This Just In: Vanishing Elephant at Oak

What's in a name? In the case of Australia's Vanishing Elephant, not much. The year-old company's clothes are deceptively, appealingly simple. Until you take a closer look, that is. A waxed cotton anorak has shades of Penfield, except that it zips on the bias like a motorcycle jacket, adding a little toughness. A plaid button-down at first glance looks like everybody else's plaid button-down, until you notice the ribbon trim on the collar and chest pocket, a detail that punches up a classic without veering into flash.
Howard waxed anorak, $238, and Dale double-collared shirt, $168, available at oaknyc.com

Photo: Oak

This Just In: Margaret Howell at South Willard

Surrey-born, London-based designer Margaret Howell has several stores in Europe (the latest opened in Paris this year), 66(!) in Japan, and exactly zero in the United States. But as of this week, you can pick up her wares on U.S. soil, thanks to Ryan Conder of the Los Angeles men's shop South Willard, who just picked up Howell's main and secondary MHL lines. What do all those Japanese dudes know that we don't? To start with, that Howell's designs are finely crafted but unassuming—fashion with a lowercase f. (There's an unfussy, workmanlike quality to her details and fabrics, like the blocky chest pockets on a twill overshirt, pictured left.) Tailored shirting, jackets, and knits are cut loose, in a palate that'll look plenty familiar to fans of Christopher Bailey's last few collections for Burberry. Not very L.A., perhaps, but then, as Conder will attest, not everyone in town wears Ed Hardy.
MHL scoured twill overshirt, $216, and chambray flannel shirt, $183, available at South Willard, 8038 W. 3rd St., L.A., (323) 653-6153, southwillard.com

Photos: South Willard

This Just In: Moore & Giles at Blackbird

The wand'ring spirit's taken hold of designers of late—from the hoofing impulse we clocked in our Fall Trend Reports to Steven Alan's recent get-outta-Dodge (and, admittedly, into a pretty nice country estate) video for his Spring 2010 collection. Of course, if you're hitting the road, you'll need a good bag, like the Moore & Giles overnighters now in at Blackbird. They're accented in bison leather, but that's no cause for alarm. The early wanderers may have shot a few too many of the noble buffalo, but as we understand it, their numbers are doing just fine now.
Overnight, $552, and Weekender, $615, available at Blackbird; to order, call (866) 500-2524 or e-mail info@blackbirdballard.com

Photo: Blackbird
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This Just In: Keds x Opening Ceremony

Keds

Not sure exactly when it happened, but suddenly, everywhere you look, there are Keds. The brand worked with Richard Chai to make the zippered pairs he showed on the runway, and now Opening Ceremony has rolled out their own collaboration with the historic American brand. The shape is classic; the look, not so much. OC's piled detail on detail, from nautical laces to a mod-ish yellow footbed to red bandana-printed lining for maximum effect. And somehow, oddly—it works. Too much, in this case, turns out to be just enough.
$65, available at openingceremony.us

Photo: openingceremony.us

This Just In: Altadena Works at South Willard

Will style types ever tire of the resurgent backpack? If we keep finding great-looking ones like these, probably not. South Willard's Ryan Conder is now carrying California-made Altadena Works packs, inspired by the rugged simplicity of seventies-era camping gear and punched up with contrasting leather accents. (As obsessives increasingly prefer, that leather comes from the historic U.S. tannery Horween, which also supplies the likes of Alden, Allen Edwards, and Yuketen with skins.) They're now available at Conder's L.A. shop and online at Altadena Works' own site.
Backpacks (above), $225, and rucksacks (below), $275, available at South Willard, 8038 W. Third St., L.A., (323) 653-6153, southwillard.com, and online at altadenaworks.com

Photos: Courtesy of Altadena Works

This Just In: Nom de Guerre at Roden Gray

Nom de Guerre

Sometimes you have to look far afield to find what you're after. Case in point, a favorite piece from Nom de Guerre's Fall collection, now in at Vancouver's Roden Gray. (The northern shop is carrying NdG for the first time this season.) As usual, the line's knitwear and outerwear are both standouts, but my favorite is the military-inspired hooded vest. I've been thinking about vests since Josh mentioned Steven Alan's flannel-lined one on "In the Closet," and think this in-the-trenches take may be more my speed right now. It's not cheap, but it's made—in Japan, of waxed cotton and down—to take a beating and stay strong. War is hell, after all; so's the subway.
About $790, available at Roden Gray, 231 Cambie St., Vancouver, British Columbia, (604) 689-7302, rodengray.com

Photo: Roden Gray

This Just In: Burkman Bros at Lark

Doug and Ben Burkman's Fall '09 collection—inspired, the brothers say, by "boys' academies in faraway places"—is now in at one of our own favorite faraway places, Vancouver's Lark. (Not as far for the Burkmans; the twins are Canadian.) Our pick: the double-layered shirt, with the guys' own red-check plaid outside—one of the many fabrics they designed for the line—and a washed gray lining within. While many lines name-check foreign influences, Burkman Bros' weathered fabrics and attention to detail make theirs far more than credible than most—right down to the care label, which is printed in Indic script (inset). That's not exactly user-friendly, but, hey, if you still need help washing your shirts, another stint at one of those boys' academies may be in order.
About $240, available at lark.me

Photo: lark.me

This Just In: Maxx & Unicorn at Alter

We missed them the first time around, but we're glad to report that Maxx & Unicorn's bi-fold wallets are now back in at Brooklyn's Alter. The slim, grained leather wallet, hand-made in Alter's own neighborhood of Greenpoint, has a cleverly folded, origami-esque design that's totally of the moment, though it's actually based on a pattern from the forties. So, apparently, is the price. At $85, it's the rare billfold that will leave you with a twenty or two left to store in it.
$85, available at Alter, 109 Franklin St., Brooklyn, (718) 349-0203, alterbrooklyn.blogspot.com

Photo: Alter

This Just In: Hyden Yoo at Oak

Get ready for the return of sweater weather. Hyden Yoo's fall knitwear is now in at Oak, and once again, Yoo's less-is-more designs are winners. Curious: Most of the pieces are named for literary giants: Thackeray, Shakespeare, Keats. (It's looking to be a literary season: Bright Star, a Keats biopic, hits theaters this September, too.) The wool-cashmere-blend Shakespeare sweater (pictured) doesn't look like anything the Bard would've worn, but no need to be sticklers for accuracy. We'll take the shawl collar over the Elizabethan ruff any day. Unlike the frill, you don't need a canon of plays under your belt to attempt it.
$210, available at oaknyc.com

Photo: oaknyc.com

This Just In: George McCracken at Bergdorf Goodman

George McCracken's on the record: He wants no bells and no whistles for his menswear. A lot of designers talk that talk, but McCracken's jeans, now in at Bergdorf Goodman, walk the walk, too. They're cut long and straight, from a hard, heavyweight vintage denim, and unembellished so that the material really shines. It's a grayish, olive drab that should break in beautifully, the sort that, despite the proliferation of colored and overdyed denim, you rarely see—and since it's deadstock, you may rarely see again. Interested parties, get to it.
$295, available at Bergdorf Goodman Men's, 745 Fifth Ave., NYC, (212) 753-7300, bergdorfgoodman.com

Photo: Elissa Wiehn
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