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High and Dry

High and Dry

by Jahmal Landers

For quite some time, bow ties have been the mark of the eccentric, creative type. The accomplished individualist. The peacock, if you will. When you see an older gentleman wearing a dickey bow, you might assume he is an architect, lawyer, congressman or doctor. Now bow ties have become more commonplace at red carpet events and with celebrities, though still not as ubiquitous as the necktie for everyday use. Long considered the less conventional neck wear, bow ties may have found a niche market.


British health officials have actually banned neckties for healthcare professionals. The Telegraph in the UK published a piece on the health concerns of the spread of communicable diseases by smart dressed doctors. Based on health studies, scarves, jewelry and even neckties could   increase the risk of exposure and spread of MRSA, along with other bacterial infections that are a serious concern in the medical field. Dr. Michael Dixon, chairman of the National Healthcare System Alliance of the UK, believes doctors should still look professional despite the study’s claims. He also happens to wear a bow tie and sees it as a sensible compromise for many in his field.


He’s not the only doctor urging their colleagues to consider the more unorthodox tie.

Dr. Lawrence Kaplan, a general internist at Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia, also prefers it.


"I wear a stethoscope in my front pocket or around my neck, and the bow tie essentially doesn't get in the way,” Kaplan says.


Dr. Michael Levine, chief of endocrinology at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, won the day with his take on why he would rather wear a bow tie.


"It's much more difficult for a baby to pee on your tie if it's a bow tie," he says.


High and tight; the bow tie is considered the more hygienic tie for many practicing medical professionals and we think that’s pretty neat.

Slow and Steady

Wildwood Bespoke is evoking the heritage of gentlemen's fashion, building one bespoke suit at a time. The man of amount hours behind each beautifully constructed jacket puts Wildwood squarely in the center of Slow Fashion's new wave. Offering something new to residents of the Pacific Northwest; you don't have to jet to England or even New York. Joe Mueller's vision of vestial excellence is unfolding in the City of Roses. We had the pleasure of catching up with the founder of Wildwood Bespoke, here's what he had to say:

photo by Holly Mueller


Talk a little bit about your background and the moment when you realized that you wanted to embark on this enterprise?


My interest in bespoke tailoring has its roots in an appreciation for fine craftsmanship of all kinds, which was instilled in me as a kid. My mom is an avid collector of beautiful art and objects from around the world, and while I resented getting dragged along to strange galleries and shops as a kid, I definitely obtained an appreciation by osmosis. The plan for a bespoke tailoring business started about five years ago when I returned home to Oregon after several years in New York City as a lawyer. I had come to love bespoke tailoring in NYC, and was disappointed with the options here.


So I notice that Wildwood Bespoke has a very serious approach to men's tailoring. It’s apparent from the selection of cashmere and worsted wool offerings, that you take no shortcuts and spare no expenses. I think it's great! Talk a little bit more about this approach and Philosophy.


Thanks for noticing! As I see it, there’s no point in putting 60+ hours into a garment unless the materials deserve that kind of attention. It’s also just another good way to differentiate ourselves from all the clothing white noise out there.

photo by Daniel Cole


Who are some of your influences and inspirations? Who in your personal lives has shaped your ideas about men's fashion? Who are some fashion icons or pop culture (past or present) figures that you you could see draped in Wildwood tailored suits?


Our main touchstone and inspiration is Savile Row in London, still the epicenter of bespoke tailoring. They marry quality and timeless style in a way that “fashion” brands don’t even attempt to emulate. My dream clients are pretty eclectic; I certainly want big-name athletes (bespoke is really a necessity when you’re seven feet tall), politicians, and the like, but my perfect day in the shop would be Congressman Blumenauer running into an awesome tattoo artist in my shop and stopping to shoot the breeze with each other. Like a great bartender or barber, I want to serve people from all walks of life, and to be someone/something that they all have in common.


As sartorialists, would you consider your styles to be classic or more fashion forward?


The great thing about bespoke is that every garment we make is essentially a design partnership with an individual client. Our own styles tend to run on the contemporary side of classic I’d say; I personally love suits with bold prints and patterns that really make a statement, but cut in a timeless fashion that will not look dated five years from now.

photo by Daniel Cole

Having been to legendary Savile Row in London and having a fascination for the deep and rich tradition that has been cultivated there, we really appreciate what Wildwood Bespoke is bring to Portland.

photo by Daniel Cole

Since December 2014, Wildwood Bespoke has been the finest suits in the city and building out their new home in downtown Portland. Very soon they will be opening their own show room. Visit their site for more details www.WildwoodBespoke.com

Men of the Cloth

Sometimes, being fashion forward means looking back

By Jahmal Landers

   The cast of AMC's Mad Men. We do not own this photo.

It has been the unstoppable rise to greatness of the scintillating American period dramas Mad Men and Boardwalk Empire which has ushered in the current renaissance of vestiary excellence. The shows’ stylists provide stunning visual aesthetics for the eyes of the more fashion conscious amongst us to feast on. Suits rich in color and texture stimulate the senses much like a banquet prepared by a Michelin-starred chef. The accoutrements complement the suits like a refreshing aperitif; bow ties, neckties, tie pins, pocket watches and handkerchiefs conjure up nostalgia of the Atomic Age of the 60’s and our romantic obsession with the Prohibition era of the 30’s.

The gangsters of Boardwalk Empire: Meyer Lansky, Arnold Rothstein and Lucky Luciano. We do not own this photo.

The marquee shows for premium networks HBO and AMC have introduced a much welcomed, the more frank would say needed, revival of modern men’s fashion. Both shows revisit their respective periods with careful attention to detail, from the fit and style of the suits, to the the selection of skinny ties and tie pins. The Nietzsche-esque supermen showcased in these gripping dramas are powerful alphas, dressed to kill from tip to toe.

Boardwalk's leading man, Enoch "Nucky" Thompson. We do not own this photo.

What gentleman in his thirties doesn't look down at their flannel button up draped over a graphic tee and cutoff jean shorts then stare back into the TV screen and say: “I wish I had Nucky’s style”? These shows have changed the status quo in mens fashion, recounting a time, for better or worse, when clothes made the man, or as Polonius said in Act 1 Scene 3 of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, “For the apparel oft proclaims the man”.


  Mad Men: Don Draper et al. We don not own this photo.

Don Draper has a slick yet staunchly understated style. Your significant other, or the object of your affection, is likely at some point in time to look you dead in the eye and confess the extent to which they “Love watching Mad Men because Don Draper is just so handsome!” You will be left lamenting the fact that you do not lay claim to an elegantly tailored suit and sophisticated tie, while she fawns over snarky megalomaniacs in, well... elegantly tailored suits. Fashion retailers and specialty boutiques alike can thank HBO and FX for prompting millions of dollars of menswear purchases. With terms such as “dandy” and “dapper” being constantly bandied about these days, we have witnessed a sharp increase in conspicuous consumption. Some scour thrift shops while others go the whole nine yards to redefine their wardrobes.

Alas, all good things come to an end and both of these critically acclaimed shows, with their monumental viewing audiences and far-reaching influence, are embarking on their final seasons. As a new crop of shows prepare to fill the soon to be vacant prime time slots left by Boardwalk Empire and Mad Men, we pose the question: Who will be the beacons of men’s fashion once Don Draper and Enoch Thompson are relegated to the rerun universe?


  The Periwinkle bow tie by Bowyer and Fletcher 

Sartorial Sessions

Shot and Directed by Everybody Is Famous

Periodically, we will host a video series of Sartorial Sessions, where we share a few ideas on the proper use men's accouterments. Up first: How to tie a bow tie. Feel free to ask questions or offer feedback in the comments sections below.

The Man Who Changed NBA Fashion Forever

The man who, arguably, brought on the current high fashion trend in the NBA. (David Stern below)

By Jahmal Landers

 

David Stern officially stepped down earlier this month after 30 years as NBA commissioner. He is a somewhat polarizing figure who often credits his business acumen as the reason for the meteoric rise of the NBA in the 80’s and 90’s. Though that is quite debatable, one thing is clear: Stern has left an indelible mark on the game.During Stern’s career, dramas, scandals and controversies were well documented. He had been taken to task, especially in twilight of his tenure. Sports writers and fans alike cringed at his recent mishandling of the referee scandal and league trade vetoes. Stern’s criticism was deserved on most occasions but there was one move that would prove to be his most deft.

His most polemic decision, the instatement of the mandatory NBA dress code, may have been a great one for society as well as the game.

 

Allen Iverson (above)

In 2005, the NBA image was covered in tattoos, wrapped in du-rags and draped in over-sized velour suits. The typical platinum and diamond encrusted NBA superstar took casual attire to the next level on their way to and from the stadium. There were not too many of us who could get away with dressing like this at our place of employment, let alone make millions doing it. The NBA was trying to find its identity in the “after Jordan” era. Talented, young millionaires took the chance to make a statement “Money won’t change me.”

 

David Stern was not appreciative of how his product was packaged and sold. The NBA was getting married to hip-hop and thugs and Stern felt that it was bad for business. After all, hip-hop and rap culture were still reeling from losing two of their biggest stars to a petty, yet violent East-West rivalry. Then there was the infamous Pacer-Piston brawl in 2004. Stern was under scrutiny and wanted the public to know that he still had control of the league. Most of America tuned in, but for some, it was difficult to identify with many of the “new school” athletes who were playing Dr. Naismith’s game. Stern felt he had to make the NBA more palatable.

 

The NBA was the first major North American sports league to enforce a dress code. The stage was set for two influential personalities in the NBA to loft arguments and accusations of racism and unprofessionalism back and forth.

 

Allen Iverson was the people’s champ because of tremendous heart and undeniable talent, despite his lack of size. Iverson was one of the more outspoken challengers of the dress code. He vehemently opposed the rule because he felt that there was a racial undertone to it. Many claim that the rule was made to limit hip-hop's influence in the NBA, one that was perceived as attached to black athletes. In regard to the dress code, Iverson was quoted saying, “They’re targeting my generation -- the hip-hop generation," in a television interview. He went on to say “You can put a murderer in a suit and he's still a murderer… Just because you put a guy in a tuxedo, it doesn't mean he's a good guy,”

 

Jermery Lin accepting an Espy in 2012

 

Allen Iverson, being the favorite player of so many young people in the A.J. (After Jordan) NBA, found himself at the forefront of a culture clash with players like Paul Pierce and Stephen Jackson echoing his claims of racial insensitivity against the NBA brass.

 

Iverson’s argument that “The dress code is not who I am and doesn’t allow me to express myself.” Was met with the counter argument that professional athletes are still professionals. Stern wanted to separate his NBA from so many of the negative stereotypes that started to hashtag it.

 

Since Iverson left the NBA in 2010, it has been completely rebranded. Once Dwayne Wade and Carmelo Anthony embraced an opportunity to dabble in tailored suits (while having no lack of funds to hire some great stylists), they raised their celebrity to new heights. Worldwide, fashion aficionados have taken note of the arrival of the NBA sartorialist at high profile events like New York Fashion Week. These tastemakers are now influencing Americans to dress smart and fix up.

 

Amare Stoudemire (above)

Children and young adults look up to the likes of Kobe, James and Stoudemire. They are creating a sartorial culture among young Americans. Dressing better than any NBAers in recent memory and arguably some of the best-dressed athletes in the world; they have reinvented what an athlete is supposed to look like.

  

Dwayne Wade for GQ

Even though David Stern isn’t the most fashionable guy, he has made an impact on American fashion via its most accessible and visible athletes. On his way out, we can all thank him for at least one thing. His decision has had far reaching impacts and benefits that he may not have even foreseen. Instating the NBA dress code, while controversial at the time, has been great for the league and legions of young, impressionable NBA fans that idolize these players. 

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