It has come to our attention that the prominence of jean shorts, henceforth referred to as “jorts,” has been increasing in recent months. In fact, in June we even saw our friends over at GQendorsing them. (Though not their shortened nomenclature.) And suffice it to say, we’re more than a little concerned.
Knee-length denim is not a notion to be taken lightly.
Now, this isn’t the first time such a sartorial dilemma has given us pause. (See: mandals.) It’s certainly not going to be the last, either. But, as in the past, we’d rather not outright condemn such risk taking. No, instead we’d rather just give you some qualifications to consider before you go cutting that pair of pre-distressed Levi’s at the knee and calling it a day.
You might think we’re all selvage denim and bespoke suits over here at Kempt HQ, and not unfairly so. But we’re starting to think it’s high time you got a bit of a deeper look into what really makes us tick. So starting today, we’re going to give you a piece of our minds.
Actually, more like five pieces.
Every Wednesday from here on out, we’ll present you with five things that we’ve had our wandering eyes on recently. And what defines “things,” you ask? Well, really, nothing is off-limits. Given we find it cool, or interesting, or downright beautiful, it’s got as good of a shot as any of making the list. New collections or gallery shows, a novel we’ve been reading, an album drop or even just a damn fine pair of pants—you’ll see quickly that our interests are as varied as the next guy’s. And it’s time we celebrated that accordingly.
This isn’t stiff denim we’re dealing with here—when it comes to rumpled luxury, there’s no better place to turn than the fabric mills of Italy, so you can leave the twill in the closet this summer. Not to mention, the wash of this denim comes in the recently on-trend shade of “dad jean.” Here’s what else you need to know.
The Story: The gents at Taylor Stitch built their small empire in SF’s Mission District on well-made, impeccably cut shirting and have been expanding into other realms of menswear with equal success. This jacket—which is actually part of a denim suit, if you dare—might be their most ambitious offering yet.
Who to Channel: One of those impossibly well-heeled older Italian fellows who only seem to exist in mythical Pitti Uomo street style photos; Ryan Gosling just nailing his native Canadian tuxedo.
When to Wear It: Be prepared to be reaching for this jacket way more often than you initially assumed. This is basically your denim jacket on sprezzatura-PEDs, so wear it whenever you’d like a leg up on the competition. (Plus, it’s office appropriate in most instances.)
Degree of Difficulty: Not as high as you’d think. Unless you’re bold enough to pick up the matching pants and go full-on denim suit... Then we’d suggest steering clear of bolo ties—unless you’re in the Southwest.
If you’re not familiar with LA’s Rising Sun & Co., just imagine for a moment what heaven would be like for an Americana-phile with a penchant for raw denim and historically accurate Gold Rush–era vestments.
Selvage denim jeans in every weight. Duck canvas chinos, reinforced ad infinitum. Racks of chambray as far as the eye can see. It’s a special place. Everything in the shop is made with a focus on craftsmanship—and mostly done on period-specific looms. Needless to say, it’s some ruggedly handsome gear. (That will likely outlast you.)
A lot of bloggerly ink has been spilled in the excitement over J. Press’s neo-trad capsule collection York Street, helmed by the #menswear golden boys at Ovadia & Sons.
It’s the sort of brilliance that could only happen in the Tumblr age—or by being willed into existence by a small cadre of menswear influencers performing ritualistic dances in some clandestine Ivy League clubhouse. (It could’ve been either, really; we’d rather not comment any further.)
And while it seemed that the stuff would only exist on the Internet, today it all became a reality in a real-life brick-and-mortar shop in NYC—and our friends at UrbanDaddy got us a sneak peek at all the cable-knitted wool and tufted-leather handsomeness. If a trip to the city isn’t in the cards anytime soon, not to worry—all the stuff is available online.
Every year around this time, the pantheon of fine menswear purveyors sets up shop in a warehouse deep in the hinterlands of Manhattan. And every year around this time, we trek downtown to check it out. Since most brands show clothes that won’t be available for about six months—and because the show is enormous—we decided the best thing to do was break it down, using our patented scientific formula.
The Story: A couple of enterprising New Yorkers began snapping up leftover denim from some of your favorite jean companies and turning it into some incredibly durable sweatshirts. Hence, the birth of Made in Lieu. (They’re also repurposing flannel shirt scraps now.)
Who to Channel: Muhammad Ali on a jog in Zaire; a Canadian tuxedo gone even more informal; not a Spears-era Justin Timberlake.
When to Wear It: Throw one of these on anytime you might wear your favorite gray sweatshirt—over an oxford cloth button-down, under a blazer or just as an extra layer on the weekend.
Other Things You Can Do with Old Jeans: Make denim quilts; tie the legs around your shoulders and wear the jeans like a short cape; cut out the waistband and one back pocket to create a beer holster; cut them into strips to create an escape rope or an Etsy shop; make a scarecrow.
Your time to commune with nature is dwindling. (You’ve got about a month, tops, before it’s strictly log cabin weather.) Luckily, the leather experts at Makr—who’ve gone from making the blogger-bait of slim wallets to building a small empire of neo-rustic home goods—just teamed up with the outdoorsmen of Seattle’s Scout for a capsule collection of handsome camping gear. There’s a hickory- and brass-pole tent, an insulated field bed wrapped in selvage denim, bone-handle pocketknives and some rugged hiking boots from Oak Street Bootmakers. It’s more of the handsome, unfussy, low-over-high-tech stuff we prefer—that’ll come in handy should you be planning any last-minute autumnal getaways.
And if you’re worried about staying warm, the tent happens to have just enough room for two.