2015-04-17 11.14.19

Whenever we have the opportunity to meet a new brand and examine products carefully crafted by someone obsessed with expressing who they are, what they value, or perhaps how they see the world, we take our time to tell the story. There have been instances when when a few weeks or even a month or two may pass before we render an opinion and share our thoughts. In this case, it still took a little while – but for all the best reasons.

Glendon Lambert is a wonderful Brooklyn-based accessories brand. While it seems like every accessories brand is currently based in Brooklyn, the products on offer from this truly we-composed label are not kitsch or particularly trendy. They are deceptively exquisite items masquerading as potential furnishings for hipsters who are now grown up. Narrow professorial yet iconoclastic ties, artisanal wool pocket squares, and the obligatory bow tie all speak to what you would expect from a Brooklyn borough haberdashery.

GL_Design Package

Here’s the thing, though. We love a great bow tie and have been fans of the Ivy League history don look longer than most of our readers have been alive. As for pocket squares, well, they are possibly the most useful piece of male peacockery invented. Those points aside, what shines through in materials, detail, and construction is Glendon Lambert Breismeister’s (yes, that’s really his name) love of his craft.

Classic in form and material, yet fresh and contemporary in execution, his seasonal bright green color-blocked pocket square crafted from worsted Mexican wool is fun yet substantial.  In fact, many of the wools used are made exclusively just for them.

The Chain Link tie rendered in a light natural linen decorated with a mid-century inspired red link pattern is beautifully finished but not at all stuffy or ironic. It’s a clever, sharp tie that will get a lot of use for quite some time.

So, the reason it took us a while to tell their story is that this jewel of a brand has done it right. Glendon has a voice and it’s a clear one. He has a viewpoint and its distinctive. And, he has a standard for his brand and its very high. No surprise then, that Glendaon Lambert will be rolling out shirting and leather bags in the near future. Something tells us they’ll be pretty darn good too.

Reflective of this high standard is the fact that Glendon Lambert is carried through the online retailer Roztayger, home to a wonderfully curated collections of luxury bags, accessories, and apparel for both men and women. In fact, the Roztayger team helped bring the brand to our attention.

We are particular fans of Roztayger because they seek out, as their website puts it, “smaller, independent-minded designers that don’t follow trends or forecasts but rather draw upon ideas that have come before while applying their own vision and innovation… what results is timeless, beautiful and infinitely useful.” We could not have said it better.

GL_ChateuToile3_1024x1024 GL_Chain_Linen_Necktie_Rosso_1024x1024 GL_BRIGHTLIGHTS_1024x1024 BL_FLANNELDOTS12_1024x1024

 

High Marks for Low Boots

DSCF9086

Sometimes we just want something different. As we finally exit the grip of the most recent never-ending winter, it’s time to transition from heavyweight duds to a happier, lightweight wardrobe.

Yet, Springtime is also a season of fluctuation – so the smart man hedges his bets and pulls out some intermediate clothing tools, like the low boot. They come in varying forms and styles – from full dress boot to casual desert suede – but all have the benefit of a design that works with warmer, but sometimes wet, weather.

Low boots are often the forgotten child of men’s footwear, occasionally saddled with the style stigma of the 1970s. But when we think of low or short boots, we think of classics like the Clark’s Desert Boot, a legendary shoe that works with virtually every type of outfit you can put on. So, cast your gaze a little wider and add some truly transitional options to your shoe lineup. (And, by the way, they work just as well in the summer…)

2015-02-24 14.14.10-1Some of our hands-down favorite low boots were made especially for OTC by New York’s Paul Stuart. These made-to-order beauties fit perfectly, of course, and are a pleasure to wear. While such footwear is for many a true luxury, they are also an investment that maintained properly will serve you well – and fit you well – for decades to come.

To be sure, made to order footwear from the likes of Paul Stuart comes not only with a certain cache, but also the attention to fit and design that mark the difference between wearing simply nice shoes and wearing shoes that fit your foot, gait, arch, and shape. As with most things customized just for you alone, it’s  hard to go back to the rack.

Perhaps the most comfortable and stylistically versatile low boot is the iconic Clark’s Desert Boot. From khakis to jeans, shorts to a summer suit, these boots are the one piece of footwear that literally goes with almost anything. The classic suede back is of course the most well know, but these shoes now come a wide variety of finishes, like waxed leather, and colors, including electric blue.

When the weather turns and spring showers take over, a reliable pair of waterproof low boots, like the Rockport City Smart Waterproof Chukka, is a solid companion. The classic design fits with most dressy casual outfits and the innersole shock support technology by Adidas offers cushioning that protects the heel at impact. Rockport says they are, “perfect for the urban professional on the move.” Actually, we agree; these waterproof boots get the job done in comfort and style.

2015-02-13 09.56.30-1

RockportCitySmartChukka

 

 

Thinking Outside the Beltology

Beltology_LookBook2_Mr.Bee
Belts can be the bane of your existence or a signature style element of your daily wardrobe. It all comes down to fit and too often that fit is exactly, just not right. Either too loose or too tight, the traditional belt design based on pre-punched holes can be quite limiting.

Beltology_PackagingEnter Beltology. These clever and stylish belts are build upon the functional foundations of classic woven leather and preppy ribbon belts. They take features inherent to each – minute adjustability and easy expandability – and combine them in something new and interesting.

These pants-holder-uppers are both fun and practical, making Beltology belts a great choice for everyday casual and office casual wear. The basic design of the belts is neutral and timeless, allowing them to fit in well with many wardrobes. And, their variety of material options and ease of fit make them a natural first choice for most everyday needs outside of a jacket and tie.

The hallmark of Beltology belts is of course their stretchability. Each belt is crafted from a flexible, densely woven webbing of waxed cotton, leather, rayon, or polyester. We tried out several version that reflect each of these materials and were impressed not only by the solid construction, very important for accessories like belts, but also the quality of the materials. Each belt we examined was sturdy and flexible, well finished, and well proportioned.

Beltology_LookBook1
The core of every strand making up the belt is a strong elastic material that allows it to stretch up to two-to-three inches and return to its original length. The prong simply passes through the belt wherever it feels most comfortable.

We did note that due to the firmness of the belt’s webbing, too much of a stretch with too short a belt resulted in a snug fit that was sometimes uncomfortable. So, just order the next size up if you think it may be a possible issue for you. This strategy is especially helpful for guys who prefer a looser, more relaxed fit; just get a longer belt.

This is very much a local project; all Beltology belts are made in New York City. The belt buckles are constructed from a heavyweight alloy that comes brushed or polished, depending on belt style.  All the trim is full-grain leather. One of things we really like about Beltology is the wide-ranging collection of styles, patterns, and materials. All have the signature red keeper loop lining; a subtle but clever branding touch. And, for a mere US$55.00 to $65.00, that’s a pretty good deal.

Beltology_BigPapa

Beltology_BlueEnvy

Beltology_OwenLeeLeather

Beltology_SunDownerSlim

 

Win a Bull+Moose Bow Tie

BullMoose_TweedBow2
It’s no secret that we are big fans of tie-maker extraordinaire, Bull+Moose.

One of the things that makes this brand noteworthy is that its exceptional ties are truly affordable and even include free shipping.  And, B+M ties, with material and construction quality at least equal to the likes of Brooks Brothers and Ralph Lauren, could go for a whole lot more. The company is able to make high quality hand-made ties at such a disruptive price point because they cut out the middleman.

Bull + Moose is a small, veteran run operation that is fixated on making great products and has fashion heavyweight like GQ and Esquire singing its praises. Without the overhead or licensing fees of large fashion labels or wholesale companies, B+M can pass cost savings directly to customers while still being able to support to great causes like Got Your 6 – an important company goal right from the beginning.

Now, you can win your very own B+M bow tie – the same tweed one shown here on their brand ambassador-in-chief, polo star Brandon Phillips. Entering is easy as 1-2-3:

1. Like B+M and OTC on Facebook

2. Follow B+M and OTC on Instagram

3. Leave a comment here and tell us how you’d wear it!

The contest closes at midnight on Wednesday, April 1, 2015. So, hurry up and enter!

*While we have no doubt this tie will make you look extra dapper and even natty, OTC cannot guarantee you will transform into an international polo champion with perfectly rugged stubble and a smoldering stare.

BullMoose_TweedBow

BullMoose_TweedBow3

 

Men’s Grooming Original: American Crew

AC_NEW Classic Daily Shampoo  250 mL
While not our typical focus, OTC does on occasion highlight grooming products that make life a little easier and help you turn out in your best form. Being aware, educated, and confident when it comes to your hair and skin is very much a part of leading a well-rounded and stylish life.

American Crew is a stalwart brand that carved out a niche in the men’s grooming space way back in 1994. Founder David Raccuglia started with his original Daily Shampoo and it’s now back, featuring a new and improved formula that uses naturally derived cleansing agents to break down and gently rinse away your hair’s excess oil. According to the American Crew crew, the new formulation gives hair softness and manageability without build-up, while Sage Leaf and Chamomile extracts provide shine and reduce bacteria. Sounds pretty good to us.

We have indeed testing out this new and improved Daily Shampoo for a few weeks and feel that, in fact, it really does do a better job that some other brands we have have field tested of late. It’s a solid performer that is worth the money.

As we are also product design and branding junkies, we delved a bit into American Crew brand value and positioning. The overall branding and product imagery remains in place and projects a masculine, confident image.

AmericanCrewNew_1
The label and bottle design reference a manly spirits bottle, think hip flask or small-batch bourbon. The overall appearance and brand value is that of functional reliability underpinned by a sense of heritage and simple quality – all attributes that appeal to the core menswear market that doesn’t want too many flowery extras when it comes to grooming products. In fact, the American Crew lineup has significantly expanded to touch on all facets of men’s grooming, from haircare and styling , to skincare, and shaving.

They are even getting into the scent market; but then again, who isn’t?

Sold primarily through salons (U.S. customers can also purchase through a dedicated online retail site), the label is marketed as limited-access professional quality styling products. When it first hit the shelves, most men were more than a decade away from even thinking about men-focused grooming products. That prescient move by Mr. Raccuglia helped position American Crew as a core player in men’s grooming long before other brands even thought about the space.

While often viewed as being middle-market, it’s not positioned as a luxury line, American Crew’s price points are solidly in the salon product-purchase range. And, to our honest surprise, we feel it performed better than some other super niche-y men’s grooming brands that cost at least twice as much.