Men’s Prints and Patterns

With spring and summertime coming around and the sun returning, it’s time to move away from the all-black rain boots and overcoats and don something a bit fresher.

As someone whose wardrobe has consistently been a black mass, I’m always looking for nice prints and patterns to add a bit of flavor to the otherwise dark and dreary palette.  In my search I’ve gone beyond the current-season options and have curated an assortment of patterns throughout the years that struck me as particularly beautiful.  People say patterns often fall victim to fast-moving trends but there are many here that have mesmerized me years later:

Let’s start with some current season options that are a bit easier to find

PhillipLim
Image Courtesy of http://www.ssense.com/

I’ve never really paid much attention to Phillip Lim but this season’s Hawaiian-digital hybrid pattern is simply too good to ignore.  With the pattern predominantly being composed of rich teals, the shirt automatically seems a bit “cooler” than traditional florals, whose vibrant red and green elements take over.  There is no absence of variety though, as other shades of navy, green, and red peek through as well.  All of that taken into consideration, the real reason this pattern is so nice is the administration: it’s subtly spread out amongst a backdrop of solid black and uneven white gridding with a well thought-out clean white shoulder panel and collar.  Get yours here.

Wisdom
Image Courtesy of http://www.wisdom2009.com/

I’m always proud to rep newfound Taiwanese clothing brands and it seems I’ve been overlooking Wisdom for quite a while now, considering they started production in 2009.  This season’s lookbook stunned me and one of the patterns that caught my eye was this beige and navy floral vest.  This color combination can never go wrong and the balance between the tones is perfect with even a hint of violet on the plants’ veins.  As a vest, too, this piece really lends itself to versatile spring-summer wear as you can easily layer over and under to either tone down the pattern or reveal it in full (floral) force.

CES5SH04-1_1392706950_zoomed_1392706953
Image Courtesy of http://shop.bdgastore.com/

Cav Empt reigns as the streetwear king of 90s digital simulacra and this shirt exhibits all the strengths of the brand whose founders were also integral in the development of Bape, Billionaire Boys Club, and Wtaps.  It contains a slightly more subdued color palette, with the streaked (and slightly gradated) deep army green and mauve making an excellent backdrop for the hazy printed eyes.  As a darker print this piece would do well in the transitioning stages from the dark winter.  If you’re eye-ing this piece you can pick one up here.

shirt_clouds_m
Image Courtesy of http://trinitas.soleils.org/start/

Maybe you’re just the type of person that wants to wear all-black year round or wishes winter never left.  If that’s the case, this cloud-print tee by Trinitas might be for you.  I can personally attest to the quality that this brand’s hand cut-and-sewn approach brings.  The cut is slim and long, the neckline wide, and sleeves slightly cropped for an all-around flattering and fashion-forward fit.  Check out more designs on the brand’s website.

DBSS
Image Courtesy of http://metalburger.com/

If you know me you haven’t heard me shut up about this piece.  With this self-described “botanical” print, Japanese brand Diet Butcher Slim Skin has produced the single best pattern this season (well, in my eyes).  Strikingly and mainly…verdant in its color composition, there are nonetheless moments of shimmering teal and orange that create brilliant visual interest amongst the otherwise dark colors.  The perforations give sufficient visual (and literal) breathing room and the mix of navies and blue-tinted blacks sit as wonderful complements to the other dark greens.  If you want to pick this piece up, you may need a friend in Japan to pick one up for you but you can always visit Diet Butcher Slim Skin’s website to look at more of this season’s amazing printed, embossed, and patterned pieces.

And now, a blast from the past:

Here are some patterns from previous collections that are still some of my favorites

anndfloral
Image Courtesy of http://auctions.yahoo.co.jp/

Also released in Autumn/Winter 2008, this Ann Demeulemeester floral is still so striking and holds so much depth in its color.  Produced in many different variants (pants, gilet, jacket, coat), it is admittedly extremely feminine.  Would I still wear it?  Definitely.  I’ve actually found a pair of the corduroy pants for-sale but it’s two sizes too small for me.  Would I wear it?  I only wish I could.

UCss10backpack
Image Courtesy of http://pseudoism.tumblr.com/

For their Spring/Summer 2010 Collection, Undercover printed photos of forests and water onto a variety of Dieter-Rams influenced garments.  At first I didn’t really enjoy the prints but as time passed I came to love the realism in them and now own a pair of the shorts in forest.

gyakusouleaf
Image Courtesy of http://www.oipolloi.com/

Undercover is also involved in this one but these pieces and patterns are actually produced through their running-focused collaboration with Nike (aptly named “Gyakusou,” or “reverse running”).  I recall it made it to quite steep sales later in the season when it was released but I wasn’t wise enough to pick anything up.

marblejilsander
Images Courtesy of http://www.vogue.co.uk/

Last but definitely not least:
This marble print has probably been copied a thousand times since the Jil Sander Autumn/Winter 2008 + Spring/Summer 2009 show, but Raf Simons still did it best.  Angular, cracked, and full of beautiful contrast, this print has held up for 5 long years and people are still ripping it off now.  If you find any of these pieces snatch them up quick, because they won’t stay up for sale available for long.  Actually, just let me know.  I’ll buy them.

 

Summer Mens Picks

So summer’s approaching and things are starting to warm up. Seeing as the California heat is notoriously hard to dress well for, you might find yourself stuck in the pair-of-shorts-and-a-tee combination for days on end. But don’t worry. The BARE team has picked out some favorite pieces this season to help you perfect your summer style.

 

UNIQLO Airism tees

airisim

Almost as if it were an answer to our hot weather prayers, Uniqlo’s Airism shirts are the perfect basic tee for summertime. Fitting slim but with a stretch to keep the shirt unrestricting, Uniqlo’s Airism collection also wicks away perspiration and regulates body temperature for a cool and clean experience. Labeled as an undergarment, I find that you can wear it perfectly fine by itself.

Sasquatchfabrix Kannon Tee

kannon

SASQUATCHfabrix’s twist on a traditional t-shirt results in an extremely versatile piece that can be worn under a light jacket or standalone as a statement. The unassuming ash gray body makes pairing this piece a breeze and the patterned sleeve detail, chest pocket, and contrast neckline add just the right amount of “noise” to make the piece stand out on its own. The stitched yoke detail in the back also adds a great “constructed” aesthetic.
Pick yours up at Maas and Stacks.

Department Seventeen Adam Button Down Collar shirt in Blue Drops

adambuttondown

For when the weather is a little bit more forgiving, Department Seventeen’s shirting is an excellent choice. This offering includes white printed drops that offset the navy, giving the shirt a subtle and almost textural appearance. This San Francisco brand produces great quality stuff and everything is made in the bay area so rest assured that your money is going to support growing local brands.

Outlier Three-Way Shorts

outliershorts

The technically-focused brand Outlier offers what, in my opinion, is the ultimate pair of shorts for summer. As they say:
“There are three ways we like to deal with the summertime heat. Get to the beach and jump in the water, run off to the cool mountain air or learn to embrace the city heat and look good doing it. These shorts can do all three, plus they are some of the most comfortable shorts you’ll ever put on.”

Nike Sportswear Grey Scale Woven Cargo Shorts

nikeshorts

NSW has really nailed shorts with this one. The two-tone design with cargo pockets bridging the front-back paneling make this piece unique yet easy to wear. The texture of the shorts look great too, as the slight sheen can contribute to a slick futuristic look.

ADIDAS x Kazuki Kuraishi Campus 80s 84 Lab

adidasshoes

Bringing high-tech construction to a classic shoe, Kazuki Kuraishi revamps the Adidas campus 80s with a mesh, suede, and leather combination upper that will keep your feet cool all summer long. With the natural grey and off-white color scheme reminiscent of last year’s Adidas collaborations with menswear designer Takahiro Miyashita, Kazuki Kuraishi offers another exciting and unique rendition of the Adidas classic that you can wear with pretty much anything.
Pick them up at your neighborhood shoe store, Bows and Arrows

MisterSF’s Mr. Badtofu/Quad Wrap

abdtofu

If you aren’t able to wear anything besides a tee-shirt or a tank on top, then spruce up your outfit a bit by adding some wrist accessories. San Francisco-based Mister offers some well-done bracelets in a variety of styles. Beaded or leather are the way to go in my mind.

Iloveugly Cream Speckle Tee

creamspeckle
Always designing with a focus on exquisite quality, iloveugly is an upcoming New Zealand brand whose designs are bold in a subtle way. This is reflected in the cream speckle tee above. The flecks of color splattered across the already very textural fabric and the cream color work together to create a rugged aesthetic. The pocket and patch also add a bit of understated flair so that this piece is easy to wear alone or under a shirt or light jacket.

JCrew Linen Suit

linensuit

 

If you ever have to go a wedding in the summer, it’s nice to have a well-fitted linen suit. The light material is perfect for hot sunny days and if the wedding is outside, you’ll be glad you’re not wrapped up in a thick wool suit instead. If you’d like it custom-tailored, indochino.com will likely start selling full linen suits soon.

 

In collaboration with Jon San Miguel

Exploring the Stacks

I’ve always loved talking about clothes, and boutiques are the perfect place for hanging out and discussing fashion.  So ever since I’ve arrived here at Berkeley, I’ve been on the hunt for the best shops that carry the most unique brands.  Maas and Stacks is definitely a standout.  I’ve visited a few times and the impression has always been great.  A simple and warm shop environment, excellent staff, and stock that features extremely hard-to-find Japanese designers all make Maas and Stacks one of my favorite stores in San Francisco.

On my latest visit, I went with the intention of doing a quick review.  After a trek up from the 16th street BART station, I arrived at the store.  The most striking thing about the store (and ironically, also the least striking) is its exterior.  A small window and a black-framed glass door with MAAS printed on it definitely set a very black-and-white minimal vibe.  The storefront holds a low profile on the ever-busy Market Street, with an almost deceivingly modest entrance that one could easily miss on the way by.

storefront
The store’s address is 2128 Market Street. Don’t miss it!

As I open the door and enter the store, I’m greeted with a very clean and cozy store.  The new James Blake plays softly in the background.  I pause and see white walls, black ground, a few white block-desks, a few white drawers, and a single wooden desk.  Lining the walls are the clothes, hanging on wooden beams that are suspended from the walls and ceiling.  The stock includes brands like Wings + Horns, Robert Geller, Sasquatchfabrix, Siki Im, Common Projects, and Nonnative, all known for their superb quality and often for interesting design whose draw lies in subtle innovations.

store1

Sitting at the desk was Steve, one of the co-owners of the store.  Having met him before I said hi and introduced the friends I had come with.

I decided to ask him a few questions about himself and the store to get a better idea of what Maas and Stacks stands for.  The conversation is as follows:

E: What are you wearing today?

S: I tend to mix things up.  So I’m wearing some common projects, Digawel drop-crotch trousers, Robert Geller button-down, Patrik Ervell knit.  So I’m wearing several different lines.

E: Always styling.

S: Yeah, I like mixing things up.  Sometimes you can do a look from mostly one line, but I like having some fun you know?
E: By mixing a lot of different designers?

S: Yeah, exactly.

E: So do you have a favorite designer or any favorites?

S: It always depends, you know?  I would say some of the designers that got me into fashion were people like Raf Simons and Jun Takahashi.  It’s because I grew up with punk rock and those two were often easier to associate with.

E: Especially SCAB?

S: Not even just SCAB but their overall aesthetics in general.  Nowadays, though, I’m not the biggest fan of those two.  The latest Raf Simons collection, and even Undercover isn’t the best anymore in my opinion. I would say that my current favorite is Robert Geller.  His stuff fits me really well.  To be honest, Raf and Undercover don’t fit me that well.  I have a few Undercover pieces, but Raf doesn’t fit me at all.  But yeah, Robert Geller I think is one of the strongest US designers right now.

E: So do you have a favorite piece at Maas and Stacks today?  Of all time?

S: It’s hard to say of all time, because there are so many pieces that come in every season.  As for this season, it’s hard, because I have a few favorites.  I like the Nonnative leather a lot.  I like these pants a lot.  They’re the Digawel.  They’re a linen lined with Cupro, and really comfortable.  Also this pair of Sasquatchfabrix pants made of a cupro cotton mix.

I have a lot of favorite pieces so it’s kind of hard.  I’m not one of those people who say, “Oh, I have an absolute favorite band,” so I think it’s more about finding the good things out of what everybody does.

E: Can you describe the aesthetic that Maas and Stacks tries to create?

S: We don’t actually try to cater towards one aesthetic.  What we try to focus on is good design and production.  I believe that the customers should develop their own styles.  We want to be directional, but at the same time we don’t want to force our customers to fall into a specific look.  I think the best part about fashion or style is that you develop your own.  It’s not like you’re force fed some look that you buy into.   I think that’s why, personally, I like mixing and matching different lines together.

E: To create something new.

S: Yeah, and it’s fun to see what speaks to you.  I think what we focus on, if we do have an aesthetic, is innovative design.

E: Can you tell me the inspiration for the name of the store?

S: The name…the word Maas is a reference to our business partners.  But we didn’t use it just because of that.  We used it because of the double a’s.  We thought that the double a’s have a very special aesthetic when you see it in print.  You don’t see it very often.  “Stacks” is in reference to collections.  In the end, we kind of wanted a name that wasn’t very literal.

E: How do the staff at Maas and Stacks go about choosing pieces they want to carry and designers they want to represent?

S: We like picking up brands that have a very strong aesthetic.  Say Band of Outsiders.  Even something as simple as Band of Outsiders, when you see a Band shirt, you can tell it’s a Band shirt, even without any branding.  I guess that’s what I like about fashion: when I see things develop that have their own look and a unique identity.

E: I’ve come here a couple times before and have loved the experiences.  I always think Maas and Stacks is a great place to just hang out and chat about clothes.  What kind of environment did you originally want to make M&S into?

S: We created the environment with the customer in mind.  We created the shop as if we were the customers and with that mindset envisioned how we would want the place to be.  Neither Otto or I come from a retail background so we didn’t want to do retail in a very retail way.  That’s why we don’t rely on a lot of foot traffic.  It’s more a destination spot, where people come specifically to the store.  That way, we can spend a lot more personal time with the customer.

E: Last but not least, have any advice for people wanting to get into fashion?  Whether that be getting into the industry or simply trying to dress better.

S: I guess I would just say to think critically and be yourself.

After the “interview” I stayed with a few of my friends and just chatted with Steve.  We found that the simple white walls belied untold amounts of effort; after adopting the space from a law firm, the co-owners had to flatten and reconstruct the two long side walls and create the changing rooms and suspended clothes racks.  All of this was done by themselves.  Even the stock conjured problems, as Japanese labels are notoriously opposed to having their clothes sold outside of Japan.  In the end, though, Steve described working Maas and Stacks as a “labor of love,” and indeed it shows.  Maas and Stacks may be simple to the eye, but both the staff and the clothes make the experience very enriching.

Check out their website and/or shop online here (but really, you should visit).

Image Courtesy of Maas and Stacks

Acronym S/S 2013

Banner

For their latest Spring/Summer showing, Berlin-based technical fashion brand Acronym brings us another iteration of their trademark clothes.  As always, the garments utilize innovative technical fabrics to marry form and function.  All the clothes are designed not only with an incredibly sleek and urban aesthetic but also hyper-functional sensibilities.

Most outerwear options are fully weatherproofed and created with a back-zip design that allows them to interact seamlessly with Acronym’s messenger bag series, the 3A.  Other features include wrist pockets that allow for easy device access and a magnetic strip to hold earbuds.

This season’s greatest innovation comes in the form of the GT-J29A, a gore-tex outer shell jacket that is actually a combination of two parts: a short sleeve jacket and a standalone raglan full-sleeve unit.  Because of the separated sleeves and the overlapped construction of the independent sleeves, the wearer experiences great freedom of motion without the decreased water-resistance that comes with using a stretch fabric.  Then consider the fact that the body of the jacket comes with a sling for easy carriage while not worn and sports a detachable storm hood, and the GT-J29A becomes a jacket suitable for nearly any environment.

You can watch the promotional video showcasing some of the functional aspects here.  And if you’re a real high roller, you can purchase select pieces over at Haven.

Image courtesy of empireave.com. Banner designed by Eddie Yu.

Do Good, Do New: Exploring Fashion’s Contemporary Avant-Garde

There is a longstanding idea that the recycling of trends is the basis of fashion, but the modern age sees an influx of designers who wish to push the boundaries of what clothes can be and even how they are made.  Needle and thread are indeed an integral part of making clothes, but these designers look to transcend archaic production methods in favor of innovative and experimental garment construction to further fashion as an artistic form.

IRIS VAN HERPEN
“My work very much comes from abstract ideas and using new techniques, not the reinvention of old ideas,” says Iris Van Herpen, a Dutch Designer who, in her fifth year on the runway, has become known for utilizing 3D printing and other cutting-edge methods of digital fabrication to actualize her wild ideas.  Never one to shy away from the extreme, even Van Herpen’s concepts are strikingly avant-garde in their consideration, with an overarching theme being the investigation of “living clothing,” garments that are designed to live in conjunction with both the wearer and environment.

images courtesy of http://www.irisvanherpen.com/

With her latest collection, Voltage, Van Herpen delves into the elemental nature of electricity and attempts to imbue in her clothes its flexibility in the realms of “states and bodies.”  The result is an almost sculptural collection, where each dress would not look out of place in a museum.  But, it was also one whose structural and architecturally constructed underpinnings did not forsake the body.  Instead, the bobbing tendrils seemed to serve the models, the semi-opaque material creating a vibrating “aura” and constructing spaces around them.

images courtesy of http://www.irisvanherpen.com/

AITOR THROUP
Another designer whose purpose lies in creating avant-garde clothes is Aitor Throup.  With his recent exhibition of “New Object Research,” Aitor Throup pushes his take on garment design even further.  Instead of adhering to the traditional seasonal presentation system, Throup allows his concepts to mature naturally, adopting the perspective that cyclic fashion hardly allows enough time for concepts and ideas to develop.

AT Illustrations 1
image courtesy of http://www.trendland.com

Taking a step outside of the “circus” is only one of the many ways that Throup’s approach to fashion differs though.  Throup also works with the concept of “archetypes” in mind, stating that each piece of clothing he develops should feature an original and timeless design.  And indeed they are.  Throup has developed novel methods of making clothes, such as direct panel-to-panel stitching without seam allowance and unique upper-body construction patterns to revolutionize shoulder attachment.  In 2010, he exhibited  “Legs,” an installation that showcased his unique trouser designs, featuring anatomical construction, pockets hidden in slanted pleats, twistable legs, and toggle-able, wear-able foot guards.

AT Installation 1
image courtesy of http://www.hypebeast.com/

SRULI RECHT
Lastly, there is Sruli Recht, a Reykjavík-based designer who, again, disregards traditional methods of creating clothes.  As a foreigner in Iceland, Sruli Recht states that he has an advantage in being able to “forget where [he’s] from” and view the culture from an unbiased perspective.  Through this mindset, Sruli Recht has repurposed many of the beautiful everyday materials of the country to make clothes whose textures, in our eyes, are sublime, raw, and full of life.

image courtesy of http://srulirecht.com/
image courtesy of http://srulirecht.com/

Just a few examples are his spider-silk knit, sharkskin gloves with thorns intact, and a coat made with the skin of leftover blackbirds contributed by local hunters.

image courtesy of http://srulirecht.com/
image courtesy of http://srulirecht.com/

Sruli Recht’s innovation extends to his unique pattern-making as well, with most of his garments utilizing a single pattern piece and only one piece of fabric.  This often results in bold shapes that are almost sculptural in their nature but are still anatomically tied to the wearer.   The best examples are Sruli Recht’s shoulders, which draw inspiration from raglan construction and pleating to create something that looks like a sleek football shoulder pad (as contradictory and crass as that sounds).

image courtesy of http://srulirecht.com/
image courtesy of http://srulirecht.com/

This section wouldn’t be complete without Sruli Recht’s arguably most controversial piece, a ring named “Forget me Knot”. This ring features a strip of the designer’s own skin mounted on a gold band.  At 350,000 Euros, “Forget me Knot” is hardly a commercial venture.  Many view it as a grotesque and disgusting display.  Some regard it highly as possibly the first work of fashion to incorporate human skin.  I take it as a gesture towards everything traditional, a message that is universal to all three of these designers and reads, “We do our own thing.”

image courtesy of http://www.dezeen.com
image courtesy of http://www.dezeen.com/

Banner designed by Eddie Yu, images courtesy of http://www.irisvanherpen.com/ and http://www.trendland.com.

Yohji Yamamoto – Pour Homme – Autumn/Winter 2013

Esteemed designer Yohji Yamamoto has been in the industry for just over 40 years now.  On January 17th as part of Paris Fashion Week, his latest menswear show demonstrated that his creative and sartorial edge showed no signs of dulling.  Even with a color palette predominately made of black, Yohji manages to speak volumes with his twist on classic menswear forms that are a delicate harmony; one that showcases a wealth of the world’s facets, both cultural and social.  With a show that started with bagpipes in the background and included split kilts, aprons, long chunky knits, and hakama pants, Yohji presents us with an impeccably balanced and multicultural portrait of men’s fashion that, in concept and without his finesse, would be nothing more than a jumbled mess.

YYDrawing2

One of the most flamboyant characteristics present in this show was facial hair.  Models sported faux mustaches and beards that danced on the border of ridiculousness, however, their easy strides and sharp eyes kept the looks  cool and in check.  The incredible individuality in these adornments and the colloquial way the models interacted with each other (an occasional hats-off gesture, a passing glance, or a shoulder bump) imbued the models, the outfits, and, most importantly, the clothes, with an incredible soul. Yamamoto’s garments translated themselves as pure and poignant expressions of a man’s self.

YYPhoto2

And this is where the unconventional silhouettes and forms played lead role: cut kilts exposing sheepskin, a metallic trouser, butcher’s aprons, a suit asymmetrically tucked into a half-on jumpsuit, Yohji’s classic hakama.  All of these bold additions served to illustrate the many imagined men’s lives, from the shepherd to the metalworker.  The brilliance, though, comes not from the fact that these additions were present, but instead from the way they were integrated into the traditional men’s suit.  In yet another balancing act, Yohji blurred the distinction between the blue and white collar by fusing aspects of both into single outfits, bound by the concept of masculinity and its interaction with clothing.

YYPhoto1

Thus, as the background music of bagpipes and Chinese folk-pop winded down, Yohji left us with an image of a man, formed of what seemed to be the spirits of the many that existed before.

YYDrawing1

Watch the entire show here.

Illustrations done by Bare blogger Eddie Yu. Images Courtesy of Aaron Mok

 

Boris Bidjan Saberi – Menswear – Fall/Winter 2013

BBS
Asymmetrically cut overcoat and deconstructed shorts at Boris Bidjan Saberi’s 2013 Fall/Winter show
Boris Bidjan Saberi is a designer whose creative vision has taken the industry by storm.  With features in high profile publications like GQ and StyleZeitgeist, Saberi’s dark skate-inspired aesthetic is being thrust into the limelight (to my delight).  In his latest collection showcased on Day 3 of Paris Fashion Week (January 19, 2013), Saberi drew on military elements to bring forth a collection that is both reminiscent of the anarcho-urban sophistication he presented last winter and diamond-edged in refinement.

With a classic monochromatic color palette and wrinkled leather texture, Saberi retains the elements he is known for.  This season, he also chose to include modern suit silhouettes, a few smart pleated trousers, and minimal stand-collar jackets.  Cropped hair, short beanies, gum soles, and backpacks also made a showing as homages to military styles.  Interestingly, the technical parkas showcased exterior lined seams, imbuing the garments with a sense of structure and a Brutalist attitude towards exposed construction.  However, Saberi’s classical influences didn’t prevent heavy innovation.  His overcoats showcased asymmetric paneling and shorts were deconstructed into paneled pieces that swept dynamically with the models’ strides—elements that brought a chaotic edge to an otherwise groomed collection.

Through impeccable tailoring and the perfect balance of historic reinterpretation and deconstruction, Boris Bidjan Saberi presents us with a fresh take on the dark urban uniform.

Watch the entire show here.