Alternatives to Common Projects

The price of minimalist sneakers has really gone through the roof in the last few years. Common Project’s low top Achilles, for example, used to cost somewhere between $250 and $300, but you’d be lucky nowadays to find them at that price on sale. On the upside, with their growing popularity, more and more companies are coming out with their own designs, which means there’s a lot of options at a wide range of price points.

If you’re considering some minimalist kicks, here are some of the non-CP options, from most to least expensive:

Over $300

APC ($355): APC’s sneakers are nearly just as expensive at full retail, but given their distribution, you can easily find them on sale. Totokaelo Man, for example, has them on discount right now for $249. Similarly designed and priced are Wings + Horns and Svensson.

Buttero ($325): A much more original, but still tasteful, take on minimalism. Depending on what you plan to wear with your sneakers, these could be a better option than your standard sleek or sporty designs.  

Our Legacy ($310): This Swedish brand has a really nice, youthful take on contemporary men’s clothing. This season, they have sporty white low top, which is sold at their online store, French Garment Cleaners, and Totokaelo Man.

Hydrogen-1 ($305): A new San Franciscan label with sneakers that are just as well made as any of their competitors. These white low tops with gum soles look great, and they come in suede

Comme des Garcons ($300): Wait, are these minimalist sneakers or just Adbuster rip offs?

Over $200

National Standard ($270+): A relatively new label that I unfortunately don’t know much about, but they’re sold at reputable and fancy boutiques. Check them out at L’ExceptionIkkon, and The Corner.

Erik Schedin ($238): I’ve unfortunately never handled these, but have always admired their design. The listed price drops down to $238 once you deduct for European taxes.

Twins for Peace ($200): A minimalist sneaker with a cheeky pair of shoelaces. If you don’t like the laces, I imagine you can easily swap them out for something simpler. 

Under $200

Garment Project ($192): A Danish company doing basics such as shirts and sweatshirts. Their sneakers have an inverted “V” at the eyelet tabs and a more exaggerated toe cap. Available at MKI and Wardrobe19.

Nikes ($105+): Granted, Nikes will always have that big swoosh, which goes against the spirit of minimalism, but they have some great designs at relatively affordable prices. Check out the Air Force OnesDunksAir Jordan 1 Mids, and Blazers. You can get these in all white if you go through Nike’s ID program.

Saturdays NYC ($95): A nubuck version of Vans Authentics that’s on sale at Totokaelo Man and Roden Gray. Also available? Authentic suede Authentics.

Kent Wang ($95): One of the most affordably priced options of all.

Adidas ($75+): Many of Adidas’ designs can look reasonably minimal. Consider the Sambas or Stan Smiths. After all - the Stan Smith is what almost everyone above is knocking off.

Ten Sales Here and There

In addition to Pete’s recent post on Hickoree’s sale, I thought I’d list ten end-of-the-season sales I’ve been looking at. Much of the stock has been sold, but there are still some nice items here and there. 

  • Haven: Haven is a Canadian shop with a strong streetwear focus. At the moment, they have a bunch of stuff from Yuketen, Levis Vintage Clothing, Common Projects, and Engineered Garments on discount. I’d like to think I can look as cool as Takahiro Kinoshita in this varsity, but that’s definitely not happening.
  • Totokaelo: Totokaelo mostly stocks “edgy” designer labels, but they also have a lot of casual footwear that I think would appeal to men with classic tastes. Although the discounts aren’t that deep, these APC Ranger boots and Common Projects track sneakers look great. 
  • Bodega: A buddy of mine recently picked up these sneakers by Converse and Nigel Cabourn. They look a bit funky, but work well with the right kind of clothing. Bodega has them for $60, albeit in very limited sizes. Nigel Cabourn and End have them in a wider range of sizes, but not in white. 
  • Roden Gray: Another Canadian operation. They have some Randolph Engineering aviators on sale right now for $107. 
  • French Garment Cleaners: Lots of nice stuff from Engineered Garments and Oak Street Bootmakers. I like this chambray and these boots.
  • Berg & Berg: Lots of accessories at half off. Included are some neckties, scarves, and leather laptop sleeves, the last of which I reviewed a few months ago. 
  • Soto: These guys have a Barbour Bedale made from a very unique grey wool (it usually comes in a waxed green cotton). You might want to check with the store about sizing before you buy, as many people size down on the Bedale, but also have to take it to Barbour to have the sleeves lengthened. I can’t say for sure if Barbour can lengthen the sleeves on this model. 
  • Gentry: Lots of stuff on sale, including a very well-priced pair of chukkas from Eastland’s Made in Maine collection. Eastland’s Made in Maine is … well … made in Maine, and produced from much better materials than what Eastland uses for their mainline.
  • UnionmadeTake another 20% off sale prices with the discount code PLUS20. You can check this old post to see what I thought was particularly nice the first day the sale went up. 
  • J Crew: The official line is that “final sale items” can be discounted by an additional 40% with the checkout code BYEWINTER, but the code also seems to apply to things that aren’t marked as final sale. Such as these tan workboots by Chippewa, which get dropped down to $156 with the code. 
A Popover for Summer
The spate of hot weather recently had me thinking about what kind of shirts I might like to get this summer. High on the list are popovers. A popover is a woven shirt with a placket that only goes partially down the chest. I suspect they’re a holdover from when sport shirts weren’t all made with coat fronts (an early version of such a design can be seen here). They’re less common now, but I think they can look quite good on men with slim stomachs. They’re more relaxed than a traditional shirt, but more dressed up than a polo shirt, and this in-between-ness makes them just right for when you want to look smart on casual days.
I bought this one from Gant two years ago, but sadly the cut didn’t work out for me, so now I’m on the market for another. The nicest one I’ve seen is by Isaia, which is pictured above. My friend Agyesh, who actually took the image shown, works for Isaia and tells me that the brand still makes these. They should be available at Saks Fifth Avenue (especially the one in New York City), but if not, any store that offers Isaia’s made-to-measure program will be able to custom make one for you. You can get the model above, or one with a button-down collar and mitered placket. 
In addition, Sid Mashburn has some very handsome ones with a deep, long placket. Epaulet, New England Shirt Company, and Wharf also look promising. 
For something a bit more fashion forward, there’s a small selection at Need Supply, and a few designs by Engineered Garments this season at French Garment Cleaners and Oi Polloi. Steven Alan happens to have one of them on sale, which you can knock another 15% off by signing up for their newsletter. For something a bit more workwear-ish, check out Thoroughstitch and Levis Vintage Clothing.
All the aforementioned companies make really nice shirts, but they can be a bit expensive. If you want something more affordable, and don’t mind short-sleeves, J Crew has a bunch on sale right now. You can take 30% off the listed price by punching in the code SUMMER at checkout.
And finally, for people who need a special size, there are a number of options for custom. In addition to the Isaia you see above, Individualized Shirts and Mercer & Sons have made-to-order programs. They’re not exactly made-to-measure, meaning you can’t get things made to your exact measurements, but you can choose from different cuts and patterns to get the shirt you need (for Individualized, you’ll have to go to their factory, however). Luxire also makes them through an online made-to-measure service, and I can recommend my shirtmaker Ascot Chang for bespoke. Ascot Chang is actually running a promotion right now where you can get one shirt free for every six you order. Granted, they’re not cheap – so buying six at a time is pretty expensive – but they do fantastic work and offer tremendous value at their price point. You can visit them at one of their stores, or catch them on their US tour this month. 
(Photo credit: Mad House, Inc)

A Popover for Summer

The spate of hot weather recently had me thinking about what kind of shirts I might like to get this summer. High on the list are popovers. A popover is a woven shirt with a placket that only goes partially down the chest. I suspect they’re a holdover from when sport shirts weren’t all made with coat fronts (an early version of such a design can be seen here). They’re less common now, but I think they can look quite good on men with slim stomachs. They’re more relaxed than a traditional shirt, but more dressed up than a polo shirt, and this in-between-ness makes them just right for when you want to look smart on casual days.

I bought this one from Gant two years ago, but sadly the cut didn’t work out for me, so now I’m on the market for another. The nicest one I’ve seen is by Isaia, which is pictured above. My friend Agyesh, who actually took the image shown, works for Isaia and tells me that the brand still makes these. They should be available at Saks Fifth Avenue (especially the one in New York City), but if not, any store that offers Isaia’s made-to-measure program will be able to custom make one for you. You can get the model above, or one with a button-down collar and mitered placket. 

In addition, Sid Mashburn has some very handsome ones with a deep, long placket. EpauletNew England Shirt Company, and Wharf also look promising. 

For something a bit more fashion forward, there’s a small selection at Need Supply, and a few designs by Engineered Garments this season at French Garment Cleaners and Oi PolloiSteven Alan happens to have one of them on sale, which you can knock another 15% off by signing up for their newsletter. For something a bit more workwear-ish, check out Thoroughstitch and Levis Vintage Clothing.

All the aforementioned companies make really nice shirts, but they can be a bit expensive. If you want something more affordable, and don’t mind short-sleeves, J Crew has a bunch on sale right now. You can take 30% off the listed price by punching in the code SUMMER at checkout.

And finally, for people who need a special size, there are a number of options for custom. In addition to the Isaia you see above, Individualized Shirts and Mercer & Sons have made-to-order programs. They’re not exactly made-to-measure, meaning you can’t get things made to your exact measurements, but you can choose from different cuts and patterns to get the shirt you need (for Individualized, you’ll have to go to their factory, however). Luxire also makes them through an online made-to-measure service, and I can recommend my shirtmaker Ascot Chang for bespoke. Ascot Chang is actually running a promotion right now where you can get one shirt free for every six you order. Granted, they’re not cheap – so buying six at a time is pretty expensive – but they do fantastic work and offer tremendous value at their price point. You can visit them at one of their stores, or catch them on their US tour this month. 

(Photo credit: Mad House, Inc)