Recently J. Press sent out an email plugging its fall items, so if you haven’t visited the “new looks” page, take a look.
And while you’re there, tell me if things look a bit different compared to seasons past. The mannequin forms, shirt collars, tie choices — something feels like a piano slightly out of tune. (Continue)
We’ve had such a steady stream of newsy material that the menswear trade shows have been put off for months. So for the rest of this week I’ll be posting photos from shows in January, springtime, and just a couple of weeks ago. In other words, there will be a seasonal mixture. Check back on this post; new photos will be placed at the top. — CC (Continue)
Nick Hilton just sent over photos of the new Norman Hilton sportcoats we posted about recently. Made in the US, they will be priced at $695-$795, or about the same as last time around. They are scheduled to arrive in Hilton’s Princeton shop in the next few weeks. — CC (Continue)
In a previous article, I mentioned that native prints are not common among Ivy retailers today. This possibly overreaching assessment prompted me to make a more thoughly investigation of current offerings.
I approached O’Connell’s, the purveyor of all things traditional and known for its expansive collection of old stock. I struck out in finding any vintage heyday batik, but manager Ethan Huber shared with me the news that he was successful selling native prints last year and is offering again this year. The supplier of O’Connell’s native fabric items is Bills Khakis.
Readers who have followed the brand over the years have watche it go from one product to many. I asked founder Bill Thomas about native prints, and he said he’s offering the Parker model short in a kalamkari fabric. Kalamkari is an Indian fabric similar to batik. “The patterns were discovered in the archives of an old mill,” says Thomas. “It went back 50 years and took two days to look at all the samples of madras and kalamkari.” The fabric was introduced on a whim and is one of the more playful items in the collection. Thomas admits that Kalamkari is “off the register” both in wildness and in production. The hand-screening technique used creates imperfections in the print design. The shorts offered by Bill’s are in a 4.5-ounce cotton and 9.75 inseam. The Bills website offer two colors of Kalamkari shorts, golden sand and beach grass. Thomas suggests pairing them with solid polos, washed oxfords and chambray.
As we reach the heart of summer, I sense a deprivation. It goes virtually unnoticed, and yet it is there for any Ivy enthusiast to investigate. The stores are full of the requisite madras and seersucker, but little else. Compared to the Ivy boom years, or even the golden age of the 1930s, it appears as if part of the color palette is missing, pattern is virtually nonexistent, and ethnically diverse fabrics are nowhere to be found. Some will contend that this is natural selection, that madras and seersucker won fair and square. Others will point out that in a shrinking market, you offer what sells and no longer take risks. A third faction will wish we not peruse the subject at all. But we are going there.
Before the full ascent of the counter culture, back in the days of in loco parentis, there was a burst of sartorial hedonism on campus that students took to with Tahitian abandon. This was expressed in an appreciation for native fabrics. The first fabric family are those that use a dye-resistant technique. This style of cloth dates back at least 1,500 years, and is found in Africa, the Middle East, India and China. For many enthusiasts, the pinnacle of this style is represented in the batiks of Java and the East Indies. Batik takes it entomological roots from the word “ambatik,” which means “to write with little dots.” The word harkens back to the Dutch colonial period, when various forms of the word like mbatek, batik, batek and battik were used. Dutch records from the 17th century report “highly decorated fabrics,” but it wasn’t until the importation of fine quality cloth in the 19th century that allowed the elaborate style to flourish. (Continue)
When we change the clocks twice a year, we remember the direction with the mnemonic device “spring forward, fall back.” But these days retailers bring out next season’s clothes earlier and earlier, and as soon as July 4th was over there were already signs of fall.
Yesterday Brooks Brothers sent out an email blast plugging its new fall items, so I went to the company’s website to check them out.
As always there’s an endless number of bland products. Most of the creativity, for better or worse, is in the Red Fleece collection, such as the robot tie above, which I kind of like, except that whenever I have a whimsical tie hanging in my closet I never feel like actually putting it on. (Continue)
Today, as you may have heard, is the last game of the World Cup. Germany will take on Argentina, and the nations have met thrice before in the final. I’ll be cheering for Germany, land of my birth (on a US military base, that is).
A couple of weeks ago pundit Ann Coulter remarked that no one whose great-grandfather was born in America is watching soccer. Time for a poll to guage interest in the world’s so-called “beautiful game” among devotees of American style. — CC