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  • Me and Uniqlo: Like a Moth To a Japanese Flame

    Me and Uniqlo: Like a Moth To a Japanese Flame

    I’ve come to learn there are few style-related questions I can ask without Uniqlo being an appropriate answer. I can’t even front, the Japanese retailer founded in 1984 literally makes all of the basics you need. Trust me, I tried to fight it. Coming from a city where Uniqlo is as foreign as actual ramen houses (Cup Noodles Childhood), I was wary of any large department store that could be found at the mall. I’m like way too cool for that, dawg. Then I humbled myself. I needed some black slacks. So, what to do? I’m a big fan of thrifting but pants? I don’t know man, that seems a bit sketchy. I value my reproductive organs and whatnot. So, I asked around. EVERYONE told me Uniqlo, it was like my friends were getting paid in Yen on some covert ops type deal. It blew my mind, I had to do it… I went to the mall (*cue ominous music*).

    (image via www.uniqlo.com)

    I was drawn to the store’s lights like a really persistent moth. You know, that one that just keeps trying it and trying it despite the fact that you’re just trying to drink your iced tea in peace. In other words, it was hella bright. You can’t miss a Uniqlo, that’s for damned sure. The music in there had me pretty hyped too, I was in the fitting room getting my Zoolander on.

    Oh, and they carry just about anything you need. I went in that mf looking for black slacks and came out with a polo, some khakis, dress socks, and the very flattering boxers I’m currently wearing.

    (image via www.thesylishtraveler.com)

    Really, what I’m trying to say is, Uniqlo has become that “first stop” for me. It’s very much that crucial. The price point is… well, on point. The clothes are basic and essential to whatever it is you want to do with your wardrobe. Plus, Pharrell is on board and he’s the cool guy general so stop frontin’.

    - Jorge Courtade

  • A.P.C. Kanye

    A.P.C. Kanye

    The A.P.C. Kanye Fall/Winter 2014 release took place yesterday and, as you can imagine, the really cool kids came out in full force. I mean soooo cool. Photographer Michael Knapp was on hand in New York to document the cool guy convention.

    A quick run through of his work (as seen on www.four-pins.com) reveals a ton of Yeezys, ripped jeans, cut off shorts and invisible socks. So steeze, so steeze.

    The fact that Kanye, the rapper and producer from Chicago you love to hear yelling at you about any number of topics, has this much draw in the fashion world is a testament to the man’s influence. A.P.C. is no slouch and whether you enjoy the collection or not (which includes a beautiful $780 bomber jacket, a $2,865 parka with fur and a $150 ski mask), Kanye has done it again. He has left his mark on us. I’ve touched on this in a previous article but today marks a moment when I finally come to grips with reality – Kanye IS this generation.

    He represents our multi-faceted, fast-moving, quickly-bored population. His music is ahead of its time, he collaborates with fashion houses on collections that draw lines as big as a Jordan Retro release, he shows his films at Cannes, he has procreated with the most polarizing woman of the last decade, his move to Adidas has given that brand a sense of momentum it hasn’t felt in years, people describe his tours with eyes wide open and an exuberance that’s hard to match.

    He is something to everyone because he’s the biggest figure our ‘on-to-the-next’ culture could produce.

  • Looking Important When Talking

    Looking Important When Talking

    So I’m on guerreisms.com peeping the street style and couldn’t help but notice a theme – pictures of people in the midst of conversation. Of course, the first thing you notice is the notable style and grace the individuals carry themselves with. For me, though, the next thing I notice is how a well put together ensemble makes conversation look so much more important.

     

    Take these two for example. (all photos via www.guerreisms.com)

    They could be talking about anything. Dude on the left could be talking about the rager he threw last Friday or about foreign policy in the developing world. Other homeboy is so wrapped up in the conversation that you’d be hard pressed to convince me that this conversation wasn’t about some money or a lady friend.

     

    Now check out these guys.

    See, the guy on the left got the ultimate cool guy pose going on and it works for him. If someone were to try that with a hoodie on and a beanie, I’m thinking how long until the cops harass him. Dude on the far right got his standard menswear pose popping. He could be people watching, hell he’s probably checking out a lovely lady. In either case, his outfit provides him with a dignified air. In other words, are you really going to accuse him of being a creeper with a full-on white suit? Be real.

     

    Now on to my two personal favorites.

    The photo is captioned “without question 2 gentlemen who champion Italian style.” I couldn’t agree more. The outfits are both tasteful and bold. Even so, dude on the right could very well be clowning on the guy that got too drunk last night but we’d never know.

     

    I guess my point is, whether we like to acknowledge it or not, appearance is everything. Your personal style is the first thing strangers notice, it’s how they gauge who you are and what you’re about. Of course, some of that is silly. In many ways, we are more than our clothes. Still, fact is we make prejudgments all the time. So to wrap things up here, you can still be yourself and talk about your debauchery, the late night burrito run, the World Star Vine compilation you watched last night, whatever. Just make sure your style is on point when you do so.

     Jorge Courtade

  • Hypebeasts... We Know About Ya

    Hypebeasts... We Know About Ya

    It’s Monday, my room is hella messy, I’m low on duckets and I have laundry to do. Given all that, you can understand my sour mood. So, before I get to the fun parts of my day, I’d like to speak on a familiar topic – hypebeasts. We all know one or two or three. We know what they do, what they wear, who they copy. Hey, maybe you’re one. If so, man, that sucks.. for you, at least. I’ll be honest, I’ve been meaning to write this article for a while, people bashing is kind of my thing. As a stand up guy though, I think it’s only right that I direct this to the hypebeasts in the audience…

    (photo via americanenglishblog.com)

     

    Sup man. Look, I get it. You’re invested into the culture. You started off like the rest of us, emulating the cool people. You wanted to impress the girls. Then, something happened. You got addicted to the life… to the hype, so to speak. You stopped thinking for yourself. Maybe you realized you don’t actually have style… and that scared you. That terrified you. You liked the feeling you got when people complimented your random Supreme hoodie, your Concord’s, your whatever. You can only wear those items every once in a while though. So what do you do in the meantime? Ah, sounds like a crisis, doesn’t it? So you scour the web for resellers. You call yourself a tastemaker. Eventually you spend enough of your rent money on clothing that you’ve got a couple weeks’ worth of outfits in your online shopping cart. You’re gonna kill it at the mall, bro. The chicks are gonna be all over you…

    Then you meet someone with real style, someone that plays less to the hype. Someone that thinks for themselves. It frightens you. How could they dress better than you with little to no visible brand names on their body? How dare they? Your confidence withers away slowly. You don’t let anyone see but you feel it in your core, in your heart. You’re not as cool as you thought you were…and that hurts.

    Thankfully for you, the Bellwether Project is an actual thing. We can bring you out of the depths of dressing desperately… for a small fee. You’re gonna need a lot of work, it’s the least you can do.

    - Jorge Courtade

  • Soccer Players Stay Winning.

    Soccer Players Stay Winning.

    So you know how Germany just beat Brazil 7-1? Well, I’ve been a Brazilian soccer fan for as long as I can remember. As you can imagine, I did not take Tuesday’s loss very well. Almost shed a thug tear. With the loss weighing heavily on my mind, I tried to think about anything other than the terror I felt as goal after goal went in. What I was left with was an appreciation for Brazilian women, a sudden craving to drink a Heineken and the acknowledgement that soccer players/footballers/etc. are waaaaaay more stylish than the vast majority of athletes in the United States. I mean, it makes sense. NBA players are awkwardly tall and NFL players are bulky human beings. Not to mention, most of the fashion-forward soccer players live and play in the most stylish cities in the world – Milan, Florence, London, Paris. Let's do a little compare and contrast.

    Here's famed New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick in his trademark hoodie. Hella ready for the gym.

    (photo via www.golfdigest.com)

    Now let's take a look at player-turned-coach Pep Guardiola, current manager of Bayern Munich, one of Europe's most successful teams. He's giving American sports stars the Spanish version of the Kanye Shrug. I feel you bruh, I really do.

    (photo via h1n.net)

    Now peep the self-proclaimed Swaggy P, otherwise known as Nick Young of the Lakers. Now, I will give dude credit for snagging Iggy. I might not know a single song of hers but I'm definitely not bad at Nick... oh wait, look at this outfit,, dawg..

    (photo via www.blaria.com)

    Now let's bring in the hitters. Cristiano Ronaldo is probably the most well-known soccer player in the world and Hidetoshi Nakata was no slouch in his day. The Portuguese forward finds time to put some thangs together when he's not wooing models or spending some of those Euros.

    (photo via www.best-fashion.com)

    The Japanese compadre was a notable player in his day but has turned his notable fashion acumen into a new career, currently an editor-at-large at Monocle magazine.

    Word to athletes that are stateside.... get it together, guys.

  • Thrift Shopping (Without Macklemore)

    Thrift Shopping (Without Macklemore)

    When I was just a young bull growing up in suburbia, I would have never believed that thrifting would be my thing. I was too caught up in having what was new and poppin. I wanted labels and brands and whatever else would get the breezies open. Well, come to think of it, I still want those things… I just get them for the low now.

    When I moved to San Francisco and started working on Haight Street, I noticed how many of these damn thrift shops were around. I’d seen thrift shops before but I grew up near Sacramento.. only sh!t I could find at a thrift shop out there would be some washed out Pelle Pelle jeans and a 3x Big Dogs t-shirt once worn by the fat dude that rides the electric cart around Wal-Mart… True story.

    (photo via Big Dogs)

    I wasn’t schooled to the time it takes to find the button-down shirt missing to complete that one outfit or the dress shoes that open up your wardrobe to experimentation. I didn’t know I could find Fauxsace sunglasses for the 15. I would’ve never guessed I could find a blazer from Japan that fit all 5’6” of me.

     (photo via www.sfgate.com)

    Now, you guys remember when I told you about that Black Tie party I went to? If not, read the damn articles my dude (shameless self-promotion). That changed the game for me. That was my first real excuse to walk into stores like Crossroads and Held Over and Buffalo Exchange and Relic Vintage and Wasteland. Since then, catch me at your local secondhand shop pushing through hangers on the rack with a frantic look on my face.

    Whether it’s menswear, formal wear, streetwear, whatever-wear, thrifting is almost always a good look. That’s what Bellwether’s taught me. Wanna know how far I’ve come? Last time I visited my beloved hometown of Sacramento, I found the Zara shirt I’m wearing as I type this up. Imagine that.

  • Custom Suits In a Ready-To-Wear World

    Custom Suits In a Ready-To-Wear World

    Let’s face it, other than your grandparents, old stuff sucks. Can’t eat old food, old cars break down and, if you live in San Francisco like me, random household appliances choose to stop working because, well, the landlord hasn’t replaced any of them since 1967. Given all that, it can be difficult to find the value in anything old enough to receive AARP membership. So, you can understand my skepticism when I was told to watch a documentary on the world’s oldest and most storied block of “bespoken” tailoring, otherwise known as Savile Row.

    Simply put, what Wall Street is to corporate greed, what Fairfax is to streetwear, that’s what Savile Row is to the art of tailoring… just add hella years and some more skill. Providing patrons with the best tailoring the world has to offer since the middle of the nineteenth century, Savile Row has crafted custom suits for notable men of history. Winston Churchill, Napoleon, English princes, they’ve all had some work done by one of the many tailors in the area.

    Despite the high praise they receive, when interviewed by an American media outlet, one of those tailors pressed the journalist on one important point. Fashion is temporary, bespoken tailoring is forever. Okay, dude was feeling himself but he has a point. As trends come and go, skills and trades stay with us. Well, at least until some corporation figures out how to make things faster and cheaper and all of the tailors are out of a job but hey, until then, let’s enjoy the old things that are tried and true in this world of new and shiny. Shouts out to the plastic on your grandma’s couch.

    Jorge Courtade

  • Bellwether on the Corner

    Bellwether on the Corner

    I trailed a member of the Bellwether Project for a day. We met near Union Square, in front of the towering Neiman Marcus store to be exact. He stood with a camera in hand. He was snapping photos of San Francisco’s most stylish residents, looking for street style images that encapsulated the city’s fashion sense.

    We stood there for an extended amount of time. In that time, several people greeted him. People that work at Dior, people from Levi’s, and fellow photographers, all laughing after they recognized the figure behind the digital camera. As I scanned the streets, I saw another Bellwether. He was easy to spot out given that my eyes were peeled for street style candidates. He only stayed for a few minutes, he explained he was going to re-up on a straw hat – a reasonable choice given the warm weather.

    Even in casual conversation, they discussed the correct colors for the season, the specific, detailed articles of clothing they wanted to add to their wardrobes before X, the shoes they wanted before Y, and the Z-colored wide-brimmed hat that could only be found at that location as opposed to this location.

    It was here, standing on a busy street corner next to a homeless man in a (very rare) bright red Enrique Iglesias 2008 hooded sweatshirt, that I realized The Bellwether Project is really about this sh!t. I mean, I knew that, but yooooo…. I really know this now. Through the whole ordeal, Jay-Z and Kendrick and Cam’ron played through Bellwether earbuds. I thought to myself, these dudes really got Cashmere Thoughts…. I really mean it.

    Jorge Courtade

  • San Francisco Fashion Weak

    San Francisco Fashion Weak

                A member of the Bellwether team was recently honored for his street style. That’s pretty cool, no? It would be held at a familiar venue near San Francisco’s center. I had dreams of wowing the audience with a drunken acceptance speech on my partner’s behalf. I even bought a pair of shoes for the damn thing. What actually transpired, however, was pretty corny. Now, as I stare at the bedazzled award given to him, I think about San Francisco’s menswear scene.. really its fashion scene altogether. San Francisco lays in a weird place, man. The City is fashion-friendly but it’s not always fashion-forward.

    Milan, London, Paris, New York. Those are the cities that draw luminaries and poppin’ runway shows and tradeshows and Norwegian designers and movie stars… Sacramento, Dallas, Riverside. Those are the cities that haven’t outlawed jean shorts yet.

    Somewhere in the middle (thankfully leaning more towards the former than the latter) falls San Francisco. A city on the cusp of the fashion world. We have a fashion week but… well, it’s weak. Menswear bloggers (hey, that’s me) descend downtown, taking pictures and shaking hands in the string of city blocks where our fashion scene is confined. People chat, some models might stand in a window or something (so avant-garde) but then everyone finishes their glass of wine and decides to go turn up on some unrelated sh*t.

    However, do not despair, friend. This is what we are here for. Would it be crass to say that Bellwether will change the entire city’s fashion scene? Maybe. Either way, fact is, we do so one personal styling appointment at a time. We do so when we aren’t satisfied with the bedazzled awards. We do so when we write articles about London Collections: Men at 4 am in an apartment in San Leandro (long story, bro). Let’s stop being content with being fashionable.

    Let’s all become fashion.

    Jorge Courtade

  • They Got the Dropout Keepin' Kids In the School

    They Got the Dropout Keepin' Kids In the School

                As much as it pains me to admit, the always intriguing sea of Internet links, image sources, and advertisements led me to a TMZ article on Kanye West. In my defense, there is no mention of his lovely wife and minimal drama is involved.

     

    Apparently, as part of the terms of a recent plea deal, Kanye has agreed to complete 250 hours of community service by lending his time and thoughts to students at various schools. True to form, Kanye’s recent school of choice was the L.A. Trade Technical College, a school the TMZ article describes as specializing in designing apparel, where he spoke extensively about being a designer.

    photo via (www.huffingtonpost.com)

    The article got me thinking, even as we focus on the menswear staples that have recently shown their collections in London and Milan and Paris, Kanye’s reach and insight into the industry are invaluable. TMZ jokes that they hope West spoke to the students about leather jogging pants but I actually hope he did. Whether you choose to partake in the sweaty, non-vegan look, it is no secret that Kanye brought the jogger pant to the consciousness of the men’s fashion world. Now they’re everywhere. His shoes are sought after and his trend forecasting is on point. He shouts out Italian designers and fashion houses in his raps. In fact, he “shops so much [he] should speak Italian.”

    Simply put, in a genre of music that likes to shout out brand names just to flex, Kanye actually lives this. So, while the 250 hours he has to put in may or may not suck to him, a guilt trip so to speak, you can’t tell me nothin’… that man’s living the good life. See what I did there? No? Okay.