We were as jazzed as anyone to learn that Thom Browne would be debuting two new lower-priced
collections for Spring 2010. So what are the clothes like? The designer was kind enough to send us this look from the upcoming "red/white/blue" line (the other one's called "classics"; both names are provisional). Says Browne: "In this group, functional outerwear like this will really work well within the more-tailored aspects of my collection that I'm known for." In other words, the perfect jacket for flood conditions. Prices not yet set, but expect to pay roughly 30 to 40 percent less
than his main line; available in early 2010.
Thom Browne's famous shrunken clothes are about to get a little smaller. WWD reports that the designer will launch two new lines for spring that'll be priced 30 to 40 percent less than his main collection (in other words, still pretty expensive). The "classic" collection (names aren't yet final) will include his signature gray wool suit, cotton oxfords, and khaki trousers, while "red/white/blue" will offer Ivy-influenced outerwear, polos, crewnecks, and other staples, as well as swim trunks and T-shirts for summer. Browne's hardly the first to jump on the budget/basics bandwagon—we've recently covered new lines from both Robert Geller and Tim Hamilton, and Rag & Bone has also announced a lower-priced (though women's only) collection—and he won't be the last. Not that we're complaining. Also not complaining: Tony Melillo, who's apparently got a huge fan in Simon Cowell. It seems the bristle-headed American Idol judge is borderline-obsessed with the collection of T-shirts Melillo recently did for Barneys. When they sold out, Cowell put in a personal order for 200. Hey, we're just glad it was T-shirts, and not cropped trousers.
Inven.tory, the NYC boutique/outlet hybrid specializing in overstock from emerging designers—a.k.a. the store of the permanent sample sale—has launched its first collaborative line with menswear designers Comune. As seems to be the trend these days, the collection's heavy on indie-rocker-style basics, both in terms of the offerings—T-shirts, plaid shirts, leather jackets, and lace-ups—and the pricing, which assures that you won't have to hock your equipment to look like a guitarist in search of his next band. $25 to $140 at Inven.tory, 237 Lafayette St., NYC, (212) 226-5292, inventorynyc.com
As Eric Asimov reported in today's Times, a newfound stinginess on the part of America's wine drinkers has not been kind to the California wine industry—and I'll admit that my recent buying patterns have made me a part of the problem. If you're also more concerned about your own bottom line than that of some grower in Napa (who, let's face it, had it pretty damn good for most of the 2000's), allow me to offer a recommendation: Ravenswood Vintners Blend Merlot. On the face of it, you couldn't dream up a less promising bottle of wine. For one thing, there's the brand itself. Once a cult winery known for its assertive Zins, Ravenswood sold out to a conglomerate in 2001, basically trading its indie cred for a bunch of cash. And, sure enough, for a few years after the deal, its wines seemed to have become the enological equivalent of a Black Eyed Peas record hidden inside a Sonic Youth cover. But then, for reasons unknown—someone maybe decided that making decent wine is actually more fun and more profitable?—the ship righted itself, and a bottle of Ravenswood is again a pretty reliable quaff. Then there's the grape itself: Merlot. Even five years on, the varietal is still recovering from the Sideways effect. But while Paul Giamatti's rantings sent your parents and their friends dashing off to the Pinot aisles, Merlot—the grape of Château Pétrus, mind you—quietly became a dependable bargain. Throw in a financial meltdown, the worst recession in decades, and bam, here we are, talking about $9 bottles of Ravenswood Vintners Blend Merlot.
So…is it good? It's nine dollars. Of course it's not fucking good. What it is, however, is surprisingly, uncomplicatedly drinkable—even "gulpable," as one reviewer recently put it—and, Great Recession or not, a red you can sip without wincing for under $10 is a minor miracle. Plus, as a bonus, it goes great with Rib eye à la Rapoport.
The world's financial districts are a lot emptier than they used to be, and doomsayers are listening for their death knell. But a few quick thinkers, like Savile Row's Richard James, hear opportunity knocking. Next week, the brand is set to open a pop-up shop on London's Liverpool Street. During its two-week run, the temporary store will sell the Spring/Summer collection and archival pieces not available anywhere else. GQ U.K. asked James' managing director, Sean Dixon, about the location choice. "Landlords would rather see this space used by high-end brands, even if it is only temporarily," Dixon told the mag. Will others follow suit? Could be. As James told our own Tim Blanks during a video tour of his Savile Row shop (below), he was among the first of his kind at that address, too.
Sad news from the Department of Recessionary Measures: Looks like the downturn has kept shirts as low as spirits, even at the Happiest Place on Earth. Word from Disneyland is that the park recently let go of the photo editor in charge of monitoring and editing out flashers from Splash Mountain's photo feed, citing a decline in theme-park girls gone wild. (The automatically snapped shots are played on a screen outside the ride, and are available for purchase as a souvenir.) Is this the holy grail of economic indicators? Keep an eye out—when breasts start appearing again, we may finally be in the clear.
Good economic news (sort of)! British bedazzler-turned-designer Alexander Amosu, Forbes reports, has found an anonymous buyer for his record-breaking, one-of-a-kind vicuña and Arctic musk ox suit (price: just over $100,000). This is the first foray into fashion for Amosu, who's known (if he's known at all) as the maker of diamond-encrusted cell phones and the like (including 50 Cent's solid-gold padlocked BlackBerry case). On the occasion of its purchase, the suit was shown off to a select few near—though, tellingly, not on—Savile Row.
The Venezuelan strongman isn't as warm and fuzzy, but he's doing similar wonders for book sales: After President Chávez presented President Obama with Open Veins of Latin America, a critical history of U.S. intervention in the region, at this weekend's Summit of the Americas, the book shot to No. 2 on Amazon. Its previous rank: 54,295.