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Friday, August 22, 2014

#MENSWEAR: Dr. Martens Spirit of '69

trojan records box

doc martens 69
The iconic Doc Martens boot brand celebrated the “Spirit of ‘69” last night on the Lower East Side.  In its latest campaign, British rapper Mike Skinner and photographer Gavin Watson have evoked the rebellious spirit, music and skinhead culture of 1960’s that made the brand the punk symbol it is today.  Dr. Marten’s also collaborated with brands like Trojan RecordsAlpha Jackets, Brutus Shirts and Edwin Jeans that they felt also contributed to the culture of that time.

While Dr. Martens was traditionally made in the U.K. did you know there really was a “Doc”?  Dr. Klaus Maertens was a German inventor who originally created the label’s signature air sole to relieve the pain of his own injured foot.  The original work boots were worn by policemen and postmen. Certain styles are still being made in the original Cobbs Lane factory in England where they started in 1901.

The party was held at the three floor nightclub at The Delancey.  The palm tree filled rooftop and faux-grungy basement floors make it one of the clubs where you can still enjoy a variety punk, rock and reggae on the Lower East Side of NYC.  This was a fitting location for guests to dance to their choice of music and throw back a Red Stripe beer or Sailor Jerry.


New York was once a great place for rock n’ roll.  Based on the number of guests last night, there was no shortage of fans for the genre.  Rockers need to pull on their boots and stomp their way back to New York. 
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Thursday, August 21, 2014

#Menswear: Stronghold Denim: America's Heritage

handmade jeans
selvage jeans
abbot kinney shopping

Do your jeans have history? I came across Stronghold Denim's gorgeous store in Venice Beach, California.   Walking into their space in the chic shopping street of Abbot Kinney Boulevard was like a trip back in time.

Stronghold was the first denim company to produce and Manufacture in Los Angeles.   They date back to 1895.  They supplied authentic work wear for those early consumers.  In the 1930's, you saw Stronghold jeans in movies like The Grapes of Wrath and Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times.  The company closed in 1949.

Fast forward to 2004, entrepreneurs Michael Paradise and Michael Cassell took over the historical brand to revive the tradition of handmade craftsmanship.  The store has beautifully made hats, belts and of course jeans.  Old wooden display cases and jars of metal hardware serve as decor.  The jeans use old school indigo dyes for their fabrics.  If you take a look inside the garments they actually use selvage edge denim, something I have not seen in modern mass manufactured jeans (and I have researched MANY brands as a technical director). Selvage is the finished wrapped edge on finely woven fabrics.  While not necessary and fabric consuming (which is why no one does this anymore) the edge does give a high end look and feel of security at the seams.  These are one of the many details that you may not see from the outside, but if you care for such things, they matter.  It's kind of like having a cashmere lined trench coat sewn with silk thread.

The old folks are right.  In a time where fast, cheap fashion increasingly has taken over the world, I love to see a throwback to real artisan clothing.  
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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

#Menswear Schuyler 4 Fall/Winter 2014

Do you need some German engineering in your wardrobe?  I love visiting the Schuyler 4 menswear showroom.  Their luxury men’s sportswear is what I would wear if I were a man.  They represent several heritage brands, Alberto, Haupt and Codice.  They each have been around for generations and hail mostly from Germany. 

I always find it interesting that the classic legacy brands are often the ones doing the most innovative things with their product.  I don’t know if that is because they know their category so well, that they are confident enough to take chances? 

The Alberto pants have classic construction, but super soft finishes and a great range of dyes.  My husband is a huge fan.  His last pair upgraded his denim wardrobe and he refuses to go back to his old level of jeans.  Their interior finishes are built like a tailored trouser, with silky lining and interesting stitching.

As an outerwear fan myself, the Codice collection has beautifully tailored jackets.  Their fabrics are gorgeous and textured.  I love them more when I see the whimsical contrast linings for that bit of pop color.

The Haupt shirts have these tiny little details that make them stand out.  It could be the tiny pipings around the cuff, a contrast collar.  It could be more obvious, like a photo collage print of rock icons. 


All these brands have a distinct European flavor, giving a masculine look of high fashion, but without being flamboyant.   Gentleman, if you miss your appointment at Savile Row, let the continent come to you.

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Sunday, August 17, 2014

#Menswear Nautica Fall 2014

nautica black sail
nautica fall 2014
Did Nautica’s Black Sail Fall 2014 collection finally find its identity?  I’m kicking off my menswear week coverage with one of my career alma maters.

For many years, Nautica did not seem to know where it wanted to be in the market place after VF Corporation took the brand over from David Chu.  While I was employed there, there were efforts to make it preppy and sophisticated.  It dabbled in the more urban aesthetic towards what their expensive (but inconclusive) market research told them.  Should the brand stay true the nautical theme?  Did it really boil down to Father’s Day promotions at Federated owned department stores? 

Their fall 2014 collection might have found their way.  Branding the show under the “Black Sail” heading was smart in signaling a different intention without alienating the traditional buyers.  The outerwear offerings, one of the brand’s strongest products, had a great lineup of high-tech puffers.  Even working with the design team, I always loved all their little details, functional and design alike.  The fur collars had a bit of luxury, the sleek surfaces gave the fabrics more of an edge.  There were a lot of cozy knits, a category that was always under promoted for Nautica.  They had a good balance of sporty and outdoors-influenced looks (the frozen forest prints rocks).  The slimmer fits of the tops and pants worked well for the city guy who works for the weekend.

I love the diverse model casting; Design director Christopher Cox always had a good eye for models.  I remember in the early days, the merchandisers always observed that the bestselling colors for the masses were red, navy and yellow.  It doesn’t sound very sophisticated, and the majority of those dollars might have come from the off-price channels.  However, those colors were worked into the fall 2014 show in a sophisticated way in richer, darker hues and better fabrics in pop colors.

Here’s to Ms. Fabulous giving a shout-out to my peeps.  You all deserve a bonus.

nautica christopher cox
photos by Mariana Leung
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Friday, August 15, 2014

Sales Alert: June Ambrose & Scoop NYC Clean Out Their Closets


June Ambrose is one of the most influential stylists, cool Mom and celebrity wrangler on the fashion industry.  She has worked with some of the top pop culture figures of today, helping to craft their personal brands.  It should come as no surprise that she also has one of the most coveted wardrobes around, full of top designers and every accessory you could dream of. (Check out our exclusive interview with June Ambrose).

She is cleaning it out, and that act of organization is your gain.  This Saturday, those goodies are for sale in Downtown NYC.  Bring cash and carry it out.

When: Saturday, August 16, 2014.  12 PM - 6 PM.
Where: Bond 07 By Selima, 7 Bond Street, New York NY


Scoop NYC was were all of my fashion school peeps would obsess and shop at (if they had the funds).  They are marking down sales merchandise from designers that include John Varvatos, Etro, Burberry, Rag & Bone, Martin Margiela, Alice & Olivia and a bunch of other uber chic labels up to 80% off their retail, current season prices.

When: Thursday, August 14. Mon—Sat 11am—8pm, Sun 11am—7pm.
Where:  473 Broadway between Broome and Grand Sts (212-925-3539). 861 Washington St between W 13th and W 14th Sts (212-691-1905). 873 Washington St between W 13th and W 14th Sts (212-929-1244).

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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Aritizia Holiday 2014


What are you wearing to work this winter?  Aritizia's Soho Boutique hosted a preview of their winter and holiday collection last week.  While this clothing chain is new to many of my fashion friends, they have been a go-to destination for Canadian peeps for years.

They are not selling revolutionary new styles, but are trend driven and sophisticated at a great price point.  This was the store that you graduated to after you left behind the fast fashion and high street stuff of placed like H&M to be taken seriously with the proper wardrobe of an adult.

I love that their designer look sportswear is price accessible to almost everyone. The super soft jersey and silk tunics I just purchased I have already spent days lounging around in, ($45-$75).  Their new fall dresses run mostly from $50-$165.

While I know their clothing pretty well, I am quite excited about their new handbag collections.  They are launching full grain leather bags in chic structured silhouettes in a price range between $200-500.  I have to say, most contemporary leather handbags with high end details like hand-painted edge coating and custom hardware are positioned in a much higher price point.

I don't know how Canadians manage to do it.  Like Joe Fresh, they seem to be able to produce stylish, budget-friendly fashion at prices that Americans just scoff at.  This is coming from me, who has worked on the development side of sportswear and leather.

Hello Aritzia, nice to see another ex-pat in town.
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