Unrefinery

The Latest: Tuesday 28 April 2015

Vintage Electric Cruz

Digging the art-deco styling and nice details of the Vintage Electric Cruz e-bike, which include an aluminum battery box and alder wood panels on the "tank". The battery is good for a range of 30 miles and the motor will do up to 20mph in "street legal" mode, but let's be realistic, the "race" mode is where most of us would say as the top speed of 36mph is a lot safer for urban traffic avoidance.

The bikes start at $5,000, which stings less if you compare them not to conventional bicycles but to something like a Vespa scooter, which is more like $7,000 and weighs over 300 pounds. The Cruz is about 78 pounds, which means the urban apartment dweller might get it up and down a few (a FEW) stairs without too much difficulty.
27.apr.2015 design tech
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In praise of olive

Underrated and underutilized colour, that olive. In its greyish variations it's wonderfully neutral, working particularly well with pale blues and whites and khaki but equally home with black. When more saturated it has the ability to warm up the military-inspired pieces on which it is most frequently found. Shown left: the almost annoyingly stylish Davidson Petit-Frere. Right: cotton field coat from LL Bean [$159].
20.apr.2015 style
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Angelo Nardelli S/S 2015 | Buy

Nardelli is one of those Italian-as-a-mofo brands well known to shoppers of Yoox and the late great Daffy's for their affordable unstructured / soft-shouldered classic jackets. Thanks to the US Dollar's strength against the Euro, the brand's offerings are now available directly in the reasonable $450-$620 range without having to wait for any sort of picked-over odd-sizes end-of-season sale.

Nardelli's Spring/Summer 2015 Collection includes all the essential solids and spring plaids you want in warm-weather materials like linen/silk blends and stretch cotton. Button points are a little higher than you might be used to, which generally works fine for all of us open-collar enthusiasts but makes their double-breasted models a little awkward. The lightweight scarves, in a variety of cotton, linen and silk blends, look great and are all under $100.

And of course there's their famous Connemara Jacket [$620] which goes beyond the concept of a travel jacket and aspires to become a piece of foul-weather survival equipment with a variety of interior pockets and an included goofy rain hat concealed beneath its anti-creasing, stain-resistant, waterproof, designed-to-be-folded-up shell of treated wool. The old saying is that a navy blazer goes with everything. In this case everything might include a monsoon.
13.apr.2015 style
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Lands' End for Spring /Summer 2015: Buy Low, Take to Tailor | Buy

Some time ago Lands' End reabsorbed their Canvas sub-brand into their main body of product, but its spirit lives on most visibly in their warm-weather offerings. The main difference is regrettably the fit; those trimmer silhouettes largely didn't survive the transition and the average casual shirt seems cut to appeal to an older demographic. Fortunately there's a lot of nice stuff here at a price low enough that there's still good value to be had even after the necessary trip to the tailor. A few picks and how to make them work:

Linen Print Shirts in Short [$34] and Long Sleeves [$39] — The white medallion print and the blue multi gingham are particularly tasteful. Expect to possibly size down, then have the torso and sleeves slimmed.

Lighthouse Chino Shorts [$40] — It took LE a long time to migrate from their traditional 9" and 10" inseams to a mode modern 6". These might actually fit well without alterations. The ivory and sisal colours look great.

Straight Fit Chino Pants [$49] — Pale Slate in particular is the soft light blue we've all been waiting for. Lands' End actually makes these in a slim fit, but frankly their interpretation of that is a little weird, with a full abdomen and a leg that goes oddly skinny in mid-thigh. Better to get the straight fit version and then have the legs slimmed to your personal preference.


06.apr.2015 style
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White Trousers For Every Season

Don't know about where you live, but around Unrefinery HQ there don't seem to be defined seasons anymore. Everyone has their winter and summer wardrobes out at the same time, overflowing dressers and closets and guestroom beds.

Regardless of temperature or occasion there's always a way to utilize the highly wearable ultimate neutral that is the white pant. Here's a handy guide to choosing the right material. As always with white pants, make no compromise on opacity—the thin Bemberg lining on the Luxire trousers shown here serves the dual purpose of hiding your undergarments and adding a cooling buffer between your skin and the heavy cotton twill shell.

As for colour, generally brighter whites are more suitable for summer and ivories and creams look more appropriate in winter. Which it now seems may run from September to May. Hmmph.
30.mar.2015 style
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Men's Style Magazines: An Industry Compromised

Here's the thing about last month's infamous Esquire/Michael Kors incident: For all their faults, one thing you can't say about the likes of Esquire is that their editorial staff lacks some fundamental understanding of men's style. They know that nobody should buy $300 Michael Kors pleated khakis. The decision to feature them can therefore only be an economic one.

And there's the problem with the business model of men's style magazines in general. The need to remain cozy with deep-pocketed advertisers means not only making the sorts of dubious recommendations that throw the credibility of the entire publication into question, but it also means missing out on some of the most important things happening in the industry. There is no one thing more exciting in the world of menswear right now than the rise of affordable online bespoke clothing, offering men the opportunity to have completely custom, original, perfectly fit garments made from whatever materials you or they can source. At no point in history have we had such options open to us. But as full-page advertisements in international magazines are beyond the budget of the likes of Luxire, Hemrajani Bros, etc., we'll rarely hear about them in their pages. Instead we'll get Kenneth Cole's square-toed loafers and Louis Vuitton's logo-covered vulgarities. And $300 Michael Kors pleated khakis.

Without being privy to the inner budgetary workings of men's magazines, of course it's possible only to speculate on a solution. But looking through the pages of Esquire and GQ it's clear that in each case the loss of a few advertisers from among a broad and varied current base wouldn't sink the enterprise. Maybe the answer is to accept lower revenue as a tradeoff for editorial independence and the credibility that it would bring. A trade-off that might not seem too appealing now, but if an increasingly savvy readership realizes that the best options for dressing well never make it into the magazine, perhaps the resulting impact on circulation will make its necessity clear.

Maybe.
23.mar.2015 culture meta style
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Curved TV screens and the legacy of Dave's Grandfather

Unrefinery's technology expert is a man named Dave, whose childhood enthusiasm was clearly kindled by his grandfather. "Someday," he'd tell Dave, "we'll have TVs so flat you can hang them on the wall like a picture."

Dave's Grandfather died back in the 1980s, so alas he never saw flat screen television come to dominate the market, but maybe he'd be glad that he isn't around to see his vision sullied by the Solution Without A Problem that is the curved screen TV. After all the effort we spent drilling holes in walls, installing the most low-profile mounts we could find and even tucking these things into recesses in order to make them protrude as little as possible, now they want us to buy TVs that jut out on both sides. Dave's Grandfather didn't die for this sh*t.

If you go to the store now you'll see curved sound bars to go with your new curved TV. Sure, by all means, let's just f*cking start over.
19.mar.2015 tech
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Good stuff at Uniqlo for Spring 2015 | Buy

Uniqlo is a big ship that changes course slowly, so most of their Spring stuff is an evolution of stuff we saw last year. A few noteworthy pieces:

Long Sleeved Striped T-Shirt [$20]. Every year Unrefinery presents some options for the summer staple that is the short-sleeved navy striped T, but Uniqlo's new long-sleeved option is a nice development for spring through fall. Heavy and soft, almost a sweater gauge. They run small and they're almost sure to shrink so size up.

Linen V-Neck Sweater [$40]. Uniqlo expands its linen offerings every year, and while the dinky-collared shirts and linen cardigans seem a bit pointless the idea of a lightweight linen sweater to be worn without layers in warm weather is an appealing upgrade from a t-shirt or sweatshirt. The blue and navy colours are the most appealing as the slubby texture adds some nice visual interest. Fit is true to size.

Stretch Mesh Belts [$20]. The idea here is that if you have infrequently-worn shoes in a slightly offbeat colour like navy or burgundy or ivory, you can pick up a comfortable and complementary belt for minimal outlay. Some of them are reversible. Handy.
16.mar.2015 style
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The fops go marching two by two... | Fail

The most over-the-top Pitti Uomo attendees almost always seem to appear in pairs. Other than that old saying that starts with "if you live with someone long enough", there has to be a reason for this that we just don't know. Someone throw us a frickin' bone.
02.mar.2015 culture style
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R.I.P. Esquire Magazine's dubious credibility, 1933-2015 | Fail

It was a long, slow decline, but the end finally came in the March 2015 issue with their endorsement of $295 double-pleated Michael Kors chinos. Other than the word "chinos" there's not a single part of that phrase that isn't beyond redemption.

Hoping they got the message when we turned down a free subscription renewal.
23.feb.2015 culture style
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