In our grand tradition of keeping you up to date on the international men’s shop scene, we’ve scoured the globe for the newest openings in your regular haunts—you know London, Bangkok, the usual. Because you never know when you’re going to need a new leather duffel while in Hamburg.
Two of the most storied rugged fabrics still in production are together at last.
Americana torchbearer Filson has gotten together with Scotland’s Harris Tweed to reissue their Original Briefcase in Twill and Tweed. (It even rolls off the tongue nicely.) It’s got Filson’s 22-ounce oil-finish rugged twill and the hearty, knotty Harris tweed that’s stood up to the punishment of the Scottish backcountry for over a century. And it should stand up to the rigors of your office commute—while injecting a bit more tweediness into your daily routine.
So they recently called up the legendary Harris Tweed factory in Scotland and ordered a few hundred yards of their finest Donegals, windowpanes and flecked herringbones, and sent the lot to their favorite labels to see what they’d come up with. The result: a handsome kaleidoscope of tweediness: totes from Filson, a spectacular blazer from Todd Snyder, a gaggle of cozy down-stuffed tweed from Crescent Down Works and more. You can find Unionmade Harris Tweed in its entirety here, if you’re considering the notion of more tweed in your life—a natural instinct around this time of year.
Fair Isle knits are thick on the ground these days. (Off the bat, we count items from Pantherella, Raf Simons and Epaulet, and a whole season’s worth of goods from Howlin’ by Morrison.) But there’s surprisingly little love for the tiny Scottish island where the pattern comes from.
It makes sense. With six square miles and under 100 permanent residents, they were never going to churn out enough volume to fill a Rugby store. But with the help of a few hand-carved spinning wheels and a genuinely frightening quantity of sheep, some residents have managed to bring back the traditional ways of knitting the sweaters. That means sheep’s wool that’s never left the island, dyed and knit on site in the pattern that made the isle famous.
The temperature dropped almost 20 degrees in New York last night (presumably as a comment on Obama’s jobs plan), and we immediately started surveying our woolen options. The good news: as of this morning, we’ve got a new one.
The brand’s called Cottonopolis (courtesy of Secret Forts), and it should occupy the same marled spot in your closet as J.Press’s shaggy dog sweater. The price point’s identical. Cottonopolis comes out of Italy instead of Scotland (hardly a step down) and throws in some handsome elbow patches to sweeten the deal—but your choice probably comes down to whether you own a copy of Take Ivy.
If not, you may want to look into the alpine version.
It’s hard to imagine, at the moment, that you’ll ever need a scarf again.
But at some point it will be cold again, and you’ll need something to wrap around your neck and tuck gently between your tweed lapels. Preferably something from Scotland.
Unionmade’s gotten a jump on fall with a shipment of LochCarron scarves, and they’re a useful reminder of how handsome a well-made patch of wool can get. And while we’re usually squeamish about labeling something as “essential,” this is as close as it gets.
So far the big luxury houses have mostly sat out the heritage movement, but it looks like they may have a few factory-minded tricks up their sleeve.
Prada recently launched their “Made in…” project, focused on digging up the heritage items from around the world. In particular that means alpaca sweaters from Peru, tartan kilts from Scotland, and Chikan embroidery from India, all handmade locally by artisans born into the craft, arriving in stores next year. It’s good stuff—and the kind of thing you’d normally be hard-pressed to find without leaving the continent.
And for anyone looking to move beyond waxed cotton and work boots without losing touch with the way their clothes are made, it’s a pretty good place to start.
Consider this your horticultural head trip for the day. Dubbed “The Garden of Cosmic Speculation,” this Scottish garden is entirely devoted to blowing your mind. Unfortunately, it’s only open for dazed wandering one day a year, May 1st, giving you just enough time to book a flight and find a connection in Edinburgh.
One advantage of the newly global market: It’s remarkably easy to trace heritage looks back to the source. That means Tokyo hipsters can order their Red Wings direct from the source but also—more relevantly—there’s no point relying on stateside Fair Isle recreations. Scotland’s just a few clicks away.
For instance, the norsemen at Oi Polloi dug up this appropriately patterned scarf from Jamieson's to remind us of just that. Technically it’s from Scotland’s Shetland Islands, just north of Fair Isle itself, and all the wool is grown, harvested, processed and knit onsite, making it very much the real deal. Even accounting for exchange rates and shipping, it won’t set you back much more than the stateside mass market version.
Unless your wardrobe’s already pretty twee, your best bet might be using it as a gift for a female acquaintance, but it’s a lot more versatile than it looks. And if it’s warm enough to withstand the Scottish winter, we doubt the Northeast will be much of a challenge.
Naturally, the most interesting folks at Dressed to Kilt weren’t necessarily on the runway. And while we saw our share of kilts, the more common choice was just to throw in as much plaid as possible as a more inventive way of staying true to Scotland. Which lead to some interesting choices…
Think of it from a sporting perspective: whoever wears the most plaid and looks the best wins. It’s not a bad sartorial challenge, and the result was nothing short of enlightening.
Our takeaway? Without fail, the best dressed gentlemen in the crowd were rocking plaid blazers and bowties. We saw the occasional kilt too, but as far as mainstream style items, we’d put our bets on tartan jackets first.
Now that loose knits are taking off, it may be time to take another look at Scotland. They’ve been working on the loose sweater for a few centuries now, and mixed in with a Highland tweeds, it may the best equipment you can find for next winter.
Coventry is our favorite Scot so far. Coming from menswear vet Matthew Terry, the label combines traditional Shetland wools with a paint-it-black design aesthetic not that far from downtown staples like Comme Des Garcons.
They’re unveiling their F/W 09 line in a scant few weeks, but this sketch comes straight from Mr. Terry’s pad, which suggests there are a few plaid overcoats in our future.
Being men of the world, we tend not to look to Dear Abby for sartorial advice. And this week, we were reminded why.
In Wednesday’s paper (via The Cut), she took up the question of a Pennsylvania man who, as he delicately puts it, “wears skirts for comfort.” Her advice? “As long as you have the testicular fortitude and shapely enough legs to wear skirts, then you have my blessing.” Oh dear…
We’ve been a little hard on plaid lately…but maybe it’s because we haven’t seen anything from a real Scot.
This Tartaned trench comes from one more of J. Crew’s impeccable collaborations. This time, it’s the Scottish brand Mackintosh: the company more responsible than any other for protecting the Britons from near-constant rain. Their first collab showed up at the Tribeca store in a flat navy, but they just updated it into a plaid that gives it a little more cultural charm.