HonourMark OTC 703x1024 Perfect: The HonourMark British Motorcycle Jacket
There are certain things in life that immediately speak to you. It’s the way you know with a single touch or glance that something is special, an example of craftsmanship set apart from others.

A Frank Clegg leather bag stands alone in the world of daily portage. A Jon Green bespoke suit is a sartorial second skin so expertly executed that it looks and feels molded to your body in flawless perfection.

And, now we can say that the British Motorcycle Jacket from San Francisco-based HonourMark is the standard for exceptional daily outerwear. Crafted from the best materials available and built with neurotic attention to detail, this jacket fits like a piece of tailored clothing yet is capable of taking on an adventure in the African veldt.

Moreover, this is a jacket that gets noticed all the time. We have lost track of all the “nice jacket,” “who makes that jacket,” and “oh my gosh, that’s beautiful” comments we have received. It really is that good.

THE BEST

When OTC first received the Motorcycle Jacket, we wrote, “Perhaps one of the single best garments we have ever had our hands on. You know when you just look at something and know it’s one of the best out there? Before you even touch it? That’s this jacket.”

That opinion still holds, and then some.

HonourMark’s goal, to create exceptional made-in-America garments that celebrate the Monday-Friday lives that all men lead, is born out in their dedication to craft the c-suite equivalent of technical adventure clothing. Expensive by most guy’s standards, these are meant to be jackets in which you invest, and which you wear day in and day out.

They are executive quality outerwear to replace the well-made but out of place mountaineering shells and jackets to which many men are drawn. Such gear is fine for the weekend, felt founder Michael DeNunzio, but they don’t work for the office.

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The jacket’s body is crafted from Ventile, a naturally wind- and-water resistant material developed during World War II for the British Royal Air Force. This material has a substantial and sturdy hand, but is also pliable and quick to break in. The weave is so tight that you can quite literally pour a glass of water on the jacket and it will bead up and roll off.

DETAILS

The fit is particularly interesting because, while this jacket is based on an iconic design – a dashing but practical jacket for adventurous motorcycle riders – designer and co-founder Shaun Aharam re-imagined it as a refined and modernized classic. To de-clutter the body, he ditched the traditional belt and collar straps. The slimmer silhouette, higher armholes, and a shorter fit together create a fresh design that is both heritage-driven and thoroughly contemporary.

The British Motorcycle Jacket is also lined with an amazingly soft and durable Japanese yarn-dyed cotton. The hand-warmer pockets are also lined with with this fantastic and lightweight fabric. Sometimes, we just want to keep our hands in there to enjoy that perfect, soft coziness.

navy moto handwarmers large Perfect: The HonourMark British Motorcycle JacketThis unique lining also allows the jacket to maintain a comfortable mid-weight heft; not too think and not at all bulky. It’s just right with everything from a simple button down oxford to a beefy wool sweater. The sleeves are lined with a silk-like synthetic fabric from the same Japanese mill. The cuffs, collar, and flaps to the bellows pockets are also lined with a dense British corduroy, just right for cold, breezy days.

The slanted chest pocket, a trademark motorcycle jacket feature designed to facilitate easy access while on the road, has a handy inner sleeve that can securely hold your smart phone, pen, or keys. A no-snag bi-directional zipper stays secure behind the full-length storm flap.

One detail that really speaks to HonourMark’s fixation on creating something unique and quality-driven are the snaps. Forged in Kentucky, each snap is military grade and backed with a perfectly cut Napa leather washer. This combination creates a durable closure and also protects the jacket’s Ventile fabric for years to come.

As with every other feature, even the particular shade of colors offered (navy and black) are designed to compliment almost any wardrobe pairing. Ours is the navy blue model and truth be told, it goes with everything – even our favorite navy Read Wall chinos.

BRAND POSITIONING

Grounded in classic, functional workwear, HonourMark has elevated the everyday, multi-season jacket to a wardrobe essential. Production runs are small, meaning that each of the three jacket styles (and one fantastic vest) offered, is a limited edition. The other jacket styles are also elevated versions of classic menswear pieces: the car coat and the quilted estate jacket. Their quilted vest is an equally office-elegant rendition of a traditional field garment.

Quality, durability, and understated luxury are the brand’s focus and we are happy to say that in the British Motorcycle Jacket, they have nailed each one.

HonourMark is very much the type of brand you would expect to see in the pages of Robb Report or Monocle – in fact, that’s exactly where we hope to see it someday. But, this is also the type of brand that can back up such attention and hype with world-class products that are worth every penny. We expect to see a lot more from HonourMark.

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Ledbury Pops into Georgetown

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Richmond, Virginia, based shirt-maker extraordinaire, Ledbury, is back in the national capitol for the 2014 holiday season.

The brand, best known for its e-commerce approach to Jermyn Street quality shirting, opened up a seasonal pop-up shop at 1254 Wisconsin Avenue. Situated in the historic retail heart of DC’s menswear shops, it will run from November 15, 2014 through January 25, 2015. The shop also boasts a sharp new design concept that’s a minimalist take on its annual Ledbury Quail Hunt. It’s the living room-cum-wardrobe you’ve always wanted.

Another exciting feature is that they are debuting the limited run Georgetown Collection. Ledbury designed four limited-edition shirt styles that will be sold exclusively in the pop-up shop – along with the rest of the Ledbury range – and are inspired by the notion of a winter weekend in the District. The collection features flannels and brushed twills.

Although we, very regretfully, had to miss the big opening shindig last week, the Ledbury crew sent along the first shirt available from the Georgetown Collection (pictured above). It’s an incredibly soft flannel, with an awesome blue, white and pink plaid. This slim-fit shirt is casually sharp and sports a natty short point collar.

Do yourself a favor and make time to visit America’s Capitol city this holiday season, and don’t forget swing by Georgetown and pick up a limited edition shirt from an equally capital brand.

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JPLC Aviator: A Bag for all Seasons

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J. Panther Luggage Company makes really cool bags. We have reviewed several of their pieces, including the Courier Ruc, which is essentially the company’s flagship bag. What makes JPLC bags so special is the combination of innovative design, tough-as-nails construction, and use of exceptionally fine materials.

JPLC bags can easily hold their own against better known brands costing thousands more. Construction is impeccable and attention to detail is near obsessive. Testament to this fixation on quality is the fact that Japan is a big market for JPLC, where detail is scrutinized to an exacting degree.

The Aviator is a unique bag because it defies easy description. It’s a day bag, but also a type of document case. It looks purpose-built but also has a flexible functionality to its design that makes the Aviator a companion carry-all for your day-to-day necessities. Our bag came in a highly engineered, lightly-waxed 21 ounce sand canvas with tan leather trim. The Aviator is also offered in a beautiful all-leather version.

It has two removable straps; one a multifunctional wrist strap and the other, a military grade web cross-body strap. the Aviator also comes equipped with a beautifully crafted removable leather passport envelope pocket.

We have found the bag to be well-suited as an everyday companion that can pair well with a business bag when needed. As with all JPLC bags, it is designed to be carried in a variety of modes. Another signature JPLC touch is that the bag’s well-designed pockets actually work no matter the carry configurations.

This review project is particularly exciting for us as it is a long-term commitment to document the breaking-in of this superb bag. We’ll be updating you over the coming months and even years, showing you how the Aviator ages and gains a world traveled patina of life.

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Triple Aught Design’s FAST Pack Litespeed

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We love a good bag, and we are always on the lookout for a great backpack. Backpacks are versatile, practical, convenient, and leave your hands free to do other stuff. However, in the rarefied air of men’s fashion discourse, “backpack” can be a fightin’ word.

To be sure, OTC is a men’s style and lifestyle resource that focuses on bring together classic style and modern life. And, while it is undeniably classic in form and function, the backpack debate can quickly lead to heated sartorial words. So, to head that imbroglio off at the proverbial pass, let’s clarify a few points.

Backpacks are a fact of modern life, especially for those who commute by public transit on a daily basis. They are also a tool for those among us who need to regularly port more than a wallet and smart phone. They are perfectly designed for casual use; hiking, strolling, shopping, trekking, and dragging around your child’s many supplies.

All that being said, don’t wear a backpack with a suit. Just don’t.

Indeed, there are many sharp, expensive, and finely crafted backpacks that nicely bridge the divide between practical and formal, but that’s besides the point. As a category, they are inherently informal and wearing one with dress or business clothing with cause you to look like a little kid trying to be a grown-up, or a grown-up with little understanding of style and personal presentation.

A backpack will not only ruin the lines and look of a suit coat or blazer, it can ruin them literally as well.  Again, just don’t do it. Messenger bags are a better option on a case-by-case basis, totes and briefcases are fine.

With those caveats out of the way, we present the FAST Pack Litespeed from Triple Aught design. To be sure, no one is going to confuse it with a business bag, which is just fine.  Regardless, this backpack can handle pretty much handle anything you toss its way and look darn cool doing it.

The Litespeed is an everyday backpack for those who like the idea of a one-stop-shop and that looks simultaneously tough and modern. While rugged, it actually has a very low profile and is easy to carry. It’s obvious tactical design and special operator credentials encompass a sensible and well thought out collection of pockets and dividers that make sorting your stuff easy and convenient.

Since it is military-inspired, the Litespeed can be configured and added to so that you can create a truly customized carry design that works best for you. We have tested this bag in a variety of environments, including day hikes, road trips, city excursions, and even Disney World. In each scenario, it met or exceeded our needs.

In terms of construction, the Litespeed is made of MIL-SPEC 1000 Denier Invista Cordura fabric and tough webbing that’s nearly impossible to rip or tear. Hypalon, the same material found on Zodiac boats, is used to reinforce stress points, including the handle and shoulder strap connections.

The pack is also laced with Pouch Attachment Ladder System (PALS) webbing and it’s also compatible with Modular Lightweight Load-Carrying Equipment (MOLLE) pouches so that you can customize the layout of your gear to suit your changing needs.

The upshot is that this is one handy, cool, functional, and durable backpack for both everyday use and urban or (let’s be honest here) suburban, adventures.

One last but exciting note; Triple Aught just redesigned the Litespeed in several important areas to make it even better. So, take a look and check it out for yourself.

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DSCF9086 Paul Stuart Made to Order Footwear   The Fitting
“It all begins with the fit.” Peter Agati, Paul Stuart’s shoe buyer, is a shoe guy through and through.

He knows shoes and he knows that what matters most is fit. If the fit is off, nothing else matters. If the fit is right, everything else falls into place. His first trip to a shoe factory is what sealed the deal for Peter. Walking the floor and watching in amazement how many people’s hands touched each shoe hooked him. “Most people have no idea how much handwork goes into shoes, and how much well-made shoes matter.”

The main thing to understand about Paul Stuart’s shoe department is that is it a fully integrated component of Paul Stuart. It is not merely a licensed space operated by an outside brand. No, Peter has spent several years building up a service on par with their brand’s larger reputation. It’s a luxury service department that can fit you properly and provide a degree of customization that results in a pair of shoes that are truly made to order.

Chris Hogan Madison Avenue 10.21.14 735x1024 Paul Stuart Made to Order Footwear   The FittingOTC had been invited to participate in a special brand influencer Made to Order footwear event at Paul Stuart’s Madison Avenue flagship store. OTC’s founder and editor-in-chief, Chris Hogan, spent the day being fitted from their Italian Classic collection. These shoes are not inexpensive, but neither are they overly expensive. In fact, the quality, construction, fit, and materials are equal to most custom labels.

In addition to Peter Agati, Ron Rider, agent for some of the world’s leading shoe makers, was also on hand to ensure that Chris’ fit was spot one and help to create a unique pair of Paul Stuart shoes.

After testing out a variety of lasts, we settled on the one that indeed fit like a glove. As Peter noted, his main job was now done. The fit was right. Now, it was a matter of style, design, details, and finishes.

What did we come up with? We’ll get into that in the coming weeks as we share with you pictures of our Made to Order Paul Stuart shoes as they come to life.

As an added bonus, we also got to catch up with our old friend Mark Rykken, who runs Paul Stuart’s custom clothing department. Much as Peter has done with the company’s footwear department, Mark has created a custom clothing haven for the most discerning clotheshorse. We even met the lady who sews all the buttonholes by hand, no easy task.

Thanks goes out to our pals at Deo Veritas custom shirting and Bull + Moose for the fantastic dead stock tartan tie. Lumina Clothing Company provided the Cone selvage denim jeans, Beltcraft sent along a bespoke suede belt, and Dapper Classics is the source for those killer socks that everyone noticed. As always, those are Eye Buy Direct glasses.

The navy blazer is actually a family heirloom. It’s a vintage J. Press jacket that belonged to Chris’ father and still has his dad’s monogrammed brass buttons. The pocket square was a gift from Alan Flusser.

It’s all about things that last.

In the meantime, below are some more images of the day, captured by our talented – and stylish – photographer Sean Pressley. Many thanks to Sean for spending the day knee deep in shoes.

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