Category Archives: Manliness

For those without citizenship

After all, we are all visitors.

A new collaboration between surf legend Kelly Slater and Quicksilver has forged a new lifestyle brand built for the journey.

Wherever it may lead you.

I haven’t seen much of the collection but I did catch a glimpse at one of the best looking packs I’ve seen in a while.

The waxed canvas bag is big enough to fit weeks worth of gear and has storage compartments for days.  Don’t feel like lugging the entire pack with you everywhere you go?  No worries.  The small compartment on the front is detachable, perfect for a laptop bag or other day-to-day use.

One of the coolest features, which may also be the least practical, is the included hammock – tucked away in a small compartment somewhere.

Can’t say I’ve been in situations where I’ve really needed a hammock but little details like this really reinforce the brand’s pedigree and lifestyle it was made for.

I’m a sucker for rugged gear that is just as functional as it is attractive.  Same goes for interesting collaborations.  Just so happens that the combination of the two in this situation shows a lot of promise.  I find it really interesting to see trends in minimalism intersecting with utility.  VSTR quotes William Blake:

“…We never know what is enough until we know what is more than enough.”

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Hard Graft

For the first time in, well…ever, I recently met a young guy like myself that claimed to be an aspiring blacksmith.  I can’t help but think that this is rooted in a broader trend bringing back the appreciation of true craft.  Being a blacksmith or a carpenter or a tailer are not only being revitalized as professions but they are also really cool right now!

In the spirit of true craftsmanship I wanted to share a new brand I found recently called Hard Graft.  They peddle a fine assortment of handmade goods crafted from leather and wool.  I love the minimal, masculine feel of Hard Graft’s products.  The attention to detail is fantastic and the style points this stuff earns in comparison to competing mainstream alternatives is off the charts!

While ordering one of these cases for your kindle/ipad/macbook/device or wallet does require opening up said wallet I think it would be worth the investment.  Typically the more miles you put on these types of accessories the better they look. Wear breeds serious character.  Character that you just can’t buy in a store filled with mass produced merchandise.

For those interested in upping their style, looking for a new case and willing to shell out a little more for a quality product, or just appreciate quality craftsmanship I highly encourage you to look into Hard Graft.


Latest Brand Obsession – Baldwin Denim

The number of brands we interact with on a daily basis seems to be growing every day.  A professor at Brandcenter recently asked us to record all the brands we engaged with for just one day.  The highest number recorded was somewhere around 130 brands.  It’s no surprise that world-class organizations like Coca-Cola, Levi’s and Nike are out there doing great work and capturing our attention almost everywhere we go.  These types of organizations are the gold standard as far as branding goes.  With that said, one of the things I have truly enjoyed doing since I have been studying brands is finding those with a much softer voice but still connect with me in a very positive way.  Sometimes it’s the product that captures my attention, other times it may be the general aesthetic or story of the brand.

This time it happens to be all of the above.

I was recently introduced to a menswear shop in Kansas City called Baldwin Denim.  They offer a wide range of clothing for both men and women but specialize in high quality, raw selvedge denim.  I’ve seen all the expensive designer jeans that have been bedazzled, embroidered, and adorned with just about every other tacky decoration one could think of and these are not those jeans.  Baldwin represents quality premium denim sewn in the USA and designed in KC.  They are simple, masculine and I plan to wear them as long as my mid-section will allow.  I’m not worried about them wearing out and they embody that classic design that only looks better with age.

Heres a shot of their flagship store in Kansas City

I know everyone has their own style and this may not appeal to everyone but I’m a huge fan of Baldwin.  Even if you were to take the clothes out of the picture, the vibe of the store is spot on with me.  Love all the wood and matte metals.  Somewhat industrial but still so refined.  I love to see the emergence of high quality men’s boutiques that not only cater to men but are built and run by them.

The denim looks almost as good on as it does on the shelf 🙂

One of the things that I really love about raw selvedge denim is how they wear in.  When you pick these up in the store they are going to be dark, stiff and you should buy them very tight.  As you wear them they will loosen up and form to your body.  They will also create a completely unique color wash depending on how you wear them, so no two people will have the same wash.

New vs. 6 months wear (still without wash)

Tell me these don’t look fantastic worn in!

These don’t come cheap but as far as I’m concerned a pair of Baldwin denim is worth the investment.

Each wrinkle and spot rubbed of dye tells a story.  Each stain a memory.

After time has passed these are no longer pants, but an heirloom that can be cherished.

Baldwin denim is another great small brand that has their identity pegged and is doing a bang up job.



Been thinking a lot lately about picking up a record player and starting a record collection.  No doubt the digital age has made music much more accessible and far more convenient.  But there is something about the vinyl, the spinning record, the scratch of the needle as its dropped into place.  Its all very organic.  Very raw.  And in my mind’s eye it seems like the best way to unwind and listen to music.  Assuming you really want to listen.

Any advice from those still listening to records?

Which albums seem to be made just for vinyl?

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Rocky Top Soap Shop

Since I’ve been studying brands I find myself noticing not only the big names in the industry but also the very small brands that I think are doing a stellar job in their positioning.  I recently came across a brand of natural, hand-made soaps called the Rocky Top Soap Shop out of midcoast Maine.  I can thank General Mills and my time there in packaging for my affinity to package design but I have to say that was what initially caught my eye. Simple, understated, but equally rugged as the product itself.  It all lines up quite well.  Its nice to see soaps using materials like rosehip, charcoal, and pine tar.  Very manly, which I appreciate.

How could you not find comfort in knowing this is the guy handcrafting your soap.

Dig that beard.

Again, its all so on brand – The guy, the rugged soap, the Maine coast, the great packaging…that beard!

So if you are into hand-made, sustainable products or are just a dirty man that needs a gritty charcoal scrub rocky Top Soap Shop is definitely worth a try.

Either way, I love to support guys like this out there in some small coastal town just doing what he loves.

Perfecting his craft.

You’ve gotta respect that kind of dedication.

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Even though school is keeping me busy enough to make blogging tough I do have time to find inspiration in some of my favorite cultural icons.  Here are a few I came across recently that struck a chord with me.

“Walk tall or don’t walk at all.”

-Bruce Springsteen

“When I believe in something, I fight like hell for it.”

-Steve Mcqueen

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Stuff I Want – Triumph Thruxton & Bonneville

This is the first installment of “Stuff I Want” – something I hope to do more regularly as I come across (wait for it…) stuff I want.  I’m sure I could come up with a more creative title if I thought about it hard enough but lets keep it simple and spend that time ogling cool stuff instead. 

I have been feeling something very unfamiliar lately.  An urge I had never encountered until just recently.  The desire to put some some serious horsepower between my legs and hit those scenic American highways.  This may have been spurred by my brother’s recent acquisition of a Harley.  I’m all for American but as I’ve started looking can’t help but love the British bikes by Triumph – I have never owned or driven a motorcycle so can’t really speak to performance or reliability but man they look good.  If I can ever manage to sell the boss on the idea I have a feeling this is what I would be looking for. 

Can you blame me?! 

Not saying this will happen anytime soon but just know this is definitely on the list of stuff I want. 

Anybody every owned a Triumph?  What did you think?

For some awesome photos of bikes like these and dudes that love riding them check out the new addition to my blogroll Its Better in the Wind

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Independence Day

Yesterday our nation celebrated its independence from those tyrants across the pond.  I did my best to celebrate like a true American….

by enjoying foods from other countries…
Chorizo and Cheese Omelette Smothered in Green Chile
exercising my right to bear arms…


 and chillin with my little homie.

All in all it was a great day. 

I’m thankful for my freedoms and express much appreciation to those that have fought for our liberty and those that continue to do so. 

Great RVA Shop

I recently came across a great little blog titled The Denim Debate through One Trip Pass, which I featured in a previous post.  While I don’t believe this was done as an advertising/publicity play (or perhaps it was and was done so well I as a consumer didn’t even recognize it), I found it to be incredibly interesting and have been following for some time. 

The jist is this – a bunch of dudes from all walks of life are asked to pick their ideal pair of jeans, wear the hell out of them for 12 months, and then document via regular blog posts.  Jay Carroll of One Trip Pass is a contributor at the Denim Debate and is killing it!  He picked a pair of Levi 1947 LVC 501xx jeans and needless to they are being pummeled to perfection. 

See what I mean?

I love how these guys  in all different professions and life stages are wearing their pants in differently and how unique each pair becomes over time.  Raw selvedge denim was selected almost exclusively by varying brands, many of whom I had never heard of.  Few have been washed.  I am now, and maybe for the first time, recognizing the value associated with investing in expensive, high quality denim.  They are literally indestructable and over time become so unique.  Each spot worn, stained, and scuffed associated with some life event or adventure.  100% custom.  I haven’t taken the leap yet but would love to get my hands on a pair like any of those featured at the Denim Debate, wear them to death, and maybe pass them on to one of my boys some day. 

Pipe dreams.    

Also, the guy that pulled the Denim Debate together apparently has his own branding blog.  He features a shop in Richmond, VA that looks so legit!  I can’t believe I missed the opportunity to stop in when I was in town last month.  I guess I will be back soon enough.  Unfortunately I will be broke again as a grad student and living off government cheese, so splurging on fine threads is unlikely.  Those in the area and interested in this kinda stuff should definitely check it out.  Shops like this are infinitely better than any major retailer. 

Click the picture below to see the post on Need Supply Co. in RVA…

Need Supply Co., RVA

 If you’ve been to Need Supply Co. or end up going after seeing this please come back and leave comment about your experience!

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