Jan 22 2012

Botas Vaqueras Exóticas

Every once in a while a fashion trend comes along that is so incomprehensible that once you get done scratching your head in disbelief you find yourself somewhat obsessed with it. That is what has happened to me with the Mexican pointy boot craze.


Nov 20 2011

Cast iron crush

old reliable

The handle of my latest cast iron acquisition: a #9 Griswold griddle.

Cast iron cookware is manly. Usually, such broad generalizations could be easily dismissed as laughable, and depending on who you are and what your gender is, you may think this generalization is laughable as well. Maybe it is.

However, from my perspective, these pans, formed by pouring molten iron into sand molds, a technique used for centuries, is about as manly as it gets. This is not to say that women are incapable of such work, it’s just that when one, or more specifically, I, think of a person wielding a cauldron of molten pig-iron, the person doing it is a man. Perhaps I am biased.

Over 100 years old. This pan belonged to my grandmother. Now it's mine.

That notwithstanding, whether you are male or female, cast iron cookware is an absolute essential if you have even the slightest of culinary ambitions. Cast iron heats more evenly, sears more safely, and with a little care, lasts forever, unlike aluminum pans, Teflon-coated, or otherwise. Plus, if you are concerned about foods sticking to the pans in which you are cooking, fear not. Cast iron, once properly seasoned, is about as non-stick as any chemically coated cookware, and best of all, if you somehow scratch it, or accidentally soak it off by forgetting it in the sink overnight, you can always re-season it, and in no time it’ll be back to its normal non-stick self.

Ultimately, I suppose the choice of cooking implement is a personal one. That said, there has to be a reason, beyond its versatility and relatively low price, why so many people, including myself, are so passionate about cast iron being the material of choice when it comes to cookware. For me, a good cast iron pan is like a good friend, reliable, and always willing to cook me a good meal.

Black, shiny, and non-stick. Not the slightest-bit fancy-pants.


May 24 2011

The ten-toe transition

Komodo Sport $100

A few of years ago, when Vibram (pronounced Vee-brum) first came out with their Fivefingers shoes, I immediately dismissed them as a silly trend that would die out as fast as it appeared. Despite liking the rather offbeat look of them, they seemed to offer little to no protection from the various surfaces we hominids encounter on a day to day basis. How could something that has the appearance of a heavy-duty rubberized sock keep one’s tender piggies from getting all scuffed up, or worse, jabbed or flayed open by some nefarious unseen object?

KSO $85

The answer lies in the history of Vibram, itself. Vibram has been making tough, almost-everything-resistant soles for a very long time, and the vast experience they’ve accumulated over the years is what has made their lightweight Fivefinger shoes possible. Frankly, without the Vibram sole as their foundation, these shoes really wouldn’t be shoes at all.

Bikila LS $100

Since its introduction, the now classic Fivefinger shoe has evolved into a full line of shoes, each a little different from the last, each addressing a unique niche in the market, and a unique consumer need. This diversification, much like the product diversification that helped save Crocs from certain doom, appeared early on in the overall development of this product, and has rescued this odd shoe from obscurity and started what can only be called a cult following of neo-barefoot-ists. Could those seriously invested in the barefoot craze actually be right?

According to recent research, barefoot enthusiasts and runners may be onto something. As you may know, humans haven’t always had $200 highly-engineered running shoes strapped their feet. There was a time when barefoot was all we had. It is this simple recollection that has given birth to this new (or old, depending how you look at things) mindset that bare may be better.

Two things have made me come around on this undeniably unusual shoe.

1. These shoes seem to be winning the test of time. Where once they were nothing more than a curiosity being sold at a few stores across the country they now have over 700 distributors and nine distinct models from which to choose.

2. I know someone, whose taste in footwear I appreciate and trust, who not only owns a pair, but swears by them, and is not afraid to share his opinion about these shoes when asked.
At the time of this writing I haven’t actually scored myself a pair of these shoes, but I think I’ll at least head on over to my local Fivefingers retailer to see if I can fit my triple-E flippers into a pair and then get back to you with a full report.

Tell us what you think of these shoes. Do you love them? Do you hate them? Either way, tell us why? We’re not afraid of fierce debate here at wordsfromafish.com.

If you’d like to get some for yourself you can go to one of these fine San Francisco retailers:

In-Jean_Ious
432 Castro Street
415-864-1863

REI
840 Brannan Street
415-863-1348

Lombardi Sport
1600 Jackson Street
415-771-0600

 

***All photos from http://www.vibramfivefingers.com***


Apr 24 2011

Need to know: Field Notes

“I’m not writing it down to remember it later. I’m writing it down to remember it now.”

A Field Notes notebook is as essential an accessory as a favorite pen and a good pocketknife, and thanks to the man known as Aaron Draplin, one can actually obtain this little agricultural-style notebook of yore. Granted, these little notebooks aren’t exactly articles of clothing, but they can be an integral part of one’s ensemble and, quite frankly, go with everything. They are small enough to fit into just about any pocket (unless you wear skinny jeans — ew!), or get lost in your manbag, but still voluminous enough to carry your thoughts, grocery lists, secret-treasure maps, and those little pictures you draw while on the phone pretending to listen.

They start off flat, then conform to the shape of your rump.

For the longest time, these little notebooks came in only one color — brown. Also, for the longest time, these little notebooks came in only one size — smallish. Now, both of those statements are less than accurate. Now, Field Notes notebooks come in various colors. Some of the colors are limited editions, and they tend to sell out very quickly, and some of them appear to be here to stay (though, who knows, really?). These notebooks also come in a bigger size now, too. Remember when writing meant having to use pencil and paper, and writing super fast meant knowing the semi-secret language of stenographers? Yep, that’s right, we’re talking about a Field Notes brand steno pad known as “The Steno.” At 6 inches wide by 9 inches tall, this bigger than your average Field Notes notebook but smaller than a regular notebook notebook is great for practicing stenography, taking bigger notes or, if you are like me, having it open on my desk at work for whenever the need to jot something down strikes me.

Neon Ice Pops Pack & The Steno.

No matter the size or color, these notebooks are super-handy. I keep one in the right rear pocket of whatever shorts I happen to be wearing (I rarely wear pants anymore), one in my bright pink and orange manbag, and one (or two) in the top left drawer of my desk at work. Each is filled with the minutiae of my daily life: thoughts that need revisiting, to-do lists, things that I once thought were funny, fortune cookie fortunes, and so on and so forth.

All the notebooks in the Field Notes line-up are made from the highest quality materials. The good old-fashioned 3.5”X5.5” notebooks are saddle-stitch bound with three staples while The Steno is held together with a black, double-o spiral wire binding. Since it is impossible to decide which one would make you happier, I would suggest getting “The Kit” which includes two steno pads, one three-pack of graph paper Field Notes, one mixed three-pack (plain, lined & graph), six No. 2 pencils, six clic pens, and four “bands of rubber” for $39.95. This will assure maximum pleasure for all of your non-digital writing needs.

To get your hands on some Field Notes go to:

http://fieldnotesbrand.com/shop/

-OR-

DEPARTMENT SEVENTEEN
1218 Pacific Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94109, (415) 577-1079

To see how obsessed some people can be about Field Notes click this link.


Apr 22 2011

PACT underpants and the dangers of burning coal

Last year, they worked with the Greenbelt Movement of Kenya to plant 7,500 trees in Africa for Earth Day. This year, PACT, one of the coolest makers of underpants on the planet, is working with the Sierra Club Student Coalition’s “Campuses Beyond Coal” initiative in an endeavor to educate us about the dangers of coal to the environment and public health. In support of this educational initiative, PACT Apparel has come out with two new prints and a bright-blue solid with 10% of the proceeds going to support the efforts of the Sierra Club to move America beyond dirty coal.




 

As part of this initiative, students from coal-powered campuses have organized flesh mobs where they strip down to their PACT skivvies and do a race to renewables (see video), a cross campus underwear run to raise awareness about the dirty dangers of burning coal, and to advocate for the use of cleaner fuel sources. As a direct result of one of these undies runs, Miami University of Ohio announced April 4, 2011, they immediately begin reducing the amount of coal burned on campus with the goal of eventually eliminating it all together.

Perhaps by now you’d like to see some underwear, no? Below are the three new skivvies PACT has released to help support the Sierra Club Student Coalition:

Kick Ash Boxer Brief. $24

Bright Blue Boxer Brief. $24

Beyond Coal Boxer Brief. $24

The two prints come as boxer briefs or trunks, while the bright-blue solid comes as a brief, as well.

To get your hands on these, or any of PACT’s underpants click here.

You can also access PACT products by clicking on over to Nordstrom.


Mar 19 2011

Words from Walter

Mr. Beirendonck.

F: Over the past year it seems like you have been taking fans of your work on some sort of journey. It’s easy to see where we’ve been but could you share a little about where we’re going?

W: It also feels like a journey to me, a rollercoaster-ride.

I always worked very spontaneous, straight from my heart…that’s why there are sometimes, rather abrupt changements, because of the will and possibility to change direction.
That’s also why I don’t know where I’m heading to!

Of course I have my interests today, but I can’t tell you what will be the collection next winter.

Not just a simple suit.

F: In the past you’ve shown an affinity for bright colors and and exotic materials and though this collection is somewhat conservative within the context of your own work it is hardly conservative in comparison to the work of more mainstream designers. What inspired this work and do you have plans to continue down this path for future product cycles?
W: I needed to show this formal, sharp tailored side of me, which is not that obvious in my presentations, but i do like it and i do love to work on tailoring.
In this particular show, ‘Hand On Heart’ I needed the sharp suits in the beginning of the line-up, to have the possibility to come up with a BIG contrast with the sharp suits during the progress of the show, patchwork and buttons, ‘contrasted’ and ‘deconstructed’ the looks, ending up with free, floating garments, looking like poncho’s and capes.

Patchwork perfection.

F: Since I’ve yet to get my hands on anything from your Winter 2011 collection I can’t say with any certainty what sort of materials you are using. Please tell us a little about the materials you are using and why you’ve chosen them.

W: The choice of materials are at one side, classic men’s materials (Italian) flanel/camel/Harris tweeds, checks…mostly in woolen materials and then the coloured patchwork-fabrics, especially woven for this collection.

And than the amazing wild woolen fabrics, looking like ‘handwoven carpets’, made by Mahlia Kent, a company who also makes exclusive tweeds for Chanel.

Buttoned flank and sleeves show as little or as much as you want.

F: I think my favorite pieces from the Hand on Heart collection have to be the deconstructed shirts and jackets with the buttons on the sleeves and flanks. This simple twist in construction makes these pieces much more versatile in regard to layering or flashing some flesh. Can these pieces be buttoned up to be worn conventionally and do you think we’ll see more pieces like these in the future?

W: Yes, you are perfectly right.

Pieces can be buttoned or unbuttoned, depending on how much flesh you want to show.  I was really happy with this idea, and I’m surely planning to continue this idea.

Hand on Heart cape.

F: Lastly, based on the wildly popular and warmly received WONDE(R) show that you executed in Berkeley, California, do you have any plans to show your work on American soil again?

W: I would love to,  it was such an amazing experience, but, of course, it was that special, because of the SF-BEARS, so much welcoming, warm hearts and love around!!!

Wauw!!!

Walter's spectacular "carpet" coat in green. Lovely.

 


Nov 29 2010

A quickie with TURK+TAYLOR

That’s right, the lovely folks at TURK+TAYLOR are having a Cyber-Monday (and Tuesday) sale. Don’t forget the promo-code!

For more about TURK+TAYLOR click here.


Oct 24 2010

Oakley Fuel Cell Review

Model Robbie

Bear supermodel, Robbie Hayes, at Darioush in Napa, wearing a pair of Oakley Fuel Cells $110

Summer is over but that doesn’t negate the necessity for proper protection from the harsh rays of the sun. If that protection happens to be super stylish, even better. If that protection happens to be in the form of the Oakley Fuel Cell, better still.

As mentioned here, the Oakley product line branches out in many directions, however, what they still do better than anything else is make really good sunglasses. These Fuel Cell glasses are exactly that – really good.

Constructed of clear, lightweight and durable “O Matter,” Oakley’s proprietary frame material, these glasses wrap around snugly and rest lightly atop your ears and nose. They are at once almost imperceptible to the wearer while making a rather bold statement to the rest of the world. Completing this statement, these frames are filled with Violet PLUTONITE® lenses cut from a single shield then positioned in the frame to maintain the original, continuous contour of the material which makes for perfect lens clarity throughout the entire field of vision. Most importantly, these lenses block 100% of UVA/ UVB/ UVC & harmful blue light up to 400nm.

Recently, Oakley put their protective powers to the test when they donated 35 pairs of Radar and Range glasses to the Chilean government to protect the eyes of the miners during the rescue effort, and after, while their eyes adjusted to surface light levels. In addition to this being an amazing marketing move that was covered by 2,000 journalists from 40 countries, it was a downright righteous thing to do for the 33 miners who’d already been through hell. This mix of outstanding engineering, edgy styling and generous philanthropy makes choosing Oakley for sunglasses, or practically anything else, for that matter, very easy.

*Full disclosure: These sunglasses were provided at no cost for the purpose of testing/reviewing. It would be unrealistic to think otherwise.

Sep 4 2010

The (Oakley) Holbrook review

The Oakley brand has been around for a long time now – 35 years to be exact. Back in 1975, Oakley was started by James Jannard in his Foothill Ranch, California, garage with a $300 investment. At that time, Oakley was, of course, not the company we all know about today. Instead, it was a manufacturer of handlebar grips for motorcross, and later, BMX and Mountain bikes. Those humble grips, made from a material known as unobtainium, launched a company that currently holds over 575 patents, 1,100 trademarks, and sells products in over 100 countries worldwide [source].

Now with that snippet of background information done and out of the way we can get into the meat of the matter: the first in a series of Oakley product reviews. Oakley, which is now a part of the Milan-based Luxottica Group, isn’t just for motorcross, action-sports and extreme athletes any more. Though they still manufacture an extensive line of these extreme products they have branched out over the last few years, reaching deeply into territory never before associated with this manufacturer. Oakley now has a full line of accessories including, but not limited to backpacks, footwear, electronics, and yes, sunglasses.

The Oakley Holbrook in Matte Rootbeer with Bronze Polarized lens. $160 photo: Kenneth Fish

The test subjects for today are two pairs of glasses from Oakley’s Holbrook collection, one polarized and one not. Jesse White and his snowboarding superstar brother, Shaun, worked closely with Oakley to create the Holbrook line. Pulling design cues from such classics as the Ray Ban Wayfarer and Oakley’s Frogskins, Shaun and Jesse have created frames that are both modern and classic and Oakley has done a fine job of filling them with superb lenses that, in either form, “filter out every ray of UV.”

The Holbrook frames are made from a material that Oakley refers to as “O Matter,” which is very light in weight and, according to the manufacturer, is flexible, shock absorbing and stress-resistant for the wearer. All of these claimed attributes, I can attest, are 100% accurate. These glasses, whether in Crystal Red with Ruby Iridium lenses, or, in the more understated, Matte Rootbeer with Bronze Polarized lenses, are exceptionally comfortable to wear for long periods of time and both sets of lenses provide outstanding clarity and solid protection against the sun and almost any potential impact (Oakley lenses meet ANSI Z87.1 for impact resistance).

The Oakley Holbrook in Crystal Red with Ruby Iridium lens. $120 photo: Kenneth Fish

During the month that these sunglasses have been tested neither pair have shown any sign of wear at all, including on the lenses which remain scratch-free and as clear as the day they arrived at the front door. During this month these glasses have attended several wine tastings, a couple parties, a very dusty demolition derby and both have tackled the thankless duty of shielding my eyes during a commute in which the entire ride is aimed directly into the setting sun. In any and all situations that have been thrown at these glasses they have stood out as some of the best eye wear I’ve ever owned.

Now, of course, there has to be a drawback hidden somewhere in this glowing review and it has to do with the Bronze Polarized lenses. Despite the myriad advantages to wearing polarized lenses they are not exactly perfect. The way polarized lenses work (see link above for the explanation) makes it difficult, if not downright impossible to view some electronic devices that utilize LCD screens. What this means is that in some situations, like attempting to view the LCD readouts in the dashboard of your car, or trying to read the caller ID on your fancy iPhone, isn’t going to happen without lifting the glasses away from your eyes. However, that said, it is clear that after a month of wearing these glasses in a plethora of situations and settings, this drawback is minor enough to get a mere mention instead of a firm warning against.

Oakley Holbrooks can be purchased all over the Bay Area including:

Oakley O Store

842 Market Street
Market Street
San Francisco, CA
94102-3001
Phone: (415) 956-0347

LOMBARDI SPORTS

1600 JACKSON STREET
SAN FRANCISCO, CA
94109
Phone: (415) 771-0600

SUNGLASS HUT #04238

511 CASTRO ST
SAN FRANCISCO, CA
94114-2511
Phone: 415-522-0258

*Full disclosure: These sunglasses were provided at no cost for the purpose of testing/reviewing. It would be unrealistic to think otherwise.

Aug 21 2010

Happy Socks and the Giltman

Happy stripes from HappySocks.com. photo: happysocks.com

Recently, an opportunity arose that was too good to pass up, an almost perfect convergence of product and price. What are these two things, you ask? Let me tell you.

Thing number one is the by invitation only (see end of article for invite info) site known as Gilt.com. The Gilt Group was founded in 2007 by Doubleclick co-founder Kevin P. Ryan, eBay executive Alexis Maybank and Alexandra Wilkis Wilson from Louis Vuitton and Bulgari (from: http://www.forbes.com/forbes/2008/0225/070.html). Gilt provides a chance for average joes with average incomes to buy above average fashions at rock bottom prices during online events known as flash sales. Essentially, Gilt acts as a clearing house for high end designers where lots of selected items are sold at unbelievably low prices for 24 to 36 hours and when they’re gone, they’re gone.

Thing number two is a sock company that is approximately 5,300 miles from San Francisco called Happy Socks. Happy Socks is from the constitutional monarchy of Sweden – Stockholm if you want to get specific, where they make the most joyful socks on Earth. The company came into being in the Spring of 2008 and today their rainbow of positively upbeat designs and models are being sold in more than 40 countries; their mission: “Coloring the world with Happy Socks.”

Now that the introductions are over we can get into the meat of the matter. Firstly, ordering from Gilt.com couldn’t be easier. An email shows up in your inbox a few minutes prior to the start of a sale. If you are interested, you do some clicking, some perusing, and if you like what you see, some spending. Depending on what is being offered the spending part of this can be rather dear, however, in this case, it was completely affordable.

On HappySocks.com a pair of socks will cost between $10, for a pair of cotton no-see-ems, ankle or crew socks, all the way up to $18 for a pair of Cashmere crew socks (these prices are for men’s socks only. Women’s tights and leggings are, of course, more expensive). For the Gilt Man sale they were offering three pairs of colorful cotton crew socks for the very attractive price of $19. Acting swiftly and decisively this is what I scored:

happy

Happy Socks from Gilt.com. $19. photo: Kenneth FIsh

Each pair of these socks is a joy to behold and even better to wear. The fine cotton yarn from which these socks are made makes for a light-weight, form fitting sock that is both incredibly soft and very comfortable to wear. The hand-linked toe is easily the smoothest seam in the sock business and the crisp, bright colors bring a smile to your face every time you catch a glimpse of them.

If you are the kind of guy whose sock drawer contains only black and white socks then maybe Happy Socks aren’t for you. However, if you like to have a little fun with your wardrobe, then it would probably be a good idea for you to head on over to http://www.happysocks.com to check out their vast selection of joyous footwear. Also, if you are interested in getting an invite to Gilt.com leave a comment below. All comments are screened and WordsFromaFish.com will not share any of your information. =o)