Six New Brands I’ve Been Watching

In an interview with The Telegraph, Patrick Grant of Norton & Sons once described fashion as being an “ever-moving feast.” I find that the quick-paced nature of fashion -- where things are constantly being created and destroyed -- makes the field endlessly interesting. There’s always something new, something different, something to talk about. For the past few years, I've been doing annual roundups on new brands I find to be interesting. To be sure, not all of them are new -- many have been around for years -- but they're new to me. This year, there are so many brands on the list, I'm splitting the post into two parts. Here's part one, with part two coming in the next installment. 


When Davide Baroncini left his job at Brunello Cucinelli, he didn't want to work for another luxury label. It would be strange, he said, to suddenly go from telling people that Cucinelli makes the best clothes to championing Tom Ford. So he started his own brand, Ghiaia Cashmere, which is named after the smooth pebbles found on the shoreline of his native Sicily. Baroncini says the name represents him returning to his roots, the memory of feeling the ground underneath his feet. It also suits a company specializing in thin, luxurious knitwear designed for Mediterranean climates, such as Sicily and Baroncini's newly adopted home, Pasadena. Plus, it sounds nice, so long as you can pronounce it (say it slowly, it's jhe-EYE-ah).

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No Man Walks Alone’s Winter Sale

No Man Walks Alone is a sponsor on this site, but as I've mentioned in the past, also one of my favorite stores. Whereas most shops specialize in either tailored clothing or casualwear, No Man Walks Alone does both, helping guys build a more well-rounded wardrobe. Founder Greg Lellouche used to work as an investment banker on Wall Street, where he regularly wore bespoke suits and handmade ties. He knows his way around a tailored wardrobe, but from years of experience, he also has a strong eye for casualwear. At his shop, you can find everything from hard-to-find Japanese labels to contemporary-styled Belgian brands. 

This morning, they started their winter sale. You can find discounted items in the site's sale section and the items' respective categories. You don't need a discount code -- prices are as marked. However, all sales are final, so you'll want to double-check measurements and compare them to garments you already own. Note, since it's sale season and we're still in a pandemic, No Man Walks Alone warns that they'll need a little more time this week to ship out orders. Expect your order to ship within five days of you placing it. 

If you're looking for some suggestions, here are some items that I think are notable. 

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Bookcore: How Everyone Is Dressing Like a Bookstore Regular

Getting something from Community Bookstore felt more like spelunking than shopping. The second-hand bookstore, located on a street corner in Brooklyn, was a dark, cavernous space filled with worn paperbacks, dusty toys, and vintage records. The shop's owner, John Scioli, was a self-described hoarder unable to turn away book donations. Inside of his shop, piles of musty books stood waist-high, some half toppled, and items were stacked on top of each other at awkward angles, making a trip down an aisle feel like "high-stakes Jenga." The shop was so densely packed that light from the buzzing fluorescent tubes overhead never penetrated to all corners. Scattered books underfoot buried the worn grey carpeting underneath. It was impossible to find anything here — you had to aimlessly browse or ask Scioli for assistance. He had a Dewey Decimal System inside his head that allowed him to find anything. Just don't ask for a recommendation. In a crotchety interview with Gothamist, the white-whiskered bookseller dryly said: "I hate [when people ask for book recommendations]. 'What should I get my father for Father's Day?' I don't know your father."

In an era of minimalist shopping spaces and customer-centric service, Community Bookstore was a strangely beloved institution. It had no traditional storefront or signage, and the only worker, the owner, kept unpredictable hours. Yet, it was a fixture of the community, cherished by "regulars, neighbors, dinner dates, bookworms, French transplants, Spanish tourists, Italian grandmothers, and authors acclaimed or otherwise." Like an old-school tailor or barber, Scioli saw generations of people grow up in the Brooklyn neighborhood. Those who initially stopped by as children to play with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle action figures later came in as adults to buy bedtime storybooks for their children. When Scioli closed his business and retired in 2015, the store generated an outsized amount of press. The New York Times wistfully wrote of it: "The Community Bookstore is not the kind of place one goes for the latest bestsellers, literary magazines, a coffee, or an author talk. It is a place to rummage and ruminate, a place for treasure hunters and lost souls as much as bibliophiles."

Americans hold the idea of bookstores near and dear to their hearts, although independent booksellers have seen better days. Around the turn of the 20th century, New York City's Fourth Avenue was home to nearly fifty bookstores, many with used hardbacks stuffed into rollable carts displayed outside of their front windows. There were once so many bookstores located between Union Square and Astor Place, the district was nicknamed Book Row. But after the Great Depression, skyrocketing rents, and those original booksellers retiring and then dying (with no one to take their places), the bookstores that used to be a fixture of literary Manhattan faded away. Today, only one bookstore from Book Row is still standing — The Strand, now headquartered on Broadway in the East Village, where it moved in 1957 to escape high rents. Insiders say that The Strand has only survived because it's a family's passion project. "[T]he Strand is, when you get down to it, a real-estate business, fronted by a bookstore subsidized by its own below-market lease and the office tenants upstairs," Christopher Bonanos wrote in New York Magazine. "The ground floor of 828 Broadway is worth more as a Trader Joe's than it is selling Tom Wolfe. When a business continues to exist mostly because its owners like it, the next generation has to like it just as much. Otherwise, they'll cash out. If Nancy stays, the Strand stays. If her kids do, too, it stays longer. Simple as that."

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Six Excellent Winter Sales

There's always a consumer hangover the day after Christmas, when you see the festive red cups are empty and colorful wrapping paper is littered all over the floor. And yet, it's hard to ignore that after-Christmas sales are the best sales, rivaled only by Black Friday. This morning, a bunch of stores launched their after-Christmas promotions, including the one that's on everyone's list -- Mr. Porter. If you're still feeling a bit spendy, here are six excellent winter sales.


Mr. Porter's sale selection is enormous, so the best way to tackle the inventory is to filter for brands. Some of my favorite labels here include Chimala, Margaret Howell, and De Bonne Facture. These companies don't make statement pieces (for the most part). Instead, they specialize in deceptively simple clothes made with interesting details or silhouettes. This ecru De Bonne Facture sweater has a wonderfully nubby texture that will add visual interest to any outfit. Margaret Howell's loose-fitting mock neck would look great with a pair of cords and some Birkenstocks. The ribless hem makes the sweater look a little more easygoing, while the high neckline frames the face. I also love everything from Chimala. Their boxy, unisex clothes look like the kind of covetable vintage worn by people who know all the best record shops. 

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Seven More Black Friday Sales

Later today, I'll be posting a full roundup of every Black Friday sale worth checking out. The list will be published at Put This On, and it'll be updated until the end of Cyber Monday. In the meantime, here are seven more noteworthy sales, along with some suggestions of what items to check out. Along with yesterday's list, you should have some good shopping options this weekend.


When Kika Vliegenthart moved from the Netherlands to New York City in the early 1990s, she intended to study film but somehow ended up working for Barbara Shaum, the legendary leatherworker who made things for Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein. Shaum passed away a few years ago, but her legacy remains through the people she taught, Vliegenthart among them. These days, Vliegenthart runs a company with her life and business partner, Sabine Spanjer. Their company, KikaNY, transforms top-end Italian leathers into bags, belts, sandals, and other accessories. There's something bohemian and uniquely NYC about their work -- reminiscent of the Arts & Crafts Movement and 1960s East Village aesthetic for which Shaum became known. Their leathers are softer and gentler than the stiff bridle leather you might get from an English maker, such as Equus Leather, but no less durable. I like their belts, which are the kind of thing you'd expect to see at a Brooklyn boutique with potted Monstera plants growing in the corner. The 1.33" double-o ring belt, in particular, comes in just the right size for casual wear, and the leather ages wonderfully. The No. 8 and oval buckles look nice, too. 

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Seven Great Black Friday Sales

Even when it's online, and you can shop from the comfort of your home, Black Friday still feels like a mad dash to get the best deals. Every year around this time, I round up a list of Black Friday promotions at Put This On. Those lists are huge -- the number of sales included typically ends up being in the hundreds. To make things more manageable, I pull together lists of some notable sales here, and include suggestions for what I think are special products. Here are seven Black Friday sales right now that I think are noteworthy. 


The first is Mr. Porter, where you can find select items discounted by as much as 30% off. Since Mr. Porter's inventory is ginormous, I recommend using the site's filters for brands and sizing. Some of my favorite labels here include Chimala, De Bonne Facture, Drake's, Engineered Garments, Filson, Howlin, Inis Meain, Lemaire, Margaret Howell, Monitaly, Orslow, Our Legacy, Private White VC, RRL, Stoffa, Valstar, and Yuketen. Remember that things tend to move quickly at Mr. Porter, but returns are free. Historically, their Black Friday sales are also often better than what they include in their first round of discounts during end-of-season promotions. 

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Excited to Wear This Fall

In the summer of 1830, French publisher Charles Gosselin grew tired of Victor Hugo's excuses. Hugo was working on a novel titled Notre-Dame de Paris. He wanted to write the book because he was worried that Paris' Gothic architecture was being rapidly replaced by more modern structures (this is why large sections of the book go into exceeding detail when describing the buildings). But between Hugo's procrastination, writer's block, and other deadlines, he struggled to complete the book. Gosselin kept pestering the French novelist for updates, and by the summer of 1830, he demanded that the book be finished within six months. 

Realizing that Gosselin was serious, Hugo concocted a scheme to keep himself writing. According to his wife, Hugo bought himself a bottle of dark ink and a huge grey knitted shawl, which "swathed him from head to foot." He then locked up all of his "outside clothes" so that he wouldn't have access to his outfits. Without the distraction of his clothes and the temptation to go outside, Hugo was able to write continuously for six months while confined to his study. Notre-Dame de Paris was published the following year, and later renamed The Hunchback of Notre-Dame for the English translation

In the last year and a half, it has become crystal clear that dressing well is inextricably linked to the experience of moving through the world. In one of my favorite articles published last year, New Yorker staff writer Rachel Syme wrote: "What I’ve felt, perhaps, is a yearning for the spontaneous ways that clothing and public life can collide -- the feeling, say, of riding the subway, en route to a holiday party, wearing something sparkly and foolish underneath a puffer coat." The world still isn't fully open -- who knows if things will ever be what they were -- but it's more open than before, and I'm thankful to be able to dress up again. Hugo was right. Clothes are a distraction, yes, but a wonderful one as far as distractions go. Here are some things that I'm excited to wear this fall.

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Colorful Conversation With Stòffa

Over the summer, I thought I should buy some long-sleeved polos because I was tired of ironing my shirts. When I browsed online at some of my favorite shops, I faced a digital wall of seemingly endless options. Every shop had Italian pique cottons and soft jersey knits in a range of Pantone colors. Many of these colors were given names that sounded like bite-sized plates on an expensive Brooklyn bar menu: dark guava, dried fig, hazelnut, burnt acorn, and plum. I wanted to be more adventurous and break out of my routine of only wearing light blue and white shirts, but I wasn't sure how. These polos were expensive, and I wanted to choose the right colors. 

Some of the greatest minds have written about the sources and uses of color. Aristotle believed that colors were related to the four primary elements -- earth, wind, fire, and water. That theory held for more than two thousand years until Newton found that light breaks up into distinct colors when passed through a prism (this is the ROYGBIV of colors, also known as The Dark Side of the Moon). Yet, for all the theories, we still don't have many good ideas for how to incorporate more interesting colors into a wardrobe. Much of men's dress follows a formula: jeans are blue or black, shirts are white or light blue, shoes are black or brown, etc. When building a wardrobe, it's easier to stick to colors such as navy, brown, and white because they play well together, making it easier to get dressed in the morning. 

But what about the more exciting colors -- mauve, celadon, or ochre? To get some ideas, I talked to my friend Agyesh Madan, co-founder of Stòffa. Agyesh and his team put together some of the most beautiful online presentations I've seen from any brand, big or small. I also find their use of colors compelling: the styles are subtle and subdued, but there's always a sophisticated tweak here or there in how they vary their shades. To me, this is more interesting than just splashing purple shoes or bright orange parkas into an outfit. So I chatted with Agyesh on the phone a few weeks ago about how to use color in a wardrobe (secretly trying to ply some info for my polo purchase). 

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Cosmopolitanism and Style

At the Sotheby’s auction house in Hong Kong, a man in a dark blue suit shouted into a microphone as hands kept rising, pushing the price of Zao Wou-Ki’s triptych masterpiece, Juin-Octobre 1985, ever higher. Initially commissioned by I.M. Pei for his Raffles City complex in downtown Singapore, the painting represents the artist’s “Infinity Period.” Across three giant canvases, warm hues of peach, saffron, and lilac silently danced and exploded along a horizontal axis, giving the viewer a sense of the cosmos. In 2005, the painting was taken down from its Raffles City location and sold to a Taiwanese art collector. Then in October 2018, it appeared at this port-city auction house. That night, as arms flew up — many sheathed in silky worsteds, black lambskins, and gauzy blouses — the price kept climbing. By the time the hammer fell, the price for this marquee piece had landed at a staggering HK$450 million (US$65 million), setting a new record for an art piece auctioned in Hong Kong.

Born in Beijing in 1920, Zao was the scion of a prosperous family. His father was a well-heeled banker; his grandfather held the title xiù cai, which signaled a certain level of success in Imperial China’s civil service examination. Zao’s family encouraged him to follow in his father’s footsteps and pursue finance, but he had artistic ambitions. As a teen, Zao spent his days clipping images out of European and American art magazines, and pleading with his family to allow him to attend art school. His parents relented, but not without requiring him to at least get a classical Chinese education. So in 1935, a young Zao went to to the China Academy of Art, where he spent six years studying calligraphic ink painting. Upon graduating, he spent a few more years there as a teacher. Then in 1947, as the Chinese revolution drew nigh, Zao hopped on a plane and flew to Paris, intending to pursue two more years of art education.

Even as Paris was lifting itself out of the wreckage of the Second World War, the city had a vibrant and flourishing art scene. Much of this was thanks to the diversity already present in the French capital. Before the war, Paris attracted talented sculptors, painters, and printmakers from around the world. Many of these immigrants were young Jewish men who resettled on the Left Bank of Paris, where artists, writers, and philosophers gathered in cafes, salons, and galleries. Such artists included the great Amedeo Modigliani (an Italian painter known for his sleek and beautiful portraits), Marc Chagall (a Russian-French pioneer of modernism), and Chaïm Soutine (a tailor’s son whose impressionist portrait of a woman has since become a symbol of democratic protest in his home country of Belarus).

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A Story About Ranch Dressing

Before arriving in the United States, Igwe Udeh had never seen a cowboy in real life. He didn't even know they still existed. When he was a child in Nigeria, peddlers used to come through his small town, show spaghetti Westerns on a projector, and sell American products to amped-up audiences. Udeh loved those films and knew all the lines to every Clint Eastwood classic. But to him, the cowboy was a mythical character — a symbol of a bygone era in the American West. That is, until the autumn of 1980, when he looked up from his desk at the University of Oklahoma and saw a tall, slender man strolling into the classroom. This man wore a red plaid shirt, thick leather boots that clicked as he walked, and a wide-brimmed hat that obscured his face. When he sat down, he gently took off his hat and set it on the seat next to him. As other students poured into the classroom, no one dared to sit there. Udeh was in awe of this man's confidence.

Udeh left Nigeria to pursue a graduate degree in economics at the University of Oklahoma. But when he arrived, he found that he was the only black man in his program and one of the few in the town of Norman. None of the local barbers knew how to cut Udeh's hair, so he let it grow into an Afro. Some of the locals also had a hard time understanding Udeh through his thick Nigerian accent. When Udeh went to church, he wore his most traditional garb: a colorful West African pullover known as a dashiki. "No one would talk to me," he recalls in an interview. "They'd look at me like, 'Why are you dressed like that?' I'd sit down and people would get up one by one from the pews and move somewhere else. I'd leave feeling rejected and alienated."

Udeh wanted to assimilate, but in a way that would still allow him to express his African identity. As a Nigerian of Igbo descent, Udeh recognized some commonalities between his background and the American cowboy. Both cultures are deeply connected to the land. They are also both known for their strong, independent spirit and blunt manner of speaking. So Udeh went around to the local thrift stores to shop for some cowboy clothes (not difficult, as that's all they sold). He purchased plaid flannel shirts with shiny pearl-snap buttons, second-hand blue jeans, and cowboy boots that made him stand taller. He even bought the biggest Kawasaki motorcycle he could afford — his own iron horse — but found he couldn't wear the helmet because his Afro was too big. His appearance tickled local Oklahomans who had never seen a foreigner dress this way. "The first time I walked into a classroom in my new cowboy getup, someone said, 'Look at that! Igwe wants to be a cowboy.' I smiled and replied, 'Yes, I do.'"

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