Thursday, December 23, 2010

listen to the sound of my big black boots

by frédérik sisa

When I was much younger and, arguably, much sillier, my eye got stuck on these bad boys and I bought them:


Unfortunately, they didn’t end up meeting my delusional expectations. For one thing, they murdered my heels, which meant I probably didn’t wear them enough to break them in but couldn’t really break them in without fussing with band-aids and the like. Catch-22. Then there was the fact that they took forever to lace up. And if that wasn’t enough, there was also the fact that ultimately most of the boot would get hidden beneath my pant legs, so what was the point of all that effort to achieve the look of a shoe? Besides, it was a lot of boot for a guy who essentially wears sandals most of the time.

I eventually did find a way to make the boots work, by punking it up with, ahem, jean capris and some tough-looking shirts. But still, the boots don’t quite fit right at the ankle. So much for my docs.

The other pair of boots I had was from Aldo; chunky-soled, hardware-enhanced badassery that people nicknamed my “moon boots.” Ah, those were a great pair of boots. Alas, they expired and that was the end of that.

Bootless, I eventually had to set out to fill the gap in my wardrobe. Plenty of sandals and a few shoes, but nothing really hardcore and rugged. Sometime last year, when my wife and I went to the Army surplus store to get some camping gear I spotted the combat boots. Light bulb! Unfortunately,I didn’t find anything that looked or fitted right. A typical brand in stores is Altama, like this pair:

(Image borrowed from www.altama.com.)

Not quite was I was looking for.

Another issue was whether or not to get leather. As an approximate vegan, I struggle with wearing clothes or shoes made from animal products. However, when I looked up vegan combat boots I typical found forums with conservations like this:

Boot wearer: Help! Does anyone know how to break in a pair of vegan combat boots? Potentially helpful person: How long have you been wearing them?
Boot wearer: Two years!

Needless to say, it wasn’t very encouraging and reinforced my suspicion of synthetic materials. So, leather.

A bit of online searching yielded an exciting discovery: Corcoran boots, a brand that’s been around a long time. “From the ‘Original Jump Boot’ that carried paratroopers behind enemy lines in Europe to the newest ‘Combat Boot’ currently being worn in operations in Iraq,” as their website puts it. They have a great selection, but I ultimately settled on the very well-reviewed field boot because of its classic design and cap toe, as well as the fact that they’re made in the USA:

(Image borrowed from www.corcoranandmatterhorn.com.)


Here are the specs from the website:
  • Full grain leather
  • "Spit Shineable" Leather Toe Cap and Counter
  • Unlined
  • High Speed Lace System
  • Internal Ankle Support
  • DRYZ® Cushioned Insole
  • Ribbed Steel Shank
  • Garrison Army Munson Last for Superior Fit
  • Welt Construction
  • Vibram® #134 Rubber Outsole

After a few weeks wearing them, I can safely say that these boots are flat-out awesome. They look great, are quick to lace, and are very comfortable too – I didn’t even have to break them in. Figuring out what to wear with them has been a fun adventure too, and I’ve been playing around with hard and soft style options to achieve a balanced look. For example, this quirky, eclectic, and edgy ensemble consists of the boots, black skinny pants, a loose black sweater, a long vest (grey, with embroidered patterns along the edges) of the kind Indian men wear, and an old-fashioned cap:


There you go. Corcoran field boots.

On that note, this will be the last post of the year. I wish you all the best for the holidays and will see you in January with all sorts of fun fashionable discoveries from the December edition of Unique LA. Until then, I leave you with Trent Reznor’s latest endeavour, How to Destroy Angels, and an appropriate track called BBB:


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

essie's manly man-e-cure

by frédérik sisa

It’s a good thing the word “metrosexual” has quietly slipped out of our vocabulary, if not to die a dignified death in obscurity than at least to stay out of trouble. The word is just too silly, sounding like a fancy term for urban dandy. Of course, there is some substance to the underlying gender-defiant concept. The fashionista with an eye for detail isn’t just a woman or gay man anymore – but was it ever really? After all, even a man can’t look like a million bucks without first racking up the thousand-dollar details, and the best dressed guys have always put themselves together down to the last hair. Looking good, in other words, is always in style no matter who you are. The rest is just the result of too much thinking and way too much judging.

So this week’s post is about one of those little details that do make a difference: nails. As a fashion anarchist who firmly believes that anybody should (be able to) wear whatever they want to wear, whenever and wherever, I’d say kudos to those bold men who choose to paint their nails. After all, colour doesn’t have to be just for women, rock stars, and counterculture subversives. But let’s get back to reality, which is that coloured nails and men, at the moment and for various reasons, make for an uncomfortable or simply unappealing pairing for many people. That’s not an excuse, however, for guys to ignore their hands or settle for giving their nails the odd clumsy bit of filing and trimming once and while when they want something with more polish. There’s an added benefit of ritualizing nail care; it offers a means of overcoming any self-destructive habits one might have.

So what’s a guy to do?

The option for something beyond the basics is typically a clear base coat, something that protects and hardens the nails. But there’s a catch: shine, which can be snazzy or ghastly depending on what you’re looking for. Along comes essie – a brand Aqua swears by; she won’t get a French manicure unless it’s with essie’s “Mademoiselle” – with a product designed especially for men who want to take care of their nails but not get fussy and, ahem, “metro” about it. It’s called Man-E-Cure, and essie’s PR director Arlene Benza kindly answered a few questions:
What led essie to develop Man-E-Cure?

At essie, we love our men! There was no product on the market that would give a man a semi-gloss finish – everything that existed was too shiny.

To address men’s grooming needs, we created Man-E-Cure, a product that would give a subtle, matte finish for well-groomed nails. The packaging even has a soft suede touch brown cap so men can see and feel that the product is just for them.


Does essie have plans to expand their men's product line?

Our Cuticle Pen and Apricot Cuticle Oil are two great products – we recommend them for men as well as for women and children. The award-winning formulas leave cuticles nourished and softened for nicer hands overall. Best of all, it’s easy and fast to use – use a cuticle product at your desk, on the train, at home, etc.

Matte About You, our mattefying nail treatment product, is another one men love. It instantly creates a matte finish, leaving nails cleaner and more groomed.

What are essie's ambitions and goals in terms of men's nail care?

Our belief is that men should be pampered as much as women, and we always encourage men to enjoy the benefits of a manicure and pedicure.
So there you have it; hear, hear! The brand that started in 1981by Essie Weingarten and grew to offer a line of colors, treatments, accessories, spa products, and lip glosses – now offers a matte nail protector for men. How does it measure up to real life?

To answer the question, Arlene kindly sent me over a bottle of Man-E-Cure to try. I admit I was bit worried that it would be too shiny. But no; it’s definitely matte, with just enough reflectivity for a natural look. You could, in principle, achieve the same effect by buffing your nails. Man-E-Cure is less time consuming though – it’s very easy to put on and it doesn’t gloop – and your nails end up with a nice protective layer that does look natural. Key, of course, is the fact that it doesn’t look like wearing nail polish, so for guys who don’t want to look advertise their nails will enjoy the product.

So all and all, essie scores a victory for men’s nail care – Man-E-Cure is easy, looks great, and is a worthy addition to the conscientious man’s arsenal of style. (How’s that for a purple turn of phrase – “arsenal of style?”) My only observation after four days of wear is that it seems to chip off around the edges, but I can’t rule out user error. I’ll follow-up in a future post on my experiments.

Essie sells a ½ ounce bottle for $15 directly from their website, but you can get it for half the price at Amazon.

Many thanks to Arlene Benza for the sample and her time in answering my questions.

Monday, December 6, 2010

men and clogs - the war and peace edition

As I mentioned in my previous post, Lindsey from Every Clog Has Its Day asked me some questions as part of poll on what men would like to see in clogs. Here's my complete answers to the questions.

What do you make of the idea being that standard clogs might be a little too femme in a lot of guys' minds?

I don't know if the issue is so much that men find clogs to be a little too femme as opposed to men reflecting broader cultural attitudes. Clogs in general tend to be the black sheep of the shoe family, even among women. Lagerfeld's use of clogs in his Chanel collection went a long away to changing how people view clogs, but like any trend there are supporters and critics so it remains to be seen how long the love affair with clogs last. Men, I suspect, won't generally be influenced by the ebb and flow of trends, which brings me to t
he more critical second attitude: as a whole, society "fetishizes" women's feet. It's not simply that there is a dizzying number of means with which women can adorn their feet: - shoes, jewelry, nail polish - and men's options tend to stay close to the simple and practical with a few refined designs here and there. It's that women have more fashionable and socially acceptable opportunities to "show off" their feet (and what they put on them) than men do. Whether at the beach or on the red carpet, on the street or in the office, women can bare or conceal their feet as they see fit. Men, however, are limited by societal norms that associate sandals with casual relaxation. A man exposing his feet simply doesn't fit into cultural notions of formal, even elegant menswear.

When it comes to a shoe as unique as clogs, then - especially open-back clogs - I think part of the problem is that there can't be a fashion space for men to wear clogs if there isn't much of a fashion space for men to wear sandals in anything but casual situations. The question becomes less about whether clogs are too femme" but, in what situations can men wear clogs and still have their wardrobe create the impression they want, or are expected, to create?

(guayabera shirt, Dickies pants, sanita clogs)

I'm fortunate in that I work in an office with a relaxed dress code. I've become known for my preference for sandals, to the point that I've occasionally unsettled people by wearing shoes. With a good amount of freedom, I've been able to wear just about what I want to wear, which means I've been able to experiment with taking business casual off the well-trodden path. When the weather is just cool enough to make sandals impractical but not so cold as to require shoes, that's when I wear clogs most often. With the right kind of clothes, I've made it possible to achieve a certain professional look without compromising on my own personal preferences.

My advice to men who might be interested in wearing clogs but are wary of looking "femme" is to consider that how one looks doesn't typically depend on a single accessory like footwear or jewelry. It's the overall look that counts, along with a good posture and a good dose of confidence. So if a man wears clogs with a dress, then yes, he'll look like a cross-dresser even though the clog design itself is gender-neutral. But if he wears clogs with, for example, jeans and a shirt, then he'll just look like a guy wearing clogs, although a particularly "feminine" pair of clogs (i.e. with heels, flowery patterns, or other features that we strongly identify with women) might create an anomaly in the overall look. Context is everything, in other words, and I think guys should be just as fearless in experimenting with fashion as women are.

Do you favor open heel or closed back design?

Personally, I prefer open heels. I like the way the clogs look and feel, of course, and the slip-on ease is wonderful (given my habit of sitting cross-legged, being able to take off my shoes easily is always a plus). But I also think open heels present fashionable possibilities to men that would otherwise be ignored. Open heel clogs can always be worn barefoot, of course, but there's also the option to wear socks and have some fun with that. Instead of the usual black or white socks, there's a cornucopia of socks in different patterns and colours, not to forget departures from the usual sausage casings like toe socks, with which to add some pizazz to an ensemble.

Having said that, there certainly is room for closed-back designs for those situations or ensembles in which open heels don't achieve the right look.

Do you prefer wooden midsoles that are light or dark...or stained black?

My preference really depends on the whole shoe. Since my personal colour palette starts and ends with black, with either grey or sanguinary colours in between, I lean towards dark woods and stains. However, I have seen clogs with light-coloured alder wood footbeds that I would gladly wear because the uppers look great and the alder wood provides a nice contrast.

Which of these upper materials would you prefer: Leather? Suede? Nubuck? Canvas? Denim?

As an approximate vegan, I am wary of animal products and the exploitation/cruelty that comes with them. However, when it comes to footwear I am often compelled to make an exception because synthetic "leathers" and plastics just don't breathe or stretch the way leather does, and many involved highly toxic processes. Still, canvas shoes offer comfort without the need for leather. Materials like denim and hemp also strike me as good alternatives. So while I'm not closed to the idea of leather, I'd love to see clogs made from non-animal, non-plastic materials - it's just better for the environment all-around.

Are there any special design additions that turn you off? Strap over the instep? Strap and buckle? Cap toe? Two tone colors? Harness (such as on a traditional Dingo boot)? Fur trim? Faux laces?

Are there any that you would enjoy?

There's a fine line between the ornamental and the baroque, and while womenswear designers have no fear about skirting that line, let alone utterly obliterating it, menswear seems afraid to get within sight of it. Without crossing into the baroque, I would love to see designers have more fun with ornamentation. Straps, buckles, harnesses, laces, zippers, cap toes, buttons...bring em' on, I say. How about clogs inspired by tanker boots? Clogs with lace-up features inspired by the footwear of choice for Roman soldiers, the ever-popular gladiator sandal?

Insofar as colours are concerned, I think a palette of rich, dark colours would be appealing in addition to the usual black, white, and grey - burgundies, forest greens, burnt oranges, and so on - along with a select few "shock" colours like the gabber blue Ford uses with their Mustangs. Patterns inspired by leaves and vines (as opposed to flowers), provided they are not too florid, would also be tempting.

About the only addition that would turn me off from the get-go are fur trims and animal print designs. I can't see them fitting into my wardrobe either aesthetically or practically.

Would you like a clog boot design more than a clog?

My own definition of clogs steers close to the traditional Swedish design, not so much in terms of material but in terms of form and how we wear them. To that end, while I greatly admire the boots that come from blending clogs and boots into a single design, I feel like the boot element tends to completely the clog aspect. Without the ease that comes with wearing clogs, and with too much of a visual departure for my tastes from the clog look, I take the view that when I want a boot, I'll stick with my Corcoran field boots, and when I want a clog, then I'll stick with the shoe style.

How would you feel about clogs with lug soles?

I like them. Tessa Clogs offers "mountain clogs" with lug soles and illustrate how well the idea works. The rugged look plays into our conventional interpretation of the masculine aesthetic - and they allow for more heavy-duty walking.

What would make a clog something you'd feel more likely to purchase and wear as a man?

Considering that I already own a pair of Sanitas, I obviously don't have any issues with purchasing and wearing traditional clogs as a man. However, I do feel that the barrier for men owning/wearing clogs is pretty high given that the choice starkly boils down to that traditional design in black or brown...or nothing at all. Since the traditional design only pairs well with certain kinds of clothes, it becomes limiting in trying to achieve a more interesting style. And for men who don't find the traditional design appealing or workable in their wardrobe, well, there aren't really many options. Tessa Clogs, at least, offers metallic colours, and Troentorp has robust, classic designs with impeccably good detailing that I find most appealing among all the clog brands I've seen so far.

If I were to sketch out a future direction for men's clog design, I would have to say that I would be most interested in clogs that are imaginative without flamboyance - clogs with architectural and industrial design influences that are manufactured with consideration for the environment using fair labour practices. The rest is marketing and showing men how clogs can work with their wardrobes and personal style.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

And What About the Guys? - Every Clog Has Its Day

by frédérik sisa

As a result of a discussion with a clog designer interested in designing clogs for men, Lindsey Cochran over at Every Clog Has Its Day polled men on what they'd like to see in a clog. Yours truly was graciously invited to participate. I'll post my full answers to the questions sometime soon - naturally, I wrote War and Peace so Lindsey had to trim - but to get the gist of what I had to offer and read what other men have to say on the topic, do click on over to read...

And What About the Guys? - Every Clog Has Its Day

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

3/4 length sleeves but 100% style

by frédérik sisa

I wonder if my fondness for capris stems out of a fondness for quirky clothing dimensions. And I wonder if this fondness for quirky clothing dimensions translated to my yen for a ¾-sleeve shirt. Yeah, that’s it. Maybe I just like those funny in-between dimensions whether it’s for pants or shirts. Ha!

Whatever it is, I had it in mind some time ago to find a ¾ sleeve raglan. It started with a raglan shirt I had made with a log of my own design through Café Press. It was part of my small effort a few years ago to persuade people to choose love instead of supporting California’s hateful Proposition 8. However with Proposition 8 having passed and gone into the realm of litigation, my shirt wasn’t quite relevant anymore. But I really liked the idea of ¾ length sleeves, so I recently set out to find a shirt that was comfortable and relaxed but not so casual I couldn’t wear it to the office.

Then it hit me: buttons. Yeah, buttons. Just the right kind of detail to make a raglan look less t-shirtish and more like a polo shirt, only stylish. At first, I thought I’d have to get a neat raglan somewhere and then figure out a way to add buttons, which obviously wasn’t very sensible thinking on my part. Thankfully, after rummaging through the interweb, I found these unisex ¾ sleeve Raglan Henleys from Alternative Apparel. They’re made with AltApp’s Eco-Heather, a “uniquely imperfect blend of organic cotton, recycled polyester, and naturally occurrind rayon,” with a nice variety of colour options including black, grey, grey/black, grey/green, grey/blue, and grey/red.

For myself, I chose a black and grey/black. I wasn’t in the mood to take self-portraits, so instead I"m offering you better-looking models from the AltApp website:


I fully intend to explore Alternative Apparel in greater depth, but for now I’m happy with what I’m seeing on the website. The company states a commitment to social responsibility – think fair labour and environmentally-friendly. And how do the shirts fit? Like a glove. They’re soft, comfortable…I couldn’t be happier. The ¾ sleeves offer a nice variation on the everyday shirt, the buttons add flair, and overall it takes the dull t-shirt and jeans look and styles it up. And the fact that they’re available for both men and women is a big, big plus in my book.

As a side note, I should mention that I didn’t discover the shirts through AltApp’s website. I came across them at jiffyshirts.com, which priced them at roughly $14, delivered them overnight (well, it would have been overnight if I hadn’t redirected the shipment, but still: overnight delivery at a reasonable cost), and offered excellent service all around.

Note: images are borrowed from Alternative Apparel’s website for illustration purposes only. If the copyright holder objects to their use, I will take the images down.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

happy thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving, dear readers.

No new fashion post this week, but I'll be back next week with a post about either boots or shirts. O, the suspense.

Cheers,

frédérik


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

troentorp and maguba - the timeless and the bold

by frédérik sisa

This week, I continue my look at Troentorp clogs – read my previous post here – through an interview with Troentorp’s Sebastian Macliver.


What is your role with Troentorp?

I started working with my father who owns Troentorp about a year ago and my role is now to take care of the website, sales and to think of ways to develop the brand and our products.

Troentorp has been around for a long time. How has the company, and the clogs, evolved throughout the years?

Almost all models were actually designed back in the 60s and 70s for example: The Raphael clogs went in to production in 1962, the Wright clogs in 66, the Audubon clogs in 67 and the Durer clogs in 75 so I think we can say that our clogs are truly retro :)... Having said that, the comfort has improved over the years, first with the all wood “Original” bottoms and then with the softer “Ideal” bottoms that most of our customers buy today.

What is the secret to Troentorp's longevity?

We think it’s the comfort of our foot beds, the quality and our unique style with real nails. In Sweden we also offer two different types of lasts to make sure the clogs fit well.

When we read about major shoe brands with products manufactured by exploiting cheap Asian labour in very unhealthy environments, it's very disturbing for us fashionistas who want shoes that are made ethically and with sensitivity to the planet. But then we come across firms like Troentorp who manufacture their own shoes in excellent conditions, as the video on your website shows. Can you explain what Troentorp's manufacturing philosophy is? How important has it been to keep the manufacturing in Bastad instead of outsourcing it?

It has been really important to keep the quality of our clogs and we feel that having your own factory helps ensuring the quality and it also means we can make sure the production is good to the guys in the factory and the environment. We may end up doing some parts of the work in other European countries going forward but would want to either have our own production or work very closely with a partner to make sure neither the quality, working conditions or the environment suffers.

What is Troentorp's experience with selling and marketing clogs in the US versus Europe? Given your company's long history, how do you think European and North American fashions have, in their own ways, made the clog an icon?

We have actually always sold quite well in the USA and have a lot of American customers that have been using our clogs for 20 – 30 years. I think we managed to keep sales especially in Scandinavia and the USA because people like the fit and the comfort of our clogs.

What's next for Troentorp? Do you have any new styles planned - a ventilated clog for men, perhaps?

Yes we have a few models on their way. We are doing the final modelling work to a Troentorp clog boot and some new sandal models. We are aiming to commit to develop one new model per month after the New Year and also to expand the color options available.

Sebastian isn’t only involved with Troentorp, however; he’s launched a brand called Maguba, ostensibly geared towards the younger set although I prefer to think of it as the young-at-heart set. However you call it, one thing’s for certain: Maguda offers energetic clogs in the $120 range with vibrant colours and shapes, a rebuttal to the misconception of clogs as stuffy footwear. And especially exciting for clog-lovin’ ladies: create your own Magubas by choosing an overall style and colours for the soles and uppers.


How did "friends from Sweden, Italy, and Mexico" come together and create Maguba?
When I started Maguba two of my flat mates from Mexico and Italy here in London helped me a lot. They are now working with other things but we still meet up all the time and I often ask for their advice.
What did you have to do to go from concept to production?
Well I am pretty lucky in that I grew up with my father’s clog factory next to our house so when we started working with the first Maguba collection I had access to the factory and the knowledge of several guys who have been working with clogs for over 30 and even 40 years.
So you have bright and colourful clogs for young and young-at-heart women, but not for guys. It is a matter of preference or is it just the case that there's a stronger market for women?
We would love to do a men’s collection in the future but so far there just hasn’t been time. We have definitely felt that the market for women has been much stronger.


In creating Maguba, when did you decide to make the environment a key value?

It is just something we think is important so it was clear from the beginning and we are continuing to look at ways to improve with the materials we use and packaging.

What's next for Maguba? Can we get a sneak peek of what the future has in store?

We are just starting to work on the collection for next fall now so I can’t tell you much at the moment :). I have sent you some pictures of the spring collection instead.
(Maguba: Monaco clog - the fresh, modern simplicity of the lines and the cutout makes for a very attractive clog.)

(Maguba: Paris clog - the rib-like effect makes it a clog for land sharks, and I mean that entirely in a good way. This clog offers lots of visual dazzle.)

Between Troentorp’s enduring classics and Maguba’s bold modern sensibilities, clog fans have some great options to choose from to fit their own personal style. Many thanks to Sebastian for insight into a classic brand and for the introduction to a hip new brand.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

keeping warm and cheery with j. jill's november collection

by frédérik sisa

I know I should be out there looking for new designers and introducing them to you – and I will. Promise. I’ll also continue with Troentorp Clogs and a fun kindred brand soon. For this week’s post, however, I just can’t resist revisiting J. Jill: the November Collection is another manifestation of their excellent design sensibilities, and the combination of simple elegance with splashes of colour makes for a lovely autumn/winter collection worth checking out.

For whatever reason, J. Jill always makes me think of New England. I have visions of autumn in a region of mutable trees, Cape Cod architecture, fishing villages, fog, lighthouses, old dwellings, the sea, beaten paths, historic towns. What I’m getting at, in my own strange way, is this: a timeless romantic quality embodied in supple lines and forms, lush materials, and without a trace of pretension or ego. The November Collection takes this quality and evolves it in a direction of dressier fare for those happy get-togethers with friends and mulled cider, and layered looks for the cooling season. And all as part of J. Jill’s “Her Story” concept, which is centered on offering effortless style to women – real “design within reach,” if you will.

To get a bit of insight into J. Jill’s latest, I turned to VP of Design and Product Development Michael Leva, who previously spoke with me about J. Jill’s design philosophy. His words are italicized below, and remember that you can embiggen all images by clicking on them.

For November we wanted to bring her all the styles she’s looking for to get her through the holiday season looking great. It’s hip and current, and true to the J.Jill brand and style. From holiday dressing to cozy sweaters, to luxury accessories and everyday pieces to live in, we have really captured that. She can just put it on and go, and always look completely put together. We also used more colors this season such as pinks, reds and purple. Adding one note of color looks fresh in a graphic way, but one that is not too sharp.

Some elements of the collection represent a departure from the usual offerings.

We are truly excited about our holiday dressing assortment, as it is the first real dressy collection we have done. With an elegant simplicity, we dressed up our knits and simple styles adding silk, velvet and shimmer. We’ve expanded the J.Jill heritage velvet adding more pieces for versatility, and brought in some great silk tunics and tanks, along with sparkly sweaters and dressy toppers to complete the looks. It’s dressy with a laid back ease. She can take these pieces and easily create her own looks for every occasion.
(starlight cardigan, silk charmeuse tank, authentic skinny jeans; the collar on the cardigan is very striking)

(velvet boyfriend jacket, silk charmeus tunic, authentic skinny jeans, Long Faceted Stone Necklace, faceted stone bracelet: skinny jeans are back,and I love how the formal contrast between straight jeans and fluid jacket)

In the “keep your bippy warm” department…
Our luxurious sweater collection is another big story for November. We have added amazing luxury fibers such as supersoft Italian wool, cashmere, and alpaca blends to this collection that includes sweaters, cardigans, turtlenecks, dresses and accessories. We also added a luxe tweed collection, which is versatile while adding elevated style. Our unique blend of extra fine wool and cashmere brings softness and quality to our collections, giving her luxurious sweaters at a great value.
(alpaca-blend cardigan, chunky knit hat)(luxe sweater dress, luxe scarf and mittens, tall buckle boots)

(simple tweed topper, luxe tweed scarf, Ruched turtleneck, ponte knit pencil skirt)

And finally for the perfect coat that she can toss on anytime, we approached our outwear collection as a simple fashion answer that adds that extra degree of warmth with style; and one that works with all our looks.

(fleece topper, authentic fit skinny jeans, chunky knit scarf)

(double-faced wool coat, luxe twee scarf, live in turtleneck sweater, vintage skinny cords, burnished leather gloves)

So there you have it. Many thanks to Michael Leva and Debra Fernandes for the introduction to a beautiful collection.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

troentorp clogs: style enough for guys, too

by frédérik sisa

These are my trusty Sanita clogs, the second pair of clogs I’ve owned:

The first were the wooden kinds – I don’t remember the brand – with uppers that chafed and blistered like a son-of-a-gun. Moleskin helped with that, to some extent, but even with the extra padding they were never comfortable enough to wear regularly. Their eventual fate: donation to Goodwill, where hopefully someone else was able to make good use of them.

But the non-wooden Sanitas, which are very comfortable, kindled my appreciation for the shoe a lot of people love to hate, and they’ve become a valued part of my shoe closet, especially for those days that are too cool for sandals but not so cold as to force me to wear shoes. Plus, I just love the way they look.

In short, kids, I’m a clog fan and I’m not ashamed to admit it, particularly since, as Lindsey reveals on a daily basis, clogs don’t have to be the traditional Swedish kind. Although I’m probably less flexible in my definition of a clog that Lindsey is, I nevertheless can’t help but be impressed by the variety of clog designs out there. Alas, there’s a problem, and I’m sure you know what it is: there isn’t nearly as much design variety for men as there is for women. So while I really like my Sanita clogs and their simple, contemporary style, I find myself wondering if us guys can get something with a bit more punch, something a bit dressier.

Looking around online, I have to say the options don’t fill me with enthusiasm. Sanita and Dansko have nice, professional offerings, but nothing that really bursts with enough personality for. (I say this without knocking their design. There is definitely a time and a place for footwear that doesn’t call attention to itself, and that’s another reason I quite like my Sanitas.) Tessa Clogs, with metallic colour options, is definitely a step in the right direction but not quite what I’m looking for at the moment, however noteworthy. Then there’s Sven, which certainly has a variety of compelling styles and the appealing promise of custom offerings – yet it just seems too fussy for me.

Then, at last, there is Troentorp (aka Bastad), and something to get excited about. Unfortunately, I can’t personally vouch for the experience of wearing Troentorp clogs. But I feel perfectly justified in adding Troentorp clogs to my “must-have” (eventually) list. For one thing, they’ve been around a long time, ever a since a fellow by the name of August Johansson began making wooden clogs in 1907 (in Troentorp, Sweden, of course). The name is well-known among clog lovers; their reputation is excellent. Of course, it’s the design that clinches it, and looking through their catalog reveals a selection of styles that are traditional in spirit but sophisticated in execution. It’s the detailing, you see, that gives these a refined character. Nails instead of staples. Anatomical alder wood footbed. 1" heat-bonded polyurethane sole with non-skid tread that cuts down on noise and the effects of hard floors. Uppers that offer careful ornamentation that, in those styles with laces or buckles, also serves a practical purpose.

For a sample of Troentorp’s offerings, here’s the Durer (roughly $106), available in black, red, and brown:


And, my favourite, the classy Audubon (roughly $110), available in black, blue, brown, and white:


Of course, they also have a lovely selection of closed-back clogs and, as a bonus for the ladies, a selection of clog sandals. In my next post, I’ll continue with Troentorp by sharing an interview with Sebastian Macliver. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

united colours of...dickies?

by frédérik sisa

A few years ago, I got it in my head to find a pair of red pants. That’s right, RED pants, which isn’t really a violation of my all-black dress code, because the code really is: black, grey, and sanguinary colours, which includes red and purple. In any case, try finding men’s jeans and pants in colours other than the usual indigo, black, or khaki, an atrocious colour that, tellingly, sounds an awful lot like a synonym for poop.

So, Dickies (see previous post here). I don’t remember what prompted me to look them up in the first place, but I did and I found some nice, bright, fire-engine red work pants. Not for the squeamish, I admit, but when worn in the right time and place, it makes for a rather energetic alternative to the everyday. Which gets me thinking about colour. Although I rarely stray away from black – not a colour – I often wonder what men’s fashions would look like if colours were more diverse. Oh sure, there’s Ralph Lauren. But generally consider Lauren’s use of colour in preppy men’s clothes to be an attempt to make circus freaks out of us. And American Apparel? Well, they get points for trying, but their styles and colours have this weird retro vibe – just like their DIY quasi-porn advertising. Still, it’s nice to know there’s life beyond the muted colours typical of men’s fashions. Of course, maybe I’m just not venturing far enough afield. In the meantime, though, Dickies is there to provide a bit of punch to a wardrobe, and you might be surprised how it’s possible to whip up some style with clothes essentially geared towards the workplace.

Case in point: two-tone workshirts, like this one (for about $20), which are signs of design in an otherwise straightforward collection.

Alas, the grey one isn’t available in my size. But I did pick up the black and red version a year or so go, and it still serves me well.

But then something funny happened on the way to checkout. Dickies’ seemed to have discontinued their slim straight jeans in black. Since my existing pair was too short at the hem, I turned them into shorts and looked for a replacement. Instead, I ended getting something I never thought I’d ever get: skinny pants. Oh yes, those form-fitting garments that trend on and off. To be frank, I was a bit surprised at Dickies for the skinny and the fact that my curiosity was piqued. But the surprise beyond the surprise, however, was that not only they did have skinny pants (for $25), they had them in different colours (black, desert sand, deep purple, dark navy, aged brick, and silver). Colours! (You'll have to check out the website for yourself, since I wasn't able to get my hands on pics.) So I took a chance and got myself a pair in a darker, less alarming shade of red. And a pair in black.


I admit that for fashionistas accustomed to shopping with Calvin Klein, Armani, or other common fashion-oriented brands, Dickies isn’t quite walking the same catwalk. But for practical – and sensibly colourful – clothes at really affordable prices (and an easy return policy), Dickies is hard to beat. Better yet, Dickies makes it possible to achieve a sort of proletarian chic, if that’s your thing.

To all you gentlemen out there, a question: how do you fit colour into your wardrobes? What brands or stores do you turn to to inject a bit of pizazz into your wardrobes? I'd love to know!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

spotlight on clogs with Lindsey

by frédérik sisa

I'm on a clog kick these days stemming from yet another exciting game of "what's out there for guys?" in which I pick something and go looking for it. While the pickin's are slim, there actually IS an answer to the question - one that isn't whiny and, for bonus points, ties into last week's post on the dreadful nature of the shoemaking industry. But before I get to that I wanted to take a detour.

Every Clog Has Its Day, as the name suggests, is all about clogs. Lindsey Cochran has devoted herself to finding, discussion, and posting pictures about clogs that come in a surprising variety of shapes and sizes. Before you can hum the Swedish national anthem, however, consider this: Lindsey's perspective on clogs is far more expansive than what you might typically think when you hear the word that sounds like an airhorn. From her interviews with designers that have taken the clog in new directions within women's footwear to finding appealing designs from the major fashion houses and retailers, Lindsey reveals just how much wooden shoes can be the subject of imagination and, perhaps, a little bit of obsession.

Say "clogs" to most people and they'll either think it's time to call the plumber or the fashion police. But we both know there's more to clogs than the stereotype. What have you discovered out there that goes beyond the usual block of wood? Among all those wooden gems, which have made it into your shoe closet?

One of the guiding principles of my life is a quotation I learned about from a lesbian friend who was involved in the leather community. I tell you her background because it makes the quotation all the more remarkable for how apt it turned out to be. It is an observation on life courtesy of the 19th century Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson. And far from being an aphorism that was wrested out of context, I believe it is a word of truth that applies to all of us wherever we may find ourselves in our life journeys.

Stevenson wrote, To know what you prefer instead of humbly saying Amen to what the world tells you you ought to prefer, is to have kept your soul alive.

I believe that every soul on this planet has no higher calling than to fully live out her or his own unique potential. None of us has any real say in choosing what gives us pleasure and what fills us with satisfaction. Many people spend their lives running from truths about themselves that they don't want to admit or refuse to see. But I believe that when we have been blessed to learn where our pleasure and satisfaction may be found, it is imperative that we pursue it and give our souls the chance to sing with delight.

I can't parse for you the mysterious power that elements of fashion can have in our lives. But I can say that among readers of my blog, I've noticed that there is a feeling of empowerment that many of us enjoy when we're wearing the "right" shoes. For others it might be a stiletto heel or a knee high boot. In the clog community, there seems to be a power conferred by the sensation of a block of wood beneath our feet. Some of it may lie with the sensation of being elevated by the pedestal we've placed beneath our soles. Or it may reside with the firm grounding the solid wood provides with each step. For my part, I know there's some pleasure in feeling my feet firmly constrained by the inflexibility of the wooden midsole contrasted with the mobility I can enjoy wearing a pair of good fitting shoes. And let's not forget that any element of fashion is a method of adorning the temple of our bodies. I take pleasure in putting together a look that makes me feel good about myself. Pure and simple, when I think I look good, I feel good.

Having said that, I recognize that each clog fan's experience is her or his own unique expression. One regular reader of my blog Every Clog Has Its Day is a fan of clogs that are either trimmed or liner with shearling. Another reader has had to bid heels goodbye in her wardrobe, and looks to clogs to provide a unique accent to her daily style. Personally, I'm a fan of high chunky heels...preferably in a boot style that firmly embraces my entire foot. So even within this subculture of clog fans, there are even further divisions of taste and desire.

What seems to be paramount is the awareness that in wearing clogs, one is traveling outside the norm and defining one's style on one's own terms. Wood would seem to be the essential material for the construction of a proper clog. But many of us are happy to purchase a pair of manmade clogs if the shoes offer a design that somehow resonate with some inner template of "clogness" that we carry. One does not wear clogs to make one's feet look dainty and delicate, so I think there's some visual appeal in the clunky boxiness a pair of wood soled shoes provide.

As for what wondrous clogs I've been able to make my own, I'm afraid I wear a tall size and am frequently limited by considerations over fit. So when I find something within that smaller universe that speaks to me with its design and style, I am smitten. As I mentioned, this past year has been a boon to a clog fan such as myself. I'm especially enjoying the Bernardo XRAY clogs that came out late this past summer. So much so that I bought the shoe in both blue and burgundy. (I'm wearing the blue pair today, in fact.) I also purchased the Jeffrey Campbell Charli-C clog earlier this year and counted myself fortunate to have nabbed its companion lace up clog boot, the Underground, when a pair was returned in my size to an otherwise sold out online retailer. I've also been quite thrilled with the Vince Camuto Coco clog boot that just came out a couple weeks ago. This maker had released a slip-on clog earlier this year, but the pair I bought sat idle in my closet all summer. As much as I liked the general design, I just never felt moved to put them on. So when the Coco came out in my size, it didn't take anytime for me to return that pair and place an order for the clog boot.

What's interesting is that these wood soled shoes don't necessary obey any of the expected rules. For example, the Bernardo XRAYs are my "go to" clogs right now, but they don't feature any stud accents as part of their design. Usually studs or nail heads are one of the design touches I love in a pair of clogs. Yet this style is able to make me considerably happy without them. It just goes to show that it can be tricky trying to map the desires of the heart.


From's Lindsey's shoe closet -
back row: Jeffrey Campbell, Underground clog boot; Topshop USA, sock lined clogboot; N. Y. L. A., Sully clog bootie; Vince Camuto, Coco clog boot

middle row: Next, tan low clog boot; Zigi Soho, Claudie clog boot

front row: Bernardo, XRAY clog in Beet Root; Bernardo,XRAY clog in Steel Blue

on Lindsey's feet: Jeffrey Campbell, Charli-C clog
It seems to me that while clogs have bobbed in and out of the mainstream over the decades, they have always maintained a dedicated following. That's a lot more than be can said for, say, bell bottoms or other fashion pieces that are tied to particular periods of time and tend to live or die with the cycles of fashion. The enduring appreciation of clogs would seem to make it a footwear icon. Would you agree? What do you think is the lasting appeal of clogs?
I'm only hesitant to confer on clogs the status of icon because the style exists in the fashion repertoire in a variety of forms. You mention that it has a dedicated following, and I think that's true where the basic Swedish low heeled slip-on is concerned. Apparently that style has caught on well with chefs, doctors, nurses, and other professionals who must stay on their feet all day. But the comfort and wearability they enjoy are not the features that a clog fan like myself appreciates in the shoe. Consider, too, the variety of different styles that fall under the loose heading of "clog": traditional Swedish clogs, polyurethane soled versions from Dansko, the latest crop of medium and high heeled styles, the lace up oxfords and boots that are manufactured with features normally associated with clogs, and more. I think clogs can be considered a durable fashion category such as sneakers, but unlike the iconic Chuck Taylor shoe, I don't think there's a single clog design that stands out from the pack as a style that's being embraced as a fashion statement. The clogs that people are currently excited about are not the traditional Swedish style, they're the more fashionable variations. So rather than being an icon, I think the clog that most people think of when they think of clogs (the traditional Swedish clog) is a fashion non-statement. It's something they just throw on when they need to put something on their feet, but they don't give it any thought.
Obviously, for people like me, my relationship to this footwear is different. I'm so accustomed to being outside of the norms with my tastes that I would probably feel a little crushed if clogs became embraced by the world at large. I'd have to transfer my obsession to some new corner of the footwear world. I wonder how I could manage with a passion for tabi shoes? Hmmmm.
You have a wonderful blog, Every Clog Has Its Day, dedicated to wooden shoes. How did your passion for clogs begin, and when did you decide to blog about it?
I discovered clogs years ago when I was in high school. At the time, they were only a peripheral fad in the culture of the time. But they caught my eye, and I made a few tentative forays to incorporate them into my wardrobe. As time passed, they made less sense. And quite honestly, the styles that were available didn't offer a lot of choices that captured my imagination or held my interest. Then about six or seven years ago, I started collecting photos of intriguing shoes I spotted online: boots, platforms, heels, and clogs. (Infinitely less expensive than actually purchasing them!) That led to a friend suggesting that I launch a blog about clogs at the end of the summer of 2009. I hemmed and hawed for a week or two, then took a closer look at what would be involved. When I realized I already had enough photos to manage posting something new every day for three months, I realized I could give it a shot and see where those three months would take me. It wasn't long before I was reveling in a steady stream of clog images that I was collecting by myself and with the help of readers and designers. And the fact that having a "clog blog" gave me an excuse to shop for and purchase some of the newest styles was an extra benefit. It's been a fun journey online.
With many thanks to Lindsey for taking the time to share her perspective and passion on that most misinterpreted shoe, the clog, with us, here's the link again to her blog Every Clog Has Its Day.

As always, I'd love to hear from you. If you're a clog fan, what brands are you wearing? If you're not, are you tempted to reconsider? Comments below!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

shoes and consequence

by frédérik sisa

Shoe lovers understand the compulsion to seek out and acquire new footwear. After all, shoes have personality, with each pair fitting the occasion and situation as well as the mood. But there’s a bad side to what could otherwise be described as a pleasantly harmless folly, and it is that we pay a lot for shoes that don’t cost a lot to make in monetary terms but have a very high social and environmental cost. I was going to write about something else this week, but this article at Alternet got me thinking about what we do for fashion.

A few snippets:
In 2005, the National Labor Committee and China Labor Watch reported that Chinese factory workers making New Balance shoes earned 40 cents an hour, which dropped to 32 cents after mandatory room-and-board deductions.

"I was unprepared for the heat," says Beth Rosenberg, a Tufts University assistant professor of public health and community medicine who toured Chinese shoe factories as part of a project funded by the International Labor Organization. "Air conditioning -- are you kidding? They don't even have fans."

Not permitted to sit, assembly-line laborers stood all day breathing solvent fumes amidst unguarded cutting machines in the factories Rosenberg toured, which produced shoes for Nike, Timberland, Clark, and other brands. The air outside the factories was palpably polluted.
Surprising and disturbing is the existence of an “invisible” network of families making shoes at home:
In the Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia, millions of shoes destined to be sold overseas are produced in private homes, as piecework, by entire families. By using men, women and children to stitch, glue and polish shoes at home, companies needn't invest in factories, machinery or managers.
Says Pia Markkanen, a professor in the University of Massachusetts' Department of Work Environment:

Home-based shoe production is widespread and "extraordinarily dangerous…Chemical hazards make shoemaking particularly hazardous. Organic solvents -- used in glues, primers, and cleaning and polishing products -- are essentially petrochemicals. The storage of toxic and flammable chemicals constitutes not only a health hazard but a fire and explosion hazard.

What is frightening is that these excerpts just hint at how bad things are in the shoe-manufacturing industry, which makes the article well worth reading in its entirety. The questions raised are straightforward: can we really continue our obsession, filtered through consumer culture, with shoes and fashion?

Consider the question in light of what we pay for shoes and how much foreign labour gets paid for working in dreadful conditions:
To calculate standard shoe markups, "take the retail cost and work backwards through the supply chain. If the shoe retails for $100, it cost the retailer 50 percent or less than that to buy it from the distributor. That same shoe cost the distributor 50 percent or less of that price" to acquire from the manufacturer. Generally, it cost the manufacturer 50 percent less than that to produce -- in other words, $12.50.
So what’s the solution? Buy fewer shoes? Buy shoes made using environmental friendly processes and fair labour practices? Sure, but the question is, how do we continue to use fashion as an expression of identity and enjoyment while not supporting cruel and inhumane manufacturing practices? I have some ideas, of course, beyond looking towards brands like Simple Shoes. I’ll get to them in future posts. For today, I just wanted to throw the question out there and hear from you in the comments below.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

on the radar: dark by fusion

by frédérik sisa

Created by Darius B. Gibbs, Dark by Fusion is a collection of men’s apparel described as a “premium lifestyle brand” with “street credibility and edge that will bring it to the forefront of fashion.” It’s one of three lines by Fusion Apparels, the other two being Light by Fusion (women) and Fusion Executive (professional men). As far as I can tell, Dark is the only one with a web presence at the moment at Fusion Apparels' website.

When I first read the press release for Dark, I was excited. A new men’s line with an eye to the street rather than the catwalk is noteworthy. But how does Dark measure up to marketing? Let’s take a look.

This ensemble doesn’t start on a promising note, seeing as it’s really just another incarnation of the shirt and jeans look. I don’t dig the pants tucked into heavy shoes, which creates a sloppy appearance, and the mixed colour palette contributes to an unfocused look. The shirt, however, does redeem itself. It buttons up yet is collarless, which makes it the interesting and compelling spawn of a polo shirt and a Nehru jacket.


The suspicion that Dark is stronger on details than in gestalts continues with these close-ups. In this image, the contrasting edge colour of the pocket adds interest, while the jacket cuff’s good ol’ industrial ornament, the zipper, proves to be a very robust design choice.



In looking at the embroidered patch above the left breast pocket and printed numbers/letters – all dependable design elements –the military/industrial theme of the collection becomes a bit more insistent…


…as we can see in this ensemble, which looks clean-lined and tailored like a classic army uniform. The combination of tie and shorts creates a fascinating tension between formal and casual within the same outfit, and shows some good design acumen.



Workers of the world unite! It’s the cap and hopeful gazing out into the distance that does clinches it as a poster for the socialist revolution, not to mention the uniform-like nature of the shirt and tie.


Where Dark really starts going beyond conventional good design to the inspired is with this combination of shorts and dip-dyed shirt. The way the colour of the rolled up sleeves matches the lower half of the shirt shows great attention to detail, and the colour gradient as a whole works smoothly to emphasize body form. Again, that same tension between formal and casual, in part from the tie and shorts but also from taking a long-sleeved shirt, rolling up the sleeves, and pairing it with knee-length shorts. They have a few other dip-dyed options in the collection, and I’ll be curious to see how they expand on this in future collections.


Also a good direction for Dark is this v-neck confection with a classic contrast: white lining on black. The patterned fabric at the v-neck adds a touch of surprise, which makes this piece stand out from the ordinary.

While I can’t say that Dark by Fusion captures my imagination or fits with my own personal style or preferences (except in a general sense, as I do like proletarian sensibilities in my choice of fashions) I am intrigued by the line’s potential. I can easily see this collection fitting into a lineup from the style mavens at ASOS or Topman. At the least, this is one to keep on the radar. What do you think?

Friday, October 1, 2010

Superficialicous

By Aqua Catlin

(Fref, where's my pink font?)

I’m addicted to hope. Hope my hair will get some pouf, life, volume, lift, body, action. Its a wild goose chase. Was amazed by raving reviews of the Clairol Herbal Essence hair products. For years I’ve only used professional products. Read: costing between $10 and $28 a bottle each for shamp and condish. Plus the cost of the brand’s “pouf maker” styling product.

With the renewed hopes of a new and fluffier mane, I was able to buy a "Hydralicious (yes they did) FeatherWeight" shampoo and conditioner, a "Body Envy" 2 in 1 shamp/condish (these are actually better for fine hair), and a Body Envy mousse all for less than $15. Wow.

There are trade-offs. At the lower price point you also lose dignity - "Hydralicious" hair. I had to have it.

...And I definitely do feel the difference from a professional product while I rinse, my hair feels somehow, hard and not really as smooth and conditioned. But I wake up the next day and my hair is still there, the world didn’t end and when its styled, it doesn't act that differently from the expensive professional products. (This reminds me when I was at the Chanel counter with my man. After 10 minutes/5 colors, we found the perfect, red gloss for $30 but they were out of stock. He let me know he could take me to .99Cent Store where they were sure to have red gloss in abundance. Now I see his point, in both cases, the price kinda matters, but then again, not so much.)

I don’t think the mousse is right for me. Makes my hair fluffy and piecy without actually being bigger. I do love John Frieda Root lifting product which definitely thickens my hair (!) in combo with the other products. I’ll likely go back and buy it in about 14 months when I finally get through all this Herbal Essence. (Or this weekend). And the shampoo and conditioner too, its not a miracle but works better than anything expensive I've tried.

When they come out with something new promising to give life and volumize, then I'll definitely pay for their whole line as well in the hopes it works. I’m already out of space for all the products in my shower but after discovering the irresistable torture that is this evil and wonderful page, I know I’m bound to buy and try everything till the end.

Wether or not I find something to give me big(ger) hair and while it is superficial to follow every lead on beauty and call it hair "care", if we value appearances and health, then ok. We can at least put our money where our mouth is. I look for perspective and find we're lucky that we have the resources to help others get there too.


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

not dead yet

You'd think that updating a blog once a week would be easy. But nooooo. It's easier still to get swamped. As it happens, my excuse was a one-week vacation in Hawaii, which didn't leave me much time to prep a post for this week. So, lame as it is, I defer until next week. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

the spirit of aloha...with titanium

by frédérik sisa

My wife and I were going to the International City Theatre one Sunday afternoon when we happened across a Hawaiian fest and hula & chant competition called E Hula Mau. We didn’t get to see any hula dancing or hear much by way of Polynesian music other than from bands on a stage in front of the Performing Arts Center, but we did enjoy mulling about the arts and crafts. Little did I know that I would be seduced into getting that Rodney Dangerfield of items, the Hawaiian shirt.

Of course, I don’t mean to invoke Rodney Dangerfield disparagingly – far from it, because he was actually a very funny and likeable guy. But, just as he joked about not getting any respect, the Hawaiian shirt is one of those clichés that suffers from everything clichés tend to suffer from. But, as yet another cliché goes, there’s some truth to be found and it is this: a beautiful Hawaiian is just as wonderful as any other kind of shirt, and how (and when) you wear it makes all the difference. The lesson: a wardrobe can only be improved by having a bit of Aloha in it.

You’ve undoubtedly seen by now guys wearing Hawaiian shirts, so I won’t post any pictures of me in my two new acquisitions. But here’s a closeup of the patterns. The darker one, naturally, fits right into my usual aesthetic. The bright red one is a pure flight of fun fancy, chosen expressly because it seems so out of character for me. Every so often, you just got to let go of gravity.

Both of these shirts are essentially vintage/thrift sold by a nice little outfit called 2 B Loved By U 2, a purveyor of “pre-loved recycled items” including jewelry like this whale bone fossil necklace:



The surprise is that for quality vintage, the prices are eminently reasonable. I paid roughly $30-40 for each shirt. Unfortunately, they don’t seem to sell anything online, but if you’re in Southern California and can make it to any of these fun Hawaiian events, it’s worth stopping by their booths to see what they have in stock.

****
On an unrelated note, I wanted to slip in a few words– I don’t really have enough to make a full post on the subject – about an experiment in jewelry. After concluding that my daily wear of silver in the form of anklets and a toe ring was rather demanding of the metal – the chains were often in need of polishing thanks to repeated exposure to water, skin, and such – I set out to find an alternative. The silver is just too attractive a metal to subject to insensitive daily wear. So what works as “performance bling?” The answer, it turns out, was obvious and right around my neck: titanium. While my necklace is dark matte aircraft grade titanium, the wrong finish for what I was replacing, the company that made that particular chain, Avant Garde, offers a plethora of chain and ring options. So, I opted for this:


And this:



The results? Great! The polished titanium, though it doesn’t have the brightness of silver, nevertheless has a warm quality to its reflection that is very appealing. And it’s really nice not to have to worry about it tarnishing. The only thing is that if either the ring or chains had been full-price, they would have been inaccessible until a future windfall…