The MAN New York trade show emerged recently as the American counterpart to a Parisian menswear expo first held in January of 2012. Over three seasons, MAN has defined itself by presenting a group of brands that favor responsible manufacturing and build quality rather than wholesale quantity. For many brands showing, MAN marks their first major introduction to the American market. Earlier this month, we stopped in to inspect the goings-on and came away impressed.
La Paz was an early standout at this month's MAN New York. Owner André Bastos Teixeira explained the Portuguese brand is based in the northern city of Porto, "near the industry," but does its manufacturing all over the country: with hat makers in the mountains and shirt-making fishermen in Nazaré. The only products they don't make in Portugal are the knit sweaters they outsource to the powerful Scottish knitwear machine. The La Paz line is cleanly designed and loosely based around a "seafaring" life near the water.
Tender is a brand run out of owner William Kroll's living room in London. In addition to staffing the company's warehouse (which he says is literally a series of boxes), he also leads the design and manufacture of each product. The takeaway from Tender's booth was that Kroll is a materials man. All the metal for his line, for things like buttons and buckles, is made from solid brass by vintage wax casting. Even the glasses he sells are actually made from cotton acetate instead of plastic or cellulose.
One of his headline items had to be the "hands on" watch. Tender uses reclaimed Swiss movements with a special 45 degree rotated face to recreate vintage driving watches. The idea was that with the tilted face, you never had to take your hands off the wheel.
New York's painfully cold and windy weather during MAN was a stroke of luck for the Netherlands knitwear brand Howlin', which is actually a side-label of the older family-owned knitwear brand Morrison. The two brothers of the family started Howlin' in 2009 to try out some youthful new designs. Howlin' showed an impressive line including hats, sweaters, and socks, with designs ranging from intricate multi-colored patterns to simple solids. Like La Paz, they also source their knits from Scotland. By the way, Howlin' is Scottish slang for smelly, but that didn't seem to stop the attendees from taking a long glance at the warm knits when contemplating braving the elements outside.
Oak Street Bootmakers' line of leather footwear is designed in a Chicago workshop, made from American leather by Horween, and manufactured in Maine or New York. The brand's designs echo classic American styles. It seems that Oak Street's mission isn't to reinvent the wheel of boot design, but to improve build quality. Prices fall in the $300–$450 range, but with an estimated 15-year lifespan, their shoes should be a worthy investment.
When Evangelia Koutsovoulou moved from rural Greece to Milan, Italy her cooking suffered. She realized city cooks didn't have access to the same herbs founds in the mediterranean country side, so she launched a Kickstarter campaign to start distributing fresher Sage, Bay Leaves, Oregano, and Thyme.
But because she's not the biggest fan of cameras, and Kickstarter campaigns require a video element, she commissioned friends to tell the story of her two-year search for the best herbs in a simple but impressive animated short. Koutsovoulou also designed a strong branding identity for the herbs: each package is shipped in a small foldable bag with a cleanly designed name and information card affixed to the front. A tiny yellow sun at the bottom of the card contrasts the blue sans serif type, and along with the market-style bag, connotes freshness.
Pledge some money and become an official "Oregano Tester"
Put simply, the colors in Nadja Staubli photos are surprising. Whether it's an image of a Martian red sky above an indoor pool, or a three-color pastel mansion shot from the parking lot, Staubli finds colors and shapes that don't seem of this world. Instead her collections read as a kind of happily distorted vacation diary that pays more attention to unexpected patterns in swimming pools, golf courses, and highways than documenting sights and people. [Via It's Nice That]
While it might be mid-May, it still gets a little chilly in Los Angeles at night. In an effort to help those stranded without a sweater and sell a few ponchos, the L.A.-based poncho company Señor Tyrone just launched a "Poncho Express" program that promises local delivery of one of its fine, made-in-the-Andes ponchos in under an hour with only a simple tweet. To get your hands on an emergency poncho, all you have to do is send a tweet to @senortyrone bearing the hashtag #ponchoexpress with your location. Delivery is free, and the messengers accept cash and credit. And the good news for cold folks in New York is that a similar service is planned for a fall launch.
Before you get stuck poncho-less out in the cold, head to Señor Tyrone to see if you're in the delivery zone.
After the end of World War II, a number of writers and creatives left home in Europe and immigrated to the United States and Canada. One group of Latvian writers and artists, who set up new lives in Canada, launched a magazine called Jaunā Gaita, or "The New Course," to create work about their unfamiliar surroundings. While the content was notable on its own, the magazine also developed a cohesive tone with their cover art for each issue, typically featuring a bold design and rarely more than three colors. The magazine is still active in the increasingly rare print format, and although printing technology has made full color images commonplace, Jaunā Gaita often still opts for the simplicity of a two-color design.