Classic Roots

Poloclothing

Menswear designers new and old are tracing fashion roots and embracing brand heritage– whether it’s their own or borrowed.  Ralph is the true master of classic American sportswear, and no one is more in their element at this time than him.

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OLD NAVY

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U.S. Navy recruiting poster– circa 1917.  She’s sporting standard naval issue enlisted dress blues– or “crackerjacks” as they were commonly called in reference to the sailor boy on the popular Cracker Jack box.

Women have served as an integral and invaluable part of the U.S. Navy since the establishment of the Nurse Corps in 1908.  Nine years later, the Navy authorized the enlistment of women as “Yeomanettes.” In 1948, the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act was signed, making it possible for women to officially enter the U.S. Navy in regular or reserve status.

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It’s commonly thought that the “bell bottom” trouser was introduced in 1817 to permit men to roll them above the knee when washing down the decks– and to make it easier to remove them in a hurry when forced to abandon ship or when washed overboard.  Old Navy folklore has suggested that they may have also been used as a life preserver– by knotting the legs at the opening and filling them with air.

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Great Depressionista

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Recesionista is one of those buzzwords of 2008 that’s getting a little overplayed.  In my small world, it’s feeling more like Great Depressionista– in regard to fashion and the economy.  Looking at these pictures from the 40′s, they look like what you see in a lot of Soho shops & vintage Americana brands these days like– RRL, LVC, Warehouse, etc.  There are great, rugged pieces, and little, honest details not to be missed– like our friend’s chambray workshirt (above) that’s been mended time and again over the years– out of necessity, not for fashion.  That looks like a great old pair of Levi 501s.  I like how the front belt-loops are placed nice and snug to the fly.

 

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Thom Browne for Moncler, Fall 2009.

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Eddie Bauer is credited for inventing and patenting the first quilted down jacket in America, back in 1940.  However, Moncler is synonymous with ‘down for the jet set’, and for Fall 2009 they unveiled Gamme Blue– a collection designed by Thom Browne.  The looks are classic Thom Browne in terms of tailoring, and the very ‘tight and trad’ color story echoes Moncler’s heritage.  Some of the looks are very editorial, and therefore down-right silly.  Others are just what you expect when you think Thom Browne + Moncler. 

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Moncler’s story goes back to 1952 when they started producing technical mountain sports gear.  They say their first down jacket came about when the Moncler workers made them for their own wearing inside the factory during the colder months.  Necessity is the mother of invention, right?

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Link to Gamme Blue story and images

Link to Moncler.com

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COOL HAND LUKE | SOMETIMES A CHORE COAT CAN BE A REAL COOL HAND

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Cool Hand Luke starring Paul Newman is a classic film, and without a doubt one of my favorites.  It’s Newman’s greatest performance, in a film loaded with powerhouse acting.  You’ve got George Kennedy, Dennis Hopper, Harry Dean Stanton, Jo Van Fleet, Strother Martin (What we’ve got here is “failure to communicate”) and Dick Davalos, to name a few.  Don’t know who Dick Davalos is?  He played Blind Dick, and is best remembered as Aaron Trask, opposite James Dean’s Cal Trask in East of Eden.

Speaking of James Dean– the role of Lucas Jackson would more than likely been his– not Newman’s, had he not been killed in a fatal car crash.  Dean would have starred in The Left Handed GunSomebody Up There Likes Me and probably Hud as well.  Not to take anything away from Paul Newman, but Dean was definitely the bigger star back then, and his passing gave Newman a clear path to instant stardom.

26469_2Cool Hand Luke is visually rich with incredibly authentic sets, cultural cues, wardrobe and styling. I wanted to live in that prison bunkhouse.  What was so bad?  They got to hang-out, enjoy cold drinks, eat eggs and such.

I became obsessed with the old chain-gang garb, and own several beat-up, RRL denim chore coats because of it.  Chore coats are an iconically American piece– worn by laborers, convicts, artists and plain everyday folk.  And another American icon– the classic chambray workshirt is in there too.

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There was nothing not to like in this film– even the hair.  Carr the floor walker, and Blind Dick had very cool D.A.’s.  And what about the incredible score, Harry Dean Stanton’s crooning, and Paul Newman singing and playing banjo on Plastic Jesus?  The film is pregnant with comparisons of Luke to Jesus. Luke is their leader– his crucifixion pose after eating the eggs– “stop feeding off of me!” alluding to communion– Dragline as ‘Judas’ bringing the cops to Luke in the final scene– on and on.  There are some many famous lines in Cool Hand Luke that I could be here all day– “shaking it up here boss!”

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