Sunday, January 29, 2012


Every now and then, you gotta’ do something you really hate. Something that sticks up in your nose and won’t go away.

The B-level actor scaled the stairs to the studio. The staircase was cold and grey and the cement held the glossiness that a polishing of light feet will leave, as if liquid flowed down the steps and out the door. He entered the studio to the “embrace” of a white sheet and bright, painful lights. If the B-level actor were not a B-level actor, he would’ve called it something less cliché and more appropriate than an “embrace”. Magazine promotionals often helped people’s careers. Too bad they were shitty.
The guy in charge of the shoot - maybe it was the fashion director, maybe it was a stylist, or maybe it was the guy who wrote the money column; who-the-fuck knows these days – greeted the actor. The magazine would be promoting a new movie that the actor played in and hopefully would pump some much-needed gas into the actor’s career.

The actor was walked over to where the S/S ’12 stuff was, stuffed in a brown trunk. The guy in charge was talking with a quick pace that bad comedians do to get as much joke in as possible. “Have you seen the new spring oh-twelve shit yet? It’s sooo good. Really, the designers these days know how to use textures and toned down colors that aren’t too harsh and don’t wash you out. You’ve got a great complexion for this shoot because we don’t have anything more radical than a brownish green.”
The guy in charge asked the actor to strip down to his underwear, so the interns could help him change into what they wanted him to wear for the shoot. The actor breathed deeply, knowing it would be one of the last fresh breaths he would have for some time. One of the interns walked over to the trunk and opened it. “Such nice shit,” the guy in charge said.

The shit smelled like, well, shit. There were gobs of dark brown, logs of a nutty ochre, liquid lumps of a brown tinted with orange, and, like the guy in charge said, dumps of a brownish green. One intern, with his nose wrinkled, picked up a gob of dark brown and began to apply it to the actor’s leg. Another picked up a loaf of the nutty ochre and draped it over the actor’s shoulder.

So the photo shoot began.

After the shoot, the actor went straight to a convenience store, per the recommendation of a fellow actor, to pick up some supplies so that he could get the poop smell out of his nostrils and excrement taste out of his mouth. The magazine offered him a shower, which he accepted, but the smell of turd is hard to be rid of. The actor walked to the snack aisle and picked up a bag of Cheetos, the spicy kind and the best way to get rid of the side effects of the shoot. A mentally handicapped man stocked shelves a few paces down from the actor.

The man grinned at no one in particular, perhaps at the actor, and hummed along to “Centerfold” which fuzzed in the background. He was happy that he’d be eating something his mom had cooked, and not some crappy bag of Cheetos. Cheetos are gross and the powdered cheese gets everywhere.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Sam Franklin Product Reviews


Sunday, January 22, 2012


The man sat at his computer and flipped through the images of the F/W 2012 collections that had been touted by photographers looking for marketing jobs. He selected the ones he liked and stored them in his email.

The next day he awoke. It was cold and gusty and it might have been snowing. He walked down the street smiling with his collar popped up to ward against Jack Frost, and, just like in the commericals, he walked into Kinkos. He printed the images off in large, blanket-like sizes. He carried them home, under his arm. The paper whipped in the wind and made ripping noises. The paper held. His collar kept his neck warm and reminded him to keep his head down.

The next day he awoke. It was cold and gusty and it might have been snowing. In his warm house, he picked up a blanket-sized photo of an Italian made moleskin jacket. He taped it over his naked chest. He picked up a photo of work trousers. He taped it over his naked legs. He taped a F/W 2012 scarf to his neck. He taped a pair of F/W 2012 boots to his feet. He taped a F/W hat to his head.

He walked down the street grimacing at the cold. Jack Frost blew and ripped at the paper. He was glad when he arrived at his destination. No wonder Kodak filed Chapter 11. F/W 2012 wasn’t that warm.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

(capsule) Umbro

In culture, there is often a need to create definition and by extension, a dichotomy. With the amateur menswear writing proliferating on the web, one could say that some of these writers hold the conception that menswear is at war with streetwear. Zealots roll out with their guns and complain about men at work with a t-shirt and AF1s and make idealistic rules for people to abide by, no exceptions (take in point Ron Paul’s scary foreign policy - yea, it sounds great but...). This conception is attributed to a rebellion against the casual friday’s and dad jeans brought on by the dot com boom.

After wandering around (capsule) NY for a while, looking at the suppliers and the buyers, I can put that dichotomy at rest in my mind after doubting it for sometime. Streetwear brands next to workwear brands next to Italian brands; the only discrimination that defines the buyers and their brands is the amount of money their customers have to spend (and in this case, a lot). Shops aren’t going to limit their supplies to a certain set of people. They want every age and taste walking into their shop as long as their customers have money to blow and are looking to find their own definition in their garments. The buyer at (capsule) wants to sell clothes to people that care about clothing (hence the price point). He/she doesn’t care if you find yourself in a preset definition like Ivy or Workwear or if you make it up as you go.

Those guys who create these “objective” rules can tell you how to dress into a certain societal role. If you want that, then they’re making your life easier. If you define yourself, then you probably already define how you dress. Preaching to the choir.

Take this example to do away with that false dichotomy, Umbro (purchased awhile back by Nike) showed their streetwear collection, 1350, at (capsule). Umbro doesn’t seem like a brand that an idealist categorizer would take to, given their casualness.

I talked with the guys about how Umbro used to make many of the youth soccer jersey that kids like me would wear on saturdays and their re-invented Rio short. The new Rio short is longer than I remember, with a coin pocket. I asked if they would ever consider shortening the inseam but they said that their consumer isn’t really looking for a shorter inseam. I found this odd as we’ve seen the typical short inseam gravitate towards short rather than long. Shorts below the knee are usually only sold to college bros and high school kids. This doesn’t seem like the inseam that the market catered to at (capsule) would pick up on. They told me their price point, which looked to be around $40. Compared to the rest of the brands at (capsule), this was cheap.

I took a look at their site when I arrived home and it explained a lot. The look book gives off a punk soccer hooligan vibe, with heavily tatooed models wearing Umbro shirts and jeans, and perhaps the line was intended for the hooligan. The price point certainly backs up this theory, as I can’t imagine a soccer hooligan (there are a few in the states - usually packed tightly in a corner of an otherwise unoccupied MLS stadium) spending more than $40 on a shirt (unless it’s a team jersey) or buying a short that has an inseam of 6”.

Does Umbro really have the exclusivity that many buyers at (capsule) are looking for? Given the internet store powered by Nike, it’s not hard to get ahold of. Buyers certainly weren’t crowding the booth when I was around. While I can appreciate what the Umbro brand is doing (turns out my little brother, a soccer hooligan, picked up some of their gear a while back), I don’t think they were in quite the right place. Umbro seems like the sort of brand that would be very successful selling to fan shops and sporting wear shops rather than many of the shops that attended (capsule). They guys at the booth had a respect for the sport and the Umbro brand and I’d hate for their product to go unappreciated.

I snapped a pic of their old Man U replica (anyone else see that own goal? Ha).


Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Eternal McNairy

Mark McNairy has been in full-swing for some time now. Basic blahblah bucks and classics introductions stand aside, as I’m assuming you know a general outline of his work by now. The question is: can he remain in full-swing? Can he, like he once claimed, “take it to the next level” above Ralph Lauren. Perhaps he will. We will probably see whether he can or not in the next two years. However, looking at his past work, we can see how adaptive he has been since he started at JPress and make conjectures at his ability to be beyond trends.

It should be noted that McNairy had a history before JPress. It was with Finis, a women’s sportswear line in the late 80s and early 90s. I’ve been trying to find various imagery from his time there but the internet has failed me. He showed up in a NYT piece during his period there. The article is discombobulated and makes little sense. I hope I write more clearly than Woody Hochswender but the breaks make me think the article may have been broken apart before uploaded to the internet.

In between Finis and JPress, McNairy lent his services to 68 & Brothers and SHIPS. I haven’t been able to identify any of his work for either brand (this looks highly suspicious but I’m not going to make wild claims just because there’s a SHIPS 3 button sack jacket on SF from a few years ago). Both labels are Japanese which is why in many early interviews (as in mid to late 2000s) he cites Japan as one of his primary markets. I’m sure you’ve seen some SHIPS stuff at some point. The 2011 S/S lookbook contains some shoes reminiscent of McNairy. Or perhaps more than reminiscent if you attribute the revival of the chunky leather dress shoe to McNairy. Well, him and Tricker’s and those english blokes who take shots at US menswear because we’re kinda’ flighty.

68 & Bros is more of a page out of McNairy’s book, with baggy military cargos and coaches jackets sold alongside oxfords and madras tote bags. McNairy once described his uniform as a thrifted BB oxford button down, military chinos or the like, and a pair of well-made shoes. Both 68 & Bros and SHIPS either heavily influenced McNairy or McNairy heavily influenced them. I’m guessing the latter though I will attest that the oxford/military pant/heavy shoe look is not exclusive to McNairy. [However, given his description in the 1990 article, he has been doing it for sometime].



Named the creative director at JPress in 2005, a portion of people would say that McNairy reinvigorated the brand. He took the ivy look that old men had been shopping for years, threw in the signature ‘fuck you’ and ran with it. He managed to keep the typical JPress customer (old dude) and attract new ones by going back to the basics. He continued to offer the consistency that had kept many men coming back to JPress for years and he also offered the, now cliche, old with a twist. If you noticed, he kept the JPress demand high by not over doing the production runs of the “twisted” garments, a model brands like Supreme prescribe to like Prozac. The non-staples were never on shelves long enough to cause brand stagnation because consumers liked the stuff enough to wash the slate clean every couple months.


It is fair to say that McNairy knows prep, as he name drops Ben Silver (a well kept secret or a shitty internet precense) and nails the difference between northern and southern prep in a food interview. He took this knowledge and applied it to JPress. His work at JPress appears to be much more of the old McNairy from his NC upbringing than the workwear that we've seen him occasionally produce.


While at JPress it should be mentioned that he never succumbed to the ‘skinny jean’ fever, as you notice the stuff JPress offered was never slimmed down (UO collab doesn’t count). Perhaps fit was messed with slightly, but it still resembled a sack of potatoes. McNairy, at this point in time, could be called ahead of what is now considered a trend (that is, thick shoes, heavy khakis, and oxfords).


McNairy also said, "SID MASHBURN IS A CUNT. SPREAD THE GOSPEL." on AskAndy. McNairy, a loose cannon, was probably what JPress, previously sleepy and uncharming, needed.

From here, we all know what happened, he worked with Bass, Walk-Over, Pro-Keds, Engineered Garments, launched McNairy New Amsterdam, and attained the throne of designing WWM. He made the buck really popular and started to incorporate a lot of what appears to be a streetwear/workwear hybrid into his New Amsterdam work. The buck has now attained a streetwear status as it is paired with camo cargos and chambray. Recent photos of McNairy’s work show a New Era logo hanging off of a heel of a navy buck. McNairy has taken the new project of working with Timberland and he appears poised to take Timberland boots back to the status they once held.


Will McNairy’s work get sucked into the played out? He is doing a ton of work currently and oversaturation ought to be a concern.

I think not. Here’s why.

Mark McNairy knows how to adapt to just about anything but one thing stays the same: the unique McNairy fit. He has shown himself able to do prep, workwear, streetwear, and a little bit of Anglo-Italian. Occasionally McNairy will swing to slim but he regularly keeps things mid to loose fitting. He is never skinny. He does himself and doesn’t chase trends (see his desire to bring bucks back in interviews previous to bucks actually being back via his mentioning that no one sells bucks anymore) but also knows to listen to the sales (see JPress knit ties). He is very much like the decade-crossing-hip-hop stars, even to the extent that he makes clothes that they would have worn and are wearing and will be wearing. He does himself while keeping his ear to the ground. Rappers who want to stay in the game know that adaptability and knowing their self is key. It's not about staying relevant, it's about knowing you're going to stay relevant. So does McNairy.



[See there?]

McNairy works with brands at all sorts of price points. Pro-Keds was <$100. Much of his own line is >$200. He keeps himself fresh by working with classics other than the previously transversed (see Timberland and the what I would consider new classic, New Era). Some would say that McNairy is just feeding us the same crap we were fed for the past 50 years. I believe that is culture's problem, the one where we have trouble creating new art, and not McNairy's. Bug off. He's a lot better at feeding us the same crap than many others.


[Apparently branding is OK if it's done ironically?]

If one of McNairy’s work falls into the over-done it won’t matter because his work is so spread out. Spread your cash, man. Don’t bank on one thing. McNairy plays this game well.

Sid Mashburn be damned, McNairy will be here for awhile.

[I stole these photos from everywhere. Sorry.]

Monday, January 9, 2012

Flannel Parka

My favorite article of clothing that I’ve had I don’t even own any more. I started wearing it when I was four and outgrew it when I was six or so. It wasn’t my Gymboree safari vest that I loved and wore during the spring and summer, though that one was a favorite because I figured there might be a chance that an archeologist would mistake me for an assistant and pick me up in a jeep and we’d go digging for dinosaurs together. The vest had animals on it which made it less professional looking but I figured that archeologists where so concerned with dinosaurs that they wouldn’t know the difference.

Nah, my favorite article of clothing came out during the fall, when we’d go hiking and attend Jr. Park Ranger programs at the local state parks. It was a flannel parka. Not the sort of hooded button-front shirt that streetwear brands tried selling a few seasons ago, but a parka that was thick enough to keep out the drizzles that fell through the pine canopy. That parka was dope and I knew it. It was the sort of thing that you could go chasing salamanders in the stream and not worry about it getting wet or you could wear around your grandparents even if they were the type who became upset when their grandchildren dressed rattily. I spent many afternoons running through the woods with my brother in it. It was very cliché in a Watterson sort of way. Those woods are beautiful.

When playing in those woods, I always had an unspoken rule. I would never let my house out of my sight. If I could see the yard and a patch of grey siding, then we were golden, but if I couldn’t, I would become uncomfortable and retrace my steps. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to find my house once I had lost it. I was worried that if I made it back, the house might be burnt down or mom might have disappeared. I would rediscover landmarks and find my way, nothing changed. But now I am unsure why I needed this rule. I’m pretty good at direction and usually can find my way back once I have traveled out a distance. Looking back on it, I think that rule that I kept was probably bogus. I could have gone on many more exciting adventures, discovering all sorts of cool stuff, and still managed to find my way home. Untold adventures, I suppose.

People always talk about not losing themselves and remembering where they came from. Movies are all about this lesson. I understand where these people are coming from but I think they’re at the level I was at when I was four. They tend to be reluctant to let themselves out of their sights. They lack projection. They worry that if they do project, then they won’t be able to find their way back. However, once you travel one way and you don’t like where you’re at, you can always travel back to yourself. Things might look different. The lawn might be cut or the siding may have grown moldy; but home is still there. Decay and change might have happened even if you stuck around.

You’ll find your way back. You don’t need technology to remember how to track your steps and find your landmarks, but it helps if you have a fucking awesome flannel parka on. Wish someone would make one. I’d cop. Inna’ second.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Scarf Snarf

In the most recent months, I have left the complaining to others more willing to post often and to call people mean names. 'Cept this one really bothers me enough to voice an opinion.


Everyone and their mother knows this guy as that guy.

But he's most certainly not the only that guy. People less "avant-garde" (is that really what he calls his style of body adornment?) than Danny-Dan-The-Style-Man commit the same infraction. I have seen look-books and WIWT blogs commit this off-beat method of wearing a scarf.

Wearing a scarf without any sort of coat is not cheddar. The look is unfinished and results in a bizarre neck-tumor silhouette. The scarf is meant to fill the space between the overcoat lapels and a thin scarf also looks fine stuffed in the neck space of a wool suit, sportcoat, or blazer. But wearing a scarf without any sort of coat gives no set boundaries to be filled. It's like wearing a condom around the house.

While I'm not going to rip a scarf off of a non-coat wearing stranger when I see one, I would take note of this before you step outside deciding to wear a giant scarf over a shirt. You will look unfinished if you do so. If that's what you want? Fine.

Picture from TSB.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Dirty Wash

Some days I want to just bury my head. I want to bury my head in a comic book. I want to bury my head in an album. I want to bury my head in a construct. I want to bury my head in a false reality where Schopenhauer was completely correct. Luckily, I’m still a student and have the opportunity to do this.

Anyway, I’ve been dealing with the problem of the dirty wash. It does some things very well. It can evoke a rainy day, a cold winter, or a bleary mood. However, it’s really hard to get a dirty wash to be a hot, sweltering day.

Gipi is fantastic at the bleary day dirty wash.


His rain and cold is driving away and covering up all that you once knew. But summer really isn’t about the sad, mourning of what is lost and what you are losing. And I’m not sure Gipi ever even attempts the mood and setting of summer.

Novgorodoff attempted something like a hot summer day dirty wash.


She never really is able to reach that warmth. She is forced to use light yellow and blue watercolor to achieve the bright morning that shows early in her book, Slow Storm.

Eisner is the obvious first choice for warm summer days shown in a dirty wash. And he does it well.


However, I still don’t think that this is what I’m looking for. When Eisner shows a summer day, it is harsh in its contrast. When the contrast appears, it’s in a light brown and a dark sepia (most of his later work was published in sepia on a tan page), two fairly soft colors, that manage to create two totally different tones; which look oddly less than soft and cause the panels to end up harsh and with an almost masculine sort of distancing. Eisner’s dirty washes portraying hot summer seem to set the groundwork for Alex Kim, Jeff Smith, and Jason whose work always has a sort of air-conditioned feel to it. These artists work completely in a hard black and a blank white. And will only submit their work to a colorist if they feel the work needs it. These stark contrasts merely imply that the sun is shining brightly and that environment definition is clear.

Heat is a problem that seems to be only solved by the characters and by absurd cartooning (cold has the same problem but snow solves it for the most part). It can be drawn into the environment, like heat coming off the blacktop shown by heat “waves”, or the can be emoted by the character, like dripping sweat. Neither of these things is inherent in the environment. If you were a realist, you would not draw wavy lines coming up from pavement or flecks of sweat as big as an eyeball falling off a person. Heat has to be shown as an exaggeration of real life.

Dirty washes, while properly conveying a drab and dreary day and impending doom, do not do a good job of conveying a hot day. Maybe some one will come along and figure a way to correctly use a dirty wash for a summer day, but I haven't seen it. Until then, I figure we must be patient until the cartooning world solves this problem (if you would even call it that as it's more of a personal desire to fit something into a place where it doesn't belong).

How does this apply to you and how you put clothes on in the morning? If you have to think about how to pull something off, maybe you should give your self more time to sort it out. Contrivance is born out of impatience. Take the time to work things out. Lay everything out in your mind, select examples, and think long and hard before you decide something is actually better.