Posts filed under Style

Go Natural

On my recent trip home to Vancouver, one of the best things that happened was my brother and I getting mistaken for European tourists by the salesperson at The Old Faithful Shop ("you guys aren't from Vancouver, are you?"). The well-earned knock against Vancouverites is that they've taken the local climate and outdoor lifestyle as an excuse to dress in baggy fleece and Goretex all the time (blame MEC). Now, there is a small group of Vancouverites doing amazing things in men's style focussed in Gastown (Inventory, Roden Gray, Haven, Lark, Four Horsemen, and the aforementioned Old Faithful Shop), but the general state of affairs on the street is pretty sad. Given my Vancouver heritage, I of course have a few of these legacy pieces in my arsenal. Now as I gradually look to replace key foul-weather items, I am I going for natural fibre equivalents of fleece and Goretex. Namely, wool and waxed/oiled cotton. While these materials are not as lightweight as their synthetic successors, they more than make up for it in durability and aesthetics.

My absolute best "thrift" find ever has been this deadstock 1952 heavy wool Swedish army jacket from a local odds and ends shop for a whopping five euros. The thing is just perfect for all but the coldest temperatures, and has great deep pockets front and back (presumably for carrying ammo). While it doesn't rain a whole lot here in Lapland (most annual precipitation comes in the form of snow), there are still occasions where something a bit more waterproof is called for. I'd been thinking for a while of picking up a second hand Barbour Bedale off eBay, instead I'm going to go for the Seattle equivalent, Filson. Originally made for loggers, ranchers and hunters Filson is now another darling of the men's style blogosphere, still locally manufacturing the same time-tested goods. I think I'll go for the Tin Jacket, to which I can add a zip in Mackintosh wool vest when the temperature really dips. And how cool that I can order it from a real country general store in Williamsburg, MO.

So Vancouverites, and other denizens of the Goretex and fleece brigade, go natural for your next piece of outerwear!


Posted on November 19, 2010 and filed under Style.

Late Fall / Early Winter Look

Fall Look 2010Aside from all the darkness, rain, and slush, this time of the year is pretty great here in the North. The expectation of the first lasting snow and the transformation of mood and landscape into winter. After seeing a good selection of fall and early winter looks out there (Free-Man, Philosophy of the Well-Fed, Up-North), I thought I'd give a shot at my own. Shirt - Gitman Vintage Purple Oxford (Roden Grey) Blazer - Rugby by Ralph Lauren Scarf - John Malloy Belt - Tanner Goods Natural Belt (C-Store) Gloves - Norse Projects x Hestra Tan Staale (GoodHood) Shoes - Tricker's Brown Zug Ilkley ( Jeans - Nudie Steel Grey Even Steven (Yoox) Down Vest - Penfield (Yoox)

Posted on November 4, 2010 and filed under Style.

Lusting after Nucky's Wingtips

I know, I know... another shoe post. I'm in a bit of a shoe craze now, please indulge me.

HBO's new Boardwalk Empire hooks you right from the opening credits. In particular, Steve Buscemi (as Enoch "Nucky" Thompson) in his pin-strip three-piece and simply stunning two-tone oxford wingtips. I'm not sure if these are technically spectator shoes or not, since the highlight colour on spectators is supposed to be white. Instead, these have a lovely burnished tan, the middle line of punched broguing is a darker brown, with the heel cap, toe, and lacing area in black.

Really quite stunning, although I'm not sure how I would pull them off as part of my wardrobe (or what to wear with them). This of course hasn't deterred me from checking out what is available.  So far, a pair of Forzieri looks remarkable similar (the lighter tan shade could have darkened naturally or from polishing). The search continues.

Posted on October 25, 2010 and filed under Style, Television.

Horween Leather

Alden V-Tips After months of scouring various shoe blogs, and stumbling across the fact that Honolulu is home to one of the top Alden retailers in the world... Leather Soul Waikiki, I acquired my first pair of 'high end' shoes, a pair of Alden Cordovan #8 V-Tips. Thanks muchly to dad for tracking down the UPS guy making the delivery with about 45mins to spare before our flight (and for picking up the tab!). Also thanks to Takuya for many patient email responses about size and availability.

Now I have only the pleasure of enjoying the bliss of having these gloves of perfect leather on my feet. Seriously, I've almost walked in to people because I love to look at my own shoes. Slightly disturbing. Only slightly more disturbing is the fact that I've started to think about my next pair of Aldens. Sure, I was able to vicariously enjoy dad getting a pair of All Weather Walkers last week in San Francisco at the Alden store. Greg meanwhile is contemplating his 'Vancouver shoe' that would also be dressy, yet durable enough for site visits to the prairie dealerships in winter. He's thinking shell chukka with a commando sole. Or maybe in Kudu with a lug rubber sole?

Reading about these shoes only makes you appreciate the care and craftsmanship that go into making a pair, given that most of the shoes I've worn in my life were probably made in ten minutes by child labourers in a sweatshop in Vietnam. The enthusiasm of the retailers like Tom and Takuya at Leather Soul is the face most customers would see, but digging deeper we see the traditions at work in the Alden factory. But move a step further back in the means of production, and the same passion for the product and the production is still evident. The blog of the Horween Leather Company of Chicago is an amazing glimpse into traditional production practices that still persevere today. Here is where you can still observe something called craftsmanship that is largely lost in most of the crap we buy today. Thanks to the good folks at Horween, I have a newfound appreciation for not only the shell cordovan that eventually found its way into my V-tips, but also the amazing processes that go into making the natural Chromexcel that will produce my next pair of Aldens.

Posted on October 17, 2010 and filed under Style.

My Sorels

imageWinter is on its way and I can't wait. My latest footwear acquisition arrived yesterday - a pair of classic Sorel Caribou boots. These rate high in the nostalgia factor as I had the same boots as a kid in Prince George. Pity the once proudly Canadian brand is now US owned though.

Posted on October 15, 2010 and filed under North, Style.

A Hive of Style

After playing around with wishlist aggregators like MetaWishList, Wists and GiftTagging, I came across StyleHive which has some creativity, ambition and promise that the others lack. Beyond simply categorizing your shopping cravings, StyleHive does the whole social networking thang and promises "social bookmarking for the product and shopping obsessed." Prompted by a nice welcome message from StyleHive's extremely cute blogger Sabrina Yeung, I've decided to share my top five thoughts on how StyleHive can become truly stylish.

1. Differentiate links in postings.
Bookmarks are currently a mishmash of links to products from online stores, manufacturers, or other blogs writing about the product. There should be some guidance to differentiate these types of links. For a product, I'd ideally like to see all three kinds of links in a posting. For instance, if the product is a cool pair of shades reviewed by GQ, I'd also want to have the link to the online store that sells them, and the brand.

2. Non-product-specific links
While we're on the subject of the bookmark mishmash, there should be ways to encourage bookmarks that aren't about specific products, but might be related to 'style' or 'fashion' generally. The tagging system should enable networking links between such general articles (say on how to do a bathroom reno) and the products that relate to them. I suppose this is already possible in the current system, but I'm just missing a way to make it evident.

3. Where's the Social Networking?
Ok, I see people and I see stuff, but then what? Maybe I'm not getting it, but how am I supposed to make the social connections that makes this a social networking site? For example, I'm viewing Sabrina's 'hive' page and there's no button to add her as a friend. What if I want to keep track of what she is bookmarking and recommending? How do I build my hive of not just stuff but of people?

4. Where's the Social Networking (part deux)?
When I go to StyleHive, I expect to see stuff that I'd be interested in, based on the kinds of stuff that I've been tagging. Isn't this the point of a site like this? My main recommendation would be to follow the model of If 80% of what I'm listening to tagging is the same as someone else, chances are I'll like the other 20%. I should be getting recommendations based on my current stuff from other users, not seeing an unfiltered stream of latest or popular tags.

5. Where is the Style?
For a site with style in its name, there's an awful lot of chintzy crap that I'd rather not be visually assaulted with. If the StyleHive's creators don't do something to focus their 'brand image,' they'll be overrun by whatever tastleless self-promoters spam the most. Ideas could include some strategic co-marketing with key brands and merchants, or tie-ins with style trendsetters like GQ or Vogue (and others in interior design, gadgets, etc). There needs to be some focus here.

6. Import Function
This one is pretty straightforward. I've already collected a bunch of tagged bookmarks to cool stuff on and the aforementioned MetaWishList. Why should I have to re-enter them all again from scratch on StyleHive? I realize that a common standard for social bookmarks hasn't emerged yet, but many other sites at least support importing from, and if StyleHive wants to capture users from other 'wishlist' sites, they should probably develop tools to migrate data from those other systems.

Posted on July 7, 2006 and filed under Blogging, Style.