Shirting

All I want is a nice shirt. Is that so hard to ask? Apparently so. The high street does not appear to cater for the modern man that wishes to dress like a 1950s labourer. Despite heritage being one of the current watchword of the murky world of ‘men’s fashion’, it’s pretty hard to find a nice work shirt. The obvious choice would be a vintage inspired line such as Levi’s Vintage Clothing. Whilst they’ve got the history and the designs to fall back on, the execution leaves something to be desired. The sizing is all over the place, and for the price, the quality and construction is way off. If you’re going to charge almost £200 for a shirt, it really shouldn’t be the same quality as one you can pick up from Uniqlo. Instead, it seems you either have to buy vintage, or buy Japanese.

Buying vintage is problematic. I would love to be able to go into a shop and pick up a chambray shirt like the one above but it seems unlikely. This kind of thing rarely shows up in London and it’s even rarer for it to come in my size. Luckily, there are loads of Japanese brands pushing reproductions of vintage items. The history of the Japanese’s interest in American vintage is pretty interesting and feeds into the current trends for the whole ‘heritage’ and ‘Made in USA’ type fashion stuff going on. It’s pretty much gone full circle with Americans buying Japanese reproductions of clothing originally made in America for hugely inflated prices. It’s best not to think about it. First world problems and all that.

Anyway, the shirt above from The Real McCoy’s is a good example of the Japanese approach to clothing. The attention to details is astonishing. Triple stitching, selvedge gusset, chain stitching everywhere. Another good example would be Workers. Run by one guy with a crazy collection of vintage workwear and a background in the garment industry, Workers takes the idea of authenticity and runs with it. Shirts are sewn on what look like vintage machines with features based on patents from the turn of the century. What might look like a normal pocket is actually sewn in such a way that the bottom of the pocket isn’t attached to the shirt. This was to give workers somewhere to keep their cigarettes so that the tobacco wouldn’t get damp. In this day and age, this kind of function isn’t required, but without it wouldn’t be truly authentic.

Of course, ordering from Japan can provide problematic. There’s the language barrier to overcome, limited runs, sizing, shrinkage, postage and customs issue. It’s a whole thing. Maybe I should just make my own……….

Logos

Have you ever noticed that fashion seems to steal ideas from everywhere and co-opt non-mainstream imagery in order to sell clothes to boring normal people? Sometimes it’s a coincidence, like the Supreme Born Against hoodie. Most of the time it’s deliberate. Now imagine if you took that knowledge and typed some shit into WordPress. That’s where I’m coming from.

This morning on the train I noticed a woman wearing a top with a very familiar looking skull print. That’s right; everyone’s favourite power violence band has jumped over to the mainstream. It seems that Man Is The Bastard are just another in a long line of punk bands that have had their logo cribbed for the purpose of fashion. In addition to the skull, the top also featured a cross, much like the one found on the artwork for seminal DC hardcore split album Void/Faith.

The Void side of the album was much darker than the proto emo sound of Faith, and the artwork is way weirder. Faith had a band picture, the Void side features a weird drawing and two crosses – one normal, the other inverted. Sound familiar? You’ve probably seen Rochelle from The Saturdays wearing the same shirt on T4. I couldn’t find a picture but here’s one of Ke$ha wearing the same shirt. Void is some top 5 hardcore bands shit, so it’s nice to see some popstars showing their knowledge.

Elsewhere we have Angelina Jolie rocking a Crass shirt. I wonder if she sits around with Brad and the kids, debating the merits of anarchy. Do they run their house like an autonomous squat? Do her and Brad sing along to ‘Do They Owe Us A Living?’ If you think that’s weird, what about Lady Gaga’s crust leather jacket. She’s got a GISM patch on there. She is mad for Japanese punk. If there’s anyone that gets a pass for wearing shirts of bands they don’t know, it’s Gaga.

Without a doubt, the most common logo to see is the Black Flag bars. As the coolest, most recognisable hardcore logo going it’s no surprise that it gets used everywhere. And I mean everywhere. The Hundreds entire design approach is based on the bars. Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas owns an actual Black Flag t-shirt. You can’t move for parodies. Line four things up, take a picture, put it on your Tumblr. If it rhymes with the word ‘black’ that helps. Hence Cat Flag. Parody upon parody upon parody. I get it, believe me. It looks cool. I would suggest that if you don’t have an opinion on My War you probably should avoid aping the bars. Do I have a point? Probably not. Just that if you’re an aspiring streetwear brand or a Tumblr based hardcore band, don’t just use someone else’s design on your t-shirt. It’s not paying homage to your heroes; it’s lazy and just shows that you’re not smart enough to come up your own design. This is especially true if you released a band t-shirt with the slogan “Still not loving police” on it. As a bunch of nice middle class white boys from the South Coast, I’m sure you face exactly the same problems of people growing up in South Central L.A. in the early 90s.

On The Road

I’ve always considered On The Road to be one of my favourites books. Along with Crime and Punishment and Infinite Jest, it’s one of the books that has made the most impression on me. Having not read it for a couple of years I decided to reread it, to see if I still liked it, and to try and get an impression of how it will translate to the big screen. After watching the trailer, I’m pretty certain it’s going to suck. Here’s some brief reasoning.

Anyone who has read On The Road, or has any awareness of Kerouac as a writer, will know about the concept of spontaneous prose. The story goes that it was the result of three weeks of solid typing onto one continuous scroll of paper in a drug fuelled haze. Though true in the widest sense, Kerouac had spent the previous five years planning and drafting , filling notebooks with the stories and ideas that form the bulk of On The Road. His method for spontaneous prose required planning before it could be executed. His prose emulates the frantic and frenzied style of Bebop, rushing to communicate every thought or idea in his head, with a scant regard to the standard ideas of sentence structure and punctuation. But you know this, because it’s pretty common knowledge. It’s not like I’m discussing the use of involuntary memory in Proust’s In Search Of Lost Time (which I’ve read by the way – I am that smart). What’s not clear is how this is going to be emulated in the film version. I would imagine there’ll be lots of shots of the characters racing around, talking very fast, and saying “man” a lot. Maybe lots of handheld cameras. It’s going to look like Spinning On The Needlebliss.

One of the things that bugs me about any discussion of On The Road in the press is the portrayal of Kerouac as a icon of cool, a king of the beat generation. Reading the novel, it’s painfully clear that Sal Paradise (aka Jack Kerouac) is not cool. Dean Moriaty (aka Neal Cassady) is the cool one, the figure of fun that all the characters flock to, the one that inspires them to write and think and talk in the way they do, the one that lights the spark. In a famous passage Kerouac describes watching Ginsberg & Cassady walking down the road, highlighting the gulf between them, the cool ones, and him, the outsider. The first part of the novel details Kerouac’s attempts at following Cassady, trying to locate him and by extension all the life that he is living. His willingness to do whatever Cassady said, even when he has misgivings, is hardly the behaviour of a king of any scene. By the end of the book, through arguments and abandonment, the two become equals. My point is that the Sal Paradise/Jack Kerouac character is not the leader of the pack. On The Road is not about a leader and his gang; Jack Kerouac is not King of the Beats. I have a feeling that the film, and more likely the press coverage, will miss this point. Make sure you keep your eye out for style pieces using On The Road as a crutch to flog Levis, khakis, white tees and flannel shirts.

Some other things I’ll be interested to see if they address – Sal Paradise & Dean Moraity crushing on 16 year old girls and Mexican prostitutes, and Carlo Marx & Dean Moraity having a sexy relationship (not that there’s anything wrong with it). Mostly, I think the film will fail to portray the sense of longing and searching that On The Road is about. It’s not really about what the characters get up to in Denver or New York or San Francisco. It’s about them looking for an answer, trying to find out anything and everything about the world at a time when they’re almost completely lost. The On The Road film will push the adventure angle, make the parties the important thing. It’s basically going to look like Skins.

Summer Style Tips

Now that Britain is seeing a bit of sunshine, you’re probably beginning to think about your summer wardrobe. Maybe you’re thinking of buying some chinos and going down the Ivy route. Maybe you’re thinking of making your heritage look a bit more hot weather friendly and are considering a pair of Made In England New Balance trainers. Maybe you’ve decided to go full on streetwear this year and will be decked out in head to toe Supreme. However you’ve decided to dress this summer, here are some tips to make your outfit dazzle and impress all of your friends.

1. Oxford Shirts

Oxford shirts are a staple of any self respecting fashionable young male. Loved by the Ivy set, the Oxford is a true American classic. A versatile piece that is well suited to both the office and the bar, it’s ideal for when a sneaky after work drink turns into a full blown night out. By tucking your Oxford into a pair of black jeans, you can be both smart and casual. Just remember to refer to it as ‘shirting’. No-one does ‘shirts’ any more.

2. Candy Stripes

Not one for the faint hearted, candy stripes are this season’s must wear print. Nothing says I’m a confident, outgoing kind of guy then a beautifully striped jacket or shirt. The combination stripes of white and colour scream “Summer’s here and I’m ready to party!” Walk into a bar wearing a jacket like this, and all eyes will be on you.

3. A good wallet

Whilst backpacks may have been the on trend accessory for winter, this summer travelling light is key. With this in mind, we recommend you invest in a good wallet. It needs to be a good quality leather so that it can withstand you stuffing it with all that cash, numerous credit cards, an oyster card and receipts. If you find yourself sitting at an angle, then you’re on the right track. Talk about getting a lean on!

4. Short Hair

With the hot summer months around the corner, now is an ideal time to get rid of that long, failed indie band moptop, and adopt a retro short back and sides. The short hair will leave you feeling much cooler in the hotter months, and the retro look will fit right in with your basic Ivy look. Make sure you keep the parting straight and to the side, and keep the top slick. If you go to Enzo, tell him we sent you.

5. The urban sombrero

A hat is both a practical and fashionable accessory for the summer. It will keep the sun out of your eyes and make you look like the coolest cat whilst you’re chilling out on London Fields. Whilst everyone else will be rocking Supreme snapbacks, we recommend the Urban Sombrero. It combines the spirit of old Mexico with a little big city panache. The daring shape and wide brim will set you apart from the crowd, and we think it will be a key look this summer.

Hopefully our tips will help you put together the ultimate summer look this year. Come back next week for an ill-informed How To Dress Like Don Draper feature. Everyone else is doing it.

Jean-alogy

Apologies for the awful jean/gene pun, but it serves a purpose. As someone who would profess to having an interest in denim, I wanted to write a blog about my newest pair of jeans, a pair of Levi’s Vintage 1947 501’s. When you consider the wide variety and scope of denim currently on the market, buying a pair of Levi’s seems like an odd choice. This is especially true when you factor in how far the brand has fallen from its heyday. The main reason to for buying a pair of Levi’s is the brand’s lineage. It’s an awfully trite thing to say, but there really is history in these jeans.

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Levi’s weren’t the only jeans to exist way back when. Many other smaller brands existsed but, along with Wrangler and Lee, Levi’s are the OGs of denim. Without a doubt they have the richest history and the greatest pull of any brand currently pushing jeans. The oldest pair in existence dates back to 1878. They were found in a mine by a guy called Mike Harris, who also happens to have written a book called Jeans Of The Old West. There’s a really good interview with him the latest issue of Inventory as well. In a nut shell, Levi’s have been kicking around for ages.

1873 denim

This post is working on the presumption that you know what the 501 is (it’s also presumed that anyone will actually read this, which may well turn to to be false). The 501 is Levi’s signature model. It’s a style that has been mimicked and copied through history. Having gone through slight variations through the years, it’s the 1947 model that could be seen as the definitive article. Following the end of World War II, Levi’s were no longer constrained by rationing or material shortages so were able to return to manufacturing jeans as they had done pre-war. The end of the war coincided allowed a new generation to discover and purchase Levi’s. There’s certainly scope for the claim that this was the turning point for denim, where it went from being functional to being fashionable. When you’re looking at Tunblr’s full of pictures of post-war American, it’s more than likely the kids in the photos will be wearing 501s, and more often that not it’ll be 47’s (or maybe the ’55 cut, but I bought the ’47 so that’s the angle I’m pushing).

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Levi’s influence and reach can be summed up by the details in these photos. It doesn’t look like much, but every single detail shown above marks a pair of jeans as a pair of Levi’s. At the turn of the century lawsuits were filed against every single brand that borrowed aspects of these designs, citing infringements of trademarks. No other manufactured is now allowed to use the accurate, a vertical red tab or have a leather patch depicting two animals pulling apart a pair of jeans in the way that Levi’s does. So why were so many brands borrowing so liberally from Levi’s? It’s the same reason that so many Japanese brands base their cuts on vintage Levi’s, the same reason that I bought a pair. It’s the history.

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Enter Levi’s Vintage Clothing. LVC is a way of introducing the brand’s history back into its clothing, a way of recalling when it was a big hitter, because, if we’re honest, Levi’s fell off a good while back. The LVC range goes at least some way to recalling the glory days. When you consider how popular the heritage look is right now, it’s no real surprise that they’ve started pushing out vintage inspired clothing. The current season features some Ivy inspired styles and all looks very nice, but it’s the denim that is the real selling point for the brand. The denim is still manufactured at Cone Mills and has a very nice, slightly hairy quality to it. The reproduction cuts are pretty much on point, with each era of the 501xx represented. The denim itself has a nice, slight hairy quality to it and is pretty tough and rugged, but the quality or workmanship doesn’t really meet the high expectations that the retail price would dictate. Which is a polite way of saying these jeans are over priced. They are nice, don’t get me wrong, and I’m very glad to own a decent pair of Levi’s, it’s just that they’re not full retail price nice. Without wanting to get into the “sick fades bro” thing, I am keen to see how they’ll wear in.

1947 denim

For further reading on the lawsuit, try here, here or here. For more jeans chat from people who know what they’re talking about, you could try the very comprehensive Loomstate or the wormhole that is SuperFuture. It’s a good way to kill time at work.

A List

Things Meredith Brooks is not ashamed of being, according to her 1997 single ‘Bitch’

 

  • “Bitch”
  • “Lover”
  • “Child”
  • “Mother”
  • “Sinner”
  • “Saint”

I submitted this to McSweeney’s. Unsurprisingly, they didn’t use it because it is neither funny nor clever.

Reasons Why I Can’t Sleep At Night

or, First World Problems in List Form.

  1. Concerns about my slowly receding hairline, plus additional worries about hair thinning.
  2. Confusion as to why, at the ripe old age of 26 (almost 27), I still get spots, more so than I did when I was a teenager, which one would assume to be the most spot filled time.
  3. Annoyed at the fact that I am not allowed a brief gap between point 1 and point 2, such that I have both clear skin and a full, non-depleting supply of hair at the same time.
  4. Needing to buy a new sweatshirt, and being unable to find one that meets my criteria of being both good quality and affordable.
  5. Worrying about not being able to fall asleep, which in turns leads to me not being able to fall asleep, which makes me worry about not being able to fall asleep, and so on.
  6. W/r/t points 1, 2 & 3, worrying that my vanity, and rampant consumerism makes me a Bad Person, and a total First World Problem cliché.
  7. Why do my legs hurts? Shin splints?
  8. Am I going to the toilet too often or not enough? What is an appropriate number of times to go? Is this something that can be discussed openly?
  9. Should my stomach be making these noises?
  10. An inability to make friends, and keep in contact with existing friends, as seen in the popular film comedy I Love You Man, staring Paul Rudd and Jason Segel.
  11. Additionally, why can’t I be friends with Paul Rudd and Jason Segel? Those dudes seem chill.
  12. That my brother’s assertion that “You think you’re Jim but really you’re Michael Scott” is truer than I want to believe.
  13. Worries that I am basically a walking First World Problem, who has no right to complain about anything.
  14. Stupid blog post ideas.
  15. Nicki Minaj