• Harry’s


    Shaving is a therapeutic experience for me in the morning. The feel of a well-balanced handle in between my fingers, the methodical stroke upon stroke, the rejuvenation—it's a nice ritual. A man can wax introspective while staring himself in the mirror and holding a blade to his throat. However, there is this moment when the romance of it all is lost. It's the moment I realize I'm on my last blade and that blade's last shave was yesterday. It's an amateur move. But I'm busy, so this happens more than I would like to admit. I need fresh blades and cream delivered to my door on my schedule.

    Andy Katz-Mayfield and Jeff Raider (Warby Parker cofounder) realized this too. Together they created Harry's and it's doing for shaving what Warby Parker did for glasses: offer a better designed product directly to customers in a market plagued by exorbitant prices. From their timeless yet modern ergonomic handles to their "gothic arch" blades, Harry's team of more than four hundred German engineers design and manufacture everything.

    Evangelizing a luxury, modern point of view on design pays off for Harry's. The guys took aesthetic inspiration from older ballpoint pens and knives boasting unique handles. With offerings in precision-grade aluminum and colorful blends of high quality polymers (a highlight is the safety orange), the result is quite handsome. I love the aluminum handle for its engravable quality. Hey, if it's not moving, monogram it).

    Harry's, taken from a grandfather figure in Raider's life, offers shave plans ($1.56 per blade and $8 per cream) based on how frequent you shave. It's easy and automatic. I no longer worry about buying razors or cream now. Every two months, I get a delivery at my door just before things get, well...hairy.

    Jun 16, 2014 | Permalink (0) View/Leave Comments

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  • Rowley Eyewear


    by Tucker Chet Markus

    1988—Cynthia Rowley started her career by inviting New York’s most well-known fashion editors to a runway show...in her apartment.

    An ambitious start that has defined the trajectory of Cynthia’s success since; the Cynthia Rowley name has flourished, now with over 60 boutiques across the world. And today, Cynthia and her husband, art aesthete Bill Powers, have brought the quality and sensibility of the Cynthia Rowley brand to eyewear.

    Launched last year, Rowley Eyewear is the result of Cynthia’s vision to make eyewear not a necessity for seeing but another way to see yourself. The women’s line is designed by Cynthia and the men’s line—called Mr. Powers—is crafted by Bill. While Rowley Eyewear is the latest company to embrace the direct-to-consumer e-commerce approach, what Cynthia has dubbed Rowley Care is what makes her offering unique—by creating what she cheekily refers to as her own version fashion insurance.

    Pony up $50 for annual membership when you pick up your first pair (or opt $5 monthly installments) and throughout the year, you can buy as many frames as you want for 50% off. If you break a pair, buy a new one at 50% off. Leave your frames in a cab (ugh!)? Buy a second pair at 50% off. If you just want to switch it up, buy a third pair at 50% off. In fact, buy as many pairs as you like at 50% off—each designed with the artful perspective of one of the most preeminent fashion designers today.

    We caught up with Cynthia and Bill about their inspirations—as fashion luminaries, as parents, and as husband and wife. Then we took a bunch of selfies, like they were originally intended to be, in a photobooth.

    Cynthia, what was the inspiration behind expanding the Cynthia Rowley brand to eyewear?

    C: As they say, a smile is the most important thing you put on in the morning, but if eyes are the window to the soul, shouldn't eyewear follow? Even though the e-commerce model already existed, no other designer had made glasses into a stylized accessory yet.

    Explain the point of view behind Rowley Care.

    C: Lose 'em, break 'em, scratch 'em, or maybe you're just bored: Rowley Care is your fashion insurance. By joining, you can purchase additional pairs of glasses at a reduced price.

    What era of eyewear do you find yourself most influenced by?

    C: Now!

    Bill, what’s the one detail that you look for first when it comes to eyewear?

    B: French writer Malcolm de Chazal said, "We know the halls of our eye like welcome visitors.”

    How does the Mr. Powers line capture this?

    B: The glasses should evoke a kind of déjà vu, but still feel fresh.

    Both the Rowley and Mr. Powers lines are seemingly defined as independent parts of a greater whole. With this in mind, Cynthia, how do you perceive Bill as a catalyst to your work? Bill, how do you perceive Cynthia as a catalyst to your work?

    C: We both love art, and that influences every part of our lives. He is kinda bossy, haha, but in the end we both have our own aesthetic.

    B: My wife likes to joke that giving unsolicited advice is my favorite hobby.

    When looking through your own specs, what's your favorite sight to behold?

    B: My kids.

    C: Friends and family laughing, the New York skyline, the beach, and champagne bubbles in a glass.

    And at arms-length, what is your favorite thing to read?

    C: Bedtime stories to my kids.

    B: The best book I read this year was The Flamethrowers.

    To finish, fill in the blank: I’m absolutely in love with the _____________ frame right now.

    B: I love the No.06 or No.86 at the moment.

    C: Well, the whole idea behind Rowley Care is that you don't have to limit yourself to just one pair! Right now I love No.29 in black, No.78 in honey tortoise, and No.62 in blush.

    May 27, 2014 | Permalink (0) View/Leave Comments

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  • Vintage Accessories


    Of the handful of friends I have who design interiors, they all seem to echo the same dictum: don't buy all your furniture at once. Doing so tends to capture but a snapshot of an individual's taste, personality, and experiences instead of a culmination of them. I think the same could be said of one's wardrobe. Personal style is best developed over time, a byproduct on the journey of knowing one's self.

    Part of what can make personal style interesting is when certain pieces tell stories or boast history. Whether passed down or purchased, the stories inherent in vintage accessories weave a weft that simply cannot be replicated by new. Carol Troy, author of Cheap Chic, lauds that “vintage gives you a feeling that in this throwaway world there are still some things around that can last ten, twenty, thirty, forty years, or more and remain beautiful.”

    The right vintage accessories can introduce an interesting depth to one's style. And more often than not, no one else will have it. It is now uniquely yours. The key to wearing vintage accessories is to buy great pieces (I love sterling silver) and mix them in sparingly with modern pieces you are already wearing. It is that mix of old and new that feels current.

    “Vintage gives you a feeling that in this throwaway world there are still some things around that can last ten, twenty, thirty, forty years, or more and remain beautiful.”

    This sterling silver American Indian chief ring is a gem I plucked from the Manhattan Vintage Clothing Show. While flea markets, thrift stores, and estate sales are viable options, I appreciate the curated offering of the vintage fair. It is a more organized, curated flea market, with higher quality merchandise (and prices to match). Make an entire day of it. It is highly efficient and beats pin-balling between shops. Nearly all my favorite vintage accessories come from vintage fairs and eBay.

    Since most vintage fairs pop up in larger cities, thrift stores are your next best option. They can be just as rewarding—you just get to roll up your sleeves little higher. Here are a few thrifting tips:

    • The best thrift shops are typically found in wealthy neighborhoods inhabited by septuagenarians (that’s the UES for New York) or in rural towns devoid of hipsters.

    • Don’t be afraid to haggle. I always start at 75% of their asking price (with a goal of making a deal at 80%). If an item you’re eyeing has any kind of damage, go even lower. Long awkward silences only work in your favor. Use generously.

    • Belts, sunglasses, rings and other treasures are often stored in drawers, which tend to be overlooked by most shoppers. Poke around.

    May 14, 2014 | Permalink (0) View/Leave Comments

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  • Ernest Hemingway

    Style | Culture  

    As significant as his writing was, Ernest Hemingway is remembered just as much for the life he lived beyond the page. Everything about him was oversized—war service in Europe, big-game hunting in Africa, all-night benders in Paris. Hemingway embodied a full range of traditionally masculine experiences few others have. He even had a dictum that summed up his approach: “Always do sober what you said you’d do drunk.”

    His appetite for adventure only persisted later in his life, which ended tragically in 1961. If Hemingway’s literary output slowed during this final postwar decade, his celebrity spread far and wide.  He wrote dispatches on bullfights and marlin fishing for popular magazines, and was the subject (sometimes willing, sometimes not) of numerous awed profiles.

    Hemingway, in this final act, produced the smash hits The Old Man and the Sea, which earned him a Nobel Prize in 1954, and his Parisian memoir A Moveable Feast. Meanwhile, the legend of his manliness grew. While on a big-game safari in East Africa, he stunned the public by surviving not one plane crash but two. Rather than kick open a door that had been jammed shut, in spectacular fashion, he head-butted it to escape the wreckage.

    "He always looked great, as if he’d slept a baby’s sleep in a soundproof room with his eyes covered by black patches..."

    The look that ‘Papa’ Hemingway sported in these up-and-down years of late middle age was the iconic one that comes to mind when we think of him today: straight, medium-length locks of white hair and a healthy silver beard. This is not the trim, mustachioed younger man who penned The Sun Also Rises—but it’s the look that hundreds of Hemingway fans replicate in a remarkable lookalike contest that takes place every year in Key West, Florida.

    The graying Hemingway wrote from his house in Cuba, where he was most productive during the morning hours. Ever the man of action, he tended to compose standing up.  No matter how much red wine he’d downed or unruly conduct he’d modeled the night before, a good night’s rest seemed to cure all. He “always looked great, as if he’d slept a baby’s sleep in a soundproof room with his eyes covered by black patches,” one of his sons later recalled.

    Nevertheless, personal hygiene was an afterthought. Hemingway’s third wife, Martha Gellhorn, described him as “one of the most unfastidious men I've ever known.” The thing he cultivated best of all, perhaps, was an image of done-it-all manliness. ‘Papa,’ a nickname often assumed to have attached itself to him later, was oddly one the author chose for himself while in his mid-twenties. But it was in these final, bearded years that it truly stuck.

    * Originally written for Kiehl's Men's Wing.

    May 13, 2014 | Permalink (0) View/Leave Comments

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  • Kamakura Shirts


    It could be argued that the oxford cloth button-down shirt is the bedrock upon which modern day American menswear is built. When John E. Brooks, the grandson of Brooks Brothers founder, designed the first OCBD inspired by a shirt he spotted on English polo players in 1896, he was unknowingly making history. It would go on to become the workhorse of the Ivy League Look in the 1960s. But history became legend. Legend became myth. And for forty years, the minutiae of the original oxford cloth button-down shirt, specifically the roll of the collar, slowly faded into relative obscurity. Measurements were updated, factories changed, and details diminished. It would take a Japanese man to resurrect it.

    In 1993, Yoshio Sadasue quietly opened a small luxury shirt store in Kamakura, Japan. The goal? Craft a shirt that could rival that original Brooks Brothers oxford, the existing gold standard of the Ivy League icon. Sadasue cut his teeth in a variety of roles at pioneering Japanese Ivy brand VAN Jacket during the sixties and seventies. His experience and passion ushered in precise patterns, 18-20 stitches per inch, buttons carved from natural shell, and button-down collars with the sought-after “roll”—a level of painstaking attention to detail that is uniquely Japanese.

    For the uninitiated, finding your fit will be a hurdle you will want to clear with a visit to Kamakura Shirts' 400 Madison shop in New York. They offer four different fits: New York Classic (most generous cut), Tokyo Classic (a little slimmer), New York Slim (even slimmer), and Tokyo Slim (do not attempt unless you are Japanese). I try on all four (multiple times) during my inaugural visit and am still, after 17 minutes, quizzically staring at myself in the mirror inconclusive as to which fit is best for my frame. The neck/sleeve measurements are in centimeters. Sometimes they don’t translate evenly to inches, which is one reason why some of the sizes will seem unfamiliar to Americans (thirds of inches?).

    It isn't long before I discover the slim fits are darted in the back. As a guy, I just don't do darts in my shirts. It seems very...un-American and slightly effeminate. I like to know that at any given moment I could still throw a football, should I come across a game, and not split my shirt at the seams. That, and while Kamakura's OCBDs are designed to be worn tucked in, you lose any hope of doing otherwise with darts. I'm left considering the classic fit in the New York and the Tokyo silhouettes.

    The knowledgable, young, Japanese (good sign) associate confides that the Tokyo fits are smaller, well, everywhere—in the sleeves, the neck, and the body. The English-as-a-second-language to Japanese is as charming as you would think...drawn out verbs at the end of hesitantly delivered short phrases. Ultimately, I decide the 15.5/34.5 New York Classic fits like a glove (that I can still bend my fingers in). While it is Kamakura's fullest cut, it is by no means a generous fit by American standards. It still sits close to my body while allowing for a full range of motion.

    It is worth noting that Kamakura takes particular pride in the roll of its collars. Cotton lined but not fused (lining and fusing help a collar keep its shape, but make it stiffer; not the goal on OCBDs), the natural-looking collar arguably embodies the best roll on an OCBD that doesn't fit like a tent. What's more? It is a grown-ass man's collar, one you can actually wear a tie with. But what might be the most miraculous feat of Sadasue’s resurrection of the Ivy-inspired OCBD is that he is doing it for under $80. It is a shirt you might just have to see to believe.

    May 1, 2014 | Permalink (0) View/Leave Comments

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