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.

Levi’s: In for the long haul.

Those of you who’ve been reading for a while now will know that of all the fashion capitals, NYC has consistently produced the menswear I find most appealing. From Patrik Ervell‘s industrial minimalism and Tim Hamilton‘s sharp sporty aesthetic to Thom Browne‘s signature psycho-prep-wear.

Similarly, some of the bigger brands I’ve been following keenly since childhood and still admire today are also American; global style influencers including but not limited to GAP, Ralph Lauren, and Levi’s.

The Levi’s story is an interesting one. For a brand that actually created and patented the world’s first pair of blue jeans, they’ve remained relatively quiet since 1873, subtly creating pieces that remain true to the brand’s no-nonsense, functionality-is-fundamental spirit and generally being the envy of designers worldwide; Yves Saint Laurent famously got really jels and admitted to harbouring the secret wish that he would have designed the first pair of blue jeans.

The current FW 2012 collection comprises everything from trucker jackets to some no-frills accessories to jeans, a decent selection of slim pants, and cords. So, for those who acknowledge Levi’s genius in manufacturing jeans for the first time but subsequently write the brand off as something bland and bootcut, consider yourself learned.

^ Left to right: Commuter Hooded Trucker Jacket; canvas backpack; light wash Trucker vest

^ L-R: 511 skinny Commuter trousers; washed leather Lugger boots; 511 skinny jeans

Concrete Jungle.

If you’ve been following on Twitter, you may have noticed I’ve made like some of my ancestors and upped sticks to NYC for a while. Since arriving a few weeks ago, there’s been a lot of sweat, fat rat-dodging, burritos at 10pm, apartment viewing, both fun and unbearably tedious IKEA trips, beard-spotting, PBR-and-shot-drinking (and some moonshine sampling, too) and general feet-finding.

Here’s a more easily digested visual guide…

^ From top: Dumbo Arts Festival; ferry view; midday at Williamsburg roof-top housewarming; new home in Bushwick; me, visibly elated, on our roof (wearing thrifted long-sleeve tee, shorts from H&M, socks from Nike and boots from Timberland)

A lot more coming soon, including NYC-based brands, thrift stores etc.

Thanks Midge for the photo

Property Of… AW12.

So, early this morning I’m bag-packing (for an impending move) and unsurprisingly thinking of the five months I spent in Berlin last year, and then the newly launched Property Of… Autumn Winter 2012 collection finds its way online. It’s a coincidence, it’s kind of serendipitous, and it makes for a heavy dose of nostalgia. 
The Amsterdam-based accessories brand have just released a video – shot in Berlin – showcasing their comprehensive range of AW styles. From graffiti-ridden doorways to cobbled pavements and rain-slicked side-streets to the sickly humid depths of the U-Bahn, this is the Berlin I know and love.
Can we also just appreciate how deadly this team is? Unpretentious, easy-on-the-eye and obviously having the time of their lives; if I didn’t want a piece of Property Of… before seeing this, I’m hankering now…

^ Top (L-R): Tommy sportspack; Rafe work bag; Tommy trip leather bag. Bottom: Justin messenger bag; selection of small goods; Alfred utility pack.
Founded in 2006, Property Of… seems to have carved itself a niche in the growing men’s accessory market as a provider of hard-wearing, practical staples that don’t look like you snatched them from the local outdoorsy outfitters bargain bin. Materials favoured by the design team include wax-cloth, vegetable tanned leather, tarpauling, cordura and distressed cotton canvas and their range of styles runs from the miniscule (wallets, folios etc.) to the maxed out (sizeable totes).
See more from Property Of…

EXCLUSIVE: Q+A with Gerard Gunning.

With so many look-books blogged innumerable times as soon as press release and inbox meet, it feels good to offer something truly exclusive. NCAD (otherwise known as Ireland’s premiere art and design college, and the campus opposite my bedroom window!) grad and Irish printed textiles designer Gerard Gunning has been on the to-blog list for a while now since I came across his collection, ‘Aerial’, as part of the graduate exhibition in June, slipping – afterward – into a mildly embarrassing frenzy of iPhone snapping…
His work blends a Christopher Shannon sportiness with an air of experimentation not dissimilar to Henrik Vibskov. Above all, it’s like nothing I’ve seen before and I’d quite like to wear a lot of it so what better reason to catch up with Gunning to talk inspiration, fabric innovation and a man called Paul Smith.

Male Mode: What inspired your graduate collection? 
 Gerard Gunning: My work focuses on contemporary menswear fashion inspired by obstacles and boundaries that challenge us every day throughout our lives. Looking from above giving a game-like feel, my work began with the idea of aerial views, 3D in reality but which, when photographed from above, appear flat and one dimensional. This idea of viewing from above, the all seeing eye, as one may say, gave way to the idea of censorship, privacy and anonymity. My research drove the aesthetic development of the obstacle course, a simplified version of the world but similar to life (with its ups and downs) when viewed from above can look very differently. Overall my work looks at the idea of the anonymous vs. the identified. The anonymous being the everyday working male and the identified being the work he has created.
MM: What are the materials used in your collection? Can you tell us about the manufacturing process?
GG: I’ve designed contemporary avant-garde men’s fashion fabrics that emulate an edgy, contemporary look, fusing sports and casual wear. My collection is designed to push boundaries and encourage people to push their own personal dressing aesthetic by combining oversized and skinny garments and using fabrics not usually associated with menswear fashion. Materials used in the collection include cotton, silk and synthetics. Along with these basic everyday fabrics, I’ve created new fabrics by bonding different materials to the conventional ones. Being a printed textile designer, I’ve looked at various print processes throughtout the collection such as pigment print, acid print/illumination, spandex, foil print, embossing and digital print.
MM: What are your plans for the future? 
GG: I’m about to start a 3-month placement with British designer Paul Smith in London. My ultimate ambition is to create my own label within the menswear market.

___________________

Wishing Gerard all the best at Paul Smith and beyond.

Square-toed Shoes: Just Say No.

So, square-toed shoes are set to make a Spring Summer 2013 comeback, according to esteemed designers like Raf Simons, Jil Sander, Miuccia Prada and Humberto Leon and Carol Lim of Kenzo.

Really…? Really?

Were these designers temporarily blinded during the collection conception phase? Has some kind of square-toed-shoe Illuminati-esque convention taken place? It’s hard to say, mere speculation. What’s pretty definite though, is square-toed shoes are probably what will in the future feature next to dictionary definitions of words like ‘hideous’, ‘abominable’, ‘abhorrent’, ‘silly’ and ‘mortifying’.

Even (supposedly) infallible designers make mistakes sometimes so save yourself the risk of looking like an actuary circa 1998; don’t go square, stay with the key styles of the past few seasons that are popular for a reason. British department store, House of Fraser, has a pretty hefty collection that runs the gamut from brogue-detail boots to Nike hi-tops. Here are a few ideas of how to be up-to-the-minute, while avoiding the silly and square-toed…

^ Top (L-R): Bertie Colindale casual boots (£115); Loake wedge casual shoes (£135); Nike hi-top dunk trainers (£65). Bottom: Dune Courageous (£110); Dune Acapello formal shoes (£85); Nike mid-top premium suede blazers (£65)

See more men’s shoes from House of Fraser.

Penhaligon’s: Superior Fragrance Since 1870.

While fashion’s been flaunting the impressive power of brand history and heritage for years now, the fragrance industry doesn’t really seem to have followed suit. Apart from classic fragrances first released by some of the major houses and still proving popular today (Kronos, Eau Sauvage etc.), scents currently seem to be more connected with major celebrities and sleek, highly produced campaigns that function as signifiers of chic modernity.
London perfumers Penhaligon’s are the exeption. Established by alchemist William Penhaligon in 1870, the brand unveiled its first fragrance in 1872, with Penhaligon himself being appointed court barber and chief perfumer for Queen Victoria and the Royal Court soon after. Since then, the group of Penhaligon’s proponents has grown from British royalty and European aristocracy to include the likes of famed aesthete Oscar Wilde, Winston Churchill and even Tom Ford.
As a lover of Ford’s Tom Ford Extreme fragrance, I had high expectations for this early birthday present of Penhaligon’s. They’ve more or less been met, too; although this set is overall a little bit sweeter and fresher than I’d usually opt for, the quality trumps anything else I’ve ever worn – the colognes are rich and long-lasting, with Endymion definitely coming out on top for its blend of cirtus and spices.

See more from Penhaligon’s

Hamilton 1883 for Project Wooster: Camo & Smart-casual.

It seems there’s no stopping the tats-ablazin’ daddy of fashion, Mr. Nickelson Wooster. Since his appearance on countless street-style and men’s style blogs, Wooster’s status as sartorial authority has soared resulting in a slew of collaborations and consultancy projects.

The most recent sees Wooster team with age-old Houston, Texas-based shirting brand, Hamilton 1883, to create a range of six sport-shirt styles incorporating the essential cornerstones of the Wooster-style wardrobe: military (camo), heritage/workwear (plaid, chambray) and smart-casual (Oxford stripe).

^ Top (L-R): chambray sport-shirt (feat. snap-tab collar); plaid flannel sport-shirt; stripe sport-shirt (Wooster’s personal favourite, apparently). Bottom: light camouflage sport-shirt; camo panel Oxford sport-shirt (designed to surprise once unveiled after slipping off a jacket or blazer); camouflage sport-shirt.
They’re exclusively available on Park & Bond; prices range from $245-$265.
Learn more about American shirting brand Hamilton here; follow Nick Wooster’s personal Tumblr here.

WIN with T.M. Lewin.

Jermyn St. shirtmakers since 1898, T. M. Lewin know a thing or two about the classic Oxford button-down, so despite not being wholly taken with the surface design/look of their wares, I trust their incomparable knowledge when it comes to crafting shirts. A household name, known predominantly for their formal- and business-wear, T.M. Lewin could rest on their laurels in the steady professional suiting trade, but this season sees them shake off office-ready attire, for something a little more informal, the Casual collection.
Intended as the perfect range of ‘weekend-ing’ shirts, the collection meets the brand’s benchmark for superior quality, while incorporating close attention to detail.
^ T. M. Lewin Casual Collection AW12, launching online and in-stores September 17th
If you fancy getting your hands on one of these shirts yourself, as well as a tie or handkerchief from their extensive accessories offering, simply enter as follows:
1 – Follow & Tweet @malemode and @TMLewin a summation of your idea of the perfect casual weekend, be it pints, parks, theatre premieres or a long-overdue breakfast-in-bed by midday (GMT) Fri August 24th 2012. 
2 – For an extra entry, share the ‘WIN with T. M. Lewin’ competition entry on the Male Mode Facebook page
* Winner will be chosen using Random.org. Winner is entitled to one Casual Collection shirt of their choice, as well as one tie or handkerchief of their choice. 

See more from T. M. Lewin.

Jigsaw SS12: Piecing it back together.

Buoyed by a so far successful re-branding, British high-street brand Jigsaw has brought its menswear back from the dead for Spring Summer 2012, with its first collection since 1999. More than a decade on and a lot has changed. The British classic formality is still here, but tweaked and re-conceived. Design director Frances Walker talked me through:

Male Mode: Who is the Jigsaw man?

 Frances Walker: He’s aged between approximately 25-55; Jigsaw Menswear is a collection which appeals to a certain mindset of man rather than his age. He is effortlessly handsome yet considers what he wears carefully. He puts clothes together as if he hasn’t tried hard. He looks for and understands quality in all areas of his life, he considers what he buys and chooses clothes intelligently. He is knowledgeable about clothes generally; he wants clothes which will last, that will integrate into his wardrobe without screaming and are fit for purpose and comfortable. He looks for great, relevant, contemporary stylish clothes rather than conceptual, of the moment fashion pieces.. He appreciates fine detailing, beautiful fabrics and is not afraid of colour. He looks for a point of difference in what he selects for his own pleasure rather than to draw attention to himself.

MM: From which sources did you glean your inspiration for the AW12 collection?

FW: For the first AW collection we were focussing on great British fabrics: tartan for colour and tweed for texture. The tartan provided a great colour vehicle for the collection. We used the classic blackwatch and the more loud red Brodie tartan. The fabric is garment-washed and comes from Loccharron of Scotland. The tartan was interpreted in knit, socks, shirts and outwear as a waxed jacket from the British Millerain. The tweeds, including a garment-washed tweed from Harris, stemmed from a look at Lucien Freud from both his nonchalant personal style of dressing and the neutral layers of oil paint which daub the walls of his studio

MM: If you were to recommend any essential item of clothing to a man, what would it be?

FW: For those in the UK – a great overcoat. For AW12 I would choose our timeless DB camel wool coat, gorgeous on any age!

___________________________

Still some key pieces missing or is the puzzle complete?