Activewear and Gym Clothes

Written by Ivan Yaskey in Tips & Advice on the 5th September 2023

What to Look for in Activewear and Gym Clothes

Especially if you grew up in the ‘80s or ‘90s, activewear, in your mind, feels like cotton T-shirts, mesh basketball shorts, and fleece-lined sweatpants, finished with a pair of heavy-duty leather trainers. This mix let your body move, whether you were running on the pitch, blocking on an indoor court, or getting your physical activity fix at the gym. Yet, sweat crept in, and after a session, your clothes smelled strongly of it. Activewear over the past 20 years has become more sophisticated and performance oriented. This development has its pluses and minuses. Fabrics dry and stretch, all without the kitschy ‘80s spandex vibe, yet they also shed microplastics, wear out quickly, and frequently use PFAS for their performance properties. In turn, sustainability initiatives now influence the next generation of activewear: Merino wool is in, polyester seems reductive compared to bamboo and TENCEL, and cotton is getting a second glance. Whether you seek gym clothes that won’t hinder your performance or don’t want to finish your workout as a humid, sweaty, and chafed mess, understand what to look for in your activewear:

The Basics 

To start, you won’t treat your workout clothes like the rest of your wardrobe: Looks are strictly secondary, if considered at all, and performance remains paramount. However, prioritizing more sustainable, longer-lasting fabrics is advised. Here’s how to go about selecting the right active garments:

- Lululemon – Lululemon

What Does It Do? 

Going back to the ‘90s example, you likely grabbed the same items, no matter if you were playing a pickup game of baseball, headed to the football pitch for practice, or going for a run. Activewear’s advancements mean that most garments, save for versatile cross-training basics, are built with a specific, usually dynamic purpose in mind that aligns with your movements and makes you feel more comfortable during an activity. To make sure you’re starting off with the right garments: 

Avoid athleisure entirely: While this segment gets grouped in with activewear, it runs more like loungewear and may not optimize your body’s movements. 

Look into what a garment does and its properties: Something flexible and moisture-wicking does you well at the gym but may be too light and flimsy for trail running, which requires greater abrasion resistance, or cycling, often outfitted with ergonomic patterns and strategically placed seams. 

Consider having separate sets of activewear for specific workouts: What you wear to run will vary from what you wear for a yoga or pilates session or what you might sport for weightlifting or strength training. Think about how your body will be moving, the intensity level, and conditions for each activity. 

As a note, if your workouts lean more toward moderate gym fare – think strength training, cardio, and HIIT – you can get away with multipurpose moisture-wicking garments made with stretchy, breathable fabrics.

- Allbirds – Allbirds

Sizing 

With workout gear, baggy fits get in your way, enveloping your body in extra material, and too-tight sizes add unwanted pressure. No matter if you plan to wear mesh gym shorts or a compression garment, realize that most activewear is sized differently from standard menswear. You may need one size down from what you typically wear. Try on gear in person to get a sense of how it fits before you buy. 

Be Ready to Layer 

Conditions vary, but your expectations for performance don’t. Layering also bridges warm-weather and winter workouts, giving you a consistent set of garments to wear all year long to manage your temperature in relation to activity level. 

Your Essentials 

In line with all points expressed so far, make sure your workout wardrobe includes some combination of the following: 

Active top: This a perspiration-wicking garment made of a flexible, breathable material – short sleeves for most of the year and long sleeves for more coverage in winter. 

Shorts: Like your shirt, these are lightweight, moisture-wicking, and breathable. Shorter lengths tend to suit activities with more movement – like running – and longer inseams have you covered for cross-training and weightlifting. 

Base Layers: More of a winter layering garment, base layers sit right next to the skin to both control perspiration and add warmth without weight. Base layers tend to suit more outdoor pursuits and should be made of a flexible light- to mid-weight material that won’t bunch or bag. 

Joggers: If you need more coverage beyond shorts and base layers, opt for fleece-lined joggers to keep warmth in. 

Hoodie or pullover: Similar to joggers, add this garment for warmth only. Here, too, flexibility and moisture-wicking properties result in a more comfortable experience that’s less likely to leave you drenched in sweat. 

Trainers: While not apparel, wearing the wrong shoes for the activity exposes you to multiple injuries, from rolled ankles to shin splints to plantar fasciitis. In general, cross-trainers function as a multipurpose shoe, while running, cycling, tennis, and other sports-oriented footwear are built for the activity’s specific stresses, demands, and impacts. As well, understand that attempting to work out with worn-out or compacted outsoles means your feet and legs absorb the impact and may increase your risks for fractures and soft tissue injuries.

- The North Face – The North Face

Fabrics 

Depending upon your age, you may have spent the ‘80s in spandex with poor air circulation, the ‘90s working out in baggy cotton and polyester mesh, the 2000s and 2010s in spandex- and polyester-based performance fabrics, and the 2020s so far wondering how to be more sustainable with your workout gear. While materials change, growing understanding of the body’s mechanics means that activewear should wick away – rather than absorb – moisture and move with your form and motions. Synthetics primarily fit these requirements, although merino and semi-synthetics like modal, TENCEL, and bamboo are catching up. 

There’s no right answer. Instead, think about the pros and cons of common fabrications: 

Cotton: While breathable, cotton draws in moisture, including perspiration. This results in a heavy-feeling garment that’s slow to dry, can cause you to experience hypothermia in the cold, and, on a lesser scale, holds onto odors. Brands attempt to get around this conundrum with blended fabrics – not the easiest to recycle – or by adding performance treatments. 

Polyester: Microplastics are a significant con, as is a shorter lifespan. Yet, in terms of workout gear, polyester is the most multipurpose – breathable, flexible, and moisture-wicking and quick-drying with the right treatments. 

Spandex: Despite spandex being in just about everything these days, including denim, we tend to associate it with ‘80s leggings and leotards. For staying active, it’s the stretchiest option, but with time, the fabric slackens and bags. Like cotton, it has a tendency to hold onto odors. 

Wool: Wool workout gear might sound like an oxymoron except on the coldest of winter days. However, finer merino fibers deliver a feel not unlike cotton and are equipped with natural moisture-wicking, quick-drying, and odor-resistant properties.

- Soar – Soar

Treatments and Properties 

On the subject of “How will this perform?”, performance properties serve as a guide: 

Moisture wicking: Nearly all except for the most rudimentary gym clothes control perspiration. No matter how it’s added, this treatment pulls moisture away from your skin to the fabric’s surface, where it evaporates or dries. 

Odor resistance: Also called anti-odor technology, this treatment prevents the smell of your sweat and body from remaining in your clothes and contributing to an off-scent that even washing won’t get out. While this property doesn’t substitute a shower or deodorant, it does mean your workout clothes smell fresher for longer. This treatment may be coupled with antimicrobial properties for controlling odor-causing bacteria. 

Breathability: Mesh is old school but it improves air circulation and helps your body better regulate its core temperature. Unlike ‘90s basketball shorts, breathable fabrics have a lightweight feel and tend to use a fine knit or barely visible perforated texture. 

UPF protection: Also called SPF protection, UV-resistant fabrics better block out ultraviolet rays, which can still pass through your clothing to your skin. Especially if you jog or do another outdoor workout, understand that UV exposure occurs in all conditions – bright afternoons to overcast mornings. For enough protection, make sure your clothing has a 30 to 50 UPF rating at a minimum. 

Compression: While we associate compression with a tight fit, this fabrication adds an extra degree of pressure (15 to over 30 mmHg) to support your muscles, improve circulation, and reduce chafing during intense activities, like running, CrossFit, and weightlifting. 

Know How to Take Care of Your Clothing 

Due to synthetic construction, activewear frequently stretches, puckers, and pills, often giving you a lifespan under one year. High temperatures, at the same time, dimmish the effectiveness of the properties added, potentially leaving you with just a polyester T-shirt. To extend to lifespan of your activewear: 

– Wash it in cold to medium-temperature water, preferably on a delicates setting. 

– Never throw your gym gear in the dryer. 

– To preserve the rest of your clothing, wash your activewear separately.

Wearing Pink Menswear

Written by Ivan Yaskey in Trends on the 13th September 2023

How to Successfully Try Out Pink Menswear

Colors come with specific associations, whether that’s the banal yet versatile neutrality of white, tan, and gray or the craziness, yes-I-dare attitude of cobalt or even the deceptively subdued lavender. Beyond these initial visual impressions, however, those assumptions go deeper, often intertwining with gender expectations and what men and women should and shouldn’t wear. Thus blue in all forms gets relegated as a men’s color, especially for children, and pink slithers solely within the domain of womenswear. Trends and collections challenge this – whether that’s the blush shades added to silky, pajama-like suits from Dior just a few seasons ago or the sudden entrance of the pink button-down and polo in the 2000s. Sometimes, ruffles and lace dress it up and push boundaries; at others, it fits the rules through florals or geometrics. In a third category, it intentionally creates a stark juxtaposition: a traditionally masculine silhouette – think the suit – injected with a rose, millennial, or even magenta shade.

Now shaping the conversation is the Barbie movie that dropped a few weeks ago that, despite the veneer of obvious commercialism, sends viewers to a pink-coated fantasy land populated by dolls who talk and a Ken, played by Ryan Gosling, in perfectly coordinated sets that, let’s be honest, wouldn’t look out of place in a resort collection. Although the movie delves into big-picture themes of gender and toxic masculinity, it’s revived the whole “femininity in menswear” conversation that starts, rises, and then runs dormant after a year or so. Pink feels like a direct conduit for treading familiar territory:

- JW Anderson – JW Anderson

Pink in Men’s Fashion 

Anyone who’s skimmed a menswear blog or picked up a fashion magazine with some sort of pink-themed spread has run into the following fact: Up through the first half of the 20th century, pink was either considered a boy’s color, especially during childhood, or didn’t carry around gendered associations. Marketing that ramped up in a post-World War II United States started pushing this narrative, along with stronger dividing lines for toys. Although this path veered periodically – for example, gender-neutral toys and clothing using just primary colors in the ‘70s and the you-can-do-anything girl-power attitude of the ‘80s and ‘90s that extended from science kits to the Spice Girls – it progressed to the point that the girls’ section of a toy store exists strictly in a realm of pinks and purples and various princess motifs. The dividing line starts to blur in adulthood – think the gender-neutral appeal of hoodies, joggers, and even ball caps in navy or gray – but pink, at best, toes the line. It’s an experimental shade that only the most confident wear. In this sphere, pink splotches preppy fashion – think the Vineyard Vines whale logo, solid pastels in the ‘80s, and light-colored madras prints – and feels more acceptable to wear in summer, or if you’re showing support for breast cancer awareness. Through a print or pattern feels more acceptable – after all, the whole shirt doesn’t feature pink – or in a darker, dusty form that implies age, wear, and some sort of story.

- Y/Project – Y/Project

Combining Pink With Other Shades 

So, you’re not afraid of pink. Maybe you’re appreciative of the gender-neutral direction of men’s fashion in more recent decades, or you’re experimenting with the Barbiecore aesthetic found on TikTok. In these and other cases, figuring out how to wear pink and not look awkward or gimmicky comes down to two factors: the shade and what you pair it with. We tend to group pink in with pastels, unless it’s something like magenta or fuchsia, which, in that case, it’s more of a bold or neon hue. Associations and how to integrate pink come down to season: lighter, muted, pastel, and peach-like shades fit the character of summer, and deeper, more intense variations veering toward purple feel apt for winter. 

From this point: 

– Realize that pink’s tonal spectrum comes down to the percentages of red and white, with the former adding more intensity. Blue can make it more neutral, and pull it toward mauve. Yellow and orange undertones up the brightness, and might even take out the feminine connotations. Keep these points in mind as you build the rest of your ensemble. 

– While most classify pink as more of a specialty shade, it’s one of the most versatile based on the amount of red or white and any undertones, pairing with grays, blues, navy, greens, tans, browns, white, yellow, and charcoal and even with red, pink, or purple variations, like burgundy. 

– Start with your skin tone: Deeper, darker pinks complement lighter, paler skin, and more intense or pastel versions suit someone with a tan or darker tone. 

– Despite this, pink continues to feel experimental. You’re advised to anchor it with a contrasting shade – for instance, blue or navy, gray, a dark green, tan, or white. Mixing it with other pastels looks a bit ‘80s, while going monochrome – pastel pink, fuchsia, and red, for example – can be done but isn’t for the faint of heart. 

– Don’t be afraid to mix prints incorporating pinks: Look for similar shade intensities among two disparate configurations, like narrow stripes and bold florals.

- Versace – Versace

Grades of Garments 

Obviously, you’re not going to go all in right from the get-go. Instead, based upon how much pink you already have in your wardrobe: 

– Accent it with an accessory: Pocket squares, ties, cufflinks, socks, and belts all form the gateway toward exploration. Here, think of pink as a light dash of pastel on a neutral charcoal or navy. It’s a surprise and offers some intrigue without bulldozing the rest of your style. 

– Via your shirt: You have two choices here. One, give pink the dress shirt treatment: Classic frame, slimmer, structured silhouette, and a light to dusty hue that feels as if you’re dabbling with femininity in neutral terms. This isn’t Barbie cosplay, but more like you’re blurring the line between run-of-the-mill white and candy-apple red. Or, take the backroads route with a pattern: It’s the winding justification of trying out a women’s shade in the context of something more masculine, like plaid or even beach chair or Breton stripes. As a third choice, pink plus a floral print ultimately communicates your dissatisfaction with gendered boundaries: After all, why should some random bro-dudes tell you how to manage your wardrobe?

 

– Trousers: Surprisingly, we were spotting pink trousers and denim everywhere a few years ago. In this context, a light or dusty shade falls in the bounds of pastels and either evokes an ‘80s preppy character or adds a rosy complement to the textured twill material. 

– Blazers, jackets, and suits: Why take the traditional route when you’re confident in your masculinity? Yes, Dior and Harry Styles have given us some inspiration, but beyond the louchey and ‘70s vibes, a champagne tint to a blue-leaning mauve feels like the perfect foil to the holy grail of menswear and delivers the perfect confluence of masculine form and feminine trappings.

- Rick Owens – Rick Owens

WHAT’S A FIELD JACKET AND HOW DO YOU WEAR ONE?

Written by Ivan Yaskey in Tips & Advice on the 18th September 2023

What’s a Field Jacket and How Do You Wear One?

Even if you don’t know it by name, you certainly recognize the field jacket – olive green, boxy yet draped, and featuring slip or patch pockets on the chest and by the waist. The design embodies utilitarian style and the transition of military practicality to everyday convenience. Field jackets entered the menswear lexicon following the Vietnam War – part easily accessible military surplus garment and a counterculture symbol of protest – and never fully left. Through this pathway, it’s been elevated – for example, via wool or cashmere construction – and been shortened, lengthened, and lightened for the outdoors without losing sight of its rugged, durable origins. As designers continue to revisit this silhouette, learn more about its origins, modern variations, and how to style it:

The Origins of the Field Jacket 

Both American and British Armies introduced a field jacket-type garment during the 20th century. Its origins either get attributed to the M-65, introduced by the U.S. Army in the 1960s for troops heading off to Vietnam; the M-43, a heavily pocketed olive drab jacket launched during World War II; or a khaki-colored jacket with pockets to carry additional ammunition that members of the British Army wore during the Boer War and received wider adoption during World War II.

- Banana Republic – Banana Republic

Of these versions, an inkling of its present iteration emerged during World War II. Worn by American soldiers, the M-43 was a medium-weight cotton jacket in olive drab featuring expandable pockets for holding ammunition and other supplies, eliminating the need to carry a separate bag. The M-43 reflected innovation in a few other regards. Introduced by the Office of the Quartermaster General in 1943 and officially launched the next year, the M-43 set the stage for military apparel based on layering, allowing soldiers to dress for and adapt to the weather and climate ahead. As with other military garments, the M-43 evolved over the next couple of decades. In the 1950s, the U.S. Army started adding zippers and snaps for a more secure fit and streamlined wear. The pointed revere collar was also cast aside for a stand collar housing a concealed hood the wearer could pull out for shade or better coverage against precipitation. 

The M-65 build upon this foundation, adding a straight, boxy body and utilizing water-repellent fabric to keep the wearer dry. Pockets additionally included snap closures for better security, Velcro on the sleeves and collar, a drawstring waist, and epaulettes on the shoulders. These features better suited the tropical, rainy jungle conditions American troops encountered in Vietnam and missions into the 2000s. Strictly in terms of tactical construction, the U.S. Military integrated the jacket’s water-repellent construction and multi-pocket form into the Battle Dress Uniform (BDU) introduced in the 1980s and used until 2005, when the Army Combat Uniform replaced it with another modular system. During these decades, heavier cotton transitioned to an equally durable yet lighter-weight cotton-nylon blend or cotton drill. The extra pockets, water-repellent material, and looser-fitting, lightweight, and adaptable design transitioned the field jacket to civilian wear starting in the 1970s, positioning it as a transitional garment for damp conditions. At the same time, soldiers and civilians protesting the United States’ presence in Vietnam continued to wear the jacket, turning it into a two-sided symbol of peace and unrest.

- Thursday – Thursday

A Modern Interpretation 

Today’s inspiration for and vision surrounding the field jacket inevitably involves pop culture: Coinciding with its civilian adoption was Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver, Sylvester Stallone in Rambo, and Al Pacino in Serpico, all of whom sported the olive drab garment on screens. While the 1970s and early ‘80s surrounded the field jacket with a rebellious mystique, its modern interpretation rests on the appeal of cargo trousers: practical, utilitarian, and no frills, with the color and boxy form alluding to older military apparel construction. This varies from the similarly pocketed safari jacket – itself evoking adventures with hinted colonialist underpinnings and a belted waist that essentially makes it a shorter trench with extra pockets. Yves Saint Laurent introduced a runway version back in the ‘60s, and the jacket has yet to shed this gussied, elevated interpretation. Instead, the straight, angular form and typically default olive green reflect a straightforward version of masculinity: There’s nothing over the top, and you’re wearing something that expands upon your pockets while offering a looser, more relaxed form. 

As far as styling is concerned, traditions are designed to be stretched out, distorted, and reimagined. Through this lens, the field jacket tends to hit at the hips or thighs and often includes four flap pockets on the front – plus two hidden side pockets for your hands. You might spot a zippered front or even a pocket, and the epaulets remain for a more commanding presence. On the other hand, the features that have inspired countless types of outdoor gear haven’t been upgraded for the backpacking crowd. You’re not going to find some technical water-repellent, ultra-light nylon in an Arc’Teryx vein. Rather, cotton or a heavier nylon continues to lay down the foundation, perhaps with some water and wind repellency. These aspects, plus the stuff pocket and hood, make it a go-to for the everyday carry (EDC) set still coming around to cross-body bags. Beyond this, the olive green sometimes gets tossed out. Replacing the clearer military allusion are navy, tan, or gray, ultimately edging the field jacket toward a longer chore coat, a waxed cotton windbreaker à la Barbour, or a more masculine, unbelted safari jacket.

- Hockerty – Hockerty

Wearing the Field Jacket 

If you’ve yet to experiment with a field jacket, whether new or military surplus: 

– Take inspiration from the military: In line with more modular military dressing, the field jacket delivers more body than a windbreaker in cooler weather and has the space to fit over a denim jacket, hoodie, or bomber for more coverage. 

– Casual: Unless you’re willing to go in the safari direction, treat the field jacket as a casual garment – one ripe for a pairing with jeans or chinos and a T-shirt, chambray shirt, or lightweight knit. 

– Know how it should fit: Look for a fit that’s wider cut than a blazer but not to the point it falls off or bags around your frame. Make sure you have enough room for layers underneath. 

– Avoid an all-over military look: Cut out the camouflage, especially if you’re intending to wear an olive green field jacket. Instead, you can take one of two strategies: Avoid references entirely by wearing a tan, navy, or gray shade. Or, if you like the traditional look, keep the rest of your style neutral – whites, grays, tans, and denim. Take this a step further by throwing in a pattern through an accessory. 

– Watch what you store: Just like wearing cargo trousers, avoid overstuffing your pockets. Instead, realize that no matter their shape or configuration, they offer enough space for your wallet, phone, keys, and a passport.

Best Denim Brands

Written by Ivan Yaskey
in
Brands

on the
20th September 2023

The Best Men’s Denim Brands

Denim used to be simple. Cotton, indigo dyed, and made to soften and shape through years of wear. A mix of consumer demands evolved this base product – itself starting as workwear and eventually used by the U.S. Navy – to encompass multiple finishes, washes, fabrications, and weaving methods. Acid washed, stone washed, or bleached? Ultra-skinny with spandex to raw and relaxed? It all falls under the vast umbrella characterizing the modern denim market. As such, naming a best denim brand often comes down to how well they cover this full spectrum or if they hone a specialty – for example, splatter-painted biker jeans or exclusively Japanese selvedge denim. Then, of course, there’s knowing what works for your body and comfort level, and all the factors that now go into selecting the perfect pair of jeans. We’ve rounded up a diverse array of denim brands based on style, construction, and the expected versatility to appeal to a broad swath of consumers:

The Classics 

Some brands hold up no matter the season, trend, or what consumers and menswear enthusiasts prefer:

- Levi's

– Levi’s

Levi’s 

Yes, you’ll hear that Levi’s changed their construction over the past 20 years – but they’ve also been adapting their line in response to consumer trends since launching in 1873. What started as a workwear brand evolved into the work horse of casual denim by the mid-20th century and has diversified in response: Tapered to relaxed and wider cut, 100% cotton to a touch of stretch, Levi’s does it all – and does it well – without pretention. 

Wrangler 

Yes, boot cut jeans have returned – in a nod to their ubiquity during the Y2K era. But, regardless of what’s trending, Wrangler stands on a foundation as a cowboy jean: They’re not quite workwear – that would have to go to the double-knee-pocketed designs of Carhartt and Dickies – but still factors in hard-wearing use without jacking up the price. Yes, they’re typically found at discount, rodeo, and farm supply stores in the U.S., but that’s part of their appeal: They’re mid-weight, sturdy, and above bending over backwards for the latest trends.

- Wrangler

– Wrangler

Affordable Men’s Jeans 

You can still find a decent pair of men’s jeans at the mall – or even a browse online for under $200: 

J.Crew 

J.Crew does unpretentious preppy staples well, and its denim is no different. Styles span skinny and straight to workwear influences, 100% cotton based on 1950s construction to a hint of stretch intended to resonate with modern consumers. 

Madewell 

When Madewell made the transition to menswear roughly six years ago, denim marked its first endeavor. Today, this initial effort remains the core of its product line, resulting in silhouettes made with premium ringspun fabric that’s lightly distressed and fits well. As the denim market continues to diversify, so have its materials, from rigid, midweight 100% cotton to its Authentic Flex with a smidge of stretch to its ultra-soft Everyday Flex and the inclusion of CoolMax® for controlling perspiration. 

The Gap 

The Gap embodies the ‘90s mall brand, and while sales have declined in recent years, denim remains the apex of its offerings. You might recall some of their commercials from the ‘90s and 2000s, but today, their stonewashed heyday translates to a modestly priced, long-lasting pair of jeans. Added to this, The Gap doesn’t attempt to reinvent the wheel, instead nodding to how denim used to be constructed with its Washwell series.

- J.Crew

– J.Crew

Sernes 

To the other end of the denim spectrum, diversification means that slim to relaxed with a light to dark wash just touches the surface. Rather, biker styles, rips, distressing, patches, and bleaching add character in varying degrees. Starting a few years ago as a men’s denim brand and expanding to more unisex offerings, Sernes travels this path, seeing cotton with a hint of spandex as a canvas for multiple treatments. They don’t intend to blend in, and whether you go in a paint-splattered or ripped and patched direction, neither will you. 

Paige 

There’s debate around the legitimacy of stretch denim. In all cases, it dominates the market’s affordable end, primarily because consumers not only want a pair of jeans with less break-in time, but they also look for something comfortable to wear without yesteryear’s months of chafing. Paige built its brand on this approach: Not only does their signature Transcend material move with you, but it captures vintage style, recovers well without stretching out, and always feels soft. 

Nudie Jeans 

Questions around denim’s sustainability continue to arise, with solutions often being “Wash them less frequently,” “Get raw denim,” known to be longer lasting, or try organic cotton. Nudie Jeans touches primarily on the last two point – it’s up to you to determine how regularly you’ll wash a pair. The brand began out of a mission to make jeans using organic cotton and has since started offering raw and selvedge materials and repair services to keep their styles in use for longer. 

Everlane 

Everlane has gradually become to the go-to brand for mid-priced basics incorporating some sustainable materials. Denim falls in line with this pattern: Everlane’s line covers skinny to straight and athletic, often incorporating organic cotton. Pairs range in stiffness from select selvedge fabrics to four-way stretch for more flexibility. 

True Religion 

True Religion represented the 2000s’ foray into designer denim, doing it the only way the period required: Embellishing the pockets with horseshoe-shaped stitches and oftentimes contrast details. Flap pockets further accentuated this aspect.
While no longer regarded as designer jeans, True Religion made its mark upon launching in 2002: A five-needle thread at two stitches per inch, resulting in its “Super T” stitch and requiring a different sewing machine. In the present, the brand couples this degree of craftsmanship with more saturated colors and washes in tribute to classic denim construction.

- True Religion

– True Religion

High-End Denim 

Back in the ‘80s, designer jeans started with Calvin Klein, right now a shadow of its former self, but into the 2000s, this echelon stretched higher with the introduction of Diesel and seeing runway brands delve into the denim game and rework it around their distinctive aesthetics. Jeans are no longer indigo-colored woven cotton but a testament to how tight-fitting the material can get (also a nod to the ‘80s) and the number of embellishments and treatments that can be piled on: 

Acne 

We group Acne in with boundary-pushing, experimental unisex fashion in the present. Over 30 years ago, they started as a film studio that eventually launched a small-batch set of high-quality denim and shortly expanded to more washes, cuts, and an included D-ring belt. While the present aesthetic reflects Y2K nostalgia, Acne delivers Scandinavian utilitarianism coupled with longer-lasting materials and construction. 

Diesel 

Diesel began from a foundation of futuristic experimentation in the late ‘70s and benefitted from Glenn Martens’ creative direction down the line. These principles converge into a lifestyle brand intended to embody success and push the envelope of fit, washes, and construction. 

Amiri 

Some will say that Balmain’s biker jeans kicked off streetwear’s obsession with deconstructing and reworking denim. While Olivier Rousteing’s vision might have had a trickle-down effect that’s still felt, Amiri – launched in 2013 by Mike Amiri – ran with the concepts, elevating and exploring all the possibilities of biker silhouettes, rips, tears, distressing, and other treatments – first on ultra-skinny fits and on more relaxed cuts as of recent. 

AG Jeans 

We don’t usually use “denim” and “tailoring” in the same sentence, except maybe to discuss the growing scope of bespoke wardrobes. That said, Adriano Goldschmied started steering jeans in this direction close to 20 years ago: Now frequently called “The Godfather of Denim,” Goldschmied experimented with various cuts to deliver a fit and look similar to a pair of tailored trousers and gave them a softer feel. AG Jeans now spans multiple washes and incorporates more sustainable manufacturing processes, including water recycling, Ozone technology, and solar power.

- Diesel

– Diesel

Rag & Bone 

Rag & Bone denim attempts to find the sweet spot between classic, higher-quality construction and modern expectations for comfort. What results delivers that more tailored feel with less breaking in, and hits all the right notes – versatile mid-height cuts, slim to regular fits, and a hint of stretch if you feel you need it. Materials further vary from 100% cotton and raw – both taking longer to soften and shape to the body – to selvedge-inspired infused with spandex. 

Yves Saint Laurent 

No, we don’t typically think of Yves Saint Laurent as a denim brand – although runway presentations since Anthony Vaccarello’s appointment upend these expectations. On the menswear side, Vaccarello introduced a rocker-meets-mod muse clad in skinny to loosely cut denim evoking the ‘70s and ‘90s and processing it through a 2000s indie-sleaze perspective, ultimately ushering in a new phase of designer denim. 

Our Legacy 

When we think vintage denim, we automatically go toward raw and selvedge materials in a boot cut or tapered form. Yet, denim construction started shifting away from this model in the ‘70s, accelerating toward the variety we have today. Swedish brand Our Legacy attempts to capture these experimental decades, pulling primarily from ‘70s and ‘90s influences – for example, wider or flared cuts with a mix of fading, rips, and stone washing – and fusing this period aesthetic with organic cotton, linen, and Lyocell. Styles launch in small-batch collections to highlight more refined, detailed Scandinavian construction. 

Kapital 

Kapital further excels in the experimental denim market: Launching in Okayama in the mid-‘80s, Kapital initially attempted to replicate the look and feel of classic American jeans. Their construction still centers around this approach – particularly heritage materials and workwear inspiration – but their signature now comes from hand-stitched patches and other embellishments, proving that quality doesn’t always have to mean dull and predictable.

- Kapital

– Kapital

Selvedge and Raw Denim 

We’ve created a separate category for these brands: As you can see, high-end denim doesn’t always mean stiff, deep indigo-dyed material, nor does a lower price point preclude you from trying out a more classic construction. Especially in response to renewed interest in heritage menswear – be it American workwear and denim or British tweed and Fair Isle knits – raw and selvedge materials have carved out their own market segment: 

Uniqlo 

Adding tech treatments to everyday items has long set Uniqlo apart. The brand has since charted its innovation-based stride into denim, particularly Japanese selvedge material with a just a slight stretch. They look and feel authentic, will shrink a bit (although not to the extent of 100% cotton), and still bleed in the wash. 

RRL 

Talk about Ralph Lauren and denim, and Polo jeans and their ‘90s hip-hop vibes immediately come to mind. RRL veers off course from this image – borrowing more from Western and Americana iconography than preppy sensibilities – and brings this vision to life through Japanese selvedge denim and primarily made-in-America construction. For the higher price point, the details – from rivets to an old-school waistband – get closer to how we perceive and seek out mid-century vintage denim. 

A.P.C. 

You want French minimalism where every detail gets evaluated for its role and purpose? A.P.C. has long been your brand – denim included. Since the 2000s, A.P.C. has served as a gateway toward raw and selvedge denim free of embellishments and requiring a longer breaking-in time, and they continue to do this well.

- RRL

– RRL

3sixteen 

Based out of New York, 3sixteen embodies the fastidiousness higher-end denim brands have toward their product: What seems simple, if not basic, on the surface reflects an eye for detail through all stages of construction and manufacturing. In this case, that starts with souring fabrics from Kuroki Mills in Okayama – considered Japan’s denim capital – and determining the most hardwearing buttons, rivets, leather patches, and stitches to length a garment’s lifespan and replicate the look and feel of classic denim. This approach has since translated to 10 different fabrics and multiple fits. 

Samurai 

Samurai started out of a mission to capture the essence of American workwear denim. This objective has since resulted in one of the heaviest fabrics around – 21 oz. selvedge, or roughly double a typical mid-weight pair – created with 3.6 count slubbed threads. As such, the vibe exudes classic Americana, while the construction surpasses what you’ll find from even modern-day workwear. 

OrSlow 

The name says it all: As fast-fashion continues to pick up the pace, this Japanese denim brand turns back the dial to focus on small-batch selvedge construction, giving each pair a sense of individuality and often incorporating vintage workwear influences. Each pair, to some degree, further serves as a collectible with its own unique personality that ages with and shapes to the wearer. 

Visvim 

For Japanese denim enthusiasts, Visvim needs no explanation. For the rest of us, this cult brand captures the appeal of small-batch, highly detailed manufacturing and obsessing over every component – material to stitching and rivets – to craft a truly unique and individualistic pair of jeans.

Best Mens Athletic Shoe Brands

Written by Ivan Yaskey
in
Brands

on the
11th October 2023

The Best Men’s Athletic Shoe Brands

Finding a quality pair of athletic shoes always ends up being a challenge. Today, the lighter-is-better mentality pervades. The assumption hinges on the every-ounce-counts attitude present in the outdoor sphere: Logically, the less you have holding you back, the more you can surge ahead.
This approach results in shoes that, today, feel more like socks: Much of the leather outer and chunky stylings of the 1980s and 1990s are gone – or have been relegated to trainers and throwback collections. Or, as even the casual gymgoer finds, what starts as responsive gets compacted down: The shoe, in turn, no longer performs as expected and, worse, exposes you to injury risks, like shin splints or gradual joint wear. You start to feel it, too, through random aches and pains even after running around the neighborhood or on a treadmill.
We’ve compiled what you should look for in a pair of running shoes before. Much of these features pervade the entire athletic category on a broader scale.
For brands you should be paying attention to, we’ve put together the following:

Brooks 

Brooks has been manufacturing shoes since the early 20th century but didn’t actually venture into the athletic arena until 1974. At that point, they launched their first running shoe. 27 years later, they committed to adding more performance features: Today, they remain a go-to and a favorite for serious road and trail runners.
What’s special about a Brooks shoe? While competitors focus on reducing weight or refining the heel-to-toe drop or debate outsole thickness, Brooks’ team zeroes in on human movement – particularly gait for reducing injuries and improving comfort and performance. As gait can vary between individuals, Brooks’ shoes introduce features designed to enhance stride and reduce rolled ankles, like GuideRails® supports and a flexible upper with a 3D Fit Print that adjusts and shapes to the wearer’s foot.

- Brooks

– Brooks

Nike 

Decades of casual to serious athletes have sported Nikes. Celebrity endorsements and multiple tiers of shoes certainly help. Nike’s strengths come from its do-it-all mentality: While characteristics differ, you’ll find something medium-to-lightweight for running, basketball, and cross-training and even more specialty pursuits like trail running.
As another asset, the company continually evolves its technologies: Today, its Air technology – characterized by a pouch of pressurized air added to the sole unit – trims down weight, continues to reduce impact, improves flexibility, and allows for a more customized fit. Next level, Zoom Air cushioning enhances responsiveness, especially for running and movements requiring speed, without placing additional strain on your muscles and joints. ZoomX foam takes these characteristics to further upgrade the energy return. 

ASICS 

Founded in 1949 by Kihachiro Onitsuka, ASICS routinely introduces new technologies that absorb impact, improve energy return, and lighten weight without falling apart after a few wears.
GEL Technology is perhaps their most famous: This feature present in a wide range of ASICS athletic shoes deflects shocks and improves comfort as the wearer lands. Added to this is a host of other characteristics: FlyteFoam and FF Blast for greater energy return, the Guidance Trusstic system and DuoMax midsole for stability, and the GuideSole for more shock absorption.

- ASICS

– ASICS

HOKA 

Casual consumers of athletic footwear recently became familiar with the durability and responsiveness of HOKA. Dedicated runners and trail enthusiasts, however, have considered the brand a best-kept technical secret for years.
Today, their line suits the demands of trail running and even doubles as lighter-weight hiking shoes with strategic protection against the elements. This appeal comes from their Active Foot Frame, built for a closer, more supportive fit preventing your shoe from moving around, a wider toe box to avoid a more pinched sensation, and grippier, more lugged outsoles. At the same time, a breathable upper and toggle-style laces result in an overall more comfortable and efficient experience.
As another bonus, HOKA has experimented with more sustainable materials, including creating insoles out of 30-percent sugarcane and nearly eliminating oil-based products for its outsoles. 

Adidas 

Like Nike, Adidas is seemingly everywhere. Its popularity, too, comes from multiple product tiers: from Adidas Originals capturing its classic elements and appealing to the streetwear crowd, to a line for trail running and hiking that outdoor enthusiasts have come around to, to tech-heavy styles built for running, cross-training, football playing, and general activewear.
For this latter group, Adidas ups the comfort factor with its PRIMEKNIT material, built to enhance breathability and create a close, sock-like fit, and its Boost™ technology, adding even more cushioning and responsiveness for the activity. Ultraboost Light, meanwhile, delivers a cloud-like sensation to take this attribute up a level. Toward a more customized experience, their shoes continue to incorporate 4D technology, which adapts the midsole to the wearer’s unique patterns of movement.

- HOKA

– HOKA

Saucony 

Saucony claims to be the first running brand, getting its start all the way back in 1898. Over a century later, they’ve built a reputation for sturdier running shoes using higher-quality materials and incorporating performance technologies.
Some of those advances include their PWRRUN and PWRRUN EVA foam, known for responsiveness and longer-lasting construction thanks to carbon fiber midsole plates. Toward more of a personalized fit, shoes incorporate ISOFit, which adapts the body to the shape of the wearer’s foot; FORMFIT, a combination of underfoot cradling and lightweight materials; the Comfort Lite Sockliner, which conforms to the foot to decrease pressure placed on the arch and forefoot; E•B•0, for greater protection against rocks and other objects; and POWERGRID, which combines their impact-absorbing, pressure-distributing Powerfoam with GRID technology to better align the shoe with the foot’s shape. 

New Balance 

At least right now, we use New Balance interchangeably with dad shoes – still around and associated with a chunky, retro appearance. Yet, despite this irony and assumption of a lack of style, New Balance does classic runners well: They introduced their first athletic shoe back in 1938 and continue to push performance with new technologies, including its FuelCell foam, lighter-weight mesh upper that still gives structure to your shoe, Fresh Foam X cushioning, and Energy Arc technology, which adds a carbon plate to the midsole to improve energy return.

- Saucony

– Saucony

Puma 

Similar to New Balance, we associate Puma with old-school activewear, particularly their Brush Spike from the ‘60s and later their leather trainers from the ‘70s and ‘80s. The brand, however, continues to evolve and diversify its product offerings while still focusing on the running market. Setting their athletic shoes apart are the Nitro Elite midsole for greater responsiveness and cushioning without adding weight, the PWRPlate using carbon fiber for structure and improved energy return, PUMAGRIP-LT for more traction, and its self-lacing Fit Intelligence system, designed to adapt to the wearer’s moves. 

Reebok 

Reebok’s reputation stands on two factors. One, they’ve managed to make athletic shoes that suit long-distance running and intensive training. Two, we still associate them with the Pump technologies from the early ‘90s, which resulted in both a closer fit and more responsiveness.
Reebok got its start back in 1958, and like its competitors today, it continues to trim down weight without impacting performance. Shoes deliver this balance through its 3D Floatride Energy Foam, designed to improve support and create a smoother run even in more rugged outdoor conditions. Floatride technologies have since entered both its road-running and outdoor-centric lines.
In this direction, Reebok’s latest efforts have entailed creating a shoe spanning and adapting to multiple active pursuits – from running to strength training. This has resulted in the Lift and Run chassis system for more versatile stability.

- Puma

– Puma

NoBull 

We’ve been seeing a lot of NoBull over the past couple of years. What gives this newcomer an edge is its lightweight, streamlined forms that add strategic lateral and median support for a closer fit without restricting the wearer’s performance. Yet, what looks like a mesh sock proves surprisingly adaptable for indoor to outdoor wear, all thanks to reliable, firm traction. 

Allbirds 

Another newcomer, Allbirds quickly found its stride among those looking for an alternative to the all-synthetic athletic shoe. While some claims have come into question, Allbirds has carved out a market for its wool construction that takes advantage of the material’s natural moisture-wicking properties and for creating a machine-washable shoe. Other ventures have included incorporating eucalyptus fibers and using castor bean oil for a partially renewable outsole.

- NoBull

– NoBull

Blazer vs Sport Coat vs Suit Jacket

Written by Ivan Yaskey in Tips & Advice on the 6th November 2023

Blazer vs. Sport Coat vs. Suit Jacket: What’s the Difference?

A blazer pulls even the most mundane outfits together, making jeans and a polo seem like you’re going somewhere. Yet, “blazer” has transformed into casual menswear-speak for any type of jacket with peak or notch lapels that’s not a bomber, chore coat, or something made of denim. At least in terms of construction, this loose template encompasses three distinct jackets: the blazer, with nautical origins; the sport coat, the most casual of the three and frequently called an “unstructured blazer;” and the suit jacket, with a name clearly explaining its origins. Today, dress codes feel like loose maybe-we’ll-follow rules, where you could grab a navy suit or simply pair a navy blazer with gray chinos and no one else would care or know the difference. Etiquette and social rules have fallen partially out the window, but especially for events where what you wear matters – think job interviews, showing up to a wedding – understanding the differences between these three garments somewhat matters. If you’re unsure, consider the following:

What is a Sport Coat? 

Yes, it has lapels, a button front, and a straight hem, but the sport coat stands out as the least formal of all three due to its background: It was conceived as a hunting and sporting jacket, hence the name. But, monikers aside, these origins shape its construction: It’s a slightly more spacious jacket that used to be constructed with a heavier outdoor fabric, like tweed or houndstooth, to brave the cooler weather. Once also called a morning jacket, the sport coat started as a garment of the English aristocracy, worn as they headed outdoors to hunt or fish. The construction reflected that of a suit but featured thicker, warmer fabric, and, at a time, frequently sported a leather patch on the shoulder for supporting a rifle. Many further included a belted waist with a buckle, perhaps alluding to the adventure-minded design of the safari jacket, but these features disappeared into the 20th century. Its aristocratic origins painted the sport coat early on as a luxury item: You didn’t really need it to go out to hunt or fish, but those that could afford it and who engaged in these pursuits wore it. Later, more affordable and mass-produced clothing made the garment more accessible, but by that point, the sport coat wasn’t used for hunting or other outdoor activities: Rather, wearers donned it for the style, pairing it with trousers of a different color and a tie.

- Brooks Brothers – Brooks Brothers

Today, this framework influences our perspective of what a sport coat is and when it’s worn: 

– It’s made of a heavier fabric than a typical blazer, constructed with wool, flannel, herringbone, tweed, cashmere, or even a coarser linen. 

– Because the wearer had to be able to move to shoot and pursue small game and often wore a sweater underneath, the sport coat featured – and continues to have – a looser cut, complete with pleats and a slit along the back. 

– Many of the base rules for suits and blazers don’t apply, and as a result, no color or pattern limitations confine sport coats. In turn, you’ll regularly see checks, stripes, and houndstooth patterns and a wide range of colors. 

– The buttons aren’t meant to stand out, and often have a smaller size and cheaper construction than those on a blazer or suit jacket. 

– In addition to the shoulder, leather patches were often added to protect the elbows. 

– You won’t see double-breasted sport coats. Rather, the jacket is single-breasted with peak lapels, often with visible stitching, and two or three buttons. Some jackets may have flap or slip pockets on the front. 

– Being the more casual of the three garments, the sport coat doesn’t look out of place with jeans, chinos, and trainers and, in fact, elevates them. However, avoid pairing them with suit or dress trousers, as the material’s weight is noticeably heavier and creates a disconnect.

- Tateossian – Tateossian

What is a Blazer? 

These days, a blazer serves as a catch-all term for a dressy-casual to formal jacket with lapels and at least two buttons in front. The formal definition, however, is more specific: A blazer is a moderately formal double-breasted jacket made of navy blue wool – a nod to its 19th century Royal Navy origins and later adoption by Cambridge’s rowing team – and complemented with prominent gold or silver tone buttons. Beyond this description, today’s blazers serve as a lighter-weight, dressier garment sharing similar characteristics with a sport coat: The key differences here are weight – blazers use a lighter wool or even cotton or linen – and cut. For the latter, the sport coat affords more room, while the blazer sits closer to the skin: You can still move your arms, but this isn’t a garment you’ll put on for more active use. The buttons remain prominent – although toned down to pewter or charcoal – on a two- to six-button front. Too, the design has shown more variation over the years: Double-breasted tends to read as highly casual or extremely formal, while single breasted with a notch collar remains the most versatile. Peak lapels further signal a degree of authority, or at least some confidence. 

In addition to these characteristics: 

– The blazer typically has a more structured form, with angular, defined shoulders and sides, and a hint of a waist. 

– Although navy remains a formal color, it’s not the only one you’ll spot. Charcoal, gray, and tan hold equal weight, and the garment regularly comes in “next level down” colors like blue, forest green, or burgundy, as well as in plaid and striped variations. 

– Similar rules as sport coats apply: Pair your blazer with trousers of a different color but a similar weight material. Here, though, the lighter weight and slimmer cut better integrate with your suit separates.

- Gant – Gant

What is a Suit Jacket? 

A suit jacket pretty much explains itself: It’s meant to be part of a pair with a matching set of trousers. Along with this general distinction, both garments use a finer, lighter material, like wool, cotton, or linen, and nearly always come in a traditional color, like navy, charcoal, or gray. 

Along with these basic characteristics: 

– Suit jackets typically have a smooth appearance, free of an obvious pattern or texture, although you may see some with checks or pinstripes. 

– Most use worsted wool for three seasons of wear, although you may find cotton or linen for warmer weather. Three-season suits additionally include a lining. 

– For formal situations, always default for your suit jacket, and make sure to wear it with the matching trousers. 

– Similar to blazers, the suit jacket has two, three, or, in rare cases, six buttons, as well as a single- or double-breasted front and a choice of notch or peak lapels. 

– Excluding suiting from the ‘90s and before, a suit jacket and matching trousers sit closer to the skin and are more form-fitting – although straining can indicate you’re wearing something too tight.

- Hawes & Curtis – Hawes & Curtis

Merino Wool Activewear

Written by Ivan Yaskey in Tips & Advice on the 8th November 2023

Why Merino Wool Makes the Ideal Active Fabric

Activewear – the category encompassing gym clothes to hiking, running, and other specialty outdoor apparel – has found itself in a conundrum in recent years. The materials and technologies improving performance, from polyester to odor-resistant and moisture-wicking treatments, aren’t sustainable. Going for a jog or even washing your gym T-shirt releases microplastics that end up in the environment. Performance treatments, meanwhile, utilize PFAS, also known as “forever chemicals,” in some form. This reckoning has resulted in three different directions for activewear. One, companies are starting to rethink and return to cotton. Two, they’re exploring various plant-based fibers, like bamboo and hemp, which, while sustainable in theory, sometimes end up as semi-synthetics due to how fibers get broken down. Three, merino wool has a growing presence, seeing its profile rise beyond skiing gear. Yet, many hesitate to put on wool to go for a run or even spend a few hours at the gym, thinking it’s too itchy or will feel rough and heavy. Merino upends these assumptions, resulting in a softer, smoother, and lighter fabric that wicks away moisture, regulates temperature, and controls odors without additional treatments:

What is Merino Wool?

Merino wool starts with the shearing of a merino sheep, resulting in about 10 to 18 pounds of fleece per sheep, or enough to knit about four sweaters. While outdoor brands have explored the benefits of merino wool’s finer, soft, yet crimped texture in recent decades, its history goes back to some point between the 12th and 14th centuries. During these years, the Phoenicians allegedly introduced these sheep to the Asia Minor region, and the Moors took them to Spain, where they were supposedly bred with breeds from England. Breeding these hybrid sheep held up a key portion of the country’s economy well into the 18th century. Spain started loosening its stranglehold on this product, partially in response to invasions that cut down its sheep population early in the 19th century. This move resulted in Australia breeding its own merino sheep beginning in 1797, resulting in an even finer wool, as well as American merchant William Jarvis bringing some sheep back to the United States to breed in the state of Vermont. Eventually, wool-making in the U.S. shifted toward the West by the end of the 19th century, and both Australia and New Zealand set the industry’s pace and quality. This juxtaposition created two different types of wool: The heavier, more wrinkled American version containing a higher concentration of lanolin, and the finer Australian version. A gift from the U.S. to Australia during the 19th century resulted in breeding among the two types of merino sheep and altered Australia’s product permanently. 

Especially compared to other varieties of wool, merino: 

– Is known for a finer crimp resulting in a softer texture that’s less likely to irritate the skin. 

– Has smaller-diameter fibers, generating a more flexible material: For a comparison, merino ranges from 15.5 to 23 microns in diameter, while fibers 25 microns and over result in a heavier, coarser product that’s likely to irritate the skin.

- Icebreaker – Icebreaker

Characteristics and Benefits of Merino Wool 

Unlike most activewear fabrics, merino wool doesn’t start with synthetic fibers and, in fact, biodegrades in the right conditions. Additional treatments aren’t needed for moisture-wicking and breathability. Characteristics include: 

Warmth and insulation: Extreme outdoors enthusiasts abide by the saying, “Every ounce counts.” Similar to down, merino delivers a high amount of warmth for its weight, which is why it initially took off among skiing and backpacking crews. 

Water absorption: The reason cotton fell out of favor among activewear brands? Once it absorbs and holds onto moisture, it feels damp and heavy, increasing risks for hypothermia in the process. Merino, by contrast, absorbs moisture, holding up to 30 percent of its weight, without this sensation. 

Durability: Despite its finer size, merino’s crimp results in a durable material that’s less likely to stretch out and pill – concerns for synthetic fibers. More specifically, each fiber can be bent up to 20,000 times without breaking or coming apart. This feature alone results in a fabric that generally lasts longer than polyester or spandex. As a note, stress and abrasion can wear merino, and in turn, some may notice thinning or holes start to form around the elbow or knee area. 

Breathable and cool: While it can act as an insulator, merino assists with both wicking away moisture and regulating body temperature. Coupled with a lighter construction than typical wool fabrics, these factors let your skin breathe during the warmer months and help regulate perspiration in the process. 

Moisture wicking: Already alluded to, merino’s hydrophilic fibers move moisture away from the skin and absorb it, rather than cause it to evaporate. This quality prevents sweat from building up as you work out, keeping you cool, dry, and comfortable in the process. 

Soft: A softer handfeel is a given for activewear. After all, who wants to be running or doing crunches with rough fabric rubbing against their sweat-covered skin? The finer size of merino fibers results in a silkier, less-stiff material, and the absence of a hook-like texture further limits irritation and the prickly sensation we associate with wool sweaters. 

Antimicrobial and odor resistant: The lanolin present in merino delivers a degree of antimicrobial action, controlling bacteria that could cause odors to set into the material. Wicking properties, meanwhile, further discourage this effect. Long term, your workout clothes continue to smell fresh after washing rather than develop a slight yet noticeable odor. 

Appearance: When tightly knit into a thinner, active-style fabric, merino offers greater drape, maintains its shape, and is less likely to wrinkle, including if you fold your clothes into a suitcase or gym bag. Added to this, the knit fibers move with your body without requiring elastane or polyester. 

Layering: Building off the points already discussed here, merino wool layers well, making it ideal for both warm- and cold-weather active use. In both conditions, its ability to regulate body temperature and moisture means that you’ll neither be too hot nor too cold, and your sweat won’t leave you with moist, uncomfortable garments and clammy skin. 

Stain resistance: Here, too, no additional treatment needs to be added to repel dirt and stains. In most cases, you can throw your merino activewear into the wash without having the stain set in. 

UV resistance: Especially in hiking and skiing markets, clothing often comes with a UPF rating. Due to its origins as the hair covering a sheep’s skin, merino wool provides natural UV resistance. 

Fire resistant: Unlike synthetics, merino is less likely to melt if exposed to high heat, thus improving the safety of the wearer. 

Biodegradable: As conversations about disposing of clothing continue, fully wool-based products have an edge: The material, without blended fibers, coatings, or additives, disintegrates once buried into the ground and provides a source of carbon and other nutrients for the soil. This process takes about 12 months for 100% wool garments.

- Helly Hansen – Helly Hansen

However, despite these benefits, you’re advised to keep the following in mind concerning the care and maintenance of merino: 

– Avoid wearing ultra-tight garments: The fabric isn’t as stretchy as spandex and will start to thin and develop holes at stress points with time. 

– While merino can be placed in the wash without shrinking, throwing it into the dryer can damage and shrink the fibers. 

– Moths go after wool garments. Be mindful of where and how you store your merino activewear: Excessive sweat and skin cells attract these pests, so consider using a natural moth-prevention method, like adding lavender, wherever you store your clothing. 

Where You’ll See Merino Wool Used 

Merino wool’s softer, finer knit makes it ideal for: 

– Base layers used in hiking and skiing for its ability to insulate without adding extra weight. 

– Socks, especially due to its natural moisture-wicking and odor-control properties. 

– Outerwear, for its ability to keep the body warm without adding bulk and how it layers with other garments. 

– Winter hats and scarves, for how it traps body heat without irritating the skin. 

– T-shirts, long-sleeve shirts, and sweaters, for its combination of moisture-wicking and heat-retention properties, lighter weight, and cotton-like feel when knit.

- Outdoor Research – Outdoor Research

Sunglasses Industry Sustainable

Written by Ivan Yaskey
in
Business

on the
7th July 2023

How the Sunglasses Industry Can Become More Sustainable

Notice the sun from your window? You grab a pair of sunglasses before you head outdoors – partially to tame the brightness and glare as you drive and partially to protect your eyes from exposure to damaging UVA and UVB rays. At the same time, the style-conscious among us select a face-flattering frame and often own multiple pairs. Yet, as with all petroleum-based products, a visible environmental impact accompanies sunglasses, no matter if you go for a premium brand or grab a plastic pair at the closest convenience store. Brands using bio-based or recycled materials have started cropping up in response:

The Environmental Impact of Sunglasses 

From the 19th century until as recent as the 1990s, the shells of hawksbill sea turtles were used for sunglasses frames, as well as for eyeglasses and hair accessories. To continue creating these products without forcing the species toward extinction, acetate – a plant-based plastic – was introduced during the first half of the 20th century and largely replaced turtle shells by the 1950s. Concept wise, cellulose acetate appeared as a win-win, resulting in a partial synthetic product rich in color and ripe for design possibilities – which eventually included jewelry, various home goods, and cigarette filters. For sunglasses, its durability far surpasses that of injection-molded plastic frames – a staple of fast-fashion brands – and the material can be heated to fit your face more precisely. Especially for everyday wear, this attribute, along with its hypoallergenic composition, is another asset. Yet, the production behind acetate is deceptive: While cellulose is an ingredient, this semi-synthetic material undergoes a chemically intensive process involving acetic acid, or vinegar, acetic anhydride, and sulfuric acid – a substance that poses a threat to human health and safety in high concentrations. Similar to rayon or viscose, the final product involves a mixture of dissolved plant fibers with petroleum-based sources, plus UV stabilizers and plasticizers like phthalates.

- Kampos

– Kampos

In turn, the impact of cellulose acetate is mixed: 

– Research has shown that the cellulose in acetate gradually biodegrades – anywhere from under two to over 10 years – based on where and how the material gets discarded. Due to this disparity, traditional acetate has yet to receive certification as a biodegradable material. 

– Plasticizers, just as with other plastic-based products, are known as hormone disrupters and come with cancer risks. 

– Acetate tends to break down in water-based environments: However, this process releases the petroleum-based substances and chemicals involved in its production. 

Other factors playing a role in sunglasses’ environmental impact are: 

– The lenses: Unless you’re purchasing glass, some type of plastic makes up the lenses for your sunglasses. In manufacturing and production, lenses generate small shavings that quickly add up and later get discarded in a landfill environment. Most of the time, these cheap lenses break quickly and get discarded. 

– Metal: While metal sunglasses typically have a smaller carbon footprint than an acetate-based frame, mining and production aren’t clean processes. Titanium particularly can release chlorine gas and sulfuric acid into the environment. 

– Manufacturing and lifespan: Manufacturing starts the often-brief lifespan of a pair of sunglasses with an energy-intensive process. Their difficult-to-recycle design often means they end up in landfills, where they leach chemicals into the environment, or become waste contributing to global microplastics pollution.

- Lowercase

– Lowercase

Making Sunglasses More Sustainable 

Already, the sunglasses industry has experimented with more sustainable approaches: 

The Frames 

Perhaps the most visible portion of a pair, frame designs have started straying away from traditional cellulose acetate and experimenting with wood, bamboo, recycled materials, and bio-acetate – many with a lower carbon footprint and potential to either be repurposed or break down in a landfill or compost environment. Solutions, so far, have included: 

– Bioplastics: An alternative to petroleum-based solutions, polylactic acid, or PLA, is intended to break down in a landfill or industrial compost environment while releasing fewer chemicals than traditional plastic. 

– Recycled materials: We’re noticing two trends. One, recycled plastic gets an extended lifespan as a pair of sunglasses frames, often built with greater durability in mind. Materials may be sourced from traditional channels or be repurposed ocean plastics – for example, discarded fishing industry waste or plastic collected along the shoreline. Two, recycled metals continue to grow in popularity as they produce a comparable material while conserving natural resources and involving a smaller carbon footprint. 

– Bamboo: Wood-styled sunglasses often incorporate bamboo, a product that grows faster and provides a more renewable resource compared to trees. Alone or combined with acetate, bamboo typically results in a lighter-weight frame with a subtle woodgrain texture. 

– Bio-acetate: Also catted bio-based acetate, this semi-synthetic begins with wood pulp or cotton but cuts out the petroleum source. Mazzucchelli started pioneering this alternative, dubbed M49, all the way back in 2010, using roughly 70 percent plant-sourced ingredients with more consistent biodegradability.

- Colorful Standard

– Colorful Standard

Other Considerations 

Further making sunglasses more sustainable are the following practices: 

– Lenses: After years relying on plastics for standard to polycarbonate and impact-resistant lenses, manufacturers are returning to mineral glass for its clarity, durability, and improved scratch resistance. 

– Manufacturing practices: A sustainable material often isn’t enough on its own. As we’ve already explored, the full supply chain needs to be considered. For sunglasses, this starts with conserving water, using fewer chemicals to create frames, reducing the waste behind lenses, and using more renewable energy sources throughout all stages. 

– Encouraging a more circular economy: Thinking about the end of a product’s lifespan now comes into consideration during development, with the goal of supporting a more circular economy. In terms of sunglasses, a few approaches create a stronger closed-loop system. Among them are recycling frames: These can either be reworked into a new pair of sunglasses or broken down into individual components to be recycled. As well, acetate waste has potential to be repurposed, including melted down or used as deadstock for new frames. 

– Longevity: While trend will likely continue to shape the eyewear market, more sustainably minded brands are designing for longevity – specifically several years of use through repairs, followed by intended recycling at the end of a pair’s lifespan.

- Sunski

– Sunski

Sustainable Sunglasses Brands 

RAEN Optics

Founded in 2009 as a premium eyewear brand inspired by California’s coastal lifestyle, RAEN has started making some of its more accessibly priced, stylish handcrafted frames out of sustainable materials. Earlier in 2023, the brand released The Recycled Black Collection, featuring frames made with 100% recycled acetate. Their current efforts incorporate Mazzucchelli’s M49 bio-acetate to use fewer petroleum-based sources and a more sustainable manufacturing process without compromising quality or durability. This material is paired with Sustainable Polyamide lenses from ZEISS, composed of 39-percent renewable materials from bio-based waste, manufactured entirely with renewable electricity, designed with performance and durability in mind, and generating half the CO2 as a conventional pair of lenses. About this composition, cofounder Jordan Percy explains: “Working with bio-based and biodegradable materials presents unique challenges. One challenge is ensuring consistent quality and performance while utilizing alternative materials. Extensive research and development are required to create bio-based materials that meet the standards of durability, flexibility, and aesthetics expected in eyewear. Additionally, biodegradability needs to be carefully balanced to ensure frames maintain their integrity throughout their usable life while still breaking down responsibly at the end of their lifecycle.” 

Just Human 

Just Human started out of a mission to build a better pair of sunglasses – part reactionary in response to the industry’s increasing disposability and partially in response to limited technological capabilities. The result incorporates more advanced lens technologies and factors in sustainability through all stages – from frames made of FSC® certified reforested softwood trees, more durable glass lenses leaving behind no waste, and packaging using 100-percent recyclable post-consumer materials. 

Lowercase 

Manufactured in Brooklyn, Lowercase takes a deadstock approach to creating sunglasses, sourcing vintage acetate from Mazzucchelli to make new frames.

- RAEN Optics

– RAEN Optics

Kampos 

Kampos repurposes various types of plastic waste – from fishing and ocean pollution, as well as recycled plastic – to deliver luxury-quality frames built to last. 

Colorful Standard 

The name reflects the brand – colorful yet quality-designed sunglasses crafted for longer wear and to limit the need to purchase a second pair. Unisex, somewhat retro-leaning frames are constructed with biodegradable or bio-based materials. 

Pala Eyewear 

Pala is one of the brands crafting its small-batch frames from bio-acetate and utilizes recycled plastic to make its cases. At the same time, the Certified B Corp company continues to fund various eye care projects in Africa. 

Solo 

Based out of California and in business since 2011, Solo strives to make frames out of reusable materials, including recycled plastic and bamboo and wood that likely would have been destined for a landfill. Along with crafting a small group of unisex frames, sales go toward supporting eye care efforts in over 30 countries.

- Pala Eyewear

– Pala Eyewear

BEINGBAR 

BEINGBAR takes a two-part approach to sustainable eyewear. Frames begin with bamboo, each with a unique, handmade appearance, and get crafted in small batches to limit the impact of manufacturing. Added to this, packaging and shipping components are free of plastic. 

Sunski 

Sunski designs eyewear out of post-industrial scrap plastic before it has a chance to enter a landfill. Frames provide both a flexible fit and long-lasting wear. 

Woodzee 

Rather than trees or bamboo, Woodzee sources the wood fibers making up its sunglasses frames from old skateboard decks. Customers can trade their old frames in for a discount on a new pair, rather than throw them out or look for a community eyewear recycling program. 

Proof Eyewear 

Proof designs its sunglasses from a combination of sustainably sourced wood, recycled aluminum, and cotton-based acetate, plus skateboard decks given a second life.

Madras Fabric

Written by Ivan Yaskey
in
Fashion History

on the
18th July 2023

What is Madras?

Polo shirts. Boat shoes. Madras. No matter the era or colour, these staples characterize a summertime preppy wardrobe. But, while polo shirts and boat shoes are fairly self-explanatory, Madras comes with a complicated, colonialist history, making it more than a warm-weather plaid.

Characteristics of Madras Fabric 

Not to be confused with the curry powder of a similar name, Madras describes a lightweight cotton fabric that’s often hand-woven and features a bright multicoloured check pattern. Historically, vegetable and semi-permanent dyes contributed to this appearance – one, after a mistake with a large Brooks Brothers order in the 1950s, that often bleeds and fades. While the fabric gets used for a number of garments, you’ll spot it among men’s summer button-fronts, Bermuda-style shorts, and unlined cotton suits and sportscoats. Multiple techniques go into creating Madras. Going back to its origins in the modern-day Indian city of Chennai (formerly the outpost of Madras during British rule), the fabric was hand-loomed and yarn-dyed, resulting in an identical colour combination on both sides. Today, machines often create Madras, but the authentic material shrinks somewhat, has a light, uneven slubbed texture, and will fade and bleed with time. While original iterations featured fewer colours, fabrics since popularity surged in the mid-20th century incorporate a wider range of colours over a patchwork configuration. 

In the present, you’ll come across three types of Madras configurations: 

– Pre-dyed threads are woven into a single piece of fabric. This method is the most traditional. 

– The fabric gets woven and then dyed – either using natural or synthetic colours. 

– Perhaps the least authentic, individual cotton patches are woven and then stitched together, resulting in a lightweight, asymmetrical patchwork fabric.

- J.Crew

– J.Crew

The History of Madras 

Western consumers received three introductions to Madras – first through the British East India Company, later through the burgeoning Caribbean vacation industry in the early 20th century, and then through preppy fashions and the broader popularization of the fabric by Brooks Brothers, Ralph Lauren, Gant, and other brands catering toward a WASP-y, collegiate American consumer. The fabric’s history goes back to India, particularly the region of Madraspatnam. While British colonial rule brought the woven cotton fabric to a wider audience, these textiles go as far back as the 2nd century and were traded in the Middle East and North Africa during the 15th century. Europeans’ introduction to what’s now called Madras started with the Dutch, who established a presence in the region in the 17th century, and, not long after, the East India Company, through a colony known as Armagon, which traded spices and textiles. 

Colonists searching for a better-quality cloth came across Madraspatnam, a coastal village with chintz-style textiles featuring a block print. The East India Company set up a second post here, along with Fort St. George, to grow its textile industry, including traditional cotton, a solid-coloured muslin, and the loosely handwoven cotton initially featuring embroidery. Rice gruel, vegetable dyes, and boiling water added the familiar, although somewhat basic, plaid pattern of reds and blues we now associate with Madras. Over the next couple of centuries, demand for Madras grew throughout the British Empire for its bright colours and construction ideal for staying cool in the heat. As another step toward the pattern to which we’re more accustomed today, King George IV visited Scotland in 1822, bringing back an interest in tartan plaids with him. In turn, these two aspects converged somewhat, resulting in a brighter, more contrast-heavy plaid print on Madras fabric. At the same time, the lightweight, breathable construction caught on in South Africa and other British African colonies before it spread to the Caribbean.

- Polo Ralph Lauren

– Polo Ralph Lauren

American Preppy Fashion 

Up to this point, the progression and path taken by Madras across the British Empire explains its popularity as a warm-weather staple. Its role as a keystone of American preppy fashion overlaps with this narrative and takes its own tangent. As a vague initial introduction, the former Collegiate School in New Haven renamed itself as Yale University in honour of Elihu Yale, a governor of Madras in the 18th century who made a donation to the school. Along with a large amount of funds, this included Madras fabric. However, wider exposure came in the form of the Sears Roebuck & Company catalog, which started carrying summer-friendly Madras shirts in 1897. Perhaps as a confluence of these factors, those with the means to travel to British-owned areas of the Caribbean in the first few decades of the 20th century returned with Madras – at the time, a status symbol similar to the Hawaiian shirt. Over the next few decades, preppy brands like Brooks Brothers embraced the lightweight, colourful fabric. The fading factor, however, is attributed to an incident in 1958: At the time, Brooks Brothers purchased about 10,000 yards of the material, but was unaware the fabric, coloured with chemical azo dyes, would bleed after washing. Customers, predictably, were dissatisfied after running Madras through a washing machine. In conjunction with advertising firm Ogilvy, Brooks Brothers developed a campaign touting the fabric’s ability to fade – “Guaranteed to Bleed” became a well-known tagline at the time.

- Turnbull & Asser

– Turnbull & Asser

How to Wear Madras 

Today, impressions of the woven plaid material vary based upon where in the world you are. While not quite a status symbol, Madras remains a staple of U.S. preppy dressing and those influenced by these upper-class, Ivy League styles. On Caribbean Island Martinique, the fabric is frequently used for school uniforms. In India, likely due to history, it’s considered a lowly, almost utilitarian fabric without much value. The reality is, whether you’re going for authentic or patchwork Madras material, the lightweight cotton fits the bill for a number of spring and summer garments – lightweight shirts, shorts, trousers, and suit jackets, as well as pocket squares. The broken-up rainbow of colours positions it as a statement material – one that pairs well with neutrals like khaki, navy, and white, as well as various muted solid-colour pastels. Today, the fabric offers an alternative yet similar feel as linen due to its breathability and light wrinkling. In turn, unless you’re striving for a direct preppy allusion complete with boat shoes, you’re advised to sport it as a casual to smart-casual summer fabric alongside other cotton-based garments.

- John Lewis

– John Lewis

HOW TO SHOP FOR YOUR FIRST SUIT

Written by Ivan Yaskey in Tips & Advice on the 19th July 2023

How to Shop for Your First Suit

Although our dress codes have evolved significantly over the past 20 years, the suit continues to represent an entry-point to adulthood. Perhaps you graduated university and are starting your first career-related position – or are at least doing rounds of interviews. Or, you received a promotion with more responsibilities that now requires you to dress better. Although a blazer and chinos or a dressier trouser often suffice in these situations, your first suiting purchase needs to count – in terms of quality, versatility, and longevity. Here’s how you can get started:

Think About Why You’re Purchasing a Suit 

Don’t treat your first suit like a class ring – an insignificant, clunky piece of jewellery simultaneously representing the end one chapter and the start of something new. It’s not a formality or a symbol. Instead, base your decision to purchase your first suit on: 

– When you’ll be wearing it: If this is a job-interview suit, be sure you can sport it for occasions like work presentations and weddings. Also look to split it up for less formal settings and purposes. Similarly, avoid a one-off wedding suit, and seek out a design that gives you more mileage. 

– Where you will be wearing it: More frequent usage deserves a three-season, lined design that keeps you fairly comfortable and won’t look or feel awkward. Avoid purchasing a summer suit – unlined cotton or linen – for your first go-around, as well as something you could only wear to a party or event with a cocktail dress code.

- Todd Snyder – Todd Snyder

Start With Materials 

You’ve likely already worn a suit before – although your parents may have purchased it off the rack when you were a child or teen, or you rented it. Longevity and quality, in this case, come down to the material making up your suit: 

– Wool: This is the acceptable, high-quality baseline. Worsted wool is your standard, although tweed adds a heritage look and texture. As a material, wool does it all – keeps you relatively warm, controls perspiration, and manages odours. 

– Cotton: Cotton is a budget yet still natural fabric for three-season wear and a suitable warm-weather material when unlined. Cotton is serviceable as long as you maintain your suit. 

– Linen: Linen tends to be reserved for warm-weather suits, although lined versions provide enough coverage for spring and fall weather. In all contexts, linen has a looser, more open weave that lets air pass through and lends itself to more texture. 

– Synthetics and blends: You spot these among fast-fashion suits – particularly polyester, although you may find rayon, nylon, or a spandex blend crafted for flexibility. In all cases, the suit looks acceptable at a glance, but the fabric pills or stretches out relatively quickly. In general, avoid synthetics when making a long-term purchase.

- Indochino – Indochino

Know Your Colours and Patterns 

Start classic before you experiment. With suiting, this approach begins with a navy, charcoal, or grey shade. Avoid second-level colours – forest green, blue, brown, tan, or burgundy – for now, and see bold shades and patterns as something you save for festive and more casual occasions. As well, black without any texture or embossing is a funeral colour and appears too somber for the typical workplace or weddings. 

Why navy, grey, or charcoal? 

– These colours tend to match a broader range of dress shirts – think blue, white, or light checks or stripes – and accessories like pocket squares and cufflinks. 

– If you’re in the mood to experiment, these three shades serve as a neutral backdrop for pops of a brighter colour, like red or purple, or a pattern. This is the first stage for trying out various prints and patterns. 

– They’re considered the most professional colours, no matter where you work or your occupation, and also the most versatile, including if you primarily wear your suit as separates. 

– Lighter colours signal a warm-weather suit – and look out of place when you’ve got to look put together for a presentation in January. 

– They additionally match typical dress shoe colours: However, avoid pairing black dress shoes with a navy suit.

- The Kooples – The Kooples

Look for a Simple, Versatile Design 

From the early 2000s onward, one silhouette dominated men’s suiting: a slim, single-breasted, two-button two-piece design with notch lapels. Now, though, the tailoring 2.0 trend from a couple of years ago has encouraged more diverse offerings – three pieces, double-breasted jackets, wider cuts, peak lapels, stronger shoulders, and more defined waists. Despite this variety, you’re advised to keep your suit somewhat classic and adaptable: 

– Continue to stick with a two-button jacket featuring notch lapels and a structured, although not extreme, silhouette. 

– Placement is everything: Avoid a lapel that’s cut too high, and make sure your shirt cuffs don’t disappear into the sleeve. 

– For trousers, wide legs and pleated options have a more commanding presence right now but come off as both too youthful and a tad retro. Look for a straight to slightly tapered leg with a flat front that hits right where your dress shoes begin. 

– For more nitty-gritty aspects, look for a suit jacket featuring a double vent, considered more formal than single- and no-vent styles. 

– Avoid novelty features at this stage – for example, three-plus buttons, peak lapels, patch pockets, and strong, angular, or padded shoulders.

- Windsor – Windsor

Focus on the Fit 

No matter where or how you purchase your suit, fit defines the line between being put together, sloppy, and a try-hard, reflecting precision and effortlessness simultaneously. In most cases, a more personalized fit means getting a tailor involved for varying degrees of adjustments. To make this process go smoothly: 

– Never select a suit that’s too tight for your frame. Instead, go slightly larger (no more than an inch) and expect to have your trousers and jacket taken in. 

– On the subject of a too-tight fit, avoid straining. This includes at the front and seat of your trousers – the fabric will look stretched. The jacket, meanwhile, should easily button in front, with a small amount of room. 

– Even if you start off-the-rack, examine the shoulder: Avoid a bumpy or lumpy appearance or a dent where the shoulder transitions to the sleeve. Instead, these portions should seamlessly lead into the other, with just a slight angle where your shoulder falls. 

– For the jacket, make sure it doesn’t fall past your hand – hitting around your thumb is ideal – and fully covers but doesn’t extend past your backside. Sleeves should hit right at your wrists. Realize that adjustments for jackets are selective. 

– For the trousers, look for a mid-rise waist that hits right above the hips and doesn’t cause material around the back and front to bunch up or strain. Make sure that the hem hits your shoes and creates a slight break when you sit down. 

– Ideally, expect to have the waist and hem of your trousers brought in a touch, and the jacket’s collar and sleeves moderately adjusted.

- Brioni – Brioni

Where and How to Look for a Suit 

Consider starting your search for your first suit in person, unless you’re using an online-based made-to-measure suiting service where someone will take your measurements and discuss fits. Generally, never go with the first suit you see. Instead: 

– Start with a budget – anywhere from a couple hundred to a couple thousand – and look at retailers within your range. Generally, the more bespoke something is, the higher it will cost. Typically, off-the-rack represents the lower end, made-to-measure fills out the midrange and also limits adjustments, and bespoke, or entirely custom, comes with the highest price tag. Avoid aspirational shopping at this stage, unless it’s in your budget. 

– Try on suits from different retailers to see what fits. 

– Look for suits that you can easily wear as separates. 

– Prepare to take your suit to a tailor to have some adjustments made. Consider getting some quotes to see how this service fits into your overall budget.