Pitchfork   The Dissolve   Festivals: Chicago | Paris

Los Angeles-based label Otaat delivers with limited-edition leather goods that are meticulously crafted, yet utterly whimsical—a hard-to-find combination in the over-saturated accessories industry. Designer Albert Chu finds inspiration in counterintuitive logic, and tends to ask himself “What if?” and “Why not?” when creating each piece for Otaat (an acronym for “One thing at a time”).

The black cowhide leather 5-Zip Pouch is an OCD organizer’s dream: five zippers access four interior pockets (one full body, and three partials of various sizes). Use it as a clutch, iPad holder, folio, tote, make-up bag—the possibilities are endless. And incredibly chic. We’re also partial to drummers, so Otaat’s Drums Bag is our idea of mod cylindrical perfection—two circular box bags connected by a long strap and conjoined by an all-round zipper—impeccably polished and functional. Also, three words: leather Party Hat. Tie one on with grosgrain ribbons.

In recent years, Penfield has become one of our go-to brands for outdoorsy outerwear such as down coats and 60/40 jackets. The label has built on the classics from its heritage as a New England camping and adventure outfitter and given them details and contemporary twists that make them a good fit for the style and budget-minded young man or woman. That said, its Spring 2013 lookbook has our heads spinning. It trends sportier—these threads seem to call for activity, more than carefree leisure. It features more contemporary detailing and style: just look at the patterns, the color choices, the camouflage, the flower-patterned pocket tee. Penfield seems to be taking more chances this season—question is, is it taking us along with it? 

Browse Penfield's SS13 collection online.

Glove color card

The Design Center at Philadelphia University maintains a massive textile and fashion library of over 200,000 fabric samples, books, and trade cards, and they've graciously started to share the collection via Tumblr

The majority of the posts are small fabric samples sewed onto filing cards that date back over 100 years. The surprise is how modern some of the patterns look that are well over a century old. The sheer quantity of samples makes it possible to spot a few trends as well. For example, vegetable prints were apparently huge in the 1880s and 90s, and geometric patterns started making frequent appearances just after 1910. There's plenty of dated ephemera, like a color guide for choosing the right gloves and a Parisian "fashion forecast" book from 1966. 

Whether you're a designer too far from Philadelphia to explore the collection in person, or you'd just like to have some fashion history in the dashboard, you should follow The Design Center on Tumblr

InAisce FW 2013 Women's capsule collection

For Fall '13, New York-based designer Jona recently released his first stand-alone women’s capsule collection via his avant-garde label, InAisce. Since 2009, InAisce (Gaelic for “in vain”) has explored menswear that embodies an aesthetic of sleek contours, modern androgyny, and lots of texture—a nomadic, almost Highlander-esque vibe.

And the women’s collection stays true to that plush, pastoral style. With a cool neutral palette of gray, black, and blue, shearling-lined jackets and draping felted wraps layer over silks and wool with sculpted hemlines that skim the floor. It’s an elegant approach to utilitarian dressing.

To celebrate thirty years of diet drink dominance, American designer Marc Jacobs has designed three limited-edition Diet Coke cans for the European market (hence the Coca-Cola Light logo). Each one represents female empowerment in the '80s, '90s, and '00s. Jacobs also seems to have done a photo shoot without his shirt on in which he splashes Diet Coke all over the place—a "tribute" to the Diet Coke "hunk" ads of the '80s, apparently.

For its Spring/Summer 2013 collection, Maison Kitsuné channelled Southern California prep to achieve a look that's as versatile as it is distinctive. So it makes perfect sense that they brought in Oliver Peoples to collaborate on their first foray into the eyewear game. Inspired by 1950s minimal elegance, the two unisex models (called "Tokyo" and "Paris") are each available in four different colorways. We especially love the removable clip-on sunglasses on the Tokyo. These are available tomorrow in Kitsuné and Oliver Peoples locations, just in time for a last-minute gift for your four-eyed special someone.

via the Kitsuné Journal

Lizzy Caplan stars in this Viva Vena "art/fashion film" (or, as her friend informs her at the end, "just a commercial"). Lizzy looks amazing even as she parodies typical fashion promos and their overabundance of hip totems and props. At first we cringed realizing how thoroughly we've been taken in by the Virgin Suicides trend list, but in the end, this still has everything we treasure about the cliché videos: ombre hair, seashell collections, collages— it just adds a sense of humor. And hey, if you can't laugh at yourself, you might not want to watch this video.

Wildfang seems to be a new brand that's all about tomboy-centric fashion. This teaser video has us intrigued, but details are still hard to come by. Keep an eye on the Journal for an upcoming interview with Wildfang founders Emma McIlroy and Julia Parsley in which all shall be revealed.

Wanda Nylon Cyclone collection

Rainwear can be hideous—drugstore ponchos, whale and anchor prints, those yellow slickers? Ugh. Parisian design duo Peter Hornstein and Johanna Senyk are revamping the notion of rain ready-to-wear with Wanda Nylon, the first fashion line  specifically dedicated to lux rainwear. We're thrilled about their ultra-chic silhouettes created with innovative, water-resistant materials (90% recycled!) to protect us from the elements comfortably and elegantly. Wanda Nylon's forecast calls for neo-sci-fi and a hint of fetish plus breezy '60s kitsch. 

Introduced during Paris Fashion Week in 2012, the design duo’s first SS13 collection, dubbed CYCLONE, showcases modern jackets and accessories that will have you singing in the rain. A clear PU jacket with navy polka dots and piping is fresh and functional with its removable hoody, while the matte grey belted PU trench flaunts a classic, sophisticated form.

Sharp-dressed punks with a practical side will love the black vinyl biker jacket with velvet flocking or the slick Blade Runner-esque PVC trench. Or you can out-rave the ravers with an iridescent parka in a voluminous cocoon silhouette, complete with a hoody and contrasting white zipper. 

Bring on those April showers.

Photo by: Richard Haines

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.