Saturday, 26 March 2011

Knife work, if you can get it

VICTOR or Victorinox?Yea I know bad pun on a once famous saying, but it sort of is relevant, as the Swiss luggage, knife and clothing company appears to breaking out of its tag as the company famous for a knife that surely nobody in the Swiss Army would ever use in combat or anywhere else come to think of it, at least not nowadays.

Anyone who has ever used the 'multipurpose tool/knife' will recall with humour at how long it takes to find the right bloody blade or tool needed to open something as simple as a newspaper or whatever it is designed for, well imagine that in a combat zone and I don't think that you would be around for long to tell everyone how 'useful' it was.

Not so with the clothing line from the men Ibach, Switzerland who since 2001 have created clothing based around that one Swiss trait that we all admire, no not milk chocolate, but precision.

The clothing range, initially launched at the North American market has won admirers far and wide, with The Colonel being one of them.

Drop all the phoney cow bell and mooing images, these clothes are serious pieces and deserve to be viewed as such, created with a fabulous attention to detail and a simple stylish line they are stand-out without showing off.

The Ripstop hooded anorak or windcheater as they are more commonly known is the perfect example of clean crisp lines, hiding the practicalities needed in a jacket of this, in an exact manner.

Coming in navy, black and red, the hooded lightweight jacket has two vented eyelets under arm, two subtle side pockets, and well placed arm pocket sporting the famous cross logo. the hood comes with a rope adjuster, standard fayre really that bit, but the line of the hood falls well allowing the neck to rise up straight and provide good protection without having the hood up, while the aerated polyester lining proves more than adequate warmth.

The zip up front hides an amusing knife pocket inside, well they would wouldn't they.

The t-shirt range under the ominous Ss name are a further addition to this crisp stylish range, open italian collars, two button (branded) placket, and to enable the slim fit shirt to retain its all important fit, those cheeky little Swiss devils have added a small amount of spandex to the cotton garment, nice touch.

Coming in turf (light green), pink and navy.

The stripe version on the range is delicious, subtle pattern using turf green and navy, with white buttons and no logo on the chest, this is a cracker of a garment.

The round neck t-shirt, which sports a printed Victorinox logo over the pocket area is very unusual for the range as it features contrast stitching on the back of the arms, and the name emblazoned on the rear neck as well as a proofing tag on the hem of the shirt.

All in all this range is bang on target and bong on time, but then again with the Swiss what else would you expect?!

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Adidas holding the rest to Ransom

THEY've been here before these two creative powerhouses, but not quite like this it has to be said.

The king of trainer manufacturers Adidas and Canadian fashion house Ransom Apparel, which seems to have been born out of a necessity to fill a much needed gap in the market of well heeled items, have teamed up before, but never like this.

The two companies started their 'Never Ending Path' footwear project three products ago, with such notable successes as the Chukka boot, which sported the now infamous crepe sole and only the Ransom logo on the side, yes no 3 Stripes on show here, which by anyones definition is a massive statement of intent from the Dassler design force.

Well now the dynamic duo have produced what can only b

e described as the definitive piece of footwear, which is sure to take the high street by storm.

In the words of Matthew Langille, from Ransom, the SS 2001 footwear range; 'Marks the full evolution of our philosophy and concept; a product designed to enhance a rugged lifestyle with an aesthetic that withstands the test of time.'

Yes and Mr Langille they are pretty bloody amazing as well.

The shoe/trainer has reset the standards of design just when I was beginning to wonder where this whole footwear concept could go.

The beginning point of the is its flexibility of design, simple moving the quarter away from the shoe and altering the lace eyelets you have a completely different shoe, as with the Curb shoe, compared to the Valley Low shoe, but still they can be seen to be running form the same stable, it is all very clever and as with the best things in life, subtle.

So where to start? I will stop drooling and picking the Valley Low shoe to start with in a beautiful maroon, this shoe, high ankle, almost ankle boot, oh I am getting confused, is an all canvas upper with leather padded ankle support has six standard trainer line eyelets, lined canvas inner and leather tongue patch, it has a 'strong military influence' this time around in as much as it has a fatigues link, but for me it also touches on total outdoor wear, such as the beach, the tennis court and the designers have created colours to lend the shoe to that environment. you won't be wearing these in the winter put it that way. The VL is very eighties in its concept, but timeless in its final design.

A white sole edging is contrasted nicely, think Diadora Borg Elites with a coloured sole in this case yellow in the cream version, which really shows its canvas build, the sole is orange, with a lighter orange inner, while the blue retains a white sole, to sensibly avoid any colour clashes, as the main body colour is so vivid.

The Curb version does away with the higher ankle, preferring amore classic shoe cut. the blue and black colour scheme really breaks this shoe up nicely and the black rubber sole gives this Oxford and sturdy foundation.

Unusually the cream version looks nothing like its counterpart, a much more subtle affair to be tucked nicely along with a pair of Dockers, the lower cut of the curb is almost a nod to the preppy or LA gang style shoe, very relaxed very street, with a formal edge. All the shoes have handy heel pulls to help retain the shoes shape after longer wear, with the Curb boasting the standard four eyelet lace up section.

I can see these shoes running and running, no that wasn't a terrible pun, just that is the trefoiled brand want to push the boundaries further this is the way to do it, you would never know they are Adidas, and with trendy young pop starlets such as the Jonas Brothers sporting them already, the shoe is spreading itself across many age groups and fitting in nicely.

Why not drop in some Penfield or Pengiun with these shoes, I can see the rise of the Americana look being sent into hyper drive with these shoes arriving, but also try combining YMC and Universal for that truly outdoor feel.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Go West young man, it will be worth it

HAVING already informed the world that women check out men’s shoes to see if they are attracted to them, Jeffrey West, the Northampton based

shoe designer appears to be trying to outshine the female of the species in a peacocking new range of shoes that, well simple stand out from any crowd.

Starting off form the adage that you don’t buy JW shoes, you join a cult, the Owen Bordo shoe is the new cult leader.

A two eyelet lace up shoe, that comes in the richest blood colouring, which battles with the leather producing a stunning contoured shine, balanced against the dark panels created by the colouring of the leather.

The brogue-esque flourish on the front, heal and lace eyelet detail is a wee bit special.

Goodyear welted sole, leather lined inner and carved leather heel make this pointed front shoe give off styling of the monkstrap style shoe, this shoe, which is highly durable and can easily be described as an investment, will literally take your breath away with its individuality.

The shoe is also available in natural, and this allows the detailing to really stand out, for those with an eye to that angle of things.

The Gibson black brogue has three diamond punched eyelets, the same cutaway arch sole as the high heel block and thinned Quarter raise this shoe to a natural elevational point, almost distinguished in its look.

This is a classic brogue, not full, but has further detailing than the OB.

Hand stitched, this leather upper and leather inner shoe, also sports Goodyear welted soles. It also comes in purple, for the more flamboyant among you.

A more standard sole on the Gibson is a complete contrast to the OB, I am not going to say anything as something this wonderful, always needs to be discovered by yourself, so check out the sole design if you get a chance, it is well simple Jeffrey West.

The old Stella Artois advert catch line rings true with JW shoes, reassuringly expensive.

Join the cult now.

Stick the boot in

FUNNY but it really is the simple ideas that are the best, pure form and all that, and so it is with Clae shoes the American company that has crossed rubicon between trainers and shoes so perfectly with their product it beggars the question, why has nobody else done this?

The history of the tennis shoe is well timeless, but it somehow seemed that the two, would never meet, but they have and what a result it is for us if truth be known.

And they have been kicking up a storm Stateside with everybody from Sneaker Freaker, Antenna to Nylon Guys magazines fawning over these cutting edge trotters, well not actually trotters are they because they aren’t exactly trainers.
Celebrities such as David Beckham (Strayhorn) and Tom Cruise (Bailey) have been seen sporting the range.
Three versions are currently available, kicking off with the Ellington shoe, which is the staple design of the range, this lace up lightweight shoe, with hardwearing canvas upper, contrast eye lets, leather cushioned inners and a contrast white sole.

The combination of the canvas, leather and the sole is exactly that, it gives the shoe a new dynamic and has a pleasing aesthetic from something so simple.
The Ellington range comes in camel and black, while the Bailey range provide a variation with shorter eye lets, and a nubuck toe front.
The sole is also a two tone grip affair, with contrasting blue sections.
The supple leather used on the upper is perfect for a more athletic shoe, neatly hidden in a stylish shoe design. Similar, but a definite step above the Ellington.
The Strayhorn is the only boot available and reminds me of a desert boot with a modern day feel to it. Not as sparse as the desert, the Strayhorn is a mid-top boot, three eylets lace ups, suede upper and rubber sole that comes round over the front of the shoe to add wear, it also has a nice lighter detail up the spin/heel of the boot. Available in camel and navy, the navy boot does not have the heel detail, but sports the sole variations like the Bailey.
I particularly like this attention to detail, creating a further design against such a simple backdrop.
Well, these boots were definitely made for walking, so get a move on.

Monday, 14 March 2011

That Riviera Touch

ALRIGHT you may think George Michael and Andrew Ridgley in Club Tropicana or Don Johnson in the all pose no police work series Miami Vice, which made the donning of sunseekers style clothes fashionable in rain soaked Blighty.

Dashing about in a speed boat or Lamborghini may be well out of anyones reach, but still the clothes were worth checking out.

Well the famous Barcelona born shoe has a new challenger in town or by the beach in the shape of Rivieras.

Born in France, the Rivieras are set to knock the espadrilles out of the charts with a tougher simple and stylish look based on a a old classic, but just simply better.

The Classic range comes in six colour types, with perforated front canvas mesh top slip on shoe and elasticated side wall and sturdy sole.

Coming in the 10 and 20 style which is a lower cut between the two come in beige, motel grey, blue jeans and noir, or for those with a spot more colour to there wardrobe try the hot rod or France shoe, which not only boast the lovely trim sole design, the France shoe comes with a navy blue top, white mid-sole stitching, and red heal section.

The hot rod shoe is an off white colour, with red trim on the shoes front and blue on the heel section.

All boast the Riviera logo on the heel. The shoe, which is well priced looks to make a great addition to any summer wardrobe, be it Fila Lifer tennis shorts addition smacking of the 80s heyday of the Wham boys or maybe try adding the Saint James, Picaso nautical top to the look, the boat neck tee shirts, more on these at another date, are a nice way to round off a shoe driven look.

The sea inspired jumpers, famously work by Picasso have side vents, long sleeves and are lightweight top with a striped design.

The dark blue and red, cream and navy or dark blue and cream tops are slightly different from the Picaso in as much as the striped design is not as complete on the shoulders, wrists and waist line, with thinner stripes.

Give your wardrobe a touch of the Riviera about it and now.

The Captain's final charge

SO with the first two khaki kingdom guides out of the way to acquiring the perfect preppy look form the wonderful world of Captain Khaki, here are the remaining three, which could see you walking not a set of National Lampoon's Animal House or strolling through one of main college campus's Stateside like a natural.

Using the prose of the man himself: The Ivy League are known for summering on the beach, and sailing out in their yachts, therefore the appropriate apparel has become part of every young chaps Spring/Summer wardrobe; boat or yachting shoes.

So where do we start, well for me the obvious name is Sebago, the stunning American company, which came into production in 1946, with the first boat shoe coming to fruition two years later.

The Dockside shoes is the icon of this range and comes in the classic nubuck dark brown shoe, which boasts rawhide laces, with non-corrosive eyelets, based around the moccasin shoe. The sole non-slip of course, is as iconic as the shoes, with the waxed laces and leather sock lining make this al there can be in boating shoes.

To counter the more casual/relaxed look of the dark brown shoe, why not try the bark boating shoe in navy, with orange waxed laces. for me the outstanding shoe is the red-white-blue boating Docksiders, with red lace top section and a white toe section and laces. Or try the black-brown combination, which boasts the same style of coloured panelling.

Coming in a dazzling blue, a smoke waxy (light grey) or blue nit, all coming with white waxy laces, this shoe is simply stand out as it has always been, the only question open to contention is socks or not?

So slung over the shoulder or worn normally, the cardigan is a garment like no other both formal and informal in look, and named obviously after the seventh Earl of Cardigan, he of the horrendous Charge of the Light Brigade and the Battle of Balaclava. Of the choices available I reckon the Dockers Shawl neck chunky cardigan is a real winner.

Its oversized buttons are lovely, six in all, and the navy body has a lovely two band red contrast, with two front pockets, to safely store your Persol foldable shades. Next up I would plump for any of the Gabicci Vintage 1973 range, which comes in five colours. Sporting a metal logo on the chest the wool mix felt trimmed top has five button fastening on the front, and two lower front pockets.

The original Penguin cardigan, which sports a zip front is a step out of the classic preppy look, but provides a good curve ball.

Coming in a waffle knit, with pipped collar in iris and a welted chest pocket, is nice top that has more of swim team feel to it, and makes it one worth considering. Also check out the Farah Coppard midnight or sand cardigan. the five wooden button front and the chunky knit make this more of a Starsky and Hutch feel, and once again comes at the preppy look from a slightly different angle.

The final entry is where I The Colonel and the Captain disagree, he suggests a blazer as the final piece of the preppy jigsaw, while I would plump for the Harrington, just to keep it more streetwise. So what would the choice be, well for me it's Baracuta, due in the main to the vast colour ranges required to keep the preppy look alive.

Coming in 15 colours, the obvious choice if the tan or beige jacket, which well speaks for itself. the G9 range provides a stunning lightweight jacket, perforated inner, two button side pockets and elasticated wrist and waist bands.

The navy or dark navy are also staples, but as the Captain has pointed out, colour is vital to the preppy look, so your are free to through caution to the wind, I just feel the Harrington jacket keeps things on the right side of Steve McQueen that's all.

Friday, 4 March 2011

The Universal's here ...

They really are a new kid on the block, but still boast a long fashion and design heritage. Universal Works, started in London in 2009 by David Keyte, the label was born out of frustration of the state of men's fashion.

And Keyte has introduced a label that offers something that just fits right in amongst everything else, yes you might say 'has universal appeal'.

With a broad appeal the clothes have a real eighties feel to me, no, not the horrible Miami Vice look, just, well check some of it out, you will see what I mean.

I am going to concentrate on the t-shirts, which have a nice English tie in due to the names of this shirts relating to some of the more beautiful riverside or coastal regions of our fair land, such as Henley and Skegness, yes that was a pun.

The Skegness shirt, which is a polo comes in navy and 'natural' or white to me and you. the shirt is reminiscent of Sunspel in it's open collar feel, but the one button neck shirt.

The collar, or wing collar, is total retro and although slim fitted, the shirt is loos cotton feel that gives the impression of space and add a cool appeal to the garment.

The white shirt is the same, but the finish of the cotton allows the shirt to look softer, lovely.

The Henley shirt maintains links with the area and rowing history it is named after, the collarless shirt has contrast stitching, two button placket and elasticated cuffs. You can almost hear the noise of the Pimms coughing crowds as you look at it.

The shirt comes in natural and blue, a light sky blue that is so soft it almost drifts into white.

Although not named after a British venue, the tennis polo shirt, with three button front and stripe pattern, in dust blue or great, is delicious.

This soft cotton shirt is the sort of shirt you out on in the morning and forget you are wearing it, only to be reminded by passers by how good it looks. The slightly higher collar and neck is a nice touch as well, and draws the slim fit shirt out up the body. One pocket on the chest adds something to the line of this shirt, but don't be putting much in it though, sunglasses only me thinks.

So, yes the appeal is universal alright, well it appeals to me anyway, lots.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Don't forget to Prep

IT is bang on the money from my recent Preppy American look post and I have taken leave in a way from the fantastically named Captain Khaki, who is a media voice for Dockers, the ever excellent khaki and chino paint manufacturer who seems to hold the entire range in its grasp.

The good captain was recently heard talking how to build the perfect Preppy wardrobe and thought what a good idea to chat through some cracking garms, to make this look complete.

I am going to touch on the first two of the five guidelines, which in the words of CK: You might not have gone to a prep school and you might not be wealthy, but there is nothing stopping you form looking preppy. A preppy wardrobe isn;t just about what clothes you buy, but how you wear them. it is about being classy (just not too preen and pepped).

So first off CK suggests the Classic P

olo Shirt; so what would fit nicely with the Lacoste or Fred Perry or how about the Munsingwear Pengiun Earl polo?

The heritage slim fit polo in white, with a lovely navy trim, along with collar edge and button front, plus lining round the arm, the shirt is also in white and green, which is a bright lilt on the classic look.

The two-button original Pengiun with embroidered logo is still a strong contender.

or the 55 polo, which sports anise light blue stripe on the collar edge and arm.

If you want add a bit of Brit to this all-American image, the drop in the Sunspel white polo, which comes in classic neat fit body an 100 per cent Egyptian cotton.

So next up on CK's list comes the khaki trouser, and there really is only one for this look and that's Dockers.

Simply class, the 1940s K1 5 edition chino. The World War II Army khaki pant has a button fly, an a dirt treatment which gives the trouser a vintage look. The loose fit, has tow back and side pockets. A step right out of the 1940s.

The classic extra slim khaki boasts a zip fly and comes in an extra slim fit, with a tapered hem.

The welted back pockets with button fastener are iconic.

Or why not try the D2 slim vintage pleated chinos. These sport the slant pocket and although based on the same form are s tepee away from the 1940s cut, and provide an interesting line to how the trouser has developed, subtly.

Well, that's how i see the style so far, the look is obviously flexible and that has what has made t stand the test of time.

Just three more guidelines to go, as if you need them really.