at home in... w| Gerald Zhang-Schmidt

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Tag: clothing (Page 1 of 2)

Black Yak Combat Shirt Zipper Pull

Black Yak Performance, as per the Combat Shirt

a.k.a., A Review of the Black Yak Combat Shirt and Notes on My Fascination with this Brand

I have mentioned Black Yak some times before, but it is only now that I really want to talk about them.
About a product of theirs, the Combat Shirt, and the fascination this company provides in the world of technical / performance clothing…

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Sendling Jacket Using Leather Lock Strap

O1O6 Sendling Jacket: European Style and Substance

In the midst of the technical performance menswear revolution, niche as it is, quality counts and is often seen as coming down to production country, but it all seems American. Canadian, at best.

With O1O6 (born as onoo), however, we find a menswear startup that is European, rooted in its Southern German-Alpine background, stylish and modern, and close to timeless in look.

How so?

So:

In the Sendling in Zürich (on the Üetliberg)

In the Sendling (and Veilance Spec Pants) in Zürich (on the Üetliberg)

Watch my review here, or read on below it to delve into the details…

For one, their standout first-collection piece, the Sendling jacket, is made from loden, a wool fabric that would fit the current interest in natural fibers with great performance very well, if only it weren’t used in traditional costumes so much.

Green or grey loden, deer antler buttons, that’s the men’s costume to accompany women wearing a dirndl. Good for the Oktoberfest, but not exactly a modern style to wear to anything but such a festival. Or maybe a hunt.

Not so with the Sendling.

It’s still grey loden, but a very comfortable one, and one treated with a teflon coating adding further to its natural ability to shed rain and snow. Inside, a layer of insulation has been added for cold temps.

Sendling Jacket Inside (Waist)

Sendling Jacket Inside (Waist)

Style

The cut is thoroughly modern in all the best ways:

  • form-fitting but not tight
  • with cooling and stretching cutouts behind the shoulder blades for ventilation and movement
  • stretch cuffs inside the asymmetric outside cuffs protecting the backs of your hands and keeping out wind
  • pockets and main closure (except for three buttons there for style) all closed by waterproof zippers that are thoroughly modern a touch again, but functional as well.
Sendling Jacket Chest Pocket

Sendling Jacket Chest Pocket (and Collar Detail)

Most of those – and more! – details are all made for the intended use of the jacket, as a piece that you can wear on your bike while riding into work or to the next coffee shop or traditional Kaffeehaus, then get right down to business or your individual pursuits and still look dressed like a creative professional.

In their advertising material (see their website), it’s all very much the hipster look and style, but no beard is required to rock that jacket. No fixie bike, either.

And in Substance?

The bit of insulation added to the inside keeps pretty warm while not getting stuffy as long as the temperatures are low enough (summer jacket this ain’t).

Sendling Jacket Inside, while worn

Sendling Jacket Inside, while worn

I have worn my Sendling from February to May, from Munich to Zurich to Rome, and it’s held up come rain or shine.
In Zurich, in downpours, I just added a woolen cap and was fine; only Rome got a bit warm for it.

(One downside: It should not be washed, only dry cleaned. I went ahead and hand-washed the inside at the armpits, where washing became highly advisable, with mild wool detergent, anyways, then hung it up to dry outside. Worked out very well. Otherwise, for all but if you get it too sweaty, loden just needs to be hung out in fog – or in your steamy post-shower bathroom.)

Even then, the leather strap inside, meant to keep the jacket from flapping around in the wind when you’re on your bike, comes in handy for having the jacket open, but not totally, in warm-enough temperatures that you don’t want to have it zipped and/or buttoned up.

Sendling Jacket Using Leather Lock Strap

Sendling Jacket using leather lock strap (and you can also see the headphone garage above the chest pocket)

So, in total, as you can also see in the video review, you can wear this jacket completely open, open-but-unflappable using the leather strap (which can also be removed if so desired… or maybe if you need a tool for a spanking), closing the buttons, zipping it up halfways for the suit jacket-collar look, or zipping it up all the way and putting up the collar for real cold-weather use.

I do hope O1O6 will remain and go on – who else makes performance-oriented menswear that is designed in Germany and sewn in Italy, of European materials? – and they sure sounded like they already had ideas for further improvements and maybe new things.

Their initial collection already includes a bomber jacket, the Westend, and the Lehel short coat…

Let’s see what’s next; it’s sure to be style with substance, “intelligent urban clothing” to keep and feel at home in.

Sendling Jacket Inside Construction

Sendling Jacket Inside Construction: Materials mix inside, O1O6 tag, leather hanger with limited edition number all visible

At €599 for the Sendling, it’s not cheap – until you look at what a nice suit jacket from a well-known brand would cost, all without necessarily making you look as good while protecting you that well.

ISPO 2016 Recap 3: Technical Men’s Wear

We are said to live in an information society and with an approaching Internet of Things, but our clothes aren’t so smart yet, and styles of dress often seem to have become less smart than they ever used to be.

And there, clothes have a major influence on how we feel, physically and psychologically, as well as on what we can do, in style and/or in comfort. The life at home in this world is also the enclothed life

So, something I wanted to look for at this year’s ISPO – which also has its own section dedicated to “sport style”, anyways – was clothing that suited the technical / performance men’s wear category. (And the Suunto Kailash I have been wearing for reviewing ;) )

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Khunu Balto sweater detail

Khunu YakWear: Wool, Top of the World

Merino has become such a trend, it seems everywhere. From dress shirts to running tops, more and more clothes are made of or incorporate merino wool. Almost all of it comes from New Zealand, almost all of it seems made in China.

Straight from a very different part of China, and recently moved to be Made in England, comes Khunu.

The company and its products are remarkable for a whole set of reasons:

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Thinking Athleisure through Thunderbolt Sportswear

Review of Thunderbolt Sportswear’s Softshell Jeans Mark 2 and Agility Hoodie, after half a year of use – and thoughts around athleisure.

Agility Hoodie

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Festival des Métiers Sujet

Hermès’ Festival des Métiers – Hands and Quality

One of those things where we’re living very superficially is when it comes to what covers our own surface: clothing, fashion, and all that.

Strangely enough, the superficiality can go contradictory ways:

Never caring about fashion or clothes, the cheapest stuff may be the best – but given its environmental and social impact, and the influence that clothes have on one’s own attitude to and bearing in life, that may be a costly approach.

The expensive approach, spending a lot on clothing, hunting after the latest in style and fashion trends, caring only too much, seemingly tends to be equally as superficial – and it’s well recognized as such.

Whatever you think of that, wherever you fall on that line, some insight into the processes behind a production is sure to be a good thing, making another step closer, away from the superficiality.

Fascinating, then, to use the chance that Hermès provides through its Festival des Métiers, to meet with various of its craftsmen and see how they work – which chance I took as they came to Vienna (where they will be until this Sunday, September 27, in none other but the Spanish Riding School):

Arc’teryx Veilance Blazers – Sartorial Style in Sports Tech

Seeing a type of clothing that is rather business-like in a material that is not the traditional choice is somewhat disconcerting.

Enclothed Self Presentation

Enclothed Self Presentation

A blazer may be more casual and sporty than a full-on suit, but it still is a step up in style for most men nowadays, outside of the office and business world that requires suit and tie; a blazer in a Windstopper material, then, seems a tad too radical a departure from the norm.

Well, that material is still missing from my ‘collection’, but Veilance has produced blazers in everything from high-density polyester weaves as used in water- and wind-resistant shells to wool-cotton blends and the just-mentioned Windstopper.

Going for such technical materials, and for some technical, protective, features as well, these pieces do stand out from the usual range of men’s clothing.
At the same time, in bringing these two sides together, they show just how much we have forgotten that clothing is always both protection and presentation, function and style.

Even a pair of jeans and a T-shirt transports a message and keeps its wearer dressed and (hopefully) comfortable.

If jeans and a T-shirts isn’t your style – or if it is, but only spruced up a bit towards the more sartorial – and you still spend a good bit of your time moving around outside, not just in a car, blazers like those from Arc’teryx may be just the thing for you: Style and substance, so to speak.

Pieces I can speak of are:

For one, the Haedn blazer of the most recent seasons (and an otherwise unnamed blazer from a few seasons ago), which is a wool-cotton-polyester blend with a rather more traditional look and feel but great cut and performance…

Secondly, for the spring/summer seasons, there is the Blazer LT. This light and thin, rather shirt-like, version of a blazer is odd at first (Shouldn’t a blazer be a thicker material?), but turns out just perfect for a greater touch of style and protection…

Something I can’t resist mentioning: If the blazers have you thinking of hipsters on bikes – or perhaps, men with a sense of gentleman-ness who know how to combine old(er)-fashioned classical style with modern elements – check out Onoo’s “Sendling” jacket!

Thunderbolt Sportswear Softshell Jeans, 4 Years Later

Even in a field of many brands that are unknown to all but those in the know, Thunderbolt Sportswear is an outlier.

Given the Schoeller Dryskin used in their (now so-called) “Originals” softshell jeans, they fall right into the category of “technical menswear.”

Their focus, however, was less on the fashion than on the performance side of things; their jeans were even presented as a potential climbing jeans.

And so, even as many a brand in the category of tech-wear comes from a background in sports, especially cycling (Outlier is probably the best known; 7Mesh is newly getting started, to name just two), they went quite unnoticed in that field.

For me, too, the material was the main point of interest back in 2011 when I got my pair. And while I still love my Veilance Spec Pant, I have gone through two different other models from Veilance while the Thunderbolts are still going strong…

Where one of the selling points of Arc’teryx Veilance pieces are their very particular cuts, Thunderbolt’s offering is considerably more run-of-the-mill – but it’s a good mill: Schoeller Dryskin, and a classic five-pocket jeans cut.

As much as I like the peculiar cut and functionality of Veilance pants (with their angular lines and hardly visible ‘cargo pockets’ along the outside of the upper legs of some models), the comfort of the Thunderbolt’s softshell material is just amazing.
After four years of use, they are still the favorite pants of mine for most situations, from casual lounging to not-entirely-too-formal business wear.

Where Veilance’s materials work well, but can get to feel a little clammy when it gets warm, the Schoeller Dryskin is quite alright in a hot summer (for which it is somewhat too warm, of course) and still enough for me on a cold winter’s day.

(When temperatures get below freezing, however, it is time for the Veilance Spec Pants…)

The material cleans up well (even with the DWR gone), has withstood everything I’ve thrown at it reasonably well – and what faults in it have come up are not visible from the outside or without very close inspection or were easy enough to repair – and if there is one problem with it, it is that the feel is almost too comfortable.

It has, more than once, reminded me of the feeling of pajama pants, it feels that soft on the skin.

Hence, I enjoy going out in them, and they are a favorite for just lounging around at home, all the same.

Things had gone quiet around Thunderbolt Sportswear, but they are still around and on the verge of updating their original softshell jeans (stronger thread in the stitching was one of the few needed improvements) and introducing new products.

We’ll see what comes. I’m sure it will be good.

(And the date for the new releases has just been announced: March 16.)

Arcteryx Veilance Review 2: Field Jacket, Spec Pant, Stealth Shirt

Clothes to Be at Home in: Veilance Spec Pant and Stealth Shirt (and Field Jacket)

Some new piece of gear, a new fashion trend in a new season, something that disappoints – such things give something to talk about.

It can be seen on the vast majority of blogs; it can be seen with my previous review of the Veilance Diale Composite Sweater (good, thus not talked about at length) and the Cargo LT (and Voronoi) Pants (which failed and therefore gave me a lot to talk about).

Where are the things that make for the earlier-mentioned “wardrobe for all seasons”?

Their disappearance, so far, is another example of one of the big issues in making oneself at home in places and with things: the large extent to which both the good and the familiar disappear.

Familiarity, by and large, means nothing but such a disappearance of the new and noticeable into the background – and to a forgetfulness of what would actually be there. Good products, similarly and very differently, often fulfill their purpose and suit us so well, they also disappear from our attention.

If we want to make ourselves more at home, then, we need to become more conscious of what we are overlooking in our lives and in the places we are, but also to find those things that fit for us and for what we do, so that we can be less conscious of them.

In my daily and in my less-ordinary life, when it comes to clothes, these good things have included a few pieces from Arc’teryx Veilance. For a few years now, the Spec Pant and Stealth shirt(s) have been staples in my wardrobe. They have held up well; they give the look of being well-dressed but not seasonally-fashionably so; they suit and protect well.

Sure, as usual, a lot of it may be due to the placebo-like ‘enclothing’ effect of a Windstopper cargo pant that can very nearly pass as a pair of slacks and a shirt that includes Kevlar in its material mix – but when it works, it works…

Of course, there is one big problematic issue perfectly pointed out by such a review of things which have proven good, but come from a brand deeply involved in quarterly earning figures and, with this line, twice-yearly product releases with few constant items: You can find out that these things are good only at a time when you cannot get them anymore…

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