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.



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!