbour, Filson, Wolverine, Private White V.C., Woolwich, Nigel Cabourn, Pendleton, etc. Nothing lasted and nothing seemed to stick. Princess panels, compromised fabrics, shifting fit profiles, overpriced offerings and competing messages (style over function) seemed to be the order of the day. It’s 2016 and I’m not sure we’re much further along in terms of core, capsule offerings in the areas of footwear, jackets, knitwear and base layers. Bright spots include shirting (thanks to Tradlands and Taylor Stitch), denim (always available), moccasin style footwear (Rancourt and Quoddy) and some fashion facing outerwear (think FWK Engineered Garments, Japan only Nigel Cabourn, and infrequent and inconsistent offerings by Filson).
Suddenly, heritage is dead but – for many of us – it barely launched. Taking a cue from the past, I’m hoping for a future time when “Rufstuff” re/emerges as a defining trend for women (and gents) characterized by clothing that is “as smart in line as it is practical . . . . [d]esigned to meet the demand for camp and country and stand the roughest usage at an extraordinarily reasonable price.” Possible? Evidence from the past:
We’re partnering with our friends at Tradlands on an American-made giveaway package valued at $600. Winner will receive an Archival Shoulder Tote, a Purl Scarf from Appalatch, a Hemp & Fleece Raglan from Gamine Co. and a Button-Up Shirt from Tradlands. To win, visit the Tradlands Giveaway page here.
Here’s a quick round up of some of my favorite photographs featuring women in classic, heritage garb. I always turn to these images as consolation when I’m on the hunt for a new outfit. While the vintage snaps are filled with ladies sporting khaki trousers, neck ties, plaid shirts and sporty blazers, the same items are nearly impossible to source in the present day. Here’s some shopping advice for the the 1913 lady in search of a new forestry suit. Note emphasis on khaki and corduroy as the default, go to fabric for outdoor rambles.