Monday, March 31, 2014

Style: Till Next Summer

The humid air has changed to a slightly cool breeze, the mornings are now definitely cooler, days shorter and nights longer; yes, summer is most definitely over...for the rest of the country, that is. We are still experiencing high temperatures during the day and that means I can get away with linen jackets and other light fabrics. There really is no rush to get into wool, tweed and corduroys. The time for heavier fabrics will come however fleeting it is.

PG: Man to man, generation to generation.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Pick Of The Week: Stacy Adams Dalton Bone Suede Wingtip Blucher

OK, straight off the bat, when I think Stacy Adams, I always recall the scene from 'Baby Boy' where Ving Rhames's character is adorned in a Stacy Adams suit and complemented with the same brand name shoes and he's about to take his girlfriend out dancing. The way he says Stacy Adams is with so much pride and deference it can lead you to seek out this brand and find out what it's about. We have our own brands and menswear stores in the Stacy Adams vein and they are tried and tested for decades. This, however, is one shoe style that is elusive in South Africa. I have never found anything that looks quite like this, with the same or better quality. So stumbling upon this gem was a pleasant surprise because I a also very happy with the price tag of approximately R1000. The brogue detailing, open lacing, genuine leather suede and the textured sole make this shoe the perfect complement to a casual summer ensemble like a light blue or olive green linen suit. It's not garish at all, it's very well balanced; the taupe colour and tan sole allow for it to be dressed up or down. As we bid goodbye to summer, I think this is the perfect way to say 'until next time'. This shoe is also available in other colours that are definitely appropriate for the cool weather. See below:





PG: Man to man, generation to generation.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Brands: Polo Match!

This is not breaking news, however, it has been bubbling under for a long time. POLO, the local brand, with a horse and polo player motif is not in any way, shape or form associated with POLO Ralph Lauren. It honestly, didn't come as a shock to me because I've always wondered why our local POLO products never bear the Ralph Lauren name. They will have the name POLO and the logo, however, the name most associated with the brand will be conspicuous in its omission. This story was blown out of the water about two weeks ago in a Sunday Times’ article which detailed how a local customer who regularly buys the POLO brand in South Africa was aghast when a Frenchman pointed it out to him that what he was buying was not the real thing. This was further confirmed by other people who were also very familiar with the POLO Ralph Lauren brand.

Needless to say, local consumers are seething, lamenting the fact that they have been duped into buying and supporting a brand under the impression that it is the real thing. They are not happy with the fact that they have been misled all this time. POLO South Africa was launched after Ralph Lauren launched his label in 1967. The South African POLO company claims that there was an agreement between them and Ralph Lauren to license, label and sell POLO products in South Africa, on condition that the logo differed. Nothing gave me more of a chuckle like this quote below:

The key difference between the two motifs is that on the local Polo products the horse runs to the right. The Ralph Lauren horse runs to the left.
This issue reminds me of an article I read years ago in Fortune magazine about a phenomenon called ‘third shift’. Third shift is described as an unauthorised product made by an authorised dealer. So, POLO SA has some sort of licensing deal in place, however, by not disclosing its non relation to Ralph Lauren is the ultimate betrayal according to consumers. This might not be a case of third shift per se, but, it does amount to some for of consumers being sold a knock-off. Also, taking into consideration that the third shift originates in China; the POLO SA products are also labelled ‘made in China’, this makes it a candidate for third shift from the South African consumers’ point of view. I am also perturbed by the pricing of some of the local POLO products because some, especially the shoes, are of questionable quality. Maybe if POLO had stated its dissociation with Ralph Lauren the consumer would've been better informed to make a conscious decision to buy or not to buy their products. However, their silence on the matter has led to confusion and a lot of customer dissatisfaction. Going forward, I doubt that image and brand conscious consumers will be rocking their POLO with pride.

PG: Man to man, generation to generation.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Style: Stripes On Stripes In Light

There is absolutely no abate to the hot weather in this part of the country. While other parts are gradually starting to cool, Durban on the other hand is still experiencing high temperatures. And the only way to make it through a 30 degree day, presentably and stylishly, is by adorning yourself in the right, light fabrics. This is what becoes part of every gent's sartorial journey, an interminable lesson in fabrics and materials. The only way I survived was through cotton and linen. I also experimented with the same pattern, pin-stripes.

This navy blue pin striped jacket is 100% linen, and like I have stated before, it's very sturdy and doesn't wrinkle easily. I also like the fact that it is not a too wide or narrow peak lapel, it's balanced just right, that's why I was not averse to mixing in this turquoise cotton knit tie. I used a light pink cotton shirt as a canvass upon which to play around with colours. That's why I also decided to go with this bright pink paisley pocket square. For a size 42R the jacket still fits perfectly and I' quite impressed with the fit around the shoulders. It's got a slightly raised sleeve head which gives it a structured look and feel.

The trousers are a cotton-wool blend, and against the lightness of the jacket, I think they hold up well. They have a mixture of stripes in different colours and this allowed e to play around with a range of colours. The scale in stripes also doesn't become a challenge because this small stripes upon small stripes. There might be a difference in the colours of the two most prominent garments, however, the stripes ensure a continuation and congruence from head to toe.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Brands: Barker Shoes

I have been thinking about changing the direction of this blog for quite some time now. Simply because it is more practical and sensible to focus on working with South African brands as opposed to international ones; or rather brands that have a great presence in and on the South African market. I decided, therefore, to highlight a brand that has been in this country for many decades, Barker. Ask any old school South African sartorialist and they will have something to say about venerable shoe brands, and Barker will be one of them. For this post I will focus on my very first pair of Barker shoes; a cap-toe oxford with broguing.

Apart from the label stating so, this is a genuine leather shoe. Soft and very durable, I have found that it is quite easy on the foot but hard wearing at the same time. So far I have really enjoyed wearing it. It is constructed with a leather sole and it is welt-stitched, with a white thread, all the way to the beginning of the heel. When I had the first polish I had the white stitching covered in black polish because it just looked too old school like white walls. However, I’m really fond of their versatility; as I've worn them with a suit and jeans, and they have fit in well. The light broguing on the toe cap and the sides make the shoes also appropriate for business, although they can never surpass the formality of a plain-toe oxford. What also impressed me about the leather is that it is waterproof. I happened to get caught in a rain storm and walking in the rain didn't result in wet socks which was testament to the quality of the leather.

I definitely recommend it as an entry level shoe especially considering its R700 price point; it's incredibly affordable and will be serviceable for a long time.

PG: Man to man, generation to generation.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Style: When It Doesn't Fit, It's Time To Let It Go!

My favourite suit is without a doubt one with stripes. The first suit I ever purchased for myself was a dark navy with blue stripes. A suit I am eager to replace after giving it away was a light grey with white stripes. That's just how deep my love for suits with stripes goes. So, it is with some disappointment that I have to let this black pin stripe suit go. It just doesn't fit right anymore. And, it's time I conceded that it is instead wearing me. It feels bigger, looser and longer every time I wear it. When I first bought it, there were minor alterations I had done especially the trousers and the jacket sleeves, however, now is the time to admit that sizing has played a role in us parting.

First of all, the jacket feels incredibly long and the top images evince this because it hangs way down in front and the back. The pool of fabric in the chest and side is just too much to bear because it feels like I'm wearing layers of clothing whereas it's just a shirt and a jacket. The shoulder is the most glaring flaw and it is evident that if a suit doesn't fit correctly on your shoulders then it's definitely going to hang off them, it's also going to feel like falling off the shoulders. This is exactly what I'm showing above. The crumpled fabric hanging off the shoulder and the bulges in the sleeves show that the jacket is too big. Maybe when I bought it I should've sized down to a 40R, but that would've been a bit of a tight fit. I won't even attribute the ill-fit to losing weight, however, it is due to muscle atrophy. My body is not as big and athletic as it used to be. Another problem with a jacket that's too long is that it can shorten the leg. When stripes are supposed to lengthen your frame, in this case I'm sure you'll agree that I look shorter.

For me, a jacket with low arm-holes is a deal breaker. A low arm-hole restricts movement in the arms and chest, and generally spoils the aesthetic of the suit when making any movements with your arms. The armholes on this jacket are quite low and after 5 years of masking them, I just can't hide it anymore. The suit's aesthetic is spoiled and it makes it difficult to wear with confidence. Factors to consider when purchasing a suit therefore are: fit, proportion in relation to your body, armhole placing, sleeve length, length of the skirt and the shoulder construction. These points should be explored in-depth in later posts, but for now try and focus on these.

PG: Man to man, generation to generation.