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.

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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.

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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

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RPMWEST: Japanese Selvedge Denim

RPMWEST makes classic denim in the truest sense. Crafted from premium Japanese dry selvedge denim and cut and sewn in California, they are built to last for years and will develop unique fades as they break in and age. Birthed on Kickstarter, RPMWEST is growing into a unique and quality-driven brand.

The jeans feature minimal detailing, giving them a timeless look that goes with everything,  and are built for hard wear. Features include tucked belt loops, ​chain stitched​ ​leg openings, ​and made-in-America trimmings. They come in two silhouettes, slim and straight leg fit.

The slim fit – which we tested – is lightly tapered, but not constricting. As with many of these small batch, high quality denim brands, the jeans come in a fixed length, meaning you either do the hipster turn-up or have them hemmed to your preference. Taken in full, the feel is classic denim, combined with a modern, thoughtful design.

The fit of our RPMWEST jeans is very comfortable and features a natural waist with a lower rise; something we like. And the pride and commitment to quality construction shows in the finished product. Overall, these are one comfortable pair of jeans that we plan to wear for a long time.

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Totally Unique: Da Luca Watch Straps

DSC 0543 Totally Unique: Da Luca Watch Straps

Handmade and totally unique, Da Luca watchstraps are one of a kind. Sourced from new and vintage leathers, they are equal parts  investment and a celebration of craftsmanship. Each watch strap is one of a kind – literally. Every one of this San Diego-based company’s watch straps is an individual creation, never to be duplicated. While there are certain styles and patterns used as guideposts, each Da Luca watch strap is its own singular creation and when it’s gone, it’s gone forever.

That’s one thing that makes our Cabrone strap so special. At 22mm wide, it perfectly fits our 44mm vintage pilot-inspired mechanical timepiece from Avier, the micro brand founded by Jeff Bernard, of Bernard Watch. Crafted from American alligator, the strap is thick and substantial, balancing the watch and creating a harmonious sense of scale and proportion.

DSC 05482 Totally Unique: Da Luca Watch StrapsThe skin is finished in a slightly dulled gloss that highlights the exceptional detail while keeping the look elegantly subdued, instead of flashy.  Stitching is self-colored to maintain the simple, uniform  design.

The clasp is polished silver of a Panarai design and includes the small Da Luca hallmark; the only visible concession to branding on the entire strap.

In appearance and execution, Da Luca watch straps are a great alternative to the often generic options out there. Our strap has begun to break in nicely and is comfortable to wear. Because it is such a thick watch strap, it’s going to take a little while to soften up, but that’s fine. The length is just right – not too short or too long – and the keeper holds the strap snugly in place.

Da Luca sources their leathers from some pretty unusual places. In addition to traditional virgin leathers, their line of Vintage straps come from old bomber jackets, ammunition pouches, belts, and even worn out shoes. The worn-in nature of such leathers makes perfect sense and the one-of-a-kind production model means that these limited sources are not a problem. To the contrary, such a dearth of unique and interesting materials and finishes adds the the brand’s cache and value. While not inexpensive, the Cabrone went for US $180.00; for what you get, it’s a fair price indeed.

In addition to its ready-to-wear straps, the company can also craft you a made to order watch strap. You can choose the type of skin, width, length, and even the strap’s thickness. Da Luca also offers a variety of other strap styles, including some amazing and colorful suede NATO straps, belts, and a selection of small leather accessories.

While we don’t say this too often, companies like Da Luca straps are one of the reasons we founded OTC to begin with. Total commitment to their craft, a dedication to excellence and quality, made in America, and products that live up to the expectation. Such companies should be celebrated, and that’s what we do.

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Belt One Out With ntandy

ntandy Belt Orange Belt One Out With ntandy

Too often belts are a serious business that must meet the daily requirements of understatement, sobriety, or at least a degree of conformity. The good thing is that when you sit back and take a look, there are many occasions when you can loosen up your wardrobe choices, put away the earth tones, and have some sartorial fun.

ntandy makes great belts for those times. Especially in the warmth of summer, these colorful and simply designed belts add some unmistakable personality while still holding up your pants. The great thing about them, at least from an OTC perspective, is that they happily straddle the line between outright fun and preppy functionality.

While they clearly reference a purposeful and utilitarian past, they also are just plain cool belts that speak to founder Napper Tandy’s laid back California lifestyle. It’s like Ivy League guy meets surfer dude, and they totally get along.

ntnady Logo Belt One Out With ntandyThe belts come in five colors and are all made from old-school nylon board short material wrapped around 1000 pound test nylon climbing webbing. The simple contrast stitching adds just the right amount of vintage charm.

As Napper describes his belts, “I like to think they’re aesthetically part Birdwell Beach Britches, part 70’s Patagonia with a little nip off the flask of the old prep school ribbon belt”

Worn traditionally, the belt’s loose end hides ntandy’s cool minimalist label. However, Napper’s got you covered; click here to learn the “triple fold” and let your inner preppy beach bum shine.

Seriously, we test out all sorts of stuff here at OTC and without question, this simple, fun, functional, and plain old cool belt is a hands-down favorite.

ntandy Belts Belt One Out With ntandy

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