Drape Yourself in Sulka
Back in the 1920s, Nancy Kahn’s grandfather was welcoming patients into his home office on the east side of Manhattan, wearing shirts and ties exclusively from A. Sulka & Co.—“much to my grandmother’s chagrin,” says Nancy. Sulka was in the midst of its rise to prominence as a haberdasher to American royalty, like Kennedys, Rockefellers, and Hollywood leading men, as well as actual royalty, like the Duke of Windsor. While Nancy’s grandmother may not have appreciated the expense of a Sulka wardrobe, she recognized the quality of the silk and workmanship, and saved her husbands neckwear—from subtle to loud; richly colored, printed silks in stripes and abstract patterns. Sometime in the late 1920s, according to family lore, she deconstructed the ties, ironed the silks flat, cut them into triangles, sewed them by hand into squares, and sewed the squares into a 60-inch square quilt with black satin backing.
The quilt was handed down to Nancy, who has put it up for sale in her Etsy shop. Although the opportunity to drape yourself in silks from one of the world’s great lost men’s clothiers is rare and tempting, Nancy recommends this as a decorative, rather than functional, item. Which is true to the spirit of neckties as well.
- Pete

Drape Yourself in Sulka

Back in the 1920s, Nancy Kahn’s grandfather was welcoming patients into his home office on the east side of Manhattan, wearing shirts and ties exclusively from A. Sulka & Co.—“much to my grandmother’s chagrin,” says Nancy. Sulka was in the midst of its rise to prominence as a haberdasher to American royalty, like Kennedys, Rockefellers, and Hollywood leading men, as well as actual royalty, like the Duke of Windsor. While Nancy’s grandmother may not have appreciated the expense of a Sulka wardrobe, she recognized the quality of the silk and workmanship, and saved her husbands neckwear—from subtle to loud; richly colored, printed silks in stripes and abstract patterns. Sometime in the late 1920s, according to family lore, she deconstructed the ties, ironed the silks flat, cut them into triangles, sewed them by hand into squares, and sewed the squares into a 60-inch square quilt with black satin backing.

The quilt was handed down to Nancy, who has put it up for sale in her Etsy shop. Although the opportunity to drape yourself in silks from one of the world’s great lost men’s clothiers is rare and tempting, Nancy recommends this as a decorative, rather than functional, item. Which is true to the spirit of neckties as well.

- Pete

Jonathan at the Bandanna Almanac has a short guide to the different types of Japenese textiles to help you differentiate your boro fabrics from your katazomi. Jonathan talks about geographic origins, dye techniques, and general applications for these fabric styles, some of which date back to the 19th century. These traditional textiles lend their beat-up beauty to everything from farmer’s clothing to bedding, and their folk-y influence and wabi sabi appeal have been seen in recent collections from brands like Kapital and Visvim.
Wearing a lot of traditional Japanese textiles can be like wearing a lot of cowboy-styled clothing—a little can go a long way and too much is trouble. You can often find accessories made from vintage cloth at Hickoree’s and on Etsy.
-Pete

Jonathan at the Bandanna Almanac has a short guide to the different types of Japenese textiles to help you differentiate your boro fabrics from your katazomi. Jonathan talks about geographic origins, dye techniques, and general applications for these fabric styles, some of which date back to the 19th century. These traditional textiles lend their beat-up beauty to everything from farmer’s clothing to bedding, and their folk-y influence and wabi sabi appeal have been seen in recent collections from brands like Kapital and Visvim.

Wearing a lot of traditional Japanese textiles can be like wearing a lot of cowboy-styled clothing—a little can go a long way and too much is trouble. You can often find accessories made from vintage cloth at Hickoree’s and on Etsy.

-Pete

New Square Alert: Rayon!

I spent about six months gathering vintage rayon yardage for the latest round of Put This On Gentlemen’s Association pocket squares. I went to fabric shows, trawled online and bought everything wonderful I could find.
 We ended up with dozens of designs from the 1940s and 50s.

I just posted the first twenty of these designs in our Etsy shop. Some are already all gone, but you can take a look at them all here.

I hope some New Yorkers will stop by on Thursday. You’ll learn something, and I’ve also “curated” some cool vintage menswear stuff for the shop.
jessethorn:

I’ll be presenting my talk “Make Your Thing” on Thursday as part of Etsy’s pop-up holiday shop in New York City. It’s about making independent media in the internet age, for fun and profit.
The show’s at 6PM, and is at 131 Greene Street between Houston and Prince. Come by, listen, ask questions, buy something vintage or handmade. The talk is free!
And if you’re around during the day, my friend Kevin Allison from Risk! will be doing a storytelling workshop from 2:30-4:00 and my pal Dallas Penn from Internets Celebrities will be doing a workshop on his own special brand of DIY (like making Big Macs from stuff on the 99 cent menu) from 5:15-6:00. It will be fun, I promise.

I hope some New Yorkers will stop by on Thursday. You’ll learn something, and I’ve also “curated” some cool vintage menswear stuff for the shop.

jessethorn:

I’ll be presenting my talk “Make Your Thing” on Thursday as part of Etsy’s pop-up holiday shop in New York City. It’s about making independent media in the internet age, for fun and profit.

The show’s at 6PM, and is at 131 Greene Street between Houston and Prince. Come by, listen, ask questions, buy something vintage or handmade. The talk is free!

And if you’re around during the day, my friend Kevin Allison from Risk! will be doing a storytelling workshop from 2:30-4:00 and my pal Dallas Penn from Internets Celebrities will be doing a workshop on his own special brand of DIY (like making Big Macs from stuff on the 99 cent menu) from 5:15-6:00. It will be fun, I promise.

A Laptop Case Roundup

I’ve been looking for a good laptop case for the last few months. My two briefcases, a Filson 257 and Lotuff English brief, don’t have any cushioning on the bottom, so I need something to protect my computer when I set my bag down. Unfortunately, most cases are made from neoprene or ballistic nylon, and I prefer more natural materials.

Luckily, there are still plenty of good options. On the expensive end, there’s Vaja and Want Les Essentiels. Both companies make exceptionally good products and their cases strike me as a bit smarter designed than most. Unfortunately, they’re also very pricey, and you might end up with something that won’t work with your next laptop purchase. Still, if money were no object for me, I would probably start here.

For slightly more affordable options, I really like Calabrese, Carga, and Ally Capellino. Calabrese is an Italian manufacturer of high-end bags with refined and sophisticated designs. Their laptop sleeve comes in a very beautiful tan leather, as well as dark and light canvas materials. Likewise, Carga has a very nice, simple option made from a single piece of vegetable tanned leather, and Ally Capellino’s is made from (what seems to be) a tumble-washed canvas. If you’re a student, you can take a 12% discount at Ally Capellino, which makes theirs a bit more affordable still. 

There are also some really nice contemporary designs by Scandinavian companies such as Mismo, c.dellstrand, P.A.P. Accessories, and wood wood. For something that has more of a traditional sensibility, consider Saddleback Leathers and Restoration Hardware. Saddleback Leathers is known for making very high-quality leather goods, but I suspect Restoration Hardware is using cheaper materials (though, to be fair, I haven’t had a chance to handle it). I also like WM J Mills and La Portegna. Their sleeves have handles, which may be convenient if you plan to carry them on their own.

For non-leather materials, consider Hard Graft and Pack & Smooch. They have some felted wool models that don’t look too shabby. Additionally, there are coated canvas sleeves from Incase and McManus, as well as a denim sleeve that came out of an Incase and APC collaboration. Perhaps most affordable of all is Wrappers, where you can buy a basic, no frills linen sleeve for about $30.

Finally, should none of these excited you, try searching Etsy. You have to get through a bit of chaff, but if you put in the work, you can find some decent looking designs. Check out Harlex and Byrd & Belle, for example. 

As for me, I’m hoping that Calabrese will make something for 13” laptops soon. I’m pretty set on that tan leather model

They ain’t see me cause I pulled up in my other horn-rims. Last week I was in my other other horn-rims. 

Vintage horn-rims on Etsy

“As clothes have become cheaper, our clothing consumption has gone through the roof. In 1930, the average American woman owned an average of nine outfits. Today, we each buy more than 60 pieces of new clothing on average per year. Our closets are larger and more stuffed than ever, as we’ve traded quality and style for low prices and trend-chasing. In the face of these irresistible deals, our total spending on clothing has actually increased, from $7.82 billion spent on apparel in 1950 to $375 billion today.”

"The History of the Cheap Dress", on Etsy

A fascinating and brief history of the rise of cheap clothes. Focused on women, but men can learn much from it, too. Two of the key results of this trend are a glut of clothes on the second-hand market and too many people impulse buying cheap clothes they don’t need.

Andrew emailed us about this Etsy seller. She’ll make you cuff links using maps of any two towns in the world. I’m not nuts about toggle-backed cuff links (I prefer double-sided), and I’m ambivalent about non-precious metal jewelry, but the product looks really lovely. They’re made to order, so I’m guessing if you had a finer jewel in mind, the seller might accommodate.

Andrew emailed us about this Etsy seller. She’ll make you cuff links using maps of any two towns in the world. I’m not nuts about toggle-backed cuff links (I prefer double-sided), and I’m ambivalent about non-precious metal jewelry, but the product looks really lovely. They’re made to order, so I’m guessing if you had a finer jewel in mind, the seller might accommodate.