Andy Spade and long time collaborators Anthony Sperduti and Chadi Buri have wandered into the world of “tinkering and pondering” with a collection of sleepwear, underwear, and not-quite-ready-to-wear pieces for men and women called Sleepy Jones. Inspired by the lifestyle of artists, designers, writers, musicians who worked in what was comfortable and left room for the imagination (literally and figuratively). Spade, Sperduti, and Buri have done a brilliant job of creating luxurious lounge wear out of classic fabrics with timeless style. For the brand’s release, they hosted a 24 hour pajama party at Lafayette House in the East Village. Models hung out playing games, strumming instruments, singing, playing cards, or eating donuts while watching 80s fitness videos. I hope to be spending a good deal of time in some Sleepy Jones as soon as I get my hands on some.
I’m really enjoying how more brands are using friends, artists, and other talented and interesting folk as their models. Three Leaves does this really well with their Spring 2013 lookbook by including an interview with the two models/friends they used, who also happen to do very cool things. Check it out.
This is one of those posts that doesn’t need many words. All you need to know is one, the men of Taylor Stitch have introduced their new project Good Acre (click here to read more) with the Chore Pant. Two, these pants look gosh darn amazing (you can’t deny the power of a man doing his day’s work in a chore pant). And three, you should have already bought them in every color you want because they are selling like wildfire.
A few weeks back, the folks of Portland General Store generously sent me a box chock-a-block full of their grooming goods. My fiance and I have been using them since and I can confidently say that their product line really rocks. A little backstory on the brand if you have yet to be familiar with them, PGS is based in Portland, ME and all their products are all-natural and free of chemical additives. The development of the products began when co-founder Lisa started experimenting with some vintage soap and fragrance recipes. Her exploration of bath salts and creams led to PGS’ current lineup of products including Alpine shave jelly, Face Bomb deep cleansing mud, and Maine cologne. The scent of the products are refreshing and true to their home state (without the aid of artificial fragrance oils). We’ve been testing each sample they sent us and are confident in attesting to the quality of each one (and to the enhanced quality of your skin). Whether you are a female or male shopper, the majority of the products are certainly unisex. I would highly recommend grabbing their limited edition cigar box kit which includes samples sizes of some of their best sellers. It’s a great way to feel out the product, and get hooked.
Nothing better than a fantastic store and an incredibly talented designer collaborating for a capsule collection. Karl Thoennessen of Rogue Territory has created an exclusive run for Need Supply. The collection, Wash Me Over, features “hand distressed, enzyme bathed field wear for life in the flicker of the summer sun.” The Field Jacket, Work Shirt, and Officer Trouser are hand crafted from 6oz Kaihara Mills chambray. Each piece is handled individually and distressed by hand for a truly individual feel and look.
Teva my sweet child, you are welcomed back into my life with open arms. As outdoorsy kids growing up in Maine during the 1980s-90s, we had Teva sandals securely Velcro-d onto our feet practically every day. Whether on an adventure into the ocean, lake, or up the tree house in the backyard, Tevas were our go-to. I was thrilled when I caught wind of the limited edition collection that, “celebrates the spirit of Teva’s outdoor heritage, perfect for a day on Idaho’s Salmon River yet equally at home on the streets of New York, Tokyo or London.” The collection is now available and will be through the summer at a select group of retailers as well as Teva.com. So grab a pair and strap on a bit of that adventurous Teva spirit you remember so fondly. And while you’re on the Teva reminiscing track, head over to All Plaidout to Max’s witty recollection of his own experience with the brand, and check out the sweet pictures above my buddies Mikael Kennedy and Jeff Thrope did.
The fantastic Laura Serino of Fore Front Fashion introduced me to Arrowhead this week when she included the brand in her lineup of Maine based eco-friendly brands for Earth Day. I’m in love with the neutral hues and breezy hemp linen . The cool classic styles are reminiscent of a mix of Lauren Hutton’s or Diane Keaton’s vibe with that of Audrey Hepburn. Founded by Suzanne MacFayden, a designer whose experience includes designing for India Imports, and then designing and launching her own brands Bear Wear and Lipstick Traces. Suzanne founded Arrowhead as a new way to direct her energy and inspiration by concentrating on organic materials in ready-to-made easy and classic pieces that are sold directly to the customer through her online shop and trunk shows. This allows her to concentrate on the garments, which are all hand-cut and fabricated in her studio in Yarmouth, ME.
If you’re a Boston local, you’ve certainly heard of Heather Schmidt. Either from her company Homemade Modern Co. (previously City Chicks) or the immediate success of Union Square Donuts which she co-owns with business partner Josh Danoff. The latter is currently closed as they move their donut operation into a bigger and brighter space. Keep your eyes peeled on their facebook page for the announcement of an opening day celebration. And keep reading for a Q&A with the brilliant Heather!
Q. How and when did you start your path to becoming a chef/baker?
A. Growing up, my mom and dad both worked late and I would be in charge of dinner. When I’d get home from school, I would find a recipe my mom had left for me. I loved cooking. I thought I was so fancy when I made lunch for myself one day by adding parsley and oregano to Spaghetti-o’s. One time, I misread a manicotti recipe and added a Tablespoon of pepper instead of a teaspoon. That was bad. My dad ate the whole thing. Amazingly enough.
Cooking was the gateway into baking for me. My first solo experience was over one Christmas, and I made Croissants and a Danish Braid just because I was curious about how it all worked. They turned out awful. But my family, bless them, choked them down. That’s love!
Q. What were some of your most challenging culinary lessons in the beginning?
A. Cooking and baking are two different animals. Baking requires patience. This was a learned skill for me! Baking is a complete science. One of it’s limits. And it’s only after you fully understand those limits that you can break them. If you don’t break the rules, then it’s boring.
I love baking because it’s the only way I know how to take care of people, how to make them happy. Food is nurturing and I’m a nurturer by nature. I’m happiest in the kitchen!
Q. What inspired you to start Homemade Modern Co.?
A. I learned cooking on my own, and my mom taught me how to knit and sew. It wasn’t until I began talking with my peers that I realized these skills were lost. We don’t have to use our hands anymore, so oftentimes, people don’t. Homemade Modern was my way of encouraging us to preserve the skills my mother taught me, and her mother before her. Homemade Modern is about reconnecting with our food, it’s about using our hands again, it’s about understanding every step of the process. Not just as a consumer, but as a maker and creator. All within the context of a modern life. It’s very empowering.
Q. You recently started a new venture, Union Square Donuts with business partner Josh Danoff of Ocean Ave Popsicles. How did you decide on donuts?
A. I developed the flavors for Ocean Ave. Pops with the Danoffs. That was the beginning of our working relationship and friendship.
One day, Noah, Josh’s brother, called him and said, “We need donuts.”
Josh said, “I know who to call”.
Later that day he sent me an email:
“I have one word for you. Donuts.”
I wrote him back, “I’m in”.
The next week I started recipe development.
Q. How is being a part of the community of Somerville, specifically Union Square, been beneficial to your businesses? And vice versa.
A. I love being a part of Union Sq. because it is such a close-knit community. With so many small businesses here, we’ve become our own support system. We have a deep sense of pride and camaraderie about where we are and what we do – it’s electric. There is this exciting energy within the budding food scene here and I’m so happy to be a part of that.
Q. You’re non-stop these days, what’s next on the agenda?
A. Taking over the world. With donuts. And maybe ice cream? …
I was introduced to a very clever new brand NAADAM Nomadic Cashmere by its founder Matthew Scanlan. The brand was founded as an effort to support a group of nomadic herders that his business partners had lived with in Mongolia for a time. The cashmere is the highest quality, sourced from the outer plains of Mongolia. This raw cashmere then undergoes a process to be made into a beautifully died, soft yarn used to make the beautifully knit sweaters. Profits are then re-invested into livestock insurance programs for the herders, thus stabilizing their community and economy. The project is being funded by Kickstarter, and you can currently purchase their items at wholesale price.
Stoked to be posting Part II of the feature with Jesse Loomis of PowderJet Snowboards. Really enjoyed doing this piece and I hope you all enjoy it just as much! Read Part I here.
Q. What are some of the highlights of Powderjet so far, for you and the brand?
A. Being out here in the sticks, it’s tough for me to gauge what’s going on within the snowboard world. So the most gratifying thing about the whole experience is when serious riders at big mountains see or ride the boards and are completely into it. We’ve been lucky enough to have some serious world-class riders getting out on a PowderJet and tearing around and giving me tons of positive feedback. When I see video of Laura Hadar shredding Stevens Pass out in Washington, or Jesse and Lukas Huffman in Hokkaido, Japan, riding terrain I’ve always dreamed about riding, it’s nice to realize that I’m not just making throwback designs. It’s seeing those hyper talented riders finding new was to ride a mountain, driven to a large degree by this weird design that really works well.
I love making the simplest possible board, grabbing ahold of a part of the sport that appreciates simplicity. I love showing that snowboards don’t need to be these mass produced, plastic sandwiches. I love the idea of influencing the big snowboard manufacturers by making a relatively clean, basic, wooden snowboard that outperforms a lot of their highly engineered powder boards.
So a lot of the highlights basically come from receiving recognition from the professional snowboard community, both with athletes and media. But more importantly, a lot of real riders, people who have real jobs outside of snowboarding, have found their way to us, and really connect with the pure powder board idea. It makes sense to a lot of people, even though it’s a little bit perverse. I guess it’s kind of punk in a way, moving away from gimmicky tech advancements and focussing on function. So I guess what I’m saying is that every time someone tells me that they like the boards for any reason, that’s a brand new career highlight. Also, speaking in front of a class of Dartmouth engineering students about PowderJet was a nice feather in the cap. They were much smarter than me …
Q. The Burton US Open now calls Vail home. As a snowboarder, and Vermonter, what are your thoughts on this? And what are your thoughts about the new VT Open festival that was hosted at Stratton in lieu of the championships?
A. The US Open was a very Vermont affair for the first fifteen or twenty years of its run. If you were an avid snowboarder, there was a decent chance that someone you knew, someone more talented than you, could make the cut and be competing. Being a fifteen year old nerd from Rupert, and getting to see Craig Kelly and Shaun Palmer and especially Jeff Brushie, those were the raddest, baddest dudes on the planet to us. There were so many people lining the lip of the pipes that you had to stake a spot and claim it during qualifiers, or you’d have no chance of seeing anything at all, unless you stood in the crowd at the bottom. The bottom was cool for watching a rider’s whole run, but you didn’t get the thrill of Terje Haakon-flipping over your head, or being below Brushie’s backside crail. It was amazing to have the craziest, just genius snowboarders coming from all over the world to lowly southern VT.
Then there were just insane parties. When you walked down the hall of that hotel at the base of Stratton, it was total chaos. Music blasting from every room, weed smoke throughout all the hallways, underage drinking, the occasional patrolling Winhall police force sighting, which just made it all more fun. I witnessed so many cases of vandalism and just random petty savagery … holes punched in walls, tagging, snowball fights with strangers, real fights with strangers, Terje dropping his snowboard out of the 4th floor hotel window, instigating a near riot after the halfpipe competition. This must have been the early days of Red Bull in the US, and we hadn’t figured out the dosage, because we were all so fired up and over the top amped!
But … maybe it was when it became a televised event that the pace slowed down, and riders started doing new tricks that wouldn’t be possible if hung over. Stratton moved the pipe competition to the other side of the mountain, away from the Gen Pop, which calmed things down a lot. The whole thing became more serious, competition-wise, and experience-wise. The Open grew up a little, and the spectators became more interested in the incredible riding going on than on partying. The rising has always been on the highest level, but the chaotic atmosphere was effectively curtailed.
The VT Open was super fun, super homey and low key. It was a friendly competition, and it was largely Vermont locals and pros. The coolest event, in my opinion, was the Snurfer Challenge. It was basically a head to head straight shot, survival style, where you had to throw yourself to the ground immediately after the the finish line to stop, if by chance you made it the full 50 yards. Amazing to see the original iteration of the sport in the context of what was otherwise a pretty progressive riding atmosphere. You really got a sense of the depth of snowboarding’s roots.
It was a great family event … I hope they remember to invite PowderJet to sponsor it next year!
Q. You’re originally from Rupert, and now you’re raising your own family there. Do you think it’s important that the younger generation stay in the great green state? And in what ways do you think that would enrich the state and its communities?
A. Vermont is a unique and beautiful place, and I’m really happy that we chose to raise our family here. Something about the landscape is very inviting. It might be the way the hills and mountains are shaped, they’re not formidable but welcoming. And for the most part, the people here are the same. There doesn’t seem to be the same political polarization among our residents that you see in a lot of places. Yankee gentility still matters. Also, there’s a nice perspective when you live someplace where the weather seems to be trying to kill you on a regular basis, either freezing or flooding or scorching with drought. Vermont is still hardscrabble in many ways, despite our soft hippy image.
It would be nice to see more young people staying in Vermont, but it’s tough to find work as a professional unless you’re in Burlington. I’m not a sustainable economics planner, but it does seem like we could use some investment in job creation, especially down here in Southern VT. There are young college educated people around, but we need to have jobs for them that aren’t just one form or another of taking care of the tourists and second home owners, mowing lawns and painting houses and shit. I’ll encourage my kids to live and work in Vermont, because it’s still an amazing place to raise kids, and to be a kid. They might just have to create their own careers, like I’m trying to do with PowderJet.
Today was a horrific day for Boston. Thankfully all those near and dear to me are safe, but there were several instances of very close calls. Many are not so lucky, with the number of injuries continuing to rise and the death toll now at 3. It has been incredible to see the amount of strength this city has demonstrated in the face of this incident, and the amount of support and aid that individuals have been giving each other. Friends of ours and the fine folks of Old Try have designed this print as their small token of appreciation for their adopted city of Boston. All proceeds will go to the families affected by today’s tragedy. The design is based on the first flag of New England and will be hand-pressed by fellow Bostonian Union Press.
The ICA Boston is hosting a highly anticipated exhibit of artist Barry McGee’s work. McGee’s career began in the 1980s as a graffiti artist in the streets of his hometown San Francisco. McGee was one of the many who took to the streets to express their protest against the current societal woes borrowing elements from comics, hobo art, graffiti, and sign painting. For his gallery work, McGee reconciles graffiti work with artistic practice. The content revolves around the struggles of early mid-century America, a time when a poor economy, war, and discrimination strained society. In his art, McGee offers, “alternate reality of political provocation, cooperative survival, and creative exuberance.” Check out the exhibit April 6th to
Another story from our Freedom & Unity trip to Vermont this winter. We had the privilege of meeting with Jesse Loomis at his home and studio in West Rupert to talk about PowderJet Snowboards. Not only was the Vermont sun creating the most epic sunset as we walked up Jesse’s front steps (post whiskey and bread with Jed), his house literally blew us away. The building used to be the town’s general store and he and his wife have renovated it into a warm home for their family. A perfect example of the creativity and resourcefulness of Vermonters (wink). Jesse was kind enough to give us a chunk of his time that evening to show us the house, his studio next door, and describe the process behind making one of his wooden PowderJet snowboards. Keep reading for Part I of a Q&A with Jesse and learn more about the inspiration behind PowderJet!
Q. Before founding PowderJet, what “kept you busy during business hours”?
A. In the 90′s I had a few different jobs in the snowboard industry. I worked at Burton Snowboards for a few years in customer service. I did some time at Jager DiPaola Kemp design firm, and I spent a few years as a photo editor at Transworld Snowboarding Magazine. When It was time to start a family, we decided that Vermont was the place, and I had become totally disenchanted with the snowboard industry. I did a few different jobs, but eventually discovered that I had an aptitude for carpentry, and have stuck with that for the better part of 12 years. It’s really satisfying to look back at a day’s work and see walls standing where there were none before, or a set of cabinets or a table or a roof. Just seeing the physical manifestation of your hours, rather than strictly mental and digital, is a good feeling. It’s even better seeing someone ride a board that I built, though!
Q. What inspired you to start PowderJet?
A. I saw the sport that I grew up with migrating farther and farther away from its roots. It’s a very accessible sport, to people who have the inclination towards winter sports. It’s pretty easy to learn, much easier than its cousins surfing and skateboarding. So I’ve been teaching my kids how to ride, and a bit about the history of the sport, it’s different evolutionary phases, talented riders, all of this snowboard history. It began to dawn on me that most people coming into the sport don’t know or care at all about the stepping stones that got snowboarding to where it is today. The only snowboarding they see is in the X Games and maybe Red Bull’s contests up at Baldface lodge. Oh, and the Olympics, of course. But that’s not real snowboarding, that’s a highly specialized and regimented form of the sport. I wanted my kids, and by extension new riders of any age, to see snowboarding not as a competitive sport, but a fun activity to pass the cold winter days with some friends. So…I decided I would build a board that would represent what most riders consider the most fun aspects of the sport, which also happens to be the opposite of those giant international contests. The PowderJet is a wooden snowboard with no metal edges, built for backcountry freeriding with your knucklehead buddies. It’s design is based partly on early 1980′s snowboards, before the design evolution really kicked into high gear. The 80′s sensibilities are balanced out with modern performance aspects: a deep sidecut, a rockered shape for floating in powder, and thick fiberglass for pop and flexibility. It’s the simplest snowboard you’d ever want to ride.
Also, my friend Mike LaVecchia had started building wooden surfboards down in Maine, and that seemed to me the coolest thing in the world. It took a couple of years of being jealous of Mike’s brilliant idea for me to realize “wait, why don’t I just build wooden snowboards instead of surfboards? Then I can use them in Vermont, where I live”. So that’s what I did.
Q. Can you describe a typical day in the shop and the general process of making one of your boards?
A. Well, it varies because I wear a lot of hats around here. Typically there is a lot of computer activity in the morning, answering emails, posting photos to instagram, just like anyone else. When it’s time to head to the shop, I just grab a cup of coffee and walk across the yard to PowderJet World HQ, which is housed in a half-renovated victorian house, built in 1850. So yeah, I’ve installed the shop in what would have been the dining room. There’s a lot of prep work to be done for each board, so I’ll get started on that. This means glueing edges onto a base, burning the logo into some topsheets, or cutting out fiberglass sheets. After lunch I’ll work on boards that are in the process of being finished. There are a lot of steps. Boards need to be finished in the PolyWhey urethane, have their bases coated with epoxy resin, sanded and shaped, and waxed. The edgeless boards are cut out on a CNC router on the other side of Rupert mountain, so I may need to go drop stuff there, or pick something up. I usually don’t get to start building a new board until later that night, once the kids are in bed. That’s the best time to get some uninterrupted time in. It takes a little more than an hour to lay up the board assembly in the press. Once the wet epoxy is spread around and the pieces are all together, the whole thing slides into the press, where it’s cooked and pressurized. It stays in the press for about 8 hours, and comes out in a big weird rectangle.
Q. Do you recall the first time you got on a snowboard and when you realized it was going to be a serious passion of yours?
A. The $150 I spent on my first board was the first big purchase I ever made, so I was committed. The first season I was 14, it was 1987, and there was a lot of flailing around and a couple of mild concussions. Those early boards were really hard to learn on, and my parents weren’t about to ante up for an instructor for me, so I just stuck with it. The passion for snowboarding came much later, when my buddy Scott Lenhardt and I met these guys who called themselves “Glebelands” for some inexplicable reason. These were guys who worked at the Burton Factory in Manchester, or who rode for Burton, or who were going to work at Burton once they made the move up to Burlington. Shem Roose, Randy Gaetano, Gavin McMorrow, Scott Lenhardt, and the LaVecchia brothers Nick, Vince and Mike. These guys became like a family for me, and we snowboarded all the time up at Bromley. They were the funnest bunch of people I’d ever been around, and super supportive to each other, and just cool in a million ways. That’s when snowboarding became more than a sport for me, when I tethered myself to this group of creative talented guys and began learning how to be a better person. 20 plus years later, I still haven’t untied the tether yet!
Always a fan of Fischer Clothing, I love when founder Kristina Angelozzi releases a new lookbook. Her Fall 2013 collection is probably her best to date. Beautiful fabrics in simple and clean silhouettes. I’m especially in love with the woman’s and men’s patchwork denim shirts. Check out the men’s lookbook here and the women’s here.
I was recently introduced to Uprise Art when my friend Katrine Hildebrandt told me her artwork would soon be available on their website. The New York based company just held their first Boston event with an exhibit of Katrine’s selected work at Twelve Chairs. The premise of the company is to make beautiful contemporary artwork by a selected group of talented artists accessible and attainable for collectors. Upon joining (for free I might add) you have access to the online gallery. As a member, you have the option of buying artwork in full, or investing-over-time ($50 per-piece/per-month). Uprise then coordinates the framing, delivery, and installation for your piece. Membership is currently available for Boston and New York City residents only, but will soon be available in more cities.
I’m thrilled to have Ashley James on the blog today as part of my women series this month. I met Ashley through mutual friend Joe Gannon a couple years back. She designs and runs her own men’s denim line Ruell & Ray, and does a hella job doing it. To the point that her denim has reached cult status in the menswear industry and has women like me and Kat McMillan pining for her to make women’s (or just wearing the men’s). Ashley shares a bit about the brand and what brought her to men’s denim below.
Q. What is your background and what led you into the world of men’s denim?
A. I’ve been in the retail world for about 10 years, it all started at good ole’ A&F. I did a lot of visual merchandising, photo styling, management you name it I did it but I was never satisfied with my job at the end of the day. I wanted to do my own thing. So about 2.5 years ago I decided I was going to figure out what I wanted to do – Life is too short not to do what you love, and when it came down to it, clothing was my passion – I wanted my own brand. At the time denim seemed to be a great fit because I always obsessed over it. Men’s so happened to come first.
Q. You make all your denim with proper Deadstock materials, how do you source said materials?
A. I have a special label called Deadstock by Ruell and Ray in which I get my hands on denim that is not produced anymore, my next batch is 1 of 53 and it is a pretty special denim from Japan. The Ruell and Ray label, I try to use what is available and that is always a first priority, but in some cases you have to get a cool fabric where you can get it. (When I hit the market, deadstock is what I came out with, but came to realize that there isn’t that much laying around to have a lucrative brand built on using only those materials)
Q. What is the process of making a pair of Ruell & Ray denim, from design to final product?
A. It all starts with the fabric. I pick a fabric, make a sample, change details, make another sample and then produce. IT sounds pretty simple but there is a lot of coordination that goes on in between. While in production I make sure that I am at the factory as often as possible, my hands touch every single piece. I am the QC. (quality control)
Q. You have amazing style, what inspires you and your styles for Ruell & Ray?
A. I think menswear inspires my style quite a bit along with me just being me. I’ve always had different spins on how I put my outfits together-it mostly involves not much thinking, simply throwing on what I like. Just recently have I started to get my feet wet and be able to express my style through R&R. I think you will start to see more of my personal style come out in the upcoming seasons.
Q. What are some of the challenges and rewards of running your own business?
A. There are so many challenges but one that has been the biggest hurdle is getting my fit right. I look back at my very first production and how horrified I am at the cuts. But you live and learn and you correct. I am never satisfied and I am always making changes where needed. The reward is seeing my jeans on someone, that will never get old and always trumps the difficulties.
Q. You recently launched a site/brand with our friend Billy Moore of Cause & Effect. How did that collaboration come about and what do you guys have in store?
A. The collab started when Billy and I first met. We traveled all over together and shared our difficulties about being a small brand and just how to survive. We are doing what we love and trying to make a living off of it – Art and Survival. We wanted to spin off the Park and Bond shop that we did together, so we started our own site art-survival.com. Right now it is in the very beginning stages with our product available to buy direct, but we plan to have guest designers product up that we admire. So look forward to some cool funky things being added.
Q. Can you share a bit of what you have planned for Ruell & Ray for the coming years?
A. In the coming years, I have lots planned for R&R. I want to expand my men’s out to shirts, jackets, etc.-but very edited. I also plan to start my women’s line.
Q. Any advice for other women who are interested in working in the menswear industry?
A. My advice would be to keep barreling forward. I have hit so many stopping points, but I kept/keep going. If it is something you truly want to pursue, do it with your whole heart. The industry always keeps you in check.