Atelier || Lotuff Leather

30/11/2012 § 3 Comments

As I previously mentioned, a few weeks ago I was pleased to accept an invite from Lotuff Leather to visit their workshop in Norwalk, Connecticut.  I was very excited to seize the opportunity to meet the fine folks behind the brand and witness firsthand the craftsmanship that goes into every single piece of leather that bears the Lotuff name.  Fair warning: this is about to be a bit of a photo-palooza, but there was just so much to see and love – I hope you will indulge me!

Lotuff, a New England-based luxury leather goods brand founded by brothers Joe and Rick Lotuff nearly four years ago, is a brand you need to firmly place on your radar.  The Lotuffs, along with creative director Lindy McDonough and a whole host of highly skilled craftsmen and women, take great pride in producing some of the very finest leather items made in America, using techniques honed over decades – and in some cases, generations – of combined experience.  A men’s brand at heart, the all-leather bags, briefcases and accessories that Lotuff creates epitomize the elegant meeting of timeless style, functionality and quiet craftsmanship.

Not only was I inspired by the passion I heard from Joe and Lindy as they discussed their values and goals for Lotuff, but they also deeply affected my personal concept of “luxury” – calling into question some of my own assumptions about the true worth of some of the high-end bags I have lusted for in the past.  My day in Norwalk reinforced the notion that luxury is not achieved by the mere application of a name or a high price point to an item.  But rather, an item is properly considered luxurious in relation to the process, materials and skills that go into its creation — and seeing up close the massive amount of pride that each of the Lotuff craftsmen and women pour into their work brought this into sharp focus.

While this fuller concept of luxury appears to have taken hold in some #menswear circles, it is interesting to note that the majority of women continue to be fine with paying top dollar for cheaply manufactured status accessories.  Indeed, it is difficult to decouple this tendency for status from womenswear’s obsession with fast fashion.  For those of us who find ourselves frequently left wanting by the “it bag” of the moment, the premiere women’s collection by Lotuff is a godsend.  And my leather-scented day spent trying out all the gorgeous prototypes?  Heaven indeed.

For more information, visit Lotuff Leather.

Please say hello to my new best friend…  In. Love.

If you are in New York City this weekend (30 Nov – 2 Dec),
be sure to check out Lotuff in person at this year’s Pop Up Flea.

Pop Up Flea
Friday, Nov 30th 3pm – 9pm
Saturday, Dec. 1st 11am – 7pm
Sunday, Dec. 2nd 11am – 6pm

Drive-In Studios
443 W. 18th Street (nr. 10th Ave.)

The Dandy, The Rockstar & The Gentlewoman {Style Icons: Janie, Esther & Jeeyong}

17/07/2012 § 7 Comments

Janie Cai, Esther Quek and Jeeyong Kang.

Three amazing women, three distinct senses of personal style
that are heavily influenced by menswear.

Believe me when I say serious. girlcrush. (times three).

The Dandy — Janie Cai, fashion director, Esquire Singapore.

Janie is a lady who loves a good hat and a statement lapel (or accessory).  She’s eternally smiling — something of a rarity for streetstyle subjects — and her kits always feel like so much fun.  I’m especially digging her new haircut.

From Janie, take a carefree attitude and a love for nattily mixed textures…

The Rockstar — Esther Quek, fashion editor, The Rake.

Esther’s self-assured composure and amazing hair choices have me a bit intimidated, even from pictures.  But I love it.  She is a master of the necktie — and did you notice her tie bar game?  So, so good.  I love her approach to layering and pattern-mixing — and her omnipresent dark glasses?  Completely badass.

From Esther, take a sense of boldness and a love of color and contrast…

The Gentlewoman — Jeeyong Kang, fashion director, GQ Korea.

Of the three, Jeeyong’s sense of style is probably my favorite.  There is a calmness to the way she dresses — it is simple and elegant and communicates a sense of seriousness.

From Jeeyong, embrace a sense of confident simplicity.

Images via: You Just Got Spotted [1 and 2], The Sartorialist [1], All the Pretty Birds [1 ], Vanessa Jackman [1 and 2], Rock the Trend [1 and 2], STREETFSN [1 and 2], Stockholm Streetstyle [1, 2, and 3], Guerrisms [1], Streetpeeper [1], Citizen Couture [1 and 2], Tommy Ton for [1], and a few random finds courtesy of the Tumblrs and the Googles.

Improper Bostonians

22/05/2012 § 5 Comments

I’m off to Boston for a few days on business, and I thought it would be the perfect time to share this set of photos I discovered in the Life Archive.  They were taken in 1949 at the original Filene’s Basement, then called the “Automatic Bargain Basement” for the automatic schedule of its discount percentages (pegged to the number of days the item had been on sale).  Created in 1909 in the basement of Boston’s flagship Filene’s department store, Filene’s Basement was eventually spun off as its own entity and outlived the department store until it too became defunct in 2011.  Fun fact: it’s actually where the term “bargain basement” originated.

Sadly the gorgeous original flagship store at Downtown Crossing in Boston, built in 1912 and where these photos were taken, was largely demolished in 2007 after Filene’s went out of business.  Because only the building’s facade was landmarked, developers were free to gut the interiors of the building, which also dated back to 1912.  When those developers lost funding, the building was just left gutted — a huge, gaping hole with the facade looming like the ghost of sales past.  (I haven’t been to Downtown Crossing lately to see if anything has changed at the site — has anyone?)

In these photos, Life photographer George Silk captured the annual $11 suit and topcoat sale at Filene’s Basement.  Just like today’s sample sales, customers started forming a line for the 8:30am sale at 6:30am, and made a mad dash as soon as the doors were flung open.  In less than three hours, 5,000 garments were sold.  In the article, entitled “Improper Bostonians” (which you can read here), Life delightedly informs us that a 200-pound woman fainted and had to be carried away, a blind man was nearly trampled and a man posed as a salesman and swiped someone’s $11! 

Nice to see sample sales haven’t really changed all that much in over
60 years, even if the customers do look a little more refined!

Taken by George Silk for Life Magazine, via the Life Archive.

All Dressed Up…in Los Angeles.

23/04/2012 § Leave a comment

Richard Gere adds Armani to the echelon of California style with its debut in American Gigolo (1980), which I recently revisited thanks to Lizzie’s suggestion.  A seminal moment in menswear, it marked the introduction of a new Italian aesthetic that became characteristic of the decade.

**Update 5/4/2012 — The blog Clothes on Film did a fantastic rundown of the costuming, which you can find here.

I especially love how the film captures the westside at that moment when the 1970s were turning to the 1980s, and watching a 30 year-old (and let’s face it, beautiful) Gere as he navigates the city as one of its “best boys.”  Other high points include the Blondie-infused soundtrack, Lauren Hutton, and the fact that Gere’s character lives in Westwood, which is where I lived before moving to New York.  

Portrait by Herb Ritts, 1980.
Part of “L.A. Style: Herb Ritts” at the Getty Center.  Details here.

Also: just a quick note to let you know I’m in Los Angeles for a few days!  I wanted to surprise my parents, and they read this thing, so I couldn’t mention it beforehand.  Happy to report my sneak attack was successful!

Featured: Quite Continental on StyleLikeU ~ Addictions: Neckties

18/11/2011 § 3 Comments

A few weeks ago I sat down with StyleLikeU to talk about my somewhat obsessive relationship with one of my favorite articles of clothing: the necktie.  I am happy to share the finished product with you today.  If you were ever curious why I wear them and who ties my knots, you are in luck — and you’ll also get a peek at my growing collection.

A big thank you to the StyleLikeU ladies.  Shooting this was a lot of fun.

I can’t say that it isn’t kind of weird watching myself on video, though.  Do I really talk like that?

Vintage Dilemma: Schoolboy Tie

04/04/2011 § 4 Comments

You may recall my success at the Ralph Lauren Home Sale last month, but aside from the amazing phonograph I picked up, I also happened to find a precious tie that I just had to have.  Of shorter length, it was immediately obvious that this was a young boy’s tie.  From the frayed and somewhat uneven edges, and lack of any manufacturer’s label, it became apparent that I was looking at something handmade.

Even though it was a little worse for wear, I decided that I wanted to take it home.  I had a picture in my mind of a mother working diligently over her son’s tie, choosing the silk and painstakingly folding and stitching it into shape.  I like the colors and I usually wear my ties tucked in, anyway, so I figured that it wouldn’t matter that the ends were a bit tattered.  It was when I turned the tie over that I fell in love with it.

Written on the underside of the tie is the name of its former owner — James Bennett.  Having a name to add to the fantasy completely sealed the deal, and I happily carried my little tie home.  However, I now am faced with a dilemma.  I am torn between wanting to wear the tie and framing it.  I think it could be quite handsome under glass with a dark wooden and gold frame, no?  How silly James Bennett would think that was!

One From The Boys: Silk in the Raw {also, My Tie Love Affair}

16/03/2011 § 4 Comments

My love affair with beautiful neckties is ages old, cherie, and I definitely think it began in my formative years.  The fact that my father wore a suit and tie every day served to transform the necktie into a powerful symbol of maleness and there is nothing I like more on a man.  Even when he’s in casual dress, the addition of a tie will make me look once, twice, thrice.  (Tie and glasses?  C’est Fini!)

In college, I worked as a sales clerk in men’s suits in a large department store one Christmas season.  The crowning glory?  Ties upon ties upon ties displayed in a rainbow wheel of silk on circular tables, susceptible to complete dishevelment at the lightest touch from passersby.  That table was a labor of love for me.  I lost myself in the pursuit of perfection while my co-workers steered clear, endeavoring to look busy as they futzed over already-tidied merchandise.

While I’ve definitely given more Hermès than I’ve received — I’m looking to rectify that, d’accord! — I’ve become something of a tie collector and I enjoy wearing one frequently.  (Sidenote: Isn’t it more than a bit unfair that a woman in a tie is viewed as more casual, whereas a man in a tie is automatically considered more formal?)  I tend to favor a skinnier tie and usually employ the military tie tuck to keep from looking too Annie Hall.  My best tie tip for the girls is that most of us can get away with wearing a boy’s tie — just look for the longest length available.  Brooks Brothers Fleece ties in a size 50 are perfect.  Added bonus: when they go on sale they run about $16.

Tie: Brooks Brothers Fleece, available here.  Foto: Jennerator

As spring approaches, I’ve been hungering for a few new ties and Lawrence over at Sartorially Inclined has clued me in to what just might be my next move: raw silk.  The ties I wear need to be versatile enough to be dressed down, but I love luxurious textiles — This is beautiful! What is that? Velvet? I definitely don’t want to be limited to knit or casual fabrics just because a tie on a girl is considered casual.  The texture of the raw silk immediately caught my eye — luxe, nubby, simultaneously shiny and matte — and I’m inclined to give the 7cm striped shantung ties by Drakes London a try with threadbare chambray, crisp dress shirts and everything in between.

What’s around your neck this spring?

H/T: Sartorially Inclined: Raw Silk For S/S

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