October 31, 2009

Introducing R6: a First Look

“Clash” typically carries a negative connotation, but not when two diametrically opposed brands lay one hand on contemporary menswear and the other on traditional craftsmanship.

In 1995 the influential Scottish designer, Kenneth MacKenzie founded his menswear label 6876, which bears a subtle but significant meaning: the French student riots of 1968 and the birth of punk in 1978.

Like the subtlety of the name brand, Kenneth has impacted the UK men’s fashion industry through subtle detailed tailoring.

The Regent Belt Company has been perfecting the art of accessories for the past 40 years through Northampton craftsmanship, traditional artisans, Italian leather, and quality trimmings like pewter buckles.

Now a unique new brand, R6, brings the two together in a line of bags, belts, lanyards, card holders, and wallets.

The full collection is being launched in February for spring/summer 2010; so get ready for clash—in a good sense!

Photo & Slideshow s/s 2010 collection Copyright R6.

October 30, 2009

Too Much "Quatsch" by Raphael Hauber

Quatsch—the German word for “too much stuff, rubbish, or ‘bullshit’”.

“Too much quatsch” is the inspiration for spring/summer 2010 by German designer Raphael Hauber.

Deconstructive in approach, Raphael bases his collection on the essentials of summer wear, as he features piles of denim jeans and t-shirts printed on the very same garments.

For embellishment and accessories, the collection is accentuated with natural leather and wood. Piles of wood are also found printed throughout the collection.

Photo 2010 s/s collection “Too Much Quatsch” Copyright Raphael Hauber.
Slideshow 2010 s/s collection “Too Much Quatsch” Copyright Raphael Hauber.

October 29, 2009

Quod Erat Demonstrandum or Simply Q.E.D.

Since last month we were exploring the history of menswear throughout the Mediterranean, I thought it appropriate to write on a label that is Latin.

Now, by Latin, I don’t mean Latino or Latin American but rather the original Latin, which was spoken by the ancient Romans.

For centuries, Latin was the universal language—the lingua franca—throughout the Mediterranean. By the 9th century, Latin had begun to evolve into local languages, such as French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Romanian, and Catalan, all of which we call Romance languages. Latin words, however, appear in hundreds of non-Romance languages around the world.

Q.E.D. is the abbreviation of the Latin phrase quod erat demonstrandum, which literally translates as ‘that, which was to be demonstrated’—an expression that was used to conclude the proof of a philosophical argument or mathematical problem.

Q.E.D. has been translated into many languages, such as C.Q.F.D. in French (ce qu'il fallait démontrer), W.Z.B.W. in German (was zu beweisen war), C.V.D. in Italian (come volevasi dimostrare), C.Q.D. in Portuguese (como queríamos demonstrar), and ч.т.д. in Russian (что и требовалось доказать).

Interestingly, however, the Romans took the expression from the ancient Greeks, who used it after having established a truth by logical deduction: ΟΕΔ (ὅπερ ἔδει δεῖξαι). “Wow, this history is some heavy stuff,” you say! I concur with a conclusive “Q.E.D.”

Today, Q.E.D. is no longer restricted to math or philosophy but rather has entered the world of menswear to prove that intelligence is sexy!

QED is the brainchild of Julia Böge, Simona Gabrieli and Jasmin Moallim who founded the menswear label in Berlin, in 2006, around their shared love for the color black.

The 2009 a/w collection entitled “the Man Comes Around” was designed as a homage to the hobo, recalling the good-ole days of the black and white film. In QED’s own words:

“A somnambulist blend from the music of Tom Waits and the surreal films of Dali & Bunuel forms the mood basis of the season. Hard, darkly, spent, full of recollections, occurrences, life.

The hero is a raconteur, stamped by loss and privation and driven by thirst for adventure and inner riots: an eternal wanderer. This movement is transferred into the statics of the clothes by generous volumes, as well as astonishing pocket solutions and pocket volumes which play a major role in creating the silhouette.”

q.e.d. 2009 a/w collection
photos : David Bornscheuer
model: Ramon@vivamodels
hair&make-up: Franziska Gottschlich

Photo & slideshow 2009 a/w collection "the Man Comes Around" Copyright Q.E.D.

October 27, 2009

Drew William: a Trooper for Men's Fashion!

The first designer of Vancouver Fashion Week that I would like to introduce is 23-year-old Drew William, who was born in Edmonton, capital of the Canadian province Alberta.

Originally a student of photography at Emily Carr University in Vancouver, Drew began experimenting with textiles while studying design at London’s Central Saint Martins.

He soon found himself in Copenhagen working under the tutelage of Henrik Vibskov where he explored conceptually the collision of opposing forces.

The 2009 fall/winter collection of Drew William is a visual experiment of oppositions in unity. As you will see in the picture gallery below, the pattern cutting is a reflection of fluid motion colliding with geometry.

At Vancouver Fashion Week, Drew will exhibit his 2010 s/s collection, of which he writes:

“The collection was inspired by aviation and my interpretation of the silhouettes and subverting them. Images that emerge are twisting parachute structures. Largely this collection was inspired by my grandfather and his participation with the Canadian forces as a paratrooper. It was a re-imagining of myself within those same parameters and on a basic level those clothes, putting myself within in history.”

Best of success to you, Drew, at Vancouver Fashion Week!

Photo top center 2010 s/s collection Copyright Drew William.
Slideshow 2009 a/w collection Copyright Drew William.

Vancouver Fashion Week, Making the City Rank!

Originally the home to the Squamish, Musqueam, and Burrard Indians. A relatively new city, as we know it today, dating back only to the late 1800’s.

Located in British Columbia and named after George Vancouver, a British captain who explored the area in 1792. Populated by 578,000 inhabitants with a metropolitan area of over 2 million residents.

Ranked as the 3rd largest city in Canada and one of the most livable cities in the world. Future home to the 2010 Winter Olympics. The 10th cleanest city on the globe!

Fashionable, forward-looking, and modern—welcome to Vancouver!

Also, a warm welcome to Vancouver Fashion Week, which has been attracting Canadian and internationally acclaimed designers for 15 seasons, or 9 years, and becoming the West Coast’s most prestigious fashion event with over 15,000 attenders!

This season, Vancouver Fashion Week kicks off on November 3 and will continue until November 8 with a variety of events and designs for s/s 2010, including street wear, aborigine, and eco-friendliness.

Stay tuned for complete coverage on the menswear scene in upcoming articles!

Photo by Tom Quine Creative Commons License at Wikipedia.

October 25, 2009

"Love is a Stranger" Lookboook from LAB

Several days ago, I posted an article entitled “Love is a Stranger” with LAB, in which I narrated the general plot of Madame Butterfly.

Tonight, I just received the “Love is a Stranger” Lookbook from designer Chris Cheng, and I wanted to post it immediately.

Enjoy the fresh colors and new trends soon coming your way!

Art Direction - Chris Cheng
Photography - Romain Machefer
Hair & Makeup - Danii Harry
Models - Jason.B @ Chadwick & Scott.B
Shot on Location: Paddington, AUS. Courtesy of Iain Dawson Gallery www.iaindawson.com
Shot on Location: Sydney, AUS. Courtesy of Montique Exclusive Furniture www.montique.com.au

October 24, 2009

An Italian in Paris: from Calabria with Class

Everywhere I go, I meet people who say to me, “My family is from Italy. I think I am Calabrese! Where’s that?”

Well, first of all, Calabria is essentially the “toe” of the boot! But there is much, much more to the story!

Although Catanzaro is the capital of Calabria, Cosenza and Reggio Calabria are equally known to many.

The original inhabitants of Calabria were the Oscan tribes, followed by the ancient Greeks, who settled in about 720BC. Thereafter, the region’s history followed much of what we learned several weeks ago about Southern Italy and the isles of the Mediterranean.

Until the mid-20th century, Calabria was one of the most impoverished areas of Europe and, for this reason, many individuals can trace their ancestry back to someone who emigrated from this region.

Although Calabria is a mountainous region, the region boosts one of the most beautiful coasts with pristine seas. Olive production is a major crop, while many tourists are attracted to the region’s mountains and beaches.

The oldest and largest city is Reggio Calabria, which is known for its spectacular beaches, botanical gardens, Aragonese Castle, and the full-size Riace bronze statutes from ancient Greek times (housed in the National Museum of Magna Grecia).

Now, let me ask you: Can you name anyone or someone whose ancestors come from Calabria? Author Gay Talese, Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler, Gianni Versace, Saint Francis of Paola, actress Maria Grazia Cucinotto of Il Postino, and America’s most famous muscleman Charles Atlas.

But there is one more: designer Francesco Smalto.

Francesco Smalto was born 1930 in Reggio Calabria and, at the age of 11, he was already making the costumes for his town’s puppet theater. Three years later, young Francesco found himself working as an assistant to his uncle who was a tailor.

Francesco Smalto emigrated to Paris in 1951 where he apprenticed at Cristiani and Camps. After a short visit of several months to New York, Francesco finally founded his own label in 1962.

To quote this extremely talented and successful designer: “Fashion, in my opinion, is balance. It’s taking into account the shape of the head, the shoulders, or the stomach.”

Photo & slideshow 2010 s/s collection and backstage, Paris, Copyright Smalto.

October 23, 2009

Stonehenge, Griffin & Greenwear for Men

Most of people have heard of Stonehenge—the iconic circular stone monument that dates back to about 2500 BC.

What often goes unspoken, however, is where the prehistoric monument is located; namely, in the county of Wiltshire, England.

Lying mostly on bed of chalk, Wiltshire abounds in rolling hills and wide valleys, in addition to a wealth of pre-Roman archeology.

Of recent, Wiltshire has now become home to Griffin Studio—a cutting edge and environmentally conscious men’s brand that was spearheaded in 1994 by Jeff Griffin.

Jeff kicked off his fashion career in Milan, Italy, after having graduated from the prestigious Central Saint Martin’s College of Art. When he returned to England in 1994, Jeff founded his own label “Griffin Laundry.”

Currently at the age of 40, although Jeff continues to produce some outerwear pieces in Italy, he has been concentrating efforts on local production, such as in a wool mill just minutes away and with other British manufacturers like Barcuta and rain wear specialist Mackintosh.

Two season ago, Griffin Studio joined hands with outdoor wear experts, Berghaus, in developing a jacket that is made with recycled Gore-Tex.

Photo & slideshow 2009 a/w collection Copyright Griffin Studio.

October 13, 2009

Bangkok, Menswear & Darwin's Beagle

I remember my first time landing in Bangkok, Thailand, the day after the Tian An Men incident of June 4, 1989.

I had decided to let the dust settle in China before returning to my teaching position, so I set my sights southward—on Bangkok!

After we had landed, the hatch of the plane opened with a wush, sucking in a blast of humid air that rushed through the fuselage.

From the airport, I took a tuk tuk (or auto rickshaw) to the inexpensive bread & breakfast distric of town, because of a tip I received from some hip backpackers.

As we tuk-tuked through the streets, I was immediately struck by the exotic beauty of the city, the bold colors, and the oriental splendor, especially of the royal palace. At nightfall, I walked through a labyrinth of open markets, gawking at assorted delicacies and tasting mysterious delights.

Bangkok—the capital of Thailand—boasts nearly 12 million residents in the greater area, 50 districts, 1,000 skyscrapers, numerous forest parks, and a warm tropical climate! Less mentioned, Bangkok is also home to a young talented menswear designer.

Born 1983 in Bangkok, Chanachai Ohpanayikool founded Shake Appeal in 2007, immediately after graduating from Istituto Marangoni.

For the 2009 autumn/winter season, Chanachai has dedicated his collection to Darwin and the Beagle—an interesting choice for an emerging, or evolving, designer!

In 1831, Darwin embarked on a 5-year voyage, sailing on a ship named the Beagle. During that time, he conducted numerous investigations that laid the foundation for his theories on the origins of species.

So, now, it is out turn to have a look at what is evolving in Bangkok!

Photo top right by Paul Brockmeyer Creative Commons License at Wikipedia.
Slideshow 2009 a/w collection "Darwin & the Beagle" Copyright Shake Appeal.

October 10, 2009

Egypt & its Designers

This is the part three of an interview with Mostafa Makhlouf of the Egyptian menswear magazine Uomo Moda, for which I also write. Please refer to articles one and two for additional reading.

As I have already mentioned, Mostafa franchises 40 Italian brands in Egypt and, thus, has a lot of knowledge of the fashion scene in his country.

First of all, does Egypt have a large apparel manufacturing industry?
Yes, sure.

I hear a lot about Egyptian cotton…
Oh yeah, you sure do. Egyptian cotton continues to be the best quality as a raw material, but I guess you don’t hear a lot about Egyptian products of the Egyptian cotton, due to the lack of the quality production, especially concerning finishing.

Could you name me some notable Egyptian menswear designers?
This question is very hard to answer because, in Egypt, most manufacturers work on European designs. But we have many names for women who are well known in the fashion scene for ladies like Mohamed Dagher, Hany EL Behairy, and others.

Please refer to article one and two for additional reading.

Photo top Copyright Hany EL Behairy.
Photo bottom Copyright Mohamed Dagher.

Egypt: the Men and their Fashion

This is the second part of an interview with Mostafa Makhlouf of the Egyptian menswear magazine Uomo Moda, for which I also write.
Mostafa franchises 40 Italian brands in Egypt and, thus, has a lot of knowledge of the fashion scene in his country.

What can you tell me about Egyptian men and fashion?
Lately the scene is different as men have started to take more care about what they wear, whether in the look or in the brands. Globalization, the trade exchange agreements, and the financial crises have urged the world to exchange knowledge and products to widen the market. All has resulted in competition between manufacturers in different disciplines, which resulted in the benefit of the consumer.

How fashion conscious are Egyptian men?
Well, for the Egyptian market it depends on the social standard, which reflects the financial capability of buying brands. As fashion is luxury, for the high standards, yes, it does matter to wear brands not just high quality products.

Do Egyptian men prefer casual or formal styles?
I guess all people around the world prefer the casual, for the comfort it offers, but when formal is a need, they know how to wear it.

What trends are popular at the moment?
The American baggy style is much more used by young youth, age from 12 to 20 maximum.

Do Egyptian men look to a certain country for trends?
From my observation I believe that men look to Italy as the main country of setting trends for men and France for women.

What matters more, the brand name or the look?
Well, if the price is out of consideration, it’s much easier to convince the customer with a prestigious name like D&G, even it’s more expensive than other unknown labels. However, whoever prefers to wear D&G will continue to wear D&G. As people who can afford it easily look at it as a masterpiece not just an apparel.

What other menswear magazines are available to men in Egypt?
None, only Uomo Moda that is dedicated to menswear from cover to cover. It’s very funny that after we started to publish Uomo Moda some women fashion magazines started to give men a couple of pages within.

Please refer to article one and three for additional reading.

Photo Al-Azhar Park by Arab League GNU Free Documentation License at Wikipedia.

Egypt's 1st Menswear Magazine: Uomo Moda by Cougar

As I mentioned in a previous article on Turkish Fashion, I am the contributing editor of an Egyptian menswear magazine named Uomo Moda, which is based out of Cairo.

Well, Uomo Moda is the brainchild of the Cougar Group, which was founded in 1994 by Mostafa Makhlouf, who franchises 40 Italian brands—hence, the Italian name Uomo Moda.

Uomo Moda is the first and only menswear magazine in Egypt and, therefore, it is a great privilege for me to contribute articles on a regular basis!

I have been so honored by the invitation to write for Uomo Moda that, last week, I have begun taking Arabic lessons—a desire that I have had for nearly 30 years!

Assalaam alaykum, Mostafa! So, tell me a little about Cougar…
Wa alaykum assalaam, Francesco! Cougar has all what we need to give to our customers. We believe in giving our customers a complete look that inspires them and makes them enjoy living. Cougar reflects power, appeal, strength, beauty, speed, courage and that’s how men should be.

You franchise Italian brands...so what is it that Egyptian men like about Italian tailoring?
In our Arab world, we can’t say we have a complete industrial solution for the menswear industry. On the other hand, Italy is a fashion industry icon. That’s why our fashion is always inspired by Italian fashion, especially for men’s fashion. So we wanted to deliver a message that we review and present Italian fashion to the local market.

Do you work with brands from any other countries?
We work also with many other countries, but mainly we work with Turkey, as Turkey applies the European standards in terms of quality, material & designs but in more affordable prices.

How many stores do you operate now?
Three stores in Cairo and one in Alexandria; but we are looking forward to expanding in other places within the coming few years.

Tell me something about your magazine…
Uomo Moda is the first fashion magazine dedicated to men in Egypt and the Arab countries. We thought of it because we recognized that most men in our world are always interested in everything that is related to future: building business, family security, and leisure like automotives, technology and sports. Finally you’ll find these are all about money and materialistic things. So we thought, “Why don’t we talk to the men—the human being that we want to take care of?”

Specifically, what do you write about in your magazine?
The articles cover everything that a guy would be interested in, whether he is young or not, single or not, father or not, working or not, fashionable or not, can cook or not—all from the fashion aspect. We even talk about sports but from the fashion aspect (sports fashion).

What do the feature articles emphasize?
The main section of Uomo Moda is fashion, where we review one important collection from the local market. Also, we cover the main fashion shows in Italy & USA through our reporters.

How about side articles?
Uomo Moda didn’t forget one very important day of any man’s life; that is, his wedding. So we dedicate a whole section for the groom, before the wedding, then his suit, accessories, and even the honeymoon.

Any special features?
There is one interesting section for the audience in the guides section, in which we post measurements’ guide to menswear (believe it or not, most men don’t know their sizes), and the world’s fashion shows agenda for professionals and individuals.

How many magazines are distributed at a time?
We print 3000 copies for now, but expanding by the end of the first year of production to be 5000 copies, and we are now working on our online version that would be http://www.uomomoda.com/. Expect it soon.

Besides your entrepreneurship and magazine, what other roles do you have in the menswear industry?
Oh yeah, what a question?! Ok, I have loved men’s fashion from my early days; fashion has been always my passion, and still. Sometimes I imagine certain designs, but I never find this imagination. Besides the experience of the business, I have been urged to launch a new design and fashion production house. So now I have the opportunity to release the designer that was kept in me for more than 15 years now.

What type of menswear do you design?
I design classic, casual and royal casual styles, as well as some designs for casual and soirée shoes. The production takes place in Turkey. My designs are typical for the unique man of all ages and for occasions. That’s why we named our design line “Alessandro Massimo,” again Italian and, again, powerful and smart.

For more information, you may go on to reading articles two and three.

Photos Copyright Uomo Moda.

"Love is a Stranger" with LAB

When Giacomo Puccini wrote the tragically romantic opera Madame Butterfly at the turn of the 19th century, I doubt he was expecting to inspire a entire line of menswear!

Set in a home within the city of Nagasaki in the 1890’s, Madame Butterfly narrates a story of a dashing US Navy officer who falls in love with a 15-year-old girl whom he compares to a fragile butterfly.

From the beginning of time, soldiers have been falling in love with someone where they are stationed. This is precisely what designer Chris Cheng of the Sydney-based company Local Art Base (LAB) had in mind for spring/summer 2010:

“My aim for this collection is to emulate the mental processes of soldiers in love. Just like love, the pieces had to have an element of longevity in them, but yet variations that celebrate the emotional landscapes of someone that's deeply in love. Classic styles were updated with unexpected fabrics or applications to provide something of interest and something that speaks to the heart.”

Photo & slideshow Copyright Local Art Base.

Won Hundred Scores 100 in Denmark!

As an industry veteran with a profound background in denim, Nikolaj Nielsen had long felt the urge to launch his own line of distinct clothing to challenge the way fashion was being grasped in Denmark.

While rooting the label in classical menswear and traditional formal wear, Nikolaj founded Won Hundred and struck immediate success.

Won Hundred chants the mantras of passion, awareness, reaction, and fascination from design to final product, which derives inspiration from a wide variety of movements in music, cinema, and the arts.

Currently, Won Hundred is stocked in more than 170 selected stores around the world with offices and showrooms in Copenhagen, Denmark, and Stockholm, Sweden, and with agencies scattered across Europe.

Photo & slideshow 2010 s/s collection Copyright Won Hundred.

Universal Works @ My Wardrobe

The new British menswear label Universal Works has just launched a debut collection for the 2009 autumn/winter season at my-wardrobe.com.

The label was founded by Nottingham-based David Keyte, who formerly worked at Paul Smith and Maharishi.

What is unique about Universal Works is its move away from mass-produced throwaway clothing to a more ‘real’ hand-made feel of menswear that is produced strictly in the UK.

A very British flair and strong utilitarian aesthetic mark the collection, which consists of outdoor clothing of the past and rugged work wear that is made of traditional, natural, and hard-wearing fabrics.

Universal Works adheres to ethical principles of sourcing, while packaging is limited to reduce waste.

Photo & slideshow 2009 a/w collection Copyright Universal Works.

It's All /pure/ Sexy with Baskitwear

The other day I received in the mail a package containing two pairs of undergarments from Baskitwear, the fashion-forward company that designs underwear, activewear, and swimwear, which highlight the male body with contour pouches and high impact coloring.

The Colorado-based company was founded in 2001 by Eric Schwers and releases 8-10 different collections per year at a price point of $12 to $24 for most styles.

What I like about baskitwear is the emphasis on green technology, resulting in an eco-certified collection that is made from 100% organic cotton.

Baskitwear ensures that the cotton has been grown under European Union standards, earning the EU's eco-label: the Flower Mark.

Heavy-metal free and earth-friendly dyed, /pure/ products are shipped in recycled packaging—exacly what arrived at my doorstep.

The material is soft, durable, and elastic. No wonder 120+ retailers across the US and around the world are stocking up on baskitwear.

Photos Copyright Baskitwear.

October 9, 2009

Polipo: the Bag that Grips Like an Octopus

Polipo bags are designed by Luca Cagnassi, who ignited his career as an illustration and fashion designer for Energie, Miss Sixty, and other smaller companies.

Throughout those years, Luca developed a passion for racing bikes, a trend that has caught on alla grande—'big time'!

So, he began brainstorming about creating a line of handmade bags, which would go far beyond all that which is merely technical and practical to something with aesthetic value, and without compromising durability.

For those of you who speak or understand Italian, you know that Polipo means “octopus.” At first glance, I could not see the connection between an octopus and handbags, so I decided to ask Luca about it. This is what he wrote:

“Above all, the bag was conceived like an octopus with the tentacles that attach to your back, invoking the idea of something that does not let go but rather remains fixed where it is. For the rest, the logo is enchanting and the name rings exotic in the ears of those who do not speak Italian.”

Polipo—the bag that just won't let go!

Photo & Slideshow Copyright Polipo.

October 6, 2009

"Bring on the Noise"—It May be Music to Others!

Designer Daisuke Konno of the Japanese label Bring on the Noise likes to compare clothing to precisely that—noise—which can sound either good or bad, depending on the individual’s sense of value. The concept is similar to that of beauty beheld in the eyes of the beholder.

Recently, I have had the wonderful privilege to interview designer Konno and uncover what rings pleasant in his ears:

Nice to meet you Mr. Konno! Where are you from?
I am from the Fujisawa area in Kanagawa prefecture. It’s a very peaceful place and also very close to the ocean.

Can you remember when you first expressed an interest in fashion?
I believe it was in high school when I became interested in fashion.

Have you had any formal training in design?
I have never worked under a famous designer as an assistant or been educated in design or any technical skills as such.

How has that affected your work as a designer?
I believe I am not bound by existing methods, which allows for me to create new and unique things.

What is the most important skill to you as a designer?
I think that the potential for new designs and creations are not about technique but rather the ability to see things from a different angle or a new perspective.

How does that relate practically to your label?
I would like to make Bring on the Noise a brand that incorporates this kind of thought process and would also like for it to play this type of role in the scene.

What inspires you as a designer?
I take inspiration from a variety of things, for example, old photo books, vintage clothing, and fliers you find at musical venues, as well as other things. Anything with a musical element is always inspiring.

How would you sum up your look or style?
The style of Bring on the Noise is generally one with a silhouette that is very tight. This is because I think that style with tighter fits is the most stylish.

How would you describe the menswear scene in Japan?
I think of the Japanese men’s fashion scene to be very diverse. I think that Japanese people with a keen sense for fashion are quite fickle and, as a result, they are very good at combining all kinds of different styles and fashions into one.

Thank you, Konno, for your time!

Well, bring on the noise with the following picture gallery and see how it sounds to you!

Photo & slideshow Copyright Bring on the Noise.

October 4, 2009

Sorbino: for the Suave Southern Italian

Although I have been acquainted with this label for many years, I still know very little about the company; but here is what I do know.

Sorbino is an Italian label that was conceived in Naples 25 years ago by the Sorbino brothers.

Each collection is produced by a design team rather than a specific designer. Sorbino operates stores in over 30 countries.

Photo & slideshow 2009 a/w collection Copyright Sorbino.

Transgressive Menswear at Primo Emporio

Probably my favorite menswear label ever and anywhere is Primo Emporio. The company was born in Naples, Italy, back in the 1980’s by the Provitera family, namely Gennaro Provitera.
The look is aggressive, falling into the category of what we like to call “transgressive”—trasgressivo in Italian—that is, seductive, anti-conformist, and very cool.

Moreover, each garment—whether shirt, pants, jacket, or tee—is modeled and sculptured to the male body, communicating a strong, anti-conformist message.

The styles are seductive, decisive, sweet, instinctive, and passionate with many details on each garment—subtle and, yet, very obvious.

Every time I return to Naples, I cannot help but make the rounds of the four different Primo Emporio stores. You can always spot one by the upside-down double peace signs.

This September, I may have gone a bit overboard in my shopping spree, but I have not regreted it.

Everywhere I go, people stop me to ask where I bought my shirts, jackets, pants, shoes, and belts. I like to be unique, and Primo Emporio allows me to be so!

Photo & Slideshow 2009 a/w collection Copyright Primo Emporio.

Jeff Garner is Prophetik on CNN & the Today Show

Earlier this year, I interviewed sustainable designer Jeff Garner of Prophetik in an article entitled Prophetik Jeff Garner's Organic Revival.

Now, CNN has broadcasted an interview with Jeff on the Today Show, in which he discusses his socially and environmentally responsible practices in producing fashionable green menswear.

Way to go Jeff!

(Please turn off the playlist below before starting the video.)

October 3, 2009

From Princeton to Philadelphia Fashion Week with Commonwealth Proper

Born and raised in Princeton, New Jersey, Craig Arthur von Schroeder has always nurtured an interest in design, particularly in buildings and furniture, since his father was an architect.

Craig was impressed by his father’s creativity and independence, as well as by his brother's brief modeling career, which entitled Craig to some “cool” hand-me-down shirts, shoes, and accessories.

Looking up to his older brother, Craig deemed clothing a logical extension of what he wanted to do in life. Nevertheless, Craig soon found himself in Philadelphia going to law school. Well, let's have Craig fill in the gaps for us himself!

First, Craig, why Philadelphia?
I moved to Philadelphia to go to law school at Rutgers-Camden. Philadelphia was appealing to me because it was a big city that was manageable and was still growing and evolving. New York is so saturated and crazy that I wanted a place to root my life that I could have an effect on.

And why law school as opposed to fashion school?
I’ve always had that creative itch—to make something new out of nothing. But I was too busy playing soccer and studying to really flex my design muscles. Now I’ve retired from soccer and have time—or at least have made time—to try my hand at new things. And there are more opportunities out there than I had ever imagined, including, of course, clothing.

What led you into fitted shirts?
The silhouette and fit of our shirts comes from my own experience wearing button-downs on a daily basis. The legal community—bless its heart—has a lot of talented minds but generally lacks fashion sense. It’s from the ill-fitting shirts I am used to seeing on my way to work and my daily legal practice that inspired me to want to fix the problem. And, believe me, we’ve fixed it.

Why not other articles for men?
We don’t get involved in the pretentiousness of influence—it’s just shirts, albeit the best-fitting shirts one can buy off the rack. If we were to branch into, say, cologne, then that might be appropriate to come from an inspiration like “a fall’s walk through the park” or something flowery like that. We use incredible fabrics and details, like double-fused collars to tell our story. That way, it’s more accessible.

Sum up for me in one word the philosophy behind Commonwealth…
Versatility. We want our shirts to be appropriate for work yet be able to transition to a night on the town. The length of the tail, for example, allows the shirt to be worn tucked in, but easily untucked without looking too long and clown-like.

And what about Commonwealth Proper's look or style?
Americana with a modern, updated fit, created in the independent spirit of Philadelphia itself.

How would you describe the fashion scene in Philadelphia?
It’s growing. There are Philadelphia fashion blogs popping up, fashion-centric events and a lot—a lot—of new designers. We’re all coming up and growing together, which makes it a robust and exciting community to be involved with.

How does Commonwealth Proper play a role in this scene?
We hope to be at its forefront and not only continue to do well in this city but expand and bring the spotlight back on this city and its talent.

How do you compare the scene in Philadelphia to New Jersey?
I’m originally from Jersey, which, of course, has it’s own set of stereotypes about fashion and beyond. It always bugged me that there was a lot of great stuff going on in Jersey, but people just have their own preconceived notions that it’s a crap place. It’s not. Parts are rough, no doubt, but that doesn’t mean there are no redeeming qualities. Philadelphia has a similar bad reputation, but I think it also has a lot of incredible people. And it’s taken some time to discover them all, but hopefully it will continue to be appreciated by more and more newcomers.

Do you hold to any “green” practices or principles?
I used to produce another line out of Peru, China, Macau and Hong Kong. But I’ve gone all local with Commonwealth Proper. It’s less of a carbon footprint and you also get higher quality through hands-on management. Buy local. It just makes sense.

Well, thank you, Craig! I wish you great success!

Craig launched Commonwealth Proper in 2009 and will be exhibiting at Philadelphia Fashion Week, 8-10 October 2009.

Photos & Slideshow Copyright Commonwealth Proper.

Counting Down to 2010 with Jan iú Més

Jan Zamora Royo and Alfonso Peña Carreras are the amazing designers behind the label Jan Més, which is situated in Barcelona.

The two Catalan designers approach contemporary fashion through a unique restrained aesthetic, which begins with rigid silhouettes.

They then continue with a rational, mathematical view of styles, which is reflected in austere abstract forms.

Here’s a look at the Jan Més 2010 s/s collection! Let the countdown begin!

(Please turn off playlist below before starting video)

For more reading on Jan iú Més, see my article Jan iú Més Prepares Us for Cold Times Ahead

Photo, Slideshow & Video 2010 s/s collection, Copyright Jan Més.

October 2, 2009

Spurred on by the Vintage Photos of Helmut Newton

Born in Berlin to a German-Jewish manufacturer of buttons and to an American mother, Helmut Newton (1929-2004) snapped his first pictures of interest at the age of twelve.

After fleeing Nazi Germany, Helmut set up a fashion photography studio in Melbourne, Australia, and later in Paris, soon emerging as an internationally renowned photographer.

For the Spring of 2010, Helmut Newton’s vintage photographs revisit us as they have spurred on English designer Simon Spurr, who brings to us a traditional silhouette with avant-garde cuts and enlivened colors that are reminiscent of the 1970’s ultra modernity.

The collection is a snapshot of confidence and relaxed sophistication for the modern man.

For more articles on Simon Spurr, read Spurr on Spurring the Vintage Silhouette.

Photo & slideshow 2009 s/s collection Copyright Spurr.

October 1, 2009

Something Fishy at Unnurwear?!

So what do you get when you couple an Icelandic salmon with an African perch?

No, not tasty fish n’ chips!

You get Unnurwear bags and accessories!

Unnur” means ‘waves of the ocean’ in Icelandic, so no wonder the bags are made from sea-leather; in other words—fish!

Since 2006, the Icelandic company Unnurwear has been contributing to sustainable design by creating high quality handbags and accessories from farm-raised fish, and without endangering any species.

What’s interesting about sea-leather is that it smells like regular leather and the more it is worn, the better it looks!

So why not take the plunge?! Unnurwear—the global conscious accessories!

Photos & slideshow Copyright Unnurwear.

The African Finch, Now Playing at Theatre de la Mode

Last week, Theatre de la Mode alighted on the perch of London Fashion Week, flapping the wings of its 2010 spring/summer collection in all the bright plumage of citrus orange, deep water coral, and sunny tangerine.

Designer Christopher Kelly remarks “the silhouette of gentleman’s lounge wear is one of ease and boxed drape that fit the mood of Theatre de la Mode.”

Chris drew his inspiration from the African finch, which he applied to the leisure wear of the 1930's. He conceived the idea when his eyes were drawn to the hand-painted sign of a pet shop, the star of which was an African finch.

Since true finches are seed-eating songbirds, why not sit pack with a healthy sunflower snack and, flipping through the photo gallery, listen the melodic chirps and coos of the African finch.

For more information on Theatre de la Mode, read my previous articles Galloping thru London Fashion Week! & Theatre de la Mode Presents Elixir of the Hungarian Horseman.

Photos & slideshow Copyright Theatre de la Mode .
Photo top right by MichaelMaggs, Creative Commons license at Wikipedia.