KO: The Rise of Boxing Brands

Lonsdale Boxing Tony Jeffries

That sportswear and fashion are on-again off-again bedfellows is kind of old hat, with the former’s sleek forms and appreciation of function informing the latter for well over a century now.

We’ve seen Stella elevate Adidas’ status, Liberty lend a generous slice of design heritage to Nike, and Todd Snyder recently help temper the chumpishness of activewear brand Champion as part of an increasing intimacy between big names in athletic apparel and middle- to high-end design.

Not to be outdone, boxing brands are throwing some well-placed punches, too, with British heavyweight Lonsdale priding itself on its collection of “iconic fashion” (their term, not mine) and age-old American outfitter Everlast hyping WBO boxers’ custom kits on Facebook prior to prime-time fights.

Lonsdale Everlast Logos

Most striking, though, is how these brands are being appropriated on a grassroots level. Once the reserve of cider-swilling chavs and ASBO scallies, labels like Lonsdale and Everlast are sported by blokes who are just as likely to pick up a copy of Arena Homme + as they are to pore over the pages of Nuts in what might be termed an interesting inversion of prole drift.

But what is it exactly about these brands that’s prompted an overhaul in attitudes? When did common-as-muck gym gear become a staple for the stylish? I’d hazard a guess it’s some mixture of the following:

A resurgence in popularity of all things varsity and collegiate. There’s no doubt that these boxing brands’ renewed popularity is part of a wider shift in men’s fashion from the art of dressing-up and dandy tailoring to a more minimalist, sports-influenced casual approach manifest in the likes of the varsity jacket, hi-tops, mesh panels and the baseball tee. Which brings me to my point; in case you hadn’t noticed, both the Lonsdale and Everlast logos feature collegiate fonts, which we’ve seen emblazoned on everything from clothing to business cards over the past three years or so.

‘Cult of the body’ culture. In a world awash with men’s fitness magazines, gym memberships, protein shakes and BCAAs, sporting boxing brands serves as a handy signifier to your fellow humans that you’re forgoing a few rounds of post-work pints for five sweaty sets of heavy reps – even if you’re not.

Hector Lombard Everlast

Keeping in good, and typically masculine, company. In a semiotic sense, these brands align you with sporting legends like Muhammad Ali, as well as contemporary greats such as Joe Calzaghe, Nathan Cleverly, Deontay Wilder and Hector Lombard (above). As moronic as this might seem, it’s a simple fact many menswear brands fail to fully recognise, ultimately losing out on an opportunity to secure male consumers in a culture that’s definitely progressive in terms of masculine aesthetic and behavioural ideals, but still very much rooted in traditional notions of machismo.

My two cents for your Saturday.


2013 – Time to Get Smart (?)

While other bloggers are no doubt admirably committing to their New Year’s resolutions by publishing posts themed around them, I sit back and wait for them all to fail miserably lazily concoct hypothetical style-related resolutions. Say, for example, 2013 was the year in which I resolved to sharpen up my sartorial act, swap ‘gear’ for ‘garments’, ditch leather-sleeve bombers for classic overcoats, Tims for brogues or monk-straps, and a wardrobe chiefly composed of short- and long-sleeve tees for more separates that oh-so-very subtly say, rather than scream, elegance.

And, for the hell of it, let’s say I really lose the f*!king plot and end up experimenting with accessories despite the fact that me + them is a match more forged in the pits of hell, rather than made in heaven.

Let’s say 2013 is the year I grow up and this is what I resolve to wear…

^ 1. Crombie Donegal overcoat from Crombie; 2. John Lobb leather monk-strap shoes from Mr Porter; 3. Corgie mid-calf cashmere socks from Barneys; 4. Rick Owens night top from Farfetch; 5. Tom Ford Grey Vetiver; 6. Maison Martin Margiela 11 men’s ring from LN-CC; 7. Gucci slim-fit cotton blend trousers from Mr Porter

No, I don’t think it’s going to happen this year either. Give it another decade or so and we’ll see if it’s still all a bit fat chance…

Top Moments in Menswear 2012 – Part II

Major moments continued…

Just when did a casual run to the corner shop begin to resemble a bout of battleground training?2012 saw camo move from the context of military surplus to some of menswear’s most covetable wardrobes, being plastered over everything from men’s luxury swimwear to iPad cases.

As with so many seemingly revolutionary turnings of fashion’s tides, many of us probably thought the appropriation of camo entirely original. It’s not really the case, however, with the print apparently having made appearances as far back as the early 20th century in couture collections according to this report from camo devotees Orlebar Brown.

In recent memory, there was of the course the 90s and early noughties – a time we couldn’t quite conceal our collective wood for woodland camo in the form of cargo shorts and pants. This easily digested NY Times article from Ruth La Ferla points out how fashion looked to the streets and once again took to the trenches with John Galliano capitalizing on the trend during his tenure at Dior.

But just what accounted for the most recent revival? Although it’s been difficult to pinpoint the exact source (and let’s be honest, is there ever really one definitive source in these cases?), our current penchant for camo has probably been brewing since 2010 when military styles re-emerged on womenswear runways.

Nevertheless, it’s not all that common for womenswear and menswear trends to meet and merge as camo has done in the past year. In this vein, two words: Nick Wooster. The tats-and-monkstraps fashion-week fixture has pretty much single-handedly ushered in a new craving for camo, through his much-documented personal style or numerous design collaborations.

GQ claims it’s here to stay, for another year at least.

At long last giving London menswear the platform it deserves, the British Fashion Council launched London Collections: MEN in June. Encompassing an array of British menswear aesthetics from Savile Row tailoring to contemporary sportswear, LCM emphasises the equal importance of both the creative and commercial imperatives of menswear design.Its third season (AW13) gets underway January 7th 2013, with the most extensive roster yet.

While I’m sure there are scores more moments worth mentioning, these five have been the most prominent for me personally, whether a trend, a momentous move for the fostering of new talent or someone with style for days.

What stood out for you?

P.S. Happy New Year y’all!
Images from Southdacola and LCM

Top Moments in Menswear 2012 – Part I

As 2013 approaches, I thought it high time to reflect back on a year that’s been nothing short of momentous for menswear. If your post-NYE hangover sees you enduring amnesia, consider this a resource of sorts for what went down in 2012.

A Belgian designer lauded for his abstract approach, fondness for geometric shapes, and uncompromising cuts, Raf Simons heralded the arrival of a new brand of minimalism on joining Jil Sander in 2005. His outstanding Autumn Winter 2012 collections were to be his last for fashion’s foremost name in refined simplicity, with his women’s show receiving tears and a standing ovation – not bad for an industry known for its emotional intransigence.

The Autumn Winter 2012 men’s offering might have served as an indication of shifts to come. In previous seasons, Simons never failed to lend Jil Sander a freshness that the brand hadn’t exhibited before, but the shapes and the concepts that informed them were more often than not drawn within the confines of the Jil Sander aesthetic.

This men’s collection marked a departure – a darker, engulfing descent into a narrative far removed from the ascetic imperviousness of previous collections. Here, Simons pitched signifiers of serial killers and sex against icons of childlike innocence. He revelled in dominating cocoon shapes and the sumptuousness of leather, latex and vinyl, while at the same time attempting to temper the excess with strict suiting and playschool prints.

The show’s drama, both textual and extra-textual, sees it make the list.

Crispy gentlemen, take note. 2012 saw the meteoric rise of menswear Tumblr, Fuck Yeah Menswear, with founders Lawrence Schlossman and Kevin Burrows; continuing to shoot the shit on what it takes to be steezy, and scoring a sweet book deal in the process.

When it comes to a healthy dose of taking the piss out of fashion, I’m all for it – I mean, yes, it’s a multi-billion dollar industry but a lot of its foundations are built on BS, impossible ideals and questionable ethics. This particular brand of satire, however, never sat well with me, mostly for its frat-boy affectations.

Burrows and Schlossman may have started out poking fun at menswear’s all-too-serious esotericism, but when you’re getting cosy with its poster boy (Michael Williams of A Continuous Lean) at your book launch, the critical distance seems considerably shortened.

Another year, another line-up of street-style stand-outs. 2012 saw the emergence of Nathaniel Matthews, the much-documented muse of The Sartorialist’s Scott Schuman. He makes the list not for outré experimentation, but for a mastery of classic casuals that runs the gamut from WWII-era military to skins.

More notable moments in menswear to come…
Images from The Sartorialist, and Coach

Inkling x Merry Christmas

Considering this Christmas is the first I’ve spent abroad, this year’s festive season will likely be less turkey-scoffing, vegetating and bad-Christmas-film-consuming and more leisurely-Christmas-morning-brunching, walks in Central Park and plenty of mulled wine ’til mullered.

Despite being far from many friends and family, staying put in NYC for Christmas has let me off the hook with the usual present purchasing for fear off bankrupting myself on shipping costs. A definite plus. The rest of you, however, should either be running the final shopping lap or already hopelessly lost amid a sea of garish wrapping paper, coated thread and frustratingly creased sellotape. If not, here are your marching orders because I’m not sure if you’ve noticed but you’ve not got longer than 24 hours to save your hide.

It’s a little late for online shopping but if it’s inspiration you’re after, then a project I’ve had the pleasure of being involved with may be just the thing to get you motivated for last minute Christmas-shopping madness.

Inkling is a London-based online gift-suggestion tool, which saves the inevitable brain-racking and possible breakdown that goes with contemplating Christmas presents. I was brought on board to flesh out their men’s style and lifestyle offering (a selection of which can be seen above), which basically meant picking out a horde of things I’d like to see waiting for the ravishing under the tree this year.

Whether you’re prepared or panicking, I wish you all a very merry Christmas and a bountiful New Year. Stay safe, satiated and mildly sozzled.
Browse Inkling

Season’s Greetings: Matthew Zorpas

An inspiration when I first discovered his singular style last year, and still an enduring inspiration today, Matthew Zorpas is next up to share his plans for the now imminent festive season. PR powerhouse, fashion lecturer, creative consultant and blogger, Zorpas’s seemingly tireless enthusiasm and keen eye for fashion’s fascinating as opposed to faddish has earned him legions of fans, and I’m proud to call myself one of them.

Male-Mode: What are your plans for Christmas and the holiday season?

I am traveling to Brazil this holiday season; spending Christmas and New Year’s in Rio!

What’s been the highlight of your year so far?

Launching The Gentleman Blogger was definitely the highlight for this year. The support that I received was truly unexpected and surprising.

If you could give one gift this year, what would it be?

Unlimited holiday tickets.

And if you could receive just one gift this year, what would that be?

One Walter Van Beirendonck suit.

Read The Gentleman Blogger

Q+A: Highland US

Since gentrification’s taken a firm hold of Williamsburg, artists, designers, musicians have been migrating further into Brooklyn, with Bushwick now fast following suit. With ample space at more affordable prices, convenient connections to Manhattan and enough Stumptown coffee to fuel full-time jobs and moonlight freelancing, it’s hardly difficult to see the attraction. Having come across Bushwick-based brand Highland during a spate of press days, I was eager to learn more about the interestingly anomalous brand. Brooklynite yet not pandering to the ubiquitous all-black Williamsburg uniform, nor mimicking the Americana heritage formula, Highland is definitely something all of its own.

I caught up with the team to talk Joseph Beuys, Utah and Roberta’s pizza…

Male-Mode: What is Highland? Who does the team consist of?

Highland: Marked by function and utility, Highland is a sportswear collection designed for today’s wanderer and dreamer – those people with a thirst for raw and meaningful experiences. Originally formed in Venice, CA in 2009, the trio that makes up the creative force behind Highland consists of lead designer Lizzie Owens, Mike Franks and Cramer Tolboe.

What motivated you to found Highland?

Being raised in Utah, we all shared a love for the outdoors and the freedom that comes from exploration and experiences in the wilderness. By the summer of 2009, having all worked in various parts of the fashion industry both in LA and NY, we longed to reconnect with our roots. Through this we realised there was a real absence of grown-up, sophisticated sportswear in the contemporary menswear market. We knew we had a fresh cool take on what would feel familiar to a lot of guys, a new perspective to add and a past to legitimise it.

What inspired your current Fall Winter collection?

For our FW12 collection, we were really inspired by an art installation titled “I like America and American Likes Me”. It featured the artist, Joseph Beuys, wrapped in felt and confined in a room with a live coyote for several days. We experimented with the idea of vulnerability in nature and the accepted notion of feeling protected through fabric ‘barriers’.

As self-proclaimed creators of ‘utility menswear’, you’re surely familiar with the flippancy with which this term is bandied about, especially with the recent rise in work-wear – both in American and global markets. What does ‘utility menswear’ mean to you?

When trying to define what utility menswear means to us, early Patagonia or The North Face immediately comes to mind. Those brands represented an early version of work wear meets change/evolution/technology, and we’d like to build upon that by merging technical advances to make “work-wear” even more functional, while adding a fashion forward design.

Growing up in Utah during the 80’s and 90’s, those brands truly captured what it was like living in the mountains around that time. Our brand’s aspirational ideal is freedom. Specifically, the freedom of the American West, and we strive to create clothing that transmits that through the function of the style and the fabrication that serves a purpose.

We think like that when developing new styles or finding fabric; the way our details work together to create a piece you didn’t know you couldn’t live without.

Can you describe your experience as designers based in Bushwick? Is it, in your opinion, the burgeoning creative hub it’s often reputed to be?

Our move to Brooklyn came out of the shared sentiment that, to create clothes that inspired others, we first needed a space that inspired us. We always saw Bushwick as a melting pot for young creatives, and luckily, we found our dream space here. If you walk into coffee shops or overhear street conversations, it seems everyone is working on something expressive whether it be music, art or design of some sort.

It’s also convenient and quick to get to our factories but removed from all the chaos which helps us incubate our creative vision. Oh and let’s not forget Roberta’s Pizza, that place really sealed the deal, if we had to name a NY landmark that embodies our brand, it would be Roberta’s.

What’s next for the brand?

We will continue to develop our collections and refine the Highland aesthetic. We are constantly re-working styles we have done in the past and bringing new ideas to the table. Apart from that, we’ve started planning on a fashion week presentation that will hopefully take place in February. It will require a lot of work, but we feel like our brand is far too good to go unnoticed anymore.

Tailoring or sportswear?


Brogues or boots?

Boots. Hiking boots.
Learn more about Highland US | Find Highland stockists here

A.W.O.L. Update

Currently experiencing some mild interference in the real world, so updates will likely be a little more infrequent ’til Christmas.

If you’re bored, I’d be pleased to point you in the direction of some fashion, art, and photography pieces I’ve penned for the source on global nightlife, Société Perrier. There’s bloggers, Kingsland Road clubs, lingerie and beards.

Season’s Greetings: Richard Kilroy

Not to sound like a codger recounting the past fondly, but I first came across exceptional fashion illustator Richard Kilroy’s work back in the Summer of 2009. And although I considered him and his work reasonably well established even at that point, he’s really made waves in the meantime.

Richard’s been featured so many times here, he hardly needs introduction and to gush any more here about his work would only be to repeat what I’ve said countless times before (here, here, oh and here too). Without further ado, I thank him for his generous time in collaborating, and wish him a very merry Christmas…

Male-Mode: What are your plans for Christmas and the holiday season?

Richard Kilroy: To go home to Liverpool for a week with the family and eat until it hurts every day. Also, to catch up with friends and get pissed on less than £20 on a night out.

What is, for you, the spirit of Christmas?

Christmas is a time to indulge with those around you and enjoy it without guilt. I love catching up with everyone back home. I see Christmas as more of a celebration of the year than New Year’s Eve itself. In fact, I fucking hate New Year’s Eve.

What’s been the highlight of your year so far?

Oh god, there have been a few! The big one has been putting my book together, which has meant meeting and getting to know so many prolific illustrators; the final line-up is looking incredible.

Receiving invaluable help and mentoring from Richard Gray (the illustrator, not the journalist) whom I have the upmost respect for.

This one is a little self-involved but seeing David Downton and Julie Verhoeven mention me in interviews as their illustrator to watch – pretty surreal moments for a fanboy who has followed them for years.

Going to my first menswear shows and seeing the palaver that goes with it.

Tutoring drawing classes for the first time at the Royal College of Art and working with so many incredible talents. Also, many late night conversations on Facebook chat with Tara Dougans. We’re both emerging illustrators and friends so we’re always gossiping, bitching, and relating over everything that we’re doing.

If you could give just one gift this year, what would it be?

Fuck knows.

And if you could receive just one gift this year, what would that be?

A two week holiday. Or calf implants. Or funding for the next issue of Decoy.
Learn more about Richard Kilroy and his work | Learn more about premiere fashion illustration magazine Decoy | Follow Richard’s ceaselessly inspirational Tumblr

Season’s Greetings: Jonathan Daniel Pryce

If there’s been one topic I’ve found myself writing about a ridiculous number of times to mention this year, it’s beards. No stranger to a hairy face, award-winning photographer Jonathan Daniel Pryce is partially responsible. Following the success of his recent 100 Beards project, this remarkable photographer, seasoned blogger and creative digital marketing mastermind barely needs introduction. Here’s what he’s thinking for the holidays…

Male-Mode: What are your plans for Christmas and the holiday season?

Jonathan Daniel Pryce: I’ve not been back to the City of Light since I moved from there to London so it’ll be lovely to see friends, eat great food, and relax. Paris is such a beautiful city, so last Christmas I just cycled around the empty streets with friends. It was truly magical, so I’m probably going to do something similar this year.

What’s been the highlight of your year so far?

There have been two highlights really. The first was winning my Scottish Fashion Award in June for Photographer of the Year; that really was a special moment for me. Following on from that, the success of my 100 Beards project where I photographed a new bearded man every day for 100 days.

The blog received so much attention from readers and press, which has led to me doing exhibitions in London and Austria, as well as publishing my first hardback photo-book. 2012 has really been quite an incredible year!

If you could give just one gift this year, what would it be?

Well, of course if I had enough copies it would have to be my 100 Beards, 100 Days book, one to everyone I know. But since I only did 250 in the first edition, it’d be a little tight.

And if you could receive just one gift this year, what would that be?

It would be to have all of my friends and family together in one room for one afternoon. There are too many seen, too little.

Learn more about 100 Beards, 100 Days | Learn more about Jonathan and his work | Buy 100 Beards, 100 Days