Un Moment de L'inspiration

jacques-grange-orange-watchbandI love this photo of famed interior designer Jacques Grange. Like a volcano of color, the terra cotta floods the bottom of the frame, and the spin art spouts liquid hot neons and pastels across the top. Notice that he wears very little color but for his ostentatious watch band, the perfect flash. I was particularly taken with the fact he managed to match his watch to his throw pillows. C’est parfait! Photo c/o The Selby.

Subconsciously, I really must be falling for blaze orange.

Plaidy of the Week: Joanna Goddard

joannaalexjoanna001balloonI first became enamored with Joanna Goddard and her fantastic blogs, Cup of Jo and Glamour Magazine’s Smitten, this winter when her holiday shopping guides for the men in her life (1, 2, 3, & 4) won me over and may have saved my tail end a time or two. The sublime photos capturing Joanna and her fiancé, Alex, blissfully engaged were taken by LA photographer Max Wanger. From the looks of things, Alex is a lucky man. And, well, if you’ve ever read his writing, you might say Joanna’s a lucky plaidy, er… woman. Congratulations, you two! May 2009 be the first of many blessed years for you and yours.

You're with Me, Leather

A favorite amongst the hunters and fishermen of Juneau, Alaska, these Xtratuf Neoprene Pac boots, $94.00, are proudly Made in the USA.

A more affordable option from Servus, the Northerner Max Boot, $29.95, Made in the USA. You may see these on the feet of Vanilla Bicycles’ pit crew.

Before they made cell phones, Finland’s Nokia was most famous for their rubber boots. They’ve since sold the company and changed the name (Nokian, now).

The Rolls-Royce of wellies, France’s Le Chameau Chasseur Rubber Boot, $389.95, Fabrique en France, is lined with full-grain leather.

The Goods: Wellington Boots

When I turned seven, I asked my mom for a pair of Spiderman “rain boots” to match the raincoat I received for my birthday. I remember they were navy blue with a thick, red tread. The spring showers that year had nothing on my Spidey skills. Countless puddles emptied, left trembling in the wake of my endless traipsing, I was a puddle-seeking missile. No pool was too large for these crushers.

Until this fall, the comic book-inspired pair was my only connection to the tall rubber boots often associated with the Scottish Highlands. Whether you call them rain boots, gum boots, or wellies, the Wellington has made quite a splash of late, and it looks as though it’s here to stay – and with good reason. They’re as functional as they are fashionable. In the wettest of weather they manage to keep the foot bone dry, and if the dashing blokes at the muddy Glastonbury Music Festival have any say, they do so with panache.

Arthur Wellesley, the first Duke of Wellington, was known to be as fearless as he was fashionable. In 1815, upon returning to London after a decisive victory over Napolean at Waterloo, “the Beau” commissioned shoemaker Hoby of St. James Street to alter his leather Hessian boots. They featured a tasseled shin and pointed toe which made mounting the stirrups easier.

The Iron Duke’s cobbler dropped the heel to one inch, removed the lining, and cropped the boot closer to the calf. The foppish war hero’s style was quickly imitated amongst the country’s dandies, and the boots’ popularity never dwindled.

Reading about Wellington’s affect on his compatriots, I couldn’t help but draw a connection to the fervor surrounding our new first family’s style choices. The president’s penchant for HSM, his footwear, and his wristwatch have received loads of attention (Bryant Gumbel claims the only way he was able to convince a sweaty and tired Obama to talk after his pick-up basketball game was to steal the prized watch and use it as bait). Throughout history, our country’s leaders have been known to set off fashion trends. The stories of Lincoln’s trips to Brooks Brothers or Kennedy’s swearing-in sans fedora are legendary.


In the 1850s, after learning of the vulcanization process from American tire-maker Charles Goodyear, Hiram Hutchinson took the idea to France where he formed the first rubber Wellington. L’Aigle became the boot of choice amongst French farmers, who previously trudged the fields in wooden clogs.
Their popularity wasn’t solidified, however, until the British government commissioned Hunter Boot, Ltd. to produce over a million pairs to protect its soldiers’ feet in the soggy trenches of WWI. Hunter continued producing the boots throughout the years of The Great War, and from then on the boots were synonymous with the wet conditions of Great Britain.
In a contest at this year’s Farm Aid, I won a pair of Swedish company Tretorn’s Skerry (on sale at the moment). Scandinavians, known for their sleek, modern designs, would probably laugh at my trepidation, but at first, I hesitated to wear them for fear of looking “silly.” From first wear, the fleece-lined boot won me over with just how dry and warm my dogs felt after slogging through Prospect Park on a rainy Saturday. At the season’s first sign of snowfall, unlike in years past where I’d lace up my favorite pair of Gore-Tex hiking boots, my morning commute was made complete when I grabbed my stately wellies. Whether you’re a superhero, a Duke, or just a guy swishing through fresh powder on his way to grab The Sunday Times, you’ll weather the weather whatever the weather if you’re wearing a weatherproof Wellington.

Thanks for checking out the first installment of The Goods. Tune in next week when I’ll feature the timeliest of materials: down! That’s it for now, I’m all plaid out.

For more on Arthur Wellesley consult your local library for the following titles:
Wellington: The Iron Duke, by Richard Holmes
Wellington: A Personal History, by Christopher Hibbert
Architects of Empire: The Duke of Wellington and His Brothers, by John Severn
or see the following:
Waterloo (1970), starring Christopher Plummer as Wellington, Rod Steiger as Napolean Bonaparte, and Orson Welles as King Louis XVIII
“Sharpe’s Waterloo” (1997), starring Sean Bean as Richard Sharpe

Designers Dressed for Success

I uncovered an incredible article in Playboy from July 1961 about some of my heroes: midcentury designers Nelson, Wormley, Saarinen, Bertoia, Eames, and Risom. What struck first was this photo. Notice Eames’ bow tie, Saarinen’s specs and pipe, Risom’s hefty pocket square, and all those dark socks. Take this as proof that to be the best, you’ve got to dress the best. Know when to wear the suit, and the next time Playboy comes knocking, you’ll be ready.

Ten to One: Alex Beh

alexA little while ago, I sent a list of ten questions to LA-based quintuple threat – actor, writer, producer, director, and of course designer – Alex Beh, one of the co-founders of Brotally Worldwide, Inc. You can find his reply, mostly in lower case, below:

1. Could you give me the history of the Brotally! Shirt in a haiku?

a shirt
a lifestyle
a warm memory
little babies dancing around.

2. Why a T-shirt?

people love t-shirts, they like to wear their favorites, new ones that feel like their favorites; brotally shirts are favorite shirts.

3. Who prints your shirts?

a guy in nashville named robbie.

4. Thus far, I know you’ve stuck with American Apparel for each new version of the shirts you create. Do you have any plans to branch out, perhaps incorporate a high-end collaboration with someone like LA’s own James Perse?

yes, we are not stuck on american apparel. we like them, we think their fabric is beautiful, extremely comfortable, and even after YEARS and YEARS of being on the market we still get people saying; “what?! what is this? wow! this is amazing, what is this brand?” to which i respond: “it’s american apparel” and they say: “wow, wow, amazing”…

its great.

however, for the LA event we threw last month for my latest film The Laundry we did a run with NLA (Next Level Apparel) and i like them.

5. Any plans to offer an organic cotton option for the granolie polies out there? Something with a vegetable or water-based
dye, perhaps? What about plaid? I don’t know about LA, but in New York, the buffalo check is everywhere these days.

sure, if the comfort level is right, we will be happy to embrace certain organic routes as well; first and foremost is making sure the shirts are comfortable! and plaid? i could see brotally in gold over a plaid piece of fabric. a plaid shirt with looplets.


of course. that’s what i’m talking about!

6. At one point in time, I thought you’d expanded beyond shirts, offering Brotally! Hats etc., but I see, for the moment anyway, you’re back to shirts and shirts alone. Any intentions to expand again? Could we see a full Brotally! line on the runways of Fashion Week some day?

yes. for sure, timing is everything. working with the company who suggested the hats just wasn’t right at the time. we’d like to see brotally onesies, brotally hats, zip-ups, track pants, zubaz, and for certain: POLO SHIRTS.

7. You’ve recently re-launched your website and I see you’re promoting Mocha Club, Falling Whistles, and Invisible Children. Down the road, do you intend to donate a portion of your proceeds to these organizations? How did you become involved with them? Why the call to serve?

yes, we want to donate a portion of our proceeds. they are great organizations doing work we believe in. bobby at IC is a great friend, and i strongly believe in what he’s doing. we did an event in los angeles, our first ‘brotally’ event; it was a huge success, and in partnering with sean carasso of FW, we used the film and our network to draw people to a great event, to raise awareness and some money for a great cause over there at FW.

and to answer the second part of your question, the call to serve comes from a need to want to make a difference with art, with clothing, and with business. we can start making that difference by partnering with organizations like FW whose sole purpose is to do that.

it feels good to partner a for-profit company like brotally with non-profits like MC, FW, and IC. we all want the same thing, a free world. we want to use our freedom to give it to others through artistic expression….

8. You’ve now written and directed two short films. What role, if any, did Brotally! play in the creation of these small monsters?

generally speaking, brotally plays a role in my life. it kind of encompasses my philosophy of living to a certain degree. not that i’ve figured everything out by any means, or that i can say ‘i know my philosophy,’ but ‘brotally!’ means ‘why not?’ it means ‘go for it’ it means ‘just do it.’ it means ‘you have nothing to fear,’ and part of what it means to live ‘brotally’ is that one can incorporate that into their lives however they want. one of the visions i have for “BROTALLY WORLDWIDE INC.” would be that a) everyone has a shirt, everyone – like iphones or ipods, or even white under shirts. i’m talking big city business men wearing brotally shirts under their suits because inside, they really just want to be yelling ‘brotally!’ all over the place, ‘saying brotally! and taking the rest of the day off work to help out at a homeless shelter, or to go play a round of golf.

Like Tim says: “brotally means live free or die trying…” he’s right.

as far as the films go, brotally played a huge role; ‘brotally’ is short for a deeper need in my life and the lives of others to do WHAT I REALLY,  REALLY WANT AND WHAT I REALLY FEEL MADE FOR. i realized a few years ago I had to act, and the way to do that is to make films. the way to do that is to do whatever it takes, to learn from the best, to learn from the filmmakers, and to learn from the people around me. i make the films because i love gathering funny, talented people and creating something fun, something that people want to watch. and on a deeper level, it can create a resource for us to throw events that bring awareness to organizations like IC, FW, or MC.

9. I have to know, if you had to, could you live off Brotally! and nothing else?

it would be great. ideal situation: selling shirts, supporting non-profits and films, and throwing events for my friends and new friends.

10. Fill in the blank, and don’t say “lifestyle”: I don’t design clothes. I design __________________.

huge massiveness things.

huge lifestyle movementations.

You said “lifestyle.”

In collaboration with Sean Carasso of Falling Whistles, Alex will be screening his film The Laundry, featuring Tony Hale and executive producer Joe Trohman of Fall Out Boy, at Angels & Kings in Chicago February 5th & in New York on February 12th.


Don't ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody.

stormy-kromerOriginal Stormy Kromer Cap

“I still had my red hunting hat on, with the peak around to the back and all. I really got a bang out of that hat.”


The Red Cap, Vanilla Bicycles

“I took my old hunting hat out of my pocket while I walked and put it on. I knew I wouldn’t meet anybody that knew me, and it was pretty damp out. I kept walking and walking, and I kept thinking about old Phoebe going to that museum on Saturdays the way I used to. I thought how she’d see the same stuff I used to see, and how she’d be different every time she saw it. It didn’t exactly depress me to think about it, but it didn’t make me feel gay as hell, either. Certain things they should stay the way they are. You ought to be able to stick them in one of those big glass cases and just leave them alone. I know that’s impossible, but it’s not too bad anyway. Anyway, I kept thinking about all that while I walked.”

Jones Hat, Johnson Woolen Mills

“When I was all set to go, when I had my bags and all, I stood for a while next to the stairs and took a last look down that goddam corridor. I was sort of crying. I don’t know why. I put my red hunting hat on, and turned the peak around to the back, the way I liked it, and then I yelled at the top of my goddam voice, “Sleep tight, ya morons!” I’ll bet I woke up every bastard on the whole floor. Then I got the hell out. Some stupid guy had thrown peanut shells all over the stairs, and I damn near broke my crazy neck.”

filson-double-mackinaw-cap Double Mackinaw Cap, Filson

He took another look at my hat while he was cleaning them.
“Up home we wear a hat like that to shoot deer in, for Chrissake,” he said. “That’s a deer shooting hat.”
“Like hell it is.”
I took it off and looked at it. I sort of closed one eye, like I was taking aim at it.
“This is a people shooting hat,” I said. “I shoot people in this hat.”

– Holden Caulfield, The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger