Saturday, April 12, 2014

Next Wave 5: "Evisu Genes"



“These ain’t Diesel; These is Evisu!”


Prior to early 2000, Japanese a.k.a selvedge a.k.a raw denim was unheard of within mainstream Western fashion. Fast-forward almost two decades later and there is a cult market of selvedge denim connoisseurs. There are even countless brands that have emerged from various countries (Nudies/Swedish, Ksubi/Australian, APC/Parisian) basing their denim designs on the coined and highly popularized craftsmanship behind the Japanese’s denim style. But before there was a craze and copycat brands [in the US], there was Evisu*.

 (Note: *Evisu was not the first Japanese selvedge brand but was the first within the US which I encountered).


Evisu, was founded in Osaka, Japan in 1991 and is named after the Japanese god of prosperity; “Ebisu”. Initially only around 14 pairs of jeans were created per day, each one caringly hand-painted with the now infamous seagull insignia on the rear pockets. It was a premium and rich in Japanese denim-looming heritage. A denim wear with unique style components bridging vintage denim details with modern street edge. In the late 90s, Evisu became critically acclaimed as one of the ultimate denim must haves, internationally known and embraced by the HipHop community and the then budding “streetwear” culture.

My first memory of “Evisu” was in Jay-z’s record “Show you how to do this”. Where he goes on to drop the line: “jeans are $300, these ain’t Diesel; these is Evisu!” At first, I did not think anything of it other than why would anyone ever pay $300 for some jeans? A thought that was unprecedented in a time when the standard for a mid-range pair of jeans would cost anywhere under $70 dollars. However, little did we know that we were on the cusp of a denim evolution. It was an evolution that would set the precedent of paying upwards of a $100 dollars for a premium pair of jeans now in demand by the newly awakened denim-quality conscious buyer.

I recall seeing my first pair in Sammy’s Fashion, one of the few places where I am from which carried Evisu. And they definitely were close to $300 a pair depending on the style. They had there own section away from the rest of the other denim brands. Even more so, some of the more expensive Evisu styles were contained in a glass showcase with lock and key. I was enamored with their originality and unparalleled workmanship in a time where very few denim brands were pushing the limits outside of using different types of enzyme washes. Shortly after, I remember purchasing my first pair.

It took for this Japanese phenomenon to come along and help us realize what the industry had been missing. I appreciated their attention to detail such as their standard bi-color (orange and gold) seam stitching and fitted cuts (inseam seldom went over 34inches which was risky since bagginess was the current fad). From their denim textures and color richness down to their infamous hand painted insignia; a symbol that soon epitomized high end denim.
But as with all things that become oversaturated in the streets and in an endless attempt to preserve “individuality”, Evisu had seem to have faded into the dark abyss of fad-stricken brands. Or was it the rise of competitors and lower price points which then created options? Whatever the case, Evisu perpetuated a standard of design that went unrivaled for some odd years. I eventually sold most of my ostentatious pairs but kept the distilled few. I understood that, that which is of quality and goes around does not go too far around before it returns. And therefore I decided to assist in that return by reminding other enthusiasts and making Evisu part of the denim conversation once again.

Current Pair:
I am wearing a medium-weight, light blue pair with a sand wash finished. I love this pair because they fit just right and drape well over my high top footwear; yet still aesthetically appealing with low tops. In addition, I appreciate the fact that any fellow selvedge connoisseur can appreciate the quality and cut but would have difficulty guessing the brand unless my back pockets were exposed making the answer a dead give away. As I walk away, one can see the ever so faded painted seagulls which can throw any retro-enthusiast into a Back to the Future-esque cerebral-optical kaleidoscopic vortex caused by the  disruption of the time continuum from the flashback brought upon by this long forgotten throwback. All the while arriving to the perplexed rhetorical thought, “Those is Evisu?!”


Click here for more on the history behind Japanese selvedge denim and the present day fanaticism.

These pair of Evisu jeans are currently for sale in the newly added “My Closet” section located on the upper left hand corner. 

 




















"My Closet" is where you now have the opportunity to get your hands on some of the premium and exclusive items** featured in my articles. 

(**Most items are pre-owned unless stated otherwise.)

{For styling services and endorsements please refer to the contact page.}




Sunday, March 9, 2014

365; March 9th Fashion







"Greatest {Fashionable} Rapper
Died on March 9th."

Even before the subliminal art of advertisement that came with the MadMen of the 1950’s; whether we realize it or not, the film and music industry has played a major influence in the way people have dressed since the existence of the television. With hip-hop being, one of if not, the leading music genre of today it is hard to deny its fashion impact from its humble beginnings to its now world renowned notoriety. I hardly believe that those that were present for the inception of Hip-Hop thought that it would ever be what it is today. To them; “It was all a dream…”

Now it is not just anybody within this music industry that can dictate what’s fashionably hot or not. It usually takes for the most successful (synonymous with most influential) to be able to get the people visually “listening” for what to wear. The correlation on how being musically successful translates to being a fashion guru may not be readily apparent. But it can be assumed that these artists portray a lifestyle that the listener may desire; even if just a piece of it.

It is quite difficult for anyone that grew up listening to 90’s hip-hop not to know of Christopher Wallace aka The Notorious BIG aka Biggie Smalls, Biggie, Big Poppa, Frank White and the list goes on. And as we enter the month of March, it is even more irresistible for anyone that is truly a fan of his work not to recognize the anniversary of his untimely death, March 9th (1997). It has often been complicated, for me at least, to succinctly articulate what he did to the “rap game” and the influences that he had on countless New York urbanites, such as myself, and eventually the world.


To those on the outside that do not get it they may say that he was like all the others. Therefore, “I don’t see the big deal”, he spoke about the same topics that his successors have over saturated today. Precisely! He mastered and helped lay the ground work for others to follow; whether you appreciate the content or not. For his time the machismo and misogyny of a struggling youth coming from fatherless home and attempting to make ends meet through slinging drugs who then eventually becomes a music superstar spoke to something deeper than what can be heard on the surface. With no filter and such candor, he simultaneously orated the psychological struggles and aspirations of New York City’s misfortunate and unspoken youths of the time.  If I had to explain what it was about him outside of his unique story-telling, metaphors, flow, cadence, movie-like background sound effects laced over samples of classic hits; I would have to say it was his authenticity. The urban community felt his plight, not because it was uncommon but because it was all too common and he was making everyone else in the world aware of our “Everyday Struggles”. 

It was more than just about his content but rather how he masterfully packaged and delivered it. It was poetic; It was artistic. I tend to often times mentally work within logic and reason and so its always been kind of difficult for me to understand how people feel colors or see the sounds of music but he allowed me to see that. He spoke to me without knowing me. His music was the track list to an epoch in my life. He evolved the way I thought and saw things around me and for that he will forever be immortalized within me. I am often categorized as stoic or even stone cold but I shed a tear when I got the call he had died; he was that close. 

In conclusion, in the past I would spend March 9th commemorating him and his life’s work by reminding others of it as I rode by windows down with only his music blaring out my speakers for the day. However this year, I decided to do something a little different and also commemorate the often overlooked fashion influence he also had then and even still to this day.



{Versace glasses and Versace baroque silk shirts 17 years later}

 





 
The Notorious B.I.G. - "One More Chance"



The Notorious B.I.G. - "Big Poppa"




Monday, February 3, 2014

Next Wave 4: "Tux Shirt Casual"


"Casual-ization" of the Tuxedo shirt.



Historic Function:
An “evening shirt”, as it is often referred to in the United Kingdom is a shirt with rather unique and distinguishing features that is worn to a black or white tie formal affairs. These distinctive features consisted of a removable stiff wing collar, stiff pleated U-shaped bib and French cuffs. In the United States, however, this particular shirt is often known as a tuxedo or tux shirt for short.


Traditionally the tux shirt had a removable stiff wing collar which was fastened at the back and front of the shirt with studs instead of buttons. The stiff collar was intended to maintain the neck long and erect in stature conveying an air of elegance and formality while simultaneously bringing attention to the wearer’s face and chin. However, the shirt’s collar evolved, with the help of the Duke of Winsor who “casual-ized” it with a softer and irremovable collar. The Duke believed the stiff shirt to be uncomfortable and out-dated so he had them made to his preference. A bold move that many thought was fad and unorthodox but actually withstood the test of time and replaced the former.

The shirt placket’s top four button holes are often fastened with studs either mother of pearl or a black onyx set inlayed within gold or silver which are usually accompanied with corresponding cufflinks. What makes the shirt so exquisite is the front which consists of vertical panels originally made of starched piqué (to match its stiff collar) but can now be found in softer and more malleable cotton or linen. The panels often conform to create a U-shaped silhouette called the “bib” which ended right above the abdomen where it met with the expected U-shaped waistcoat. However that too has changed where one may find shirts where the panels run all the way to the bottom of the shirt.

“Next Wave” Function:

As fashionistas we all tend to have our areas of specialty; whether you are someone who pays particular attention to shoes, bags, jacket, accessories etc. I focus on a few but one that has never been of much interest to me has been dress shirts. If I was not wearing an oxford shirt, then one could find me in a plain tee. It is very rare, in my opinion, to find a shirt that can stand alone as a center piece without ostentatious graphics or design. As a practical designer it is difficult to create one without deviating too far from functionality and purpose. However, I fell in love with the distinctive elegance of the tux shirt and so for the past three years I have taken the traditionally formal habiliment and paired it with pieces outside its conventional use such as slacks and fitted denim. As all “Next Wave” articles this is my interpretation of revitalizing, reinventing and widening the scope of the predetermined constructs within style and fashion. Enjoy!


Oufit Details:
1. (Tailored) Tuxedo Shirt by Joseph A. Abboud.
2. (Tailored) Pants by Polo Ralph Lauren.
3. Black Velvet Slipper by ALDO.
4. Eyewear by Versace.
5. Cufflinks Burberry inspired.

Photography by: www.BasClark.com



Saturday, November 23, 2013

365: "Levi's Layering"

"Levi's Layering"
After so many weeks and months of working on various projects simultaneously (Creative Director of www.ConvolutedConstruct.com upcoming collection while continuously researching and writing interesting upcoming articles for you all and the recent influx of styling clients) I finally decided to take a day off. It was my favorite type of day off too.
It was a dim and cool Friday morning consisting of a light rain shower (the perfect weather for staying in) and I was in bed looking over some old and unused photographs. Looking over the pictures inspired me to write this article (still working on my day off apparently). The pictures brought me to a place which reminded me of where I once was in my life: What I was thinking, doing and trying to accomplish at the time and all with respects to where I am now. The memories and pictures made me smile and allowed me to appreciate how far I had come.
The set of pictures particularly responsible for this nostalgic trip were from one of my first personal styling photo-shoots which never made the cut onto the site. They most likely never made it because I was such a hard critic of myself at that time (still am) that I probably did not think it was good enough to be a site entry. But I decided this day to share it with you all, not because they are any better today than they were before but because it is a glimpse into a man’s quest towards holding steadfast to a once "silly" and therefore suppressed dream. It was a wanderlust trip down memory lane revealing that anything is possible.

Memory circa 2010:
 
The Boots:
           David Z stockroom associate turned company’s footwear creative director and brand collaborator, Ronnie Fieg, was in collaboration with Polo at the time. Polo had recently re-released their pair of the vintage Ralph Lauren Polo Ranger boots. I vividly recalled my affinity for this specific boot design when they first debuted in the mid ‘90s and when I first saw them on one of my most stylish relatives. Then fast forward and here came Mr. Fieg who in collaboration Polo altered the color way of these classics into a never before seen red distressed leather; making them a must have! To add to the mass craze (going on in my own head of course), the boots were limited and would only be sold exclusively at selected David Z retailers. So after much thought and internal debate…who am I kidding … Once those were purchased then all I needed was a jacket to compliment them.

 
(Photo credit: from www.RonnieFieg.com)


The Red Jacket:
          I was at the Levi’s store on 59th and Lexington window shopping with a friend when I came across their new line of their classic trucker denim jacket in corduroy and in different colors of the material. And to my surprise, you guessed it; they had an auburn-red color jacket which was a no brainer purchase. However, I miscalculated the drape of the material and so the size in which I got the jacket made it drape more than desired (“fun house” store mirrors I guess). But instead of returning it like any normal consumer, I simply un-seamed the too droopy sleeves and patched the armhole back up transforming it into
my very own personalized trucker vest.
 

The Denim Suit:
Maybe not so much today but once matching your jeans and jean jackets were the style. So much the style that different brands would put out denim suit combos (don’t act like you don’t remember the Guess or Girbaud sets). Nowadays, however, it seems to be a fashion “no-no” to match them; maybe because it looks too dated or it’s too tedious of a task trying to find a match. Either way I still enjoy doing it for it uniformly clean aesthetic and so I set out to find a matching denim set.
At the time, I really had an appreciation for the True Religion denim sets; their different washes and corresponding stitch colors. But as I foresaw the sets gaining popularity, I quickly lost interest due to their potential over saturation. It’s a stylistic pet peeve of mine to:
1. dress like everyone else and
2. spend great deals of money while doing so;
especially with the cost of those denim sets then. Nonetheless, with much trials and tribulations I was able to stumble upon the perfect set. A set that I felt matched the best (with regard to corresponding stitching and denim color) and yet still classic. Over the years of countless fads, I have come to learn the importance of classic. I learned that you can never go wrong with something that promises to withstand the test of fads. I found this classic denim suit at no other  than the classic denim pioneers; Levi’s.

 (Trucker Jacket with a pair of 511’s)

Bringing it all together:
At a time when people were beginning to lose the coat in exchange for different types of layering it was common to see cool-innovative layering tactic. One of these most common tactics was placing fitted denim jackets under blazers and overcoats. It was then, and still commonly seen today, one of the type of layering to stick as a staple look. And so I thought to myself; "why not layer denim with denim?" And voila! This is how my look that I like to call “Levi’s Layering” came to be.


 

Saturday, July 6, 2013

"Style-List" 4 Pt 5: Jean shorts

Week 5

Jean shorts:


DESCRIPTION:
Jeans are the most versatile and casual of shorts. These are categorized as one's typical 5 pocket (2 frontal, 2 back and coin pocket) jeans but simply cut off at or above the knee to compliment the warmer climate. What makes Jeans very specific is their design. Therefore, aside from the pockets, they usually come with rivets to reinforce the change pocket and first left and right belt loop closest to the button closure.

FABRICS:
They come in different washes, colors and weights of denim. Although they may come in other fabrics they must be true to the Jean design described above in order to be considered "Jeans" style or cut.

INSEAM:
Can range anywhere from 6-9 inches depending on the look you are trying to achieve; considering the “inseam to footwear ratio” explain in Week 2 Chinos Shorts.


FOOTWEAR:
They can practically be worn with any pair of footwear imaginable. However, depending on the fit and cut of the jean shorts one should consider the “inseam to footwear ratio”.  

Disclaimer:
This has been my interpretation of the different categories of shorts and the different ways that I would style them. Of course fashion is like any other form of art and a matter of self-expression so none of these recommendations are by any means set in stone and presented to limit you but rather to serve as guidelines.

As always thank you for stopping by. Hope you enjoyed…. Until next time….God Bless.






Sunday, June 30, 2013

"Style-List" 4 Pt 4: Cargo shorts


Week 4

CARGO SHORTS: 


DESCRIPTION:
Cargo shorts are categorized as any shorts having more than the conventional 4 pants pockets (or 5th change pocket if you consider the jean design). Cargos are usually recognized by their baggy side pockets which are great for placing your belongings and needs on your person while camping or going for long treks. As of recent, I have also seen cargos made in a slim-fit which come with non baggy but rather flat and pressed cargo side pockets; which are great for if you want to dress up a pair of cargos.

FABRIC:
These can come in all kind of fabrics from cotton, linen to denim and different design prints as well; most commonly camouflage print.

INSEAM:
Can range anywhere from 5-9 inches depending on the look you are trying to achieve (formal or casual).

FOOTWEAR:
They are usually baggy so they would not proportionate with slender shoes unless you are wearing a slim-fitted pair. These go great with ankle or high boots for a scavenger-explorer look. But can also be seen commonly sported with thong rubber sandals and different types of sneakers.


Next week is the last installment of this 5 part series. So until then, as always thank you for visiting and I invite you to come again next week as this series comes to an end.... Can you guess the last type of shorts??



Sunday, June 23, 2013

"Style-List" 4 Pt 3: Bermuda & Capri shorts



Week 3

BERMUDAS and CAPRIS


DESCRIPTION:
I have categorized Bermudas and Capris together because they are highly similar with only one subtle difference; their lengths. Bermudas are categorized as any shorts that go past the casual 8-9 inches inseam (whereas a formal inseam is usually 5-7 inches). And Capris also known as “cropped pants”, “three-quarter pants” or “clam diggers”, usually rest at either above, mid or below the calf muscle (not to be confused with high waters although you can probably play high waters off as Capris). They both have a real casual beach wear appeal about them. However, there is a big misconception that Capris are only for females. Although they might have first been sported by women in the U.S. they have recently become popular amongst more open minded and highly fashionable men (which are pretty correlated).
FABRICS:
Bermudas and Capris usually come in all kinds of fabrics such as linen, light-weight cotton and denim. They usually also come with either an elastic waistband, drawstring or buckle closure aside from the usual button closure with belt loops.

INSEAM:
They measure from above-mid-lower calf muscle and the choice is a matter of preference.
*These also serve well for men who may be bit self-conscious about their legs.

FOOTWEAR:
When I think of Bermudas and Capris I think of the beach so I recommend wearing them with:

Thong or leather strap sandals,
Low top casual sneakers; bulky or slender (if you are wearing them on “off-beach” terrain).

I would not really suggest wearing boots with these since their pant legs are long enough to touch the top of the boots therefore defeating the purpose of these shorts (might as well be wearing long pants).


Hope you all enjoyed. Stay tune next week for the last installment of the "Shorts" segment….