Unrefinery

The Latest: Thursday 28 July 2016

Strategies for Wrinkle Resistance

If you live long enough, eventually you will have learned a series of different names for what is essentially the same thing. Just as polyester was rebranded as "microfiber" in hopes we'd all forget about its origins as a sort of non-breathing, wearable saran wrap, they probably gave up on the term "permanent press" in order that we might not recall its formaldehyde-treated first incarnation. Wrinkle-resistant, non-iron, stainproof, etc. fabrics are all essentially similar—cotton is soaked in a solution of tiny particles that are then bonded with heat to the material's fibers. This is highly effective and highly durable, and grants many of us the otherwise unattainable goal of wearing cotton khakis to work or for travel and not looking like crap by the end of the day. But like anything it has its pros and cons, and there are alternatives in the search for everyday trousers that don't need to be dry cleaned.

Wrinkle-resistant cotton garments are available at even the lowest price points. For everyday work wear, the best value for performance is found in Brooks Brothers Advantage Chinos and Lands' End No Iron Chinos. The advantages to the material are cost and ubiquity. The downsides are that the treatment is almost impossible to find in made-to-measure clothes and that altering off-the-rack trousers typically leaves a small but noticeable scar.

Heavier cottons are inherently wrinkle-resistant, or at the very least, produce broad creases that are aesthetically pleasing (think denim). Cotton canvas is one such material. 11oz canvas is great in cooler months. Less fun in the dead of summer.

Small amounts of elastane or lycra work in a different way than chemical and heat treatment by allowing garments to stretch and deform a bit while returning to their original shapes. AG is big on putting a little stretch into their casual trousers and it does wonders. Also effective in corduroy to prevent sagging knees after sitting. As a downside, such materials will not hold a crease no matter how much heat and pressure you blast them with. Limits somewhat their workplace potential.

Washable wool blends promise the look of wool with the easy care of cotton. Unrefinery had some test bespoke trousers made up in Luxire's "Wool Rich" material, which is 70% Super 120s wool and 30% polyester. They look great and they survived the wash completely unscathed. Apparently they can also be tumbled dry. Still kinda hesitant to try that.


25.jul.2016 design tech
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Fiat 124 Spider

After 30-some years Fiat is bringing a roadster back to the U.S. market, and it's lovely. You can tell that there's a Miata platform underneath the 124's Italian skin, but it doesn't look like a Miata in any but the most superficial ways—it has a more aggressive hood, a longer total length, handsome squared-off corners and a Ferrari-esque gentle curve to its decklid. It even looks not terrible with the top up, and in the $25,000-ish segment "not terrible" is where the bar is set for such things.

Mechanically the formula is true to the simple, fun Italian roadsters of yore: a small but punchy engine (in this case a 1.4-litre turbo making 160 horse), rear-wheel drive and none of that high-performance dual-clutch gearbox business.

If there's a bone to pick here from a design standpoint it lies in the colour availability—you've got blacks, red, greys and whites, and the top and entry lines are only available with a grim black interior. the best colour option by far, a metallic mica blue with saddle leather, can only be had in a limited "Prima Edizione" run with a $35,000 price tag. An impractical investment, for sure, but for a delightfully impractical set of wheels.
05.jul.2016 design tech
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Excessive collar roll is excessive.

Before the Internet it took years for fashion trends to pass "borderline", clear "pushing it" and reach "self-parodying". Over nearly a decade spanning the 60s and '70s, pant leg openings grew incrementally wider on an annual basis until they finally exceeded the circumference of the wearer's waist and someone finally burst out laughing to ruin the whole thing. In the self-congratulatory echo chamber that is #menswear, however, "dub-munks" with a single buckle closed spread faster than aerial spraying could contain them and "necktie boners" were fluffed and deflated within a single season.

The point here is that there aren't a lot of reasons to own a button-down collar in the first place, and "collar roll" is a silly thing for grown men to congratulate one another about. And once the space under your button-down collar becomes sufficiently expansive to shelter a family of four, it might be time to go unplug your router for a while.
27.jun.2016 meta style
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Double-Breasted Sighting at Suitsupply

DB suit options have been scarce at Suitsupply for the past year, which is unfortunate because they deserve a lot of credit for mainstreaming a trimmer silhouette for the genre that mixes and matches elements normally associated with less bankerly styles—patch pockets, soft shoulders, and kissing buttons for instance. This month the options expanded considerably with the welcome reapperance of their Madison VBC Suit [$499] in staple navy and medium grey. And most importantly, the addition of the Soho [$639] to their Design Your Own Suit offerings. Granted, it's nowhere close to a proper custom or made-to-measure program. You're stuck with the default sizes, and the only thing you can choose is the shell fabric—you can't even pick your own lining or buttons. But regardless, it does instantly make Soho double-breasted suits available in 54 different materials and that's nothing but good news.
20.jun.2016 style
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Lands' End Canvas By Lands' End

Lands' End has brought back their Canvas sub-brand as... Canvas By Lands' End. As in its first iteration, the label aims to reach a younger audience with slimmer fits and a lot of chambray. There was a lot to like about LEC as a source for comfortable yet flattering staple chinos, sweaters and light outerwear. CLE is off to a less appealing start as prices have generally crept upwards towards (and sometimes even past) the comparable J.Crew pieces they are clearly targeting—a $119 J.Crew cotton cardigan is mirrored by a similar sweater at CLE for $149. There are far fewer interesting items, including fewer wardrobe staples, and again items like $59 shorts seem priced with the company's frequent 20% and 30% discounts in mind.

The fall collections were always stronger the first time around, and here's hoping that trend continues.
13.jun.2016 style
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Don't half-ass casual shirt wearing

Wearing a shirt casually is a go-big-or-go-home sort of proposition. If you're going to roll up your sleeves, don't quit prematurely. Roll past the elbow. It'll be a little bit naturally disheveled at that point. Let it be—don't try to be excessively tidy, nor intentionally sh*t it up J.Crew style.

Wearing an open collar calls for the same approach. It can't look like you just took your tie off; otherwise don't bother. Have the right kind of collar, ironing, starch and upper torso to make it look intentional. Pro tip: if full chest exposure isn't for you, or for your workplace, or for polite society in general, a double-breasted coat or a v-neck or cardigan layer will give you a higher button point for open-collar demarcation and containment.
30.may.2016 style
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Lesser Known Hat Trick Variants

Everyone knows that in hockey, a hat trick occurs when a player scores three goals in a game. A "natural hat trick" is when all three are scored in a row without any other players' goals intervening. A "Gordie Howe Hat Trick", representing the all-around greatness of history's best player, is comprised of one goal, one assist, and one fight. A few of the lesser-known variants you can use to impress your friends as the playoffs reach their conclusion:

Claude Lemieux Hat Trick: Faking three injuries and in the process successfully drawing three penalties.

Sidney Crosby Hat Trick: One slam-your-stick, one take-a-dive, one whine-to-the-ref.

Washington Capitals Hat Trick: Making it to the third playoff round. (Note: no recorded historical occurrences.)

Phil Kessel Hat Trick: Consumption of three "Hot Pockets" during a single intermission.


23.may.2016 culture
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Creative Africa and Ikiré Jones

Exploring the suite of exhibitions that comprise the Creative Africa celebration at the Philadelphia Museum of Art it was impossible to miss the sole contemporary menswear display by none other than Philadelphia's own Ikiré Jones—and equally impossible to overlook creative director Walé Oyéjidé in one of his own striking sport coats. The Ikiré Jones aesthetic is a fusion of African textiles with European tailoring, and to Walé this reflects both the global nature of contemporary African design and his own journey. "It's not solely one thing or another," he observes; "at this point I'm as American as I am Nigerian." When asked if a common thread between the wildly varying genres and aesthetics in the exhibitions might be working with materials rather than against them, he offered "...and maybe just using what you have".

Creative Africa continues through the end of the year. Ikiré Jones' made-to-order sport coats are available online for $450.
16.may.2016 culture design style
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Bella Spalla sport coats from eHaberdasher

For a couple of years now, sport coats from eHaberdasher's own Benjamin brand have presented an unbeatable value proposition: Italian-made, half-canvassed, made with a flattering cut and materials from top mills, and almost always under $400. Our only reservation in the past has been the overly-skinny lapels, a problem now solved in their latest batch of Bella Spalla Sport Coats. Look for the listings that specify "classic 9mm lapel" for grown-man-ready goodness. Two favourites shown: a magnificently textured brown plaid with olive overcheck and a soft blue and navy glen plaid (both $350).
09.may.2016 style
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Reliable Indicators

Sometimes a book's cover reveals more information than you may have been lead to believe. While not 100% accurate, there are enough cases of one characteristic being a reliable indicator of another that a Venn diagram of the two would indicate nearly complete overlap. Examples:

A: Men who wear bad shoes · B: Men who are bad people
A: Wearing double monkstraps · B: Taking medical advice from pharmaceutical commercials
A: "Selfie stick" · B: Psychopathy
A: Axe product users · B: Trump voters residing in frat houses
A: People who hate Cap'n Crunch · B: Jihadists


02.may.2016 culture
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