Etre AW12: Honest-to-goodness.

It seems fitting to write about a brand that made its name with a pair of gloves when there’s a relentless blizzard raging outside (first Sandy, now blankets of snow). Etre, a label specialising in honest-to-goodness staples, started out life as an award-winning London-based design agency but made the transition from website-making to design, in a more hands-on sense, with the idea for Etre Touchy gloves in December 2007.

The idea was simple: design a pair of gloves that looked good and guaranteed warmth whilst also allowing you to operate your myriad mobile devices. Etre Touchy gloves proved an unprecedented success, prompting the brand to expand the empire in 2008, with the launch of Etre Shop.
October 2012, and Etre continue to charm with the launch of their Autumn Winter 2012 collection, celebrating all several aspects of British style, from Oxford-inspired college scarves to the Fisherman jumpers; an exploration of the sartorial leanings of several social strata.
So far, so boring, right? Another bloody workwear-inspired collection that references the wardrobes of labourers from decades past, but targets graphic designers in Hoxton and Williamsburg? Wrong. Etre puts its money where its mouth is, seeing that each piece is lovingly crafted in the British isles, using responsibly sourced British materials.
Take, for example, their workwear jackets which are fabricated from 100 percent Melton wool, manufactured by a 150-year-old family-run business in West Yorkshire. Or have a gawk at the Gansey sweaters, knit from the finest 5-ply worsted wool, spun and dyed in Yorkshire mills. The indigenous craft industry love goes on with the leather gloves crafted by a family business established in 1944 (one of the last surviving British glove manufacturers, to boot) and satchels and holdalls fabricated by a small Cornish leatherwork company.
So, now you can look great, and look much less of a tosser knowing this brand does exactly what it says on the tin.
Learn more about Etre | Shop Etre

Wrangler: From Ridiculed to Revered.

I know what you’re thinking. Wrangler, a firm household denim favourite, and yet a little bit naff, still stuck in its American roots and not making full use of its work-wear heritage to shift styles off shelves.
Wrong. Having been invited by the lovely folks at Surgery PR (thanks Naomi and Cody!) to a special preview of the Spring Summer 2011 collection, I can happily confirm, I was oh so very wrong. Having started as an overalls manufacturer back in the early years of the 20th century, Wrangler has moved from proffering the utilitarian for the North Carolina labourer to courting 1950s affected adolescents, and has sustained appeal all the way up to today’s digital era (check their Blue Bell FW10 online campaign feat. much-loved male model, Tony Ward tumbling about in various shades of blue, v. fun).

Yet, while I knew it was always a big seller, I’d never even entertained the thought of actually purchasing a piece from their collection until having my eyes opened last Thursday night.

^ Was tough browsing this rail, trying to contain my denim fetish. And yes, this is SS11, but don’t worry, I’m not contradicting myself, the best bit (AW10-themed) is yet to come. Plus, this is quite trans-seasonal, no?
Keen to sustain their popularity amongst the younger demographic of the fashion market, Wrangler have brought out the big guns i.e. sexy models and savvy marketing. But this is by no means a case of smoke and mirrors because the clothes are, well, a bit fab. From their trademark denims to the season’s favourite, chinos, to padded overshirts, Wrangler have got it one on this occasion. Here’s to many more successful seasons…

^ Bud & Corona! Finally a press preview that caters to the beer fiend within…

^ This has established itself as a rival to the Schott Perfecto I’ve been eyeing-up but which is still sadly out of financial reach…

^ Having spotted me salivating disturbingly while poring over the above over-shirt from the AW10 collection, the guys were kind enough (scared enough?) to let me take this home with me. Oddly, though, I think the canvas bag it came with was the best bit. College hold-all ahoy.

^ Over-shirt from Wrangler, tee from River Island, chinos from H&M, belt from Urban Renewal at Urban Outfitters, boots from Bench.

For coverage from the female perspective, check out Ali’s post over here.

Basil Racuk – Americana Made Irresistible.

London menswear is fast approaching and I find myself, once again, deliberating over what to cram into a minuscule Ryanair carry-on bag. It’s too cold to go all SS10 and not quite cold enough to justify AW-esque layers and fur (who am I kidding I don’t even have any…). I may still be in sartorial limbo as regards my clothing but were the shows taking place in four to six weeks from now, I know exactly the bag I’d be hauling on to that flight.

Basil Racuk is a California-based leather goods brand. The kind that’s of good quality, unfussy aesthetics and pure, unadulterated, saliva-inducing style. Inspired by Northern California’s renowned and wide-reaching history of craft, Basil actually succeeds in what so many other designers seek to do – updating something influenced by the past for wearing in the present (quite literally with the iPhone case). Each piece is crafted from full-grain deerskins or cowhides and requires four to six weeks of production. Usually, my accessories are a little more enlivened (in terms of colour etc.) than these, but no matter really, they’re good enough to eat and surely, by extension then, they’re more than ripe for wearing (excuse the food/clothing comparisons, it’s nearing lunchtime). Workwear may have crept onto the runways a few seasons ago but what with all the sh*t-kicking boots etc. that have been proposed for AW10, I reckon it’s a style that’s not likely to budge any time soon. Here, for me, is where it starts…

^ Top – Painted satchel, Bottom – Painted soft brief. Vegetable-tanned, 5 ounce-weight leather. Basil uses indigo dye sourced from Japan to create a striated effect, which takes full effect after three weeks of conditioning.

^ iPhone case.

^ Small Voyager. Basil terms this the “2.0”, souped-up version of its predecessor, the original Voyager. New features include taped seams and double-rivets at the strap attach.

^ Undoubtedly my favourite – the belt/suspender. A latigo leather style, which is multi-functional in purpose in that suspender component can be detached. Available in black, dark brown, and vegetable-tan.

^ Another latigo leather model – the hard brief. This bag marries the robustness of the briefcase with the chic of an attaché.

Basil Racuk is available at Unionmade in San Francisco and Leffot in NYC.

Grafters and the Genuine Workwear Aesthetic.

Apologies for the post-less stint, have been in France’s Ireland-esque region, (referring to shit weather here) Nord-Pas-de-Calais, to visit ma soeur et son petit bébé – Jacques Desgrousilliers O’ Connor (were I to go about officially changing my name it probably wouldn’t be all that different from this). Not gonna lie, he already has me kind of jealous with his numerous asymmetric knits in a typically French monochrome palette of steely grey and white courtesy of atelier maman. Sigh.

But adult life in the tenties does offer its advantages, too. Namely, big f*#k off leather boots at a bargain price. You may recall I spent a disproportionate amount of time agonising over which boots to buy, when, and where. While the deep chocolate suede pair I settled on scored high on ‘form’, I couldn’t deem ‘function’ one of their admirable traits. Due to Ireland’s cold snap and my own stupidity regarding fabric care, they’re not fit for much any longer.

Having noticed the damage I’d caused them I was on the look-out for a replacement and decided (though I NEVER purchase anything I actually end up wearing here) to scour eBay for boots of a beautiful disposition. Result below…

Now, technically, these are work/safety boots (by specialist brand Grafters) and should, technically, be worn only in situations involving the processes of cement-mixing, block-laying and site-surveying. Needless to say, these activities aren’t part-and-parcel of my day-to-day existence. STILL, I’ve never been one to get entirely stuck up on connotations – they’re an amazing pair of boots and came v. v. cheap in comparison to high-street models in a similar black/leather/motorcycles vein. The only disadvantage is that they’re somewhat difficult to break-in, being the sturdiest of sturdy and all. However, if it means a Rick Owens/Ann D-esque aesthetic for oh around 45 euro, then I’ll suffer for the cause.

Harvard Yard & Caulfield Prepatory: Scholarly staples.

Being a college student with somewhat of an interest in things sartorial, I was stoked (and rather surprised at the extent of this excitement, too, never knew things so aesthetically conservative could prove so covetable…) to see what the Cambridge MA school Harvard’s new line, The Harvard Yard, would offer. Unsurprisinlgy, the collaboration between the University itself and manufacturer Wearwolf Group looks to be the epitome of Ivy League elegance what with tailored shorts, roll-up-cuffed chinos and a healthy dose of dandy provided by pinstripe blazers.
Still, it’s not worth a first. Such an accolade could only be awarded to Vincent Flumiani whose slightly-rough-around-the-edges-academic-esque line, Caulfield Prepatory, has me eager to get back to the books like never before, if only to have an excuse to don those slim-fitting shirts and wool blazers.

Inspired by J.D. Salinger’s classic beloved of adolescent misanthropes the world over, Catcher in the Rye, the line pays homage to rebelliousness. This AW09 collection is based on a story penned by Flumiani himself which concerns a youth who embarks on a pretty epic road trip, Kerouac-style. Literary-references aside, the pieces comprising the collection itself are impressive, irrespective of concept. Elegant staples of Uni-uniform (slim blazers, shirts, thin polos and poker-straight ties) are combined with workwear-inspired components (brown cordurouy, rustic boots, thick knits and fingerless gloves).

For what must be the first time, however, I’m jonesing after SS more than AW. Culprits responsible (from Caulfield Prep’s SS10 nautical collection) to be found here.
PS. All Americana road-trips and boating invitations v. welcome.

Images from Selectism, Refinery29 and Hypebeast

Hard Labour, not High Fashion, for AW09.

Must ‘fess up. I’m not the naturally-handy-about-the-home type, nor do I brighten with excitement at the thought of physical labour, but fruit-picking in the sun is a welcome exception (yet more welcome when it’s apple-picking…pluck one and they all – in pure lemming fashion – plunge to the ground). This, in combination with all the wall-painting and furniture-restoring I’ve been occupied with lately, not only grants me this confidence that assures I could take on any handyman’s job (v. dangerrrous, since I’m lucky if I can hammer a nail straight) but also has me pondering suitable attire for such tasks.
Basically, I’ve got utilitarian-wear on the brain today, which is – you must appreciate – entirely alien to my wardrobe’s default inclination. Being the younger of two sons and closer in age to sisters than the bruv, I spent my time chiefly learning the ropes in the kitchen rather than the workshed and never really felt anything remotely resembling appreciation for the workwear which constituted the majority of my father’s wardrobe.
^ GAP FW09 – No, I’m not that convinced of this whole mode of dress that I’d sport the entirety of either of these looks, but the roll-down, slouchy boots combined with the thick socks are surprisingly appealing. Thanks to 00o00 for the first look.
^ Timberland FW09 Counterpane Captoe Chukka – Almost a year ago, now, I embarked on a mission to secure a pair of dashing chelsea boots. It was an epic fail. These more than ease the disappointment, though.
^ Miharayasuhiro FW09 – The slouchiest of silhouettes offset with the strength of a decidedly sober colourway and boots…again. Yes.

^ Bottega Veneta FW08 – Fashion purists avert your gaze, this looks is a whole year old after all! *gasp* Regardless, it’s still plenty relevant. BV boiler-suits (with boots) will always be relevant. But don’t blame me if you’re boss isn’t keen on officewear inspired by the above.
Now, however, what with all the highly desirable interpretations of workwear available I’m slowly warming to the concept. Last season’s lumberjack-love (check shirts surely never saturated the market to such an extent?) I just didn’t buy, but with re-workings of labour-staples: denim shirts, work-boots, distressed-finishes and boiler-suits, I’m thinking channelling DIY-demigod is the order for AW. Easy on the plaid, mind.