The Latest: Wednesday 01 October 2014

The Return of +J | Buy

Uniqlo's 2009-2011 +J collection with Jil Sander set a standard for accessible designer collaborations that has of yet been unsurpassed, and now three years later it makes its return. Starting this Friday (in stores) and the Friday following (online) Uniqlo is making their Best of +J Collection available for purchase. And while we'll agree to disagree on whether these are the best of the collaboration—it omits the standout patterned knitwear and light cotton jackets—there is some superb stuff in here for everyone. The more conservative outerwear, including a trim rain mac ($150) and a peak lapel overcoat ($230), was consistently great the first time around. The stretch cashmere sweaters feature a flattering cut, some highly sophisticated colours, and a quality of cashmere that punches above its weight at the price point (around $150). And the dark wool flannel suiting, while strictly for the slight of build, is at under $250 perfect for a younger man looking to start dressing better at work and after hours.
29.sep.2014 style
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Someone is making monkstrap sneakers. Dead serious. | Fail

Just let that sink in for a minute.
F**k you so hard, #menswear.
26.sep.2014 style
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The Ottawa Senators, official hockey team of Unrefinery.com

Here the boys are arriving in St. John's last Friday. You see this? Sharply tailored suits, no neckties, no BEATS BY DRE headphones. We'll forgive the wheeled luggage. Welcome to Newfoundland, lads.
24.sep.2014 culture style
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Velvet suits, aviator glasses...

As a counterweight to the estrogen-drenched spectacle that is New York Fashion Week, The Washington Post has posted a great archival photo gallery of mostly '70s-vintage men's fashion. And while a lot of it naturally looks dated, we can't help but appreciate the graphic power of strong plaids and herringbones, and the reminder that broad lapels and pants that don't taper to a tiny ankle are always flattering to the masculine form.

If you think a lot of this 40-year-old stuff is unwearable, take a look at what's going on right now in the 2014 women's runway shows. Wearability is relative, friends.
22.sep.2014 culture style
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The Shawl Collar Cardigan as Outerwear

When someone asks how to wear a shawl collar cardigan the conventional answer is to think of it as a casual blazer, but a sufficiently heavy sweater can reasonably stand in as a coat as well. And while nobody should wear one over a double-breasted waistcoat as Suitsupply have styled it here—on the basis that nobody should wear a double-breasted waistcoat under any circumstances—their demonstration of layering suggests some interesting ideas. To overcome the inherently porous nature of a knit garment one might consider an inner layer of something like Uniqlo's HEATTECH that adds warmth with virtually no bulk. With an insulating layer like this, a shirt and a heavy wool cardigan, you're set for temperatures below freezing.
18.sep.2014 style
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When social media advertising fails hard | Fail

If your advertising campaign is based on handing out advice, a good first step might be to look like a credible source. This is a nice sentiment, but a gentleman probably knows to either not wear clothes that don't remotely fit him or to visit a freakin' tailor. Particularly if his jacket sleeves are 2" too long and he looks like a kid wearing his dad's suit.
15.sep.2014 culture style
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Thomas Mark Heritage picks for fall | Buy

It's come to our attention that some of you haven't yet invested in a bit of African goodness from everyone's favourite new men's accessories brand. To help you get started here are some picks designed to perfectly complement the colours of your fall wardrobe.

The Bamafele pocket square [$39] is a Mali wax print of leaf green and white on a warm brown background that has a subtle texture of its own; we added a white contrast edge. Very soft cotton; you can wear it much like a silk square.

Our Taza wrist beads [$39] are made of sandy Moroccan agate interspersed with red jasper and Ethiopian brass heishi. A nice complement to your watch and/or our Obuasi Ghana glass beads [$19].

The Skiasso pocket square [$29] is an autumnal khaki with navy and red brambles with a navy contrast edge. Scrunch it into your pocket with a bit of that bright red showing to add a shot of warm colour.

Our Kabara Blue and Brown squares [$29] are among our most universally wearable. No better place to start your collection. Or your Christmas shopping. Yeah, we're going there.
12.sep.2014 style
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Lands' End Supima Cotton Polo Sweaters | Buy

Long-time readers know that Unrefinery's appreciation for the smart wearability of the polo sweater and difficulty in finding decent ones is a source of such existential angst that at one shameful point last year it lead down a dark road to Jos. A. F*cking Bank. Fortunately this year we have Lands' End and their new $59 cotton polos. While LE's claim that the collar will hold up under a blazer is a bit of a stretch, the collar is actually a strong point, having a bit of structure and decent size.

Lands' End sizing is finally coming around, so while you might want to size down one you might not. It's more a matter of how snug you like your fit rather than whether it'll fit at all.

Available in several colours. The black and navy are probably the most versatile, but the sage green is really nice. And consider that heathered lilac as a pairing with your navy trousers.
10.sep.2014 style
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The Smart Watch We're Still Waiting For | Wait

"Smart Watches" are getting better. First they were huge and rectangular, then Motorola announced one that's round but has a chunk missing out of the bottom, and now LG gives us a truly round face. Progress. Clearly. But the reality is that watch enthusiasts are never going to be won over by a flat display of pixels that never stops being a computer screen and suffers from the sorts of glare and battery life issues that are everyone's least favourite thing about smart phones.

What we need is an actual mechanical watch that is only "smart" when it needs to be. And for that, we need two things, really:
  1. TOLEDs, the OLED variant that promises 85% transparency when the display is turned off, need to get better. When they produce bright high resolution colour when turned on and near-100% transparency when off, then the watch's crystal can light up as a smart screen when you need it—when checking notifications or navigating, or in the dark—and revert to a normal watch with physical hands the rest of the time.
  2. A real watch maker needs to get involved. Someone like Panerai or Omega who is going to take ownership of the design and bank their reputation on its success.
Then we'll be getting somewhere.
04.sep.2014 design tech
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Great news from the world of logo-covered sh*t

The Wall Street Journal reports that Abercrombie & Fitch is about to remove almost all logos from their clothes in the US, after losing a non-trivial amount of the youth market to logo-free brands like Zara and H&M. According to the report they are also working to reduce prices, but they seem to be missing a link in the logic chain here: if your cotton/acrylic/polyester sweater is $100, and Uniqlo's 100% wool sweater is $30, even if you remove the logo and get your sweater down to a competitive price you still haven't offered a reason why kids should shop in your idiotic store in the first place.

There are few tastes more fickle than those of teenagers, and these trends are of course cyclical. But if the two main takeaways here are that kids are souring on being walking billboards and that A&F is in trouble then we're all for it.
01.sep.2014 style
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