Much like how Black Friday sales came a little bit early this year, after Christmas sales have too. I’m working on an “after Christmas sale” roundup for Put This On’s Inside Track subscribers, but for those who want something now, here’s three that I think are notable.
Brooks Brothers: Up to 50% off, with an extra 15% off kicker if you order before December 27th (kicker given at checkout). Of note? Filson products, including the very useful 256 briefcase, available for $158 after the discount. The kicker also works on items already on sale, where there are Black Fleece shirts available for prices as low as $59.
In what might be a glitch, two expired Ralph Lauren discount codes are apparently still active, thus making a number of sale items only 34% of the retail price. The current sale offers 55% off, but you can take an extra 25% off with the coupon codes RETAILMENOT25 or MERRY25. I can’t say for sure whether the codes aren’t a mistake, however, or whether they’ll be honored.
Perhaps of note, I picked up this nylon utility backpack from them this season (shown here are some photos of it from Oi Polloi). If you’d like, you can remove the logo patch at the bottom with a seam ripper. It’ll leave very light marks where the thread used to be, but it’s hardly noticeable. This brown leather cafe racer might also be the best ready-to-wear purchase I made all year.
I also like these RRL workshirts, suede loafers and wingtips, RRL lambswool sweaters, and this Cadwell quilted bomber. Ralph Lauren’s mainline “custom-fit” shirts can also be nice, so long as you avoid the stuff embroidered chest logos.
Mr. Porter just made their second round of discounts, with select items now available for up to 50% off. Included are my two favorite pick-ups from them for the season - these Common Projects track sneakers and this Burberry black leather bomber. There are also some Orlebar Brown swim shorts, Oliver Peoples sunglasses, Drake’s accessories, Derek Rose nightwear, an Aspesi field jacket, and a Belstaff Roadmaster.
The next price drop (70% off) will likely be in a month but given that sizes are already limited, I expect there’ll be slim pickings by January.
Oi Polloi just came out with a new color for Baracuta’s classic Harrington G9 – British racing green, that superbly handsome shade that’s been long associated with fast cars and British coolness. I’ve wanted a Harrington jacket for a long time, but have always suspected I wouldn’t wear one enough to warrant the cost. The beige version seems to stodgy to me, despite all the efforts of marketers armed with pictures of Steve McQueen, and the blue version seems to difficult to wear with blue jeans. Baracuta stocks an olive green in their regular line-up, but it doesn’t speak to me like this new color.
Baracuta, as some may know, was recently bought out by WP Lavori, an Italian company with worldwide licenses for various heritage brands (Woolrich, Avon Celli, etc). They’re also the Italian distributors for Barbour and were instrumental to getting the Barbour x Tokito project going. My suspicion is that their new directorship will mean much more interesting designs and marketing campaigns for Baracuta. They’ve already set aside a high-end “Blue Label” line, for example, which is designed by the former creative director for Beams+. The current collection feels rather tepid, but perhaps 2014 will be promising.
I’m heading off to Canada for the holidays, where there are real winters. San Francisco has been rather mild this season, save for one bitter cold spell, but in Canada, it starts to snow in December. It doesn’t get as bad as Russia, but it gets bad enough to need real winter boots.
Two that I’m bringing are these by James Purdey & Sons and Edward Green. The Purdeys are field sport boots originally meant for hunting, but I think they make for excellent general-purpose boots when the weather turns foul. The bottoms have studded Dainite rubber soles for extra gripping, and the bellow tongues help prevent water from leaking around the laces. The only problem is that they take a while to put on. The speed hooks are a great help, but you still have to explain to any company you’re with why you have to buckle down four straps when you’re both just going out to grab some quick lunch. Luckily, that extended shaft, which comes about mid-calf, gives some excellent added protection should you have to face cold shoulders.
If you’ve read menswear blogs for any length of time, you’re probably well acquainted with the basics of proper shoe care. Give your shoes a day of rest in between each wear and insert cedar shoe trees when they’re not in use. When the leather starts to look a bit dry, apply leather conditioner and use some polish to help raise a shine. If you have the time and inclination, you can also bull the toe caps and heel cups in order to give your shoes a bit of flashy detailing.
There’s another shoe care technique – wear your shoes as often as possible, put them through hell, apply leather conditioner sparingly, and do little else. This is particularly good for workboots, where you want the age to show. The best example of this might be a pair of service boots Andrew Chen (3sixteen’s co-founder) bought from Viberg two years ago. You can see them here new and here after eighteen months of wear. Andrew tells me he did little to take care of his shoes except wipe them down with a damp cloth every once in a while. Truthfully, they don’t seem like they were even wiped down that often, and that’s probably why they look so great.
Two years after seeing a pair of handsome, single-buckle boots on master tailor Antonio Panico, I finally got a chance to own a pair through Edward Green’s made-to-order program. Like Panico’s, mine have a single buckled-strap going across the top of each shoe, where laces would otherwise be. Unlike his black sueded pair, however, mine are made from Edward Green’s dark oak leather, which I would argue is the best dark brown calf in the business. These were also made on the company’s conservative, round-toe 202 last, and finished with light antiquing at the toes and slightly weathered-looking brass buckles.
Edward Green recently revamped their made-to-order program so that there are now two tiers. Well, three if you count Top Drawer. Top Drawer is the company’s premium made-to-order service, where shoes are produced with fiddleback waists, the client’s initials pegged into each sole, and extra time and attention at each stage of the manufacturing process. My chukkas (and the Shannons I wrote about earlier this year) were ordered through the standard made-to-order program, which was recently split into two offerings (at least when you go directly through Edward Green). For simple customizations, such as a change in leather, the upcharge is now just 150 GBP, while more complicated requests, such as a change in the pattern, will cost more.
Foster & Son is having a one-day sale tomorrow on their ready-to-wear range in celebration of the switching on of Jermyn Street’s Christmas lights. On Thursday, December 5th, all ready-to-wear shoes will be available at a 20% discount (including their Henry Maxwell country line, pictured at the very end of this post). Shave off another 20% for VAT, and you suddenly have very attractive prices for high-end English shoes. The pebbled grained boots you see above, for example, come in at about $525 after the discounts.
The venerable firm Foster & Son has been making shoes since 1840, and Henry Maxwell since 1750, making them to oldest bespoke shoemaker in London. The bespoke line is not the same as their ready-to-wear range, of course. Those are made to different standards in their London workshop, whereas the ready-to-wear line is produced in Northampton. Still, one should expect the quality to be quite high. The one “downside” is that whilst several ready-to-wear ranges have lasts exclusive to Fosters, the lasts are still designed out-of-house (if that matters to you). They have, however, just introduced a new unique Fosters last designed and manufactured by the famous Terry Moore (who came from Peal), and are using it for their premium handgrade range. That line will be featured later today in the company’s StyleForum affiliate thread.
On books regarding classic men’s clothing, much of the field can be broken up accordingly. There are books on how to dress well, which serve no other function than to give men a practical guide on how to improve their state of dress. Some of the better titles in this category include Dressing the Man, A Guy’s Guide to Style, and Esquire’s Handbook of Style. Then there’s an assortment of books for people who take a particular interest in menswear, beyond learning how they can dress well. These include history books such as Esquire’s Encyclopedia and History of Men’s Fashion, as well as various “academic” titles, such Ready-Made Democracy and The Men’s Fashion Reader.
The biggest category can only be described as titles that are little more than dressed-up picture books (though obviously that’s not what these books bill themselves as). Of the recent releases, I like A Style is Born and Bespoke, and Vintage Menswear was surprisingly fun. I also really enjoy Francois Baudot’s somewhat awkwardly titled The Allure of Men. Whereas most books focus on just Anglo traditions in the 19th and 20th centuries, The Allure of Men goes all the way back to the 17th century and includes more of Continental Europe. There are also bits of Africa, East Asia, and the Middle East thrown in, but this is still largely about Western modes of dress.
As many readers know, I write for Put This On, and just finished rounding up ~140 Black Friday sales for the site’s Inside Track members. That’s a lot to go through, so I thought I’d pull twelve that I particularly like. Included are things that aren’t easily found on discount throughout the year, such as Barbour jackets and Filson bags, as well as a number of great deals for men on tighter budgets, such as Club Monaco sweaters, J. Crew jackets, and the best price I’ve ever seen for cedar shoe trees. Enjoy.