OTC Goes Handmade With Paul Stuart Footwear

Making Shoes OTC Goes Handmade With Paul Stuart Footwear

True personalization is the epitome of luxury. The idea of something crafted specifically and uniquely for you – to fit your particular body in all of its glorious imperfection – is what makes the world of bespoke so special, attractive, and often expensive.

Perhaps nowhere is the true benefit of customized fit more evident than with footwear. A bespoke suit is a wonderfully comfortable expression of a tailor’s craft; a garment that can change how you feel about yourself and how others see you. Made to measure shoes, however, are another thing all together. Good shoes are merely utilitarian as we all too well know. They are practical, functional, and vital items that can quite literally make or break your day. Even the best looking, most elegantly crafted brogues are worthless if it hurts too much to walk or they simply do not fit your particular feet.

PS Classic Logo OTC Goes Handmade With Paul Stuart FootwearPaul Stuart, already the byword for elegant comfort that speaks to a classic landed gentry aesthetic, has recently launched a made to measure shoe program, taking up the banner up luxury footwear personalization. Blending their signature landed gentry style with the precision of the cobbler’s art, Paul Stuart’s exceptional English and Italian footwear is something to notice.

OTC in NYC

OTC has been invited to try out and document the Paul Stuart custom footwear experience and we’d like to bring you along for the ride.

On Tuesday, October 21, 2014, we will be in-house at the Paul Stuart flagship store at 354 Madison Avenue to meet the shoe-makers. OTC editor-in-chief Chris Hogan will learn about what goes into made to measure footwear, get measured, and pick out all the details for our personalized pair. We’ll post more details closer to the 21st, but mark your calendars to stop by, say hi, and possibly look into ordering a pair for yourself.

We’ll have more specific information posted soon!

B+M Jimmy Olson OTC Goes Handmade With Paul Stuart Footwear

 

 

What to Wear This Fall: Irish Sweaters

Aran Handknit What to Wear This Fall: Irish Sweaters

Some things just naturally go together and “sweaters and fall” is definitely one of those things. Or two of those things. Regardless, when cool weather starts rolling in, menswear get a chance to show off some of the things that make classic style so classic.

Layering is one of the treats for those who love cold weather and a chunky Irish sweater always fits the bill. Thick wool, handcrafted, traditional or modern in style, they are for many of us, the hallmarks of the season. And, one of the best places to find an Irish sweater that’s right for you is actually a website.

Aran Sweater Market is a real place – founded in 1892 as a cooperative of traditional knitters on the cluster of Islands off the west coast of Ireland at the mouth of Galway Bay. Known as the islands of saints and scholars, the Aran Islands are breathtaking in landscape and rich in Irish history and culture. They are also the birthplace to iconic, traditional cabled “fisherman’s sweater.” These sweaters were often designed with distinct patterns unique to an individual clan. The patterns were jealously guarded as familial markers and sometimes used to identify the bodies of fishermen lost at sea. In fact, if you have the opportunity to visit the Aran Sweater Market on the Aran Islands, you can see an official register of these historic patterns.

Aran Label What to Wear This Fall: Irish SweatersThe sweaters themselves possess many attributes which made them suitable for cold and inclement weather – typical for lives of fishermen and island farmers in the North Atlantic. An Aran sweater is both naturally breathable and water repellent, and can even absorb 30 percent of its weight in water before feeling wet.  You can learn more about these remarkable garments by visiting the Aran Sweater Shop’s website.

We have been testing out the Hand Knit Honeycomb Stitch sweater (pictured at the top) and the Fisherman’s Ribbed Wool Turtleneck (below). Where the honeycomb stitch sweater embodies the classic fisherman’s jumper, the turtleneck projects a slightly more urbane and modern look. Both are expertly crafted and come with certificates of authenticity that proclaim their Aran Islands provenance. In addition to these two models, you can choose from  a range of style, weights, and colors, from highly traditional to surprisingly contemporary.

So substantial are some of these sweaters that they can often be worn as an outer layer themselves. Or, to complete that landed gentry look, just throw on a waxed canvas field jacket when it starts to get a little too chilly. These types of sweaters look good with almost any East Coast inspired outfit; from khakis to jeans, boat shoes to penny loafers. If there happens to be a large, happy dog nest to you, all the better.

As you might expect, hand knits are more expensive that machine made sweater, but both versions are well beyond the quality you would find in a typical store. Aran Sweater Market also sells women’s sweaters, woolen socks, woven and knitted scarves, and myriad woolens for the home.

Want to know what actual everyday New England preppy families had stashed in the off-season dresser? It was all this stuff – and every year we waited for months to pull it all back out.

Aran Ribbed TNeck What to Wear This Fall: Irish Sweaters

Aran Wool Hoodie What to Wear This Fall: Irish Sweaters

Aran Classic Fisherman What to Wear This Fall: Irish Sweaters

Aran WoolCashmere What to Wear This Fall: Irish Sweaters

 

Going Custom With Allen Edmonds

Screenshot 2014 10 06 12.42.15 Going Custom With Allen EdmondsWe are working on an exciting project with iconic American footwear brand, Allen Edmonds.

“Custom” is the big buzzword throughout the fashion and menswear world right now: custom suits, custom shirts, custom trousers, even custom watch straps. To this ever-growing world of specialized fit and individual uniqueness now add customized shoes.

Of course, bespoke footwear has been around for centuries. One can still ring up John Lobb and set an appointment to begin the lengthy, and suitably expensive, process of creating a pair of shoes that will literally fit you feet like gloves. If, however, you require something more logistically and financially manageable, Allen Edmonds has the online tool for you.

Dubbed, the “shoe configurator”, this new tool offers you several footwear models, from casual boat shoes to dress cap toes, that can be tweaked and sized on a variety of levels never before offered. From changing the shoe’s color or type of leather to selecting two different sizes should your feet vary, to swapping soles. You can even mix and match leathers and colors to create some seriously customized (and potentially vibrant) shoes. Allen Edmonds plans to roll out even more features for the configurator soon.

Screenshot 2014 10 06 12.37.35 Going Custom With Allen Edmonds

To be sure, it’s not inexpensive. Although compared to taking the bespoke route, it’s certainly a fair price for what you get – a pair of shoe far more customized to your fit and likes than would be available almost anywhere else; and from a company with a track record that bespeaks quality.

The tool’s interface is easy and intuitive. You start out with the standard model, and the variations you choose dictate the eventual cost of the final product. We gave it a try and settled on the classic wing McAllister wing tip. As we now are heading into autumn, the logical choice was a dark brogue suede. And, since inclement weather comes with the territory, we selected the mini-lug sole.

Simple and classic? You bet. But also, exactly what we wanted, right from the easy chair – and that’s the point.

We eagerly await the results (expect to wait about four weeks), and will show you the shoes once they arrive. Even more exciting for you is that we will be conducting a special giveaway that will let one lucky OTC reader create their very own pair of custom Allen Edmonds shoes!

So, stay tuned and check back.

Screenshot 2014 10 06 12.37.22 Going Custom With Allen Edmonds

 

The Recon AC Short from Triple Aught Design

TAD Recon Short in Desolation 2 The Recon AC Short from Triple Aught Design

Triple Aught Design is a brand dedicated to creating tactical inspired gear and clothing that works in the real world. Truth be told, for some of their customers that world may very well be a covert mission somewhere in the darker reaches of the planet. However, for the rest of us it typically hovers somewhere around our kid’s soccer practice, the daily commute, or heading out for a weekend hike.

We are fans of Triple Aught’s ability to marry the cool factor of something truly designed to handle SEAL-worthy adventures with the practicality of everyday use. Bags that work for everyday commuting – at least for casual commuters – and outerwear that’s urban adventurer functional without being overly commando looking. There is a fine line between appreciating a product’s military inspiration and looking like you’re playing dress-up. Forgiving the sometimes over-top-product narratives, Triple Aught walks that line especially well.

A great example of this blend of styling and practicality is present in the Recon AC Short. It’s still shorts weather out there, and these have become a favorite when dressing up is not a requirement. Placed somewhere between casual wear and outdoor gear, the Recon Short is comfortable, practical, unstructured, and endlessly functional.

The dense yet remarkably soft material is called Amphibious Cloth, hence the “AC,” and is a durable and lightweight nylon fabric. The shorts feature inset zippered cargo pockets with internal attachment points, with a total of nine pockets all together; signature bar tack reinforcements at stress points, triple-needle stitching for increased durability, and a gusseted crotch that provides freedom of motion.

With a stylishly neutral and comfortable design, these are indeed shorts that can hit the road or the trail with equal aplomb. But, we also think they work just fine for sailing on the Cape, a heavy day of yard work, or simply hanging out with your dog.

TAD Recon Short in Desolation 4 The Recon AC Short from Triple Aught Design

TAD Recon Short in Desolation 1 The Recon AC Short from Triple Aught Design

TAD Recon Short in Desolation 3 The Recon AC Short from Triple Aught Design

 

Last week, we traveled up to New York City for the invitation-only party to celebrate the U.S. launch of the new book Rowing Blazers. Held at the newly inaugurated Polo/Ralph Lauren flagship store on Fifth Avenue – opening only days earlier – the event was a fun, crowded,  and sartorial cacophony of colors and patterns.

Penned by award-winning oarsman Jack Carlson and with principal photography by F.E. Castleberry, Rowing Blazers is a celebration of the historic garment upon which that most classic of men’s habiliment, the classic blue blazer, rests.

2014 09 24 23.42.11 OTC at the New York Launch Party for the Book Rowing Blazers

2014 09 23 16.57.54 OTC at the New York Launch Party for the Book Rowing Blazers

Not only did we spend the evening among 700 smartly dressed folks, we also had the pleasure of whiling away the afternoon beforehand with our friend and mentor Alan Flusser (above). It goes with saying that his outfit for the evening aptly reflected Alan’s mastery of color, pattern, and personality.

We also had the honor of OTC’s editor-in-chief being highlighted in Hodinkee’s watch spotting roundup of the Rowing Blazer event (below). For those who don’t know about Hodinkee, it is the web’s premier resource for watch news, product launches, in-depth industry reporting, and fascinating insights into the world of horological curiosities. Only one watch publication was invited to actually attend the Cupertino launch of the Apple Watch: Hodinkee.

Rowing Blazers 49 OTC OTC at the New York Launch Party for the Book Rowing Blazers

Rowing Blazers 48 OTC OTC at the New York Launch Party for the Book Rowing Blazers

Rowing Blazers Hodinkee Crw OTC at the New York Launch Party for the Book Rowing Blazers

A big thanks also goes out to the brand partners who outfitted our E-in-C for this fantastic event. Bonobos provided the Windsor single vent blue blazer and Heritage Washed Chino khakis; both trim, modern updates of preppy classics. We again joined forces with Deo Veritas to create a custom dress shirt, this time in a light purple gingham check. Still the best online custom shirts we have found. Eye Buy Direct provided us with new glasses and sunglasses for the trip. And to answer the question many folks were asking, yes, that was Frank Clegg’s Courier Messenger Bag in shrunken leather into which our copy of Rowing Blazers went.

Now, on to some great images from the September 23, 2014, New York City launch party for the new book, Rowing Blazers.

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Rowing Blazers 2 767x1024 OTC at the New York Launch Party for the Book Rowing Blazers

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Rowing Blazers FYG Shoes OTC at the New York Launch Party for the Book Rowing Blazers

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Rowing Blazers Pants OTC at the New York Launch Party for the Book Rowing Blazers

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Rowing Blazers Checv. Flusser OTC at the New York Launch Party for the Book Rowing Blazers

Rowing Blazers PRL Display OTC at the New York Launch Party for the Book Rowing Blazers

Rowing Blazers Bulldog Blanket OTC at the New York Launch Party for the Book Rowing Blazers