Monday, 31 August 2009

Junya Watanabe EYE x Baracuta G4

Not for want of trying have I endured an entire summer searching for a new jacket, not even a particularly unusual one. Just a harrington which wasn't really a harrington but looked like the best harrington you could ever find. In black. Navy at a push.

Closest I got was a Resonate swingtop jacket which the Japanese people it was designed for would have had a job putting on. In the end I settled on a Dunhill blouson. Looked great, offered no protection from the elements, so it hasn't been worn.

Aaand we're up to date. The summer's as good as over and what do you know? Along comes the Baracuta X Junya Watanabe Limited Edition Vintage Fit G4, which as far as my requirements go, fits the bill in every way. Except it's too late. Way too late.

Sunday, 30 August 2009

Rapha autumn winter collection

As someone quite rightly pointed out on the Rapha blog, no sooner do you have all you think you're going to require to look slick on the bike, than Rapha comes along with a whole new range of stuff you never realised you needed.

The autumn winter preview is another case in point. This year Rapha is introducing neoprene overshoes (pictured above), which are an absolute essential in the winter, as well as a rain jacket and leg warmers (a longer version of knee warmers).

Into the unecessary but totally desirable camp comes a pair of trousers for the city commute, a new knitted winter cap and a 'Gentleman's cap', which expands upon the tweed cap releases of the summer.

Visit the Rapha blog for a more detailed explanation.

Saturday, 29 August 2009

Here it comes

It will be interesting to look back on this post in a couple of months, when we are truly in the grip of autumn, the leaves are desperately clinging onto the trees and that early morning chill penetrates to the marrow.

Because on my ride today I got a real sense that autumn is just around the corner. The weather turned last night after weeks of balmy tropical temperatures to bring us gale force winds from the north. So setting off this morning in no more than a jersey and Grand Tour fingerless gloves and bib shorts it felt a bit nippy.

More than that, the sun was noticeably lower in the sky, the colours more vivid. It felt like the season was on the turn and I wished I had my arm warmers on, and the new Italian knee warmers.

The slight chill made for a refreshing ride, topped off by the sight of a tall ship making its way up the estuary. Summer riding is good, but the real challenges lie in the months ahead, when riding is as much about beating the weather as beating your best time. Bring it on.

PS: There is a tall ship in the above photo. It is the bright white blob on the horizon slightly to the right of the picture. My Blackberry really is that rubbish as a camera.

Friday, 28 August 2009

Too well dressed to riot

It was another bad night for football on Tuesday. The evening clash between West Ham and Millwall was always going to be a flashpoint, seeing as the two clubs top the league in bitter rivalry.

But it was a worse evening for terrace style. Whatever happened to the well-dressed hooligan?

Back in the eighties, the heyday of hooliganism, when running battles outside football grounds were part and parcel of a Saturday afernoon, how you dressed mattered as much as who you supported. You had to look the part, and in the initial days of what has become known as the Terrace Casual, that meant Fila And Sergio Tacchini tracksuit tops, jumbo cords and Dia Dora Seb Coe trainers.

As the years progressed so did the one-upmanship, and by the late eighties it was all about Stone Island (it was cool then), Armani, and Paul Smith.

Certain clubs commanded more respect than others. Funnily enough West Ham's Inter City Firm (ICF) was among the better dressed of hooligan mobs. Them and Chelsea. Millwall, on the other hand, never had much style.

Mackenzie t-shirts? Adidas hoodies? On camera? In the paper? It would never have happened. Back then, if you were going to invade a pitch you would make sure you were at your most pristine. You were going to be in the public eye, after all. And you would never, ever, lumber onto that grass in nothing but a pair of shorts and a beer belly. The shame.

My memories of football in the eighties don't really stretch to the games themselves. All I can remember is hundreds of us marching down the street, in our just-out-of the bag Stone Island parkas and Armani roll-necks, looking sharp.

I haven't been to the football in years, unless you count Southend v Chelsea last year, which I don't. Perhaps there is still a casual hooligan element. If there is, they've got more style and verve than to be caught on the pitch with their bellies out.

So either West Ham have let their standards slip since the sharp days of hooliganism, or all the troublemakers were Millwall. Whatever, those fans should be locked up for crimes against menswear, if nothing else.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Future VW Camper

I've always wondered why VW haven't done to the Camper what they did to the Beetle with considerable success and launch a new one. Well perhaps they might. See below.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

More proof that Bape is dead

Judging by the miserable prices my Bathing Ape collection has been fetching over the past few months I've been listing it on eBay, I would say the brand has gone the way of the dodo.

Latest case in point is my woodland camo cap. Something I was quite fond of back in the day and if I remember correctly parted with upwards of £60 for. Well it just got me £11.50 at auction.

It's a bit of a shame, but nothing lasts forever and this is a prime example of what can happen when your brand is adopted by the seedier side of urban street life. One minute Bathing Ape had cult status among the media luvvies of Soho, who picked it up on the back of James Lavelle of UNKLE and Ian Brown's product placement, and the next, via N.E.R.D's Pharrell Williams, you had R'n'B singers like Chris Brown wearing it and every wannabe gangsta on either side of the Atlantic wearing the playgroup themed hoodies in XL sizes. Anybody could see Bape was doomed.

Pharrell got a taste of his own medicine when his Billionnaire Boys' Club label was hijacked by the gangsta element - in fact it would be safe to say it never got off the ground.

Still, Nigo, Bathing Ape and BBC's creator, is making a valiant last stand by reopening his Bape store in Upper James Street after closing it in favour of a capsule collection within a shipping container in Dover Street Market.

But Nigo would be wise to check eBay. If nothing else, the auction site is the ultimate barometer of market tastes, and when prices of Bape tank on eBay, it's time for Nigo to think up a new strategy.

Hopefully one that doesn't end up with the label being bombed by a bunch of gangstas and the death sentence they put on any clothing brand they adopt.

Monday, 10 August 2009

B&O Beotime

No it isn't a musical instrument, or a handy weapon with which to tackle intruders. This is the latest offering from Bang & Olufsen, designed to wake you up gently in the morning.

The Beotime is an alarm clock with a difference. It has a built-in motion sensor, automatic backlighting, and a sleep timer which lets you doze off to music or late night programming in the knowledge it won't still be blaring into the smal hours.

For waking up, there's a discreet, and no doubt acoustically perfect chime, or the option to set a TV programme, radio station, or piece of music.
All in all the Beotime offers a somewhat soothing start to the day, which is no doubt why the pre-orders ahead of the launch in time for Christmas are already building up.

Price is £300 from your local Bang & Olufsen retailer.

Monday, 3 August 2009

Monocle Beams watch

As other publications go to the wall by the dozen, Monocle magazine has been setting a shining example of the benefits of knowing your market and brand building by releasing a series of collaborative items of clothing and accessories.

You can wear the Monocle x Aspesi jacket, ride the Monocle x Skeppshult folding bike, whilst carrying a Monocle x Porter bag over your shoulder, which would contain, among other things, a Monocle x Valextra leather-bound notebook. And all the time you'll be honking like a forest at sunrise, courtesy of the Monocle x Comme des Garcons Scent One.

So far so good. The Monocle brand quality is reinforced by the high-end collaborations, which all goes to cultivate the international jet-set image.

The latest release is the Monocle x Beams watch, a collaboration with Japanese department store Beams. This is a tough call, because any international traveller worth their salt is going to need a reliable, and therefore serious, watch on their wrist, which means Swiss, like Rolex, Breitling or Zenith. They might stretch to Panerai (Italian with a Swiss movement).
The only timepiece that springs to mind in terms of Japan is Casio.

At £95 the Monocle x Beams watch isn't going to break any travel budget, and it looks quite good with its classic Submariner styling. But that's really the point - it looks like a Submariner, but clearly isn't. Which puts in the realms of the Toywatch brigade, or worse still, a cheap copy. And frankly, no self respecting traveller is going to be seen dead with one of them on their arm.