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As cold weather settles back in across the Northern hemisphere, let’s make sure to keep a little sunshine peeking through the clouds. Indeed, this time of year means wool sweaters and six-whale cords. Yes, there will be more time indoors and more flannels, tweeds, fleece, and hot coffee.

All good things to be sure; however, there is one brand that always makes certain we don’t take things too seriously.

Ntnady makes great, casually breezy belts that blend the practicality of East Coast prep with the laid back chill of SoCal surfing. Founder Napper Tandy is a native Brooklynite marketing exec turned LA craftsman, which explains the pitch-perfect match-up in styling.

Too often belts are a serious business that must meet the work-a-day requirements of understatement, sobriety, and conformity. Of course, when you sit back and look around, you’ll see that there are many occasions when you can loosen up your wardrobe choices and have some sartorial fun.

ntandy_oliveNtandy’s new crop of simply designed belts are a fun fit for your casual winter wardrobe and add some personality while still holding up your flannel-lined khakis.

The new belts add some traditional takes to his classic design: olive and navy nylon, a navy wool flannel, and a fun red/green belt version of Christmas fun pants.

All of the belts are, of course, made in sunny Southern California. The nylon belts are crafted from old-school board short material wrapped around 1000 pound test nylon climbing webbing and simple contrast stitching adds just the right amount of vintage style.

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.” We remember Patagonia from back then – unbreakable crunchy mountain hippy gear – and he’s spot on.

Check out the super fun ways ntandy customers sport their belts, it puts a smile on our faces every time we visit.

We regularly test out all sorts of stuff here at OTC, and Napper’s belts are simple, fun, functional, and plain old cool. They work worn-out old shorts and Sperrys in the summer and khakis and Bean duck boots in the winter. What’s not to like?

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Gift Idea: The Nautical Hoodie

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Need some last-minute gift ideas? We have a few up our sleeves, including this great nautically-inspired hooded sweatshirt from Nantucket Brand. It’s a classic made-in-America piece of lounge wear that injects a little Ivy League fun into your informal wardrobe.

Soft and comfortable with a trim fit, this is a nice lightweight layering piece for hanging out at home, running a few errands, or grabbing a beer with friends. It’s a great gift idea for the guy, or gal,  in your life – or for yourself!

 

 

The Noble x Bulleit Barrel-Aged Jeans Project

As many of you may recall, OTC is part of a very cool experiment being conducted by craft distiller Bulleit and premium jeans maker Noble Denim.

Cincinnati, OH, based Noble made us a pair of their fantastic jeans that were then specially aged in well-worn barrels, located somewhere out in the Tennessee woods, normally used for making Bulleit whiskey. This project is especially fun because while the idea was a great one, no one had any clue as to what the end result would be.

These jeans were made in a very small limited-edition batch, and we should be receiving the final product soon. We are particularly excited because, frankly, we have no idea what to expect. Once the jeans were assembled, into the barrels they went for a couple of months. When we get these truly unique jeans in our hands and see how they turned out, we’ll make sure to show them to you.

We are also happy to announce that in addition to their classic 13.75 Cone Mills denim hand-cut and sewn in Tennessee, Noble will be offering a Holiday limited edition jean made from a 15 oz. Japanese denim, available in the Truman Regular and the Earnest Slim fits.

We would be remiss if we did not also point out that Bulleit Bourbon, Rye and 10-Year also make great gifts and stocking stuffers. The Bulleit brand continues to set the bar for rye-forward whiskeys that are perfect for sipping on the rocks or mixing into classic holiday cocktails.

Check out some great images from the Noble Denim x Bulleit Barrel Aged project:

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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_largeThis 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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Underfit: A Brand Relaunches Better Than Ever

 

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A few years ago, we introduced you to Underfit, a technically advanced made-in-America undershirt built to keep you comfortable and stylish all day. Back then, the shirts were great; in fact, we still use the samples we tested for the story. Recently, the brand relaunched, and Underfit is back and even better.

With a new owner (actually one of the brand’s original founders), new designs, and improved construction and materials, these are undershirts you really should have in your drawer. And, at about US$25.00, these are a true deal when it comes to performance underwear. Buy a bunch.

In fact, if you want to support a real we-created-this-company-to-make-a-better-product endeavor, take a few minutes and read about the guys behind Underfit.

Underfit the-fit-no-buttonThe new Underfit design incorporates a blend of 95% ProModel and 5% spandex. It’s a lightly stretching material which offers a close and light body-hugging fit. While not compression shirts, they do feel closer than other undershirts we have tested, but in a soft, non-constricting fashion.

The shirts are wider at the shoulders and chest and narrower by the waist, which follows the true shape of most men’s bodies. This design reduces bulk and under-shirt billowing. The shirt also has an extra three inch drop, which helps keep these undershirts stay tucked in all day long.

The fabric used by Underfit is made by Lenzing, a leading specialty fiber manufacturer, and employs modern technology to make your day a comfortable one. It is is exceptionally soft, provides temperature regulation, moisture absorption, and due to it’s particular moisture wicking features, is even odor resistant.

The ProModel fabric also possesses a high tensile strength, which means it is hard to tear, retains its shape, and lasts for years.

We tested both the v-neck and crew neck versions and found each to be comfortable and well-fitting. After a couple of months of wearing and laundering, we see no signs of weakness.

Side-by-side, Underfits are as good as, and in some cases better than undershirts that cost US$10-$15 more. Kudos on making a great purpose-build undershirt even better – at a fair price. Time to stock up.

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