Dinner (and beers) for 25
San Francisco Styleforum Meetup, September 12th 2013
Dinner (and beers) for 25
San Francisco Styleforum Meetup, September 12th 2013
The San Francisco Styleforumers had another meetup last night, this time hosted by the great folks at Proper Suit. Needless to say, it was an evening full of laughing, drinking, and feeling hundreds of fabric swatches. Big thanks to McGregor Madden and Max Andreae for hosting a wonderful event. Their company is putting out some great products, and any Bay Area gentleman can get measured for a suit by making an appointment (Max is in San Francisco 1-2 times per month, but appointments fill up quickly).
Thanks again to all who attended. I’m looking forward to the next one already.
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.
The list of brands on the shelves is impressive, to say the least. Tellason, Rising Sun, APC, Raleigh, LVC, Levi’s Made & Crafted, and more are all well-represented. There are dozens of small brands that I had never heard of as well. The stock covers a wide variety of fits and materials, allowing denimheads of diverse tastes to find something unique and attractive. Their list of inventory goes beyond just denim, with classic items from brands like Gant and Saint James filling the empty spaces on the shelves. The staff is approachable, knowledgeable, and committed to helping everyone find the pair of jeans that they will love for years.
One of the most impressive aspects of A-B fits is their commanding selection of women’s raw denim, a surprisingly rare bird in the world of clothing. Half of the store is devoted to women’s clothing, and the quality and selection of women’s artisan denim easily rivals the men’s. That alone makes it a unique store, and one that should be on any denim enthusiast’s list. All in all, it’s a wonderful store and is worth checking out, whether you’re on your tenth pair of selvage or just browsing for your first.
There rest of the “Out and About” Series can be found here.
Urban Exploration - the Presidio
I find it very convenient (and surprising) that one of my favorite spots in the city still remains relatively unknown and very empty. San Francisco is a crowded place and it can be challenging to find a location that is both beautiful and tranquil within the city limits.
The Presidio is a strange place - for over 200 years it was an active military base until control of the area was transferred to the National Park Service in 1994. The area remains a surreal mixture of quaint neighborhoods, military compounds, wooded hilltops and scenic city vistas. It still boggles my mind that such a quiet piece of outdoor solitude can exist within a loud and active city. The smell of eucalyptus groves mixed with the views of the San Francisco skyline is a juxtaposition that I can’t get enough of.
OCBD - Gant Rugger | Jacket - Gant Rugger | Sweater - J. Crew | Belt - Equus Leather | Shades - Warby Parker | Sneakers - Tretorn Nylites | Messenger Bag - Ernest Alexander | Denim - Gustin (review coming soon)
I’d like to thank all the well-dressed men and women that stopped by the styeforum meetup last night, as well as Beckett & Robb for hosting the event and letting us raid their liquor cabinet and rummage through their fabric swatches. There were a lot of new faces in the crowd and it was a pleasure chatting with a diverse group of people sharing a common passion for clothing. I wish I had taken more photos but I suppose the conversation had me occupied all night - this is about all I left with! If you’re in the Bay Area and weren’t able to make it I highly suggest that you stop by Beckett & Robb’s showroom at One Embarcadero Center.
Out & About: Wingtip
The Financial District of San Francisco is an interesting place. I’m there all week but I rarely venture over during the weekend as it generally becomes quite desolate and empty without the bustle of business. However, I decided to change that and went on a weekend visit to the infamous Wingtip (formerly On the Fly), now located in the shadow of the Transamerica tower in the historic Bank of Italy building.
Now, before I even get in to talking about the store I think it’s worth giving a bit of background on the Bank of Italy building. As someone who designs buildings for a living I think it adds a nice bit of context to the whole experience.
The bank of Italy was founded in 1904 by the Italian-American Amadeo Giannini, a produce buyer living in San Mateo. Although he led a successful career, he found that San Francisco’s financial system had a philosophy of “big banks for big people,” making it near impossible for common men and women to find a loan. This often pushed these people towards seedy loan sharks and other dangerous companies. The fact that the financial capital of the West would finance millions of dollars for a railroad and would refuse $50 for a farmer’s home improvement was infuriating to him, and so he single-handedly created a “bank of the people” that would choose customers based on their character, not by their net worth. This small, simple idea was exactly what the Bay Area needed, and the young bank was an instant success with common men and women all over the state. The bank is now commonly known as the Bank of America. Without Giannini’s simple startup the landscape of banking as we know it would be radically different; his work helped democratize banks and bring them to the individual level.
The Bank of Italy building was built in 1908 after the 1906 earthquake and subsequent fire destroyed the original bank on Columbus Avenue. The beautiful building served as the headquarters of Giannini’s company until 1921, at which point the company had outgrown the structure and moved to a new location. It has housed several banks in the interim and is now a National Historic Landmark. Through some miracle, a classy men’s store was able to nab the space for their own use, and the rest, as they say, is history.
The first thing you will notice when entering Wingtip is the architecture. The soaring marble ceilings and enormous windows contrast the thick steel vault doors and brass fixtures. You’ll probably stand around for a few minutes looking at the detailed molding before you realize that you’re actually in a well-curated men’s store. Bank vaults are lined with Luciano Barbera ties, marble hallways hide Alfred Sargent oxfords, and cashmere sweaters are piled on billiard tables and persian rugs. The main floor holds the ready-to-wear clothing and accessories, and the underground bank vault is home to the bespoke level - dozens of Holland and Sherry fabric books litter the walls like ancient tomes, and each of the locked drawers in the bank vault hold the information for a single bespoke customer. The second floor carries the elite member-only club - more on this soon.
So whether you need an alligator belt, badger brush, bespoke Prince of Wales flannel suit, or just want to look at the scenery, trot over to Wingtip and take a look. I have yet to make a substantial purchase there, but it has become my go-to for Saphir - the lovely french shoe products that are almost impossible to find in a brick-and mortar store. If you’re in the area I highly suggest that you take a look sometime, whether you’re planning on dropping big bucks or not.
Wingtip also has a web store that can be found here.
After a long day of oyster shucking in Tomales Bay I did some hiking up in the Marin Headlands. The views up there never cease to impress me.
Flannel ‘shacket’ - Bonobos | Gingham shirt - J. Crew | 5-pocket trousers - Bonobos | Sneakers - Tretorn Nylites | Shades - Warby Parker
Out & About: A Trip to Britex Fabrics
In my experience, one of the best ways to make a mass-produced piece of clothing a bit more luxurious and enjoyable is to replace plastic machine-sewed buttons with high-quality, hand sewn ones. There are many places to find great horn, mother-of-pearl, leather and metal buttons: thrifting and ebay are always good options and there many online stores with wide selections. If you’re in the San Francisco area, though, I highly recommend stopping by Britex Fabrics.
A few months ago I purchased a Club Monaco single-breasted trench coat on deep discount. I have already gotten good use out of it but I knew that the large plastic buttons were keeping the trench from reaching its full potential. On a rainy day last weekend I stopped by the famous fabric store to peruse the button selection. The beautiful shop has four floors stocked with fabrics of every kind, but the selection of natural and vintage buttons is truly something to behold. A wide variety of colors and sizes are available, and the cost is quite reasonable (they are just buttons, after all).
Replacing all of the buttons on a blazer or jacket will set you back around $15-$25 (or less if you thrift them) and the change will be dramatic. Natural buttons have a delightful weight to them, as well as having a wonderful richness to their color and a much more “real” feeling (because they are). It’s a simple and inexpensive alteration that makes a garment much more pleasurable to wear.
I left with a small handful of ruddy amber colored buttons and will be swapping them out on my own soon (a skill all men should probably have). I’ll post the process tomorrow but in the meantime consider upgrading one of your favorite pieces with this small change - you’ll be glad you did.
Britex also has a web store that can be found here.
I’m on a boat and
It’s going fast and
I’ve got a sweater that’s made by Michael Bastian
The weather was wonderful in San Francisco this weekend and I had the good fortune of spending most of it on a beautiful sailboat with several of my close friends, cruising around the Bay’s bridges and islands. Life is good.
Crew-neck sweater - GANT by MB | Gingham Shirt - J. Crew Factory | Chinos - Bonobos | Watch - Omega Seamaster on Knottery strap | Sunglasses - Warby Parker (polarized, thank goodness)