Come back Summertime.

A lot of you will think it unforgivable blasphemy but I personally feel a lot of Lanvin looks better like this – broken apart into its constituent pieces, re-worked, and presented in a totally new light markedly different from its original runway show styling. Don’t get me wrong, Lucas Ossendrijver is one of the greatest menswear designers of our time, but it’s really only with the latest SS13 collection that the styling errors have begun to subside.

Anyway, this is really has much less to do with Lanvin show styling and much more to do with my wanting Summer back. Give it back, Winter, so I can wear all of this and stop shivering indoors.

1. Lanvin eelskin stripe sweatshirt from LN-CC; 2. Adidas Originals Adi Hi trainers from JD Sports; 3. Alexander McQueen slim-fit cotton gabardine trousers from Mr Porter; 4. Lanvin resine melusine cap from LN-CC; 5. Alexander Wang ‘Wallie’ gym bag from Farfetch


5 Things NOT to Buy a Man for Christmas: A Guide.

It’s difficult not to turn completely Christmas-centric when surrounded by the countless lights, fake garlands, oversized trees, bedecked gardens, and rammed-full shops of the land of capitalist Crimbo. To – in a kind of roundabout, semi-negative way – aid you in your holiday shopping, I’ve thought long and hard about all those presents that prompt insincere exlamations (“AMAZING! THANK YOU! JUST WHAT I NEEDED! MARRY ME?!”), bring on genuine bafflement, and those that nudge one toward the brink of disappointed tears.
Here’s what not to buy for a man this Christmas…
1. Socks

A Father’s Day staple, it’s fairly sad to hastily tear apart gift-wrapping on Christmas morning only to find a measly pair of socks beneath. I mean, it’s not the most unbearable fate – most men do forget to regularly purchase socks and who doesn’t welcome a new, hole-free pair? Still, it’s the thoughtlessness, the immediate avowal of failing to bother to actually think about something vaguely personal that results in disappointment. Unless there’s a weird sock-related in-joke or personal significance behind it all, or excepting they’re crafted from wildly luxurious cotton, then give it a rest.
2. Generic Fragrance Sets

Sophisticatedly dubbed ‘smellies’ in my homeplace, fragrances are a safe-bet for Christmas gifting. That said, nothing says ‘I really wasn’t arsed thinking about anything vaguely original to buy you!’ and/or ‘You smell like s**t!’ like a generic fragrance gift set from the local pharmacy. 
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for scents but if you’re going fragrance-way, be sure to avoid the tacky, thrown-together-in-some-Coty-factory route. Who uses those crappy miniscule scented shower gels anyway? If you’re dead set on fragrance, either do some preliminary research and simply buy them what they like (if they say they like ‘something sweet!’, they have little taste and you should really be questioning why you’re friends/lovers/family(?), never mind why you’re buying them gifts), or scope out something a little more unique that’s not simply a money-making extension of a luxury fashion brand and/or endorsed by a soulless celebrity.
3. Books on topics he’s never expressed even a remote interest in…

That means salacious crime exposés, BBQ recipe compendia, DIY guides, and anything For Dummies. He is no dummy, give him a voucher instead.
4. Overly elaborate tool-sets

At exactly what point is he going to use all 30 of those screwdrivers? 
5. Clothing you think he’ll look good in

Unless you’ve spent a decent amount of time roaming around the interior of your recipient’s brain and/or stalking his shopping practices, then don’t attempt a clothing gift. Firstly, he may v. well hate it, and secondly, you may think you have an idea of what fits him but really you’re hopelessly beyond clueless.
Hint: optimal is, of course, a charity donation. One of those things whereby you donate a sum, and gift him a card detailing immense generosity shown by you to both him and those in need. If he seems even a smidgeon underwhelmed by this, he’s obviously not worth giving gifts to anyway.

Season’s Greetings: Sean McGirr

No stranger to the blog, London-based menswear designer, Burberry and Vogue Hommes Japan alumnus, and lover of all things kawaiiSean McGirr bids you season’s greetings…

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

Sean McGirr: I’ll be working on finishing my AW 2013/14 collection around Christmas but other that that, I’m going home to my family for one week! It’ll be the longest I’ve been home for a few years actually – so christmas movies and some trashy clubs are awaiting!

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

It’s been a really good year for my work so there are many highlights. I had fun working on a fashion film with Kevin Gaffney so we’re preparing to work on another now.

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

Hmnm I’d give a subscription to Arena Homme Plus because I really like the new issues. Also, flights to Japan inculding round-trip on the Shinkansen bullet-train and bursaries for students – I’d be super generous!

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

Roxxxy the robot!

See more from Sean on the blog here & here | Learn more about Sean McGirr

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 

Season’s Greetings: Mark C O’ Flaherty

Depending on your disposition, this is either going to paint me the breaker of bad news or the bearer of good – it’s just over a month ’til Christmas. Now, although I’m as anxiety-ridden as the next person who has a mile-long list of friends and family to buy for, I’m far from grinch-like. To prove it to you all, I’ve assembled a few of my favourite people to join in counting down the days in anticipation.

Mark C. O’ Flaherty is a man of words and pictures. A London-based photographer, writer, and founder of global style guide CIVILIAN, O’ Flaherty oscillates between penning informed and analytical features on luxury fashion, gourmet restaurants and cutting-edge design, to photographing some of the most breathtaking architecture and interiors around the world. Above all, he does both with equal aplomb, somehow remaining modest all the while…

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

Mark C. O’ Flaherty: Lots of lunches and dinners with friends and family. No email or phone. Champagne, sea salt chocolate, the Wizard of Oz (always!) and my slanket.

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

Visiting the temples of Siem Reap, getting engaged and finally pressing “go” on, which I’ve talked about doing for years. Not necessarily in that order.

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

A signed first edition of Philip Roth’s American Pastoral.

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

Can I have two? I’d like a John Wayne Gacy clown painting and a Richard Torry herringbone sweater please.

See more work from Mark C O’ Flaherty | Learn more about CIVILIAN

Alan Taylor AW12: Concept and Commerce.

There’s been a lot of love for the Irish fashion diaspora in London; from designers like Simone Rocha, Steve Corcoran (who you may remember from here) and Sorcha O’ Raghallaigh to stylists like Angela Scanlon and Twin Magazine’s Celestine Cooney. A recent addition is NCAD graduate Alan Taylor, whose work has its basis in a breed of simplicity that’s not unusual to Irish designers, but is made that bit more complex with the forefront-of-fashion peculiarity synonymous with London. Here, we talk Dublin, London, the state of menswear, and kilts.

^ Alan Taylor photographed by Hedi Slimane

Male-Mode: You studied fashion design in Dublin (NCAD) and worked closely with Simone Rocha for several seasons (London) – what was the most important thing you took from each of these experiences?

Alan Taylor: It was the people in Dublin that made it. There is such an amazing network of people who really push us to do better, rather than compete against each other. London, and working with Simone, was learning all the details they can’t teach you in university. I got to see the business grow from the ground up, being a part of everything from the production meetings to the show-rooms in Paris.

 Your AW12 collection might be termed ‘conceptual’ or ‘avant-garde’, for want of better words, but there are still plenty of wearable pieces amongst the experimentation – what are your priorities when designing for men, wearability, imaginative concept or…?

I have a kind of ethos, which is I don’t want my work to be an over-the-top departure from contemporary menswear, rather a development of classic ideas with a fresh take on construction and fabrication. I always want creativity to be at the forefront of my work but I know that fashion is a business at the end of the day, so I look to achieve the perfect balance between the conceptual and the commercial.

The collection seems to be a clash of traditionally masculine tailoring and a not-so-hidden femininity (kilts, plenty of sheer pieces), do you try to disregard conservative notions of what what might deemed socially gender-appropriate when designing?

Not necessarily, I try to keep my designs masculine, but fuck with it a little through the fabrication and garments – like with the kilt. I think that aesthetically and socially it feels like it fits, the clean lines of the pleats and the silhouette compliment the other garments in my collection and the expansion of menswear as an industry has taken a considerable leap in the past few years.

Men are becoming more aware of not only what they wear but how their clothing is made, the quality and the background of every garment. The kilt is also pushing the entirety of men’s silhouettes; kilts even three years ago would have seemed very feminine. I want to make an ‘Alan Taylor’ kilt a very masculine and understated garment to the extent that when the wearer puts it on, he is so comfortable with the idea of wearing it that he completely forgets he is wearing it at all.

What are the dominant fabrics in the collection? 

The focus for this collection was black wax cotton, net and tweed. I like the juxtaposition of textures in my work.

And a couple more candid questions (as suggested by Twitter followers!)…

What are you wearing?

Converse, Cheap Monday jeans, white t-shirt, and a John Rocha jumper.

Would you wear a kilt?

 I’d wear a kilt.

If you could have designed any other collection in history, which one would it have been?

Comme des Garcons Spring Summer 2008 Womenswear, Rei Kawakubo at her colourful best.

Jil Sander Spring Summer 2009 Womenswear, Raf Simons’ pattern-cutting with water.

Early Madame Grés work – her innovation in sculpture through pleating was mind-blowing for her time.

Although the three collections I mentioned are womenswear, I see a designer’s work as a statement of their overall manifesto that shouldn’t be dictated by the gender of the wearer. Rei Kawakubo is a master of both concept and colour, Raf Simons can make a four-layer outfit look as light as a t-shirt and shorts, not to mention his innovation in construction, and Madame Grés is, in my opinion, one of the main influences for contemporary conceptual fashion design.

Learn more about Alan Taylor

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

Masters of Style: Seán Jackson’s ‘On the Street’ & ‘Capturing the City’.

Lest you think I’m an insatiable facial hair fanatic, what with posts like this, and the beard-fest that is this, cropping up of late, consider this a more photography-focused post, rather than another toast to whiskers.

 Following on from Jonathan Daniel Pryce’s immensely successful 100 Beards, 100 Days, Irish photographer Seán Jackson was commissioned by men’s grooming giant Gillette, to scour the streets of Dublin for similarly bearded and uniquely dressed men. The resultant series of 100 portraits formed ‘Capturing the City’ and ‘On the Street’, two exhibitions recently housed at the city’s Gallery of Photography. Somewhere between candid street-style shots and portraiture, Jackon’s impressive body of work presents an array of arresting personalities, while paying homage to the Dublin man’s modern love affair with his facial hair.
Above-centre is impeccably dressed and is unquestionably bringing the beard realness, but above-right and far below-centre’s jumper are spot-on style-wise – who’s hit the nail on the head for you?

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

Nicolas Ghesquière, Balenciaga and a few notes on menswear.

Another day, another dramatic upheaval at a Parisian fashion house. Since news of Nicolas Ghesquière‘s impending departure from the house of Balenciaga broke earlier today, I’ve mostly been wondering why hysterical fashion types lament a designer’s mere career-change as if it were a tragic death.

Aside from that, I’ve been trawling through the GQ archive of Balenciaga show reports, familiarising myself with the lesser known of the two branches helmed by Ghesquière at Balenciaga – his truly unique menswear. 

^ Spring Summer 2007; suiting and collegiate styles dominate

Singular, incomparable, individual since its inception in 2004, Ghesquière’s clothing for men was at times genius in its ahead-of-the-curve daring, and at times not only questionably styled, but entirely questionable; obviously relegated to the back-seat behind its older, attention-grabbing sister, the Balenciaga menswear line under Ghesquière is a curious mix of spot-on – and way-off – the mark. 
I’ll happily ‘fess up that I’ve never had the privilege of attending a Balenciaga men’s show, nor have I any reference points to base this post on bar these images from a scattered selection of seasons. Still, in turning an objective eye towards Ghesquière’s contribution to menswear, the boons and blunders are pretty plain to see. Juxtapositions of skinny and slouchy silhouettes that were a little too jarring, token splashes of colour lazily injected into a Spring Summer collection seemingly just for the sake of it, an oftentimes underwhelming impact in comparison to its womenswear counterpart.
Here, though, I’ve rounded up a selection which, for me, neatly summarises those triumphs the designer’s tenure at Balenciaga deserves to be remembered for – from the preppy, nattily tailored beginnings to the Futuristic minimalism of the more recent offerings.

^ Autumn Winter 2007; military influences and a slightly more experimental bent emerge

^ Spring Summer 2008; short-shorts make an appearance several seasons before their being adopted widely ca. SS12; minimalist interpretations of sportswear enter the mix

^ Spring Summer 2011; the Futuristic vision now synonymous with Ghesquière’s reign at Balenciaga is fully visible

^ Autumn Winter 2011; Parisian chic reminiscent of contemporaries Lucas Ossendrijver at Lanvin and Kris Van Assche

^ Spring Summer 2012; a knock-out collection of sharp cuts and geometric colour-blocking

^ Autumn Winter 2012; continuing on in the previous season’s vein, Ghesquière’s adds another string to his bow

^ Spring Summer 2013; explorations in cyber aesthetics give way to a more subdued, naturalistic minimalism

It saddens me a little to think that Ghesquière departs just as the house’s men’s divison has begun to cohere, excite and vie for a long-awaited place amongst the menswear greats. That said, I’m sure there’s plenty more where that came from,

Can we all now get a grip, reign it in, recognise nobody’s died, salute Ghesquière for Balenciaga and wish him well in his future endeavours?

Read more about the parting of Ghesqière and Balenciaga here

Images from GQStyle and New York Magazine