Style Q+A: Moore & Giles

Editor’s note: To catch up on other Style Q+A entries, click here.

Built for the road ahead -- it was great to catch up with team at Moore & Giles (makers of the Benedict Weekend Bag) seen here.

Built for the road ahead — it was great to catch up with team at Moore & Giles (makers of the Benedict Weekend Bag) seen here. Photo courtesy of the brand.

Whenever I get the chance to stop by various #menswear events happening around NYC or around the country, I’m always intrigued and curious to see who I might meet, or what brands I might discover. At this past December’s Pop-Up Flea in New York City (a cornucopia of great lifestyle and men’s goods brands all in one spot), it was hard not to discover the stunning leather goods on display at Moore & Giles. I got to chatting with the brand’s Director of Marketing, Daryl Calfee, about some of the stellar product the brand had brought (seriously, it was museum-worthy). He just happens to be good friends with my pals over at Brothers & Craft, so we naturally hit it off talking all things men’s style. I also got to know the brand a bit more, and it’s a worthwhile one to know. In addition to a massive collection of fine leathers,  they also produce their own line of jaw-dropping bags, renowned for their heritage quality and style (in fact, I covered the Benedict Weekend Bag for GearMoose). Throw in a well-curated, stellar assortment of home goods, and you’ve got enough gear to make your head spin (the 33 Chair in particular is Wish List-worthy).

Given the brand’s affinity for quality and nuanced design, it was great to be able to send over a few questions to Thomas Brennan, the brand’s Director of Design for Bags & Accessories. After you get a look into the Moore & Giles process, you very well might want a bag for yourself. Enjoy this one, folks!

(Editor’s note: In the meantime, got a brand or style personality you’d like to see answer some zingers?Let me know via Facebook or Twitter).

The Style Guide: Take me through the background of Moore & Giles and how you approach your work?

Moore and Giles:  The brand was founded in 1933 as a materials supplier to local shoe manufacturers. Donald Graeme Moore traveled around the area sourcing and selling everything from shoelaces and eyelets to nails and leather. Eventually his offerings narrowed to strictly leather   and his regional hunt gradually expanded into the global quest it is today to uncover hidden gems at tanneries in all corners of the world. The company develops, sources and sells millions of square feet of leather a year across a variety of industries including furniture manufacturers, private aviation companies, and high-end homes and hotels.
The bag division developed in 2007 when our president and vice president decided to take advantage of their access to such magnificent material and made a few travel and work bags to bring with them on their travels. The line has grown organically from that point into the extensive, well curated line of bags and accessories that exists today.
Our products are unapologetically traditional. Artisans have been tanning hides for millennia and hand-sewing the resulting leather into useful objects for just as long. Both the material history and the history of our own company add welcome layers of authority, grandeur, and natural beauty to our bags; my job is to simply accentuate the existing beauty of the material with understated designs that will age as well as the leather.
Just one of the exceptionally high-quality bags produced by the brand. Photo courtesy of Moore & Giles.

Just one of the exceptionally high-quality bags produced by the brand. Photo courtesy of Moore & Giles.

TSG:Where do you find your biggest sources of inspiration?
M&G: The leather itself is the primary inspiration. We are fortunate to have close relationships with a 150-year old tannery in Italy, which means that our “product development” begins with prototyping leather colors and experimenting with different finishes, various combinations of waxes and oils, milling times, and ironing treatments. These design decisions affect the finished product long before I ever sit down to sketch a specific silhouette. When I do sit down to design a bag, I tend towards clean exteriors, traditional shapes, discrete details——decisions that keep the natural beauty of the leather front and center.
 Reading books, talking with creative peers, and sifting through vintage stores all provide great creative fodder but for the ultimate design inspiration, nothing beats close observation of day-to-day routines. Take going on a business trip, for instance. As I’m packing, I want to make the job easier, tidier, more secure and I want my shoes kept separate from my shirts; when I’m going through airport security I need a convenient, safe spot to tuck my wallet and cell phone; when I’m putting my bag in the overhead bin I want easy access to my notebook or a magazine but don’t want to rifle through the body of the bag; if I’m meeting with a new manufacturer I want to have my business cards close at hand. I aspire to be more organized than I am and more put together than I often feel. Our bags help me on both fronts.

TSG: What, in your mind, can a great leather accessory do for a guy who might not have given it much thought before?

 M&G: In a lot of ways, having a great leather accessory is like be the owner of the easiest pet ever: It will never cease to amaze you how happy you get when you see it; you’re going to feel more fond of it the longer you have it; strangers will stop you and ask you about it. Added bonus: you don’t have to feed it and it arrives at your door already housebroken.
TSG: Are there new product categories that you want to expand into in the coming seasons?
M&G: What’s proving more interesting than expanding out across new categories is finding new ways to give the existing line more depth and texture. The sheer volume of colors and finishes of leather we have at our fingertips is dizzying. The collection of artisans who tan, stamp, hand-stain, carve, and etch, to whom we have access is incredibly deep. Eight years in, we’ve only scratched the surface of what the bags and accessories can look like. As an example: we introduced a bespoke program during the holiday season last year that has given our customers a chance to participate in the creative process by selecting from a more expansive palette of hides to use on a custom travel or work bag. Seeing the colors that customers gravitated towards——reds and purples and golden tans and cool grays——and the types of leathers they’ve responded to———leathers that are exceptionally rare, have more history, or age in unique ways——informed several recent releases (like our Modern Saddle collection featuring vegetable tanned leather) and inspired a roster of upcoming releases.
TSG: What’s one thing every guy should have in his closet in terms of style?
M&G: Wherever you sit along the style continuum between a tailored suit and leather lace-ups and raw denim and sneakers, our classic Benedict Weekend Bag is a worthy compliment. It’s simple, beautiful, and functional. Unlike some other sartorial decisions, I guarantee you’ll still be proud of yourself for owning one ten years from now.
To keep up with all things Moore & Giles, follow the brand on Instagram or via Twitter.

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Style Q+A: Megan Collins, Style Girlfriend

Megan Collins of Style Girlfriend dishes out on-point style advice to guys on the daily -- worth the read. Photo courtesy of the site.

Megan Collins of Style Girlfriend dishes out on-point style advice to guys on the daily — worth the read. Photo courtesy of the site.

Editor’s note: Head this way to see more Style Q&A entries.

As I’ve spent more and more time reading about the menswear world, there have been certain sites that have shaped the way I view style, fashion and getting dressed daily along the way. My friend Barron’s site, Effortless Gent, is one such outfit (pun intended). Dappered and what Joe has done over there also comes to mind. And of course, no discourse on the digital menswear and lifestyle community would be complete without mentioning Megan Collins of Style Girlfriend. The site is well-designed, easy to navigate, fun to read and packed full of useful menswear tips and tricks (and much, much more), from how to wear a turtleneck to a full rundown of some of the best gear for fall. Anything lifestyle-related you might need to know, rest assured that’s Megan and the team are on it. Her Fall Style Guide in its entirety is also great, and the site’s Twitter churns out excellent content, too. Toss in handy and informative lifestyle articles and even relationship advice and you’ve got a winning combination.

That it’s all told from a female point of view, yet geared toward guys, is especially helpful (particularly that relationship bit, ehh?). I’ve had the chance to meet Megan on a few occasions here in NYC and have always appreciated her insight and new way of looking at a holistic lifestyle for guys — starting with clothing but branching into much, much more. The adage that the details  make the difference is definitely clear via her site. So without further ado, I’m very excited to present the latest entry in this series — I promise, I’ll just ask the questions.

TSG: For those who aren’t familiar with your site, tell us how you got it started and where that inspiration came from?

MC: I always say, I wish I could tell you I did this sweeping competitive analysis of the menswear landscape and found a female voice was missing from menswear, but actually I just fell into it. I had left a career in advertising to write and was taking on any project I could. At the same time, a friend was starting a custom suiting business and asked me to write a weekly column for his site. I said yes, because I was saying yes to everything, “But I don’t know anything about guys’ style…is that okay?” I asked.

“Sure, just write about what girls like to see guys wearing,” he said.

 It ended up kicking off this amazing journey that’s culminated in a really satisfying career for me, connecting with guys who may have GQ at home on their coffee table, but they’re shopping at the mall and need help bridging that divide between aspirational and accessible. 

I believe Style Girlfriend has gained such a following because, 1) I shop like a guy – I want it to be easy, I want it to be quick, so our advice is all about tips, tricks, and shortcuts to great style and 2) I’m honestly not that interested in fashion.

Style matters to me, because having great style is like having the best wing man ever – its only concern is making you look good. Fashion, though, is fleeting, based on trends, and honestly, can seem kind of silly sometimes. I’m much more interested in helping guys on their personal style evolution than I am in talking about the latest sneaker drop or runway show.

What started as a nationally syndicated newspaper column has developed into a widely read site. Photo courtesy of Style Girlfriend.

What started as a nationally syndicated newspaper column has developed into a widely read site. Photo courtesy of Style Girlfriend.

TSG: Running a style with as large a following as yours seems like a lot of work – what’s a typical day like at SG HQ?

MC: I wake up early – 5:15 or 5:30 a.m. – and take some time to read, write, and get centered for the day. Then I work out. If I don’t break a sweat every day, I go completely insane. I signed up for Classpass earlier this year, and it totally rocked my world. I get bored easily, so I can do spin on a Monday, bootcamp on Tuesday, Pure Barre on Wednesday, and on and on. It’s great. 

By 9:30am, I’m in the office in the Flatiron District. My editor gets in at 10, we talk through what’s going on for the day – -what’s on her plate, what’s on mine. Then I usually pop in some earbuds and churn through whatever’s on my to-do list. Relationships are so important, so at some point during the day I might meet up with someone from a brand, an agency, or someone running a site like mine. Most nights there’s some event to hit, then I come home and crash pretty early, so I can get up and do it all again tomorrow.

TSG: What have been some of the challenges involved with getting Style Girlfriend up and running that people might not know about?

MC: Style Girlfriend winds up getting lumped in with a lot of men’s personal style blogs, but it’s really not, so sometimes brands don’t know the best way to work with us. It’s not as simple as, “I wear your brand and tag you on Instagram.” It’s not a personal style blog; I’m not on there with pictures of what I wore today, and yesterday, and the day before that. Don’t get me wrong; those blogs are great, and I get a ton of inspiration from what others out there are doing and their amazing style, but we really see ourselves as a media company, or a digital magazine. We’re talking about menswear the way an Esquire or Details would – in articles and editorials and videos. So we’re a bit of an anomaly in the digital menswear space in that way.

It just means it can be a bit more leg work to help brainstorm those partnerships so that we can create really amazing branded content for our readers. So we’re different – but that’s also what makes us special, so I’m glad for the distinction.

TSG: What’s one style essential (or an essential outfit) that every guy should own?

MC: Every man needs a suit that fits him just right. Whether it’s grey or navy is a personal preference, so long as it’s tailored and doesn’t jut out at the shoulders or pool at the ankles. I tell guys to make friends with their tailor. You can take clothes you buy off the rack and make them look made-to-measure for a pretty small amount of money.

Style Girlfriend is much more than your average style blog -- its lifestyle section is packed with more great content, too. Photo courtesy of the brand.

Style Girlfriend is much more than your average style blog — its lifestyle section is packed with more great content, too. Photo courtesy of the brand.

TSG: What’s one style mistake you see too many guys make?

MC: Wearing clothes that don’t fit them properly. I tell guys to make friends with their tailor. Everything you own (nearly all of it, anyway) would look 10x as good with just a few inexpensive alterations. An inch at the ankles, a nip in at the waist – there’s so many small things you can do to make your clothes look like they were made just for you.

TSG: What’s been the most rewarding part of helping guys improve their style?

MC: Hearing about the positive impact that dressing better has had in every area of their lives.

I really believe that when you look good, you feel good, and that confidence ends up spreading to every area of your life. And this is borne out in the emails I get from readers telling me crazy inspiring stories about how reading Style Girlfriend helped them bounce back from a divorce or being laid off. How they decided to go after a raise or a promotion, or ask out that girl they’d been in love with forever. 

 Taking control of your personal style is truly the first step to totally changing your life for a lot of these guys. I have definitely been brought to tears more than once hearing from readers about their transformations.

TSG: You’re based in NYC — for those new to the city or visiting, what are some of your must-visit spots — a restaurant, bar, gallery or the like?

MC: I just moved from the Lower East Side to the Lower Lower East Side (yes, it’s a thing), and I love it. So many good restaurants and bars – a few of my favorites: Mission Chinese, Bacaro, Dimes, Clandestino, 169 Bar and Kiki’s.

TSG: Lastly, as it’s the fall season – what’s one trend that guys should jump on to look their best in the coming months?

 MC: Take advantage of the layering season – I love a nice textured sportcoat over a patterned button-up with a tie that contrasts while complementing. Top it all off with a mac coat or field jacket and you are ready to take over the world.

Head over to Style Girlfriend for more great menswear content, and check out the site on Twitter.

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.

Style Q+A: Brothers and Craft

The four founding brothers (as it were) of Brothers & Craft.

The four founding brothers (as it were) of Brothers & Craft. Photo courtesy of the brand.

Throughout the course of my day job and attending events through the GQ Insider program, I’m fortunate to meet some pretty cool people who also happen to share a similar outlook on life and style & fashion in general. At April’s GQ x Tiffany’s CT60 Watch Collection Preview, I met Clay Chambers of outstanding creative lifestyle brand and blog Brothers & Craft. If you know the site or follow them on Instagram, you’ll know that they (meaning brothers Kirk, Zac and Clay, who founded the site with their oldest brother Ryan in 2012) really have a tremendous eye for style and outstanding visuals in general, which leads to some pretty cool partnerships. In fact, the trio recently roamed the state of Kentucky as part of a project with the state’s tourism department (the brothers were born nearby in east Tennessee). I got the chance to chat with Clay recently about B & C, who’s on the rise in the world of #menswear, and of course, the best places to grab a bite or a drink in two very cool cities — the brand’s two bases, Charleston and NYC.

The Style Guide: Take me through the story of starting Brothers & Craft; when did your vision for it begin to develop and when you did know you were onto something that resonated with people?

Brothers  & Craft: Our building blocks look different than most guys you might talk to in the menswear world. We were raised to appreciate craftsmanship and resourcefulness. Our mom would teach us how to sew and tailor our own clothing, teach us how to cook, and even drag us around on weekends to yard sales where we’d pick up old furniture and refurbish it ourselves. So Brothers & Craft began as a creative outlet to share the things we were wearing and creating. Zac would make pocket squares and bow ties and put them on the blog. Kirk would hand make a wooden wine rack and take you through the process of how he built it. Or Ryan (our oldest brother who started with us) would teach you how to make your tie skinnier. So there’s always been an element of “how-to-for-men” tied into what we do, but we’ve always wanted the blog to serve as a place where we share our creativity. We’ve been fortunate enough that influential Instagrammers would show love and shout us out, so that’s helped us build our own audience.


TSG: In recent years, we’ve seen a lot of guys become way more interested in style; what’s one piece of advice you would give to guys just finding their personal style?

B&C: In the past, dressing well in America –as an idea– has sometimes been inextricably linked to being effeminate. I’m not sure where that comes from, but it’s nice to see that the average guy can now feel more comfortable building his own style without facing judgement from others. That said, crafting your own swag or style, to me, always starts with simplicity. Find timeless clothing items you like, and look for colors that blend well with them. I happen to love neutrals and earth tones because they don’t ask for attention. So for much of fall and winter I wear pieces army green, browns, navy, beige, and so on. So maybe in the summer you like wearing blazers with a pair of nice fitting denim and tassel loafers. Test the waters with the fits on both, and perfect what you like. From there, it’s about tweaking details and little pieces so you don’t get bored with your staples.

Kirk Chambers rocking a spring style get-up in Charleston.

Kirk Chambers rocking a spring style get-up in Charleston. Photo courtesy of Brothers & Craft.

TSG: Your team splits time between Charleston & NYC; what’s that like in terms of the differences in locale and fashion when you travel back and forth?

B&C: Right now Zac and I live in Brooklyn, and Kirk’s based in Charleston with his wife and kids. Things move slower in Charleston. People are laidback and friendly, the weather is amazing, and the architecture carries such a rich history. It has so much eighteenth century swag, which is uncommon for most other southern cities. Back in New York, though, I get so energized by cultural diversity and the nightlife; they help make it what it is. And anywhere you walk there seems to be new restaurants, coffee shops, bars, art galleries, and clothing stores popping up each month. But behind the touristy facade of midtown Manhattan, there’s a deeper, more cohesive side to New York in each neighborhood. The local spots define the streets and they bring people together in many ways.

Clay Chambers during a recent trip to Charleston for the city's Fashion Week this past spring.

Clay Chambers during a recent trip to Charleston for the city’s Fashion Week this past spring. Photo courtesy of Brothers & Craft.

TSG: And for those heading to Charleston or NYC anytime soon, what’s one spot to check out?

B&C: The food scene in Charleston is second to none! Waking up there, head to Saint Alban for coffee and pastries; it’s a European style cafe. Strolling along downtown or the battery is beautiful, where palmettos and pastel colored mansions fill each street. For lunch, head back up to Leon’s Oyster Shop for chicken and oysters. You need to have dinner at Edmund’s Oast, too — the charcuterie there is mind blowingly good. In New York City–and I don’t care how much people talk about it — you need to spend time at the Highline Park in Chelsea. Summers there are magical, especially at night. My favorite cafe in the city is near Columbia University on the Upper West Side, called the Hungarian Pastry Shop. They have the best cakes and desserts!

Zac Chambers rocking a double-zip Todd Snyder bomber. Photo courtesy of Brothers & Craft.

Zac Chambers rocking a double-zip Todd Snyder bomber. Photo courtesy of Brothers & Craft.

TSG: Who are your personal style icons, someone who’s shaped the way you try to dress (if any)?

B&C: I think that things, more than people, inspire what I wear. Maybe it’s acoustic beach music, or an old, tattered rug, or a sleek, modern museum, or even a weathered, faded brick on a building. Photographs are inspiring too; even more, I love coffee table books.

TSG: Is there a go-to outfit you have? If so, what?

B&C: Right now I love wearing loafers, a fitted pair of chinos, an oxford shirt, and soft shell bomber jacket. Such a great, simple combo.

TSG: Lastly — what’s your favorite clothing brand of the moment (menswear-focused or otherwise)? And one brand to watch across the next year or so?

B&C: I really respect Todd Snyder’s pieces. He does such a wonderful job modernizing the fits to classic American sportswear. I also love Sid Mashburn, his suiting pieces have such a smooth, Italian fit. In streetwear, watch out for Zanerobe. It’s already built a successful name for itself, but it continues to really grow exponentially each season.

Be sure to check out Brothers & Craft both at the brand’s site and Instagram.

Ernest Alexander