Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Trainers and jackets, it's all in the attitude


I WOKE up feeling all Zen this morning, that’s not to say I do not always strive for a higher state of mind and emotional contentedness, but today I was fired by the ebbing tide of cool summer fashions and one aspect that has a blatant disregard for all things stereotypical.

This little fashion move, idea, comment, call it what you will said a thousand words from those who sported it back in the 1970s, for example on John Lennon, to those modern icons such as Robert Downey Jnr and Ryan Gosling who have taken it to heart.

This look is the trainer, no socks, and suit or blazer combination.

There are variations on a theme, such a basketball hi-tops as preferred by faux muso heroes as Ed Sheeran or radio starlets such as Nick Grimshaw, but I want to concentrate on the classic trainer suit or blazer combination. 

It really is a higher ground.

If you are plumping for a lighter blazer such as the Minimum Charlton or Minimum Ferrand, Gant Rugger Canvas and so on, you can drop in some stand out colour.
So try the Adidas Gazelle golds or the Indoor golds or to contrast try the navy Indoor.

The wonderful thing about the classic white trainer is it work with light or dark blazers, suit combinations, even tweed jackets, such as the Gibson London Harris tweed, or Shetland brown or the Donegal jackets.

Ping on a pair of Onitsuka Mexico 66s, or try the creation Recreation Prio white, basically anything from the Shoes Like Pottery range will work perfectly, the contrast soles always add a certain something.

Or if it is a simple, yet stylish value look you are after, Novesta Starmaster canvas will win the day like a Bjorn Borg back hand.
The Paul Smith Osmo, white or black along with the Armani Jeans perforated leather trainers or the Hugo Boss Green Stiven white trainers are also perfect choices, with the additional colour touches helping them fit with dark navy blazers such as the Hardy Amies Brinsley or what about the Barbour x White Mountaineering Wax lapel or Wave Print.

For me the look is pure thing, there are plenty of variations you could drop in, like running shoes, say New Balance, the M576MOD khaki shoe will always work or go the Grimshaw route with hi-tops, say Nike Dunk CMFT.

But the thinner simplistic shoe, that harks back to the bearded Beatle, is the look I am concentrating on.
As they say, there are other options available.

It really is a matter of the attitude you wear this look with, it really should be a Fuck ‘em one.



Wednesday, 11 February 2015

A bit extra this Valentine's Day


WHAT DO you give to the man who has everything? Well, LOVE of course. Not the soppy, 'I baked you a cake and let’s cuddle up on the sofa' kind of love and not the shall I bring a friend round, although you could try that as well, but rather use the LOVE discount code for your order at Stuarts and get 10% off your order.

There’s tons of stuff to choose from, if you want to keep it specifically red for the day of love, the Norse Projects Neils pocket linen T-shirt, or the Shadow Saucony Shadow 5000 trainers, Armani Jeans Hawaii Fantasia shirt, to the Paul and Shark Yachting striped navy polo there is plenty to chose from.

So why not spoil the man who has everything, or spoil yourself if you are said man, but I definitely recommend taking her up on the offer of bringing a friend over.

Or was that just my imagination?

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Mind your language with Skylon


BEING RENOWNED for several educational firsts, Thruston Manor’s influence, if not always wanted, did reach international proportions during my third year of esoteric educationally folly.

It is always a proud boast for any Anglo-Saxon male that his mother tongue, although born of many from those pesky old Frenchies, ‘the oldest enemy’ to German, the English language, is the widest spoken across this fair old globe of ours. It must be noted though, there is a certain section, neigh a corner of a foreign field, of the world that speaks an unusual version of the King’s thanks solely to Thruston’s English language teacher Mr Vanguard-Hooperton

A dandy fellow, who cut a gay blade look, Van Man, as he was known was all shoulder dropped jumpers, checked shirts such as Mikkel Rude and wild scarves in summer, tennis trainers sans socks, Shoes Like Pottery, for example.
Day and night, the perpetual Persol Tortoise glass wearing teacher would prowl the school’s library and study areas, with bags, (Filson) crammed with note pads and various translation titles.

As if driven and enthused by the knowledge contained with the books that adorned the walls of said rooms and with pen pursed against lips he would hold a studied scowl, before switching to a look of wide-eyed glee, nodding seconds before removing his pen and scribbling like a mad scientist in said text, launching his head back and laughing uproariously.

For year’s the school’s overseas trips, cocktail and dining evenings were funded from the earnings of Van Man’s translation books, which were gamely sold to any overseas students attending the school and mercilously plugged to all ends of the earth as the ‘corner stone of foreign language learning’.
It was only after several years of continued examination failures from Vanguard's overseas students, in English as second language, that it became the subject of school investigations.

This was quickly followed by a study of the editorial content of the books, which was called for by several notable and more than slightly peeved publishing houses, who had failed to produce such amazing financial windfalls with their published offerings.

After fighting a good fight of cocking a snook at these ‘inferior, plebescent’ publishers for more than a year, Van Man took his note to leave, after a day trip of Thruston’s elite overseas pupils, including the son of King Donno the Third from Swaziland led to several arrests for public order and indecency incidents.

The day which would see the group attend the Houses of Parliament, had not started well, when Prince Donno conferred to his Thruston penned language guide at Wislebeck railway station to ask an elderly member of the Thurston Village WI holding a cake sale fundraiser in the station’s ornate, but run down waiting room. Dunno asked the cake seller if she would: ‘Touch my penis in a manner befitting a wild dog’.

Donno’s request caused obvious anxiety in the elderly blue rinse fundraiser, who initially asked Donno to raise his voice, thinking her poor hearing was the reason for her confusion at his request.
After several full volume requests from the pupil, all shaking jowls and red face, that a stunned silence and faint endured fundraiser, was broken by Miss Havershamble’s overly sniffy repost, ‘he is foreign’ to which all present, minus collapsed cake seller, smiled and nodded a sympathetic and knowing nod, ensuring that the incident past without further question. At least until the WI caused a riot at the village clink several hours later, lifted by several large gins no doubt.
Several other ‘outrages’ occurred throughout the day notably at the London Planetarium, not to mention the fist fight that broke out on Speakers Corner. 

Once the translation book, which contained complete nonsense translations for common or garden English saying, even asking where the Post Office was, seemed to be a riot of colourful madness.
The content made sense to anyone who had witnessed VM's head flinging and raucous laughter.

But when it fell into the eager beaver hands of Sgt Dixon Dockgreen, all hell broke lose.
Dockgreen was the officer in charge of what became known as the ‘Vanished Vanguard’ case, the great and unwashed joined in this pursuit of preciousness, stories of tourists stating they ‘had breasts the size of the devils head’ when all they wanted to say was ‘can I have an extra potato’.
According to the immigration department the confusion caused months of delays and national daily newspaper headlines, but hey, when have they ever told the truth??!!! 

Nothing was heard of Van Man again, there were stories of course, but the only abiding memory I have of him are his Persol glasses, which still remain dust covered and unmoved in the admission desk in the school library. A marginally fitting memoir, or should I say ‘touch me dog faced arse cat’?

As I leave this post from the big man's little book of school memories, one does wonder what would have happened in the world of Premier League football today with the amount of overseas players reverting to Vanguard’s etchings when speaking to the referee?

Rave On. 

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Denim Death Match: Armani Jeans v Nudie



IN THE blue corner, hailing out of Gothenburg, Sweden, a city famed for its expensive beers, cleanliness and from a country with a huge propensity for hardcore pornography it’s Nudie  Jeans and in the, er blue corner, hailing from Milan, Italy, a city famed for its stylish attitude it’s Armani Jeans.

In what could be seen as a clash of the year’s denim jean titans, not exactly Giant Haystacks versus Big Daddy, or to use common WWE athletes, and I use the term athlete I the loosest term possible, Macho Man Randy Savage and Triple H, but each label does bring its own particular styles and approaches to any clash there might be.

Armani has always had that staple approach of being stylish, but Armani Jeans introduces a wider range of colour usage, it has a playful side to it, while still maintaining that perfect edge.
Nudie on the other hand has a more relaxed approach, or fighting style, growing and improving with age, like a fine wine, the statement coming in various forms as the jeans, while Armani’s statement comes straight out of the blocks.

Take the J21 dark wash regular, it’s all beautiful contrast stitching and crisp lines and metal logo, or the Jo8 Midwash, with nice red stitch touches, bringing a relaxed edge to it, with easier feel jumpers and jackets, T-shirts and shirts, all having that specific AJ feel, with a tighter reign, and always sporting the famous Armani eagle badge, be it in a metal or stitched on logo format.

Coming in a tighter range of colours is the only, even the logo is more relaxed, the off shaped easily scrawled N, some of the jeans have pocket stitching of the famous Nudie swirl, while some sport nothing at all for example in the Steady Eddie Selvage, as compared to the Steady Eddie Tonal dry.
Ostensibly the same jean, that looks completely different.

The jeans and stunning leather jackets, offer a mix of feels and approaches, with the denim acting as a canvas on which they fall perfectly.
The only uniformity to Nudie, is its lack of it, while AJ is built on those foundations.

I am not sure whether one of these wins over the other, they really provide something different and desirable, and of course they are loved and worn by their varying adoring owners, so you could say never the twain, as I do not imagine fans of one, would be joining the other side too easily.
In fact getting these two sides of this into a ring, would be an interesting way of discussing things.
What was it Ken Watanabe said in the latest Godzilla reboot?

Oh yes, ‘Let them fight’.

Friday, 9 January 2015

The Grenson guarantee



Guarantees and terms used to describe or explain them and the history there of, are synonymous with our fair nation.
For example the term ‘Copper bottomed’, as in Copper Bottomed deal originates from the Battle of Trafalgar, in which the British Navy led by Horatio Nelson defeated the combined French and Spanish fleets in 1805.

During said naval battle, the winds dropped and the normal sail powered ships failed to move, Commander Cuthbert Collingwood, Nelson’s right hand man as it where, had a ship named The Royal Sovereign which was able, due to its newly fitted copper lined hull, to strike at the French fleet and help win the battle.

Hence the term Copper Bottomed.
The same could be said for Triple Welt, which is a known guarantee of quality, comfort and durability when it comes to high quality men’s shoes and Grenson has been using this approach since its inception in 1800.

Triple Welt or Goodyear Welted as it is properly known, is truly the standard by which all shoes should be gauged, real artisanal shoemaking and of course, it is unique to the Northamptonshire manufacturer.
Available in the shoes Archie and Fred creations, which of course in themselves are guarantees of good taste.
Now many of you have either drawled over or had the joy of wearing the fabulous Archie shoes, I have a pair in tan. They are simply a shoe in which you wish you owned all the colour variations coming as they do in black or mahogany, the latter a finish that must go down as one of the sexiest shoe finishes I have ever seen.


The Fred Calf brogue boots, with the same colour finishes are just eight-hole lace up version on a stunning theme, and come in black, brown, mahogany or tan.
A variation of finishes, not colours, just subtle leather differences is also clear on the shoes and boots, with Grenson’s six week completion process, made up of more than 200 individual processes, ensuring you don’t get a guarantee like this easily, but anything worth doing, is worth doing well.

Adding the inscription of The Triple Welt on the hand crafted leather sole really seals this deal of quality.



Thursday, 1 January 2015

Time for a new you: Belstaff


SO THE annual clock ticked round to a new dawn and new year, all the promise or resolutions have started and presumably will fail, gym memberships quickly doubling up as beer matts, vapour cigarettes and nicotine patches magically transforming into ‘just one puff, well I’ve had a drink’ and ‘it’s only a packet of 10’.

There is one way to ensure something new happens, something that can kickstart your New Year and new you, that’s not meant to sound evangelical, but adding a new label to your wardrobe is one way to ensure year long happiness. And why not start with the icon that is Belstaff???!!

The Staffordshire based label, which has been waterproofing jackets almost as far back as Moses was parting the seas and has been sported by all and sundry over the years, from Steve McQueen, David Beckham, Will Smith, Benedict Cumberbatch, George Clooney, even political heavyweights, or freedom fighters the like of Che Guevara.

When you look at the simple quality you can easily understand why it is a icon of motorcycle leather jackets.
Utilising a simple classic design and never varying far from it, is one of the build blokes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it and Belstaff started unbroken way back in the 1920s.

The Roadmaster, full length cotton waxed jacket, which harks to an original design of the 1921 four bellow pocket Trialmaster. It’s all zips, belts and popper cut fastenings, you could ride through a tornado in this and provided your bike can withstand the test, you will be warm and dry and not the least bit cool. 

Black and olive are the two colour choices and of course, sporting the heritage check print inside.

Dropping the check interior print for a one colour yellow, the Sammy Miller utilises the same design Trialmaster design and is based on the jacket worn by ‘British racing legend’ Sammy Miller from 1955 in black.

Swapping cotton for leather, the Panther black, has everything the TM has to offer, with a more boxy finish in body shape, plus some excellent leather and metal badges.
It really is designed for a two-lane black top.

So buckle up, 2015 could have a speedy start, simply choose Belstaff.


Thursday, 18 December 2014

Edwin, win and win


IN SOME ways you could attribute the term Primus inter pares or First among equals to the denim strong label of Edwin, but taking that term to its uppermost literal meaning does not do justice to the role of the Japanese label in the world of denim manufacturers.
Edwin really are not first among anyone, they are simply the first or to use its native tongue, Ichiban.

It takes something special to remain at the top of the tree, or its take special actions, approaches, designs, to make you remembered as the first to achieve something ground breaking and that’s exactly what the Tokyo based company has done.

Bucking trends, or not following the herd has resulted in a manufacturer that has reached the top of the mountain and gleefully sat there since its creator Mr Tsunemi decided not to use ‘inferior’ quality denim, being manufactured in Japan in 1947.
Mr T, chose instead to import American denim, due to material contestants on the country after the Second World War. 
He would launder, repair and carry out whatever else was needed to the garments, before selling them on. 
A decade later he went alone, creating his own jeans, before the brand, that we all know now called Edwin, a play on the word denim itself, was finally launched in 1965.

It didn’t take long before the label was back at it, raising the bar higher once again, this time to a height that every denim manufacturer now has to work from, with the invention of stone washing.



Knowing then, that a pair of Edwin jeans are a standout purchase, It is the variation of other garments that also strike home.
Of the jeans, the ED ranges cover all needs and tastes from Selvedge in their red label, I like the ED-47 myself, to heavy indigo in the ED-55, to washed and even tapered, I must say the Japan X Edwin ED55 Japan Rainbow selvedge are something quite beautiful. 
The range also offers black chinos in the same cut as the 55 jeans.

Of the other garments, I like the Oiler range of cable knit jumpers and beanie hats, my favourite being the Mulled beanie, with its fleck detailing and simple Edwin hem patch, it also comes in navy, and has a natural ‘distressed’ look that works well.
The jumpers are a simpler crew neck navy or marl grey and you just know these are warm and comfortable, especially with the soft ribbing on the cuffs and waistband.

Shirt wise the Labour French collar offerings are a delight, and hold an industrial workman feel to them, with oversized buttons adding to the sturdy/relaxed look.
Poles apart in finishes, the Blue Off White shirt, with delicious contrast stitching, offers two chest pockets in a Herringbone finish, while the Multi shirt is a striped navy, biege, red and muted yellow design, where the colourings highlight the garments cotton material perfectly. It almost has the feel of an over shirt.

There’s fun and flippancy in the range with the One in Every Port, a white cotton T, with a Sailor Jerry style print on the front.
Or you could play it straight with a delightful Baller wool bomb jacket, with contrast black sleeves and navy body, and a cool leather topped zip chest pocket, or wrap it up with the straight fit wool blend Coach jacket.

As shown at the top of this article, the cover of DJ and one time Housemartin Fat Boy Slim’s second album: You’ve Come A Long Way, Baby sported an overweight youngster with the T-shirt legend, ‘I’m No: 1, so why try harder’.

Edwin is exactly that, but it keeps trying and succeeding to stay top of the pile.



Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Gloverall's Winter Wardrobe Wonderland



ANIMALS HAVE their winter coats, but I much prefer the human approach, especially if it comes in the shape of a Gloverall.

Keeping warm with style is something this iconic British label has a natural talent for. The always favourite duffle coats, drip with class, from the 512C to the Classic duffle, it’s all toggle fastening, a hooded majesty, but it’s the additional delights that have caught my eye this season, from men's jumpers to beanie hats

The jumper de jour this winter is definitely any variation of the cable knit style and the Gloverall Aran, based on that classic knit is perfect.
Coming in soft pure wool crew neck loveliness, you feel warm just looking at this garment, it comes in natural (cream) or navy.

Keeping your nut warm is obviously important and doing it with style is just as important in my book. So the Naval Wool Beanie coming in red, kale or navy is a superb way to do both.
The simple design with Gloverall tag in the side and large white patch on the front make for a terrific item.
I like it when a label makes choosing difficult and it is definitely so with the jumper and beanie.

The horn buttoned long sleeve Classic shirt coming in either navy check or navy, with different material finishes.
The check shirt comes with brushed cotton finish: long collar, regular fit shirt is quite simply lush. 
The wool finish also produces a delightfully soft touch, with anchor embossed buttons and comes in a regular fit and a relaxed one at that.
Both shirts also sport the brands logo on the bottom right hem.

The simple colour ways of these garments, make for a beautifully muted and interchangeable addition to any man's wardrobe, but especially a Christmas one.


In a word, nice