Labor Day marks the official/unofficial end of the summer. It’s the last long weekend during the warmer months for most and a great excuse to get the hell out of dodge. Instead of firing up the BBQ and staying stateside we chose to head further afield, and make our way to the old country for a bit of respite.
After a brief stopover in Holland & Rome to visit some friends, we made landfall in the Sardinian capital city Cagliari. Porto Sa Ruxi, just outside of the small town of Villasimius would be our final stop and home base. Just steps to the super salinated Mediterranean and a short drive to civilization, it didn’t take long for our focus to turn to the really important things, sun, sleep and spritz.
A short flight from the Italian peninsula, Sardinia makes for a great alternative to the typical Mediterranean stopover. At roughly the same size as New Jersey, it’s a big island. This is a good thing. Sardinia’s size helps filter out the foreigners and locals alike. Add this size to the Italian pace of life and you’re almost forced to hit the brakes on life for a moment. Tiny seaside towns dot the coastline and make for good stopping points to take in some fresh fish and local wine or amaro (or both).
It’s taken a while for Downtown Los Angeles to receive a second wind. For years Downtown L.A. has remained more or less desolate and void of any businesses. If you asked anyone what was downtown, most responses would either be, I don’t know or Skid Row. While the change is still a slow burn and not a massive exodus, things are looking better for L.A.’s urban core. Little by little, both new businesses and residential units move into vacant space, rebuilding and reshaping the community.
A few times a year we head west and each trip affords a fresh look at all that’s happening Downtown. During our last visit we stopped in to see Lot, Stock & Barrel’s new outpost. Taking up residence Downtown LS&B is, at its core, a vintage destination. Not to be confused with the random places that sell used goods, where you’re expected to dig and dig hoping to find a rare piece that slipped through the cracks and only costs a couple bucks. The passion for the past is genuine here, and the selection on hand is proof.
The meticulously merchandised space, filled with wearables ranging from the early 40’s and younger, looks and appropriately smells vintage. Throughout you’ll find a heavy dose of militaria, traditional Americana, and Navajo influences, mixed-in among staple vintage pieces such as work shirts, Levis, and the like. As with anyone who understands their inventory, a great deal of time & energy goes into sourcing and preparing every item. And as expected, sources remain a secret.
Separate from the usual vintage offerings, LS&B is also happy to do some repair and custom work, the latter done by Chain Gang LA who has a permanent residency. With over 20 years of chain stitch embroidery and chenille patch work under their belt, Chain Gang’s reputation is solid. The zero automation process is all done on-site and uses traditional methods and machines that date back over 70 years. It’s an art form with few people left at the helm, making it a special and fitting addition to the LS&B assemblage.
When they opened their doors in mid-February of this year, owners Ben Phillips & Florence Wang coupled their experience with their passion for authentic vintage clothing. With solid backgrounds in the apparel industry, each having held titles with Polo, Levis and others, the attention to detail and level of quality comes at no surprise. Having known Ben for nearly two decades, I’ve witnessed the refinement of his tastes, specifically in the vintage industry, first hand. He lives for the details. A typical conversation covers a whole host of topics and includes a discussion about washes, dyes, fabric, stitching, production dates & locations, extinct processes, previous owners, the list goes on. These conversations are refreshing and proof that some people still care about the little things. It’s also proof that LS&B is breathing fresh air, not only into Downtown Los Angeles, but into vintage clothing.
Visit Lot, Stock & Barrel in their new store at 801 1/2 Traction Avenue, Los Angeles, CA., 90013 or check them out at the rotating Loft space in the new Stag store at 1338 Abbot Kinney Blvd.,Venice, CA
Chances are you have visited a Frank Lloyd Structure and not even realized it. This isn’t surprising considering the Wisconsin born architect was involved in 415 different works spanning the entire globe throughout his 70 year career.
Cutting his teeth in Chicago, many of Wrights early works can be seen throughout the city and surrounding suburbs. None more than Oak Park, where Wright not only lived, but where he would start his own studio and develop his own, unique style of architecture. After outgrowing the offices of his windy city mentors, Adler & Sullivan, Wright took his vision and commissions internal, starting his own practice in 1889. Throughout the western suburb, which lies some 11 miles from downtown Chicago, you’ll find nearly 30 different buildings where Frank Lloyd Wright was the commissioned architect of record – the most remaining of any other city in the world.
The residential structures found throughout Oak Park are among some of the earliest examples of Wright’s design philosophy that consisted of organic architecture and later his development of prairie style architecture. It was in his studio, situated at 951 Chicago Ave., Wright would develop and perfect his prairie style which would later become a defining characteristic of his work. Rather than continuing the popular reinvention of European influence found throughout the United States, Wright sought to create something new, something truly American. Something that made sense in the American landscape of the time. And so his famed prairie style of architecture was born. In a dramatic shift from traditions of the times, this style would evoke elements of the surrounding Midwestern landscape. Working with, instead of against nature, these homes would consist of long straight lines, interesting angles and heavy masses.
A tour of the neighborhood yields a surreal experience. The impeccably manicured properties line each street, which is silent and void of crowds. Many of the homes designed by Wright, others designed to mirror his style. At every turn his influence is evident, his techniques replicated, repeated and perfected. As intended, nearly all of the properties are privately owned and lived in, making the experience a personal one.
In total, Wright spent 20 years (1889 – 1909) in Oak Park and would spend these two decades designing approximately 150 structures, nearby and further afield. Following this tenure, he continued to develop some of the most influential structures of the 20th century and is arguably the most important American architect to have lived. Later in life, Frank Lloyd Wright would go on to live and work throughout the middle west and western United States.
Unique isn’t something typically synonymous within the menswear trade show circuit. Many shows bring a similar vibe and often place the emphasis on size. Not the case with Jumble. The Japanese trade show makes an added effort to focus on the experience along with the brand selection, making it worthwhile for buyers and visitors alike. The difference has been noticeable and has led to considerable growth since its Tokyo based start in 2004.
Since Jumble’s inception, its presence has increased both within Tokyo as well as abroad, hosting installations in Berlin, Paris and Florence. The open layout has created an intimate relationship among brands and buyers. Although the roster is global and the international presence is strong, a clever selection of local Japanese brands are an added highlight. The offerings consist more than just wearables. Throughout Jumble you can find clothing along with home goods or locally sourced ceramics. The resulting mixture is a welcomed change-up to the alternative.
Hosted twice a year in Tokyo, Jumble’s founder Shinji Kitada has his sights set on expanding the event internationally. Bringing a different feel to trade shows and further growing the Japanese brand presence is goal of Kitada’s. With Europe and Japan in full rotation, a plan to reach New York is under way, you can count on seeing Jumble on more foreign shores soon.
Jumble kicks of their Tokyo show next week, September 10th – 12th at Belle Salle Shibuya, Hall B1.
From day one, Billykirk has had their sights trained on the details. For the last 15 years they’ve been producing what are arguably some of the best leather goods available. Not only will many of their products outlast its owner, they’re thoughtfully designed and all made stateside.
To commemorate their 15 year milestone, the brothers at the helm have opened their first brick & mortar retail store. Like their bags, belts and small leather goods, they didn’t forget about the details. Throughout the space, there are subtle touches to the company’s past and appreciation for well-worn vintage items. That said, the space’s design is a breath of fresh air to a nostalgic heritage movement that has been done well throughout New York, but been done several times over. Chris and Kirk Bray took inspiration from Danish and other Scandinavian spaces, creating a clean, modern, simple space where the product is the primary focus, not what type of reclaimed wood was used to create some one of a kind ceiling display – or something along those lines.
Over the company’s life, which started in Los Angeles, they’ve expanded and grown considerably. Today’s collection is robust and has typically been available through a whole host of vendors, both domestic and international, Japan being a big customer, or through their own e-commerce site. Now, for the first time the whole collection will be available in one place, with a custom area for monogramming and adding other details right on site. Simple touches, subtle details, and a mixture of third-party product make the space a nice experience and well worth a stop.
Visit Billykirk 16A Orchard Street, New York.
An arsenal of well-made things is a description best suited for a company such as Kaufmann Mercantile. The Brooklyn based online store has created a single source for everyday and lifestyle products that are simply better. Their search for products, designers, old companies, new companies, foreign, domestic, has taken out the leg work in finding good things.
When Kaufmann initially launched, they offered only a handful of products for sale, mainly items founder Sebastian Kaufmann was either inspired by or appreciated the design. Today, the product list has grown to over 750 objects that not only look great, but serve a very useful purpose. And although there is more to offer, the same level of careful consideration still exists when deciding what makes the cut, and what doesn’t. The selection criteria at KM is what helps them stand out from a typical online retailer selling a wide range of different things.
The vetting process isn’t one to be taken lightly at the KM offices. Four main criteria are considered with each product, whether scouted, pitched or suggested. One, is the product even worth looking at and are the aesthetics on-point? Two, does it serve a purpose and have function, or is just another widget that takes up space? Three, is the product designed well and capable of lasting a long time. And four, are the materials earth friendly and free of plastics (KM uses no plastics)? If all the boxes are checked, great. If not, it’s back to the drawing board which may mean asking the manufacturer to make a revision, which in some cases works, in others it doesn’t. Sticking to your guns and saying no isn’t always easy. And while these standards may not seem tough, only about 20% of all products reviewed make the cut.
Where is all this going? During this summer Kaufmann Mercantile has decided to open a temporary retail shop where you can check things out in real life. They invited us over to the new Amagansett outpost for a look at the space and to discuss all the great looking objects for sale. Located right between Montauk and East Hampton, the Amagansett store is parked in the middle of town on main street in a cluster of beautifully aged buildings. Inside you can find a streamlined selection of their typical online offering that ranges from clothing to housewares to outdoor goods. Although shopping online is easy, relatively painless and pretty fast, it’s always nice to get a feel for a new purchase. If you didn’t have an excuse to escape out east this summer, now you do.
The evolution of the Freemans Sporting Club label is one that only gets better over time. The Spring 2015 line serves as evidence. As the label ages so does the quality of the collection, both literally and figuratively.
Suiting has always been a priority at F.S.C. It’s also been one of the few places with custom well-made suits for a modest price point, all things considered. With last year’s launch of the Freeman suit, this category grew exponentially and eliminated any excuse of not owning a beautiful suit that’s made stateside. This upward trajectory continues into next Spring’s collection. An expanded selection will offer varied styles of fabrics that would be considered all but typical. Natural shoulders in a mix of weights & colors create a line that is enviable.
Along with the expanded suiting and dress shirts, expect new things elsewhere. Think linen western shirts, oxfords sans collar buttons, and prints that promise attention. And not to fret, the all-star Isle of Man jacket resurfaces in new colors and an unlined weight that allows for continual wear into the warmer months. This jacket’s popularity is not an accident, and it will happily compliment you from tie to t-shirt.
From restaurant to barber shop to sporting club, the Freemans brand has always understood the details. Be it the design and construction of their popular spaces or their clothing, it’s safe to assume both are done well. F.S.C.’s subtle touches, continual improvement and a willingness to take risks have created an overall lasting brand. And by the looks of next Spring’s offerings, you can only count on it getting better.
Things made in Japan are typically well made. This is no secret and often expected. The crew at Hickoree’s and the Hillside understand this, and their appreciation for Japan and Japanese products runs deep. What began with a fresh take on handkerchiefs, ties and scarves, constructed of updated fabrics, has grown considerably. They have a great eye for not only well made items (many Japanese), but ones that are different and hard to find. A visit online or to the brick & motor Floor Two space is a testament to their continual commitment to keep things fresh without any compromising.
The rotation in the Floor Two space is changing things up again and will be taking on all things Japan. Keeping consistent, during the next three weeks, the entire collection will feature Japanese-only items, many not easily found and some making their first stateside appearance. The impressive selections will consist of over 20-brands that will include not only wearables, but plenty of things for the home.
Visit Hickoree’s at Hickoree’s Floor Two, 109 S 6th Street, Brooklyn, New York
The word antiquing is just as difficult to hear as it is to say. This is par for the course when it come to visiting the Brimfield antique market.
Essentially a shopping mall for just about anything aged, and like many shopping malls, the bad out weights the good. This said, a discovery at a forum such as Brimfield is promised to be better than any mass-produced must have mall acquisition.
Brimfield is experiential and completely bonkers – for a whole host of reasons. And this is why we like it and why we make the trip. It’s just as easy to leave with a truck load of things as it is to part ways empty-handed. Either is just fine. It’s probably on one of those lists of things to do before you die. At least for those who are always in pursuit of things with a past.
Among the largest outdoor markets in existence, Brimfield has been in continual operation since 1959. What started with 67 different dealers has grown to over 5,000 and completely dominates the small Massachusetts town which is shares its name. Roughly a mile of road and nearly 100 acres of land house the show, rain or shine. The scale is massive, and only an aerial photo can truly put things in perspective. Which is exactly why it’s not only a destination for every industry’s heritage connoisseur, but impossible to cover without committing some time.
If you have a couple of days and some money to burn, take a trip over and check things out. The tri-annual event takes place every spring, summer and fall, rain or shine – the most recent was last weekend and the next in September. Just be sure to bite your tongue before telling people you’re going antiquing.
Arts & Architecture magazine served several purposes during its forty-two year tenure. And while in many ways it set the American Modernism standard, it can be said the magazine’s most notable achievement was its sponsorship of the Case Study Housing program.
A thought, which became an idea, that turned into a conversation would eventually grow into a very well conceived plan. One which would not only challenge, but change the view of how people lived in America. Granted, at the time, I’m not sure if the editors or the architects involved shared the this vision, but they were definitely keen to change things up.
In 1945, as World War II was nearing an end, it was clear housing would become an issue for the millions of men returning from war to start a family. At the prospect of a potential housing shortage, several prominent Southern California architects and the editors of Art & Architecture magazine began discussing solutions. And so the Case Study House Program was born.
The program’s mission was to create or re-create the modern house-post war. This meant the homes needed to utilize the best materials available, be economical and lend itself to mass production. Easily fabricated, quickly constructed, and ultimately not an eye sore on the American landscape. The original announcement adds, “It is important that the best material available be used in the best possible way in order to arrive at a ‘good’ solution of each problem, which in the overall program will be general enough to be of practical assistance to the average American in search of a home in which he can afford to live.”
What started with eight homes would eventually grow to over 30, along with names synonymous with architectural significance. Some of the names at the helm consisted of Koenig, Geary, Eaams, and Rapson, Neutra, Walker for those with a deeper taste for the popular modern architects of the time. The result would be some of the most impressive examples of modern residential architecture ever created. Built to incorporate all the elements of their intent, many of the home still stand throughout southern California and parts of Arizona, many unaltered and in their original condition. Thanks to Julius Shulman, the celebrated architectural photographers, many of the Case Study Homes were well documented and captured in their original form. Images of Case Study House #22 are amongst some of the most famous photographs ever taken.
Spanning almost 20 years, the Case Study House program was scrapped in 1962 with Arts & Architecture shutting down not long after in 1967. The homes built by this program created endless inspiration for decades and influenced many of the techniques used to not only design, but build structures today. What was a great idea was realized, and in many ways changed the face of what America was to look like, even if only for a brief time. Many of the homes the magazine help create still stand and can be visited today, and a link to the original Art & Architecture announcement can be found here.