February 24, 2014

Out & About - Harding & Wilson Bowties in Portland, OR

In the past I have mentioned that I grew up in a small town in Oregon’s Willamette Valley; this is an area of the country where understanding the finer points of style is not a priority for most men. Be that as it may, I would be lying through my teeth if I said that I was the only style-oriented young man to come out of the area in recent years. One of my well-dressed high school friends is Peter Lee, and a few years ago he turned his interests in clothing into a legitimate business - Harding & Wilson.

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February 10, 2014
Out & About: Tanner Goods Flagship Store - 1308 W. Burnside, Portland, OR
During my most recent trip to my home state I went in to Portland to visit some menswear companies that are distinctly “Pacific Northwest” - the area has a unique aesthetic, and Tanner Goods captures that as well as anyone else. While I was at the store I was able to chat with Colton Tong, manager of the Portland flagship, and learn a bit more about the brand.
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Tanner Goods began as a leather goods company making a few simple items; you may have heard the name in reference to the natural leather patch featured on many top-tier selvage jeans, or perhaps you’ve seen their camera straps around the necks of your favorite blogger. These days, though, Tanner Goods has a huge selection of leather belts, pouches, wallets, and lanyards, as well as canvas bags and other items that feature materials besides just leather. All of their products are made in the great city of Portland, Oregon, and embrace the rugged and utilitarian style of the Northwest.

All of Tanner Goods’ leather products are made from Chicago’s Horween Chromexcel calf leather, except for the natural leather, which is sourced locally from a tannery making the best vegetable tanned leather available. For those that aren’t familiar with natural leather, it is made with a different process that leaves the hide with its original color, and develops an incredible patina over time. The natural leather items have become some of Tanner Goods’ most popular and iconic pieces. The Chromexcel leather comes in a variety of colors, as seen here. All of the hardware used in the leather goods is solid brass or steel.

The Portland flagship store also carries a selection of clothing, including a solid stock of raw denim choices like Tellason and 3Sixteen (both of which source Tanner Goods’ natural leather patches on their jeans). The store’s stock of clothing can be seen at the Woodlands, which is the textile side of the Tanner Goods family.

All told, Tanner Goods is a company devoted to making simple, high quality goods that are functional and attractive. The Tanner Goods flagship store may be located in Portland, but they have many stockists around the US, including Bay Area staples like Unionmade and Welcome Stranger. If you’re ever in the Portland area, though, I encourage you to stop in and look around.
The rest of the “Out and About” Series can be found here.

Out & About: Tanner Goods Flagship Store - 1308 W. Burnside, Portland, OR

During my most recent trip to my home state I went in to Portland to visit some menswear companies that are distinctly “Pacific Northwest” - the area has a unique aesthetic, and Tanner Goods captures that as well as anyone else. While I was at the store I was able to chat with Colton Tong, manager of the Portland flagship, and learn a bit more about the brand.

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December 20, 2013
In a brief moment of serendipity last month, I happened to come across the Proper Cloth headquarters by pure accident; they were located right next to the Meermin trunk show and I stumbled in by chance on my way out. Needless to say, I took full advantage of the opportunity and had a quick look around.
Over the years I have bought plenty of shirts from Proper Cloth (as seen here), so it was nice to meet founder Seph Skerritt and get a better look at what the company is up to. Their NYC office is loaded with fabric books and shirt samples, and locals can book appointments to be measured in person there.
I was also able to take a quick look at their expanding line of accessories; the ties in particular were quite nice (the cashmere ones - like on the mannequin below - were sold out at the time, but it looks like they’re back online). All told, it was a fun little excursion, and I’m glad I got to meet the team behind the products I own. My thanks go to Seph and the team for graciously hosting a random walk-in off the street claiming to be a “menswear blogger” - in other words, someone that comes in, takes a bunch of photos, and doesn’t buy anything. Thanks, guys!

In a brief moment of serendipity last month, I happened to come across the Proper Cloth headquarters by pure accident; they were located right next to the Meermin trunk show and I stumbled in by chance on my way out. Needless to say, I took full advantage of the opportunity and had a quick look around.

Over the years I have bought plenty of shirts from Proper Cloth (as seen here), so it was nice to meet founder Seph Skerritt and get a better look at what the company is up to. Their NYC office is loaded with fabric books and shirt samples, and locals can book appointments to be measured in person there.

I was also able to take a quick look at their expanding line of accessories; the ties in particular were quite nice (the cashmere ones - like on the mannequin below - were sold out at the time, but it looks like they’re back online). All told, it was a fun little excursion, and I’m glad I got to meet the team behind the products I own. My thanks go to Seph and the team for graciously hosting a random walk-in off the street claiming to be a “menswear blogger” - in other words, someone that comes in, takes a bunch of photos, and doesn’t buy anything. Thanks, guys!

November 21, 2013
Coming to America - A Visit to the Meermin Trunk Show
One of my most anticipated stops during the recent trip to NYC was the Meermin trunk show last week. The brand has been getting lots of press in the past year or two and I have been increasingly curious about their wares. The problem, though, is that their shoes are only physically present at their storefronts in Spain and Japan. Their web store is well set up for international orders, but since the shoes cannot be tried on it makes determining the correct size a difficult and somewhat risky undertaking.
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(Linea Maestro Auesterity Brogue in Snuff Reverse Calf)
Fortunately, Luisa and Pepe are working to change that. During their first official visit to the United States, the Meermin duo was able to help hundreds of men and women find the size and style that fit them best. Many shoes were available for purchase, but they encouraged anyone and everyone to come in and get sized. I tried on at least a dozen pairs, and Luisa and Pepe were happy to accommodate my incessant questions and requests. They had a good representation of their products available to try on, and even had some new items that have not made their way to their website yet.

(Classic Line Oxford in Cognac)
All told, their shoes are attractive, well-made, and competitively priced. I think that any menswear enthusiast would be hard pressed to find a shoe at Meermin’s pricepoint of equal or greater value. I should state that I do not (yet) own any pairs so I can not comment on how they wear, but from what I was able to learn from my visit there is no reason to be pessimistic. Meermin is a young company and only time will tell how their shoes will age, but they seem to have the right ingredients in play – good materials, solid construction, and classic designs.
Most of Meermins’s classic line of shoes start at 160 euros, including VAT. Their higher-grade “Linea Maestro” models start at 260 euros, with additional costs for shell cordovan and made-to-order options. Meermin is able to offer their shoes at these prices in part because the shoes are partially assembled in China and finished in Spain.
Another benefit of seeing Meermin’s stock in person was that I was able to directly compare their “Classic Line” and “Linea Maestro” offerings. I definitely think that their classic line of shoes are priced very competitively and reflect one of the better options out there, but even with my limited exposure to their products I was able to see that there is a significant increase in quality between the two lines. In terms of style, the Linea Maestro options are often more refined and sleek, but there are also increases in material and construction quality. For example, while the Classic line uses traditional split suede (suede side is the outside of a split leather piece) for some shoes, the Linea Maestro uses full-on reverse calf from a very well-known manufacturer. For those that don’t know, reverse calf is a suede that uses the “flesh” side of a whole skin as the suede, which results in a much higher quality and more supple end product (read more here).

(Linea Maestro Copper Reverse Calf Oxford and Snuff Austerity Brogue)
An example of improved quality between the two lines is the use of a hand welted goodyear welt in the Linea Maestro shoes (as opposed to a machine goodyear welt on the Classic line).  Beyond the gut-reaction of “hand welted” sounding better than “machine welted,” the differences can be seen and felt. According to Pepe, hand welting results in a slimmer profile and will also create a more comfortable shoe. “The hand welting will feel much more like a Blake-welted shoe, but with the durability of a Goodyear welt,” he explains. For those that aren’t familiar, Blake-welted shoes are well-known for their comfort but usually does not have the durability or ease of repair that a goodyear welt offers.
Another aspect of the company that has been popular with style afficianados is their (comparably) affordable made-to-order program. Many high-end shoe companies have something of this nature, but prices can get very high very fast. Meermin is probably the most inexpensive way to start with a relatively blank canvas and create a shoe to any number of specifications – shape, material, design, and more. One needs to only look at the Styleforum thread or Meermin’s tumblr to see the numerous examples of shoe dreams turned to reality.

(MTO leather options)
Pepe and Luisa are very knowledgeable about the products they sell, and it is clear that they are passionate about what they do. I’d like to thank them for taking the time to bring so many shoes over to the good ol’ USA, and for hosting a wonderful trunk show. If you have any questions about their products you can send them an email or check out their affiliate thread on Styleforum.

Luisa (left), Pepe (right)

Black Cordovan Balmoral Boot

Snuff Suede Boots

Classic Line oxfords - burgundy, cognac, black

Classic Line oxford and Linea Maestro cordovan longwing

Channeled soles on Linea Maestro shoes

Last comparison - Olfe (left), Hiro (right), size 8UK

Pepe’s lovely copper reverse calf double monks

Green shell double monk MTO - an example of Meermin’s versatility

Coming to America - A Visit to the Meermin Trunk Show

One of my most anticipated stops during the recent trip to NYC was the Meermin trunk show last week. The brand has been getting lots of press in the past year or two and I have been increasingly curious about their wares. The problem, though, is that their shoes are only physically present at their storefronts in Spain and Japan. Their web store is well set up for international orders, but since the shoes cannot be tried on it makes determining the correct size a difficult and somewhat risky undertaking.

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August 13, 2013

Out & About: A-B Fits

I’ve never claimed to be much of a denim head, but the events at Denim Bruin earlier this month reminded me that San Francisco is one of the cornerstones of the denim industry, and that the products found here are some of the best on the globe. Jeans have been part of this city’s culture ever since Levi’s started selling 501s to gold miners (or so the story goes), and have been an integral part of West Coast style ever since.

One of the most famous purveyors of high-quality jeans is A-B Fits, a well-established and well-respected denim shop in San Francisco. The small storefront is nestled away in the North Beach neighborhood and has been supplying San Francisco with top-notch denim for over two decades. 

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May 9, 2013

Out And About: a chat with Gustin Denim

If you’ve been paying any attention to new developments in the men’s clothing industry then you’ve probably heard mention of Gustin - the kickstarter success story that shocked everyone when they introduced high-end denim at a pricepoint that seemed revolutionary (until they told us that it’s what we should’ve been paying all along).

For those that are not familiar, Gustin is run by two Bay Area men (Josh and Stephen) that have been producing and selling their denim at boutiques across the country for the past few years. Each pair is made in San Francisco out of high-quality selvage denim from top notch mills. Earlier this year they abandoned the retail game and began crowd-sourcing their products at the wholesale price. What has resulted is a wonderful rainbow of high-quality selvage denim for the price of a pair of Levi’s. 

I recently stopped by the Gustin headquarters to say hello and talk shop with Josh and Stephen. In this instance, I use the term “headquarters” loosely; in typical startup form they’ve set up shop in a friend’s living room and run their operation with a few laptops and iphone cameras. Nonetheless, the two keep a close eye on every pair of jeans leaving in the mail and are always looking for new and exciting fabrics for their limited-run jeans. Moreover, business seems to be going quite well - the team doubled in size this week when they brought on two more employees. 

During my visit I made a point to stop by their production facility, which is just a stone’s throw from their living room HQ. Watching the creation of a high-quality product is fascinating to me; I got to see the cutting and sewing process, which occurs - quite literally - right next to some of the biggest names in high-end denim. I also learned more about some of the subtle construction details that make Gustin’s denim top-notch. For instance, the belt loops are sewn on before (under) the waistband, which increases their durability and keeps them from pulling off. The pockets are also half-lined, which makes accessing the contents easier. I also got to feel many samples of past and upcoming runs - from super-soft to super-heavy to super-green, all carry something interesting along with them that makes them unique.  

Although Gustin has introduced a heavily tapered fit for those that are in to it, their bread and butter continues to be their original straight fit, which is slim through the seat and thigh and is a constant width from the knee down. I left their HQ with a simple pair of Cone Mill 13.5 oz. in their straight fit and will talk more about it once I get the opportunity to break them in. However, it should be noted that they have been experimenting with other items that are just as impressively priced - in recent weeks there have been natural leather wallets for $20 and belts for $50, with more on the the way. For instance, while in the factory I saw some lovely Japanese selvage chambray cloth that might become a button-down shirt in the near future - stay tuned.

In the end, what’s most exciting to me is that Gustin is taking boutique denim and turning it back into what it used to be - a clothing of the people. At $81-$99, most of us can afford to treat this denim however we want, whether it’s with a myriad of rules, mysticism, and ritualistic non-washing or just a pair of jeans that works hard and gets thrown in the wash every week. No matter how you decide to treat them, I imagine that they will hold up well and look all the better for it. 

May 3, 2013

hembits:

Cable Car Clothiers, still handsome after 75 years.

I had a wonderful time catching up with old friends and seeing some new faces at the Styleforum event last night, held at the iconic Cable Car Clothiers in San Francisco.

It was a beautifully warm day in the City yesterday, and everyone was donning their finest cotton, linen, and seersucker clothes. After all, this is San Francisco - a few more weeks and it’ll probably be cool and wet again.

Thanks to Jon (bottom picture) and company at Cable Car for hosting a wonderful event and opening up their store to a bunch of sweaty and hungry #menswear nerds. It’s a beautiful store and I highly recommend stopping by to peruse their selection of traditional men’s clothing and accessories (or get a trim and a shave from Nicky). 

April 9, 2013
Yes, there is a new Gant Rugger store in San Francisco.
I heard rumors of a new Gant store in San Francisco recently but was admittedly skeptical; the brand isn’t known for doing things quietly and it seemed impossible for the store to sneak into the Bay without quite a bit of fanfare. Nonetheless, I checked it out in person and the store is alive and well in the middle of Hayes Valley. They had their “soft” opening about two weeks ago; the official launch party will be in a few weeks and it sounds like some well-known faces may be in attendance. 
The store is exclusively men’s clothing and carries a well-stocked selection of the Rugger line as well as a healthy portion of the infamous Michael Bastian line (paging Mr. Zee…). If you’re a fan of the preppy New England aesthetic that this brand promotes (and don’t mind the price tag that comes with it) then you’ll want to make a point of stopping by.

Yes, there is a new Gant Rugger store in San Francisco.

I heard rumors of a new Gant store in San Francisco recently but was admittedly skeptical; the brand isn’t known for doing things quietly and it seemed impossible for the store to sneak into the Bay without quite a bit of fanfare. Nonetheless, I checked it out in person and the store is alive and well in the middle of Hayes Valley. They had their “soft” opening about two weeks ago; the official launch party will be in a few weeks and it sounds like some well-known faces may be in attendance. 

The store is exclusively men’s clothing and carries a well-stocked selection of the Rugger line as well as a healthy portion of the infamous Michael Bastian line (paging Mr. Zee…). If you’re a fan of the preppy New England aesthetic that this brand promotes (and don’t mind the price tag that comes with it) then you’ll want to make a point of stopping by.

February 28, 2013

Out and About: Beckett & Robb

One of the nice things about living in a big city is that there are always new men’s clothing stores to explore. Sometimes they have been around forever and have been hiding in plain sight, and other times they’re brand new and flying under the radar. When Dustin informed me that a new tailored clothing company was expanding into a lot just a few blocks away from my downtown office I decided to take a peek - enter Beckett & Robb.

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February 26, 2013

Out and About: Khaki’s of Carmel 

I have been living in the Bay Area for a little over two years now, but there is still a long list of places I haven’t experienced yet; I have yet to visit  Alcatraz, drive down Lombard St. or hike Half Dome, to name a few. Fortunately, though, I was able to check one item off of my list over the weekend when I went down south to visit Khaki’s of Carmel, a place that many men’s clothing enthusiasts consider to be the Mecca of menswear on the West Coast, and perhaps the whole country. I was fortunate to spend a good amount of time talking with the Jim Ockert, the third-generation merchant that created Khaki’s over 20 years ago. He was able to give me good insight into what his store was about, how it came to be, and where it is headed.

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