I joined Jensen Karp on his podcast Get Up On This to spend almost two hours breaking down the new Jay-Z and Kanye West release. We were joined by the dramatically more qualified 88 Keys, who produced a track on the record, and a gen-u-ine hip-hop legend, Bun B of UGK. If you want the pop-up player or a download link, just click over to Smodcast.com.

Collar Gaps & Shoulder Divots: An Explanation

There seems to have been some confusion about this post, in which our pal GW criticized some catalog photos for Indochino, and we agreed, wholeheartedly. GW looked at the photo (the undecorated version of which is in the above slideshow) and complained about a variety of fit problems: lapels that were too small, a “lifeless” shirt, collar gaps and shoulder divots. I agreed with all, and I’d add a poor fit at the waist to the list. Overall, the photo’s a perplexing sales pitch for a brand built on custom fit.

So, let’s address these issues. First of all: what is a collar gap?

A “collar gap” is a gap between your jacket’s lapels and your shirt’s collar. It’s bad. You want the line of your coat’s neck to follow the line of your shirt collar around your neck. When it doesn’t, you get a gap. A gap is particularly bad in the back of the neck. where the collar of the jacket should be in contact with your shirt collar, and naturally sit about half an inch below the top of the collar.

In the photos above, you can see a photograph of Kanye West, usually a well-dressed guy, in a jacket with a huge collar gap. Notice how the jacket doesn’t follow the collar of the shirt? Instead, it’s pulled up and away. Part of this is his position (a well-cut jacket lapel will stay put as you move). Part of it is that this jacket just doesn’t fit him - probably in the upper back and across the chest.

In the photo of Cary Grant, you can see how a jacket should relate to a shirt. Even with what looks like it may be a button-down collar, the jacket follows the lines of the shirt. It fits snugly around the neck, hugging the curve around the neck and down into the chest. There’s also a bit of shirt visible at the back of the neck. The shirt collar and jacket lapel are in contact all the way around his neck.

Now, let’s turn our attention to the Indochino promotional picture the GW was annoyed by. I’ve provided both an untouched version of the picture (taken from Indochino’s website), and one with my own elegant retouching added. (I used a tool called “pencil” in a high-powered prosumer software called “Adobe Photoshop Elements 2.0”).

In the Indochino photo, you can see the jacket pulling out and away from the shirt collar. Only the fact that the collar is open and spreading hides this. I’ve pointed out an area where you can see this separation nonetheless.

There’s also trouble with shoulder divots, both across the top and front. See how the shoulders look like craggy mountains? That’s because they don’t fit. They appear to extend well beyond his shoulder line, and that plus a lousy fit in the chest and possibly the upper back have made the whole area look like an Excitebike course. I’ve added lines to show the awkward contour across the top and the weird dimpling in the front.

The shoulder line should be straight (or at least not bumpy), and the shoulder shouldn’t extend too much past the wearer’s actual shoulder. Most importantly, the shoulder and upper chest should look smooth and placid. A jacket that fits in the shoulders will smooth out and improve the appearance of the lumpiness and bumpiness up there. This one seems to add new lumps and bumps.

In addition, you can see that there are lines radiating out from the waist button. The dimples go almost all the way to the side seam. This is a sign of an ill-fitting jacket. A well-shaped and balanced jacket will have little stress at that point. A tiny bit of pulling is OK… this fella has what amounts to an X-Men symbol on his midsection.

And yeah, the less said about that fountain of pocket square, the better.

(One note: some people use the phrase “collar gap” to describe the space between the blades of a shirt collar - the place where the tie knot goes. That’s not what we’re talking about here.)

Kanye and the G.O.O.D. Music clan brought their Dior Homme suits to the BET Awards.

“How many times have people taunted me because of a color that I had on or how tight my pants were? It’s nothing. I’m at the point now where I can go to ABC Carpet and spend five hours picking out sheets, ‘cause I love colors, like teal and taupe and salmon … When I visited Wayne at Rikers Island, I had a suit on with some slippers, and the guard said, ‘Man, those shoes are amazing.’ And I said, ‘Yes, they are. I’m Kanye West.’”

Kanye West, in XXL’s cover story (via vneckandacardigan


This is awesome. Sometimes when someone tells me, “I love that [insert something I’m wearing here].” I will respond with, “So do I”. Then I feel like an asshole. I am not Kanye West.

(via suitsandboots)

(via suitsandboots)

“She asked me why I’m so dressed up?… I told her, ‘cause I’m not headed to the gym right now.’” Kanye West
(via thisisnotnew)
The Louis Vuitton Don’s taste is a little more designer-y than mine,  but he almost always pulls it off with aplomb.  There are those who are  always looking for what he’s doing wrong; I am  not one of those people.
He looks absolutely wonderful here.  Like a graceful advertisement  for America.

(via thisisnotnew)

The Louis Vuitton Don’s taste is a little more designer-y than mine, but he almost always pulls it off with aplomb.  There are those who are always looking for what he’s doing wrong; I am not one of those people.

He looks absolutely wonderful here.  Like a graceful advertisement for America.

Kanye on Creativity

Kanye blogged this, my man Colin converted it to non-all-caps:

I’m on the plane listening to the college dropout. It brings back so many memories. When we made it I had all 6 parents, 4 grandparents and my mom and dad. Now I have my dad and my grandfather.

Music is so nostalgic. Every song I listen to brings me back to when I first played them for my mom, when I first played from for Dame, when I first played them Jay, when I first played them for Kweli, when I first played them for my niggas back in Chi, when the album first came out, when I first called Ebro from Hot 97 and begged him to play through the wire, when DJ Pharris blew me up in the Chi.

We used to be the niggas rocking polo shirts, Louie back packs, paper denim jeans, and exclusive Adidas from Sporty LA. We were the underdogs. I never feel like I’m not the underdog. I never felt completely comfortable. I’m tormented by the need to create. With the loss of McQueen I feel like we lost one of those faces of modern creativity’s Mount Rushmore.

There were times that the only thing that kept me on this earth was the need and responsibility to create. Maybe McQueen felt his job was done because his last collection was the greatest of the decade. We are all so hurt. I know we’re selfish because he brought us so much joy and inspiration.

I know how it feels when the night demons come. We can’t let them control our hands and feet. Sometimes when it hurts so bad we have to just lay in the bed. Just lay in bed and don’t move please, I know how it feels. I wish McQueen could have just been still. Don’t let the psychiatrists give you their drugs because it slows down your wings. Society and public opinion can beat the wings off of angels. When god sees they can’t take it anymore he brings them back home.

During this new album process sometimes I turn the music up and drink and cry. When something sounds so amazing and ground breaking I’m reminded of why I live. I drink the pain of now 2 generations and breathe our melodies and messages. The music keeps us alive.

I was blessed with the opportunity to bring my and others dreams to life. It’s like performing magic or something. It’s surreal. We bring the unrealistic to reality. “Go hard, go hard, go hard” echoes in my dreams. When I wake up and brush my teeth and look in the mirror it’s like I see Michael and my mom and Malcolm. Who’s that African in the background mom? Oh he created the original layouts for the pyramids but was written out the history books and his MTV award was given to “aliens”.

There’s no such thing as fact anymore, only opinion. The closest thing we have to fact is “common opinion”. Everything is an opinion. The way you dress is an expression of your opinion. Your religious beliefs are your opinion. The music you turn up loud is your opinion. For most people it’s easier to just agree. For me the hardest thing is to ‘just’ agree and that is what sparks creativity, the feeling that something can be better, the feeling that something’s missing. The feeling that something’s needed.