Category Archives: fashion

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The problem with hand me down cheap clothing?

Is simple: it’s wanted less and less. As this piece shows, No One Wants Your Used Clothes Anymore. 

What’s changed? Well…

For decades, the donation bin has offered consumers in rich countries a guilt-free way to unload their old clothing. In a virtuous and profitable cycle, a global network of traders would collect these garments, grade them, and transport them around the world to be recycled, worn again, or turned into rags and stuffing.

Now that cycle is breaking down. Fashion trends are accelerating, new clothes are becoming as cheap as used ones, and poor countries are turning their backs on the secondhand trade. Without significant changes in the way that clothes are made and marketed, this could add up to an environmental disaster in the making.

I think there is no easy remedy for this, unless you’re someone happy to wear a limited number of pieces of clothing over and over again. But something will have to change. If you thought all those clothes you put in the donation bin are going on people’s bodies and not to the garbage dump, then read the piece.

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Is Forever 21 doomed?

Yesterday I asked that about Muji. The short answer for Muji: not doomed yet, but in trouble.

For Forever 21, it appears to be a different story. If you read this, The Failure of the Fast-Fashion Forever 21 Empire – Bloomberg, you see an organization in big trouble, with poor management and poor demand for their product. It is still possible for them to pull out, but I would be surprised if Forever 21 is still a going concern in 2021.

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What the smart socialists are wearing these days…


Is socialist slogans spelled out in pinstripe! Interesting. For more on this, see:  Socialist pinstripe: the secret message stitched into Jeremy Corbyn’s new suit | Politics | The Guardian

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Atoms Shoes: now in quarter sizes


Among other good features of  Atoms Shoes is their availability in quarter sizes. So if you really want an accurate fit, you can get it. They are a nice looking shoe, too. Worth checking out.

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How to make a man’s Zara suit look expensive


GQ has the five good ideas here: 5 Tricks That’ll Make Cheap Suits Look More Expensive. I said “Zara” but you could do the same with lower end suits as well.

I’d add:

  1. Get the whole suit tailored to fit. They mention the sleeves, but if you get the jacket tapered to your body, the impression of fit will be strong and it won’t look off the rack.
  2. Go with a conservative colour. I like this suit over the one in the GQ article. It’s somewhat bold with windowpane plaid (vs pinstripe or solid), but the charcoal grey tones it down. Grey suits and jackets are deceptive: even the cheapest of them are hard to guess how expensive they are unless you look closely and know clothing.
  3. Go with good accessories in general, not just shoes. A great watch, French cuff shirt with cufflinks, a beautiful tie: all of those things give an impression of being expensive. Be bold here. I like how the suit pictured is paired with a shirt and tie that have a tiny pattern to compliment the larger pattern of the suit. It’s a good look. And his shoes stand out in a good way and look great with the tapered pant.

For details on this suit, go here.

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On Fred Perry, fashion writing, and the Guardian


Here are two pieces on the association of Fred Perry and political fashion.. This one, Why does the far right love Fred Perry? Mainstream fashion is its new camouflage | by Cynthia Miller-Idriss in The Guardian and this one, Fred Perry, Proud Boys, and the Semiotics of Fashion.

The first one superficially touches on how the political right adopts certain clothing to wear as a uniform. The second goes deep into the history of clothing to signify membership within social groups.

If you read the first one, you’d get the impression that some good PR could shift the negative associations of the far right with Fred Perry. After reading the second one, you may realize it would be much harder to do than that. The associations go deep.

Sadly, many of the pieces I read in the Guardian are like that. They are a good jumping off point, but if you want to better understand a subject, you need to go elsewhere.

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Supreme is releasing a branded 3G burner phone *eye roll emoji*

If you must, more about it is here: Supreme is releasing a branded 3G burner phone

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The fascinating story of Paris Green, a tint that literally was drop dead gorgeous

I love stories about colours and their origins, but this one on Paris Green is especially good: This Trendy But Toxic Shade of Green Left Thousands Dead in the Victorian Era.

Turns out 19th century patrons loved this tint that was produced using…arsenic. You can imagine how this turns out, but save your imagination and read the story.

Image and story from Town and Country, of all things. Not sure how I came across it, but I am glad I did.

On the mechanics of the Met Gala

The Met Gala recently completed as it does every year, and it seems to draw more and more attention. Part charity event, part costume spectacle, it is a parade of fame and fortune and costume.

Yet even if you could afford the $30,000 for one ticket, you can’t necessarily get one. As this piece illustrates, there’s alot more to it than that.

Sure if you are Rhianna, you pretty much get to go the front of the line. For anyone else, reading the article in the New York Times will tell you all you need to know about this event.

This is nerdtastic: Columbia’s limited edition “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back” Collection


Yep. Columbia Sportswear has teamed up with the folks at Star Wars to produce this limited edition collection of clothing, and the details on it can be found here in this Design Milk article. Since it is a very limited collection, I expect that (A) it will sell out very quickly (B) the pieces will show up again for exorbitant prices on sites like eBay. Still…fun.  Cosplay people can get this and wear it all winter long! Good luck if you try and get it.

Thoughts on the legend that is Jean-Michel Basquiat

Basquiat in a suit

The big art news this week was a record sale for one of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s paintings.  Right after reading about that, I saw this tweet by Will Black: “Painting by street artist Basquiat, who lived in a cardboard box, sells for $110.5m in New York. Value PEOPLE while they are ALIVE”.

A few thoughts on that tweet. First, while Basquiat may have been poor starting out, by the time he died too young at the age of 27, he had a net worth of $10 million dollars. Second, that transition from poverty and obscurity to wealth and fame was fast. We should value people while they are alive, but there are better people to use as an example than Jean-Michel Basquiat.

As for my own thoughts, I have always loved Basquiat’s paintings since the 80s. Their greatness was there from the beginning. If we knew nothing else about the artist than his work, we would still think he was great.

But Basquiat was not just a painter: he was more like a rock star. Like Keith Haring, he had a public persona more akin to music superstars much in the same way that Andy Warhol did. It’s no surprise that Basquiat was influenced by Warhol in more ways than one. And now, at least in the world of the art market, he has surpassed Warhol.  It’s good to see that too. For many reasons.

Jean-Michel Basquiat had something else that was great, and that was his sense of style. There’s a good piece in Dazed on the importance of clothing to him. They correctly note that:

Jean-Michel Basquiat was a fashionable man. He walked the Comme des Garçons runway for their SS87 collection and favoured the long, slim cut, slightly militaristic jackets of Issey Miyake. Biographers and friends recall the stories of Basquiat setting up tabs at his favorite clothing boutiques, trading canvasses for clothes.

Jean-Michel Basquiat was a legend for his time, and a star. It’s good to see that star is getting brighter.

For more on his fashion, see: The meaning and magic of Basquiat’s clothes | Dazed. It’s a strong piece.

Karl Lagerfeld and his Atelier in Paris (a must for book lovers)

Karl Lagerfeld in his atelier

The Selby has a gorgeous photo shoot of the atelier of Karl Lagerfeld. Anyone who dreams of having a library in their home will love it. The photo above is just a taste: for a feast, see: Karl Lagerfeld at his Atelier in Paris in the selby

Zara makes good fragrance for young men


My teenage son was wanting to wear fragrance, and I found that when it comes to this, there is something of a dilemma. On one hand, low cost fragrances (e.g. under $20) smell awful. (Think fresh cut lime juice mixed with a bottle of cat urine.) Fragrances that are appealing, on the other hand, can easily cost $50, $60, $70 and more. This wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for the fact that teen age boys (based on my limited observations) go through a lot of fragrance.

A way out of that dilemma is to buy fragrance from Zara. The fragrances above cost around $15 and they cover a range of scents. Some have more citrus, others more floral, some have dominant woody notes. In short, you can likely find a scent he will like that won’t cost you a fortune.

Do these fragrances have the richness or complexity of a product from Issey Miyake or Tom Ford? Nope. But he’ll smell better than his buddies drenched in Axe, even if he puts on too much at first, which he probably will. Your pocketbook and the people who have to share close space with him will thank you.

P.S. The two fragrances above come from a line of Zara fragrances named after famous streets. The packaging looks like the kind you would get with high end fragrances. I recommend them. That said, Zara has a number of fragrance lines. It will likely be painful, but try and get him to go and check out the fragrances himself so he will pick one he’ll like and wear.

P.S.S. These fragrances are not just for teenage boys,  of course. Anyone can wear them if it appeals to them.

Glitches as a design pattern for fabric

The good folks at Glitchaus have taken an oddity of the digital world – glitches – and used it as the basis of their designs of scarves and wraps. If you are in need of either, or you’d just like to see some innovative fashion, it’s worth visiting their site.

On the benefits of wearing a uniform

There are benefits to wearing a uniform: you look good, people can read you, and you simplify your life. I think that is what this article is getting at too, but to me, it oversells it: The Genius of Wearing the Same Outfit Every Day. Still worth a quick read, though.

I add that there are drawbacks to wearing a uniform: you can get stereotyped and you can get sick of it. I have tried it, and I think the trick for me was to have more of a template of clothing to wear and stick to that. By that I mean you have a number of different things to wear, but all the clothing fits a certain pattern or template. That approach  allows for some variation, but you gain all the benefits of a uniform.

Having read this, do you think the uniform idea is good or bad?

One of the best style guides for men can be found ….

Here: Garb, from Uncrate.

This pix is just a sample; you can see lots more here: Garb: First Class | Uncrate. Lots of great looks and ideas. For men who are stylistically challenged, I recommend you go here and steal all the ideas you can.

A fashionable option for men who don’t want to wear leather shoes (or Tom’s shoes)


If you are a man (or someone who like to wear shoes traditionally associated with men) who doesn’t want to wear shoes from leather, don’t want to wear Converse or Toms shoes but do want to wear dress shoes, you have what I think is  a good alternative: Delli Aldo shoes. I came across them via Cool Tools (a newsletter and a section of Kevin Kelly’s website) and I think they are great for a number of reasons:

  1. they are very stylish
  2. they come in a wide range of styles
  3. they are low cost
  4. they are vegan

Beware: they run large (e.g. if you wear 8, consider getting the size 7 or 6.5) and they stink the first few days you get them (then apparently they do not).

For more information, check out the link to Cool Tools or go right to Amazon and pick up a pair.

It’s winter. Scarf season. Here’s 25 techniques to wearing them.

You may never need more than one or two of these. But scarves come in all sizes lately, and some techniques will work better than others.

from Lifehacker http://lifehacker.com/25-different-ways-to-wear-a-scarf-in-one-5-minute-vide-1497868372

How to wear short sleeves, men’s edition

Two great looks come from classic icons of style. First up, Kennedy

Next up, Chet Baker

Lots more looks here:the Selvedge Yard

If you wear a white dress shirt, solid black tie and suit, you will look cool

And if you are already cool, it makes you look more so.

Tom Ford and Karl Lagerfeld talk shop

Time has a fascinating interview with Tom Ford and Karl Lagerfeld talking mostly about …Ford and his clothes. Lagerfeld is very generous with his praise of Ford. Ford also praises Lagerfeld, but really, he doesn’t need it: Karl is in a league of his own.

It’s interesting to hear them talk about the thinking that goes into their design. You might think mens wear is simply a matter of adjusting the number of buttons on a suit, but they are evolving the way men dress.

See Behind the Seams: Tom Ford and Karl Lagerfeld Talk Shop – America: Conquerer of the Global Menswear Market – TIME for the interview transcript. I would recommend you scroll down and watch the conversation between them: it’s good.

Bernie’s Rule of Wearing Red

With regards to the question: when should one wear red? There are two occasions when one should wear red:

  1. If you feel like wearing red, then go and wear red!
  2. If you really don’t feel like wearing red, then you must wear red.

Great women’s clothes at Anthropologie


has great clothes. Anyone who can make a cardigan this well….

… deserves a look! 🙂

Valentino is done

To people outside the world of fashion, this could be a big, “eh…whatever”. But after 45 years as a leading designer, it’s a big thing that Valentino does his last haute couture fashion show (in Paris, of course). This piece in the NYT’s doesn’t do him justice. Maybe we’ll need the New Yorker to do a story on him, like they did for Lagerfeld recently. In the meantime, see So This Is It: Valentino – On the Runway – Fashion – Style – New York Times Blog

Masks for every day use / privacy in the 21st century

Over at Razor Apple is a feature on 11 Masked Hoodies to Hide Your Face. With the rise of more and more public cameras, there may be a trend to more fashion that (stylishly) covers the face.

Ouch! The New York Times RIPS “Elle” by YSL

T Magazine, a blog over at New York Times has a scathing review of the perfume | Elle by YSL. The whole review is good, but here a whiff, so to speak:

Yves Saint Laurent On the Richter scale of disasters, some are more inexplicable than others. ….Yves Saint Laurent is rolling out Elle.Where to start. Why? Or perhaps better: How? What was the perfume “brief” (the concept the house gives the perfumers) here? “Please create for us the smell of the cheap, cellophane-wrapped sugar candy stacked on the linoleum floor of a 2nd Avenue Gristedes”? (My bold)

I would like to see more such blogs!

Paul Smith does stripes well in his Menswear Spring/Summer 2008 collection

Among other things, Paul Smith shows how to pull off the difficult task of mixing horizontal and vertical stripes by in his upcoming spring/summer collection shown in this video. (Look for the Harry Potteresque model):

Homer Lagerfeld! C’est d’oh!


I don’t read Harper’s Bazaar, but thankfully others do and blog about it. So I get to see the Simpsons in all their haute couture glory. I particularily like this one of Homer and Karl. (I also like the Gautier). See NOTCOT: Simpsons Couture

Where Karl Lagerfeld Lives

When I first saw this article in the New Yorker, I thought it was going to be about his apartment in Paris! And in a way, it was. But the subtitle, “In the Now”, describes where Lagerfeld really lives.

I used to have a poor opinion of KL, but after reading the article, I was impressed by his energy, drive and imagination.

See the article here: Profiles: In the Now: Reporting & Essays: The New Yorker

Even Faith Hill gets photoshopped

Jezebel has an interesting background story on this, but the picture says it all.