Category: Men’s Wear

Nesting and Cutting Leather with Grant Stone

Nesting patterns onto the leather is the first step to making the shoe or boot upper and is one of the most important. “Nesting” is when a person methodically maps out the upper patterns onto the leather hide. This allows the person to closely inspect the article and avoid any blemishes while utilizing the majority of the hide. It’s one of the most critical steps for a few reasons. For a factory, this is where money can be made or lost. It is a difficult job because there isn’t a straight-forward Standard Operating Procedure, and you may not know the result of a decision made until the shoe is nearly finished. For example, a questionable piece of leather may look okay once the shoe is lasted as the upper is supported. Once you remove the last, the upper may show wrinkling or other issues which were not apparent.

Every leather acts differently when it comes to aesthetics and performance. The pattern being used also plays a large factor, as some are broken in to multiple pieces while others can be a large, single pattern, which can make it difficult to find a suitable area on the hide. Even when sourcing leather from world-renowned tanneries, properly cutting the pattern (including direction) is critical. The majority of high-end footwear leathers are tanned with aniline dyes which purposely reveal the natural characteristics of the leather. While the transparency gives the leather a certain depth and character, it also exposes the blemishes such as veins or scars. It’s quite common to find subtle lines throughout the best areas of the article which tend to be near the rear-end of the animal, just beside the backbone. This part of the animal’s skin has endured less movement and encounters less everyday abuse such as cuts and scrapes.

Pictured below is a cow hide used on casual footwear which has a high wax and oil content. This article has an exaggerated “pull-up” effect which means the oils and waxes inside the article are able to move around freely. Not only does this give the article a lot of character, this will keep the article hydrated over the years when enduring water and other elements. When this article is pulled over the last, the oils and waxes are drawn out of the article highlighting the base color of the leather. This type of leather (especially in lighter colors) can be quite difficult because some blemishes that were not visible due to the oils will appear after lasting.

When mapping out the leather, cutting an extra half pair from a hide will improve yields but if the shoe is pulled aside later on in the stitching or lasting department due to quality issues such as excessive wrinkling or blemishes, the loss is much greater than just avoiding that part of the hide to begin with.

The standard comes down to the type of footwear being made, the cost and what the consumer expects. A bespoke maker might only cut one pair of shoes from an entire hide, while a volume manufacturer with very competitive pricing will try to use every last bit of the article. We have to find a middle ground, but tend be more cautious with our cutting, as we understand that there will be fewer issues later in the process and end product will be sound, as our customer expects.

Marks such as scars can’t be used on this type of footwear, so they are avoided altogether. If we had to summarize our cutting standard, we might say that we focus more on the overall grain structure. While most of the loose grain is near the edges of the article or the belly area, loose grain can also be found in the center of the article. To avoid using these areas, the person nesting has to inspect the area, lightly moving or flexing the leather to see how it reacts. This will give an indication of how the leather will look if it’s flexed during the make process or on the finished shoe. Another way to check is not only on the surface of the leather, but the flesh side. The below photo shows the grain side and flesh side of a prime area (A), versus the belly area (B). It is clear how the belly area has wrinkles on the surface and how it translates to loose fibers on the flesh side. While loose grain is usually considered a cosmetic concern, it can affect the integrity of the shoe as loose fibers are not as strong.

Smith Optics Archive Collection

In 1965 Robert Smith—an orthodontist by day and hardcore skier whenever he could get out of the office—changed the goggle game forever when he invented the first double-paned, foam-insulated lens. His new lens protected the inner layer from cold and resulted in a fog-free day on the mountain no matter the temperature changes. Since that dental tool-assisted innovation almost 50 years ago, Smith Optics continues to create some of the most high-performance outdoor eyewear on the market. With the launch of the Archive Collection, Smith pays homage to some of its most iconic shades from the ’80s and ’90s.

These aren’t your standard over-the-top neon retro-styled shades—though Smith made almost no changes to the original glasses in regards to materials, colorways, and styling. The five styles from ’88, ’90 and ’91 each feature a subtle label bearing the year of its original launch as well as an updated Carbonic lens with injection molded Tapered Lens Technology. The modern technology injected with the original frame design and the material is a testament to Smith’s commitment to creating durable products that perform at the highest level every day. Our favorites are the Marvine, which call to mind early Notorious B.I.G. vibes more than après-ski.

10 Shirts and Shorts

A style once reserved for cubicle jockeys and gas station attendants, the short sleeve button-down has picked up speed in the menswear market in recent years. And shorts? Well, they’ve always been popular. To celebrate the recent uptick in temperature most of the Northern Hemisphere is finally experiencing, we’ve pulled together a selection of short sleeve shirts and shorts from 10 brands we’ve been eyeing this season.

Brooklyn Tailors

Spring 2013 marks the first season Brooklyn Tailors has introduced short sleeve button-downs to their collection of finely constructed men’s clothing. As long-time supporters of both the bespoke and off-the-rack attire, we’re genuinely excited to see the slightly more casual options worked into the line. The Japanese printed cotton “Standard Shirt” is one of our favorites. Woven in Japan, the deep blue is overlain with a white motif with some slight irregularity due to its hand application—a touch to be appreciated. Find it online for $175 or order a made-to-measure at the Brooklyn Tailors’ brick and mortar in Williamsburg.

Kaptain Sunshine

Another Japanese brand that does Americana better than most American brands, Kaptain Sunshine references vintage garments to make sure every detail is accurate. Here we see WWII-era camo and 1960s varsity shorts act as inspiration for the Weekend Bermuda Shorts. Made in Japan of pre-shrunk Japanese cotton, the rip-stop camouflage fabric is exclusive to Kaptain Sunshine. Find these trunks from Hickoree’s for $224.


A collection firmly rooted in classic Americana from one of Japan’s most acclaimed menswear shops, Beams+ can’t be argued against. Made entirely in Japan of lightweight cotton, the PO BD Border shirt is exactly what we’re looking for this season—even though it is technically more of a pop-over than full button-down. Find it from Unionmade for $135.

Engineered Garments

Military-inspired design without an excess of camouflage, the Fatigue Shorts feature front utility pockets and a cinch waste straps. Made in NYC of Japanese cotton rip-stop, it’s hard to go wrong with Engineered Garments. Head over to Oi Polloi to find these light blue shorts for $199.

Norse Projects

Those with a penchant for design and style have been all over Norse for years now. With an acute sense of design, the Danish label delivers a perfect mix of modest menswear season after season. And we’re especially digging the Anton SS Geometry Shirt this spring. Made of 100% cotton in Europe, the all-over print is busy without going overboard. Norse Projects online has it directly for $136.


One of the single best designers in the field of absolute minimalism, Eunice Lee garners her brand plenty of attention every season, with her eye for clean lines and fine details. All of which can be seen in the Emmett Short in vintage khaki. Made in America with Italian cotton fabric, the slim shorts land above the knee for a classic look. Visit Unis in NYC, LA or online to find the Emmett for $178.


Less fashion and more everyday man, Brixton’s Lisbon shirt is your classic, relaxed check button-down. The SoCal skate and surf-inspired brand does everyday digs like this for those who actually get out there and get their hands dirty. Visit Brixton directly where the Lisbon sells for $54.

Maiden Noir

Seattle’s Maidon Noir is a sure-fire way to nail a few humble brags this spring. The small brand produces limited numbers, uses exclusive fabrics and manufactures in Japan—making it a menswear trifecta. The Selvage Field Shorts are made with a selvage chambray with adjustable side pulls for the perfect fit sans belt. Visit Maiden Noir directly to pick up a pair for $150.


If you’re an avid CH reader, you’ll know the story behind revived surf brand M.Nii. As a nod to pin-striping, the Los Angeles-made San ‘O Stripe Oxford SS is a nice surf-inspired take on the ever so necessary white Oxford. Clean and simple with just a hint of disregard, the pure cotton shirt may just be the best office-to-after-hours transition piece on the list. Find it from M.Nii directly for $175.


That clever piece to slowly integrate into your spring and summer wardrobes, the Tomaz Short from London-based Folk are loud but thoughtful. Plus, the varied assortment of semi-muted colors allows them to fit well with a wide range of styles. Check out Folk directly to find the Tomaz for £115.

Christopher Raeburn transforms a life raft into brightly coloured coats

London fashion designer Christopher Raeburn has used material salvaged from an inflatable life raft to create outerwear and accessories for his Autumn Winter 2015 menswear collection.

Christopher Raeburn chose the themes “survival” and “endurance” for this season’s Raft range, shown during the London Collections: Men event last week.

In keeping with his “Remade ethos” of recycling materials, the British designer found a new use for the inflatable emergency vessel, which was coloured bright orange and yellow to attract the attention of rescuers for those adrift at sea.

Raeburn tailored the durable rubber material into a parka and a bomber jacket, which still display the black writing and markings found across the survival vessel.

An all-black rubber field jacket was also crafted from the underside of the raft, while more of the colourful panels were worked into a backpack and a shark-shaped holdall.

The original white arrow graphic – used on the raft to demonstrate its correct orientation – could be seen on the jacket and was recreated as a motif on other garments, pointing upward on tops and downward on trousers.

Continuing with the same theme, latex rubber was used to create inflatable puffer jackets and gillets, blown up using the plastic valves found on swimming armbands.

Bright orange and red featured throughout the collection to punctuate the dark blues, greys and black thought to evoke a stormy sea.

Shark and shark-tooth patterns were applied to sweaters, T-shirts and joggers as digital prints.

More traditional fabrics and materials such as Merino wool and waxed cotton were also implemented across the collection.

Raeburn ventured into footwear this season for the first time, collaborating with London brand Purified to create a boot and a shoe to complement the garments.

The latest edition of the biannual London Collections: Men event took place from 9 to 12 January.

Other designers and studios that presented included Sibling, which showed garments made from pink fur and brown paper, while John Galliano chose the occasion to return to fashion with his inaugural haute-couture collection for Maison Martin Margiela.