Kempt

world of men's style / fashion / grooming

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The Fu Manchu vs. The Biker Mustache

Fu Manchu x Biker

We thought we’d take this opportunity to clarify a subtle yet crucial distinction between two commonly confused types of facial hair: the Fu Manchu and the Biker Mustache.

Very few people actually pull off an authentic Fu Manchu, first seen on screen in The Mystery of Dr. Fu Manchu (1923) and then on every Chinese villain ever since. The hair is grown only from the upper lip and hangs down either side of the mouth—but the sides remain clean-shaven.

The American version of the Fu Manchu has come to be known as “The Biker Mustache” or “The Horseshoe” because of its shape and popularity with modern cowboys. It consists of a full mustache with vertical extensions down to the jawline.

The guy currently leading the NFL in sacks has a biker mustache. As did this guy, and the guy who hangs out at your local rest stop.

We’re guessing you don’t actually know anyone who has a Fu Manchu.

The Leather Jacket Goes Tweed

We usually have a hard time getting excited about gear that won’t be in stores for more than six months, but this one—from Schott's Perfecto brand—is the exception.

You might remember the shape as the classic Schott leather jacket, of the Ramones, Brando and a whole lot of bikers. The fabric, on the other hand, is genuine Harris Tweed, of Doctor Who, Miss Marple and a whole lot of Latin teachers.

We’re big fans of both, but we never would have imagined the quintessential biker item made from the stuffiest fabric in the UK. Needless to say, we can’t way to see this one in the wild once August rolls around.

On Two Wheels

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Naturally, versatility can be a mixed blessing, but if you’ve got the right tailor on board things tend to turn out ok. And it’s hard to make bike clothes uglier than they are already…

Rapha Performance Roadwear recently commissioned traveling tailor Timothy Everest to make a suit designed for bicycling, and the result is surprisingly palatable. The jacket’s lower flaps can be fastened to the pockets to keep them from flapping, and an extra length of sleeve can be rolled down to keep the wrists covered when the rider leans over the handlebars. Best of all, the pattern is a simple gray check that won’t announce itself too loudly. (Don’t be fooled by the zebra stripes; that’s just the camera).

Think of it as just one more example: tailors can do anything if they put their minds to it.

Playboy, Beards, and Bicycle Gangs

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Hef History: When pretentious literary quarterlies write about Playboy, everybody wins. We’re still waiting for the New Yorker’s 10,000 words on Hustler. [n+1]

Stiff Upper Lip: To Esquire, the whole world is a case study on proper facial hair grooming…but the Golden Globes give more of a range than you’d think. [Esquire]

Steel Wheels: Biker gangs are terrorizing the countryside! On bicycles! [PSFK]

All the Colors: The Boston Globe’s handy guide to non-chemical hallucination. Fair warning: you’ll want to keep some ping pong balls handy. [Boston Globe]

Sean Connery, Bikes, and Zip Codes

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Bonds will be Bonds: Sean Connery’s Louis Vuitton ad makes us want to buy an island, a white fedora and a Mexican beer. [The Cut]

Critical Mass: A new study shows people flock to cycles in the face of economic uncertainty. Jimmy Carter was right! [PSFK]

Zip It: A guide to the richest zip codes in America. Fisher Island and Newport Beach still top the list, but 90210 barely makes it in at #10. Say it ain’t so, Brenda. [Luxist]

Cash Rules Everything Around Me: A user’s guide to cream-colored trousers. Coffee is discouraged. [A Suitable Wardrobe]

Two Wheels

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You don’t hear much about biker culture as an influence on modern day designers, partly because the references are hard to name. John Varvatos usually gets a few references to The Wild One, but that’s like tracking British suiting back to James Bond. The look had to come from somewhere…

Rin Tanaka’s Harley-Davidson Book of Fashions gives a pretty good explanation of where. Covering the 1910-1950, Tanaka tracks the evolution of the bike from a useful novelty to a badge of outsider status, along with 40 years worth of bike helmets, any one of which would be enough to get a fledgling designer noticed.

With gas prices showing no signs of slowing, we may be on the cusp of a scooter renaissance, so the book couldn’t have come at a better time. It may not have our favorite biker jacket, but it’s got more inspiration than anything we’ve seen on the racks lately.