It’s been a while since I’ve felt compelled to write about anything for a while. I very recently started my own business which has caused the blog to take a bit of a backseat. But when I stumbled across this website the other day, I couldn’t resist a post. Quite simply, this site – Manufactum – is one of the best curated sites I’ve ever clicked upon. With it’s mix of household utility products, toys, luggage, and tightly curated clothing ranges you could liken it to London’s Labour & Wait, but minus the wistful English charm and rugged clunkiness of some of the products. Slowdownjoe could be considered a cooler cousin, but it doesn’t have the depth and range of product that Manufactum offers. Here’s a selection of just a few things that caught my eye on my journey through. I think my Christmas list just quadrupled.
As the expected Spring Summer flush of on-trend floral patterns – both big and small – washes in to stores, one brand that continues to march to the beat of it’s own drum is Drakes of London. Yes, once again Drakes turns up to the party with a plethora of unexpected and unusual patterns; from the audaciously geometric to the eccentrically pictorial. Here’s a selection of my favourite patterned pocket squares they have on offer at the moment. I have a particular hankering (pun unashamedly intended) for both ‘Deco’ prints; they’re just swell. I urge you to cast surf culture aside this Summer and smash some left field patterning in to your breast pocket.
I was recommended this product for Cordovan shoes when I visited NYC’s Leffot last May. Up until then I’d been reluctant to use any products on Cordovan; just a slightly damp cloth and lots of elbow grease. There’s a great fear with Cordovan that you can ruin the surface with normal polishes as they cover up it’s natural lustre. This stuff however is perfect. The mink oil feeds and conditions the leather and brings out the shine of the surface with half the effort of buffing without product. And the shine lasts just as long.
Saphir also produce a specific Cordovan cream which I’m curious to try although I’d only ever buy the colourless version. That said, when I quizzed the guys at Leffot about any other products (even Alden’s own Cordovan Paste) they reassured me that Saphir Renovateur was all I’d need, and it seems to have done the trick so far.
I also use Renovateur on calfskin shoes, though it doesn’t quite bring the shine up on this type of leather like ordinary polish, it does help condition it to keep it supple and healthy.
It’s taken a while to get around to posting this, but here is a stunning wallet given to me by my wife for my 30th birthday made in my favourite material (you guessed it!) Horween Cordovan Color #8. She commissioned Hellbrand Leatherworks in California to make it.
Hellbrand Leatherworks began life in 2006 when Ed Ratanun, one of Hellbrand’s founders, disappointed with the quality of modern luxury leather goods, decided to take it upon himself to create leather products with enduring quality made the old fashioned way; by hand, with hard-won skills, and with the highest quality leathers. Learning his skills from master leatherworker Jarvis Hellbrand, Ed started to create leather goods ranging from wallets, watch straps, and sunglasses cases to briefcases and messenger bags.
The pieces are all made with Horween leathers either using their hard wearing and weatherproof Chromexcel leathers or their super tough Cordovan. Emma (my wife) commissioned Ed to make this wallet and could spec everything from thread colour to internal leathers. Ed’s customer service was absolutely outstanding, even sending progress shots as the wallet was being made.
Keeping it simple and purely Cordovan was definitely the way to go and the contrast stitching is a beautiful touch. Thank you Emma for such a perfect gift and thanks to Ed for such fine craftsmanship. I’m looking forward to many years of use from it.
Back once again with the Yuketen Sandals. The Semi Chukkas to be precise. Walking a fine line somewhere between Maximus Meridius, The Dude, and Forest Gump, these good time sandals are my choice for summertime meandering. This pair were purchased from the very helpful folks at Denmark’s Støy Munkholm who are the only European retailer carrying these Yuketen models (the rest having all gone to the Asian market). They have both styles available on their online store. You should also check this beautifully presented video giving a tour of Støy Munkholm’s store in Aarhus. I’m going to be sure to check it out if I ever find myself in that part of the world.
Back to the sandals and I went for the Semi Chukka in the end as they looked a little more robust than the Braided style. Interestingly Yuketen are very clear to point out that these styles are made by artisans in Mexico. I know they produce a few styles in Mexico including their very premium Cordovan Longwings Brogues (Goodyear welted leather sole with stunning allover brogue patterning) and it resonates with me as a customer that they are so proud and transparent about their places of production despite a consumer stigma aimed toward various countries. They would not produce anything there unless it absolutely met their exacting standards. Yet another reason I really believe in Yuketen as a brand. All I need now is for Summer to turn up so I can finally break them out proper.
These images are from Quit Mad Stop’s (x!.) SS11 and FW11 collections and although they’ve been knocking around a while I’ve not seen them do the rounds too much so I thought they were still worth a post. With a few surf specific themed brands emerging in the last few years (Saturdays, Batten Sportwear) it seems Quit Mad Stop seem to have the most mature approach of the crop.
The brand was started by Eric Scott and May Redding as a response to a lack of high end quality in the leisure clothing sector. They went to town creating super basic, beautifully crafted pieces all hand sewn in NYC’s garment district. Produced in small runs on a seemingly as and when basis, the brand doesn’t seem too seasonally focused – which I really like. A great board short is a great board short all year round I guess.
Above all, the thing I’ve enjoyed most about this brand is its excellent look book imagery – fantastic styling with a great model, and eccentric and humorous set ups without being too hipster.
The stand out pieces for me are the retro feeling board shorts with the tie up front adding a nice twist. The tailoring on these looks spot on. The bags also catch the eye and both the leather and duck canvas versions look as tough as old boots. There’s not a lot of stockists around, but Park and Bond carry a few pieces.
Oh, and the name; it’s from the last three lines of Jack Kerouac’s Bowery Blues apparently reflecting how both Eric and May felt at the point of the brand’s creation.
I paid a chance visit to the new Double RL store yesterday in London’s Mayfair. Situated on the super plush red-bricked Mount Street they’ve taken residence in a stunning space set over two floors.
The concept is simple: White collar workers upstairs, blue collar downstairs. This is Ralph in his purest, strongest and most enjoyable guises. Refined suiting and outerwear inspired by classic English style and Hollywood’s golden age of gentlemen is what you can expect on the white collar floor – a side of RRL I love, but rarely see on sale in person. It’s perfectly pitched at the Mayfair crowd on a street that makes Bond Street look like Barnsley. Think Paisley silk ties, shawl collar smoking jackets, chalk pinstriped suiting with peaked lapels, and Harris tweed.
The blue collar section features all the rugged classic denim range you’d expect from Ralph’s most coveted label. Expect to find top quality jerseys, beaten up denim, tough outerwear, Cordovan work boots, and rugged leather goods. It’s all here on these two floors of greatness.
The styling is second to none. The story is well told with every detail considered. The staff are sound and well up on their Ralph. Folks, in this clothing obsessive’s humble opinion, this might just be the best menswear store in London (especially in the sale). You can check out some more shots and words about the store over at Loomstate.
Top gifting from the wife for our 1st (Paper) wedding anniversary. The beautiful notebook above is from the classic French publisher Assouline and will be receiving all my notes and drafts for my future S&S posts.
She also managed to get hold of the hard to find (in the UK at least) Dean & Deluca cook book. Dean & Deluca is always our first stop when visiting New York (our favourite city and the place of our engagement). Can’t wait to get cooking.
A new bag landed on my doorstep the other week direct from Hermosa Beach’s finest. I posted about this bag a few weeks ago as it’s currently available from Oi Polloi in the Palomino colourway, but I’ve been holding out to get my hands on the Brown version myself.
Words really cannot describe how ridiculously soft the deerskin leather is. Those familiar with Yuketen or Quoddy Boots and the deerskin used for the tongues will have some idea. However, with such a luxuriously soft hand comes some negative aspects…
The leather is totally naked with no protective finish which means it’s open day for any dirt, stains and scratches that might be lying around the corner. I’ve already experienced the devastation of finding a black smudge on one side, hoping it was just water, but it never drying away (incidentally water also marks it as I found trying to sponge the smudge away!). I’ve sprayed mine with a protective leather spray, but it’s had little to no effect.
As Yuketen have informed me, there are two approaches as to how one might handle this: Approach 1). Obsessively guard and protect your bag so that it never comes in to contact with ANYTHING – or – Approach 2). Do not give a fuck and embrace whatever is coming it’s way until it has enough marks so that they appear uniform.
I’ve decided to adopt Approach 2. Otherwise I might as well be using a Faberge Egg for my daily carry. I can tell you the black smudge has already soaked into the leather and looks a part of it’s normal patina.
Which brings me on to the general appearance of the leather as indicated in the note above that comes with the bag. One of the most beautiful things about this bag is all the markings in the material from the animal’s existence. I’ve included some leather marking identifiers below I originally came across on Die Workwear! from the Lotuff and Clegg website (worth clicking). The two featured here I can certainly see traces of on my own bag.
The danger of marks and stains aside this bag is a stunning piece of luggage, packed with loads of useful features (large tote handles, an adjustable carry strap, brass buckles and clasps, brass key holder, internal lining with useful internal pockets, and press studs to make the bag smaller) and it can carry A LOT. It could certainly be used as a weekend bag for the lighter traveller. For those with a care free attitude looking for a high quality tote with a point of difference look no further than this.
Autumn finally showed up last week during a short trip to N.Y. (North Yorkshire) and what better way to greet it than with a selection of Scottish fabrics. Adding to the Harris Tweed jacket I already had on, I picked up a really nice Barbour scarf in their blue Newmarket Plaid. I picked mine up from Orvis in Harrogate, but the scarf is also available from Oi Polloi at a very reasonable £25. The scarves are made in Scotland and are finely produced in a very soft Lambswool. I have another one in white from a few seasons back and it’s holding up really well with very little pilling after much use.
Adding to the Scottish theme of the trip was a book I picked up in Helmsley Antiquarian & Secondhand Bookstore called The Face of Scotland by Harry Batsford and Charles Fry. The stunning cover illustration is by classic British landscape artist Brian Cook who’s iconic work defined an era of travel across the UK from the 30′s through to the 50′s with his book jacket illustrations and railway posters. The cover is printed with a five colour letterpress process using water based inks and hand cut rubber plates. Intensified by Cook’s imagination the vivid illustration captures perfectly some of the amazing colours you actually see in the Scottish countryside.
The finishing Scottish touch to the break was a spiced pork Scotch egg (ok, not actually Scottish) at the Star Inn in Harome near Helmsley. Served up with two huge pieces of crackling on a bed of spiced apple sauce, Black Pudding bread, and costing a mere £6, it was the perfect end to a great couple of days away. I’m going to write more about The Star Inn soon, but in the meantime, here’s a snap of the most amazing Scotch Egg I’ve ever eaten.