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Saturday, March 8, 2014

Menswear Designers Are in the Mood for Indigo

The menswear world—is in the mood for the unique charms of indigo  Repost off WSJ.com with select additions.

ONE YEAR AGO, Ariel and Shimon Ovadia, the twin brothers behind New York-based menswear label Ovadia & Sons, retailed an oxford shirt whose top half was pure white and whose bottom was tie-dyed with indigo. This prep-school surfer piece was a hit, and so the brothers revisited indigo in a bigger way in their latest spring collection.
The Ovadias are not alone. In the past few seasons, a number of fashion designers—and even some furniture designers—have caught indigo fever, using the dye to color everything from linen suits to sofas. Tommy Hilfiger, Michael Bastian and Christophe Lemaire all included indigo pieces in their recent collections. "It's kind of hitting all the right buttons," Mr. Bastian said. "Anything that feels like jeans, guys are already in love with."The trend is a revival of a technique that dates back millennia. Indigo is one of civilization's original clothing dyes. It first appeared when residents of India's Indus Valley discovered that the leaves of indigo plants turned dark blue when dried and, as fermented pulp, clung attractively to garments. The Japanese took indigo-dyeing to new heights between the 17th and 19th centuries. With the rise of denim in the late 19th century, indigo became a uniform of sorts for workers around the world. It was around this time that synthetic indigo, better suited to mass production, replaced the natural dye. With the exception of expensive niche brands like 45RPM, most denim companies use synthetic indigo.
 
Still, the comeback of raw (or unwashed) denim has prepared men to enjoy the gradual, idiosyncratic fade of the natural original. The Ovadia brothers tapped into this quality of the natural dye to achieve a variety of shades of blue—shown to polished effect in a head-to-toe indigo look from their Spring '14 fashion week presentation: peacoat, sweater, shirt and pants. "The color can be really rich and saturated for a polished look, or you can let it bleed away for more of a worn-in look," Ariel said.
The bleeding doesn't stop at the point of purchase. "How a garment fades and wears is a defining reason people get sentimental about their jeans," said Miles Johnson, design director of Levi's XX, which makes the brand's vintage-inspired Made & Crafted line. "Without realizing it, they fall in love."
 
 
Earlier this year, furniture designer Stephen Kenn teamed up with denim label Simon Miller on a natural-indigo collection that includes chairs and a sofa. They dye their fabrics in a design studio in Los Angeles. Most designers, however, seek theirs on every continent except North America. Japanese indigo has the most cachet, if only because hip local designers and the government there have preserved the once-glorious tradition as a point of national pride.
This was one motivation behind his natural-indigo leather blazer for spring, the designer Mihara Yasuhiro confirmed via email from Tokyo. Another, he added, was that "only with this technique can you have the vividness of a deep indigo blue."
Indigo's return is bound to have a widespread appeal. As Mr. Ovadia put it, "I don't think there's a guy on the planet that doesn't have something blue in his closet."
 
 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Are Socks The New Ties....People Are Talking



Are Socks the new Ties?  Repost off corporate Blog (Click Here)

The Well-Stocked Sock Drawer



Who knew that socks are important enough to write about twice in the same week? While not your most significant sartorial concern, socks are getting a lot of attention right now.
Many men, every year or two, simply replace all of their socks in one fell swoop. Out with the old and in with the new. They also tend to keep the selection very simple: a dozen or two, over-the-calf, wool blend, all the same color – usually black. Super easy. A “no brainer!” No worries about having to match one sock to another. They all match! That approach is overly pragmatic and rather dull for my taste, but I get it.
On the other end of the spectrum, more than a few modern men are collecting an array of socks that rival some of the world’s great neckwear collections, with a wide variety of color and pattern. I’m not saying that socks are the new tie, because the wearing of ties is once again on the rise. However, expressive socks reflect the strengthening trend of men adding more color to their personal style. This fits nicely with shoes that are more colorful: from the upper to the soles, insoles, and laces. More on that in another post coming soon.
My socks are organized by color for those that are solid or have very subtle patterns. I also organize them by length because I prefer to wear the longer, over-the-calf (OTC) socks when the weather is cool and the shorter, mid-calf socks on warmer days. That isn’t necessarily textbook advice, but my personal preference. The more colorful and patterned socks I keep separate. Most of them are mid-calf, but are of a quality that they stay up during the day really well. At the rate I’m going it won’t be long before that part of the collection will need its own drawer.
Q. Other than the length of socks, the most common question I get is what fabric is best? Wool? Cashmere? Cotton? Some kind of blend?
A. The answer to that is a little trickier because fabrics keep changing through continual innovation and improvements. For one, a lot of wool knits, socks included are not nearly as “itchy” as they used to be. In general, wool is considered to be more durable and able to keep its shape better than cotton. Wool certainly can absorb more moisture throughout the day without feeling damp.
One of my mid-southern partners wears 100 % cotton OTC in the summer, but switches to wool in the colder months. Fine quality cotton takes to color better than wool, so most of the more colorful socks that are growing in popularity are made of cotton. A blend of around 80% natural fiber, 20% synthetic is about right, with the exception of the very finest socks, which are mostly made from 100% natural fibers.
formal-socks
stripe-socks
Q. How do I decide what color to wear?
A. With a suit, the most conservative option is to match the leg of the trouser, or the color of the shoe, whichever is least conspicuous. For a more fashionable statement, harmonize (but don’t match) with your tie or a color in the pattern of your shirt. Just remember, it’s hard to take your major presentation seriously with “silly” socks. Give similar consideration to your more colorful socks as you would when choosing a tie, don’t let the colors don’t clash with the rest of your outfit. For dressy evening events, black shoes and dark socks only, please! For daytime wear, or casual social settings, knock yourself out, just stay harmonious with your color schemes. For black tie occasions, the proper choice is black solid, or subtly patterned. The fabric? Silk or silk blend. OTC is a must.
Q. So, how many pair of socks does the well-dressed man need in his sock drawer(s)?
A. Well look, no one wants to have to worry every Sunday evening whether or not you have clean socks to wear the next week, so for the most practical of reasons, two weeks worth would be a bare minimum. As a basis to work from, here’s what I would suggest for….
Solids and Simple Patterns
Over-The-Calf
Wool or Cotton
Mid-Calf Cotton
Black42
Navy44
Dark Gray44
Medium Gray24
Brown22
Olive22
Tan22
Socks with more Color and/or Pattern
No particular rhyme or reason to this part of it. Add a few Stripes, Dots, Geometrics, Argyles, whatever you like.
So, that comes to around four or five dozen pair of socks. Of course, you may want to adjust the color mix based on what color pants/suits you wear most often. With that kind of inventory you are always prepared and only have to update a few each year to keep it fresh.
Note: Personally, I replace my basic socks as necessary. You know when you put them on. Can you see part of your bare heel through that fabric? Are they getting a little “crusty?” Time to toss those bad boys.


 
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