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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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Your Guide to Choosing A Wallet

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From billfolds to pocket secretaries, a wallet is one of the most personal items a man carries all day, every day. In addition to credit cards and cash, IDs, and licenses, your wallet is often home to those personal scraps of memory and nostalgia unique to you.

Unlike a favorite bag, shoes, or even the clothes on your back, a wallet is often so personal an accessory that for many men it never crosses their mind to get a new one, unless prompted by sheer necessity.

It’s true for us too. The wallet our editor-in-chief carried for years was from R. Horns, a small leather luxury goods brand based in Vienna, Austria. It is a classic international billfold model with two currency sections and eight credit card slots. The thick yet supple leather is a rich, nutty brown that has darkened with age. It’s distinct in both style and personality, imparted through years of faithful service.

Like many of the personally unique things in one’s life, this wallet would be hard to replace. Sure, a call could be made and a new wallet shipped, but it would not really be the same one, and that’s what makes this type of accessory so special.

Wallet Styles

Still, there comes a time when curiosity or functionality forces one to examine new options. And, as with menswear in general, the options are expanding. The actual form a man’s wallet has changed too much – billfold, pocket secretary, slim, or card sleeve – but the variety of materials and designs within those categories make choosing a new or alternative wallet much more interesting.

Broadly speaking, there are three types of wallets: the pocket secretary (tall and thin, it is designed to fit into the inside pocket of a suit coat; the international billfold (essentially a large square, this is a wide wallet with room for multiple cards and varying currency sizes); and the slim card sleeve (a minimalist wallet designed to hold only a few credit cards and identification).

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Depending on your needs any one of these gets the job done on a day to day basis. Choosing a wallet today is actually easier than even a few years ago. While women have always had the luxury of a handbag in which to carry their everyday accouterments, men long suffered though bulging pockets and overstuffed wallets.

However, the rapid growth of the men’s everyday bag market means that there is less need to try and fit everything on earth into your back pocket. Your wallet, along with all the other stuff that historically weighed you down, can now be tossed in your bag.

On The Road

A variation on the breast pocket wallet is the travel or zip wallet. Typically oversized and intended to be carried in a bag, rather than on your person, these wallets serve a variety or purposes. From cash to boarding passes, to passports, travel wallets are a sort of one-handed holdall.

We have a fantastic version of this style from New York maker BillyKirk. The No. 217 is a large clutch-style wallet that zips open to reveal card slots; a zippered coin pouch; and space for tickets, currency, and receipts. Do women carry it too? Sure – but we don’t care. It was recommended by a very testosterone-heavy friend who who uses it as a “home base” wallet in his everyday bag.  We often do the same, paired with a simple slotted card case for the more frequently used ID and a metro pass. BillyKirk 217 openAesthetically, it’s a beauty. Daily use has lightened the bright tan belting leather aged into a scarred and worn medium brown. It still gets a lot of compliments, as does BillyKirk’s mastery of simple lines and clean functionality.

Staying Trim

With the wallet now freed up, simplify the things you carry on your person. Opt for that slim card case – as mentioned above – or a pared-down billfold and carry just the necessities – maybe just a credit card, driver’s license, and insurance card.

2014-11-06 08.50.04-1Swedish brand Ulterior Motive makes a range of minimalist card case wallets for when you only need the essentials. They come in a variety of colors and materials, including leather and nylon. While simple and practical, UM’s design and personality show through in the brigh interior linings and occasional signature tag.

American maker Chester Mox (shown at top) offers a range of low-profile wallets that are both practically minimalist and casually elegant. The precise laser-cut designs, perfectly finished leathers, and flawless stitching are a bit mesmerizing. Really, a fantastic brand that should be better known.

Lastly, some men carry their cash in a classic money clip. This elegant option keeps cash separate from your credit cards, which is a good idea when traveling. We have previously delved into the money clip discussion in some detail. Click here to read our article on this timeless accessory.

Whatever type of wallet you choose, in whichever configuration best matches your needs, choose something you really like. A wallet, like all your most personal accessories, should be an investment. So, invest wisely.

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Modern Sterling Money Clip

 

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“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)OTC 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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If there is any one “look” or style that best defines East Coast Ivy League, or OTC for that matter, it is that of the iconic college professor. When most people think of college professors (or indeed prep school teachers), the classic look comes to mind: tweed and corduroy, grey flannel, well-worn leather shoes, a beat-up satchel, and some wire framed glasses.

For many, that is what a college professor should look like. The reality is often at odds with the ideal; some look exactly as you might expect and some are in desperate need of sartorial help. Yet, the image of Dr. Jones in his classroom or Mr. Keating, imploring his charges to “seize the day,” persists.

So, what exactly is the “college professor” look and why is it so interesting? This classic Ivy League style can also be described as a sort of 1930s prep school teacher look. It combines two unique elements: a timeless, idealized version of the privileged life and the intellectualness of an exclusive liberal arts education.

IndianaJonesClassroomThough it may sound a little dramatic, this is a very emotional and evocative style of dress. Think of the outfits worn in such films as Dead Poets Society or A Beautiful Mind, or in any Harry Potter movie. The clothes themselves provide an emotional touchstone that quickly defines where you are and who you are. It is a sort of intellectual uniform, a symbol of belonging that is both timeless and very appealing.

Ralph Lauren in particular has captured the college professor look; in deed it is virtually synonymous with the brand. The now-defunct Rugby sub-brand moved from the lectern to the desk with richly detailed, prep school inspired clothing and accessories. The Rugby stores, often located close to college and university campuses, had the design and feel of an old and moneyed prep school common room.

More recently, J. Crew has masterfully redefined the college professor look to reflect a modernized riff on a late 1950s era Ivy League campus. More streamlined and less fusty, the J. Crew take on Ivy League is modern and active, yet still grounded in the classics, as it were.

A key element to achieving this wonderful look on your own is to not overdo it. And Fall is prime season for employing all the, classic elements.

MrKeating DPSThe college professor style is at its best when you appear to have not thought a great deal about what you threw on this morning. Tweed or corduroy coats, chunky sweaters layered over old button down shirts and school ties, gray flannels, corduroy pants, or heavy khakis. They are simple and classic components that, when combined, create an instantly recognizable picture.

The goal should be to reference key elements of the classic look but not mimic or replicate them as costume. You are not a character in play; you are someone with a real life, commute, and job. Still, this look is really about dressing emotionally and layering on a philosophy of life.

Moreover, the inherent eccentricities of this style make it fun and flexible. If you already invest in timeless core pieces, it’s that much better. Instead of a sweater, why not opt for a simple heather grey crew neck sweatshirt from American Giant over that OCBD, khakis, and old boat shoes?

Take Ivy BookThis quest for an authentic and honest expression of Ivy League style, in many ways the core of the college professor look, resulted in a 2010 English reprinting of the iconic 1965 Japanese book, Take Ivy. The virtual bible of American East Coast style, The Official Preppy Handbook, is a perennial reference, while subsequent publications including Ivy Style: Radical Conformists, Preppy: Cultivating Ivy Style, The Ivy League, and Rowing Blazers offer additional guidance.

Selecting honestly crafted and long lasting accessories is also important. Instead of a generic nylon backpack or computer bag, invest in a leather folio or classic briefcase. Frank Clegg makes some of the best; expensive, yes, but something that will last a lifetime. Classic pens and watches mix well, as does traditional footwear. Suede shoes, heavy brogues, and dressy boots are good choices.

For cooler days like the ones ahead, choose a big scarf in a nice tartan or your school colors. If you don’t have school colors or don’t like the ones you do have, just adopt someone else’s.

When done right, the overall effect should be of a natty intellectual. It should also look natural and relaxed with a touch of world-weary travel. This look works best on those who already possess a genuine love of this most classic of periods for menswear and are indeed curious about the world and of always learning more.

Perhaps more than any other style, the college professor look persists decade after decade because it is not really about fashion; it’s about a philosophy of life. It’s an outward expression of your curiosity and appreciation of what the world has to offer; a physical expression of cherishing the past and looking toward the future while never losing touch with your own sense of personal taste.

Below, we offer some inspirational imagery to set you on the sartorial path of creating your own version of the classic, timeless, rumpled, worldly, or modern college professor. Take your pick and make it yours.

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The Preppy Handbook

 

OTC Goes Handmade With Paul Stuart Footwear

Making Shoes

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.

Well crafted shoes are utilitarian as well as practical, functional, and vital accessories 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 LogoPaul Stuart, already the byword for elegant comfort that speaks to a classic landed gentry aesthetic, has recently launched a made to order shoe program, taking up the banner of 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 their made to measure Italian Classic footwear, get measured, and pick out all the details for our personalized pair.  Mark your calendars to stop by, say hi, and possibly look into ordering a pair for yourself.

Afterwards, we will be updating you throughout the entire process; as the shoes are formed, crafted, finished, and delivered. We are thrilled to be part of this outstanding event and look forward to showing you how the kick-off consultation at Paul Stuart goes.

In addition to OTC, the Paul Stuart team selected four other leading style influencers to be part of this project: Jake Metzger of Downeast and Out, Skylar Bergl of Four-Pins, Max Twitty of Gents Among Men, and Christopher Fenimore of his eponymous blog.

You can become an integral part of this social media experience too by following Paul Stuart, all of the influencers, and tagging @paulstuartny and #paulstuartshoes.

Those wishing to schedule an appointment during the shoe event or requiring more information are invited to contact Peter Agati at 212.682.0320 (ext. 546) or Peter.Agati@paulstuart.com.

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