Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Fashion's Night Out

In exactly one week, the great city of Manhattan along with hundreds of cities all over the world will partake in what is known as Fashion's Night Out. In it's simplest form, FNO is an even where all the stores participating stay open much later than normal. They have special sales, giveaways, and what I think is the coolest, appearances by the designers. No, the designers aren't swarmed with body guards or an impenetrable entourage, but they literally make themselves available to the public. Over the years, certain happenings have taken place. Thom Browne, one of my favorite designers, winner of GQ's designer of the year back in '08 , and CFDA award winner in '06, partook in a few friendly games of ping pong. Oscar de la Renta, the master of evening gowns, serenades the lovely Sarah Jessica Parker. And designer Zac Posen cut a few dance steps. All in all, it's a night that allows you to see, touch, and smell "our" celebrities. I believe that the idea was conceived by the great Anna Wintour, Editor in Chief of Vogue magazine.

Possibly the most influential person in the industry, Anna Wintour, third from left
Thom Browne, owning the table
Zac Posen cutting a rug
Consider this post a plea to the fashion community of Charleston. I'm about as green as they come in the industry, so I currently don't have the "pull" to make it happen here. However, I would greatly take pleasure in helping this vision come to pass. I feel like Charleston is a hotbed for fashion that's gaining more notoriety every year. For example, K. Cooper Ray of the style and etiquette blog Social Primer has been pumping out a special line of bow ties for the past 5 seasons with Brooks Brothers. This year marks the first that he will step out on his own and will be presenting his new line of ties and blazers at New York Fashion Week. I feel proud that a Charlestonian has broken through and representing us well. Not that he's the first from here to present at NYFW, but it's just cool to know that I've shaken his hand, held a few conversations with him, and he knows my name. 

But back to the main topic: why Charleston should have a "real" FNO event. I say real because upon a little research, I learned that there are actually a handful of stores on King Street participating on the night. But nowhere within an ounce of comparison to the one in New York. Do I want us to be like the big dogs"? Well yes. I'm a winner and I expect to be good at every thing I put my hands to (its a nasty habit that I picked up when I was younger and I just cant seem to shake it.....sarcasm). Do I think we're ready to do it like they do it up there? Not even close. But I do think we can do a lot better than what we are doing? Abso-flippin-lutey Nothing but good things can come from this. Stores are almost guaranteed to generate more revenue that night. Designers and shop owners get to develop a relationship with their customers. It's a proven fact that people will spend their hard earned money with you if they like you. Even if you're more expensive than the competitors.

Mob-like scene outside of Bergdorf Goodman in NY
Lastly, its a great way to keep Charleston on people's minds. As far as I know, there are no major buzz worthy events going on in the Fall. Spring and Summer are stacked with things to bring in out-of-town guests. We've got Charleston Fashion Week, Family Circle Cup, the bridge run, I said, we're pretty set for the first 7 months of the year. I think it would be good to keep a buzz in the city. And what better way than to have an all out, all night fashion extravaganza. So hopefully a FNO expansion is already in the works and I don't know about it, or someone in a position of power will see this, agree with me, and get the ball rolling on making this thing happen.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Get Live with GQ!

I think it would be safe to say that over the past few years, technology has experienced period of exponential growth.  Just think about a few, the ability to deposit a check by simply taking a picture. Laying your phone on top of a "mat " with no cords connecting it, and it magically charges. And one that still continues to blow my mind, vehicles that parallel park themselves.

Which brings me to our newest advancement, a digital magazine. No I'm not talking about an online PDF of identically what's in the hard copy of the magazine. I'm talking about the tangible pages that you flip, coming to life. Honestly, I didn't see this one coming (but really, do we ever?).

September unofficially starts the fiscal year of the fashion world. And every magazine's September issue is huge. Filled with a ton of ads and lots of special content. Vogue magazine even did a movie based on their 2007 September issue called...ready, wait for it....The September Issue. About 2 months ago, GQ started putting a buzz in the air about this state of the art "live" feature that would make its debut in their September issue. I had no idea what to expect but I was excited. Ever since I became a subscriber back in 07, around the 18th of every month I have a little more bounce in my step as I make my way to the mailbox. Because I know the newest issue is due to be there any day. So needless to say, with this special issue on the horizon I began to get a little antsy. Well obviously, it's here now and I'm floored. The hype they put on this thing was well warranted.
And the team at GQ deserves a chest bump for realizing that everyone in the world doesn't own an Apple device and making it available to us Android users. We're typically left out when it comes to things like this. So how do they do it? Scientifically, I haven't the slightest clue. But physically, all the user is required to do is download the app, launch it, then hover your phone over any advertisement or article bearing the GQLive logo. It's that simple. Once you do that, prepare to be astonished. Oh yea, wifi is strongly suggested.

Without giving too much away, I'll tell you about some of whats in there. 

  • Exclusive interviews
  • Freestyle by Yaslin Bey
  • Behind the scenes video of the cover shoot
  • Incredibly cool videos for most of the adds (especially the watch brands)

I did a quick video for you guys to demonstrate how it works.

All in all, I'd say a good 75 percent of the 300 pages have been equipped with this feature. It's quite impressive if I say so myself. I am a firm believer that a big project like this is rarely executed perfectly the first go-round. But I have no complaints whatsoever.

Truthfully speaking, all in all its pure genius. And even though it's already perfect, it's only going to get better. Not sure if this will be a feature implemented into all issues following this one, or if it will just be for special occasions.

As of now, I haven't heard about any other magazine doing this, however, being that Vogue is also a Conde Nast publication, it would not surprise me if the make the switch soon as well. I said that to say; even if fashion isn't your thing, its worth it to check this out because who knows when your favorite magazine will do it (if ever). Some say magazines are on the verge of extinction. Based on statistics, I'd agree. But if this new feature takes hold like i think it will then the magazine industry will have been given new life. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Loafin' Around

How many of you know that one of the biggest All-American staples didn't actually come from America? The penny loafer as we know it today originated on the other side of the Atlantic in Norway. They were worn by dairy farmers while waiting in the cattle loafing area (where the cows kick it before getting milked). Back in the 1930s, a photographer from Esquire magazine was in Norway and couldn't help but notice that these slip ons were worn by almost everyone there. 

Once he got the pictures stateside, there was an interest in them. The Spaulding family which owned a leather company began producing their own version while using said photographs as a guide. But it wasn't until the next year, 1934, when G.H. Bass and company (est. in 1876) began making them and Americans really took hold. He coined the name "Weejuns" which is a play on the natives of Norway referred to as "Norwegians". Rumor has it that Mrs. Bass used to kiss each shoe before her husband walked out the door and that inspired the lip-shaped design across the middle.

Loafers~Bass, Chinos~JCrew

Around the 1950s, the cool prep kids were looking for a way to set themselves apart from everyone else, so they started putting a penny in the slit, which is where the term "penny loafers" came from. However it wasn't long before they found a real functional use for it, instead of a penny, they used dimes. Back in those days, if you got in a jam and needed to use a pay phone (remember those?) you could take the dime out your shoe and make your call. As the years went on, different cultures began to pick up on the trend. In the late 1960s, the Italian brand Gucci, created the now iconic Gucci Horsebit Loafer. A couple of other famous endorsers? The preppy president, and the king of pop.

These days they're even more popular as they're worn by all different kinds of people, not just preps. And they can be worn many different ways. They can be dressed up or down. They're extremely versatile, which is a key component to casual style. 

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Rugby Cafe/Rugby Store

Chinos & Cheesecake has gone abroad for the weekend. I've went away to Columbia, MD to spend some time with family. On the way up, I felt it would be a great opportunity to make a stop in Georgetown which lies about 30 miles south of my final destination. 

The Georgetown area is buzzing. Lots of people walking around, great shopping, great youthfulness (Georgetown University lies on the west side of the city), and great eats. Speaking of which, it was the perfect chance to partake in an edible version of Ralph Lauren (the brand, not the man, silly).

This is home to Rugby Cafe

An exert from 

"The Rugby Cafe features dark wood notes and preppy vintage accents that capture the essence of a classic setting for the restaurant's classic casual American food."

And not to disappoint, the food was pretty darn good. My recommendations? Well they're known for their burger and fries plates. So I picked the King's Burger (angus beef, fried egg, grilled pineapple, spinach greens, cheddar, tomato, mayonnaise, & Rugby's special sauce). And while most good burger joints screw up when it comes to fries, these backed it up quite nicely. I thought I was in heaven, until I took a bite of my wife's Holden Burger (angus beef, crispy bacon, caramelized onion, barbecue sauce, spinach greens, tomato, cheddar cheese), it flat out blew me away. That bbq sauce was pretty close to the best I've ever had. Needless to say, the next time I pass through these parts, that burger will be on my plate (not for long though, I'd inhale it expeditiously).

And what better way to walk off a full stomach of burgers and fries then to go shopping? Well right next door to the Rugby Cafe is the actual Rugby clothing store

Mr. Lauren launched the Rugby brand back in 2004 which was aimed at the younger generation, the 25 and under crowd. However, if styled properly, some of the pieces can be worn by men and women in the 40s, 50s, and 60s. So just be careful, the mannequins are awesome to look at. But they're supposed to be. It's not meant for you to copy them. Take the pieces and style them as your own. If not, then you kinda just end up looking like a poser. And that is definitely not the name of the game.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Lighten Up

Bengal Striped Buttondown Shirt~Hollister, Tie~JCrew, Blazer~Higgins(thrifted), Jeans~Levis(thrifted), Loafers~Bass, Watch~Timex
Over the past few years, I don't think there has been another article of clothing that has been given a harsher stigma than light denim. They're normally referred to as "dad jeans". Why? Well they're so high waisted that they almost come up to your belly-button (bad), and they seem to always come in a "relaxed fit" (really bad). And to make matters worse, our current president continues to parade around in a terrible fitting pair every chance he gets (tragic).

I, however, think that these can be pulled off stylishly. There are just a few simple rules in mind when doing so.
Rule 1. 
Make sure they fit. They should sit on your hips. Or if you're north of 35 years then they can rest an inch or two higher. They should fit slim through the leg and there should be absolutely no flare at the bottom.
Rule 2.
Refrain from pairing white sneakers with them. No matter how well they fit you will always end up looking like Seinfeld
Rule 3.
Wear only during the day. Once the sun goes down these will look pretty silly. Wanna wear jeans at night, put on your dark denim (you have a pair, right?).