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Greats Royale Review: The Return of the Brown Sneaker

March 16, 2016

For the lifetime of this blog, I have posted my passion for brown shoes. I love their versatility and the breadth of shades, from caramel to chestnut to chocolate.

So when the Greats line of sneakers launched a few years ago, I kept an eye out for any brown sneakers they might offer. Their flagship Royale sneaker was initially offered in a colorway called “Cuoio” that was more of a butterscotch. A bit too light for my taste. Thankfully, last year they finally released the Chocolate Brown colorway which was exactly what I had been looking for.

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So this past January I bought a pair. I have to say, I am thrilled with the shoes. Sometimes when you come across companies that make claims of “cutting out the middle-man” by selling a designer-quality good direct to the consumer, usually that means you’ll get a cheap imitation of something already existing in the market. And while the Royales share a classic sneaker silhouette similar to Common Projects or Buttero, they are no pale imitations. The outer leather is full-grain and beautifully soft, the lining is vachetta calf leather, a cushioned in-sole and tongue, and a cup-sole. They’re made in Italy and as of this writing retail for $159, but I signed up for their mailing list and got 15% off, bringing it around $130. The construction on my pair is solid–no loose threads or flaws in the leather. They took a few wears for the insoles to mold to my feet, but they were comfortable from the get go. I did follow Greats advice about Royales running a little large and sized down from my normal 8.5 and bought an 8.

I’ve had them for almost 2 months now, wearing them mainly on the weekends and casual Fridays at work. Overall, I’m please with my purchase and would definitely purchase another Royale in the future. I think the price is fair, especially considering your average Made-in-China NBA-player sneaker model goes for the same if not higher. I do think their current practice of listing a “Traditional Retail $450” on their website is a bit misleading. I know they are referring to the designer sneakers I mentioned earlier, but the way it is written on the website makes it seem like the Royales were originally $450 and are now $159. I don’t think there’s a need to be deceptive when you have a quality product. Aside from that, I think the Royale lives up to the Greats name.

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Sid Mashburn Opens Up: The Navy Blazer

October 3, 2015

Sid Mashburn published an informative piece on navy jackets, the characteristics of a full-canvas interlining, and just how long Sid’s been into fashion. This video accompanied the piece:

Sid Mashburn opens up: the navy blazer from Sid & Ann Mashburn on Vimeo.

Leave it to Sid to have a beard that has the right amount of scruffiness without looking too unpolished.

Monocle Films on YouTube

May 17, 2015

Monocle has been publishing since 2007, and from the beginning they have created short films to accompany their articles or even stand-alone reports. Until recently, the films were restricted to their website which meant you couldn’t see them on anything larger than a computer monitor. So barring bootlegged copies put on Vimeo or YouTube, or an overly complicated computer-to-tv connection, you couldn’t enjoy watching their great videos from the comfort of your HDTV.

Now Monocle has embraced Smart TVs and specifically YouTube, with a dedicated channel. All of their recent videos have been uploaded, and they are uploading several videos a week from their archives.

The History of Weinbrenner Shoe Company

March 7, 2015

In 1974, Lester H. Schoenke retired after 47 years of working for the Weinbrenner Shoe Company in Wisconsin. He wrote a history of the company that was published in 1983 and later updated in 1992 on the 100th anniversary of the company. It’s an interesting look into the history of a company and American manufacturing. Weinbrenner still continues today manufacturing footwear in Wisconsin. My recently acquired chukka boots came from their Wood N’ Stream line.

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Here are some covers from various Weinbrenner catalogs throughout the years. From 1955:
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From 1964:
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From 1939:
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From 1943:
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Thanks to Matt Bahlow from Weinbrenner for providing the images.

The Wes Anderson Collection: The Grand Budapest Hotel

February 17, 2015

The trouble with writing a comprehensive book about a living artist’s work is that as soon they release their next piece, you’re book is out of date. The Wes Anderson Collection was a huge tome, covering films from Bottle Rocket up to Moonrise Kingdom. Jumpcut a few months later and The Grand Budapest Hotel is released. Rather reprint the book with an additional chapter, author Matt Zoller Seitz wrote a separate “companion” book to accompany the original. Like the original collection, Matt created a video essay for the book:

Wood N’ Stream American Classic Chukka review

February 7, 2015

Over the holidays I picked up a chukka boot from Wood N’ Stream’s American Classic line. I had my eye on them for a few months, but after the UnionBootPro had a 35% off special just before Christmas, I couldn’t resist.

The boots have a padded in-sole for comfort and are made in Wisconsin with full-grain Horween leather and a Goodyear-welted Vibram sole. These have the sturdiness of workboots but can easily pair with chinos or jeans. The boots are solidly built but after about a week of wearing, the soles were completely broken in. As of this writing, I’ve had them a month and only the heel remains a little stiff. Overall, I’m pleased with the boots and looking forward to years of wear.

These pics are of the boots fresh out of the box, pre-wear:
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The Cutler of Milan

January 16, 2015

Dunhill acquired the archives of G. Lorenzi after the store closed in 2014. The are currently exhibiting some of the archive at the Bourdon House in London from 12-21 January, 2015.

From the press release: Founder Giovanni Lorenzi, began life as a cacial or knife grinders assistant, before opening the store together with his wife Lina in 1929, selling and repairing knives and scissors. The couple soon established a network of artisans and commissioned them to make objects of their own specifications.

After Giovanni retired in the 1950’s, his sons Aldo and Franco took the reins, and Aldo and his wife Edda further expanded the network of specialist suppliers, from all over the world, including 500 for knives alone. Inside the wood lined, copper framed exterior, G. Lorenzi had become a Mecca for men, packed with exquisite, one of a kind tools for men, crafted from forged Damascus stainless steel, brass, nickel, silver or gold and finished in precious and rare natural materials such as crown stag, buffalo or ox horn, ivory, fossilised walrus, Makassar ebony, briar root, tortoiseshell or crocodile.

The offer grew to include anything and everything a gentleman might need, knives for carving, fish, oysters, all types of cheese and multi-blade pocket knives. Pipes, cigar cutters and cases, lighters and humidifiers, all the requisites for smokers. Shaving brushes & bowls, razors, mirrors, manicure and grooming sets, shoe horns, hair and clothes brushes for impeccable grooming.

The exhibit will later travel to other Dunhill Homes around the world.

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images courtesy Dunhill