The Latest: Tuesday 09 February 2016

The $60 Sweater Crisis

Well-written article in Buzzfeed (really!) that post-gamed the holiday shopping season and the devaluing of clothing's perceived value when discounts become expected, frequent and significant. Gap Brands, J.Crew and Urban Outfitters are all cited, and in each case the "upscale" brand in the company has the serious problem—BR is essentially the same crap as Gap, J.Crew vis-a-vis J.Crew Factory, Anthropologie vs. UO.

In looking at the commodity-level brands that Unrefinery frequently cites, these pitfalls are avoided in a few ways:
  • The really significant sales are rare, or don't apply to everything (Brooks Brothers).
  • The sales come at a point in each season's cycle where if you wait, your size is probably gone (Uniqlo).
  • Even if the sales are relatively frequent, reliable or full-store, the clothes don't cost all that much in the first place, decreasing hesitation when contemplating a purchase (Lands' End).
  • The clothes are far from high-end, but they aren't crap in the first place (all of the above).

01.feb.2016 culture style
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Suitsupply S/S 2016 | Buy

Suitsupply has rather quietly dropped a couple dozen Spring/Summer 2016 items on their online shop, and by Suitsupply's standards this is a really quiet introduction from a brand that typically launches each new season with an ad campaign full of wet topless women (NSFW, obviously). A few highlights:

The Hudson light blue linen jacket [$400] is one of the best things we've seen from the brand in a long time. A fantastic slubby pale blue linen, broad lapel, and a hand-set soft shoulder add up to just about everything you want in a warm-weather blazer.

Variations of the Hudson tan windowpane linen suit [$500] have appeared before and it's as baller as ever. Hermès did something like this a few years ago. It's possible this version is cheaper.

Interesting Madison double-breasted navy pinstripe suit [$500] — A classic cut and pattern for a serious business suit, but in very casual 100% cotton. Intriguing idea. You go first.

Suitsupply's trousers have a nice cut with a slim/straight leg and a medium rise. The white cotton trousers [$150] are a reliable summer staple but the real star of the show this time is a tan Prince of Wales check in 100% linen [$190]. Pair with white, tan or navy and embrace the wrinkle.
27.jan.2016 style
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Museo Goes Brick & Mortar

Curation is everything when it comes to resale and consignment shops, and for years one of the best-curated has been Museo, whose focus crosses generations and genres—in their Ebay storefront you'll find vintage tweed sport coats, recent season output from menswear favourites like Borrelli and the higher-end Ralph lines, as well as strong representation of streetwear brands like A.P.C., Varvatos, and Rag&Bone. This week we learned that the shop has opened a storefront in Los Angeles, a sure indicator that their formula is working. Check them out if you're in the Silver Lake stretch of Sunset Boulevard.

Photo credit: racked.com
18.jan.2016 style
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Marco Rubio's Boots

Marco Rubio's appearance on the campaign trail wearing a pair of Florsheim Dukes prompted a range of largely predictable reactions. The Washington Post was amused. Left-leaning Vox naturally saw the whole discussion as proof that sexism cuts both ways. Other high-heeled-boot-wearing candidates such as fellow Cuban Ted Cruz and female impersonator Carly Fiorina rather hypocritically took easy jabs at him. Fun was had by all.

In fact chelsea boots in general are a practical winter staple, and this particular variant ("Beatle Boots", as they're often known) sports a Cuban heel, which is if anything an appropriate cultural reference for a Cuban-American. Rubio's problems with the execution were really that (a) a nearly 2" heel is a bit excessive; (b) he went with damn near the cheapest and crappiest-looking model he could find, and (c) they're completely incongruous with the rest of his Casual Friday Office Drone wardrobe.
11.jan.2016 culture style
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MKI Miyuki Zoku | Buy

Leeds retailer Miyuki Zoku's name refers to a Japanese subculture influenced by American Ivy League style, and although that's about the least appealing style reference imaginable, the store's MKI house brand turns out to be a slightly upscale, clearly British Uniqlo—a blend of classic pieces and streetwear, favouring quality materials, at reasonable prices. Standout lines include textured wool sweaters under $100 and some great overcoats in the $200 range. Their knitwear looks great across the board; just make sure you have a seam ripper to deal with gigantic tags inside and out.

Customers in the US and Canada will find a decent selection at END available with $11.95 flat rate shipping.
04.jan.2016 style
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The Unrefinery Award for 2015: Blackberry | Buy

Back in 2013 Unrefinery lamented that there was still no perfect phone and contemplated with anguish the Blackberry Q10's pairing of beautiful hardware with a crippled operating system. They followed up with the Blackberry Classic, another piece of fine hardware that "sort of" runs Android apps—as long as they appear in Amazon's app store... and if they don't rely on Play Services... and you don't mind missing notifications... and you have the hacking skills to patch them yourself...

It might still not be perfect, but the best mobile phone available today is the Blackberry Priv. Full, legitimate Android OS, a great (if not BB's best) keyboard, a big bright curved-edge OLED screen, Blackberry-hardened security, and a handful of innovations like the keyboard doubling as a touch-sensitive trackpad. Silly name, somewhat awkward weight distribution when open and the years of waiting? All is forgiven. Well done.
21.dec.2015 design tech
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Jaguar Land Rover brings diesel stateside

It sure took 'em long enough, but after years of offering diesel models in Europe, advancing emissions technologies and market interest in 25MPG SUVs finally convinced the Jaguar Land Rover automotive group to bring luxury TD to the US for each of their brands.

The Range Rover Sport 3.0l 6cyl diesel is noteworthy in how much it doesn't look or feel much different from the gas-engined variants — only 0.2 seconds slower from 0-60 than the supercharged petrol version, yet getting considerably better fuel economy (25 combined MPG vs. 19). You might never take it off-road but you could; it is the full-on RR experience. And in an age of climate change and unpredictable weather you never know when you might want to amaze your friends by driving through 31" of water. $71K decently equipped, a small enough premium over the equivalent petrol model that its improved efficiency may well pay for itself.

The same diesel engine is also offered in the non-sport RR but essentially you'd be paying an extra $22K for a bigger and slightly slower box.

Jaguar's F-Pace won't be here for a while but they're taking orders. Advertised as starting at $40K, you realistically need to go up to $49K to get the kind of basics you'd expect in a luxury vehicle. More of a crossover than a true SUV, it's actually rather handsome (if not particularly Jaguar-esque) and avoids the "hopped-up station wagon" look of its clear competitors over at BMW and Porsche. Small 2.0l 4cyl diesel engine should yield fuel economy previously unseen in the segment. If it's like classic Jaguars of yore, you can use that extra cash for maintenance and repairs.
14.dec.2015 design tech
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We're gonna need Hillary and Bernie to start dressing like they take this seriously.

It's not that Bernie's suits are terrible — a bit dated, a little too big, and with shoulder pads that make him look small — but he isn't wearing them right. The button-down collars are more in keeping with that college professor that everyone thinks is cool because he smokes pot with the kids. And he needs to commit to keeping his coat buttoned. It seems he's always unbuttoned. Looks sloppy. Advertises the paunch. Not good.

Hillary is clearly comfortable in her pant suits and that's fine. She isn't going to stop wearing them any time soon. But the cartoonish oranges and turquoises are more NFL Game Day than Oval Office. Get some navy chalk stripes, charcoal grey, etc. up in there. Gravitas. Seriousness. Words you want to hear from your focus group. Let's get this done.
03.dec.2015 culture style
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A Second Look at Everlane

It's been a couple of years since Unrefinery delivered a big "meh" at Everlane's t-shirts and skinny belts, but a lot has changed since then: their business model, their pricing, and most notably their expanded product offerings. At $65 their merino v-neck is competitively priced and turns out to be pretty damn nice. It's thin but not sheer—even the light heather grey was sufficiently opaque to not reveal a patterned shirt beneath. The fit is flattering and the wool is the blend of softness and resiliency you look for in this staple layering piece. If there's a knit to be picked (get it?) it's that the prominent seam stitching is a bit sweatshirt-esque. And, of course, there are limited colour choices. An easy choice at a price point populated primarily by mall brands.
16.nov.2015 style
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The Average Man's Haircut Cost Over Time

One could probably describe a similar arc for suit purchases.
02.nov.2015 culture style
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