Friday, December 31, 2010

NutSac Disc Golf Bag

image from nutsac

I recently played my first disc golf game with a few friends at Pease Park a few days before the course was to be demolished. It was loads more fun that I imagined it could be, and I couldn't help noticing the hardcore players with their specialized carrying bags filled with 10+ discs. We all agreed that the nylon bags with their harnesses looked silly, and that lugging around so many discs is ridiculous. Apparently the people at NutSac bags felt the same way, so they made a compact canvas bag constructed with American materials and labor. The photo above is the single sac "Lance Armstrong version," and if you think it looks like a purse, it ain't for you.

Handmade? No
Made in: USA


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Tretorn Strala

1st 2 images from blackbird
last image from the tannery

So, I did not end up winning those Blunnies. Perhaps I should release my dream of owning Australian work boots, get practical and opt for an elastic-sided boot that is less rugged, less warm... and less boot. Enter the low-cut, rubber Tretorn Strala! With its modest good looks and an attractive price range, this would be a worthy addition to most anyone's wardrobe. Forget tall rain boots, most of us don't slosh around on the farm or live in Britain. The new Strala Vinter (Swedish for winter) version features furry lining for added warmth. I had seen the Sommar style floating around earlier this year, but the white striped outsole put me off. Definitely like the black stealth versions better. 3rd photo is of a special collaboration with The Wilderness Workshop. More details on the Tretorn Swedish Goodness blog.

Made in: ?
Handmade? No


Friday, December 17, 2010

Eddie Bauer Vintage Lace-up Chukka Boot for Women

The Red Wing Gentleman Traveler Boot, Alden Indy Boot, and Wolverine 1000 Mile Boot are damn solid vintage work boots for men. And at $200-300, they are costly. The mediocre "Vintage Shoe Company" line at Eddie Bauer doesn't seem like anything special at first glance. The only reason I bring it up is that there you can find a more affordable womens' version of the vintage work boot, the likes of which (devoid of annoying feminine frills) can be found nowhere else, save Wolverine ($$$) and maybe Frye. It's an extra 30% off today. I told myself over and over again that I would not covet heritage work boots, but the price is right!

I dug around more to see what "The Vintage Shoe Company" was all about. It does exist, and offers a $265 womens Lilly boot. Not in my price range though, sadly.

Made in: USA
Handmade? No

$139 today

Bear Feet Womens Desert Boots

images from meandmyfeet

You never see desert boots for women, because they are a mens or unisex style. Well here are some that are like the floppy version of the famous Clarks, complete with crepe soles. And they are constructed by a Texas company, Bear Feet. If you check out their site, you can find mostly baby shoes that are super flexible and easily shaped to the foot, as opposed to a stiff shoe shaping the foot. 2nd best to barefoot. Kinda along the miminalist lines of the Vibram Fingers, but even better because they are handmade with American supplies, and with buckles, thread, and special leathers from Germany and Italy.

Edit: Per Amanda's comment, I trekked over to Creatures Boutique on South Congress after a half day of last minute Xmas shopping. They had so many different pairs there! It is under the name Dimovi because the daughter of the Bear Feet family, who resides in Austin, branched off into her own line. I tried on a 39, a size smaller than I usually fit, and they slipped on like a sweetly worn leather sock. (Or as they jokingly called it there, a "foot condom"). The bronze leather was very pliable already, and the thin crepe sole allows you feel the ground underneath. A black crepe sole was available, as well as a mens's version. All the womens' models had a single set of rhinestone glued to side of the boots (on the tip of the flap), a pink/blue/purple strip of leather at the heel, and matching laces. Because I prefer unfeminized things in general, I decided to get a custom pair made with no rhinestones or girly colored accents. It'll be ready in 2-4 weeks! The only thing is that last night I bid on a pair of used Blundstone 500s on Ebay, and I'm still the highest bidder. So I might end up with two pairs of brown boots. I'm not complaining...

Made in: Brownwood and Austin Texas
Handmade? Yes

$179.95, or $140 at Creatures Boutique

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Bag'n'Noun Rucksack

image from oldfaithfulshop

1. Marveling at Japanese treatment of utility
2. Ignoring stuff that I can't buy in the States

Usually #2 rules, except when it no longer applies. What a handsome, yet humble pack- it's like premium Muji (plus the label). Google image search the brand for some more eye candy.

Handmade? No
Made in: Japan


Winter Boots, or Something

Not that I need them, but ever since I laid eyes the beautifully flecked knee socks at American Apparel today in the Drag store (not online!), I've been on the hunt for affordable cold weather boots to pair with it. Over here in Texas, winter wardrobes are dictated by style, not so much by necessity. It's also been about 6 months since I've gone shopping... which doesn't help things. OK let's go!

To the best of my knowledge, L.L. Bean was responsible for the original Maine hunting boot. I was vaguely aware of that, yet my main association with this style of boot is with Ralph Lauren and their faux rugged version's popularity in the hip hop culture. I found a kickass red rubber Eddie Bauer pair on Ebay, and although they are magically in my size, I've purchased ill-fitting shoes on Ebay too many times. And the New England look isn't really part of my style inclination, as much as I love Foster Huntington's blog. Somebody should buy these!!

What about rain boots? They're relatively cheap for a lot of boot. It's messed up that sellers can command $100+ for rain boots though, after they became a flowery fashion accessory. With the exception of legitimate European Wellington makers, such as Hunter (they offer cute socks!) and Aigle, of course. Baffin is a major Canadian producer of boots, and these industrial rubber boots are not only under $40, they are hiding a maple leaf stamped on the heel. Sneaky lads.
Engineer/harness boots. I've been intrigued by these motorcycle boots for a few years now, and never pulled the trigger because they are just too damn tough for me. With the light walking that I do, I simply would not be able to wear them out. As with any technical clothing, I believe that you should get something that fits your functions, and doesn't go way beyond into the land of needless excess. That way you don't look like a tool, haha. These Red Wing Boots in black are drop dead sexy, so that's why they are on this list.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Field Notebooks

image from fieldnotes

One thing I have pretty much stopped doing is writing- with a pen on paper. Even though in college, laptops were the notebooks of choice, I still preferred to handwrite all my notes. Fast forward a few years where the computer dominates my work life, free time, and the hubby is trying to ease the Kindle under my radar. I have 5 books of diaries, yet my latest one has sporadic entries, as Evernote replaced it for a period of months. So, why write things down anymore, when you can type, save, backup, manipulate, and edit stuff on a screen? I don't know the answer to that question. Yet I get to ask myself, as today, by virtue of creating a new Gowalla location, I randomly won a subscription to the Field Notes Colors limited edition notebooks. (Checking in or creating new places is sort of a pointless activity, but I was sitting in the waiting room at the doctor's and had nothing better to do.) And boy are these notebooks lovely, as the line "explores new papers, printing processes, and colors, sometimes adding special packaging and other fringe benefits." I await the first shipment with excitement and smidgen of anxiety over what to do with them! Not a proponent of accumulating pretty objects that just collect dust.

Made in: Various small letterpress and printing studios in the US
Handmade? Yes

$129 (yearly subscription)

image from amazon

Field Notes are inspired by the agricultural notebooks of the past century, yet they are more like a modern, immaculately designed, urban version of their grandparents. For memo books that can stand to be outside, check out Rite in the Rain. They are definitely not as sleek as Field Notes, but professionals use them (see Cool Tools). Also consider other military notebooks, such as the Department of Defense bound log books. ACL has a recent write-up on them, and a hearty discussion in the comments section on the military tactical equipment and clothing as fashion statements.

Made in: ?
Handmade? No


Outlier Merino Pullover

images from outlier

And speaking of fabrics you can never have enough of, how about merino wool, that fine animal product that magically keeps you dry when you perspire, breathes fabulously in warm weather, and keeps you toasty in cold weather. Introducing the $180 sweatshirt! As put off I am by the prices Outlier commands, I believe that their products are worth every penny, if the purpose of your wardrobe is quality over quantity. The value of each piece easily overtakes that of the designer crap found in high-end department stores, as Outlier sells directly to the customer with minimal mark up (see FAQ). Take a look at their Philosophy page; how amazing that a group of people with zero background in garment construction took their passion for well-made technical clothing and sustainability, did a bunch of research, and came back with some really good stuff.

Back to the pullover/ sweatshirt, I am not sold on the aesthetics of the ribbed fabric on the sides, but it apparently allows more movement. The black version is much more plain and stealth, as it the ribbed fabric is not as apparent. This wool style is intriguing to me, as I have not seen a similar product made by other technical wool clothing companies. Even Icebreaker, arguably the most modern and European of them all, does not have a sweatshirt or even sweater-like product. Their thicker knit tops are mostly body-hugging. Ibex, who makes wool cycling apparel, carries a somewhat similar fitted long-sleeve top. With its more classic cozy fit, the Outlier Merino Pullover has the best chance of becoming a winter lounge favorite, as well as performing double duty when you ride.

I fawn from a distance, but have no intentions of purchasing, as the XS in mens will still be too roomy. I am interested in what plans they have for extending their womens' line... might as well give them a holler!

Made in: NYC
Handmade? No


Zugster Waxed Canvas Tool Bag

images from zugster

I'm pretty sure that you can't have too many waxed canvas belongings. You know, as long as you are using all of them. It's a great vegan alternative to leather that ages in its own special way, gaining beausage. The man behind these thoughtfully designed and constructed bags at Zugster, Adam Alpern (Flickr), is man who values innovation. I used to follow him on Google Reader when I was still using that app, and he always posted sometimes technical, always informative reads. And really, how could you not admire a dude who has mastered the art of sewing?

Made in: California, USA
Handmade? Yes!


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Mundane is the New Exciting

images from proper mag and oi polloi respectively

OK, what is with this: I'm seeing versions of clothing that I could get from Target and Dillards posted in the freshest fashion blogs and online shops. Like the Champion sweatshirt and the 90's ubiquitous Polo long-sleeved polo shirt above. It was only a matter of time before ordinary, easy to come by articles of clothing were co-opted by the industry tastemakers and praised as fashion forward. The maddening (or confusing) thing is that the 45 year old dads with their old Champions and geeks who have kept the same polo shirts for 10 years are exempt from turning into style icons overnight. Only if you possess the uber-specific, time-sensitive cultural capital (see NYT essay on the sociology behind hipsterdom) to distinguish between oblivious and deliberate association with certain products can you exploit this tiresome trend. I'll stop now because I don't want to get all theoretical or point any fingers here. As much as I admire good clothing, I believe that you should wear what you like with pride, not look down on people who don't give a shit, and refrain from placing people in categories. Don't get sucked into stealthy forms of style that are fueled by a belief that your ever evolving taste is superior.

i'm not even going to post these details because i am not proposing that you purchase these underwhelming items

Barbour Beacon Heritage Tartan Blouson

image from the esteemed proper mag

Hot out of the garment factories is the Spring 2011 Barbour Beacon Heritage by Japanese designer Tokohito Yoshida. The details aren't that important. It's just another example of the Japanese (nobody takes style more seriously) remaking a Western classic brand into something more modern, wearable, and with the propensity to be a future classic. I, for one, love the particular blouson (aka blouse jacket) above. You know it's fully functional and can stand up to the worst beating, while looking ever so refined doing it. I definitely recommend this line for consumers who like the style sensitivities of Nau products, but opt for a more traditional feel.

Made in: England (I think)
Handmade? No