Brand Profile: Ace Rivington

Editor’s note: For a wide array of brand profiles covering companies big and small, click here.

Aviation, as you might guess, figures strongly into the backstory of this brand. Photo courtesy of Ace Rivington.

Aviation, as you might guess, figures strongly into the backstory of this brand. Photo courtesy of Ace Rivington.

At a special media preview sponsored by ethical lifestyle brand Apolis earlier this summer, I ran into a situation that rarely, if ever, happens. I was chatting briefly with Apolis co-founder Raan Parton when he introduced his companion — another Beau, in fact. It just happened to be Beau Lawrence, founder of up-and-coming menswear brand Ace Rivington. What he had to say about his brand and the backstory behind it immediately caught my attention, and discerning consumers would do wise to listen up, too.

The sweater that started it all --a colorblocked crewneck made out of high-quality fabric.

The sweater that started it all –a colorblocked crewneck made out of high-quality fabric. Photo courtesy of Ace Rivington.

Ace Rivington first made a name for itself with a wildly successful Kickstarter (to the tune of $60,990 raised) for its Homespun Sweatshirt, a crisp upgrade to the once-casual crewneck sweater. The fact that the crewneck sweater is now an accepted menswear staple definitely contributed to the brand’s initial success, but in the time since then, they’ve moved beyond just sweatshirts. That staple item was borne out of a simple set of perfect fabric, though. Once he’d found the right knit, Lawrence quit his job in November 2013 and got to work — bringing with him more than 18 years of experience in the denim industry. Add in the fact that the brand focuses on American manufacturing and you’ve got the makings of #menswear success.

A playful historical narrative accompanies many of the brand's products. Photo courtesy of Ace Rivington.

A playful historical narrative accompanies many of the brand’s products. Photo courtesy of Ace Rivington.

What’s even more compelling about the brand is the playful, heritage-filled story woven into its products. Consumers can follow along with the daring Ace Rivington and his family through the brand’s blog. Ace is a fictional pilot who provides the sartorial inspiration for the brand’s rugged staples — and spirit of adventure. The concept is something that few, if any brands, have tried. Sure, plenty tie back to the ideals of heritage quality, history and pieces  built for decades — but Ace Rivington is the only one that provides quite literally an inspired story to back it up. Some might find it too much, but the ways in which the product is designed and the creative is presented definitely help build the narrative into a cohesive brand identity.

American-made denim in a variety of washes rounds out the brand's pants offering.

American-made denim in a variety of washes rounds out the brand’s pants offering.

The company’s offerings are tight and controlled, particularly its shirting — five models are for sale on the site right now, including a Beach Washed Chambray option that would serve as a fine complement to the brand’s made-in-the-USA selvedge denim. That denim however, does run for a premium price — more than $200. Its chinos also venture into Bonobos-esque pricing territory ($89) but pack classic military styling inspiration into one pair. And while some are against the jogger trend entirely, Ace Rivington does indeed stock an aptly named pair — after having checked out a pair from the brand, the Layover Jogger (made out of a lightweight cotton weave) is actually the type of pant you’d want to be wearing if you found yourself stranded in an airport.

On the shirting front, it does appear as if the brand is planning a broader expansion come next spring, as they teased out a product shot of a neat-looking short-sleeve shirt on the company’s Instagram account recently.

Available in a plethora of colors, the brand's crewneck sweaters helped Ace make his name. Photo courtesy of Ace Rivington.

Available in a plethora of colors, the brand’s crewneck sweaters helped Ace make his name. Photo courtesy of Ace Rivington.

The iconic sweater the brand launched with is also on the site in multiple colors, and colorblocked cuffs plus a ribbed collar help it stand out from your average crewneck. At a 90% cotton/10% polyester blend, it might not be the kind of sweater that shields you from an Arctic chill, but it would be the ideal layering piece for fall, particularly underneath a herringbone blazer. At $129 however, it’s again an investment to give some thought.

Ace Rivington sells, among other footwear offerings, some casual-rugged chukkas from SeaVees.

Ace Rivington sells, among other footwear offerings, some casual-rugged chukkas from SeaVees.

Ace Rivington’s outerwear selection is small but does feature a café racer jacket. Likewise, it keeps its footwear offerings on the small, yet classic, side as well. Two pairs of excellent Wolverine boots, a classic three-eye chukka from SeaVees and two pairs of utilitarian SeaVees sneakers round out the product focus.

The brand’s accessories add a dash of the unexpected to your everyday carry, including a branded Zippo lighter and aviation-themed playing cards that line right up with the brand’s aviation-minded backstory. As to be expected for a brand that built its foundation on a simple sweatshirt, its basics are similarly well-constructed. The brand was kind enough to send along a Home Washed Heathered Crewneck in Oatmeal, and it’s extremely soft with a slim yet comfortable fit — exactly how a T-shirt should feel.
Ben Sherman US
Judging by the brand’s quick rise through Kickstarter, planned product upgrades in the coming seasons and compelling backstory, Ace Rivington seems like the type of brand that can definitely strike a chord with customers looking for crisp basics that incorporate just-different-enough touches and reliable quality. And if you happen to be an aviation enthusiast, there’s perhaps no better brand out there.

Have you bought any product from Ace Rivington? What’s your favorite item from the brand’s site?
Ernest Alexander
Greats

Brand Profile: Goorin Brothers

More than 100 years and still going strong -- excellent heritage hatmaker Goorin Brothers.

More than 100 years and still going strong — excellent heritage hatmaker Goorin Brothers.

Editor’s note: For more brand profiles covering the world of men’s grooming, accessories and apparel, click here.

Like lots of things in the men’s style world, hats can actually be pretty divisive. I mean, it’s just a hat, right? Wrong. Ballcaps strike some as too casual or college-esque, while traditional hat styles – like bowlers or wide-brimmed fedoras – also draw ire. So some folks simply won’t get on board. It seems on the one hand though that throwing on a statement hat is something lots of menswear bloggers have turned to in the past few years as part of the burgeoning street style trend. That’s had a slow trickle-down effect into the rest of the population, to the benefit of heritage brands who’ve produced traditional styles for decades. Heck, just look at any postgame sports press conference and you’re likely to find a hat or two – whether well-done or not.

More than a century's worth of experience in the biz -- Alfred and Ted Goorin took over the business from father Cassel, hence the name you see today. Photo courtesy of Goorin Brothers.

More than a century’s worth of experience in the biz — Alfred and Ted Goorin took over the business from father Cassel, hence the name you see today. Photo courtesy of Goorin Brothers.

For those looking to get into the hat game without too much pretention or fanfare, Goorin Brothers is an excellent option. They’ve harnessed their collective years of experience into producing of-the-moment hats that still nod to traditional styles and construction methods, much like their significantly younger and more casual contemporaries at Ebbets Field Flannels, among others. And they’ve done so in a way that’s rooted in quality and attention to detail. When you do one thing so well, that’s likely to draw attention – in a good way.  The business has been passed down through the family for more than a century, something that it seems happens less and less these days (to put it mildly). The styles and shapes have expanded across the years, but that same attention to quality remains — with a modern update. The brand is bringing back the idea of the neighborhood hat shop, too — they’ve got 36 shops across the country and counting (including four in NYC alone).

An crisp-casual way to wear a vintage ball cap. Unconstructed blazer by J. Crew. Heathered burgundy pocket tee by Steven Alan. Slim khaki chinos by Taylor Stitch. Chukka boots by Timberland. Glasses by Warby Parker.

An crisp-casual way to wear a vintage ball cap. Unconstructed blazer by J. Crew. Heathered burgundy pocket tee by Steven Alan. Slim khaki chinos by Taylor Stitch. Chukka boots by Timberland. Glasses by Warby Parker. Classic Bristol leather watch by Daniel Wellington.

The brand’s expertise extends across nearly every style imaginable, from ball caps and flatcaps to those aforementioned bowlers and tophats. I had the chance to work with the brand to test-drive one of its vintage ballcaps — the No. 42 ball cap seen here — during a trip to Michigan in late July, followed by a jetsetting trek to Greece thereafter. If you’re going to give a ball cap another try, this is the sort of hat you should reach for. Unlike sports or performance logo-heavy ball caps, which look too sporty to wear with even crisp-casual apparel (like slim khaki shorts and a polo), a Goorin Brothers cap fits right in just fine. (Of course, if you’re an avid golfer or sports nut going to a game, might still be best to reach for one of those). But this vintage-style cap in particular is one you can test-drive with sporty-casual outfits or with a short-sleeve shirt and chinos.

A standout hat style with vintage details makes for a crisp complement to all kinds of outfits.

The No. 42 ball cap from Goorin Brothers. –a standout hat style with vintage details makes for a crisp complement to all kinds of outfits.

The lack of notable branding or logo placement on Goorin’s hats in general is a huge plus – the brand’s ball caps in particular have an old-school appeal that’s difficult to find in your average sporting goods store. That makes them look cool and complementary, rather than detracting from a polished look (i.e. the blazer-T-shirt-chinos ensemble seen in these photos). For those seeking a more standout cap, Goorin’s other retro hats, inspired by old military-branded hats, offer an alternative. Those might look more fitting at a fun barbeque or tailgate this fall.

A crisp hat like the one seen here from the brand is easily wearable in sportier situations, too. Sweatshorts by Pistol Lake. Pocket tee by American Apparel. Slim Mailbag by Satchel & Page. Sneakers by Athletic Propulsion Labs. Sunglasses by Randolph Engineering.

A crisp hat like the one seen here from the brand is easily wearable in sportier situations, too. Sweatshorts by Pistol Lake. Pocket tee by American Apparel. Slim Mailbag by Satchel & Page. Sneakers by Athletic Propulsion Labs. Sunglasses by Randolph Engineering. Partial photobomb by a fellow tourist in Greece.

And particularly when it gets chilly, an eyecatching hat in a cold-weather fabric certainly has its appeal, as does a warm-weather Panama hat. On that note, Dan from Articles of Style nails these sorts of looks. Now, a cold-weather hat does lack that crucial ear coverage in a snowstorm, to be sure. But, the combination of an old-school hat plus some tailored wear does look pretty darn sharp. Decades past certainly nailed that style, but it’s one that’s largely fallen out of favor or has been done mostly “wrong” in recent years (sorry, Johnny Depp). Now though, it’s poised to make a nice resurgence thanks to the lack of ostentation or “look-at-me” flair from Goorin Brothers – these are hats that are well-made and mesh with a variety of looks.

The lack of ostentatious details makes it easy to pair a vintage ball cap with classic Aviator shades -- like these ones from Randolph Engineering.

The lack of ostentatious details makes it easy to pair a vintage ball cap with classic Aviator shades — like these ones from Randolph Engineering.

Goorin’s pricing meets the needs of those looking to dip their toes into the world of hats, as well. Ball caps come in at under $40, namely. The brand’s “dressier” or more traditional hats do range in from price from about $70 to $200 though — making this the sort of splurge purchase that you’d have to wear a lot to justify. However, I’ve found my ballcap to be comfortable, breathable and wearable in the heat from Michigan to NYC to Greece – and it should work just as well in the fall and winter months.
Florsheim
Ultimately, a hat of any sort is going to be the type of accessory that might break an outfit – but it can also make an outfit if worn in the right setting, at the right time and with the right accessories. Again, this is all subjective though – so if the hat fits (and you like it)… wear it!

Are you on-board the ballcap bandwagon? Do you own or have you considered any of the aforementioned hat styles?
Greats

Brand Profile: Baxter of California

One of the first men's grooming brands still gets it right today. Photo courtesy of Baxter of California.

One of the first men’s grooming brands still gets it right today. Photo courtesy of Baxter of California.

Here on The Style Guide, grooming has been a topic that’s been a focus occasionally, but not for the most part. Like other style upgrades though, the grooming game is one where guys can begin to set themselves apart – much like upgrading your home accessories or interior design. And in a similar fashion, smaller efforts go a long way toward a better overall picture (and appearance), and can really add up to a much better lifestyle all around. Again, it’s still grooming we’re talking about here. While upstarts like Brickell Men’s Products are absolutely getting it right on the newer end of the men’s grooming craze, there are some established brands that continue to deliver on product that really just works.

An inside look at one of the brand's most comprehensive kits -- the Best of Baxter box. Photo courtesy of Baxter of California.

An inside look at one of the brand’s most comprehensive kits — the Best of Baxter box. Photo courtesy of Baxter of California.

Baxter of California is one such brand that’s been at it for decades, revolutionizing its products over the years and really dialing in its approach. The brand’s roots are distinctly West Coast, right down to where they were founded five decades ago (its Super Skin Conditioner was specifically designed for protection from sea and salt air). The designs on the bottles and the packaging even now are clean and crisp, the fonts and colors stick to blue, black and white (a classic menswear combo if ever there was one), and the product – most importantly – delivers, too. If you’re looking for a place to start exploring an improved grooming regimen, Baxter is as good a place to start as any.

They’ve nailed it down to essential areas like Hair, Skin and Body Care products, although they also offer deodorant and candles, too. Plus, packages that combine the highlights into one are available for purchase – crucially, the Best of Baxter package boils things down into one essential set, as does the Travel Kit (soon to be restocked, I’m told, and which you can get a small look at below).

Just part of the spread from the Baxter Travel Kit -- a worthy pickup when it goes back in-stock.

Just part of the spread from the Baxter Travel Kit — a worthy pickup when it goes back in-stock.

Having got my hands on a sample of the Travel Kit in advance of a trip to Greece, I’m here to tell you it’s worth the investment for any trips you might take. For someone who hadn’t truly paid attention to many grooming products before this year, that’s a first. I had previously bought the Under Eye Complex from the brand, and while it initially struck me as a somewhat odd product to use, it definitely does its job well.

Prepped to travel with key essentials from Baxter. Notebook by Field Notes. Keychain by Apolis.

Prepped to travel with key essentials from Baxter. Notebook by Field Notes. Tan leather keychain by Apolis. Stainless steel dive watch by Invicta.

So that’s a worthy pickup (if $28 at first seems like too much for a small tube of cream, rest assured that it does last through multiple months of daily use, at the least). The Travel Kit expands on that value-for-size philosophy and rounds things up nicely into a getaway-ready package (much like other stylish travel accessories worth your time).

The kit contains everything you could ever need for hitting the road, including the brand’s Daily Protein Shampoo and Daily Face Wash, After Shave Balm and Oil-Free Moisturizer. I’ll admit I’m not much in the way of shaving my beard, but when the time comes, the Super Shave Balm (also contained therein) should do the job nicely.
Ernest Alexander
Much like Brickell Men’s Products, Kiehl’s, Jack Black or other grooming brands with an all-around focus, Baxter has a clear vision when it comes to product design, packaging and functionality. These are items that get the job done and do so in a way that’s not incredibly expensive. In fact, it’s fairly approachable. If ponying up for grooming products stretches the budget thin, simpler alternatives will likely do the job. But upgrading to an established name can absolutely yield quality that’s worth a slight investment – and a better appearance at the end (or the start) of the day.

Do you have a go-to grooming company or product? Have you ever tried out Baxter of California?

Ben Sherman US

Style Q+A: United By Blue

The interior of the seriously cool (and ethical!) United by Blue flagship store and coffee shop.

The interior of the seriously cool (and ethical!) United by Blue flagship store and coffee shop. Photo courtesy of United By Blue.

Editor’s note: To check out other Style Q&A pieces, head here.

In recent years, it seems that consumers have been paying more and more attention to the little things: how and where (and why) their clothes are made, for starters. And the type of impact that clothing companies have on the world outside the style and fashion sphere has grown increasingly important, too. During a stop at the outstanding Pop-Up Flea trade show and exhibition earlier this spring in NYC, I came across an eyecatching booth outfitted with rustic décor, durable chore coats and soft T-shirts. It quickly became apparent that United By Blue wasn’t any ordinary clothing company schilling at trade shows, though. Founded in 2010, the brand aims to create a direct impact through the sale of each and every product by removing one pound of trash from oceans and waterways through clean-ups organized by the company. It’s a rather astonishing and inspiring mission, and it goes without saying that the product they sell to make it happen is pretty neat, too (I’ve previously written about their Stillwater Board Shorts for GearHungry). They also stock an extremely well-curated selection of home goods , bags and outdoor gear while simultaneously running a coffee shop at the brand’s Philadelphia flagship, among other Northeast-based retail locations. I caught up with co-founder Brian Linton via email for a few brief questions to learn more about the company’s roots, what makes the brand tick and what plans they have for the future.

A United By Blue clean-up taking place. Photo courtesy of United By Blue.

A United By Blue clean-up taking place. Photo courtesy of United By Blue.

The Style Guide: Talk to me about the founding of United By Blue and the ‘A-ha!’ moment that led to its creation?

Brian Linton, United by Blue: United By Blue started after I was running a brand that was donating a portion of proceeds to ocean conservation. It lacked impact because I wasn’t able to measure the environmental goodness of what the money achieved. United By Blue was a way to get our hands dirty. It is a brand created with a focus on creating the infrastructure and systems within a for-profit business structure that would normally only be present in a non-profit. We organize and host cleanups on an ongoing basis, all from within the company. We don’t outsource or donate money to others to do environmental good in our name.
Ernest Alexander

TSG: What has it been like to run a company equally focused on clothing and social/environmental good? Has it been difficult to merge the two?
UBB: Certainly it’s been a difficult but fun journey! Merging the two works because we consider ourselves an outdoor brand. And being in the outdoor industry, our customers love and care about the outdoors. Therefore, the overlap is more natural than it may seem. We are able to often partner with the retail stores that sell our products on cleanups in their local communities, mobilizing customers to become volunteers and attend a UBB cleanup.
TSG: Are there certain product categories the brand isn’t in currently that you’d like to expand in the future?
UBB: As a lifestyle brand, we are constantly expanding our offerings. This past season, we launched an awesome line of men’s board shorts and will be expanding the swim category in the future. We’ve also put a lot of energy and focus into developing more women’S dresses, which will be launching over the coming seasons. You can also expect more gifts and home goods later this year.
The brand's Asbury Park, New Jersey store. Photo courtesy of United By Blue.

The brand’s Asbury Park, New Jersey store. Photo courtesy of United By Blue.

TSG: Are there areas of the country where the brand would like to expand in terms of either a retail presence or stockists?
UBB: We are an East Coast brand and are therefore much more prevalent there.  Although we have some solid distribution along the West Coast, this is definitely an area that is a reflection of our brand vision and a place we would love to grow.

Ben Sherman US

TSG: Any upcoming collaborations or partnerships you might be able to discuss briefly?
UBB: We just launched a collaboration with Roots Canada that will be sold through our stores as well as their stores through Canada and the US.  It’s a line reflective of our shared passion for the outdoors and the importance of protecting it.
Check out United By Blue on Instagram if you have a hankering for beautiful lifestyle and scenery shots (paired with durable and stylish products), or give them a follow on Twitter, where they frequently run giveaways and other neat promos.

Brand Profile: Jack + Mulligan

The Newton Weekender from Jack + Mulligan — made right and made in the USA.

The Newton Weekender from Jack + Mulligan — made right and made in the USA. Photo courtesy of Jack + Mulligan.

Editor’s note: The following profile features quotes and photos provided by the brand. No compensation was offered in exchange for this post. To check out other brand profiles, head here.

Spring and summer travel season is quickly approaching (or has already started for some of us), and if you’re hitting the road anytime soon, you undoubtedly need a stylish weekender bag (among other grooming accessories) to be travel-ready. That’s where Jack + Mulligan can absolutely help you out. You might recognize the name from an Esquire piece that ran last year, but they’re absolutely a brand worth getting to know more. The brand is selling at a number of stores in the U.S. and also through a few international accounts  — I actually came across them a few weekends ago at The Lodge in NYC.

Founder Colin Gray launched the company a few years ago after working across the fashion industry in retail & magazines (among other stops) and later making small runs of leather goods to give to his friends. Along the way, he struggled to find a bag polished enough for the office but durable and well-suited for weekened trips — leading to a small collection of bags made and distributed to friends and family, and eventually, the creation of Jack + Mulligan; the brand’s name comes from Gray’s first dog, an Irish Water Spaniel named Mulligan, and three Jack Russell Terriers Gray had thereafter. Now, the company employs what you might call a tightly knit team of two full-time employees and a handful of part-timers.  That hasn’t hampered their attention to detail, though.

One of the company's knapsacks in action. Photo courtesy Jack + Mulligan.

One of the company’s knapsacks in action. Photo courtesy of Jack + Mulligan.

“Early on, I chose to hone in on those small details that I obsess over,” he said via email. “The fabrication, zippers, pockets, stitching and overall quality (of the bags). From the start, I focused on the details.” Gray was also focusd on making pieces that would stand the test of time in both style and durability.

“I remember the first time I saw someone on the street using one of our bags in Manhattan,” he said. “That was a great feeling.”

A twill briefcase in midnight and a line of dopp kits are also part of the brand's offerings. Available at www.jackandmulligan.com

A twill briefcase in midnight and a line of dopp kits are also part of the brand’s offerings. Available at http://www.jackandmulligan.com

The brand now has a sizable amount of product (some of which you can see above), ranging from a navy knapsack with fine leather detailing to a run of twill and waxed canvas duffels (like this particularly nice olive duffel). The company is perhaps best well-known for its classic weekender bags, available in three colors and retailing for just under $300. For beach trips and the like, Jack + Mulligan’s tote bags would definitely be worth a look, as well. Perhaps their closest aesthetic competitor might be Herschel Supply Co. in terms of smaller bags, but J+M’s larger pieces are certainly on-par with brands like Navali and Everlane, construced from sturdy twills and featuring leather reinforced handles and zipper pulls.

The Kennedy Duffel in Olive. Grab and go to the gym or the beach.

The Kennedy Duffel in Olive. Grab and go to the gym or the beach. Photo courtesy of Jack + Mulligan.

The brand’s varied offerings really complement an overall lifestyle, Gray said, while also noting that higher-quality accessories are a reflection of a growing interest in men’s fashion overall.

“Guys are having more fun with getting dressed and interested in finding their personal style,” he said. “It’s cool that guys seem to care more about where and how a product is made. An increasing number of people I speak to are becoming educated about fabrics and construction, which is interesting.”

The eyecatching Thompson Tote. Photo courtesy Jack + Mulligan.

The eyecatching Thompson Tote. Photo courtesy of Jack + Mulligan.

That growing lifestyle interest is also reflected in the home goods the brand produces, like passport wallets and luggage tags.  Jack + Mulligan’s water-repellent twill dopp kits also bring a unique combination of rugged style and function. And the brand has plans for the future, too — tapping into a growing customer base and exploring collaborations are both ongoing pursuits for the company, Gray said.

Jack + Mulligan partnered with shaving & grooming gurus Harry’s last year, and future collabs with like-minded brands are in the works — as are new category offerings, Gray notes.

While there are difficulties inherent in running a startup — especially building a brand from the ground up — Gray always tries to enjoy what he does.

“The whole thing is very challenging,” he said. “The most fun for me is the product, being able to take an idea and see it come to fruition.”

Tell me: Have you bought anything from Jack + Mulligan? What’s your favorite product from the site?

Brand Profile: The Hill-Side

Brothers Sandy and Emil Corsillo, founders of The Hill-side, with menswear blogger and brand supporter James Wilson.

Brothers Sandy and Emil Corsillo, founders of The Hill-Side, with menswear blogger and brand supporter James Wilson. Image courtesy of GQ.

An increased focus in recent years on men’s style and fashion has had a lot of really positive benefits for those outside the industry, too — like the launch of GQ’s Best New Menswear Designers in America program. It’s an awesome way to check out what’s new and what’s next while finding out about great brands — like The Hill-Side (and on that note, the brand’s collaboration with GAP as part of the program should be drool-worthy). You might recognize the brand from its appearance on the head of a certain famous NBA player, too. The Brooklyn-based brand was launched in 2009 by denim-obsessed brothers Sandy & Emil Corsillo with business partner & friend Hisashi Oguchi. Obsessed with outstanding fabrics & Japanese workwear brands, the brand has found itself a nice niche — eclectic styles that manage to look of-the-moment at the same.

Some of the store's wares, including standout socks and great chinos, on display in Brooklyn.

Some of the store’s wares, including standout socks and great chinos, on display in Brooklyn.

I had the chance to stop into Hickoree’s, the brand’s physical outpost opened by the team in Brooklyn. And man, was I impressed with what I saw. In addition to stocking gear from The Hill-Side itself, the store also sells items you never knew you needed — like cool leather keyholders and Japanese pottery. The space is also, for one, exceptionally cool. There’s almost too much high-quality menswear to even begin to describe. The store stocks everything from indigo T-shirts and jeans from Blue Blue Japan to amazing chambray slip-ons and hemp denim sneakers (made in Japan for the brand).

Indigo wares on display from Blue Blue Japan, among others.

Indigo wares on display from Blue Blue Japan, among others.

Casual, washed shirts from The Hill-Side and the Gitman Brothers Vintage line are a highlight too, as are the unique trousers the store also stocks (like these sturdy jeans from Phivgel). The brand’s lightweight, infinitely wearable blazers are unlined and unconstruced, making them easy-wearing, and they have a tailored fit that’s not too restrictive. There’s also a standout selection of ties and pocket squares made from soft, textured fabrics — something that put the brand on the map in the first place. Pair that with a casual shirt and one of the many workwear-inspired jackets they also stock, and you’d have one standout outfit. Things can be topped off with a set of super comfortable and breathable socks  in a variety of colors (also the brand’s own). In fact, I picked up an olive Donegal tweed pocket square and some charcoal-tipped socks on this trip.

Beautiful ties in textured fabric from The Hill-side.

Beautiful ties in textured fabric from The Hill-Side.

Another personal highlight had to be the store’s stunning selection of sneakers — all from The Hill-Side itself. Whereas lots of brands are going for super clean, minimal shoes at the moment, there’s something to be said for sneakers that have unique texture and great construction (Donegal tweed sneakers or denim sneakers for the fall, anyone?). A set of herringbone twill sneakers in all-black were also quite well-made.

Just one pair of the awesome sneakers sold by The Hill-side.

Just one pair of the awesome sneakers sold by The Hill-Side.

Now, it’s absolutely worth noting that these pieces, from the blazers to the sneakers and even the socks aren’t cheap. They’ll set you back a pretty penny, to be sure. But the fabrics are beautiful on every piece, the quality and construction is top-notch and the styling potential for say, a chambray blazer or some clean white slip-ons, is huge. The great thing about the brand is that even though their line has expanded to more eclectic pieces (for example, small wooden display planes), they still have a grounded, defined sense of who they are — vintage, workwear-inspired and still very on-trend without trying too hard.

Soft-washed shirts from Gitman Brothers Vintage. Very well-made.

Soft-washed shirts from Gitman Brothers Vintage and The Hill-Side. Very well-made.

While not everyone will probably be able to get into the physical store soon, it’s for sure worth a trip if you ever find yourself in Brooklyn. And in the meantime, the brand’s excellent and quirky Web shop will have to suffice. Happy shopping!

What’s your favorite piece from The Hill-Side? Let me know!

Brand Profile: Tom Cridland Trousers

Editor’s note: To read past brand profiles on the blog, click here.

A U.K.-based brand expanding into the U.S. via Kickstarter.

A U.K.-based brand expanding into the U.S. via Kickstarter.

The men’s pants market has received several shots in the arm across the past half-decade or so, notably from Bonobos and their tremendous Washed Chinos. Of course, Bonobos has since expanded into brick-and-mortar Guideshops across the country. Some brands are still doing it the “old-fashioned” way in this new age of technology, starting with an online presence and expanding from there. Tom Cridland is a curious case in this regard — they’ve got a solid brand base in the UK (and stock in certain physical retailers), along with a full e-commerce retail site, but they’ve recently taken to Kickstarter to finance a push into the States (check out the full Kickstarter campaign here).  Check out more coverage on their brand blog here, as well.

Tom Cridland's Classic Navy option.

Tom Cridland’s Classic Navy option.

They’re offering cotton trousers in a wide array of bright colors for now, similar to Bonobos, and they’re aiming to raise $20,000 by Feb. 15. That’s a pretty tight deadline, but the campaign to date has raised more than $11,000. The brand’s offerings range from a Classic Navy chino to louder colors, like a Chili Red pair of chinos (seen below) that wouldn’t look out of place with a pared-down set of white sneakers and a grey henley this summer.

A more vibrant Chili Red that could be dialed down with minimal accessories.

A more vibrant Chili Red that could be dialed down with minimal accessories.

The fit of these pants looks particularly promising for those who favor a slim cut — from the photos, these pants look like they should rival something like the Bonobos Slim Tailored option. However, they’re only offering a slim cut, for now — that leaves those with more leg muscle out in the cold. Sizes do run from 30R to 40L. And note that while Kickstarter can be tricky for certain men’s fashion campaigns, this has a solid base to build off and some good deals for those who contribute (a pledge of $98 gets you a pair of Tom Cridland trousers — normal retail $139). On top of that, for $176, you can knock $100 off the normal retail price for two pairs of trousers. A bonus: Worldwide shipping is included in the pledge.

At full retail, those prices are certainly a cut above what most of us would pay — that’s what makes this Kickstarter so advantageous. And if you’ve been looking to take the plunge on a more colorful pair of pants, these could be just the ticket — remember, just one pop of color at a time though!

Any plans to contribute to this Kickstarter campaign? Thoughts on Tom Cridland? Let me know below!

 

Brand Profile: Linjer Leather Goods

A very new start-up plowing through a successful Indiegogo campaign.

A very new start-up plowing through a successful Indiegogo campaign.

Editor’s note: Although this post was originally supposed to cap off the Budget Style series, there was a change in plans — look for that entry early next week!   It’s not been often on this site that specific brands have been featured (outside of the Starter Style Review series) but Linjer Leather Goods is a great place to start. An extremely new start-up currently flying through an initial Indiegogo campaign, the brand is looking to fill a unique niche that could actually apply to lots of working professionals and even students looking for a bag upgrade. Right now, the brand makes a soft briefcase and portfolio bag in black or cognac, a messenger bag, a satchel bag (both in black) and a cardholder in black or cognac — any of which could hit the sweet spot in a few months’ time for professionals or students (shipping is set for January 2015). And about that name — it means ‘lines’ in Norwegian, reflecting the Scandinavian heritage of co-founder Roman Khan.

Vegetable-tanned leather, an upgrade over chrome-tanning.

Vegetable-tanned leather, an upgrade over chrome-tanning.

The intriguing name reflects the brand’s back story. Finding a high-quality bag without the ridiculous mark-up initially proved difficult for Roman and his co-founder, Jenn. Coming from conservative industries where a nice bag was a must, they consistently ran into quality problems with cheaper bags. So they launched Linjer, looking to craft affordable leather pieces at price points that the ordinary professional could actually afford. So far, it’s paying off — the brand has already raised $55,592 (at the time of this post) since launching its campaign earlier this week. More importantly, the bags look sleek and simple, and even the website and e-commerce site photos reflect polish and professionalism — both positives when considering donating to a campaign. Down the line, a women’s collection is also in the cards for the brand. It’s worth noting, however, that some Kickstarter and Indiegogo campaigns have resulted in missed delivery dates and poor-quality product — tread carefully, and yet note that early indicators are largely positive for Linjer.

Understated and yet worth the price.

Understated and yet worth the price.

And the fact that these bags bring so much style and polish is absolutely worth noting. Instead of carrying around a regular backpack or laptop sleeve, something with some character to it could undoubtedly make the difference in your appearance at work or in the classroom. A sharp bag that complements the rest of your outfit is yet another step to take in improving your personal style, and unlike other items you might buy on a budget and rotate, a fine bag might feasibly go with you everywhere. Where Linjer looks to set itself apart really comes through in the leather itself. Their products are made with vegetable-tanned leather, a more natural process than chrome-tanning (more can be found on their site here). That process results in a richer patina over time, a great thing when you consider that the leather should take on its own character based on where you go and what you do.

If you're in need of a bag upgrade, you might want to check out Linjer Leather Goods — soon!

If you’re in need of a bag upgrade, you might want to check out Linjer Leather Goods — soon, based on their Indiegogo campaign.

There are several pieces in their lineup that could come in handy in the future — although right now I carry around a trusty Kenneth Cole messenger bag, I would consider making the leap to Linjer’s black messenger bag or perhaps a portfolio case. Right now, the Indiegogo donation lines run from $1 to a $769 bundle featuring two soft briefcases, two cardholders and free U.S. shipping. Overall, subsequent donation amounts seem to reflect affordable pricing for a long-term purchase. In the coming weeks, a product review will hopefully be coming down the line. Keep your eyes peeled, and in the meantime, check out the brand’s Indiegogo page for more information.