Sunday, 31 October 2010

The North Face Purple Label Gore Tex trenchcoat: somebody shoot me

I really ought to be careful of what I wish for. Some time ago, around the time I was daydreaming about creating my own clothing label or something similar, I remember posting on this very blog of my desire for a trenchcoat made of Gore Tex, and my amazement that no one had thought to produce one.

In my rose-tinted daydream I imagined a brand of integrity to pick up the baton, someone of the likes of Visvim, or Albam, even Dunhill. Someone who could do the piece justice.

My call has been answered, by the North Face.

You wouldn't see anything by the North Face in my wardrobe, but that's mainly because they produce garments in the volumes that Bic produces pens. But they are quite handy in the manufacture of generic black nylon jackets with no particular shape.
And they've done some stuff with Supreme.

This doesn't mean they can produce a trench. Old it might be, but the cut of the trenchcoat has undergone many subtle variations in its time and to do it well is akin to gourmet bangers and mash - it might seem pretty basic but the proof is in the flavour.

This does not look like a tasty bangers and mash. This isn't even Wall's microwave sausages and smash. This would make the designer of those first Aquascutum Great War officer-issue coats turn in his grave.

This is sacrilege. I truly wish I'd never mentioned a Gore Tex trenchcoat.

Shapeless, hanging in all the wrong places, too long, and if I'm not mistaken devoid of that classic trench feature, the gunflap to the shoulder, fer chrissakes.

Before you turn around and tell me you actually like this, just have a flick on and see how it should be done.

Friday, 29 October 2010

Outlier Liberated Wool Peacoat: button gloom

Peacoats are one of those garments which are fine in principle. The trouble is that in practicality they are useless. It's the double breast fastening - seems quite smart but then just try to get all those buttons done up when you're in a hurry, or undone. And there's that inside button that you can never quite reach to fasten, but if you don't the inner flapp slips down and you look like a wino.

So I gave peacoats up a long time ago. Left them to the sailors.

And then Outlier released this, its Liberated Wool Peacoat, which is manufactured with 2.5 layer technology for weather and windproofness and has an engineered fit for on-the-bike comfort. The wool also stretches.

The most technical peacoat I've seen in a long time and fair play to Outlier for coming up with it. They are, by all accounts, quite proud of their invention.

But the fact is, this is still a peacoat, with all that button fussin'. Which is going to be even more of a chore when you need to ride somewhere in a hurry. I'll make do with a zip, cheers.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Racing stripes part two: Visvim Fabro Folk loafers

I had actually given up on getting a pair of these. First spotted on their inaugral release quite a few seasons ago, they were an instant hit for me, but in true Visvim style were only available from the FIL store in Tokyo as an exclusive.

About a year later they turned up on general release, with a price tag that made my blood run cold, and certainly way over the 'buy now deal with it later' benchmark I set for shoes.

This summer Hiroki Nakamura incorporated them into his motor racing themed collection by adding some go faster stripes to the heels, and now I have a pair. They're known as the SII, makes them sound sporty.

I know the summer is but a fading memory and the rest of us are thinking boots, but as far as my feet are concerned, it's 90 degrees out there.

Racing stripes part one: The Bond watch strap

I knew that racing stripes would be coming into my wardrobe sooner or later and so they have. This watch strap was actually an affordable way to sort out my Submariner without laying out £400 on a new stainless steel bracelet. The plan was to use it sparingly to help the original bracelet last longer, and also to refurbish the bracelet while it's off.

But I'm growing quite fond of it and there is obviously the James Bond nod (he wore a similar strap on his sub in Doctor No, in the days before M kitted him out with a Seiko).

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Winter riding: Wrap up Boris

This post has been prompted by the arrival of Boris to a nippy Sunday morning constitutional ride in a pair of shorts, fingerless mitts and NO SOCKS. Now there isn't much that would put Boris in a bad mood, even at 6am when the temperature is struggling to push past two degrees. And to give him his due he didn't once bemoan the lack of cold weather gear, apart from to mention that he couldn't feel his fingers on a couple of occassions.

But that didn't stop me from worrying about his toes falling off, especially when the dawn began to break and the frost started glistening on the roofs of the cars.

So here, Boris, is a list of the things you need to make what is already an unnatural thing to do on a Sunday morning, in a self-harm kind of way, that little bit more comfortable.

In order of importance:

Over socks: Your hands will eventually get the blood flowing to them but your feet will remain like blocks of ice around the ride. The oversocks go, as the name suggests, over your shoes, providing a degree of warmth and protection from the rain and mud. They might also help your aerodynamics a bit.

Gloves: Not fingerless padded mits with nice holes for air circulation. You need windproof and preferably breathable. Not quite as essential as oversocks because your hands will eventually warm up with exercise. But they might prevent quite a bit of pain, and you’ll be able to wipe the snot from your nose without it freezing to your hand.

Windproof jacket (above): Preferably waterproof too, and possessing of a little warmth, but the wind is what will do the damage and you need to keep your core warm. Get a gillet otherwise.

Winter tights: You’re going to look like a superhero with them on, but they will keep your legs toasty with their fleece backing and add a bit of that all important windproofing. If you want to keep your crown jewels intact, don’t wear shorts.

Wool hat: Or something to cover your ears at least. You know that ache when that wind blows down your ear canal. But make sure it isn’t too chunky, because you’ll want to get your helmet over the top of it.

Neck gaiter: You could consider this a luxury, but when the temperature really dips you’ll be pleased you have something to pull up over your mouth, even if the result is steamed up glasses and kissing the rear end of a bus. But hey, at least you’ll have a warm mush.

Ten points for guessing that I have linked to Rapha for all this gear. But that's because it is the best there is, and I can vouch for it. Other more inferior brands are available, but they won't keep you as warm, or as good looking. And thanks to Rapha for the pictures. I hope I can repay you in sales. With any luck, from Boris.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

London to Paris: Fixed on the finish

London to Paris on a track bike? Not a chance sunshine. That's what they invented derailleurs for.

These fixed gear nuts might be bit mental but there's no doubt they are made of stern stuff, as this video shows.

Director Grace Ladoja has captured the mood perfectly, and also offers an insight into why cycling is such a universally uniting pastime.

I plan to do this very ride next year, but there's no way I'm going fixed for it.

I was unable to embed the video but you can watch it here.

You can almost feel their pain.

 Via Freshness

Monday, 25 October 2010

Unkle The Runaway: Nipples in the dark


The new Unkle video had my undivided attention for longer than I expected. I think it was the promise of a glimpse of nipple to be honest.

I wasn't disappointed, even though it would have been quicker to have turned to Page 3 of the Sun. But that wouldn't have been anywhere near as subtle.

This also happens to be one of my favourite tunes off the Where Did the Night Fall album, which as with everything James Lavelle puts out, I never tire of.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

White Mountaineering: climbing up the outerwear hit parade

For a brief moment last week I did wonder if White Mountaineering might rival Visvim for my outerwear affections this winter. Until I found that Moncler V jacket I was telling you about.

All the same, I reckon this could be the most promising brand to come out of Japan for a good few years. Nice understated lines, muted colours, thoughtful details and that underlying utility element that will ensure that you are bound to favour it above other, less weather-friendly, options.

Then there is the availability. I can actually only think of The Glade as I write, which makes White Mountaineering even harder to find than you-know-what.

If you wanted more convincing, here is a look at this winter's down jacket.

Just look at the pockets. One for every day of the week.

You can find White Mountaineering at The Glade

Via Freshness

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Visvim Alta: Going, going ...

This time last year I couldn't stop thinking about my Visvim Alta jacket. I marvelled at the wonder of Windstopper, the associations the style of jacket had with Steve McQueen and Will Smith in I am Legend among many others.

So taken was I by this garment that I even documented the unpacking of it.

But that was last year. And while I still regard it among the top five absolute classic jackets of all time, it always did come up a bit snug, and when that Moncler V jacket turned up, it was the least painful to get rid of.

And here it is, coming to the end of its auction on Ebay. Bid now or forever hold your peace. 

Friday, 22 October 2010

Maserati bike: Nice to look at

It isn't easy translating the engineering quality of motoring on to pedal cycles. I remember an Audi bike once that was an abomination, and even Bianchi's Ducati line left a lot to be desired.

Makes you think that these companies should just stick to what they're good at.

But Montante haven't done a bad job with their Maserati tribute bikes. There are a couple of sit-up-and-beg lady rider numbers which aren't pictured here, and then there is this single speed affair.

The dropped handlebars offer that track bike appeal, but the sheer detail and craftsmanship of the thing (the frame is wood and the bike will have your name etched onto it) leaves me thinking that this isn't really a bike to be ridden as much as looked at.

Which is really what a lot of Maserati owners do with their cars, seeing as they aren't the most reliable on the road.

Probably why they need this bike, actually.Via Freshness

Room service: A good career move

It isn't all bad working as a hotel porter. You're going to encounter your fair share of shit pits for sure, and given that some people prefer to check in to a hotel to check out of mortality you might well see some corpses too.

But then, one day, you will knock on the door and Megan Fox will answer it. Then as you lay her breakfast out she'll shimmy off to get changed with the door open.

And for that brief moment you will regard your job as the best career move you ever made.

Via Finest designs

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Selectism and David Fischer: Vorsprung Durch Technique (or something like that)

I think Selectism might have been one of the first decent blogs I became aware of. There isn't a lot to it - straight forward info on new clothing and style developments, but it's presented in a manner that implies organisation and co-ordination.

No surprise that it comes out of Berlin, really. Can you think of anything that's come out of Germany that isn't efficient? Just look at Audi.

And that's what I want from a style blog - straight forward, no nonsense German reliability. Informative and delivered to my inbox before I wake up.

So it was nice to discover that the success of Selectism and its bedfellow Highsnobiety is down to quite a nice chap called David Fischer, who has developed the blog into a complete retail operation.

Such a success is it that Gant has made a film about David as part of its promotion of its Michael Bastion designed collection.

It gives me a kind of hope for the future of Openzedoor. Although the reliability side might require a little German engineering.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Andre Mr A pendant: Something to smile about

I don't know whether I like this Andre pendant because his little Mr A trademark character makes for an unusual piece of jewellery with an edgy vibe or because it is laid thoughtfully across a particularly nice arse.

I'm quite sure Mr A would look equally at home nestled between an ample cleavage, something that is sure to bring a smile to anyone's face.

I'm sure this must be Andre's idea. I don't know the bloke but I hear he is a hit with the ladies over in Paris.

It's made of silver as well, which I find does tend to sit well with exposed flesh.

Available from Cement sometime in December.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Moncler V Collection: Taking the high ground

OK I admit it. I was wrong to think for one minute that Hiroki Nakamura's Visvim collaboration with Moncler was a mistake.

But I didn't have a lot of faith in Moncler back in February. For me it was a jumped up ski brand offering nothing but puffy jackets favoured by moonboot wearers.

So little interest did I have that I hadn't even bothered to find out if it was actually any good. After all, it has been around since 1852, so it must know a thing or two about keeping people warm up mountains.

But it now has my full attention - initiated by the Visvim announcement and then by the release of the Gamme Bleu collection, which welcomed the dandy back to cycling, complete with racing stripes.

This brand obviously a bit more than a pink puffa up its sleeve, and I can now vouch for the quality myself after I picked up one of the Moncler V Wasi jackets the other day. It was the Action Man mountaineer thing that got me.

This collection might be more Visvim style and manufacture with Moncler branding, but it does the trick for me. Pics of the jacket to follow, but in the meantime feast your eyes on this high altitude selection and try to stop yourself mounting an expedition to Liberty to grab something of your own.