Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Luther's Denim - A New Jean on the Scene

It's hard to separate the blue jeans from America. When Bruce Springsteen has a record cover with him, in jeans, standing before an American flag, it sort of drives the point home.

Blue jeans are quintessentially American.

So when I was approached by Luther's to review a pair of their jeans - unsanforized, made in the USA Cone Mills redline denim - I jumped at the chance. Full disclosure, I was given these jeans free of charge, and while I still intend to give an unbiased review - I want to be out in the open. Their jeans are utilitarian - no hidden selvedge belt loops or coin pockets here. These are designed to be worn like their predecessors. Their nearest comparison might be to the LVC range, albeit focused on the mid-20th century, rather than running the gamut of denim history. Focus is good for a young company, and really, who doesn't like blue jeans and rock and roll? They have three fits at this time - the 47's - a slim model, the 55's - a regular fit, and the 66's - a tapered fit.

I asked for, and received, a pair of the 66 model. Raw out of the box the quality of the finished construction impressed me.

In particular, the denim looks really great. Of the two below pictures, the bottom is probably more accurate in color, a deep blue-black, which should wear nicely. And check out that nice white/red selvedge!

Another aspect I like is the hardware - the rivets, the buttons and patch, all have a heft, and really nice finish, while still looking the part, evoking the classic style associated with blue jeans.

But all do they fit? Well, raw, they fit big. But they should shrink, according to their website, by about 2 inches in the waist and 2-3 in the legs. Pre-soak fit pics:

Stay tuned for post-soak fit pics. Anyone starting a new denim company in this day and age needs drive and direction. It looks like Luther's has both - the question is do the public want traditionally detailed selvedge jeans? I'm betting they will.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Dockers Want You to Wear the Pants

I have a dirty secret. It's not something that would normally be considered shocking, but amongst the denim heads I consider my tribe, it's akin to treason.

I hated blue jeans as a child.

Stiff, scratchy, uncomfortable - they were my pants of last resort. Through most of high school, I wore anything but jeans: khakis (this was before anyone called them chinos), fatigue pants - anything else. Since that time, I've fallen in love with raw denim, and embraced the challenge of the break in. But I have never stopped loving chinos.

You could argue that if jeans have a rebellious image, khakis and chinos have, in modern times, acquired something of a conservative, safe connotation. Dockers seeks to undo this. Kind enough to send me a couple pairs of their Alpha khakis, they are everything jeans are (or more appropriately, should be, to me), slim, modern, appealing - but I can wear them to work. And go out later and still feel like I have my edge. Embrace your inner everyman - Not Tom Hanks, but Jack Lemmon, Jimmy Stewart. Maybe your everyman is Montgomery Clift - but there are chino-ed icons out there, waiting to show you how it's done.

THIS is how it's done.

Dockers will be in Chicago Thursday April 11th and 12th to personally show you how it's done with the help of GQ executive stylist Brett Fahlgren and Chicago-based fashion stylist Naima Naito. They will show you how to wear the pants. But, you ask, where are the pants? On Thursday, from 11-6, they'll be at Pioneer Court (Michigan Ave and the River) and on Friday, from 12-7, they'll be at One Financial Place. Go hang out at the Dockers Airstream trailer, and win some pants, then wear them.

Who doesn't love an Airstream?

Thursday, February 28, 2013

3Sixteen Jeans: I Wanted Black

When I went to San Francisco last fall, I knew I'd go to Self Edge. I spent my first full day wandering around the city, taking Caltrain to BART, and wandering the mission, while my wife attended various work functions in Palo Alto, which seemed to be a city worth missing. After a nice breakfast sandwich and coffee from Bar Tartine, I wandered over to Self Edge. Before going, I had a pretty solid idea that I was going to look at the 3Sixteen jeans, and due to my strangely over-large calves, I'd be looking at their slim straight cut. Likewise, for whatever reason, I knew - I KNEW - that I was going to pick up a pair in black.

I was half right.

Once I saw the Shadow Selvedge, I knew that was what I was going to get. With indigo dyed warp threads, and black dyed weft threads, initially they have a very dark, almost formal denim look, if such a thing is possible. But as they wear, they get fantastic, almost electric contrasts. With the cognac leather patch, they are definitely worth picking up.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention my post-purchase libation celebration, recommended by Kiya - Zeitgiest. Go there and enjoy yourself.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Oscar Tuxes - When Trying too Hard Goes Wrong.

Short but sweet. If a picture is worth a thousand words, I'm going to "write" several thousand.

Men need to stop trying to be "different" when it comes to formal attire. Jamie Foxx, I'm staring at you (you were brilliant in Django, for the record):

You can wear a black tux, a navy tux, a tux with peak lapels, notch lapels, shawl collars. There are a lot of ways to do it right. Here are a few of them:

Hello navy.

I mean, even with the too long pants, it's Clooney.

Can I borrow someones beard?

Classic looks, all - but they've managed to look current with attention to cut and detail. That is the secret.

And if the consensus comes down that Jamie Foxx was wearing a fantastic outfit, we'll all agree to disagree.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Left Field High Slub Jeans

On December 30, 2009, Context - who I have written about in the past (click here or here) - launched a New Years Eve flash sale. Immediately, I was drawn to a pair of Left Field jeans. Described on Context's web site as "high slub rinse" - basically a very slubby fabric (16oz.- which is substantial), which was rinsed once, to get shrinkage out of the way, they were lovely, slim fit, with high placed back pockets, great hardware, and dynamite bandana cloth pocket bags. The best part? The were half off - $99. They remain one of my go-to pairs of jeans. Worn cuffed they fit trim and the slubbiness has given way to yield great vertical fading with a soft, near towel-like interior texture. Behold:

Monday, February 18, 2013

Ladies Love Denim Too, Part Two

On a recent work trip to San Francisco, Jake decided to fly out and make a weekend trip together.  I knew the dangers (expenses) of Jake in SF, it is practically his shopping mecca.  So you can understand why I was a little nervous being stuck in meetings all day while he went shopping.  During the 4th powerpoint of the day I started to get texts that he had already hit up Selfedge,  Luckily he didn't do too much damage so I figured I was in the clear.

When I was finally done with my meetings in Palo Alto I went up to SF for the weekend.  He asked if I wanted to check out Selfedge, I figured why not, it would be nice to finally meet Kiya - (though he wasn't there when we arrived) and see what the shop was about.  Since I have been wearing my Nudies nearly to death, I figured it wouldn't hurt to get another quality pair of denim to throw into the mix.

Once again a little weird to be the only girl in the store and they told me to go in the dressing room and just started handing me pair after pair to try on.  Yea, that's right ladies I didn't pick anything out, two dudes told me what would look good.  Also I learned a very important lesson from the denim experts.  If your posterior is well endowed try either low rise or high rise jeans to avoid that gap in the back.  Anything that falls in the middle will likely end up in some seriously unwanted whale tale, unless you are into that type of thing.

I was always jealous that dudes can get all this awesome selvedge denim, but it was always so stiff and not exactly figure friendly for women.  So I was totally thrilled when they brought out 3sixteen+ 77BSP Women's Jeans - Skinny Fit. Unique to these jeans (all the 3sixteen+ fits for women), is a new fabric designed by Cone Mills that they call S-Gene denim - it's selvedge, but it stretches in 4 directions - up, down, side to side - about 10% which is plenty to allow for form fitting comfort. Though I've had them for only a short time, they are already developing nice fades. Jake is jealous.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Penfield Spring/Summer 2013: My Favorite Looks

Penfield just dropped their lookbook for Spring/Summer 2013, and I gotta tell you, I like it. It looks like the east coast northeast summers I always imagined but never had. Here in Chicago, you have to make do with Door County, Wisconsin, if you want your ersatz east coast beach. But it's a good analogue. While no one will be surprised at my choosing pictures with camouflage or Vans, I did try to reach past my own comfort zone a bit, and pick what I liked best, even if it wasn't my personal style. All the pictures are lovely, and I suggest you look at the full lookbook here for your favorites. Here are mine:

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Ladies Love Denim Too, Part One

Note: This is a post, the first of two about women's denim, from my better half, the remarkable @henbecdecor - follow her on Twitter for all things whiskey and beverage related, as well as general sardonic wit.

I am not talking about what most women think passes for "nice" jeans. Yes, I am talking to you, miss I went to the Nordstrom semi-anniversary sale and bought 2 pairs of sevens, j. brand, hudson, and a pair of citizens for $300. I used to be one myself. I still have an old pair of sevens that I paint in.

You can wear jeans almost everywhere these days, I mean, let's be honest, the majority of businesses allow at least business casual, and in my industry jeans are not only acceptable but if you are wearing anything nice people assume you have an interview to go to (my husband can't wear jeans to work, it's pretty funny). I wear jeans almost every single day of the week, so I need a pair that is going to last.

Luckily I am married to a man that knows quite a bit about denim.  Back in the day, there wasn't a great place in Chicago to purchase quality denim, so we would make a little trip up to Context in Madison. I was prepared to spend some cash on a nice pair of jeans but I was not prepared that most of the jeans do not stretch the way us women would like. There I was in the dressing room being told by 3 men to try on the tightest pair possible because they would eventually stretch (which is true). I was more worried that I was going to rip the zipper out trying to get them on, or risk face-planting in the dressing room. I won't lie, it was an odd moment, I mean, I was used to guys wearing shapeless, baggy faded denim, and here I was being told by a room full of men to go as tight as I could.

Fortunately, one of the pairs they told me to try on were Nudie Jeans, the Tight Long John model, which DO have some stretch to them, so wearing a tight pair of them wasn't like dipping my legs into iron shackles. They were "raw" - which most ladies hear and say "what?" - means they weren't distressed or washed in any way. I think they might be a silly cut on guys (I never liked guys who were rail thin; I like guys with some meat on them, ask my husband), low-waisted and stretchy all the way down, they are perfect for women who want a slim jean with some "denimhead" cred (yes, they are a thing, I've discovered). Nudie Jeans takes making jeans ethically seriously, and so you don't have to feel bad buying a pair - no Indonesian (or whoever) children are being broken on the denim looms to make these jeans. See their page here for details about their philosophy. 

As a first pair of dry denim, they are great, and four years later, look great!

Stay tuned for Part Two, where she'll dish about her latest pair of dry denim, this pair by 3sixteen.