The Complete Wardrobe: Jil Sander for Uniqlo

Friday  September 25, 2009

The esteemed designer gets back in the game, introducing a line of trademark minimalist gear that every man can wear—and afford

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Good news for minimalist design junkies: Plus J, the forty-piece collection by designer Jil Sander (whose work inspires the kind of devotion usually reserved for teen idols and foul-mouthed chefs), is almost here. Available October 1st from Uniqlo, the clothes feature the same pared-down sensibility that Sander is known for—at a price that even 2009’s man can afford. A collection’s already planned for Spring 2010, but here’s an early look at some of our favorites for Fall 2009:

V-neck Sweater, $130:

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The perfect cut of this V-neck means you can wear it any way you like: over a white shirt and paired with black jeans for a casual look, or under a trim suit (pocket square and all) for something a little dressier. Just be sure to contrast the colors—after all, you’re not in uniform.

(Left) Jacket, $130; shirt, $140; jeans, $50; (Right) wool suit jacket, $130; and pants, $50: all by Uniqlo +J at Uniqlo, SoHo, N.Y.C. 877-4UNIQLO; customer.orders@uniqlo-usa.com; www.uniqlo-usa.com

Light Down Jacket, $80:

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Sander’s devil is in the details: “I focused on the density of the padding, and the contour of the armhole, which actually took up most of my time in the fitting sessions.”

Flat-front Khakis, $50:

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A simple pair of khakis, but notice how the pockets are cut so that they don’t flare out at the sides, or the low rise so the pants sit right at the hips. Simple’s never simple.

Cashmere Cardigan, $150:

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Five buttons instead of four create a higher V-line, a proportion Sander prefers: “A cardigan only looks good if it hugs and firmly defines the body at the right places.”

Plaid Shirt, $40:

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The perfect marriage: “Uniqlo understands modern basics, so rather than reinvent anything, I put my signature in things like the exact shape of the silhouette and the angle of the shoulder line.”—jason chen

Models shot by Eric Ray Davidson. Still life photographs by Tom Schierlitz. Hair by Jordan Blackmore using Oribe Hair Care. Grooming by Kumi Craig for Exclusive Artists. Prop Styling by Eddy Alcantara for Mark Edward Inc.

Ten Years Gone

Monday  August 17, 2009

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If you ask Chris and Kirk Bray where they're from, the brothers behind the leather goods and canvas bag label Billykirk will give you a variety of answers. In fact, the fellas were born in Tennessee (and still have family in the Volunteer state), but grew up in Minnesota—meaning that the brothers Bray bring a unique mix of Southern and Midwestern perspectives to their collections (ticking-stripe bags, hand-sewn leather wallets), not to mention their laid-back personalities. After college the older (and more gregarious) brother, Chris, moved to L.A. to be an actor (mostly daytime TV stuff, according to him; the videos have yet to surface on YouTube), with the artsy and more cerebral brother Kirk soon following along.

"It all started with an inch-and-a-quarter-wide watch strap that Kirk and I found in a pawn shop in Santa Monica," says Chris from his studio in Jersey City. "Kirk would wear it to this coffee-shop job he worked at night, and tons of people would ask him where he got it. Eventually, Kirk came into my office at this real-estate gig I had and we decided we should start making leather watch straps and leather goods." That was in 1998, and in 1999 Billykirk launched, to great fanfare in the fashion community. Ten years later and the brand is de rigeur for cool shops all over the U.S. and overseas.

Last week Billykirk hosted a party to celebrate a decade in the business. The night was complete with beers, cocktails made from ROOT (a root liquor that was mixed with cream soda; think root beer with a kick), and, in typical Bray style, a raffle (lucky partygoers scored free Billykirk bags and wallets). After ten years, Chris and Kirk still get excited to share their creations with people—in my mind, the mark of true craftsmen. Here's to another ten years, times ten.—michael williams

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Billykirk founders Chris (left) and Kirk Bray

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Billykirk's new collaboration footwear with Sebago

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A Matter of Space

Sunday  June 28, 2009

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About to hop a plane to New York to get back to the family and job. One final thought on Paris: As impressive as the shows are, the spaces in which they're held are often even more memorable. In Milan, labels like Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana, and Armani keep it consistent, hosting shows in their own little arenas; in Paris, it's anything (and anywhere) goes. You get centuries-old churches, sky-lit parking garages, magnificent government buildings, Napoleon-era mansions and deserted train depots, from the center of town to the farthest, dumpiest outskirts. This week, John Galliano commandeered a crumbling, 1930s indoor swimming pool, drowning in layers of grafitti. An hour later, at 10 p.m. (just as the sun was finally dipping below the cityscape), Raf Simons welcomed the crowds to an immaculate gardened courtyard, at what is now a school for the blind. The two venues couldn't have been more different, or more stunning.

Alright, gotta go—about to take off. See you in September at the New York shows.—adam rapoport

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Raf Simons

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Junya Watanabe

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Arms Race

Saturday  June 27, 2009

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Um, hmm…so this short-sleeve suit thing ain't going away. Spotted it again, this time at today's Wintle presentation at the Ritz.—a.r.

Paris Calling

Saturday  June 27, 2009

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That's right—this dude's got a gold chain running from his belt to his cellphone. And gold aviators and a gold watch. Try this at home, and I'm pretty sure you'll get your ass kicked. Try this at the John Galliano show, and no one looks twice.—a.r.

Light on Your Feet

Saturday  June 27, 2009

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At a shoe store in the Marais. Loving the selection of canvas sneakers, something that the French appreciate much better than we do back home.

If you buy a simple white pair, you can wear them as easily with a suit as with jeans or khakis. And best of all, they're cheap. Plus, when it's pushing 90, do you really need padded leather sneakers on your feet?—a.r.

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Dig the Nouveau

Saturday  June 27, 2009

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If you're the type who used invest in Helmut Lang (back when Helmut was there) and Dior Homme (back when Hedi Slimane was there), check out the new men's line by Balmain, just now making its way to the States. Super pricey, but kind of a perfect wardrobe of skinny dirty-white jeans, beaten-in cargo jackets, and worn-out bombers. No full suiting yet, although designer Christophe Decarnin does do tux jackets, which he likes to pair with his faded tees and military pants.—a.r.

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10:44 p.m., Raf Simons

Friday  June 26, 2009

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A ridiculously late start—as always—but man, helluva show. Hard to think of designer right now who cuts a better suit, or makes a crisper white shirt, or who understands how to be creative without being over the top. The guy's killing it.—a.r.

1:15 p.m., Rick Owens

Friday  June 26, 2009

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Not entirely sure what look this chick is going for, but she and her little crew have been getting photographed by everyone today. They kind of remind me of the bad guys in Superman II.—a.r.

9:35 p.m., John Galliano

Friday  June 26, 2009

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First Michael Jackson moment of the day: A sternum-pounding version of "PYT, Pretty Young Thing," as Galliano took his bows, posing and smirking every step of the way. Only question is: How is it that another designer didn't beat him to the punch?—a.r.

Junya Watanabe, 10:35am

Friday  June 26, 2009

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'Perfect show. The guy's not only a great designer, but a great stylist too.' That's our creative director Jim Moore talking about Junya Watanabe. Translation? Watanabe not only makes great individual pieces (a suit jacket, a work boot, a straw hat) but he puts head-to-toe looks together as well as anyone. He conceives a theme for a show, and as soon as the first model walks out—boom!—you get it. Might be a riff on American workwear, or sly takes on the navy blazer or cooled-up versions of hunting gear. But it never gets repetitive. He keeps you guessing with reversible jackets, and collaborations with established brands like Levi's and Tricker's shoes and Carhartt and Nike. This season he had a 1940s man-on-holiday thing going—printed neckercheifs with matching pocket squares, glen-plaid suits, driving caps. And to round it out, a series of rain parkas, in collaboration with Mackintosh. Sounds a bit dowdy and dandy, but never felt that way. The suit jackets were often made of nylon with attachable hoods, the pants were cropped short, the dress shoes chunky and tough. From start to finish: totally cohesive, totally cool.—a.r.

Smoking Hot

Friday  June 26, 2009

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How genius is Adam Kimmel's spring/summer lookbook? The New York-based desiger hired Jim Krantz, who created many of the original Marlboro Man ads, to shoot the photos on location in Moab, Utah, using 'real' cowboys and a New Yorker or two. Kimmel calls the collection 'Roy Rogers meets the Marlboro Man'. I'm just going to call it totally badass.—a.r.

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7:35 p.m., Dries Van Noten

Friday  June 26, 2009

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Snack of the Week: Bracingly fresh mojito sorbet, doled out from an ice cream truck that Dries Van Noten hired and parked outside the Place de la Bourse (essentially Paris' version of the New York Stock Exchange). Rain showers complicated matters a bit, washing us up from the building's stone steps onto two overflowing rows of skinny wooden benches on what I'm going to call the front porch. At showtime, another truck pulled up, its flatbed stacked with speakers blasting dance music. And with that the show got under way, a series of high-cropped (but pleated pants), printed shirts, and light-and-loose double-breasted jackets. As Interview Magazine's Chris Bollen said, it felt like we were up there posing for a class picture. But the ice cream kept us happy.—a.r.

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Model Behavior

Friday  June 26, 2009

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In case you're wondering what male models look like when they're not working the runway…—a.r.

2:55 p.m., Louis Vuitton

Thursday  June 25, 2009

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Somewhere on the outskirts of Paris, in a soaring skylit space. A black-sand runway, meticulously tended to by I guess what you might call groundskeepers. Actor Bradley Cooper in the front row, along with Black Eyed Peas, including the actual Will.I.Am, not just a hologram of him. Can't quite figure out why he's wearing a leather harness and a Dungeons & Dragon-quality metal bracer around his right biceps. Fergie's looking hot. Cool show, lots of tech-y nylon parkas and outerwear (a definite this season) paired with lightweight suit jackets and shorts, in a spectrum of colors, starting with school-bus yellow all the way through to a deep navy. Major scene backstage, with menswear designer Paul Helbers receiving enthusiastic congrats from fashion editors (do you think sportswriters congratulate Lebron after he drops 50? Hmm…), while Vuitton head designer Marc Jacobs greets the cameras and mikes. Never thought I'd say this, but the dude does somehow make wearing a black skirt and giant diamond stud look both stylish AND manly.—a.r.

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12:10 p.m., Hugo by Hugo Boss

Thursday  June 25, 2009

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Not sure how much Hugo Boss Adrien Brody wears when he's off the clock 'keeping it real,' but the dude was looking sharp today in a navy Hugo side-vented suit with a dark-on-dark shirt-and-tie combo. Down-right movie star-esque.—a.r.

India—You're so GQ

Thursday  June 25, 2009

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Say hi to the newest members of the global GQ family—Arjun Bhasin, fashion director of ten-month-old GQ India, and the fetching (yes, I just said 'fetching') junior stylist Antara Motiwala, who tells us that what she really wants to do some day soon is land a magazine gig in New York City. We say bring it on.—a.r.

8:43 p.m., YSL

Thursday  June 25, 2009

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You know how ESPN broadcasts that Sunday-evening ballgame the night before the season gets started on Opening Day? (I'm just going to assume, by the way, I'm allowed to make a sports allusion in a fashion blog.) Anyway, that's what the YSL show is kind of like—a kickoff event before Paris fashion week begins in earnest tomorrow. It's what you might call an 'intimate affair', about 100 or so guests at the label's mansion—a short original film, followed by a show, followed by cocktails in the courtyard. Not a bad way to start the evening, one in which is still as bright as day at 9pm. Sat across the runway from Vahina (real name) Giocante and several other young French film stars. And the show itself? Lots of black, high-waisted full-cut trousers with tapered jackets and black-leather mandals. And no one looking sharper (as always) than designer Stefano Pelati, in said trousers, a white tucked-in tee, a beard, and a mess of tattoos. Alright, gotta sign off—dinner time.—a.r.

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Designer Stefano Pelati

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Ciao, Milano

Wednesday  June 24, 2009

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Wow, so that's that; Milano is finito. Heading to Linate airport right now with GQ's creative director Jim Moore and fashion director Madeline Weeks. Hopping a plane to Paris, where I plan to spend tomorrow doing as little as possible, other than shopping for some Isabelle Marant (wife's orders) and some gear at Bonton for my chunky 18-month-old son Marlon.

So, what are the trends from Milan? That's what everyone always wants to know. Well, lots of good stuff, but as Jim Moore just said, we got a mixed bag this week—"kind of all over the place." Not in a bad way, just no dominant trends, per se. Although, Madeline just pointed out that we saw lots of great anoraks and parkas, and even ponchos (Burberry, Moncler Gamme Bleu, DSquared, Gucci et al.). Mixing high style with hi-tech (a dress shirt and slim tie always look great with a heavy winter parka or a spring-weight slicker) is something I've always thought was cool. And if it doesn't stop raining so much in New York, it's a look I'll have to employ as soon as I touch down in NYC on Sunday. Until then, see you in Paris.—a.r.

Milan in Milan

Tuesday  June 23, 2009
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Not that we really need to be giving our friend Milan Vukmirovic even more ink, but I was totally digging his outfit today. Kind of like Bing Crosby meets an off-the-clock Sammy Davis (notice that the shirt is a tux shirt). Of course, when you're 6'2'', well-tanned, rail-thin, and speak, like, five languages, pulling off a look like this comes a bit easier. But I'd hope that this photo makes one thing clear: Every guy should own a cardigan. Even one with a bit of color to it.—a.r.