Frank and Oak launches United Tailors

Thought brands with inter-season collections like cruise and pre-Fall were wont to reinvent the wheel on a regular basis? Try one that unveils a completely new collection each month. Established earlier this year, Montreal-based Frank & Oak is an online venture that offers men an entirely fresh selection of casual staples, suiting pieces, and accessories on a monthly basis.

While that might seem too much, too often on first thought, the brand focuses less on disparaging the old and hopelessly fawning over the new, and more on celebrating wearable, timeless core styles; it’s more a case of slightly tweaking – think new colourways and prints, rather than an absolute overhaul every 30 or so days.

Just last week, the e-commerce brand toasted a more formal venture, with the launch of their micro-site United Tailors, a casual-cum-smart tailoring collection that’s comprised of fitted chambray shirts, wool suits, suede belts and handcrafted silk accessories. To give the micro-site the welcome it truly deserves, Frank and Oak managed to source a space on New York’s Crosby Street for a pop-up inspired by the city of Montreal.

Dubbed the Mile End Pop-up Shop, its not-even-a-week-long life span was most likely a case of sky-high Soho rents, but it did aid in building an air of exclusivity around a collection that’s clearly marked as premium in comparison to the mainline.

^ Highlights from Frank and Oak’s mainline

Having copped several a feel of the pieces on display, I can vouch (and this really is rare) that Frank and Oak are offering unbelievably good value for their pricepoints. A shirt or crewneck sweater will set you back just $45 but is most definitely built to last.

Learn more about Frank and Oak | Shop United Tailors 


Mind the Chap: ‘Seek Individuality. Dress Independently’.

If you’re an exclusively designer devotee, the online shopping possibilities are myriad. From LN-CC to Oki-ni, Mr Porter to SSense, those with that bit more disposable income are spoilt for choice. The same goes for those on the directly opposite end of the scale, demanding a replication of the high-street experience online, an experience offered by numerous stores from ASOS to Urban Outfitters.

But the market gap in between seems relatively unexplored, a hazy area of little known artisan brands at mid- to luxury-level pricepoints that deters those entrepreneurs betting on either high income or high turnover. NYC-based online men’s store Mind the Chap, co-founded by retail mavens Sapna Shah and Lisa Walters, brandishes the balls it takes to broach the unchartered territory and we’ll be forever in their debt. I caught up with Sapna to talk retail, specialist brands, and standing out…

Male-Mode: What three words describe Mind the Chap most accurately? 

 Mind the Chap: We have a phrase versus three individual words: Showcasing edgy emerging designer – yes, i know that’s four words but we are wordy people!

Being two female co-founders, do you feel your gender helps or hinders you in creating an online men’s store?

More than gender, we feel that our experience in retail is the key in creating an online menswear site. Lisa and I have been in retail for a combined 25 years and this is our second entrepreneurial venture (our first was a retail consultancy for Wall Street).

 Given our experience, we have a unique perspective on the fashion and retail industries because we’ve been so closely involved in new retail concepts and emerging brands, as well as worked for larger retail organizations like Ann Taylor, Gap and Linens ‘n Things. After years of shopping for our husbands, brothers and friends, we’ve developed a distinct sense for unique brands and ahead-of-the-trend fashion. We’re bringing this talent to Mind the Chap customers looking for something new and fresh, and not from the usual labels.

With plenty of competition already jostling in the men’s online retail market, how does Mind the Chap carve out its own niche?

We believe Mind the Chap is unique in our approach to menswear online in a variety of ways. Our point of differentiation from other sites is to feature a selection of highly curated, fashion-forward emerging designers and brands that have extremely limited distribution (many are exclusive to Mind the Chap). Essentially, we carry the brands that you can’t find elsewhere – we are constantly seeking out new brands that are ahead of the trend and cycling out brands that get too big for our model.

We believe this approach is unique to Mind the Chap and results in great collections that you can’t find anywhere else. Mind the Chap is your wardrobe wingman, providing you with edgy, emerging brands that have novel design approaches and high quality craftsmanship – brands that only the most style-savvy insiders know about. These are not the brands your friends are wearing – they are the ones your friends will be asking you about. Seek individuality. Dress independently. These are our imperatives.

Your current brand roster ranges from sporty prep and smart casual to a style more experimental, are you appealing to a broad range of men, rather than following the more conservative model adopted by other stores, which stick to a more specific target market?

We are targeting a male customer 25-45 yrs old and we want to provide him with options for his lifestyle – whether he is more classic, casual, minimalist, or fashion forward. Our unique approach on the site is to mix and match a variety of lifestyles/brands together with outfits to create options for our shopper, so that even the more edgy brands become more approachable. This is another unique aspect of our site as most retailers and sites showcase head-to-toe branded looks.

What are the three key pieces for Fall Winter 2012?

Three pieces you must have this season are colored bottoms (a great khaki in burnt orange or red are our favorites), a great bag (leather or waxed canvas) and a standout tie (or better yet a bow tie!).

1. Will Leather Goods Howell double-zip portfolio; 2. General Knot & Co. fine charcoal chambray and black floral bow tie; 3. Sandast Italo weekender; 4. Will Leather Goods red Lennon backpack


Learn more about Mind the Chap | Shop Mind the Chap

‘Title of Work’ by Jonathan Meizler FW12: Accessories and the Abject.

Jonathan Meizler was bored by ties. I mean, weren’t we all before this? With a background in independent film production, Meizler moved from camera lenses and shooting locations to couture womenswear – a dramatic gear shift by anyone’s standards – to finally end up in men’s accessories, working to dismantle the banal connotations of the necktie. 
And so, ‘Title of Work’ was born. Now based in NYC, Meizler brings his wealth of experience in couture detailing to the men’s market, hand-crafting an extensive collection that includes not only neckties, but bowties, cufflinks and tiepins, too.
For Fall Winter 2012, the designer looks to risqué Miami Beach artist Enrique Gomez de Molina and his body of uncanny taxidermy hybrids. A visceral mesh of the abject and the beautiful, De Molina’s transgressive sculptures boldly go where no artist has gone before (and won’t go again without a good deal of difficulty, according to this report on De Molina’s imprisonment).
^ Sculptures by celebrated and officially condemned artist Enrique Gomez de Molina

Meizler certainly nods to the sculptor, but crafts a collection that channels the strangeness, that stresses the liminal nature of the imaginary border between something ugly and a thing of outstanding beauty.
Queue ties adorned with sterling silver ants, claws, fox heads, racoon teeth and Amazonian black cock feathers that transform a conventional well-crafted tie made from quality fabric to something altogether more singular. If sporting creepy-crawlies removed from the sanctioned context of Hallowe’en isn’t really your thing, then there’s plenty more to catch your eye including a range of more traditional but indisputably luxurious neckties as well as a selection of styles subtly embellished with leather bands and japanese mesh.
Learn more about ‘Title of Work’ by Jonathan Meizler | Shop ‘Title of Work’ | Learn more about Enrique Gomez de Molina and his art | And look here for an unnerving Hallowe’en surprise

An Afternoon at Eayrslee.

Though they’d be far too humble to admit it, Joanne Lee and Mimi Eayrs-Jones, are some of Brooklyn’s best when it comes to emerging designers. Having chatted with the girls behind Eayrslee around this time last year (you’ll get the back-story here), I had the pleasure of meeting the bag-designing duo in person at their Greepoint-based studio just last week.

Currently juggling the tasks of planning the introduction of their SS13 wares to the market and also laying the conceptual concrete for their FW13 collection, Eayrs and Lee are busier than ever with stockists ranging from NY fixtures Gargyle and Thistle & Clover to, as well as their own online store. And it’s hardly surprising, given their knack for conceiving accessories which marry sound structure and practicality with aesthetically pleasing design.

With their FW12 collection (above) complete, the brand is beginning to move away from the Italian and Argentinian leathers which dominated previous collections, in search of leathers sourced from American tanneries so as to localise the craft and ease the formerly laborious process of quality control.

Oh and they’re lightening up, too, quite literally. SS13 (below) sees Eayrslee combine their considered, faultlessly-constructed core designs with bursts of neon hues from lime green to safety orange – an apt nod to optimism for a label constantly on the up.

Learn more about Eayrslee | Shop Eayrslee | See a full range of stockists here


Continuing on from the sports spruced-up tendency I attempted to define, or at least draw attention to, a few months back, this is NUMBER: Lab; a label, for those of you unfamiliar, that at its core seeks to mesh a technical, sportswear influence with a tailored, formalwear-informed aesthetic. It’s triple-lined garments, reversible jackets and totes that double as backpacks that are created with equal attention to the matters of form and function. Five years since the brand’s birth, designer Luis Fernandez and business partner Greg Lawrence continue to deliver.

Male-Mode: What is NUMBER:Lab? 

Luis Fernandez: NUMBER:Lab is an American, men’s advanced-sportswear brand, for the man who is tech-savvy, athletically-minded and constantly on the go. We call it TECH+TAILORED, a collection geared towards keeping relevant in today’s modern world. Just like great architecture can impact the life of its inhabitants, we think that fashion too, should empower and enhance the performance of the wearer while still looking tailored and polished.

^ NUMBER: Lab Fall Winter 2012

Who does the team consist of? 

Greg Lawrence and I founded the company in 2007, and we both still run the company together. I am the Creative Director and Designer and Greg deals with the business and operations side of the company.

Who is the NUMBER:Lab man?

Our ideal man is a perfect blend of the intellectual-with-athletic-sensibility or the stylish-athlete-with-smarts.

Where do you glean inspiration for your designs?

Art and sports are always an initiating source of research and inspiration for me and architecture, for sure, is always very present. I’m always fascinated by athletic and performance gear; it’s such a rich and educational source, from the super-techy and futuristic to great vintage images.

Blurring the boundary between tech and tailored is your speciality, what is it about this combination of form and function that is so important to you?

I have a suspicion it might have something to do with my ‘modernist’ architectural training at Cornell. I still keep Le Corbusier’s Towards a New Architecture on my nightstand. Even 90 years later, this book still holds a very pure lesson of form plus function that can be re-interpreted for today’s modern world. Technology has started to rule and influence our lives in ways we don’t even perceive anymore. We are surrounded by apps and gadgets that enhance our daily life, and that give us more efficiency, speed and comfort. I think that our clothes should speak to that, and do the same thing.

NUMBER:Lab is currently involved in the CFDA {Fashion Incubator}; can you tell us a bit about how this program came about, and how it benefits your brand?

The CFDA {Fashion Incubator} is one of the Council of Fashion Designers of America’s programs, which supports the new generation of fashion designers. There are ten designer brands that were chosen to be a part of it, for a two-year period. It’s really quite an honor. Aside from this great space in NYC’s garment district, there is an amazing mentorship program with some of the best industry leaders. It is an incredible support system which aids in fortifying our business and helps us to be competitive in the fashion industry.

Since founding the brand in 2007, what’s been the highlight so far? And the most difficult challenge?

Oh wow, that’s quite a loaded question. It has definitely been a roller-coaster ride. That’s the fashion world for you – never a dull moment. There are tons of highs and lows (sometimes just in one day alone), and you just have to keep bobbing and weaving. You know, rolling with the punches, and that keeps you on your toes. As a designer, anything that keeps you on your toes and that keeps you moving (sometimes even running) is a good thing. You can never stop observing, learning or asking questions. It’s what propels creativity. As for an all-time high, there is no better feeling than spotting someone wearing something you’ve created. Every time. And if they make a comment about how great they feel wearing it, or if they thank you for it, it really hits you inside. It tingles, in a really good way.

You’re done and dusted with SS13, what’s next for the brand? Are there are any particular long-term goals? Interest in collaboration(s)?

Well, sort of. Now comes the production and execution of the SS13 collection, which is almost just as important. It’s the last step in making that sketch a reality. But yes, as a designer, you are always living and thinking in the future. I’m almost done with designing FW13 (it’s a bit crazy, because it doesn’t even feel like Fall 2012 has arrived yet). I’m always thinking of collaborations and design partnerships. It’s such a cool concept to bring two points of views, and two different areas of expertise, together to create something. There are a couple of them cooking which are very exciting. But our main goal is, really, to continue to grow the brand, and to continue to explore and express our point of view.


Learn more about NUMBER: Lab | Shop NUMBER: Lab

Made by Hand: Exploring the contemporary and hand-crafted.

While you’ll find a good deal of Manhattanites that involuntarily shudder on hearing its name (that’s you, Manhattan contingent of Gallery Girls), Brooklyn is undoubtedly a more liveable alternative to the skyscraper-riddled, kaleidoscopic hamster cage that is the city itself. And rents, by and large, are cheaper too, which attracts the usual motley crew of artists, writers and designers, some fledgling, some established, all a little bit inebriate of the creative atmosphere of the borough (as I write this, my neighbour rehearses a more raw, stripped down version of Mavin Gaye & Tammi Terrell’s classic, Ain’t No Mountain High Enough; doesn’t sound much better than it reads…)

Moving away from the established media (blogs, mags etc.) covering Brooklyn’s art, gigs, readings, events and emerging designers, Made by Hand recognises its burgeoning craft industry, as well as craft businesses based just beyond the borough’s border. A short film series intended to share the stories of those making things by hand, sustainably, locally and with a relentless devotion to their craft, Made by Hand currently features a beautifully shot exploration of cigar-makers, Martinez Cigars, detailing the business’ integral role in New Yorkers’ social life and cultural heritage.
For fellow gin sinners, there’s the debut film which features Breuckelen Distilling Company, as well as two more from the series shedding light on the business of knife-making and beekeeping. Stay tuned for the next installment, ‘The Bike Maker’.

View more at Made by Hand | See more from Martinez Cigars

Ninh Nguyen’s Autumn Winter 2011/2012 Vampire Hunt.

I’m by no means unpatriotic but being one of ethnic-origin through-and-through (Irish, by the way, just in case you didn’t quite get that from my near constant mentions of hangovers etc.) sometimes leaves you feeling lacking when you’re in the company of someone part-French/German/Swedish, or second generation Irish , their family having moved from somewhere like Australasia before settling down in the Emerald Isle.
Emerging NYC-based menswear designer Ninh Nguyen is one such envy-inducing person. Born in Paris, Nguyen (who I’m rather presumptuously supposing is of Asian origin purely based on surname) was raised in Texas and now designs in America’s fashion capital inspired by the motto – “Dress without taste and they will remember the clothes. Dress with taste and they will remember the man”. Makes sense.
Whether this multi-ethnic, multi-national, and multi-disciplinary (although making menswear is Nguyen’s current occupation, he studied medicine and psychology in his home city) upbringing has made a significant impact on his work is difficult to say just yet since the first teaser of his work assures universal appeal (amazing outerwear generously plastered with military and punk-inspired detailing), not one set to work in just one market.

Still, his rather unconventional life experience has led to a new perspective on the world of fashion and its fairly rigorous strictures and schedules. Instead of showing clothes during fashion week and then garnering PR in mag editorials, Nguyen has opted to put together this vamped-up shoot to raise awareness prior to his NYC fashion week show. And although I’m not all that hot on the Adidas-esque trews here, the mass of black leathers and rugged double-breasted outerwear and v. sleek black and white shirting has me fixated.
Roll on fashion week.

Photography by Duc Nguyen

Raun Larose AW10: New Talent from NYC

With such a wealth of menswear talent in existence and emergence in London, it’s sometimes easy to forget about designers stateside. Although I’d turn to Paris over New York when scrolling through next season collections on, it’s the latter that, with its unpretentious and relaxed aesthetic, often inspires my day-to-day style. That said, there’s no doubt the optimum look would be a hybrid of the two fashion capitals, and Brooklyn-based Raun Larose seems to concur with his AW10 collection of jersey, wool, and that now firm fashion favourite – neoprene.
I dug a little deeper to learn more about NY’s latest menswear talent…
MM: What experience do you have in the industry? Did you study fashion?
RL: I’ve interned at Zac Posen in Paris, interned at the fashion department of VIBE Magazine, and then eventually went on to start my label Raun
LaRose. Although, i’m still searching for opportunities on a daily basis. I attended the Art Institute of NYC, Lately, I attended FIT. Where I
took courses in Menswear Design.
MM: What inspired the AW10 collection?
RL: With this collection I didn’t want to be inspired by one thing in
particular. If I said I was, then I would be lying. I wanted to produce
garments that just looked more like works of art.
MM: How would you describe your design aesthetic?
RL: As for my aesthetic, I design for the individual who is in search of
change in his daily wardrobe. I love sophistication with a modern
twist. I’ve been dubbed the ‘American European’. It took me a while to
discover my appreciation for European culture and design.
But I also know that I don’t want to have a signature as a designer, I don’t want to be known for doing only one thing. I always hope to
push boundaries.

^ Love the simplicity, and Raf Simons-esque quality, of these pieces.

^ Two options for eveningwear – go safe, but decidedly slick, or go a bit mad with the belted, crazy collared number that Rei Kawakubo wishes she had designed.


Since Larose’s website seems on the brink, follow him on Twitter for updates.

Robert Geller dishes out Seconds for AW10.

I had planned to do a semi-retrospective/profile on Richard Chai on account of his winning the Swarovski Award for Menswear at last night’s CFDAs (most deserved) today but then I remembered a press release I received a few days back on Robert Geller‘s Seconds AW10 collection which prompted such a series of contradictory reactions that I felt it deserved a good blathering about.
Yes, the name may conjure up images of extra edible helpings but the clothing itself is what’s of chief importance, right? And yet, on first glance, this collection, composed of comfy casuals as it is, could be seen as nothing more than a range of luxe fat-pants and vests. Indeed, I can’t really say I was frothing at the mouth when I unzipped the file to find a mass of monochrome, slouchy separates adorning a glum, lank-haired model.
That said, there’s beauty enough in that. It does, after all, do exactly what it says on the tin – “an elegant yet casual take on classic athletic wear” – which is to be commended in light of that slew of designers who aim to rectify their aesthetic failures through an elaborate and hyperbolic description written by an over-zealous PRO.

Seconds is intended to provide pieces which can be incorporated into your capsule (ooo buzzword!) wardrobe and lend that Teutonic, distinctly dark and simultaneously romantic edge to your look. It makes use of the finest Japanese production and soft washed cotton, which means you’ll be spared the worrying feeling of wearing your trackies outside the house.

Notes on Nosferatu-chic.

Call me superficial but the majority of the appeal of studying film derives from watching those with luscious mise-en-scene, not those that play with narrative convention or employ Brechtian techniques of distanciation (I’m looking at you Godard…). As part of genre studies, we’re doing a mini-case study on Dracula films. This week, it’s Ford-Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula, which is surely the epitome of shite, wooden acting and sumptuous sets and costumery.
The abundance of gothic attire got me thinking about Robert Geller‘s rather vampiric offering for AW09. This season’s man was a pallid (and perhaps undead?) fellow looking dashing circa 1900. But it wasn’t a festering lot of period costume, rather it was version of dark dressing made appropriate for the contemporary Count through the inclusion of leather trousers and accessories and the use of layering of simply cut separates.
Hats are that little bit Van Helsing – wide-brimmed and reminiscent of a traditional Pilgrim and Boss of the plains hybrid model. The addition of the v. vampire-esque (well, the trad kind…think Lestat in Interview with a Vampire) neckwear in knife-sharp-canine white, coagulated blood red, and black, completes the ensemble. These accessories are more affectionately known as “draped dangly bits” by one Tim Blanks, so I’m resting assured it is, of course, the technical term.
Robert Geller AW09

Any other devilish sources of inspiration for dress? If yes, do make them known below.

Images from Men’s Style