WAYWT: Pop Up Flea Weekend

Dec 5, 2011

So the annual Pop Up Flea was this past weekend, and it was undeniably the best yet. A ton of great brands showed their wares, new and old, and as always I got to hang out with friends and fellow bloggers I don't see too often. After a great night out with friends on Saturday night, I ended up crashing on my friend's couch, so to repay him for his hospitality, I modeled some Engineered Garments jackets he's selling (along with his internet famous bracelets) on his web shop. While we were shooting I figured it was an opportune moment to show you all what I wore this weekend, breakdown is below:

Engineered Garments Wool Stripe Irving Jacket

Engineered Garments Pea Jacket

My weekend kit; Arc'teryx Veilance Field Jacket, Run of the Mill Cutaway Oxford, Rugby Vintage Chino University Pant, J.Press Fair Isle Socks, Alden Single Monk Strap

Del Toro Velvet Slippers

Nov 21, 2011

Del Toro is a Miami-based brand that makes high quality casual footwear at one of the finest shoemakers in Italy. As with nearly all of my favorite brands, their aim is to offer the best goods possible while maintaining an attainable price point. This brand has been on my radar for several years because they've been so good at embedding themselves in the online community and reaching out to the right people. From their blog to their product selection, it's apparent the brand knows the market and knows who their target audience is.

For my review, I asked the brand to send me their black velvet slippers, one of the more somber and established pieces from their collection. This doesn't mean they're any less contemporary than their other options, I'm just the type of guy who takes very few risks with his wardrobe. Velvet slippers are part of a very small selection that makes for a perfectly elegant casual shoe, but these can pair just as well with a sport shirt and chinos as they will with a pair of silk pajamas. These slippers feature a leather insole as opposed to the common quilted lining, which means there's more of a variety of ways they can be worn. The black grosgrain trim on the inside of the heel ensures that you can wears these with or without socks without worrying about your feet slipping out.

The red grosgrain trim on the back is Del Toro's way of encouraging you to break the mold and wear these however you desire. While my pair looks pretty sleek as they are now, I'm looking forward to customizing them somehow and wearing the hell out of them. I haven't decided yet, but some vintage World War II patches could be cool; Michael Bastian did something similarly inspired rather well with a pair of Stubbs & Wooten:

And I haven't even gotten to the best part, which is the price: $275. If this is your first foray into fine footwear, that may sound like a lot to you, but if you're used to paying upwards of $500 for dress shoes, you can probably understand how much of a deal this is. I don't really understand how they're able to do it, but for such well crafted Italian shoes, this is a steal. This price point is also what makes them such a viable option to gift your significant other for the holidays as well (they make incredibly chic footwear for women as well). If you have any reservations left, just look at how good they look on your favorite blogger:

Yes, I was lucky to get these for free, but that shouldn't discount the fact that they're beautiful shoes for a great price. If I'm not still wearing these a year from now you can call me out on it.

Web Presence

Nov 20, 2011

In case you've been wondering why I've been posting a little less lately, it's because I started my first full-time job this month and I've become increasingly busy. There's this quote by hip-hop artist Drake that rings true to me and might also help explain why myself and a lot of my friends have lessened the frequency of the time we spend online:
"I'm really scared for my generation, you know. The thing that scares me most is Tumblr. I hate what Tumblr has become. Because it like, it reminds me of those clique-y girls in high school that used to make fun of everyone and define what was cool, but in five years, when you all graduate, that shit doesn't matter. No one gives a fuck about that shit. Instead of kids going out and making their own moments, they're just taking these images and living vicariously through other people's moments. It just kills me. Then you'll meet them and they're just the biggest turkey in the world. They don't actually embody any of those things. They just emulate. It's scary man, simulation life that we're living. It scares me."
Tumblr is just one of many blogging platforms this applies to. I've read a lot of blogs, and I'm glad that so many people are immersing themselves in their interests and creating thriving online communities based on them. It's important for me to touch base and be in the know about the things I love, I enjoy that. But I'm finding that too many people in similar positions get caught up in their dreaming and forget to experience life offline.

That being said, if you're trying to create a name for yourself online or something ridiculous like that, I may have a few tips for you. I can tell you what works for myself is not being an asshole and not being a try-hard. Whatever blogs you read now, don't try to emulate them. Know yourself, know what you like, and build an online identity based off of that. Keep away from fads and anything that doesn't fit with who you are, and create some real content; don't just post pictures that you think are cool. Be weary of collaborations, advertising and free products (nothing is ever truly free), but unless they don't fit with your identity, don't entirely dismiss them. If you can, go out and meet other bloggers and talk with them, not only will you learn a lot but you may even get a good friend out of it. Lastly, there will be a dry patch at first unless you've had a running start, just stick with it and if it's something you truly enjoy, eventually other people who enjoy it will find it too. None of your favorite blogs started out with thousands of readers, they got to where they are by being real and by being smart.

This is may be my last post for a short while with the holidays approaching, but if you are craving more and haven't already seen, here are some other projects I feel extremely privileged to have been a part of:

Details Magazine: The New Voices of Menswear (Also in print in the November issue!)

Also, I know I haven't posted about womenswear in quite a while, but I wanted to share that one of my favorite brands, G1 Goods (whom I've written about in the past), recently launched one of my favorite collections of the season, check it out if you feel so inclined.

Chester Mox for The Bengal Stripe

Nov 17, 2011

Chester Mox is a Los Angeles-based leather goods manufacturer that has, in their mere five years of existence, established a name for themselves within the online menswear community. Having been featured on several popular websites including Hypebeast, Selectism, and StyleForum as well as our friends Put This On and Red Clay Soul, I was no stranger to the brand by the time we started talking about putting together something special for the blog.

We decided on their dual side wallet in tobacco shell cordovan leather; slim and understated by appearance, but with enough space to carry all your essentials. Shell cordovan leather is my favorite, especially in this color. Chester Mox uses some of the finest leathers available and this shell cordovan is one of several excellent leathers they've sourced from Chicago's Horween leather tannery. Inspired by an older J.Press luggage tag that has long since sold out, I had the wallet engraved with the phrase "Not Yours". Which is another thing Chester Mox does great; instead of embossing text, they actually cut it into the leather which results in a much cleaner look.

Center pocket
Fused edges, a mark of good craftsmanship

The end result is this beautiful wallet that I'm going to have a hard time letting go of. But I really wanted to share the wealth with this one. When I first started blogging, I never really expected much to come of it. As I started to pay more attention to how I dressed and how I spent my money, there were times that I was actually ridiculed for it. I think there's a lot of people out there who still have a disposition to dislike people who focus so much attention on what they wear. But as you are probably aware, we're part of a growing community and a movement focused on better spending habits and more respectable forms of dress. Blogging has always been something I do because I enjoy it, and I'm very grateful that there are so many people who can understand that and identify with my passion for great products and design. So as a small token of my gratitude, I figured I would hold a contest to give away this wallet.

The contest ended today, November 19th. Eddie E. Aranda, please send an email to The Bengal Stripe with proof of identification and your address, you are the winner. Here is Eddie's response:

The most unusual item in my wallet does not even belong to me, it belongs to someone who tested HIV positive. The story goes like this:In my tween years of promiscuity, before I started to call myself a gentleman or man and referred to myself as a "chill dude" I was very sexually active and it never occurred to me that I should get tested until I saw that the LGBTQ center at my campus offered anonymous and FREE STD/HIV testing so I gave it a go. It was nerve wrecking simply because I was afraid to find something I could not deal with. While waiting for my results, I decided to get a smoke outside and saw this young man walking out and crying. He attempted to throw this piece of paper in the trash but missed, I picked it up a few minutes later being curious and found that that he had tested HIV positive. I was taken aback and could not wait to get my results, when I finally got them, they were negative; meaning I was completely healthy. I don't know what happened to this man, or where he is, or what he even looked like but I remember him crying in the cold. I keep his test results slip in my wallet as a reminder that life can change any moment and that I need to be responsible about my choices, and whenever I feel like my life is a big mess and it will never get better, it helps to see that I am alive and as long as I am alive, there is a reason to live. No one really knows I have this because no one ever goes through my wallet but I would not be ashamed to explain it to them. That my friends, is the most unusual item in my wallet.

Behind the Scenes with Unis F/W 2011

Nov 5, 2011

This past week we got a chance to shoot behind the scenes at the Unis Fall/Winter 2011 lookbook. Our series of outtakes represent the narrative of events during the photoshoot and try to encapsulate, in 35mm, the energy radiating off the photographer, the designer of Unis; Eunice Lee, and the charismatic model used for the lookbook images. This was pretty much a no frills photoshoot, which exemplifies the ethos of Unis. This is the type of clothing which truly is both refined and wearable for people from all walks of life.

Photographer: Justin Chung
Styling/Art Direction: Chris Black and Jake Davis
Model: Woodrow Morton

Michael Bastian × Randolph Engineering Signature Series

Oct 21, 2011

This fall marks the second season of the high-performance eyewear collaboration between Michael Bastian and Randolph Engineering. Founded in 1972 by engineers Jan Waszkiewicz and Stanley Zaleski, Randolph Engineering (RE) specializes in high quality military-grade eyewear. With their knowledge of advanced engineering principles and mechanics, Jan and Stanley grew their company into a full-service commercial business that has since become the prime contractor of aviation flight glasses for the U.S. Department of Defense, all while remaining at their headquarters in Randolph, Massachusetts. Their story, much like Michael Bastian's, truly embodies the American dream.

MB in the Randolph Engineering Aviator II
Bastian, having championed RE eyewear in all of his runway shows since 2006 and worn them himself since his college years, proudly teamed up with them last year for a signature series combining their military ethos and heritage with his playful take on popular American themes. The first collection was released this past spring and boasted marquis frame designs and a dazzling array of colors which as of yet had been unprecedented in RE's product line.

This fall I picked up the Signature Sportsman in gold; one of the more understated pieces of the collection, sporting a more drastic teardrop shape than their original Sportsman, AGX (gray/green) lenses, and cable temples that wrap around the ear for a secure fit. The style reminds me most of General MacArthur in his prime, and of mid-century hunters on the African savannah, though I am apt to romanticize these sorts of things. The sunglasses come with a reinforced soft leather case with a hidden velcro pocket in the interior back, and inside that pocket the wearer is provided with an equipment maintenance kit containing replacement nose pads and screws as well as an optical screwdriver keychain. Altogether the Signature series frames tend to cost about 40% more than the standard Sunglass series, but what you get is a pair of unique limited edition sunglasses with all the accoutrements.

As featured in Michael Bastian's Spring/Summer 2012 runway show, the next series is entirely inspired by James Dean, in particular a pair of iconic brown tortoise shell frames he wore back in the 1950's, provided on loan courtesy of Old Focals of Pasadena, CA. The new Signature Series will consist of 4 new frame styles and clip-on lenses to be available in Spring 2012.

For price and purchase info, and to view all the current styles, visit the official website.

Rugby Ralph Lauren New Arrivals

Oct 20, 2011

Rugby has long been a favorite of mine for affordable takes on traditional American designs. As I've grown older, I've found their vision isn't always aligned with what I would consider good taste. But they get things right most of the time, and that's more than I can say for a lot of brands in the same tier. They know their audience well enough that it shows when Dipset rappers Cam'ronJuelz Santana and Vado proudly flaunt their wares. I think the only reason more kids aren't as decked out in Rugby as with the A&F/Hollister scene is the fact that they don't have many stores in shopping malls. So without a car or their parents' credit cards, kids are out of luck. Regardless, the brand is doing their part to help young adults dress better.

Along with the reintroduction of some of their signature pieces, this season sees Rugby rehashing their take on Americana; a blend of the understated prep and rugged outdoorsman. The brand certainly has their fair share of colorful pieces while the strongest pieces they offer can appear rather bland by comparison. Nevertheless, their most basic items are the building blocks of a solid wardrobe, and their Corduroy University Pant is one of my favorite pieces I'll be wearing through winter. More of my picks below.

Lambswool Fingerless Glove in Black

Black Tartan Wadham Shirt

Ragg Shawl Pullover

Red Striped Surcingle Belt

Canvas & Italian Leather Bag

Striped Cashmere Scarf

Yukon Expedition Shirt

Leather Stripe Bowling Bag

Navy Down Ski Cap

Shaggy Shetland Pullover in Red

Purple Stripe College Scarf

Hooded Snorkel Jacket