Wednesday, August 31, 2011

#1977 New Zealand Fashion Week, as seen from afar

twentysevennames Photos: Guy Coombes/Katherine Lowe

I have the craziest FOMO right now – New Zealand Fashion Week started yesterday and I'm a world away here in New York sitting in front of my computer watching all my friends, colleagues, acquaintances and competitors having the time of their lives. My extreme love for NZFW was what kick started this fashion obsession of mine so I am absolutely gutted not to be there. But enough with the self-pity. First things first: Have you seen Katherine Lowe's coverage? It is incredible, the girl posted 13 times yesterday. Bloggers – keeping mainstream media on its toes since the mid-noughties. From what I saw of yesterday's shows, the three that stood out were twentysevennames, Juliette Hogan and Ingrid Starnes. The former's Garden State-inspired pattern-on-pattern lookbook shots were totally my jam, and if Hogan's yellow cardigan comes in men's, put me down for one. Now, for some good old-fashioned nepotism: My cousin Nikau Hindin is down at the venue shooting the scene and her work is seriously impressive. Get in there. Best of luck to all the designers showing today! Wish I was there.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

#1976 Let the NYFW games begin

Alex and Dana from Argentina.

New York Fashion Week is just two weeks away and the models have arrived – you can't walk down the street without tripping over a bunch of tall teens huddling around a map searching out their next casting. I spent the day trailing Tom Bull and every which way we turned, another Australian seemed to jump out of the crowd. In a three block radius we saw Vanessa Milde, Luci Taffs and Rose Smith. Add them to the contingent who've been in town a few weeks already and it's as if half of Sydney has transplanted itself over here. The only New Zealander we encountered was Tyson Kennedy of Steriogram/Fat Boy fame, but fellow hairdresser Richard Kavanagh is arriving to stay with him tonight. It's all happening. Let the games begin.

Monday, August 29, 2011

#1975 Come on Irene – the hurricane that wasn't

Me and Tom Bull shaking in our boots.

Call me immature but I got really excited about the hurricane. Here in America everything seems to me like a movie so I was getting all amped up picturing taxis rolling down the Avenues, power lines flying out of the ground and all sorts of crazy stuff that I'd be filming from the safety of my apartment window. But here's what really happened: It rained quite a lot for about five hours and at 3:30am it started to get pretty windy and then I fell asleep. The pot plants on my neighbour's balcony are looking healthy, my street is bone dry and the electricity and water never shut off. As a natural cynic and a terrible supermarket shopper, I have exactly one bottle of water in the fridge and one jar of peanut butter sitting in my cupboard. But it doesn't matter, the deli on my corner is already back open and making their world famous chicken sandwiches. As far as once in a generation storms go, I don't think we got our money's worth here in New York. But here's what did happen yesterday.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

#1974 Straight Guilt – it's the curse of menswear

Clement Chabernaud – yes, a male model. via ModelHomme

I met up with a fellow menswear writer last night and as inevitably happens in that situation, we geeked out like only two guys can do when they have a shared passion for a subject. For most men, that subject would be sport or cars or women, for us it was fashion. We waxed lyrical about writers, publications, designers and models for a good few hours, with some speculation, gossip and battle stories thrown in along the way. At one point in the conversation he dropped the term "Straight Guilt". Fascinated, I asked him to explain. Here's what he said (and I'm paraphrasing): "It's when you've got a straight menswear writer who feels guilty that he writes about fashion so he has to apologise, over-compensate or prove his manhood at every given opportunity. It's why you see so many boob shots all over men's style blogs or sites run by straight guys, and so many sport or hip hop or hyper-masculine references all over everything. Because if you don't make it clear at all times that you're straight – and, more importantly, if you're trying to appeal to the straight market and they don't understand that liking what you like is acceptable and straight too – then the whole system will fall over."

Friday, August 26, 2011

#1973 Gala Darling talks New York City

Two free lunches and six good minutes of video footage – I am getting my money's worth out of Gala Darling. In part two of my interview with New Zealand's most famous blogger export, we talk New York City – Gala's favourite neighbourhood, how long she's been here and her tips for how to avoid getting hustled on street corners and/or on Craig's List. According to her, you've got to try your darndest not to look like a tourist. Guess I'd better start leaving my bumbag at home. Check it out above.


Thursday, August 25, 2011

#1972 All the cold weather clothes I wish I'd brought

Photos: Katherine Lowe

When I left New Zealand some two and a half months ago, I was planning on being away three or four weeks tops, then flying over to America at the beginning of September for Fashion Week. Plans changed, and here I am in the States with one suitcase full of clothes and no plans to go back home. So here's the thing: I'm fine for the next four or so weeks, but as soon as the temperatures start dropping, I'm pretty much screwed. Attached is a list of clothing that I'd quite like to be teleported my way. First up, the sweater my mum knitted me for Christmas last year and my Crane Brothers heavy-weight blue blazer, as seen above. (My highly concerned facial expression is the result of a car reversing straight into another one – Parisian drivers.)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

#1971 Blog talk with Gala Darling

For the second time in two weeks, I had the privilege of meeting up with famed blogger, expat Kiwi and radical self-love warrior Gala Darling; and, for the second time in two weeks, she paid for lunch (turns out my bank only just realised I was overseas and decided to put a block on my account – not embarrassing at all, thanks team). Gala is one of the few bloggers worldwide who has managed to carve out a respectable career for herself thanks to her huge online presence and attractiveness to big brands looking for co-collaborators. In the past couple of years she's worked with companies like Coach, Betsey Johnston, JC Penney, Ralph Lauren and Estee Lauder, among others. So today, after lunch, I put her on camera to talk blogging, her first ever website and how cringe inducing it is to have to tell people that we're fulltime bloggers. Check it out, and be assured that next time, lunch's on me.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

#1970 The facts of life – tales from New York

1. The great thing about New York is the worst thing about New York: It's so easy to get swept up in everything the city has to offer that you end up waking up after a solid week of partying and realising that your career isn't progressing at the same rate as the bags under your eyes. Moderation is key.

Monday, August 22, 2011

#1969 The one and a half breasted Zambesi suit

Photo: Adam Custins (click to enlarge)

There are two suits that every guy should own: one navy, one grey. I'm a little late to the game, but as of last month, at 27 years of age, I'm halfway there. Zambesi recently launched a made to measure suiting programme (expanding on its off the rack offering), and I spent a considerable amount of time discussing the options with menswear designer Dayne Johnston before selecting a cropped blazer and tapered pants suit in a textured charcoal cloth. Now this might come as a shock – so get your smelling salts ready – but despite outward appearances I don't have the perfectly proportioned male body. My shoulders are a full suit size bigger than my chest, so off the rack isn't an option for me where blazers are concerned. But with this one we decided to take a different approach.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

#1968 Tom Bull isn't asking for too much, just world domination

Photo: Adam Custins

Tom Bull is the classic Aussie larrikin. The 21 year old Perth native's presence is felt the minute he walks in a room: He speaks loud with a broad Australian twang, is never far from a cheeky grin and has what one might call a natural aptitude with the fairer sex. Arriving in New York two weeks ago, his first job in the city was the Banana Republic campaign, booked direct out of London. Since then he's worked just about every day, including a Ralph Lauren lookbook and presentation which landed him on the cover of Wednesday's WWD. Despite protests from his agents, he chose to grow the beard a few months ago and it doesn't seem to be doing him any harm. "The goal is a prolonged career with a select group of consistent clients," he says. "I want to do a Ralph Lauren exclusive and a fragrance. A lot of models have a short shelf-life. I want longevity." Something tells me he's going to go far. Watch this space.


Friday, August 19, 2011

#1967 Skating New York City

Before there was fashion, my one true love was skateboarding. I was a two-a-day addict: Before school and after school, all day on weekends. I did it for seven years until the fourth broken arm forced me to reconsider and choose healthy bones over casts, slings and splints. But whenever I see skaters I get a pang of nostalgia. I ran into a group of them on the street in the Financial District yesterday. They were taking on a waxed ledge. Here's what happened.


#1966 Tim Finn stars in the new Crane Brothers campaign

Photos: Karen Inderbitzen-Waller

Before we had Flight of the Conchords and Lord of the Rings, and we wanted to drop something a little more rock'n'roll than Sir Edmund Hillary (the man who first climbed Mount Everest) or Lord Rutherford (the man who first split the atom) or our highly progressive women's suffrage movement; New Zealand's communal claim to fame was Crowded House – the 80s/90s pop rock band that achieved worldwide fame following the release of their song Don't Dream It's Over. Started by his brother Neil, Tim Finn was a sometimes-member of Crowded House, joining the group in 1990 and touring with them for the next couple of years; not to mention a founding member of Split Enz, another storied Kiwi band. So with all that in mind, the man is New Zealand rock royalty.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

#1965 An ode to short sleeve shirts

Reversable orange/magenta short sleeve shirt by Zambesi.

Short sleeve shirts get a bad rap, due in no small part to high school accounting teachers and real life accountants who wear them one size too big, crisply ironed so the sleeves stick out like batwings, tucked into wool blend dress pants worn way above the belly button. It was Mr McGregor who turned me off them in my third year of Burnside High School. Fantastic economist, not so fantastic wearer of short sleeve shirts.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

#1964 Jenna Sauers is the most gangsta Kiwi in New York City

Jenna Sauers on the corner of 14th Street and 5th Ave, after the rain.

This post was supposed to be called Shakes with Sauers and all about how fellow Kiwi fashion writer Jenna Sauers introduced me to Shake Shack at Madison Square Park yesterday, but as we were enjoying our cheeseburgers, fries and chocolate shakes, a rain storm caught us that was so violent it obliterated everything in its path – food, conversation and the possibility of snapping a couple of photos. What I can tell you is this: Shake Shack is New York's answer to California's In-N-Out Burger and I highly recommend it to one and all (preferably on a dry day).

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

#1963 The bluest sweater I ever did own

My Dad's advice to me on relationships and matters of the heart: "When someone shows you who they are, believe them." The Club Monaco salesman's advice to me when I bought this sweatshirt: "Careful, the ink might bleed." I would have been well-advised to trust them both. True to the shop assistant's word, whatever has come into contact with the indigo cotton has developed a blue glow, including other clothing, counter-tops and walls that I happen to have leaned against. Nevertheless, it was $92.50 well spent. As we know, denim goes with everything, so a rich denim-blue sweater's gotta be the next best thing. The jury's still out on whether or not I have to wear this guy for six months before I wash it for the first time (a la its trouser counterparts), but I'm fairly sure that it'll be my first ever sweater to achieve a patina. Who'd've thought. True blue for the win.

#1962 Home Sweet Home – a documentary

Now that I've replaced my camera and I'm settled in my sweet New York apartment, I thought it was high time that I continued my career as a director/auteur/filmmaker/artiste. Presenting Home Sweet Home, a dramatic investigation into the lives of Manhattan's elite... and their Kiwi blogger house guests. No but really, this is just a short film featuring a few quick shots of my current abode, my broken-ass beige pants, some geisha's boobs, a little wall art, some Pulitzer Prize winning literature and possibly a couple of pervy shots of girls walking past on the street below. Home is where the heart is.


Monday, August 15, 2011

#1961 Things I saw at Jacob Riis beach

1. 17 Snooki lookalikes.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

#1960 Rockaway Taco is my jam

Tacos are my culinary crutch. I can't walk past a Mexican takeout joint without picking one up – and here in New York it's a rare neighbourhood that doesn't have two or three on every other street. When you live in a place like New Zealand you're so far away from the rest of the planet, so most of your knowledge of the world at large comes from movies, TV shows, magazines, newspapers and the internet. When I think of tacos in New York, the first thing that comes to mind is Rockaway Taco thanks to The Selby's short film on the little restaurant that could in Rockaway Beach, Queens.

Friday, August 12, 2011

#1959 Self Edge is the denim purist's denim store

It's a common misconception that Japanese denim is woven on vintage American looms – the Japanese have had their own denim looms for a long time, but the best companies manufacture their jeans using vintage American sewing machines; and that's where you can tell the difference. That's one of the first things I was told upon entering the Lower East Side denim-purist store Self Edge this afternoon. You see, when you talk to a real-deal denim fan about jeans, you get schooled in much the same way as you would while discussing social networking sites with Mark Zuckerberg. There are jeans and then there are jeans, and Self Edge carries the second kind. With a host of exclusive brands from Japan plus a couple of American natives, the emphasis is on heritage construction, denim so stiff it could knock a dude out, handmade leatherwear and replicated old-world uniform garments. This ain't your local dine and dash streetwear store. If you're in the market for a serious pair of jeans that might last longer than you do, Self Edge is your spot.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

#1958 The facts of life

Photo: Haw-lin

1. I had dinner with Bruce Pask of the New York Times last night and we got talking about paying your dues. He was telling me about how he sees all these young assistants coming through who work for about six months then want to do their own shoots – invariably they get themselves into a scenario with a difficult photographer or a celebrity client that goes bad and they don't know how to handle the situation. He said that he's so glad that he paid his dues and worked from the absolute bottom up over a period of 10 years, and now, after being in the business 20 years he's in a prime position. The moral of the story is that raw talent will never trump experience. We have the shortest attention spans, we're inundated with quick fixes and our world is focussed on overnight success stories. But there are no true overnight success stories. They don't exist. Look at Justin Bieber – that overnight sensation took 10 years in the making. Pay your dues. Don't get ahead of yourself. Earning it will taste sweeter.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

#1957 Josh Peskowitz on Burberry, Boglioli, packing and his European Fashion Week wardrobe strategy

Josh Peskowitz and Nick Wooster. Photo: Tommy Ton

First things first: Park & Bond launched yesterday. If you haven't seen it yet, get in there immediately. Owned by Gilt Groupe, it's the latest, greatest men's retailer on the internet, directed by Messrs Josh Peskowitz, Tyler Thoreson, Nick Wooster and Andy Comer – aka North America's menswear dream team. I've had the privilege of writing a bunch of the site's product descriptions over the past six weeks and I'm proud to say that the whole thing looks amazing – alongside the merchandise there's a slew of editorial shoots; tips on how to achieve the perfect tie dimple or how to pack a suit; interviews with designers like Michael Bastian and more facts than you ever thought you needed to know about shoes. Back in June on the eve of Paris Fashion Week, I sat down with Josh Peskowitz at the Hotel Costes to talk about the Milanese week just been, his personal Fashion Week wardrobe strategy and those high-heeled male acrobats who closed the DSquared2 show. Check it out, below.

#1956 Public Service Announcement: pay more than $13 for your next haircut

You know what's not a good call? Walking into a random men's barbershop in downtown Manhattan and paying $13 to get your hair cut. But that's what I did first thing this morning. Against my much better judgement I opened the door and sat down in front of a 70 year old haircutter and watched as he hacked away at my head for seven or eight minutes. I stopped him before things got too out of hand. Where's Richard Kavanagh when you need him??

#1955 New York summer in Zambesi colour

Back when I was in Paris complaining about my extreme lack of clothes, Zambesi came to the rescue and sent me a parcel containing a reversible shirt from their upcoming Spring/Summer collection and a 100% customised one-and-a-half-breasted suit (more on that later). Now that I'm in New York where the weather is actually warm enough to wear something as summery as a short sleeve shirt, I'll be busting it out on the regular. So far I've only tried the orange side, but tomorrow I'm going to roll with the magenta – reversible equals twice as many wears for half as many washes. Hot damn, I love that equation.

Monday, August 8, 2011

#1954 From CDG to JFK and my first day in New York

It's amazing how much your current location can affect your state of mind. Yesterday I was in Paris – disillusioned, frustrated and cold; today I'm in New York – hot, happy and energised. Don't get me wrong – I had a great time in Paris, but after a while things like the language/culture barrier, the food and the fact that everything is closed for August started to build up. The Charles de Gaulle airport experience yesterday was a perfect example. I waited in a queue for 90 minutes just to check into my flight, and watched as at least seven passengers threw actual fits of rage due to the abysmal customer service. At one point a well-dressed young American guy turned around from the counter and announced to the 150 or so passengers still waiting that they should never fly that airline again.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

#1953 Throw some Double-D on this on this

Photos: J Crew

Like just about every other person on this planet, I hate going jeans shopping. If I could, I'd buy them online, but that would involve a giant leap of faith that I don't think I'm willing to make. My dream jean is a pair of super-tapered 1980s 501s but I've had no luck finding them; but seeing as I'm flying to New York this evening, a trip to J Crew is in order. The Liquor Store on Broadway is selling a selection of reissued 501s, including this pair in the original 1947 fit – they're not quite 80s tapered but I think they'll do the job. Also on my shopping list: this Levi's Trucker Jacket. Canadian tuxedo? Here we come.

Friday, August 5, 2011

#1952 For the first time in nine years I'm missing New Zealand Fashion Week

Good times at NZFW 2010. Photo: Katherine Lowe

After about six weeks of umming and aahing over whether or not I was going to fly back home to New Zealand for Fashion Week, I finally made the decision last night that I should stay in New York. This is the first time I'll be missing NZFW in nine years and it's kind of freaking me out but it's a question of timing and resources and what's best for right now and all those other things that your parents used to say when they were telling you that you couldn't go to Disneyland for the holidays. So that's that.


Thursday, August 4, 2011

#1951 In a genius marketing move, Alfred Dunhill is using real men to sell menswear

For the past few seasons, Alfred Dunhill has done the opposite of every other menswear brand on the market – instead of showcasing its new collections on pretty young boys, the company has tapped men of extraordinary talent, ability and achievement to front its ad campaigns. Last season's protagonists included legendary interviewer David Frost, violin virtuoso Charlie Siem and artist Harland Miller; this season's are ballet dancer Rupert Pennefather, theatre director Michael Grandage and expedition leader Sir Ranulph Fiennes. Alongside the print campaign, a series of videos were shot capturing the men talking about their lives, their work, their struggles and philosophies. The videos are brilliant – character revealing, insightful and inspiring. In this setting, the clothes take on a secondary role; they're dressing the man, not defining him.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

#1950 New York New York Big City of Dreams

Photo: Katherine Lowe

Paris is a dead city. As of two days ago the entire population seems to have departed for greener pastures – every time I leave the apartment to look for food, tumbleweeds go flying past. All the bakeries on my street are closed for the month, my friends have disappeared and I'm getting restless. So last night I booked a flight for New York City, where I'll stay for the next six or so weeks (give or take, depending on whether or not I go back to New Zealand for Fashion Week before NYFW). I fly out Saturday night. Proving good things happen in New York, last time I was there I met Kanye West. HOLLA!


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

#1949 Paris – a week in disposable photos

Zippora Seven at L'as du Fallafel.

Another week sans camera, another set of disposable photos. But here's the good news: my new Canon DSLR (I'm moving up in the world) should arrive this week from Copenhagen so pretty soon I'll be shooting like a pro. What follows is another week in real-life, hold-in-your-hand, printed-on-paper photographs.

Monday, August 1, 2011

#1948 The facts of life

Photo: Haw-lin

1. My Top Model debut went well. I wasn't edited to be the fat-hating tyrant my mother worried I would be, and I managed to watch it with a minimum of cringe moments – though "Hi girls!" is pretty much impossible to say like a normal person when the cameras are rolling. However: I did have to strongly disagree with Jacqueline Smith's description of me as "notoriously obtuse" in the New Zealand Herald. Notoriously obtuse? Come on! I would have accepted: notoriously charming, witty, insightful or self-adulatory, but obtuse? Ridiculous. I only hope it was a malapropism, in which case someone should have consulted a dictionary before using a big word.