Friday, April 24, 2015

Pick of the Week: The Little America x Herschel Supply Co.

Regular readers of this blog will know that I have written a lot about how I used to be a hip-hop head and how the culture influenced me. I’m not a head anymore but some things have continued to follow me even though they aren’t much of an influence. I really thought that my backpacker days were over until I laid my eyes on this gem on the EastDane website last year. It’s been in storage all along because I just couldn’t find a way to use it as yet but when I was preparing for BNL 2015, I knew I had found the perfect opportunity to use it.

During the Four Nations tournament, that was held in March, I broke it out and I was pleasantly surprised by this product. The backpack is by a company called Herschel and from what I’ve seen elsewhere on the internet, Herschel is a quality driven company that makes innovative and functional luggage. I was very impressed with the other products I saw on EastDane and their website. I’ve had backpacks before but nothing quite like this one.

I finally decided on purchasing because I couldn't make up my mind as to what to buy with the voucher I had received from EastDane, however, I was sold on this backpack when I observed its colours. Its kaleidoscope really drew me and I actually pictured myself wearing it. Some people would be averse to a backpack with light colours because it'll probably dirty and soil easily, however, I've taken a cautious approach and will not be careless in the way that I handle it. One thing about its design is that it was built for comfort. The exterior might be tough but once you sling it over your shoulder, you can feel just how comfortable and soft it is on the body. The shoulder straps are fully padded but they are light and they do not add any heft to the it.

This is what I mean by comfort. At the back of the bag there is some padding with a mesh design that adds to its unique aesthetic; the comfort levels on the shoulder blades and lower back are great. It appears that the Herschel company had ergonomics in mind when this backpack was desgined. 

It also features a drawstring top as a closure. I will admit however, that it isnt a spacious bag, which is why I only used it for notebooks, school books and stationery. It also has two small inside pockets on both sides for things such as writing instruments.

Signature coated poly fabric

The strap closures have a metal pin clip and magnetic snap buttons and this ust adds a touch of uniqueness to a great product. I admire how this backpack really stands out with its many design and signature features as well as nuances that are particular to the Herschel company.

There are two big compartments on the inside which are fully lined with fleece. It feels smooth to the touch and very lush. And it is big enough to fit a 15 inch laptop. It's not an everyday bag for me but it supplants my briefcase as part of my carry-on luggage whenever I go on my basketball assignments. I'm not going back to my hip-hop backpacker days but I'm sure you'll agree this is a stylish way to keep moving forward.

PG: Man to man, generation to generation.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Brands: Bloggers Connect for Durban

The Tuesday following the Passover I received an invitation to attend a breakfast meeting at the Durban Country Club hosted by eThekwini Municipality's Communication's Unit. I haven't been to a blogger's event in a quite a while and this time around I saw a number of new faces who come from all sectors of the blogging milieu. I always attend events like this with an open mind because it's always an opportunity to learn something new. The municipality was launching this initiative as an intervention of social media bloggers to market, educate and inform the public about various campaigns. The municipality's objective is to partner with bloggers to promote eThekwini as a place to live, work, study, visit and do business.

Bloggers are key to this message because the city plans to build a location brand through coherent communication to put the city ahead of its competitors in this fiercely contested territory. The partnership is also an endeavour to make more information known to residents. With authenticity and pride bloggers have the tacit task of attracting investment and tourists.

There was also a discussion around bloggers using their platforms to develop Durban as a brand. This would need the city to meet bloggers halfway because in order to prosper, the city has to harness social media and  use the power of blogging to develop the city.

Two important things I learned about how bloggers should engage certain entities, especially those wanting exposure on your blog are: a press release is not ideal because it doesn't come across as authentic and it sounds as a sales pitch. Rather give the blogger an experience and then they can write about it, that way the piece comes across objectively with a personal touch. The other was: what's in it for us? The relationship has to be balanced and beneficial to all involved. That way the city is represented and portrayed in a positive light and bloggers are given an incentive and are motivated to tell the city's story.

There will be more events of this kind so that all the right bloggers are invited and their knowledge and expertise are engaged and utilised.

Durban has a story to tell and it isn't what you've witnessed in the news lately.

                                               PG: Man to man, generation to generation.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Style: This Autumn Consider The Trouser Waistcoat Combo

Even though the days have become a little cooler and the nights are slightly chilly it doesn't mean that you should get the heavy artillery out just yet. I got a 'shock' last week when, one morning, I saw people in warm outerwear, boots and scarves. I saw one gent wearing a navy blue velvet jacket and I thought it's way too early to be wearing thick, heavy and warm fabrics. What I would like gents to consider as an early autumn combination is the matching trouser and waistcoat. Usually the go to garment for cool weather and dropping temperatures is something with long sleeves, maybe a sweater, jacket or cardigan, however, I would like to suggest that a waistcoat, especially as part of a suit, can be equally effective both stylistically and functionally. There's really no need for a sweater, jacket or cardigan.

Even though this combination is slightly less formal it is still office and business appropriate, and it's immensely aesthetically pleasing than a simple shirt and tie. A matching trouser and waistcoat is also better looking than a matching trouser and sweater. The latter can be quite bland, lacking in creativity and, unsophisticated. It also doesn't look like it's incomplete, whereas a trouser, sweater and tie combination seems like it's missing another garment.

It has taken me a long time to warm up to a waistcoat with lapels. I'm inclined to think that the layering can be quite bulky when a jacket is added. A starting point, however, is definitely a waistcoat with lapels because it exudes a dressier look and it imitates a jacket in some ways. Because it's not exactly cold out, a fabric I  suggest is a 100% pure wool which is breathable. As it gets colder you can then opt for worsted wools, flannel and corduroy.

For now, try this combination, it's fail proof.

                                            PG: Man to man, generation to generation.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Style: Pastel Summer

There is absolutely no stopping the heat and while some locations are slowly transitioning to spring, I haven't seen advertising alluding to or indicating the imminent arrival of autumn. So, with the sun continuing it's lean, I decided to add a smidgen of colour to this light, breathable navy suit via a turquoise cotton gingham shirt. And the first compliment came from my wife; I surmise that light pastel colours complement my skin tone and this should lead to more experimentation with pastels. Thinking about it, it makes sense then that dark colours will clash with dark skin tones because they will appear monotonous and lifeless. I've alluded to this before in the early days of this blog that my skin tone is referred to as winter; which means the winter is cool and clear with stark, dramatic skin. Africans, Asians, and Caucasians with very pale skin and dark hair fall into this category.

Some of my research indicates that a winter skin tone works with true white, true black, cool grays, navy blue, deep reds, bright pinks, jewel tones (emerald, royal blue, royal purple), and icy pastels.  Conversely, beige, orange, gold, brown and other washed out shades don't work so well with the winter skin tone and should be avoided.

                                                 PG: Man to man, generation to generation.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Brands: Combatant Gentlemen Maroon V-Neck Cotton-Cashmere Sweater

The last few months have been incredibly hot and that precluded me from trying out this V-neck sweater from Combatant Gentlemen, yesterday I finally got an opportunity to wear it and I was quite impressed with the first test. We should be thinking about autumn now anyway, so I don't think the maroon colour is not in accordance with the impending season. What is most striking about this garment from the get-go is how light it is. It is super light. If a boxer were to go for a weigh-in with this sweater draped on his shoulders it wouldn't add any extra weight. That's how confident I am of it. I think it's also appropriate for sub-tropical weather like ours.

                                               Maroon V-Neck Cotton-Cashmere Sweater $45

It is made of a cotton-cashmere blend and this is evinced in how smooth and supple it is. In fact it is 85% Indian cashmere and 15% Indian cotton. I think it's a marvelous blend of natural fibres which puts the sweater's quality quite high. I've had it for more than six months and during this time it was folded in my wardrobe and after retrieving it, it required brief steaming in the shower to get rid of wrinkles and then it was time to rock and roll. One thing I agree with when it comes to knit wear is don't hang it because the hangers will affect the shape and structure of the shoulders and the drape across and along the body. I can also attest to the slim cut through the waist which gives it a great fit throughout the torso.

I don't think it can stand rough handling because even the stitching is quite delicate. I noticed that the label at the back of the neck was loose on one side which means that the stitching is not good. Perhaps this is a one time issue which needs to be interrogated at the quality control stage. Overall though, I think it's a solid garment and as ambitious as Combatant Gentlemen is, I know it will only get better with time.

                                             PG: Man to man, generation to generation.

    Wednesday, March 4, 2015

    Style: No Tie Bar Required

    This is something we all perpetrate at some point and it is in such instances that we learn lessons regarding style and execution. Today's topic is very short but important; should you wear a tie bar with a waistcoat. And the answer is a resounding no! There's absolutely no need. The waistcoat is already fulfilling the function of a tie bar by holding the necktie in place. I wear all my waistcoats with a deep V. I actually have a navy blue waistcoat altered by lowering the button stance because it was too high. I like to show off some of the necktie, shirt, and the relationship between the waistcoat and jacket. If you're stuck with a necktie that moves around while wearing a waistcoat then it means the fit of the waistcoat is incorrect. This can be corrected by using the adjuster belts at the back of the waistcoat to tighten it. This works almost all the time unless the waistcoat needs further altering. For waistcoats that don't have back adjusters, like the one I'm wearing here, you can have it taken in at the sides and the back until you get the perfect fit.

    Whatever you do though, don't wear a tie bar with a waistcoat.

    PG: Man to man, generation to generation.

    Monday, March 2, 2015

    Style: High, Medium, and Low Vamp Tassel Loafers

                                                             High vamp - Fratelli Rossetti

    I've been thinking about aesthetics and how certain things appear to the third person. You know, sometimes, you always ask the opinion of another person just to ensure that you look presentable and acceptable. I've been asking myself this very same questions regarding tassel loafers and, where and how they measure up in terms of dress code and formality. I find that what may work with a business suit won't necessarily work with a casual ensemble.

    First let's define the vamp: it forms part of the upper of the shoe, anywhere from the toes to the part where the toes and the leg connect. In other words, the top part of the foot is where you'll find the vamp. The high vamp tassel loafer such as the one pictured above is most suitable for business dress code. It'll work well with business dress comprising a business suit made of wool or wool blend and lightweight socks. They can also work with a casual suit such as cotton or linen. What gives the shoe its business tone is the high vamp. This shoe covers almost the whole foot and that's why it's suitable for business dress. They are not suitable, however, with any ensemble comprising shorts. The issue goes back to the vamp once again and just how inappropriate they would be with shorts. Some gents might try a high vamp loafer with shorts and it'll work for them, I am not an advocate of the style.

                                                             Medium vamp - Allen Edmonds

    The medium vamp tassel loafer is where things can go either way and it gives the gent a lot more leeway in terms of styling. This one by Allen Edmonds, clearly demonstrates the middle ground in terms of the vamp and it is suitability for both a suit and shorts. Gentlemen will agree with me that there is enough proof on the internet evincing just how compatible the medium vamp tassel loafer is. A business suit would be perfect with this kind of shoe and it can also be worn with shorts because it's not as serious as the high vamp loafer. It's clean smooth lines are a further indication that they are suitable for business, however, it's design also allows it some casual flair.

                                                                  Low vamp - Cole Haan

    The low vamp tassel loafer illustrates its casual vibe and how inappropriate it is with a business suit. You can never look right pairing the two together. A casual suit, shorts suit, and shorts will work tastefully well with these loafers. The embellishments such as the extra stitching and 'complicated' vamp are a clear sign that they're inappropriate for business. A cotton suit with no tie would also complement the shoe well. Tassel loafers with a low vamp can also work well with jeans, something the high vamp one's can't execute quite well.

    There is one caveat to be considered with all these shoes however, their relationship in terms of the trouser opening in proportion with the shoe. The high vamp works well with a narrow hem, so that it doesn't engulf the whole shoe. The medium vamp will work with a narrow and slightly wider hem because it will touch just at the start of the top of the vamp. The low vamp will work with a  narrow hem because a wide hem will lead to a baggy opening. In all this however, personal style and preference must consider the overall aesthetic.

                                                       PG: Man to man, generation to generation.