Mont Bell

Mont-BellMy attention has recently been drawn to lightweight, technical outdoor Japanese brand Mont Bell. The brand was founded by climber Isarmu Tatsura in 1975 and they produce garments that focus on an incredible warmth-to-weight ratio. New menswear label and store Several have a small selection available and I’m particularly interested in the UL Down Tee which will make for a great layering piece in winter, especially with something like an E.G. wool Bedford jacket over the top. The tee is made from ballistic nylon ripstop which is lighter and stronger than your usual nylon. Perfect for those gruelling weather conditions of central London.


Mont-Bell

Mont-Bell

Engineered Garment’s Daiki Suzuki sporting the Mont Bell UL Down Tee
Engineered Garment’s Daiki Suzuki sporting the Mont Bell UL Down Tee

E.G. SPECIAL PART ONE: FW 2014 RECAP

It’s still 20ºC here in the UK, but thoughts are slowly turning to autumnal gear. As a lot of the new E.G. season is now in the shops, it seems a good time to recap on the FW looks of 2014. It’s a quintessential Daiki collection, that reminds me of his more trad work with WWM – largely due to the overall ‘chunkiness’ of it. Lots of heavy knits and woollens going on this season. While I think its a great selection, I feel it’s lacking a little modernity this time around. I enjoy the more ‘technical’ garments that Daiki often plays with – notably the Down body vest from a few seasons back – that are often challenging, but very wearable. This season sees the introduction of the Combi vest, which I really like, but would like to have seen it delivered in a more modern palette rather than the classic mixes that are currently presented. Here’s a selection of my favourite looks from the book up on Nepenthes.co.jp.

Look 1

Look 2

Look 3

Look 4

Look 5

WINTER FRUITS

Engineered Garments 19th Century BD Shirt, Pineapple Chambray
Engineered Garments 19th Century BD Shirt, Pineapple Chambray

It’s so long since my last post, I’d almost forgotten how to use WordPress. It’s been a tumultuous few months for me which will culminate in something exciting very soon, but has meant clothing has been on the back burner for a while. Well, on the back burner until I saw this bobby dazzler of a shirt appear on Oi Polloi which has forced me out of my summer hibernation.

Daiki Suzuki continues his playful twists on preconceived seasonal patterns by adding some tropical fruit to this Fall/Winter’s proceedings. This is a truly special embroidered pattern and it finds it’s home on (in my opinion) Daiki’s finest hour: the 19th Century BD Shirt. He often uses this style as a playground to experiment with fabric and it’s good to see this coming FW13 season is no exception. And for those interested in the 19th Century shirt, I’ve written a piece about it in the newly launched Kennedy Magazine. Hit the link for stockist information.

Pineapple Chambray

“ONE WEEK COORDINATES OF DAIKI SUZUKI”

– Monday – Coat: Engineered Garments / Down Jacket: Moonstone / Pants: Used / Shoes: Alden

The March issue of Popeye Magazine landed on these shores recently and it focuses on street style snaps of ‘City Boys’ in their day-to-day gear. One such ‘City Boy’ is Engineered Garment’s Daiki Suzuki with a feature on his week in outfits. I’m always interested to see how a master of styling such as Daiki takes to actually dressing himself. There’s a couple of surprises in there; stone washed Levi’s (good), Ugg Boots (bad – not even Daiki can sway my mind on these!). I’d go Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday for my favourite looks here. Tuesday’s Truman Jacket teamed up with some sad old Dad jeans is an especially corking look. And Wednesday’s Over Parka with the adjustable skirt is a big favourite of mine. Great wardrobe inspiration…

– Tuesday – Jacket: Engineered Garments / Vest: Engineered Garments / Shirts: Used / Pants: Levi’s
– Wednesday – Jacket: Engineered Garments / Down Parka: Mont•Bell / Pants: Used / Shoes: Birkenstock
– Thursday – Jacket: Engineered Garments / Down Parka: Mont•Bell / Pants: Ralph Lauren / Shoes: Brooks Brothers
– Friday – Jacket: Engineered Garments / Shirt: Engineered Garments / Down Parka: Western Mountaineering / Pocket Square: The Journey Begins With A Single Stitch

 

 

– Saturday – Jacket: Engineered Garments / Vest: Engineered Garments / Pants: Used / Shoes: Alden
– Sunday – Jacket: Used / Shirt: Used / Pants: Engineered Garments / Shoes: UGG

WARDROBE STALWARTS

I thought I’d start this year by making a post about a subject closest to the heart of this blog: enduring quality. Tried and tested clothing. The majority of the garments featured have been worn week in, week out in the autumn and winter months for the best part of six years.

The pieces here are what I’d regard as ‘timeless’; a term thrown around far too frequently in the menswear field in the last few years. It’s hard to find contemporary makers that will deliver on that word, but the brands featured here I feel have offered it over the course of their existence. For me, ‘timeless’ is about the right size of lapel. The right depth of collar. The right cut of shirt to suit the style of shirt. The right choice of materials to suit the piece. The fit that is fitted. Not skinny. Not baggy. The pattern that is always relevant. The right width of tie. Never too far in fashion, but never too far out. ‘Timeless’ walks the line.

Many of the items below are still made today in varying forms. Many have been developed and improved upon since I purchased mine. Which is another quality I love of the brands featured here. No dramatic changes or redevelopments, but incremental improvements and tinkering, each season, all in the pursuit of making something better; not more fashionable.

So I guess think of this as a tried and tested recommendation list. I’d love to know people out there are getting the same amount of joy out of this garb as I have over the years.

Engineered Garments Charcoal Melton Wool Bedford Jacket, FW07

Engineered Garments Bedford Jacket
I purchased this on holiday in NYC in 2007 and it has scarcely been off my back since. I own two other Bedford jackets for Summer, but I’ve never bought another for Winter as this is so versatile. It can be dressed up or down: super casual and warm with a hoody underneath or nicely formal with a shirt and tie. With four patch pockets on the front, a single vent, and useful internal pockets, it’s one of Engineered Garments most practical, but simple jackets. The Melton wool on this version – a fabric Daiki Suzuki is always revisiting – is such a forgiving and durable cloth that it is yet to show any real signs of wear. This one is also special for me as he included leather elbow patches on this version, which to my mind, he hasn’t done since on this model of jacket. Daiki has produced some outstanding jackets for both Engineered Garments and Woolrich Woollen Mills, but I regard this as one of his finest moments. There are new versions every season and some are in the sales now.

Nigel Cabourn Authentic Four Pocket Vest

Nigel Cabourn Authentic Four Pocket Vest
This is perhaps my most worn garment over Autumn and Winter. It was included in Nigel Cabourn’s first Limited Edition collection and has consistently reappeared in the authentic line since, although in many different materials and colours. Along with his Cameraman jacket I’d also say it’s one his most copied pieces. It’s an extremely useful layer that can look as good with a plaid Workshirt as it can with a BD Oxford shirt and tie. Superdenim currently have some of the latest versions on sale here.

Engineered Garments Workshirt in Blue Plaid, FW07

Engineered Garments Workshirt
Arguably the cornerstone of Engineered Garments shirting and perhaps Daiki’s most referential piece, this shirt features every season in many different materials and patterns and always in a selection of chambray. The fit can change slightly depending on material and season, but it always features the same tough chain stitch construction, pockets based on a vintage Reliance Big Yank Cigarette Pocket shirt, and the iconic use of an odd cat’s eye button for the last fastening on the placket. Another nice detail is the choice of contrasting colour for the placket trim. This particular shirt was the first Engineered Garments piece I ever bought and it’s probably seen more wear than any other item in this list as its worn all year round. It has accompanied me on many hikes as well as day to day wear too. It’s robust and tough and after nearly six years it’s showing no signs of wear, tears, or fraying. It just gets comfier.

Engineered Garments Workaday 19th Century BD Shirt in Red Stripe Oxford Cloth

Engineered Garments Workaday 19th Century BD Shirt
The Engineered Garments 19th Century BD shirt is my absolute favourite shirt. It’s pattern is taken from a vintage Gitman shirt and is very similar in style to a modern Gitman shirt, but with the addition of large curved overlapping plackets; a detail that really sets it apart. Daiki exercises some of his more playful fabric choices on this piece from season to season in the main E.G. line. You can read in further detail about this shirt here. The one pictured here is from the Workaday line and is made in classic Oxford stripe. As with many items here it gets dressed up and down. Casually, it looks great untucked, showing off the odd plackets; formally, it looks great tucked in as the curved placket stops the shirt from splaying open at the waist line. It’s all about the details with this piece.

Engineered Garments Workaday Olive Reversed Sateen Fatigue Pant

Engineered Garments Workaday Fatigue Pants
These are a pretty new addition to my wardrobe, but have already become a regular wear for me. These are fairly loose fitting and in a great colour. They’re always in the Workaday line and feature each season in the E.G. mainline, but in differing cuts and fabrics. The fabric here is reverse sateen and is nice and hard wearing. These are a great alternative to regular jeans, trousers, and chinos, but their simplicity also keeps them nicely away from the combat pant. I like to often wear these with a shirt and tie for that ‘business up top, but me legs are already in the weekend’ look.

Daiki Suzuki designed Woolrich Woollen Mills Chambray Upland BD Shirt, FW07

Woolrich Woollen Mills Upland BD Shirt
Sadly, this is the only garment here that’s no longer readily available although a few keep popping up on Yoox at good prices. This was Daiki’s second attempt at this shirt; the first version (which I have, but don’t wear nearly as much) didn’t feature the iconic billowing chest pocket that this version has and was made in a heavier, but less appealing chambray. For me this shirt epitomised Daiki’s approach to his WWM collections: outdoor pursuits meets the classic and wearable. Reinforced shoulder detailing and elbows give this a hardy feel, while the button down collar makes it feels a touch more classic, striking a nice balance between casually smart and relaxed workwear. Along with the Workshirt here, this is my most heavily worn and washed shirt as it’s another great garment for all year round. It’s wearing nicely now with the chambray fading like denim around the collars and cuffs. I’d certainly recommend trying to get your hands on one as it will do you proud for many years.

Nigel Cabourn Authentic Mackintosh and Harris Tweed Cameraman Jacket and US Clip Jacket

Nigel Cabourn Mainline U.S. Clip Jacket (pictured right)
A constant in the Nigel Cabourn Mainline collection (made in Japan), I struggle to recommend this due to it’s absurd overpricing, but it’s worth hunting around for one in the sales and on eBay because it is an incredibly constructed super versatile piece. I managed to pick up a half price sample version in Present some years ago and it’s proved to be an indispensable layering piece ever since. Based on a U.S Gym/training jacket it features a breast pocket and two hand pockets. This simple and useful jacket is given that Cabourn twist with the addition of the metal clip fastenings that have become somewhat of a signature for Nigel. Versions have definitely improved since I purchased mine with a higher grade clip fastening now on the jacket (same as the Cameraman jacket). There’s many replicas of this jacket around (most notably Heritage Research’s USN clip jacket), but if you’re going to buy one, don’t get the poor man’s version, hunt around for Cabourn. It’s worth the time.

Nigel Cabourn Authentic Cameraman Jacket (pictured left)
I’m yet to see a parka I love more than Nigel Cabourn’s iconic and mighty Cameraman Jacket. I was first shown it in Oi Polloi years ago and I was utterly blown away by the details. The jacket features a marriage of two of Britain’s most celebrated and cherished fabrics – Mackintosh and Harris Tweed – and includes Nigel’s signature clip fastening on the upper portion. Appearing every season in the Authentic line since it was launched as part of the Limited Edition collection, this is quite possibly the most copied jacket of the last decade of menswear. Many have had a pop, but all have completely failed to understand what makes this jacket: the quality materials and the build. It doesn’t feel like you’re putting on a jacket; the Mackintosh makes it feel like you’re getting into a protective shell. It’s featured in other fabrics down the years including summer versions in Beeswax cotton and linen. If you’re going to get one, please don’t buy them at the extortionate full price. They always make it to the sales every season. You may have noted I have a problem with Nigel’s pricing. While his clothes are among some of the most exceptionally constructed I have seen, they are not worth the money – unless you’re having a completely bespoke suit made to your own specifications by a team of highly skilled individuals – no clothes are! Hit the sales for this stuff.

A.P.C. New (& Old) Standards

A.P.C. New (& Old) Standards
Like fine wine, you can go crazy with denim. But my own sensibilities do not carry me far enough into that world and I’m happy not to go there, because quite frankly; I can’t taste the difference. Denim is the work horse of the casual man’s wardrobe and in my opinion should be purchased, worn, and washed as such. I currently have four pairs of New Standards in rotation. Photographed here is my latest pair and my second pair, now a good five years old. All four still get regular wear. These jeans are decent denim, at a decent price. Simple and classic, they remain an amazing colour throughout their tenure; from their bluey grey beginnings to their stone washed end. And I can’t argue with half a decade (plus) of constant wear. All still going strong.

Steven Alan Tie in Woolrich Plaid, FW07

Steven Alan Woolrich Plaid Tie
I probably wouldn’t buy a Steven Alan tie anymore as I deem them a little too slim nowadays, but this purchase from a few years ago is just about my most worn tie and I still wear it with monotonous regularity. And it’s all down to the material. The Woolrich fabric used on this tie is just about the most versatile plaid I’ve seen as it seems to be able to slot into just about any outfit with ease. I buy ties from Engineered Garments and Drakes now as the quality and shape is perfect, but I wanted to include this piece as its just been so good down the years. Subtle pattern and texture is what I’ve looked for in a tie ever since I realised exactly why I like this one so much.

Tricker’s Espresso Stow Boot in Scotch Grain Calfskin

Trickers Stow Boots
The classic English country boot; Tricker’s Stow. This is a colour that goes with just about everything, a commando sole that will tackle just about anything, in a style that looks appropriate just about anywhere. The scotch grain adds an aesthetic hardiness to the already tough calfskin and does well to hide many creases that would be showing up a lot more prominently on smooth leather. Going on four years with a lot of wear these need a minimal amount of looking after as this colour and finish seems to hold its shine so well. If I had to reduce my shoe collection down to one choice for winter, this would be that choice. I’d always visit Richard at The Shoe Healer for my Tricker’s these days. Even at full price these are worth every penny.

ENGINEERED GARMENTS SS12 PICKS

I’m always late to the party. My friends say my timings run on Moorby Minutes. There’s about 100 seconds in a Moorby Minute. With these time units in mind, I bring you the new collection from Daiki Suzuki’s Engineered Garments. Long after everyone else has had their say.

To be honest I’ve not felt massively blown away by the new collection and corresponding look book, which is probably why I’ve lacked a little motivation to write about it. It has it’s moments, but it’s a stark contrast to the killer styling, photography, and details of last season. To be fair, I feel Fall/Winter is always where Daiki’s collections excel as the season lends itself perfectly to his appetite for layering and texture.

All that said there are some pieces I’m very excited about, not least the heavily patterned Tab Collar shirts (which, as I’ve mentioned before, I feel have been neglected a little in the past couple of seasons).

Tab Collar Shirt, Pink Floral Print – My pick of the bunch

Above and below are some great images from the Engineered Garments News blog. I’m all over the pink floral print Tab Collar shirt this season. Worn with some of the brown and yellow Madras ties in the collection it could make for a very quirky pattern cluster-fuck, which I’m definitely more than up for.

Tab Collar Shirt, Green/Blue Floral Print
Tab Collar Shirt, Yellow/White Floral Print

There’s an abundance of great ties this season, how many will make it to UK shores I don’t know, but I’m hoping The Bureau will grab a few as they usually tend to do.

This collection relies heavily on some brilliant patterning and textures. It’s great to see an overload of Polka Dots, Madras and Floral patterns as well as some Camo creeping in there, but I just wish there were a few fresher ideas this season in the actual garments themselves. Still the best thing out there, mind.

Most looking forward to the Polka Dot Chambray 19th Century Shirt… a definite purchase.

GOLDEN GARB Nº2 (CHRISTMAS EDITION): KEVIN McCALLISTER

Chicago’s best dressed young man: Mr. Kevin McCallister

He’s quite possibly the inspiration for many of Daiki Suzuki’s key A/W looks and the prototype for the landscape of today’s menswear. Classic and relaxed plaid button downs are teamed with great cable knits, fatigue pants, monkey boots and traditional bobble hats. From waffle knit sweaters to Melton wool parkas, the kid nailed it all. I’ve been trying to dress as well as this dude since I was eight years old and am now only just finding my stride – he had it from the age of eight. The re-re-birth of the Americana/Preppy movement subconsciously began here. Merry Christmas (ya filthy animal) and a Happy New Year.

Classic plaid button downs worn with ease. If you’re going to get sent to your room, get sent in style.
Fighting crime in style. If only all vigilantes were this well dressed.