Monday, 20 June 2011


The blog has now moved to

Thanks to all those who followed and be sure to check out the new blog!

Monday, 4 April 2011

6876 x Scene Capandula

Undoubtedly one of the most sought after jackets out there, the Capandula is one of 6876's most popular products. Soon to be released is their new version – a collaboration with Birmingham retailer Scene Menswear. Few reissues ever hit the mark but Kenneth MacKenzie and co seems to be spot on with this one; improving the jacket's specification and adding features such as a quilted lining, wax finish and corduroy collar yet all the while not fiddling too much with a concept that was great in the first place. Having been outbid on a Capandula this very week, this reissue may well be answer.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Boardwalk Empire.

So you've finished both the Sopranos and the Wire and you're after your next fix of brilliant stateside television? Well HBO might just have come to your rescue yet again. Boardwalk Empire is the brainchild of ex-Sopranos writer Terence Winter and cinema legend Martin Scorsese. Starting in Atlantic City on the eve of Prohibition, Steve Buscemi plays county treasurer Nucky Thompson - a Machiavellian figure who colludes with organised crime figures for his own personal gain. Other star turns are provided by Michael Shannon and in particular Stephen Graham, who excels as a young and extremely violent Al Capone.

I'm only four episodes in but this has the potential to be a great television programme. With gangsters, liquor and tits galore, what's not to like? Watch it.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Interview - Danny from Native Craftworks

There's few out there who do it better than Native Craftworks when it comes to making great shoes. Having first come to my attention when they were stocked in Oi Polloi last year, Native Craftworks have left a lasting impression. Each of the shoes stood out to me despite their relatively simple designs and when this is combined with the resolute committment to quality that Native Craftworks have, I simply had to find out more. I fired away some questions and their main man Danny was kind enough to give the answers.

In this interview we discuss the past, present and future of Native Craftworks, the sourcing of raw materials for the shoes and the root of Danny's passion for fine footwear.

First things first, what are you wearing today?
White tee shirt, old grey thick sweatshirt, Lee 101Z and I'm wearing a pair of samples - a new style. If I told you, I'd have to kill you!

How did Native Craftworks set up and how has it progressed to where it is now?
It all started about two and a half years ago. There wasn’t really any shoes out there that I wanted to wear, so I thought I’d have a go myself. Simple shoes, nothing fancy, but using the best quality materials and constructions.

When I got the first samples I met with Steve & Nigel from Oi Polloi to show them what I was up to. They liked what I was trying to do and encouraged me to continue. It took a few rounds of sampling to get the last, proportions and construction right, but it was all worth it when Oi Polloi placed their first order.

Where did the inspiration for the name come from?
‘Native’ is both a nod of respect to the creators of the first moccasins and also about being true to where you’re from. It’s important for me that the shoes have a British feel. ‘Craftworks’ kind of speaks for itself I suppose. The shoes are hand made in a small factory, which in essence is a ‘Craft Works’

When and why did footwear become a passion for you?
I’ve always loved shoes. My Dad was a buyer, so I was brought up with shoes all over the house. It’s in the blood!

Your shoes are designed in England and handmade in Portugal. What happens in between these two stages?
I visit the factory to explain the design and then go through the construction, spec the materials etc. Once everything is clear, the factory will make a sample. I'll then make amendments and tweak things until everything is perfect and I have a finished sample. It can take up to four samples to get everything right - sometimes more.

You've gone to great lengths to find the perfect crepe sole. Why did you end up choosing to source them from Sri Lanka?
Crepe is a natural material harvested from the Hevea tree. Like any natural material, there are good and not-so-good sources. With crepe it’s always difficult to get the balance between it being soft enough to give the best comfort and hard enough to give the best durability. We tried and tested many sources and it just so happened that the source that we felt had the best balance was in Sri Lanka.

How do you ensure the leather and suede used is the best out there?
We like our leathers and suedes to be thick, but still soft, so you get both comfort and support. If a leather is too soft it doesn’t support your foot properly. If a leather is too thick it can be uncomfortable. We work with a small tannery that make leathers to our specification. It took a while to get the formula right, but we think it was worth the time and effort.

Can you tell us a bit about the manufacturing process? How's it all done?
I could ramble on all day about how the shoes are made. Each pair takes approximately four hours to make. The uppers are cut by hand, using a very sharp knife. They are skived and stitched on lovely old machines. Back seams are handstitched for re-inforcement. The uppers are lasted by hand, the footbed put in place and the handcut crepe sole wrapped around the upper / footbed and handstitched all the way round.

We’re working on a feature for Proper Mag that explains the process in more detail – so look out for the next issue. We’re also working on a short film to show the levels of expertise & craftsmanship that goes into each pair of shoes.

Where does the inspiration for your designs come from?
All over the place. I love looking at how things are made, on really simple designs – take furniture for example - it’s often the way something is constructed that gives a product it’s unique shape and detail. Using the best materials also helps to give character. Sometimes inspiration comes from travel; the Dalesman shoe was inspired by a visit to Ingleborough in Yorkshire.

What kind of person wears Native Craftworks?
Someone who loves simple, well-made casual shoes. Someone who understands and appreciates the quality and craftsmanship that goes into each pair.

What makes Native Craftworks unique?
We’re a small independent company trying to make the best casual footwear there is. Not sure that makes us unique, but we work very hard to make sure our design, construction and quality are second to none. For us it’s about making shoes the right way…not the cheapest or the quickest.

At present there are very few stockists of Native Craftworks. Have you deliberately limited the number of stores carrying the range?
Not really; Steve and Nigel at Oi Polloi were good enough to give us some of their valuable time when we were trying to get started. They also gave us our first order, so we wanted to repay them by letting them have it to themselves for a bit.

We’re adding two new stores soon: We’ve got a delivery going into ‘Journal Standard’ in Japan any day now and a small order going into ‘Steven Alan’ in New York towards the end of August. ‘Tomorrowland’ in Japan is another possibility. Keep your fingers crossed!

What are your future plans for Native Craftworks?
To keep things simple. Design and make the best shoes we can and hope that people love them as much as we do.

We’ve also had a lot of emails from people asking for styles / colours that Oi Polloi no longer stock, so we’re looking into a small online shop. We’ll also be able make available small runs of Japan-only product.

I'd like to thank Danny for taking the time out to answer these questions. If you haven't already, check out the Native Craftworks website - you won't be disappointed!

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Athletic Club - Football's True Traditionalists

If you've managed to learn anything this season from the farce that is the Premier League then it's most likely to be that morals in football are declining more and more rapidly. First Wayne Rooney, then Carlos Tevez and now Fernando Torres – three frontmen who were the talismen of their respective clubs – have all handed in transfer requests, turning their backs on the fans who had sung their names week in week out.

One club where you won't find such a lack of ethics is Athletic Club – a La Liga side from Bilbao, in the heart of the Basque Country. One of only four clubs in Spain that is owned by its fans (alongside Barcelona, Osasuna and Real Madrid), Bilbao have become renowned for their cantera policy of nurturing young Basque footballing talent.

Cantera, a Spanish word which literally means 'quarry', refers to the youth academies of the top football clubs in Spain. What sets Athletic's cantera policy apart from its peers is that nearly all players who make up the first team squad have come through it. The few that haven't have been purchased from other Spanish sides, but only if they are Basque. This is a region that is fiercely proud of its people, and this extends to its football team.

Athletic Club dates back to 1898 when, as is the case with so many Spanish football teams, it was established by a group of British migrants. These shipyard workers chose the colours of red and white for the club; an ode to the football teams of Sunderland and Southampton, cities where many of these workers were born and raised. The club adopted a policy of selecting only Basque players in 1912 and, barring a few minor modifications to the rule, this is a policy that has been strictly adhered to till this day, defying the increasingly global nature of the sport and the temptations of excess, greed and selfishness which modern football has succumed to.

Historically, Atheltic are the most successful football club in Spain after Barcelona and Real Madrid. They have eight league titles and twenty-three Copa del Reys to their name. All of this success achieved by a club whose selection pool is smaller than the West Midlands. Not bad at all.

It's fair to say that not everyone is sold on the youth policy that underpins Athletic Club. Some have labelled it foolish, backward and unfair. Others have gone as far as to call it racist. Their fans, on the other hand, feel nothing but an immense sense of pride toward their football club. This isn't a policy which aims to be racist, it's one that wishes to remain loyal to its roots and represent the community as best it can.

There's no doubt it has affected results on the pitch . The last of these eight league titles was won back in 1984 and while they have remained competitive in the Copa del Rey since this, they have struggled to challenge in the league. Such a lack of success would rarely be tolerated in the Premier League but in an era of mega-spending it is to be expected. Their fans do not seem too bothered and ultimately that is what a football club should do – serve its fans.

This is a policy that may restrict success but it is also one which maximises pride. One look at the club motto and you can see it is one that is unlikely to change any time soon.

“Con cantera y aficion, no hace falta importación” – “With home-grown teams and supporters, there is no need for imports.”

The Stars of Athletic Club

Fernando Llorente
The man who is fighting Fernando Torres tooth and nail for the right to partner David Villa, Llorente is Athletic Club's top scorer this season, having netted twelve times in twenty appearances. Such a successful strike rate has not gone unnoticed and Llorente is widely tipped to join Real Madird in the summer. Think of a slightly more gifted Andy Carroll and you're getting close to the style of player Llorente is.

Javi Martinez
A typically combative Basque midfielder, it's no surprise that numerous Premier League clubs – Liverpool and Manchester City among them – are believed to have Javi Martinez in their sights. A big and strong player, Martinez is also blessed with a great range of passing; a skill that has led to comparisons with Xabi Alonso.

Iker Muniain
The "Spanish Wayne Rooney" is a player you may not have heard of yet, but one that you are pretty likely to become aware of in the next few years. In only two years of senior football, Muniain has established himself as an integral part of the Athletic side and the fearless forward is expected to become the main man in Bilbao should Fernando Llorente depart as expected this summer.

Monday, 17 January 2011

Recent Purchases.

It's been a bit quiet lately, hasn't it? Work has been occupying a lot of my time but one thing it hasn't prevented me from doing is spending my hard earned on some new clobber. Here are a few recent purchases; some old and some new.

When it comes to denim, Japanese experts Edwin are a personal favourite of mine. These guys have well over fifty years experience in the business and they aren't ones to cut corners when it comes to quality. The ED-71 is a slightly slimmer-than-usual straight fitting jean made from 14oz Japanese Red Selvedge Denim. All of the obligatory details – leather waist patch, embossed buttons and the iconic stitching – are all present. If you can brave out the uncomfortable breaking in stage then selvedge jeans are definitely where it's at.

Yeah, you're right. Now probably isn't the time of year to be buying suede shoes but I'm a sucker for a bargain regardless of what season it is and so upon noticing a pair of Clarks Ashcott at nearly half price, they just had to be bought. The Ashcott made a return to the Clarks Originals range last year following a long hiatus from production. Its simple silhouette and the typical Clarks quality ensure this simple classic will remain on my feet for a long while.

It isn't a brand I'd usually look at but Ben Sherman nailed it on this one. The introduction of their Modern Classics range has seen the label return to doing simple things very well; something that was a huge part of their appeal in the first place. This Fisherman's Parka comes in a lovely burnt gold colour and is complete with embossed buttons, toggles and a corduroy collar. Albam rip off? Maybe. Smart jacket? Definitely.

Oi Polloi have recently had collaborations with both Norse Projects and Henri Lloyd but this cashmere blend jumper dates back a few years when they were producing their own gear. Superb quality and perfect for this time of year, this jumper is already seeing its fair share of wear. Keep your eyes peeled on Oi Polloi and their Cottonopolis range due out later this year.

They may be new to our shores but Heritage Research have been producing fine quality clothing exclusively for the Japanese market for years. Inspiration for their range is drawn from pretty much everywhere: military, outdoor and classic workwear. The Longline Parka remains one of their most popular jackets and this limited edition orange effort is made in England and full of all the quality details you'd expect to see with a brand of this pedigree.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Proper Mag #10

The good chaps over at Proper Magazine are all set to release their much improved tenth issue. Having worked together with some major players in the publication industry – including James Brown and designer Matt Sankey – Proper are now offering a magazine that is over double the length of any previous issues. It's still got all the humour and content that made you love it in the first place including a look inside the Garbstore HQ, an interview with the bloke behind Post Overalls and a peek inside one of the most enviable vintage collections in the country.

All this and much, much more for a little over a fiver. Pre-order now to avoid disappointment.