Tuesday 28 August 2012

Travel companion


These past few days have seen me traverse an extremely muggy Hong Kong. As great a guide as Susie is, the city is a mysterious one and there is just so much to discover just wandering the streets, looking up, around and inside. It is these discovered pleasures which the are best and after unearthing the sartorial sanctuary that is Moustache on my first visit and the carefully curated Kapok on my second, expectations are high on my latest hunt and the net has been cast over the entire city. My faithful, functional companion on each of my multiple excursions has been the Swedish army backpack that I snapped up at Strut Man last month. 

Lust at first sight in Strut Man.

Strut Vintage's knowledgeable owner Ariana Weldon was unusually stumped by the specific details and history of the backpack but that didn't deter me from falling for its obvious charms. As it proudly hung from the rail, it was lust at first sight. Packed with functional details, the backpack is still rigid and durable yet perfectly aged. Hard yet soft. Part of me feels like a giant turtle the moment it is slipped over my shoulders - I could happily live out of it for a while and feel right at home with it on. Now, I might not know anything about its past but I'm looking forward to exploring the present and the future with it. Here's to much more exploring and purposeful wandering...

Vintage backpack teamed with a work coat by Mr Gentleman (bought here in Hong Kong) and a white t shirt from Sunspel.

Monday 27 August 2012

Treasured Items... Simon Chilvers

As we are all shown glimpses in to the future with the unveiling of the SS13 season and as AW12 product lands on to many a shop floor, it is all too easy to become muddled and confused about the present and the past. Over the last year or so we've been asking a selection of our favourite menswear personalities to 'show and tell' their most treasured items with us. The series helps us to look back as opposed to continuously leaning forward. From wedding bands to battered sneakers, airport security puzzling bracelets to lost but not forgotten t shirts, we've shared the stories behind all manner of cherished objects.

In addition to helping us change the pace of the blog, the feature asks our invited guests to question their wardrobe and how they wear their clothes. Some treasured items have revealed themselves instantly but most have required a little more searching. For stylist and journalist Simon Chilvers, it was the latter. After much thought and searching (both wardrobe and soul), here Chilvers shares the tale of a well worn Marc by Marc Jabobs t-shirt...    

Simon Chilvers and the old favourite designer t shirt


"Apparently when it comes to clothes I am a bit of a slut. When asked to dish my wardrobe’s most treasured, I looked at the wardrobe only to realise that there really isn’t much in there that has enough history to quantify the “treasured” tag. Yes, there’s a pair of old jeans that I always carry in hand luggage because I’ve invested too much time wearing them in to lose them to a cheap airline, and there are some trusty basics always on rotation, but when it comes to talking point clothes most of them feel too new.

In the end I chose this old Marc by Marc Jacobs t-shirt not because it’s the most brilliantly designed thing in the world – I’m not even that crazy about clowns or white t-shirts – but because there’s something youthful and rock ‘n’ roll about it. I love its old battered look. I rolled around the floor of a marquee in it during a particularly wild dance routine at one of my friend’s birthday parties and it has the faded stains to prove it. 

It also reminds me of being on holidays with its faint whiff of suntan lotion. Being so worn in and baggy its become ideal for wearing on the beach, which is really the only time I wear it in public these days.

I hold various affections for the Marc label too. It was one of the first designer brands I hankered after. I liked its quirky graphics, it’s 1970s references – I still wear an old Marc sweatshirt with a drawing of a girl’s head poking over the top of a wall that I persuaded my mum to buy me from Harvey Nicks. Neither of us had ever been into Harvey Nicks before that.

On my first trips to New York, before there was a Marc store in London, I always went to the shop on Bleecker Street where they sold loads of old tat with the MJ initials on it – mirrors, pens, condoms. I thought it was brilliant. I also bought a pair of dark red leather shoes from there, which I wore to complete death.

I wear a t-shirt most days. I’ll wear shirts, though I prefer short-sleeve ones - the best are from Marni because they’re cut loose - but I’m much happier and more comfortable in a t-shirt. Though as I get older I suppose that might change.

My current favourites are an oversized one from KIDDA by Christopher Shannon – it’s grey, blue and paisley. It also features Christopher’s initials CS on it, which also happen to be my initials in reverse. Then there’s the Christopher Kane printed “turbine” tee, which is busy and has a slightly higher neck line than your average crew – it’s a small detail but a nice one. It looks great with dark jeans. And lastly, a Dries Van Noten purple ikat print t-shirt from spring/summer 2010 - that one is the t-shirt equivalent of a comfort blanket." Simon Chilvers.

Friday 24 August 2012

Puddle Conquering

The neck might be sun kissed and glowing as I type this but my heart and mind has already been transported to the upcoming seasons. Some of you might be clinging on to the warmth of summer but I long for those mornings from late September through to December where I can layer, wrap and envelop myself in an assortment of comfortable and practical fabrics. Wool, tweed, cashmere and leather all come in to their own. The body is no problem to protect but the feet are often left a little damp when puddle walking. Earlier this week I found the solution as provided by Swims in the form of their Charles Brogue. 

"Growing up with four distinct seasons in Norway, I never let go of the black rubber galoshes that my late grandfather passed on to me," explains Swims' founder Johan Ringdal on his invention of the modern galosh. Since this introduction to the market, the brand has expanded their collection to include a series of water resistant shoes. The goal has been to transform timeless styles in to even more practical options for the wettest of days. By marrying high density nylon and their signature rubber with a leather lining Swims have transformed the classic wing tip. There's more than a hint of the superhero about them...

A classic reimagined. These are puddle conquerors.

Thursday 23 August 2012

Midweek Reading... We Can Be Heroes


"I’ve had the negatives stashed away in the attic for all these years, the majority never printed, let alone published" admits the photographer and graphic designer Graham Smith who found himself at the vortex of creativity and youth cultures that spun out of the capital in the 1980s with camera in hand. Thankfully, these almost forgotten photographs were published by Unbound and the result is We Can Be Heroes. "As a teenager seeing The Clash and The Sex Pistols changed his life" he continues. Punks empowering message of 'Get up off your arse and do something creative' struck home. Whereas most picked up guitars, Smith's weapon of choice was his faithful Olympus OM 2 camera. "Then I shot the emerging London clubbing scene that rose from Punk’s ashes." From gigs to Soho nights and warehouse parties, Smith's images captured the potent youthful energy of London clubland from 1976 to 1984.

We Can Be Heroes offers much more than just a snapshot of a different time of partying. As well as around five hundred of Smith's photos (most unseen) and a supporting narrative from his good friend Chris Sullivan, there's an introduction from Robert Elms, memoirs by Boy George, Gary Kemp and Steve Strange and countless pithy quotes from more than fifty of the main faces on the scene, plus play lists for each of the clubs. It's a beautifully designed piece of social history told by those that created the scene. Whether you'd like to be reminded by these moments or simply inspired by a different time, this is a book to get lost in.

"So much has changed since Graham was fist a kid with a camera that it seems many worlds away. Looking again at these pictures after all these years, it's not just another lifetime but a different universe. Yet so many of the seeds of those changes, of the life we now lead, and the land we now live in, were planted in that couple of years, by that small group of overdressed, overheated youth hungry for fun and dressed for destiny."
Robert Elms on the impact of London Clubland in the early 80s

Just a small selection of Smith's images that caught my eye.

Thanks to the support of its readers the book was fully funded and released at the tail end of last year. If inspired (and you should be), you can still buy the book exclusively from Unbound.

Wednesday 22 August 2012

Universal Works x Millican

In the tumultuous seas of spurious, pointless and head scratchily strange collaborations, we desperately cling on to the rare examples of worthwhile match ups. The recent creative coming together of Universal Works and Millican is such an example. David Keyte of Universal Works discovered Millican bags after stumbling across the inspirational story of their namesake Millican Dalton. A self styled 'Professor of Adventure', the eccentirc outdoorsman lived a life of simplicity and self sufficiency. It is little wonder that the designer found inspiration in his tale which led Keyte to the brand. "Millican Bags share both his name and his passion for the outdoors and I love what they are doing," Keyte explains as he talks about the collaboration. Since its inception three years, Millican combines a passion for vintage travel bags, the outdoor life and all things functional with a shared passion for a more sustainable life. Both Universal Works and Millican share a passion for honest tradition whilst producing modern, functional and practical goods that will last. Ultimately, the considered range does what any good collaboration should, explore and expand on these similarities, individual strengths and areas of expertise of both brands to create truly covetable products. 

The resulting collection complements each brand's regular offering and inspired by classic carry solutions. Universal Works have reinterpreted Millican's acclaimed Courier Bag and Daypack and added two new silhouettes, a shopper and a holdhall, whilst staying true to their signature attention to detail in order to crate the perfect accessories for the modern adventurer. Just before the fruits of the collaboration land in stores and online, we caught up with David Keyte before taking a closer look at the functional beauties...


SS: How did this collaboration between the two of you arise, what was the catalyst and how did it evolve in to the collection we see today?
David Keyte: I was very interested in the story of Millican Dalton, the English eccentric outdoors man, and through that research I saw the Millican bags.  I loved the fact they had based their ideas on such an interesting guy,  I was in the market for a new bag myself and bought one of  their small courier bags.  I used the bag daily for a while and loved it.  I recommended the bags to friends of mine and through that we ended up helping Millican finding some sales in Europe, all this before we had ever met.  I then asked Jorritt if he would be interested to make some bags directly with us.  We loved what they did and thought it would be a great project to work on together.

SS: Both of you share a passion for honest tradition, while producing modern, functional and practical goods that will last and become long time favourites.How would you describe one another and what you both bring to one another?
David Keyte: I think we both come fro a place of understanding and loving traditional English products, but wanting to not make "old fashioned" products. Understanding heritage is important but I don't want to be defined by it.  We both want to produce bags that are more about style, form and function rather than short term fashion and I think this shows through with the collaboration.

SS: David, how did Millican Dalton inspire you?
David Keyte: I loved the way he chose his own destiny. He left many of the comforts of a normal home life to experience outdoor living in the beautiful and dramatic English lakes, he made his own clothes, he chose action over a sedentary life style and he was a proper English eccentric. And had a good beard!

SS: The collection sees Universal Works reinterpret two Millican favourites and add two new silhouettes.
David Keyte:  Yes we love the Millican range but wanted to add a couple of more urban bags.  The first is the tote bag, which is a favourite amongst men in Japan and Europe, and one of my personal favorites, and the second is a simple weekend bag - for me I will always use a good "nighter" bag

SS: Craft and local manufacture are obviously very important to you both and are dear to us too at Style Salvage. Can you talk us through some of the processes involved in creating the fruits of this collaboration
David Keyte: Small scale production and highly skilled makers are very important to us. At UW we try to make much of our production locally but that's not always possible as it simply does not exist for some types of product.  What is really important to us is ethical production,  quality make and a sustainable approach to manufacturing.

With this particular collaboration we worked with Millcan's existing fabric and manufacturing and used many of the great features they do so well. Having used their bags myself, it was easy to know what worked well and what I wanted to add.

SS: Finally, what's next for you? 
David Keyte: Continued collaborations and hopefully new fabrics and colours, but we want to have some longevity with the bags, so not too many new things - just enough to keep us busy!

However modern the interpretation of 'adventurer', I don't I could be call one - the only unchartered territories I venture are new designers but that didn't stop me from wanting to explore the fruits of this collection. So, I borrowed a few of my favourite styles for a little shoot in the park...


"This project shows that shared values and passion lead to great results. We're very grateful for the chance of bringing form and sustainable function together in this collaboration with Universal Works."
Millican's Jorrit Jorritsma describing their first collaboration as an inspirational project.

Monday 20 August 2012

Mr. Hare's At Large AW12

"In previous collections I have made a number of fine, elegant shoes for going out but there are some evenings that demand something that is both beautiful and hard," explains Marc Hare as he introduces his AW12 collection in the late afternoon hum of the Rivington Grill in Shoreditch. "This is especially true in the UK where your feet can often lead you in to dirt, grime and puddles of beer and who knows what else" adds Hare before taking another sip of wine and declaring, "I wanted to make some shoes that could deal with everything that could possibly be thrown at them on a good night and also deal with a long, cold and wet winter." It might be a gloriously warm and balmy afternoon but the haze of wine and spirits acts as the perfect backdrop for the shoe designer to reacquaint me with the carefully crafted, leather characters that make up the 'At Large' collection.

Mr. Hare has always a been a work in progress and this season sees our favourite shoe designer take another confident step forward. From season to season, there is a constant sense of evolution and at times revolution. One ever present facet is the personality of Marc Hare evident throughout. The debut collection was all about making the shoes that he had never quite found in his life, killer evening shoes that felt at home both on the dance floor and in the office. The sophomore collection concentrated on the designer looking fly whilst kicking it on the equator. The third crossed the English Channel for inspiration and focused our attention on his love of Paris and the French New Wave Film movement. In Ain't no App for That, Hare showcased shapes and materials that I've never come across before and most recently. Idolescents for AW11 was a reimagination of all of the shoes that he wanted as a teenager but could never afford in addition to all of the ones that he could afford made better. Last season was based on his favoured month of August and he drew on the colour, styles and inspirations encountered on his self-confessed one-month-a-year of glorious underachievement. With each season, Hare pushes the collection that bit more whilst revealing more about himself. In 'At Large' he addresses his need to have beautiful shoes that could tackle anything and everything Soho could throw at them. The beautiful coming together of sexy and functional is rare but thanks to a soundtrack of Gaz's Rockin Blues and memories of some of Soho's great characters washed down with rum sees the two opposities unite in a series of increasingly passionate embraces in a dark corner. Before we become voyeurs to this union with a pulse racing dose of shoe porn, we will tease you that bit by allow the designer to talk through the collection...

"After the experiments of Idolescents in the year previous we he used Vibram soles and experimented with different leathers, I wanted to make something more refined whilst still being able to do the same things. Following the success of the London shoe of last year we saw that we could make a beautiful shoe that is nice and heavy and wanted to take that on but mould other influences instead of it being a straight up policeman's shoe - they always have to be sexy. We wanted to take this Rockabilly styling. You'll see with the look book was shot in Gaz's Rockin Blues live on a Thursday night because that is the Soho night and that is the Soho club - the longest running one night club in the history of the world. Luckily we rocked up to the door and asked to come in to shoot, he said as long as we paid the entry fee we could do what we liked. So we went in and did it.

With this collection it was a consolidation of everything that had before it in a winter Mr. Hare collection made in to something that was ultimately practical in enabling people to do what they do, which is going out to Soho on a Thursday night  without worrying about trashing your shoes. The leathers are high shine so you can just wipe off the night's sediment matter when you get home with a damp cloth and the next day you'll be back to a brand new pair of shoes to help you start again. 

We've got all of the old classics in there but made with new materials so they can keep up. For example, there's Miller's with the same construction but with the addition of rubberised soles to deal with the weather and all manner of crap conditions. We've also added a new new last called Rico that is a shorter, wider but rounded, pointier last - it's the complete opposite to the Miller last which is long and elegant. It is shorter, stumpier and a little more aggressive and ready for action. There's six new style on it; Bacon, Deacon, Wilde, Cook, Freud and Bernard. In terms of the naming, some people say that 'all of the greatest drunks that ever walked in Soho' while others call them 'the greatest contemporary thinkers of their time in London.' My winter collections always tend to be personal and this one is specifically about Soho and certain places because when you do a proper night out, you end up in the Groucho, Gaz's and Jerry's. Simply put, they are the perfect shoes for a good night out."  
Mr. Hare on 'At Large'

A few styles from the aforementioned AW12 look book featuring Wilde, Deacon and Bacon.  

Before we share a closer look at the likes of Bacon, Wilde and Freud, we should introduce the 'harder, better, faster, stronger' versions of the Vonnegut, Stingray Orwell and Miller... 

Old friends, familiar yet different.

As mentioned, the new styles that join the evolved favourites above, appropriate the names from the real characters of Soho nightlife, old but not forgotten ghosts that lit up the debauched scene. During the showroom visit at the start of the year I can recall the work of photographer John Deakin accompanying the collection. Much as the British photographer chronicled the twilight world of 1950s and the original Brit Art stars who inhabited it, Hare's leather creations are his own personal portraits of these men.

"The Bacon is the Bacon because he was probably pissed most of the time and so would find it difficult doing a pair of laces up so it's got a monkstrap. The Wilde had to be called that because well, just look at it, it's the shoe he would have worn. The Cook takes its queue from him being so practical and again, when I look at Freud, I see him."

My shoe affections violently bounce from Wilde (top) to Deacon (centre) to Freud (below).

When the time comes each season when the latest Mr. Hare collection drops, my body and mind have gone through a precise and now well rehearsed process. The eyes bulge, the heartbeat quickens and the mind becomes filled with shoe lust. There is so much to covet but the current favourite is the Freud boot and Hare himself shares my enthusiasm but is always looking forward.

"When you start a shoe from scratch they always feel that bit more special, the Kerouac was like that in the very first season and that was the case with the Freud this season. That said, I get as much enjoyment out of refining older styles as I do introducing new ones. They all get refined in the future. The new Miller for this season is undoubtedly the best because every little detail has been honed and tweaked from the knowledge gained both in terms of previous incarnations and from other styles - there are about six shoes which have been compacted in to the new Miller to make it the ultimate. You live and learn. I've never made a secret of the fact that it is a learning process. Previously, as we had been reusing the Miller last in a number of executions I realised its limitations and so we brought in the new Rico last which takes care of them. Now we have two lasts which essentially can cover any classic. The Miller is our Oxford and the Rico is our Derby. I'm excited. It is all about development and striving forward, there's so much more that I want to do."

Despite the whirlwind of success that has seemingly enveloped Mr. Hare since the brand's inception, Hare himself isn't satisfied. Always moving and learning, he's hungry for more and so are we. Here's to getting fat from his shoes... 

Saturday 18 August 2012

A visit to... Strut Man

"I grew up doing car boot sales and trawling charity shops and that's mine and my mum's favourite thing to do," Ariana Weldon explains as she proudly stands in the latest offshoot of her family's passion. "You can spend an entire day trawling and not uncover anything but then at the last moment you find something that is absolutely amazing - it's the best feeling. It's why at times, I find it hard letting things go because we've spent so much time looking for them." At a time when the oft overused term 'vintage' can mean anything from dust blanket tailoring to high street wares only a year or two old, Strut Vintage has established itself as a retail haven of well sourced beautiful items from past seasons. The fruits of Ariana and Hanna's shared enthusiasm enticingly hangs on each and every one of their rails. 

Strut Vintage originally comprised of one boutique in Stoke Newington which housed both men's and women's wear with an accent on high-end designers and luxurious vintage pieces. Almost five years on this boutique remains one of the very few consignment stores in London but thankfully for us, the Strut duo haven't rested on their rails of well curated stock. Just last year Strut on Broadway was born. A modern take on the original, this boutique just off of Broadway Market, focuses more on the avant-garde set with pieces from Yohji Yamamoto, Jean Paul Gaultier, and Comme des Garçons alongside classic gems from Chanel to Ossie Clark. The latest addition to the Strut dynasty is Strut Man, Launched at the tail end of July on Stoke Newington Church Street, this menswear boutique aims encapsulates everything that has become synonymous with the Strut brand - carefully curated one off pieces from some of the most prominent designers of our time all housed in an inviting environment. When vintage shopping has become synonymous with crammed rails of all things retro and musk filled rags, Strut's desire to showcase only hand selected quality items can seduce even the most age cautious. 

"Ever since we opened Strut, almost five years ago now, we've wanted to have a menswear store but just didn't find the right space for it. In the end it was right under our noses because we were using this space for another store and really, it was ideal for menswear. 

To be honest, I think I might even get more of a buzz from menswear. I love menswear and we either find it one of two ways, amazingly pristine or really worn so when you do find it amazing condition it is even more special. We had menswear in the Broadway Market store and so many men were shopping with us and appreciated our offering but wished there was even more. In Stoke Newington the only menswear store is Hub which is great but we wanted to spice up the area that bit more. 

Over the course of the last couple of weeks since the shop has been open, we've met so many guys out with their girlfriends who now have a place to shop. We've intentionally made the space as welcoming as possible, it's a place to meet and to talk through the new stuff."
Ariana on the the evolution of their latest store.

Now, I could happily wax lyrical about the store and recount Ariana's love of menswear but I'd only bore you, the best way to get a feel of the place is to explore it. Strut Man is a store that affords discoveries at every turn and below are a few of the items that caught my wanting eye...

Just a few of the things that caught my eye inside to Strut Man.

With a welcoming and comfortable environment that offers a working pin ball machine, a selection of my favourite magazines and all manner mouth watering design talent from Raf to Comme, Dries to Gautier and Issey to Acne the store offers surprises and forgotten gems at every turn. It is my kind of vintage and thankfully it is only just a short jaunt from my flat. However, those of you less fortunate do not despair and tame your green eyed monster with the news that Strut Vintage will soon launch an online store. "The garments that will go up on the online store will be the more archive pieces and anything that we think is extra special and deserves that wider audience," explains Ariana as she carefully wraps up my Raf Simons sweater. "Also, we are introducing a few new, young designers and helping them showcase new lines. For us, the more people that are working on this project, the more exciting it becomes." Given the evolution of Strut Vintage it should come as little surprise that Ariana and Hanna have much more in store for us. Here's to their vintage retail revolution. 


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