Our friends over at UrbanDaddy bring word that the elusive French menswear label Officine Generale has finally made its way to the states—and more importantly, the Internet. Which is fantastic news for the state of rakishness everywhere.
See, thanks to Tumblr, Instagram and Pitti Uomo, it can sometimes seem like there’s an endless supply of achingly handsome menswear readily available for the taking. But most of the good stuff is actually sitting folded neatly just out of the Internet’s reach in some incredibly well-guarded menswear Eden between Milan and Naples that you’ll never find.
Which is why we were pleasantly surprised to hear tell of Officine Generale making landfall on American soil, by way of SF’s Unionmade. It’s a good chunk of those blazers and poplin shirts that you’ve seen reblogged hundreds of times on Tumblr since the label’s January 2012 inception but have been otherwise untraceable. Meaning it’s not exactly menswear for the faint of wardrobe, but it is a good place to look if you’re feeling like a hickory-stripe blazer with four patch pockets is the sort of direction you’d like to go in this summer.
It’s just finally starting to warm up, but we’re not quite into gray cotton sweatshirt territory just yet...
Unless you’ve got one that’s been toughened up with a bit of merino wool, like this Dean Sweatshirt from Cardigan. At first glance, this heather-gray crewneck looks just like all the other upcycled cotton gym sweatshirts that have been flooding the market, but this one is secretly packing some extra warmth with a 50% merino wool/cotton blend. Here’s what else you need to know.
The Story: Cardigan is an NYC-based knitwear label focused solely on the concept of the sweater in all of its forms (most notably, the cardigan), so you can expect a thoughtfully made sweatshirt here—even down to the telltale triangle stitch at the collar.
Who to Channel: A young JFK sailing one of his first rigs; a particularly dapper boxer; Paul Newman on a dirt bike.
When to Wear It: When all signs point to a perfect spring day, but it’s actually still about 20 degrees colder than it looks.
Think of This As: Your secret weapon in your early spring arsenal.
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.
For all the charms of the crewneck sweatshirt (especially over an oxford cloth button-down), it’s got a short shelf life—mere cotton is just not substantial enough to stand up to the chill of December and the deeper winter to come.
But the enterprising Canadian sweatshirt-makers at Reigning Champ and NYC’s Steven Alan have found a way around that by injecting some wool into the blend—the cloth is made in Italy, so you’re still within the #menswear boundaries, even wearing a sweatshirt. Our favorite of the bunch is this speckled navy crewneck that looks exactly how we’d imagine our heather-gray sweatshirt would look winterized—so wear it the same way you would wear the cotton one in fall or spring.
Just keep it as far from your gym bag as possible.
Sure, it’s got a hood—but that’s where the comparisons with the Zuckerberg-favored zip-ups end. For starters, this has got buttons instead of a zipper. And instead of the formless jersey cotton, this has been knit in Tuscany by master weavers and designed in Sweden by masters of staying warm (the Scandinavians have a proud history of coziness). We’ve been patiently waiting for Svensson’s knits to land stateside since discovering them last winter and were pleased to see a few have finally made it.
If ever there were a hooded sweater that might be appropriate to show up to a multibillion-dollar IPO investors meeting, this would be it.
In our ongoing countdown to the Summer Games (we’re roughly 52 hours out from the opening ceremonies, for those keeping score), we’ve got your American-made Team USA supporting polos, cardigans and sweatshirt from the newest American-made stalwarts at American Giant. There’s nothing “fancy” or “officially licensed” about this stuff, but it’s a nice subtle way to pledge your allegiance during the next month of international battle.
Plus, they won’t look out of date come fall, or next spring, either.
Target Acquired: On the heels of successful capsule collections with a few womenswear bigs, Target is now planning one with the impossibly stylish New York men’s shop Odin. Definitely something to keep an eye on. [A Bullseye View]
As the Crow Flies: An aerial slideshow of the secret New York City rooftops that lay hidden to most city dwellers, high above the fray. [NYMag]
Suit Yourself: Mark Zuckerberg’s hooded-sweatshirt-ness has been all fine and dandy until now—when you’ve got a few billion dollars (of real money) at stake, it might be time to get serious. [Bloomberg]
A Good Vintage: Mr. Lean embarks upon the yearly pilgrimage to Brimfield, MA, with fellow vintage enthusiasts, Americana-philes and our very own camouflage-panted editorial director. [A Continuous Lean]
The fabric is the same heavyweight cotton you’ll find in their crewneck sweatshirts, but it’s been shaped into a snap cardigan that puts us in mind of a letter jacket. In other words, it’s only half outerwear—which is about perfect, given how shifty the weather’s been.
It’s also ideally suited for mid-level layering—say, between a white oxford shirt and a Baracuta jacket—if your jean jacket’s otherwise engaged.
Tokyo’s Loopwheeler made their name in Americana circles by making a note-perfect recreation of a ’50s-era Champion sweatshirt—and as of today, you can get it all online at their newly launched shop.
The secret is their namesake: a vintage Loopwheeler loom that knits in seamless circles—roughly 24 rounds per minute, a trickle by modern standards. The slow knit pays off with a softer sweatshirt than the US has made since the Kennedy administration. You’ll have to finagle a GeoTrust login and ship it to the US by proxy, but it should be worth it.
The Tweeds of Fall: Another handsome layering guide, courtesy of Christopher Callis. [Men of Habit]
Bond Returns: Two very important pieces of info about the next Bond movie came to light today: 1) the opening will be set in Istanbul and 2) it will include French actress Bérénice Marlohe. We’ll let you decide which one’s more exciting. [/Film]
Circular Notion: Running down Paul Newman’s handsome sweatshirts in Sometimes a Great Notion. [A Treasury Of…]
The crewneck sweatshirt is one of our favorite items for the lull between cold and warm weather. Worn over a collar, it’s a way to introduce a bit of ruggedness into an otherwise bland outfit, drawing from the unpretentious end of the workwear playbook.
And while we’d usually stick with the classic gray heather, this midnight blue version from Maiden Noir is too handsome to pass up. On any other item, this shade of blue would scream “gallery assistant,” but with those contrast seams, it just lends the whole piece a touch of elegance.
Just keep it as far from your gym bag as possible.
Fortunately, Blackbird just rolled out a crewneck that’s just about perfect—all the way down to the $55 price tag. The heathered gray is just as flat as it should be, and there's no other bells and whistles to distract from it. Our favorite part: they dubbed it “the Colton Harris-Moore” after the famous barefoot bandit, presumably as a tribute to the sweatshirt’s outlaw tendencies. You’ve been warned.