Foot Of The Charles: Rowing Blazers Oars Pop-Up Shop Into Boston

As a longtime admirer of Jack Carlson’s “cryptic menswear brand” Rowing Blazers, I felt a pang of injustice when his New York pop-up emerged in October. When would Boston, the seat of the Head of the Charles itself, receive its turn?

Turns out I didn’t have to wait too long. At the start of the month the brand announced via Instagram that a pop-up, er, “Boston Clubhouse & Ping-Pong Studio,” would exist at 220 Newbury Street from December 12-17th. In addition, the brand would also exhibit wares from NYC brands Paterson, Wooden Sleepers and FE Castleberry. I happened to be running errands in the area around noon yesterday and couldn’t resist the chance to step inside.

I was first struck by the size — it occupies two full rooms — and the scope of the merchandise, which included just about everything I’ve seen on the Rowing Blazers website (note: the streetwear threads from Paterson and vintage-inspired tees of Wooden Sleepers may be of less interest to the Ivy-minded). Also on display was an enormous range of on-brand knickknackery, from vintage flags to signed rowing oars, that came straight from the now-closed New York shop.

As for Mr. Castleberry, I discovered him in the back room, which served as both his temporary office and the promised ping-pong studio. This is where Castleberry sees clients for his eponymous made-to-measure suiting program, and will perhaps also challenge them to pick up a racquet. While I didn’t leave with a commission for a new soft-shouldered, black-and-white houndstooth sportcoat, I did come away with a valuable lesson on the backhand serve. — ERIC TWARDZIK

55 Comments on "Foot Of The Charles: Rowing Blazers Oars Pop-Up Shop Into Boston"

  1. The balls and delusion required for Egan to attempt to sell second hand hotel ashtrays that can be had on eBay for $15 for $100+, pre-owned Mark Cross briefcases that can be found on eBay for $100 or less for $2000, and cashmere winter caps that can be had numerous places for $70 for $150 (not to mention blazers that start at $1500 – “tailored” by a guy with almost no tailoring experience) is something to behold. Fred seems convinced that because he worked at Rugby for 11 months and self-identifies as an artist that he’s entitled to ‘get rich quick’ – what he needs is a real job where he gains meaningful experience and training (and the self-awareness that tends to come with both). Jack, of course, lost me when he started selling Abercrombie-esque destroyed (“busted seam”) oxford shirts for $175 (twice as much as an oxford from Kamakura), but these sorts of ‘partnerships’ erode his brand, credibility, and semblance of intelligence and good taste.

  2. Pounced on that within an hour.

  3. I normally refrain from commenting on post here … however, I can not stop myself from commenting that if the Castleberry person is in anyway involved, I’m treating it as if it is a typhoid ship and staying far away. Too bad.

  4. Newbury Street rents are some of the highest in the country.Years ago the brand Ermenegildo Zegna relocated to Copley Place (mall) because Newbury was too expensive.

    I don’t know much about F.E. Castleberry, but he is sure the whipping boy of Ivy Style.

  5. @CC – is there a single item sold by either Fred or Jack that you’d wear? how about at their prices? I’m guessing (hoping) no….which is why it’s so very odd that you keep directly and indirectly promoting them on here…

  6. VEA/AEV’s history of ridiculing a man who is, as far as we know, a complete stranger to him is well documented. One need not look very far to find scathing personal attacks that span years. I think FEC is eccentric and very concerned with his image, but I’ve never been given reason to insult him. I just do not understand the drive behind such animosity.

  7. I find it funny that Andrew E. Van Ostrand made it a point to use F. E. Castleberry’s real name (Fred Egan) yet thinks that switching his moniker from ‘AEV’ to ‘VEA’ has fooled anyone.

    That said, I in no way support the work of ‘Castleberry’ and would love to know how he makes a living.

  8. The article lost me as soon as I came across this sentence:

    “Turns out I didn’t have to wait to long.”

    I don’t know Mr. Twardzick, and I am hopeful this was just typo; but good Lord Sir, if you are writing for an outlet called “Ivy Style” at least know the proper use of prepositions. Or is that not a requirement in Colleges or Universities, Ivy or not, any longer?

    The Concord Diaspora

  9. @The Concord Diaspora that was indeed a typo, thank you for bringing it to my attention.

  10. That slipped past me to.

    If NDC chastises a man for a peccadilloe like that, imagine what he’s like with men who commit truly odious transgressions.

  11. Gotta love the knock-off Rod Lavers – hard to believe they didn’t generate a cease and desist. There are plenty of skilled artisans with twice the experience of FEC who charge half as much for MTM suiting, and can at least make alterations, as opposed to playing with a measuring tape and sending measurements away.

  12. @Christian

    Aargh. “That slipped past me to.”

    Now you are just trolling me. Not that the above was a truly odious transgression. Tee hee. Well played Sir, well played.

    @ Mr. Twardzick. I enjoyed your report, and figured it was a typo. No snark intended.

    The Concord Diaspora

  13. The image of Freddy sitting in a backroom, at a ping pong table no less, waiting to take “commissions” is almost *too* rich with comedic possibility… Any vignette worth the time necessary to write it would need to be a opus of restraint.

  14. an*

    (the long knives are out)

  15. Fred’s a good fellow. The derivative nature of much of his styling and poems/apothegms, and even the founding of an expensive MTM service, are smaller character flaws than anonymous Internet vitriol, which has poisoned our culture in this digital age and is petty and unmanly and, if compulsive, is a sign that one needs to do some serious self work.

  16. A Trad Confused | December 13, 2017 at 6:39 pm |

    Best of luck to Jack, and Fred. Being an entrepreneur is damn hard.

  17. A very interesting article about people that get upset with typographical errors in on line comments.

    https://www.sciencealert.com/people-who-pick-up-grammar-mistakes-jerks-scientists-find

  18. No, Fred is not a stranger to me. No, I do not think switching my initials would fool anyone – it was a joke…CC has known my full name for years. Interestingly, my comments about Fred today weren’t at all vitriolic (or anonymous) – they were a direct, factual response to the pictures of his overpriced knick-knackery featured in this post. Perhaps I misunderstood, but I thought that’s what this comment section was for (that, and crawling up Bruce Boyer’s backside, of course). My points and question remain: Fred (and Jack) sell insanely overpriced, trendy-ish junk that Christian wouldn’t wear or pay for. I find that odd given the free press he provides both brands. I think blogs pushing horrendous fashion (and which provide platforms egos and unearned expertise) have done far more harm to society than the objective, critical reactions to them.

  19. Grey Flannels | December 13, 2017 at 11:35 pm |

    I wish I could learn the brand/source of those slim briefcases on the left side of the third photo. Have been totally unable to find anything similar.

  20. After reading through the comments here, I found myself navigating over to Mr. Castleberry’s website.

    Basically what I found was a company that places equal, if not more, focus on its social media imaging as it does it’s products, and caters to a hyper niche demographic of creative, Soho House, dinner party types that like to think of themselves as interesting, yet tend to be supported financially by third parties (their parents).

  21. Grey Flannels | December 14, 2017 at 6:47 am |

    Still hoping one of the many knowledgeable readers of this blog will identify those slim briefcases for me.

  22. @Benjamin: you should have seen Fred’s former site, Unabashedly Prep. It was a doozy. As Chens alludes to, the imagery was bad enough; the homemade poetry was flat-out awful (you can probably still find some of it on his new site). Worst, however, he would edit reader comments. And I don’t mean removing a truly offensive or dishonest post, as our editor sometimes does. I mean taking a comment that said, ‘Hey – the tie is perfect, but the cuffs are clearly too short.’ and editing it to read, ‘Hey – the tie is perfect, as are the cuffs. You’re a genius.’ I don’t know all the rules for the interwebs, but I’m pretty sure that’s a no-no.

    Ultimately, I agree with Chens that reflexively trashing Fredo is beneath us and probably unmanly. But boy, he makes it easy. Especially for those of us who know a little bit about this particular niche of men’s style.

  23. @greyflannels – those briefcases are most likely pre-owned/vintage Mark Cross. You can find them on eBay for around $100-150. Or, buy one from Fred with some neon stripes for $2000.00.

  24. I find it rather silly how emotionally engaged grown men get when the topic FEC comes up. Clearly the average reader here is not his target demographic and he’s not even trying to sell his stuff off as “trad”. Also, most of you gentleman have no trouble shopping at RL and that’s just as well mostly overprice faux trad (life-)style.
    Would I wear his or Carlson’s stuff? NO – but the RL Rugby meets Wes Anderson vibe is quite entertaining none the less, just don’t get too worked about it.

    On a side note, I could easily burn through my student allowance in the Rowing Blazers vintage book section though, good stuff there.

  25. AEV/VEA

    What would you suppose your hipster desk plate would read?

    Will

  26. @sacksuit – “Beatnik Chic”

  27. @Anon. – no, RL oxfords are not $175+ nor do their blazers start at $1500. Mercifully, they don’t yet sell used ashtrays or painted briefcases, so it’s a tougher comparison on that front. Perhaps if CC would stop showcasing Fred’s ‘work’, we’d stop engaging.

  28. @VEA
    Point taken – just see it as it is though: fashion.
    FEC Carlson KJP Zach Ryan and the rest of the instagram bunch just cash in on a trend somewhat started by Rugby. Just be gratefull they’re getting younger people away from sweatpants and sportswear and “near” trad(ish) clothing. Maybe they’ll find out about the real deal one day end up as customers of JPress & co.

  29. @Anon. Sure, fine. Then why is is constantly featured on this site?

  30. AEV/VEA

    Really? Mine would have my name. If you have tell them who you are, you ain’t.

    Will

  31. @sacksuit – then you shouldn’t need a nameplate at all…..

  32. VEA/AEV

    Informing people with a desk nameplate that you are Beatnik Chic, a Black Sheep or an Unruly Heir is about as subtle and un-cool as a shrunken Fred suit. Willfully Ignorant or, perhaps, Obsessive Boyfriend may be descriptives you should consider.

    Hi, my name is Will. I’m Old Money

    Cheers,

    Will

  33. @Anonymous I agree with your point above about how Rugby, KJP, et al may be “steering people away from sweatpants and sportswear and “near” tradi(ish) clothing.” My real introduction to the style was via Boston’s Rugby store. While I still retain some choice items from Rugby (striped socks, club ties, skull chinos) I ended up parting with the louder, embroidered shirts and sweaters I had once purchased there as I became more interested in the style and found my way to J. Press and Michael Spencer.

    I got there by experimenting, which is the way anyone develops a style save for those that wore shetlands in vitro. Experimenting ourselves—or considering and critiquing the experiments of others—further defines our own style, which is why I think there’s value to exploring what Fred and Jack do, whether one’s reception is negative or positive.

  34. @will- I’ve lost you. ‘Beatnik Chic’ was a joke – it’s how CC referred to his own style a few years ago in an interview. I wouldn’t use or buy a desk nameplate – I’m not sure what made you think I would. You asked (sarcastically), I responded (sarcastically).

  35. I’m going “medieval chic” with my apartment lately.

  36. VEA/AEV

    I assumed that you were still in Fred mode. I stand corrected.

    Will

  37. @CC

    I’m imagining a Black Watch cape.

    Will

  38. Prednisone fog today.

    Will

  39. CC

    Have you been able to find a small gargoyle statue for your place.

  40. Small gargoyle incense holder for the myrhh and frankincense.

  41. Henry Contestwinner | December 14, 2017 at 11:58 pm |

    Is the small incense holder made of gold?

  42. Henry Contestwinner | December 15, 2017 at 12:15 am |

    Will Sacksuit, that’s brilliant. FEC can add “capings” to his offerings.

    “At F.E. Castleberry, we think we’ve mastered the art of functional extravagance. Our house style suit, for instance, is a uniform, yes, but one worn by choice, and with substantial hand working, including functional cuff buttons (known as “surgeon’s cuffs” because back in the day, the old sawbones would merely roll up his sleeves) on all our suitings.

    “We now introduce our capings line. No longer restricted to evenings on the town, capings accentuate any outfit and can be worn from the beginning of shoulder season, through the heart of winter, and into the lion’s roar of spring in March. In addition to traditional opera style in black with crimson lining ($1500), we offer capings in midnight blue, Oxford grey, and Black Watch (lined, $1500, unlined, $1200). Our crushed velvet capings recall the splendor of the Victorian era but with a modern finish, offered in Moonless Night, Ocean Depths, Intense Grape, French Merlot, and Midnight Jade ($1800). We are pleased to present F.E. Castleberry Signature Edition capings as well, in mauve, fuschia, lime green, and hunter orange, in your choice of exclusive materials (from $2000). No top hat required—but if you’ve got one, why not wear it with one of our top-quality capings?”

  43. ^^^ That’s some good stuff right there, Henry!

  44. Would Intense Grape clash with my old Etonian spats?

    Will

  45. I’d like to clarify that Andrew vain Ostrand and I are as good as strangers. Like most of us, we can count on two hands the people in our inner circle who really know us. AEV is not in my circle. He doesn’t know me. He knows the patch-worked version of me that he has fastidiously sewn together over the years from fragments collected around the Internet. We met once in D.C. where he was nice and hospitable. After our visit, he reverted back to his online etiquette you are quite familiar with on this blog.

    @GreyFlannels, the leather attachés and briefcases are vintage Gucci and Mark Cross. If you want to one (striped and monogrammed of course), simply email me from my site and I can help you from there. Good luck finding them on eBay (as AEV suggests) 😉 I hope that works out for you.

    Most people will never truly know what it takes to build a business or a brand from the ground up…because they never will attempt it. It’s hard. Really hard. For those spending countless hours here in this tiny corner of the Internet, your critique truly does fall on deaf ears (re: mine). I suppose I’m responding because it saddens me that Mr. Twardzik’s piece on the Boston pop-op is tainted with grown men’s disdain from what I’m creating and what Jack Carlson is creating.

    Get a hobby. If this is your hobby, find a new one you’d actually be proud to show your children. You’re doing no-one a public service by taking a papier-mâché wrecking ball to someone’s else’s.

    Capes…now that’s an idea for winter 2018.

  46. Henry Contestwinner | December 15, 2017 at 6:20 pm |

    I’d like to think that my FEC satires are more along the lines of good-natured ribbing than vitriol. As noted above, his exuberant personal style and purple prose make FEC an easy target; as also noted above, he is selling not just products but also an image, and part of his image comes from how he expresses himself in print. That I sometimes manage to provide a modicum of entertainment in lampooning FEC’s wares & prose should in no way be taken as an expression of animosity.

    I have never met FEC, and likely never will. Regardless, if CC says he’s a good fellow, then he’s a good fellow, and I’d like very much for good fellows to do well. Furthermore, FEC is busting his tail off, in different arenas, looking for success, and I admire his drive. I wish him every success, even if I will not be one of his clients.

  47. Henry Contestwinner | December 15, 2017 at 7:17 pm |

    Will Sacksuit, the Intense Grape has been meticulously crafted by artisanal pigmentationists to go with every color. Besides, there will be trousering between the bottom of the caping and the top of the spattings, so a clash is impossible.

  48. Brain wave! Patch madras capeings for summer. Incidentally, though I shall probably never meet Fred and don’t care for his style, I wish him the best in his endeavors. As I once wrote, if he can make a living doing his thing then he’s a magnificent bastard in my book.

    Cheers,

    Will

  49. Henry Contestwinner | December 15, 2017 at 11:53 pm |

    I thought of, but forgot to include, patch tweed capings in the Signature Edition line.

  50. I love the dichotomy between the ways in which both Henry and Andrew (aka AEV aka VEA) make fun of Castleberry. Henry mocks Castleberry’s purple prose in a lighthearted and humorous way. Andrew’s remarks, however, always take the form of a vitriolic diatribe against Castleberry as though he were the bane of his existence.

  51. Oh Fred. Perhaps you’re finding it hard to build a business/brand (you’ve been at it now for over a decade) because you’re doing it wrong. Perhaps there aren’t a critical mass of suckers who want to pay you $140 for a used hotel ashtray. Or, pay you for pre-owned briefcases you’ve found on eBay and in second hand shops and then marked up by 300%. Or pay you double the going rate for cashmere caps. Or $250 for tweaked Rod Lavers. Or, perhaps there isn’t a viable population of people who want to give you $2000+ to measure them for a suit or topcoat. Could that be it? Or is it the critics’ fault? Is it a lack of respect or understanding that’s to blame? Building a business is hard. Knowing when to stop trying is, apparently, even harder.

    @GreyFlannels – here’s a trick for the ‘good luck’ Fred suggested you’ll need to find Mark Cross and Gucci briefcases on Ebay: go to Ebay.com. Then, search: ‘Gucci briefcase’. Or, search ‘Mark Cross briefcase’. Or, swap “briefcase” for “attache” or “portfolio”. A quick scan pulls up dozens, priced, on average, around $400 (frequently Mark Cross ones can be found for much less). Many Gucci ones, of course, already come striped! (I wonder where Fred ever got that idea…..) …so you won’t have to pay Fred $1500 to paint one for you. Here’s one to get you started – quick, before Fred gets it!:
    https://www.ebay.com/itm/Vintage-Mark-Cross-Leather-Portfolio-Organizer-Attache-NWOT/322767524309?hash=item4b267191d5:g:uG8AAOSwQNRZw8P2

  52. AEV/VEA

    Have you any friends?

    Will

  53. Let this venture be judged by the satisfaction of his customers.
    We may well not be his customers.
    To each his own Ivy.

  54. Still shouting into the void, days later. As our current commander in chief would quip, Sad!

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