It’s On Sale: (Almost) Everything at Need Supply

Want those on-sale Aldens that Pete talked about yesterday? Well, they’re available at Need Supply, where you can take 20% off your whole order with the checkout code EVERYTHING20. The code works on everything except select items from APC. For footwear alone, check out Common Projects and Alden (two brands that are rarely discounted), as well as Converse, Vans, and Quoddy. You may also want to check out their sale section, where you can stack discounts. 

Pictured above: Alden Indy bootsQuoddy bluchersChuck Taylor high tops, and Common Projects Achilles. Sale will last until the end of tomorrow, June 24th. 

Dyed Sneakers for Summer

"Whatchu know about that RIT Dye?" - Big Boi on Bullseye

I’m not sure if these aren’t a bad idea, but summer is essentially made for questionable clothing choices (I’m looking at you, shorts). Lately, I’ve been thinking about dyed sneakers, which I suspect might look better on my screen than on my feet. On the other hand, they also look like they’d be really fun to wear this summer with beat-up chinos and casual shirts. Something for lounging around on lazy days. 

To get a pair, you have three options.

  • DIY. The first is to obviously make them yourself. Start off with a pair of white sneakers and dye them with one of the many at-home dyeing kits. RIT Dye is popular, and you can buy packet of it at Walmart, CVS, or Amazon. There are a ton of online guides that will show you how (start here, here, and here). Basically, the gist of it is: if you want a deeper color, such as these Chuck Taylors 3sixteen once dyed, you’ll want to use hot water and lots of a salt. Prepare the dye in a bucket, however, as the chemicals might stain your bathtub or sink. Then, dip your shoes in multiple times and let them air out in-between each dip. For a lighter color, such as these Chucks by Tenue de Nimes, just use warm water, don’t use a lot of salt, and don’t dip them in that much. To ensure the color doesn’t deepen, you can rinse them off afterwards. (Note: For a kind of dye that will fade with time, try Jacquard’s natural indigo. Just be careful the first few weeks, as the color might bleed a bit more than RIT Dye, which means you can wind up with blue feet and perhaps even blue floors).
  • Farmtown Denim. You can also go to Melissa Farmer, who’s a popular Reddit poster with an Etsy shop. She regularly dyes things for Reddit members for a small fee. At the moment, she has a pre-order for natural indigo dyed sneakers (she uses Jacquard, I’m told). You can get anything from Vans Authentics to Jack Purcells to Chuck Taylors, and she’ll provide the shoes. A great option if you, like me, are too lazy to do this process yourself. To see how her dyed shoes age, you can see check out the photos in this interview. 
  • Vans. Vans has a blue overwashed version of their popular Authentics this season. The upside to these is that they won’t bleed on you, and they’ll look broken in from day one. The downside is that you won’t get the experience of having dyed something yourself.

To get a sense of how these might look on your feet, check out our friend Travis Gumbs over at Street Etiquette. Noah Emrich also once dip dyed a pair of Tretorns in order to give them more of a two-tone gradient effect. 

(Photos via Vimeo, 3sixteenVans, and DIY Vat)

It’s On Sale: Vans Authentics
The opposite of $750 Edward Greens, I present to you: $30 Vans Authentics. On sale at Shoebuy.com today only, with the the checkout code EMLSB042014. Get the shoes that Pete once called “unimpeachable summer sneakers” (a characterization I agree with). 

It’s On Sale: Vans Authentics

The opposite of $750 Edward Greens, I present to you: $30 Vans Authentics. On sale at Shoebuy.com today only, with the the checkout code EMLSB042014. Get the shoes that Pete once called “unimpeachable summer sneakers” (a characterization I agree with). 

Cheap Shoes That Age Well
Although I wouldn’t call it a “rule” for myself, when I can, I try to buy things that I think will look better with time, rather than worse. That is, after all, why most of us value full grain leather shoes over corrected grain ones. It’s not because they’re cheaper in the long run (because they’re not). It’s because high quality shoes acquire a beautiful worn in look that only good materials and years of wear can impart. Shoes made from corrected grain leather, on the other hand, look terrible new and even worse with time.
Unfortunately, shoes that age well are typically expensive. The exception to this is canvas sneakers, which always look better with a bit of dirt and grass staining. Think:
Converse Chuck Taylors and Jack Purcells
Vans Authentics and Classic Slip-Ons
Superga 1705 and 2750
Sperry Top-Sider’s striped CVOs
Tretorn Nylites
All of these retail for under $75, but can be had for less than $50 if you wait for sales.
The best thing about these shoes isn’t their price, however. It’s their designs. Most have been around for decades and their designs are hard to improve on. Take Maison Martin Margiela’s interpretation of Vans’ slip-ons, for example. The heavier look and feel of leather doesn’t evoke the airiness of summer like canvas, even if the design itself looks more luxurious. Similarly, Nigel Cabourn’s interpretation of Chuck Taylor All Stars has a nice retro feel, but truth be told, I think the standard model today is hard to beat.
You can wear these with any number of spring or summer ensembles. I often wear my Chuck Taylor high tops with a white t-shirt, leather jacket, and pair of jeans, and my Superga 1705s with chinos and a madras shirt. On a cooler spring day, the madras shirt gets swapped out for a sweatshirt and light parka. Neither of these feel like compromises over full grain leather shoes, and they’re appreciably much cheaper. It’s nice that good things don’t always have to be expensive. 

Cheap Shoes That Age Well

Although I wouldn’t call it a “rule” for myself, when I can, I try to buy things that I think will look better with time, rather than worse. That is, after all, why most of us value full grain leather shoes over corrected grain ones. It’s not because they’re cheaper in the long run (because they’re not). It’s because high quality shoes acquire a beautiful worn in look that only good materials and years of wear can impart. Shoes made from corrected grain leather, on the other hand, look terrible new and even worse with time.

Unfortunately, shoes that age well are typically expensive. The exception to this is canvas sneakers, which always look better with a bit of dirt and grass staining. Think:

All of these retail for under $75, but can be had for less than $50 if you wait for sales.

The best thing about these shoes isn’t their price, however. It’s their designs. Most have been around for decades and their designs are hard to improve on. Take Maison Martin Margiela’s interpretation of Vans’ slip-ons, for example. The heavier look and feel of leather doesn’t evoke the airiness of summer like canvas, even if the design itself looks more luxurious. Similarly, Nigel Cabourn’s interpretation of Chuck Taylor All Stars has a nice retro feel, but truth be told, I think the standard model today is hard to beat.

You can wear these with any number of spring or summer ensembles. I often wear my Chuck Taylor high tops with a white t-shirt, leather jacket, and pair of jeans, and my Superga 1705s with chinos and a madras shirt. On a cooler spring day, the madras shirt gets swapped out for a sweatshirt and light parka. Neither of these feel like compromises over full grain leather shoes, and they’re appreciably much cheaper. It’s nice that good things don’t always have to be expensive. 

It’s On Sale: Footwear at Urban Outfitters

I have a long-standing teenage grudge against Urban Outfitters, but why let integrity and principle get in the way of a 25% discount? All footwear at UO is on sale right now, making a lot of classic casual shoes like Clark’s Wallabees or Red Wing boots one-fourth more affordable, and  unimpeachable summer sneakers like Vans Authentics downright cheap. If you download their app, you also get free shipping.

-Pete

Casual Summer Footwear

Like most men of my generation, I rarely wear more “formal” clothes such as dark wool suits and black oxford shoes. Much of my wardrobe consists of more casual items, though I admit it leans towards the dressier side of things. That means lots of odd trousers and sport coats, casual button-up shirts, and shoes such as derbys, boots, and slip-ons. With the passing of Memorial Day and the unofficial arrival of summer, I thought I’d review some casual footwear options for the new season. Basically things that will work with what I think most men already have in their closet.

Generally speaking, I think men tend to look smarter in a pair of leather shoes than trainers. The one exception is white sneakers during the summer. For some ensembles, such as a pair of navy chinos and a colorful madras shirt, there may be nothing better. My favorites in this category include Superga, Chuck Taylors’ All Stars, and Vans’ Authentics, but there are many others. I covered a bunch of them last year in a post about plimsolls. In addition to those, you can consider the Common Projects and German Army Trainers that Jesse has talked about, as well as Svensson’s Classic Low Whites, Superga’s 1705s, and Superga’s decks. Svensson is a bit more refined looking, like Common Projects, but comes at a lower price point and even less branding. Men of Ilk is offering a 20% off discount code right now (GLCCW49), which puts the Svenssons at $180 for American customers. As for the Supergas, I bought a pair of the 1705s a few months ago and have been really enjoying them. The branding is less obvious and the design is basic enough to pair with most things.

For something slightly dressier, you can consider chukka boots. I know boots are a bit of an odd suggestion for summer footwear, but depending on your regional climate, I think they can work quite well. Alden’s unlined suede chukka, for example, is so soft and buttery that it wears very much like a slipper. The lack of leather lining inside makes the upper more malleable and breathable, much like a canvas shoe. My friend Stephen at The Simply Refined has said everything I could say about them. For something similar, you can consider Church’s Sahara and Allen Edmonds’ Amok. The brown version of the Amok is on clearance right now for $125.

If you prefer a bit more structure in your leather chukkas, you should check out Loake’s Kempton, Sahara, and Camden. Brooks Brothers also has a suede boot that gets discounted to $130 or so at the end of every season, and there’s of course Clark’s desert boots that everyone already knows about. If you have a bit more money to spend, I would also recommend A Suitable Wardrobe’s crepe sole chukka. I really like the shape of the toe box and think the crepe sole/ suede upper combination helps underscore the casualness of the shoes.

Finally, I’ll also suggest you get a pair of loafers this summer. Like with chukkas, these can be worn mostly year round, but feel especially nice for the warmer seasons. There are a good number of styles to consider, but for the purposes of this post, I’ll stick with the classic American penny loafer. Inspired by the Norwegian moccasin, the penny loafer was the sine non-qua for the post-war “Ivy Look,” and still looks quite sharp today. I recommend getting them from American manufacturers such as Alden, Allen Edmonds, Ralph Lauren, Brooks Brothers, Rancourt, and Oak Street Bootmakers. Bass also has some, though their quality is much lower these days. Outside of American companies, you may also want to look into Markowski, Herring, and Loake, as well as some of the models that Crockett & Jones offers.

Of course, there are dozens of good causal footwear styles, and some may be better suited for warm weather conditions than the ones above (e.g. espadrilles, white bucks, and spectators). However, for good, versatile basics that can work well for summer and transition into fall, I think you’d do well with white sneakers, suede chukkas, and leather penny loafers. 

The Five Days of Summer Series, Part II: Plimsolls

Let’s be honest - nothing beats the comfort of sneakers. That comfort comes in handy when you’re taking long strolls during those warm summer days. Thus, for the second installment of this summer series, let’s talk about plimsolls. 

"Plimsoll" is a British term for shoes with a canvas upper and rubber sole. The first was invented in the 1830s by Liverpool Rubber Company and designed for beachwear. As such, its original name was "sand shoe." It wasn’t until the 1870s actually that the name plimsoll took hold. The new name derived from the horizontal colored stripe that ran along the upper part of the sole, which resembled the Plimsoll line on a ship’s hull. Like the line on ships, the stripe on the shoe was a kind of waterline (though it was clearly for just aesthetic purposes). 

These days, the plimsoll isn’t necessarily just for beachwear. People wear them everywhere, and they make for great summer shoes. So let’s review a few. 

To me, there are three classics - Superga, Spring Court, and Converse. Superga is an Italian label, and if you’ve been reading me for a while, you already know about my predilection for Italian menswear. It’s not just that they’re Italian that makes them my favorite, however. I think they’re the simplest of the plimsolls, and thus are much easier to wear. 

Spring Court is another classic; they’re made in France and the most comfortable of the plimsolls I’ve worn. I would recommend them if you’re comfortable with the bumps and bumpers on the sole.

Finally, of the classics, there is also Converse, which make the iconic American plimsoll that we’re all familiar with. The two most popular models are the Chuck Taylor All Stars, which come in both low and high tops, and Jack Purcell. Chuck Taylors are great because they’ll still look good when they’re beat to hell. Jack Purcells are basically plimsolls with a smile, which we know makes everything look better. Also, in an interesting team-up, Converse recently collaborated with Mackintosh to make a Jack Purcell model out of Mackintosh’s famed rubberized cotton. It’s more of a novelty shoe for menswear geeks, but I really like it. 

There are also great models outside of the classics. Feiyue are the monk shoes of plimsolls - meaning they were first worn by Shaolin monks and other martial artists. They were originally a Chinese company but have been since bought by a French sneakerhead who has made the shoe popular among footwear fanatics. They come in both low and high tops, and are most distinguishable by the red and blue stripes on the side. There are also Tretorns, which are Swedish plimsolls, and a new collaboration piece between Billy Reid and K Swiss. The Billy Reid x K Swiss may not be a classic, but I think it’s a pretty damn nice looking shoe that would look great with any casual summer wardrobe. 

Finally, there are CVOs - canvas vulcanized oxfords. For these, you can get Vans Authentics and Converse. Sperry Topsider also released a slightly vintage looking model for their 75th anniversary. 

If you get a pair of plimsolls, I recommend white, as nothing looks better in the summer. Some may worry that white canvas shoes are hard to keep clean. Personally, I think they look best with a little dirt on them. However, if you do want to keep them a bit brighter, try spraying a 50/50 mix of water and lemon juice, gently scrubbing for a bit, and letting them sit for a full day. For more serious stains, mix a tablespoon of baking soda and touch of water, and then rub the sticky paste onto the stain. Don’t worry too much about them though. They’re casual shoes and meant to be treated as such. 

(thanks to Edwin and LAS for help with this article)