What Disney’s Full Control of Hulu Means for the Consumer and the Streaming Wars

Big news today on the subscription streaming services front! Yet another battle was fought and won in the ongoing saga of the Streaming Wars. Effective immediately, Disney will assume full operational control of Hulu. It’s been an interesting ride the last few months, but up until this morning, NBC Universal (the division of Comcast that includes NBC, USA, Universal Studios, and MSNBC) owned 40% of the streaming service while Disney owned the majority stake with 60%. It appears Disney wasn’t happy with just 60% and wanted the full 100%. While the good news is that Hulu can now be distributed internationally, the bad news is that a lot of content will eventually go elsewhere. Though this is great for Disney’s bottom line, it is bad for the consumer.

Disney is planning to release its own new streaming service later this year with Disney+, so initially one might be inclined to believe that owning a second one would be cannibalizing. However, Disney has let on that their plan is to host more family-oriented content on its own service and stream their adult-oriented content on Hulu. If a consumer could only pick one of the two, they certainly still have that option. On the other hand, the unfortunate truth for the consumer is that these developments ensure that streaming content isn’t as cost-saving as it once was. For a number of years, if you wanted to cut the cord in favor of streaming, the go-to choices for subscription were Netflix, Hulu, and Prime Video. Just having internet and these three services gave you access to a ton of content and was cheaper than paying for an expensive cable bundle full of channels and services you would never use. Other niche services have come along and tried to cut into those Big 3 but have never been anywhere near as popular.

Today, Netflix is losing a sizable chunk, upwards of 20%, of its content while simultaneously creating an overwhelming amount of its own programming and increasing subscription prices. Disney now exclusively owns Hulu along with Disney+. No one knows what Amazon’s plan is, but their UI still looks like it was built in 2011. Meanwhile, Apple is ramping up their eventual service, CBS All Access is (kinda) going strong, and today’s developments almost assuredly mean that NBC Universal is planning to release their own service in the near future. And I haven’t even mentioned DC Universe or WarnerMedia. While today’s developments mean that we, as consumers, will have more choice and availability of content than ever before, it also means that cord-cutters will be squeezed dry so that it’s not as viable of an option as it used to be.

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The Best Men’s Fashion Stores to Shop in Copenhagen

On Monday, I got back from my trip to Copenhagen, and to say my trip was transformative would be an understatement. I’ve long believed that moving away from your hometown is necessary for a person’s development into adulthood, but visiting another country can also completely alter the way you see the world. Seeing how others live who are completely disconnected from the life you are used to can make you reassess the things you feel are important. As I mingled with the people of Denmark, I kind of fell in love with the country and her citizens.

One of the things I loved most about Danish culture is how ingrained fashion is with their self-expression. Not everyone was fashion forward necessarily–monochrome black outfits with white shoes are by far the most common looks you will see–but everyone’s personal style was developed in such a way that people, both men and women, young and old, wore their clothes as an extension of themselves. Coming from America, where many men only like to wear T-shirts and jeans, this was a breath of fresh, cool air.

If there’s one thing the Danes are well-known for, it’s design. The country was at the forefront of the mid-century modern furniture boom that took place from the 1940s to the 1960s. The mentality that drove the movement has never left the spirit of the nation’s people, and as such, design in other industries continues to flourish in the nation, namely in fashion. Copenhagen has therefore become a hotbed for a number of Danish designers that are well worth the effort to check out for those who are in the market for clothes that will turn heads.

A special shout out to Connor from Fishers whom I befriended along the way. Without him, this list may have only been half as large.

Full Retail

Wood Wood

If I had to pick, Wood Wood would be my favorite store in Copenhagen. They are pretty well-known outside of the country as a contemporary streetwear label that mixes Scandinavian influences with sportswear. They have done a number of collaborations with other brands both big and small. The store carries not only their own line, but a number of other British, Japanese, and American brands to round out their looks. The vibe is fun and adventurous while the staff is kind and helpful.

Soulland

Similar in concept to Wood Wood, Soulland is another streetwear label infused with Scandinavian design concepts. There are a couple small differences in that they only sell their own label and that they usually only sell men’s clothes. So while the store is filled with less clothing, it still feels bright and fun. I didn’t spend too much time here, but I really liked some of the designs I saw.

Henrik Vibskov

I never would’ve known about this store if Connor hadn’t told me, even though I walked by it about 5 times. The entrance is on a dark building corner and the sign doesn’t really catch your attention. The store is slightly below-ground as well and the inside looks like a second-hand shop at first glance. First impressions aside, Mr. Vibskov has assembled quite a collection for display. His own offerings are a little more avant garde than most of the others on this list, but he mixes in a number of other designer labels like Martine Rose, JW Anderson, and Y-3 to help bring his looks down to Earth.

Han Kjøbenhavn

Truth be told, I had a bad customer service experience with this label a few years back, so I was initially reluctant to give them a second chance. Since holding grudges is not good for your health and the incident happened years ago, I decided to let bygones be bygones and give the designer a second chance. I really love the way he blends smart and sometimes off-kilter textiles with street and athletic wear. You might need to play with the sizing a little to see which ones work the best, but if you’re successful, a new fit from this store will be on-point and fashion forward.

NNo7

This menswear label functions mainly as a reasonably-priced basics brand, but a lot of their designs tend to cross the thin line between “basics” and “minimalist”. They currently have a few attractive summer knitwear options, one of which caught my eye, but as the only one available in my size had been displayed on a hanger, it was too stretched out for my liking (read: never hang sweaters!). Alas, I did leave with a beautiful pair of smart light blue chinos that doesn’t hold wrinkles, so not all was lost.

Norse Projects

Originally conceived as a clever boutique filled with menswear brands, Norse Projects eventually began selling their own line of minimalist pieces alongside brands like Nanamica, Engineered Garments, and Our Legacy. Their namesake label is great for buying quality basics at a reasonable price point. The store then branched off into womenswear and is now a low-key powerhouse in the fashion industry. It is worth stopping in to see the breadth of looks on display. The staff is very knowledgeable and will help you find anything you’re looking for.

Acne Studios

Though Acne is not originally from Denmark, my favorite Swedish brand still deserves a visit due to its sizable footprint in the city. There are 4 different branches in Copenhagen: the flagship, the former flagship, the department in Illum, and the clearance store (detailed later). Unfortunately, I never made it to the illustrious flagship, but upon my visit to the former flagship, I was informed by the regional manager that if I, or anyone else, wanted to partake in a complementary personal styling session, I was more than welcome. I ran out of time and couldn’t take her up on the offer, but feel free to ask about it if you’re interested.

Astrid Andersen

This is the only store in this section that I didn’t visit myself. I didn’t know about Ms. Andersen until after I got back and even if I had known earlier, the shop is a little too far from where I was staying to be able to walk. If you find yourself on the west side of the Lakes, it might be worth seeking out her store as her collections are particularly inspired.

Grocery

While I was out exploring the city, I just happened to walk by this nondescript store and see interesting clothes through the window. After exploring their wares, I got into an interesting discussion with the owner about a very familiar-looking shirt (I can tell you that geeky story if you want to hear it) and the label that made the pair of pants I ended up buying, Goetze. Just the fact that the store carries the small-scale Berlin brand has earned its placement on this list. The rest of the curated collection is icing on the cake.

Illum

Illum isn’t too different from the other up-scale department stores you might be more familiar with such as Saks or Neiman Marcus. What I really like is how open and minimalist the store is. They also carry some reasonably-priced brands like the Kooples and Tommy Hilfiger alongside high-end luxury brands like Botega Veneta and visvim. But it’s not just about the clothing; I ended up burning some time at a wonderful coffee shop that had a beautiful view of the city from the top floor. They also have housewares if you have enough room in your luggage to haul it home.


Off-Price

If you’re looking for deals, there are plenty to be found in Copenhagen. Unfortunately, like any good deal, knowing the best stores to peruse requires a little word-of-mouth. Since I was only there for 10 days, I could only find out about a few, but they are definitely worth checking out if you have the time.

Acne Archive

This is Acne’s clearance store, where they send all their past-season pieces that didn’t sell. The price reduction can be upwards of 50% which can put a formerly $400 pair of pants in a much more attainable price range.

Wood Wood MUSEUM

Similar to Acne Archive, Wood Wood MUSEUM is Wood Wood’s clearance store. What makes this one even better is the fact that, since they don’t sell just their own merchandise, there is a much larger selection of clothes to choose from. I even happened on a sample piece that was still being sold full price in the retail branch. Sure, it’s a size bigger than I normally wear, but it looks good oversized.

Studio Travel

I might have eventually found out about those first two stores on my own, but this one would have gone completely unknown if not for Connor. There are plenty of second-hand shops in Copenhagen, but this one is special because they specifically acquire vintage pieces from Italy and France in order to resell them. They have their own clothing line as well that is kind of fun and youthful.


Honorable Mentions

There are a ton of clothing stores in Copenhagen, especially in the Strøget district, and unlike in America, a large majority of them offer men’s clothing. There are so many notable stores that I didn’t have time to go into all of the ones I hadn’t already planned to go to on top of doing the regular tourist things. Some of these brands don’t look to be designer-based while others sell styles that could easily be found in the US, so I was less inclined to inspect them beyond window shopping. Nonetheless, if you are wanting to go through as many stores as possible for inspiration, these could be worth a look as most can’t be bought stateside.

Storm

I walked by this store many times but seemed to be in a rush every time. Taking a look at their website reminds me a lot of Dover Street Market with their focus on upscale designers. Might be worth a visit if you have a chance.

Sand

Danish-born Sand looks like a fashion forward businesswear brand, at least on the menswear side. Their suits look remarkably like ones you’d see from Thom Browne. If that’s your jam, definitely stop in.

Samsøe & Samsøe

While the clothes from this brand look fine, they don’t seem to be so distinctive that you couldn’t find similar back here in the States. I do like their runway looks though, so they might be worth a visit for some inspiration.

Native North

Native North looks fine for what they sell: high quality basics with a focus on the outdoors. That said, their offerings look like stuff you could buy more easily on a site like Huckberry.


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Taking a Break for Vacation

I just wanted to take a moment to thank all my followers and anyone who is sharing my content. I’ve been putting out a lot lately. For around 3 weeks I was publishing an article every day. Blogging is a lot more difficult than it seems, and that has been a hard lesson for me to learn.

Producing so much had led me to being a little burnt out. I’m very much the kind of person who believes in taking time off periodically in order to preserves ones mental stability, stave off disease, etc. More than anything, having time away allows one to recharge their batteries and come back with a fresh perspective. Thankfully, my burn out just happens to coincide with a previously planned vacation to Copenhagen, so I can enjoy some downtime while I’m admiring Danish architecture.

Don’t worry, I’m not leaving permanently. I’m not going to abandon this blog like I did my last one (RIP Fashionhippie). I have plenty of ideas percolating in my head and I want to get them out into the world. I’m getting a clearer picture of the niche I want my blog to fill.

As for how you can follow along with what I’m doing until I post again, feel free to follow me on Instagram @formatmagdotnet because I will be posting plenty of style pics on my feed.

See you when I get back!

How to Save Money on Men’s Designer Clothing

Sometimes I have to keep myself in check whenever I’m browsing through clothes online. I’ve seen so many outrageous price tags over the years that they don’t even faze me now. This indifference comes from doing a ton of analysis on design, fabric, and branding, as well as business mentalities. At times, I can get carried away, end up looking at a $2000 designer suit, and think offhandedly to myself, I can totally afford that. (I cannot.) Nevertheless, while I may not get overwhelmed by sticker shock, I am always aware of how much a reasonable amount is to spend on something and how much I myself can afford, so I usually end up talking myself out of paying the advertised price if I don’t abandon the thought of ownership altogether. Because I’m keenly aware of what things are actually worth, I have figured out ways to avoid spending full retail on most designer clothing.

There’s a mistaken impression a lot of people have that people who dress well have a ton of money to burn and/or spend a lot on expensive clothes. I’m here to tell you that, along with mainly buying mid-range labels, there are many ways to not spend a fortune while still dressing nice. Sometimes paying full price is unavoidable. For wardrobe essentials, you will likely have to bite the bullet and pay up if you want the best quality. There might also be a case in which a particular cardigan you’ve been coveting for 2 years is only available in your size on one site for full price. Barring these kinds of exclusions, if you are a savvy shopper, keep an open mind, and are willing to put in the extra work, you could save hundreds or thousands of dollars a year on designer clothing.

Below are the steps I often take to save money on higher-quality luxury clothing.

1. Shop online

There’s no denying anymore that malls are dying. They and the brands that were built inside their once-hallowed walls have been in steady decline for a number of years, and there’s not much that can bring them back now that the internet is a thing. The fact is, there is so much more variety online that it’s not economically viable to schlep over to a mall on the off chance that a store might have something you’re looking for in your size. Moreover, those brands that populate most malls–Gap, Old Navy, H&M, Forever 21, Zara–are lower quality and usually not worth the prices they charge, even if they’re on clearance. Some deals can be found in person if you’re lucky and happen to be in the right place at the right time, but by and large, the best deals will be found online and you will be assured of getting your size if it’s available.

2. Join email lists

Not sure if you’ve heard, but email is back in vogue. Platforms like Gmail have made it so easy to curate your inbox so that you only receive emails you’re interested in (imagine that). Advertisers in particular have learned how to market their wares better for their clientele. Signing up for a label’s or retailer’s newsletters is now the best way to keep on top of any sales, coupon codes, or marketing campaigns they might be running. Some retailers, like Mr. Porter, give early access to sales through said newsletters, so if you have your eye on something, it’s easier to nab before it sells out while the price is reduced. And speaking of sales…

3. Keep an eye out for end-of-season sales

The fashion industry functions on a rotating basis. As such, many retailers try to sell off their out-of-season clothing semiannually with huge sales. This is the best time to stock up on the things you will need 6 months from then, when the weather turns. Mr. Porter and SSense, among others, notoriously only have sales during this period and the only way to know when it happens is to use tip number 3 and subscribe to their mailing lists. If I had been keeping an eye on my email a couple months ago, I could have saved $150 on the aforementioned cardigan from Wacko Maria. Alas, I missed the notification it was on sale and ended up paying full price because it sold out quickly. You win some, you lose some, but if you stay on top of your email list, you will come out ahead.

4. Do research

Say you have your eye on a specific sneaker. Instead of just looking in the obvious places like Footlocker or Zappos, where the prices may be inflated because many people think those are the only places shoes are sold, do a Google search for the specific brand, model, and color. Make a note of the retailers in the “Shopping” section of the search results. Not all retailers sell their merchandise for the same price, so be sure to compare them.

Next, scroll down to see all the other results listed on the page. Keep going for 3 or 4 more pages and you will begin seeing retailers you’ve never heard of. Some may have websites that look a little sketchy, so be cognizant of that. Don’t just buy something on a whim from a random site at 25% of retail–it is probably fake or they’re just going to steal your money. However, you can often luck out on websites for retailers that are going out of business and need to sell off their merchandise at clearance prices. This is how I saved around $50 on a pair of chinos from Saturdays NYC.

5. Keep an eye on the items you love

If you frequently scrutinize clothing selections, as I do, you will inevitably come across an item that you love and know would fit perfectly in your wardrobe. It’s not super expensive, but it’s just barely out of reach. I’ve given myself many tests in these situations. I will make sure it will go with the rest of my clothes. I will let it go for a week or so and if it’s still on my mind, or I don’t find anything better, I will resolve to purchase it. The way I see it is that it’s meant to be mine.

Whatever you do, give it time, sleep on it, but watch how it performs as far as how well it’s selling. If you keep an eye on it for a month or more and none of the sizes are selling out, chances are good that it will eventually go on sale. Many sites these days will tell you when there’s 1 or 2 more of a certain item, so make sure it doesn’t sell out in the size you want. This is where the email newsletters come in handy because once you find out the item is on sale, you can swoop in and claim it as yours for a reduced price. This is how I saved around $100 onmy cricket sweater from Kent & Curwen.

Even if you had to go ahead and buy something full price because it was the last one and you didn’t want to miss out, if a sale begins within the return period of that item, you can usually reach out to customer service to let them know and they will refund you the amount of money you would have saved had you bought it on sale. This is how I saved $108 on a shirt from AMI.

6. Know which sites to go to for sale clothing

This tip is for men who don’t have a specific brand in mind but just don’t want it to be low-end. If you don’t already know which labels are better quality, it can be easy for unknown brands to swindle you into buying their low-quality clothing. Tread carefully.

If you know what you’re doing, there are many sites that can serve you well. Farfetch’s sale section is wonderful for this. Simply click “Sale”, then refine the results by your size, preferred garment, preferred color, or any other pertinent information, and you should have a few pages to look through. That’s an easy $100 saved as long as you know which brands are good. Plus, there’s little danger of buying the wrong size because they even do returns on sale merchandise.

Another site that works well is Yoox. Unlike Farfetch, which is more like a middle-man between retailers/brands and the customer, Yoox is sort of like an uncurated Mr. Porter (an apt description because they are both branches of the same company, YOOX Net-a-Porter Group). They also have a permanent sale section which has plenty of great deals if you’re not extremely picky. Just refine the selection of goods down to what you’re generally looking for and you’re good to shop.

Lyst is a little different from the other two I’ve mentioned here because it is basically just a powerful search engine made to search for clothes. This site might be a good tool for keeping an eye on specific items like I mentioned in number 5, but I’ve never used for that so I can’t say for sure. What you can do instead is peruse the sale section the same as the others. Unfortunately, you can’t refine the results as much, so you really have to be flexible or be looking for a generic item, like a blue dress shirt. However, the great thing about Lyst is that you can see many different retailers and their prices on similar items, including those on sale, so it’s easy to compare.

If you are unsure about a certain brand, a quick Google search should tell you what you want to know. Researching different brands can also expand your knowledge base and clue you in on newer, emerging designers or budget labels that use higher-quality materials.

7. Don’t buy things just because they’re on sale

This is my mantra for buying anything, not just clothes: if the only reason you’re buying something is because the price is reduced, you are not actually saving money, you’re being swindled into buying something you don’t want. Being convinced that you need something simply because the price is low can lead to wasteful overspending or buying things that will end up gathering dust in a closet. Then, you have to figure out how to donate or sell it because it’s just taking up space.

Before you even start shopping, establish a list of things you want/need either in your head or on a spreadsheet. Keep them in mind as you go through sale sections and collections from labels. This will help keep you from getting carried away in the sale sections.

8. Shop consignment

This is for the fashion die-hards. You may get mixed results, but there are absolutely plenty of deals to be had. eBay is still a great place to go, but can be hit-and-miss. Grailed and StockX are also amazing repositories to explore if you have an open mind. TheRealReal is also at your disposal, though I don’t have much experience with it as their offerings for men aren’t stellar.

This is the one area I would encourage shopping in person if you can, especially if you’re in a fashionable city like New York or LA. In big cities, there is a lot more disposable income, so affluent people are more willing to part with their expensive clothes. Here in DC, there’s a consignment shop called Buffalo Exchange where I picked up a polo from Givenchy for around $30. I’m not sure what the original retail price was, but it was easily 20 times what I paid. Again, a little flexibility, patience, and research can pay off big.

9. Buy less, buy quality

Generally, the rule is that the higher price you pay for clothing, the better quality it is and the longer it will last. The sweaters are warmer and don’t pill as much. The T-shirts are softer and more durable. The shoes don’t fall apart after a year. My experience is designer brands almost always fit better as well. Of course, the trade-off is that the upfront cost is higher, but ideally you will end up with garments that will be more satisfying and cost less over the long-term because you won’t need to replace them anytime soon. Instead of paying $50 for 5 T-shirts that last a year, spend the same amount on 1 T-shirt that lasts 10 years.

Do you have any methods you follow to save on designer clothing? Share below in the comments!

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Stuff I’m Digging This Week

Acne Studios Cotton-Linen Sweater

Light sweaters have become a legit fashion trend this season with the knitwear showing up in nearly every label’s collection. This linen-blend pick from Acne will keep you looking stylish until summer gets here.


Ovadia & Sons Cargo Pants

These pants are perfectly made for the warmer months out of ripstop fabric, which is light and airy while simultaneously durable.


Thomas Pink Vintage Shirts

The styles of the 90s are back in full force, so the premier London shirtmaker decided to revive some of their classic shirts from the period. Some of them are spectacular and look like shirts Balenciaga would make, but these are a quarter the price.


Ruined by Design by Mike Monteiro

I am a stickler for good design. In fact, this entire blog is centered on the concept. So I love to read take-downs of how our society has abandoned the concept of designing with purpose and how we might restore those precepts. Preorder today.


John Elliott Long Sleeve T-Shirt

I’ve had this one on hold for a while, but I figure I better feature it before it sells out. The marble print has been popular for a minute, and Mr. Elliott does it so well.


Cav Empt Sweatshirt

I’m lusting over this sweatshirt. Its super wide cuffs, its faded black wash…it’s just funny how tweaking a few details can completely change a garment.


Castañer + Missoni Espadrilles

So Missoni’s thing is space-dyed clothing. They put it into practically everything they make. I used to not be keen on it, but since menswear got all maximalist, it’s grown on me. I am especially liking these shoes which, given the color scheme, would go with your entire summer wardrobe. They’re also a steal at the price.


Sunspel + Lemaire Mesh Tank Top

As I was researching for my recent article covering wardrobe essentials, I happened upon this exquisite collaboration. I would wear this tank top so hard.


NOHrD Exercise Equipment

So you want to have a workout room. Great! Nothing wrong with being healthy. But then you realize that your home is beautiful and workout equipment…well…isn’t. NOHrD has changed that. Combining excellent design and attractive but durable materials, you can now leave the door to your workout room open when company comes over. I especially love this minimalist pull machine.


Oakley Sunglasses

If you would’ve told me 5 years ago that I’d be eyeing Oakleys with reflective lenses, I’d think you were crazy, but them’s the shakes. Rowing Blazers and Vetements have convinced me that I need to keep an open mind. Oh, and be sure to pick up a couple more lenses while you’re at it so you’re not stuck with just one.


Best Brands for High Quality Wardrobe Essentials

One thing I probably don’t talk about enough on this website is wardrobe essentials. You can’t build a fully functioning wardrobe on flashy pieces alone, you need basic pieces like white t-shirts and khaki chinos to help balance things out. Sometimes, you don’t want to think too hard about an outfit and just want to throw something on. Other times, especially if you have to go to work or an interview, basics are your only option. Whatever your reason for wearing them, these unsung heroes of your clothing collection must be dependable workhorses that can stand the test of time, thus saving you money in the long term because you won’t have to replace them as often.

I should make a slight distinction here between what is considered minimalist and what is considered basic. There are some brands who have been defined by their interpretations of minimalism, like Acne Studios, Our Legacy, and AMI, while there are others that are built on providing quality basics, like Everlane, Basic Rights, and Mack Weldon. Though these are two different approaches to fashion, the mentalities often cross paths and get conflated. Some minimalist brands will therefore offer basic clothing as well, which is why some of those fashion forward labels made it to this list. Nonetheless, all the below brands offer wardrobe basics at a price point that won’t break the bank. Feel free to take your pick.

Everlane

Everlane broke the mold when it comes to building a brand around transparent business practices and sustainability.


Jomers

Jomers has developed quite the following in menswear circles for their extremely inexpensive chinos of decent quality. It used to be difficult to buy anything on their site because people would nab them as soon as they dropped, but it seems they’ve ramped up production a bit since those days.


Buck Mason

Buck Mason began their brand with perfecting the humble t-shirt and have since moved on to every other article of clothing. Their leather jackets are particularly nice.


Mack Weldon

Mack Weldon started with the most basic of basics–underwear and socks–and created some of the best with their own proprietary fabric. They have since expanded that mentality of creating the best basics to every other kind of garment you would need.


Basic Rights

Per their website, Basic Rights was launched in 2016 by guitarist Freddie Cowan to make staples with an attention to detail.


Taylor Stitch

This brand was built on the mentality that you don’t have to sacrifice sustainability for quality, Taylor Stitch ensures that your purchase won’t weigh on your conscience.


NN07

NN07 is brand based in Copenhagen that offers quality wardrobe staples. Their name stands for “No Nationality” lending to the universal transience of their style.


Reiss

Originally founded as purveyor of men’s suits, this minimalist label has branched out quite a bit since 1971, resulting in several fashion awards over the years.


Vince

Well this is awkward. Established in 2002, Vince is a great brand to turn to for casual basics. But the company has had a tumultuous time since they went public in 2013. As recently as 2017, staff were doubtful that the label would survive much longer. Best to buy a few pieces now while you can!


Norse Projects

Originally envisioned as a fashion boutique, this brand out of Copenhagen decided to begin offering their own low-priced, basic clothing alongside the other brands that they carry.


Les Basics

I can’t find much information on this brand which leads me to believe it’s pretty new. Their website doesn’t have a lot for sale in the way of menswear, but End has much more available. Be sure to keep this one on your radar.


James Perse

If you like your basics with a slightly relaxed inflection, you should give this LA brand a look.


Sunspel

A minimalist heritage brand, this one hails from Britain and is particularly well-known for its range of boxer shorts, T-shirts and polo shirts. They use long staple Pima cotton which reduces pilling and increases durability.


Håndværk

I only just learned about this brand today. I’m having trouble finding much information on them, but I have to admit that their garments look exquisite. Their tees are made of long staple Peruvian cotton, so it’s worth a shot for the quality.


APC

This French label is one of the OGs of minimalism, having been founded in 1987, and they are particularly well-respected for their denim jeans.


Theory

Theory is more upscale than the rest of the brands listed here, but the materials and quality are among the best.


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‘Russian Doll’ Is a Thought-Provoking Examination of Mental Illness and Drug Addiction

I’m a little behind the ball with this one, but please forgive me as I’m finally starting to develop a system. Russian Doll is a dark dramedy released on Netflix in early February, and I’m only just now getting around to reviewing it. Though I’m getting a little fatigued by the constant churning of original content from the company, after noticing the show earned critical acclaim, I felt I should give it a look. The series is created by three extremely talented women, actress Natasha Lyonne, comedienne Amy Poehler, and playwrite Leslye Headland, with Lyonne starring in the lead role as Nadia. The production credits alone should at least warrant a look, but I’ll give a small description of where we start the series.

Nadia is in the bathroom at a party celebrating her 36th birthday. The party is graciously being hosted by best friend Maxine (Greta Lee) at her apartment. After discussing her missing cat Oatmeal and wondering if it’s too early to have a mid-life crisis (prescient considering the events to come), Nadia hits it off with rando-sex-guy Mike (Jeremy Bobb) and the two resolve to go back to her place to bang one out, stopping at the corner market on the way. Later, post-intercourse, Nadia sees her cat chilling across the street, so she runs into the street to nab the feline. She gets hit by a car, dies, and immediately regains consciousness back in the bathroom at the party where and when she started.

I’m afraid to say too much more about the story because part of the fun of this show is experiencing it. A lot of things that you may overlook in the first few episodes become more important as you go through the series. Each episode digs further and further into the main characters’ deep-seeded issues and exposes them. There aren’t a lot of shows that delve into mental illness the way this one does, but it is beginning to be a popular trope the more humanity comes to terms with its particular psychoses. Lady Dynamite on Netflix examined bipolar disorder while Legion on FX was inspired by schizophrenia. The difference with Russian Doll is that the theme is something almost all of us have experience with–burying things we don’t like about ourselves and letting them fester, eventually leading to irrational behavior.

Similar to the recently reviewed Us, there is so much to dissect here that it could easily fill a college course. It would be easy to dismiss the series as another take on Groundhog Day, a plot device which is so overused it borders on cliche, but that is merely the catalyst for making our characters confront the parts of themselves they’ve bottled up. Moreover, as opposed to the one-note movie, there a lot more unexpected twists here that completely change how you view it, such as the appearance of Alan (Charlie Barnett) at the end of episode 3 and his subsequently explored role. Lyonne even manages to flip the viewer’s expectations in the final episode, having directed and written it herself. The way Russian Doll can switch between introspective drama and laugh-out-loud dark comedy is absolutely a feature.

Where I’m less impressed is with how much time is spent pursuing leads that end up going nowhere toward ending Nadia’s predicament. Much like how Phil Connors tries to improve himself, thinking that will break the spell of the groundhog, Nadia initially thinks there’s something in the joint she smokes, that the building is beset by a Jewish curse, or that she needs to befriend the homeless guy, Horse (Brendan Sexton III). None of these threads add anything to the story except to maybe allow for more exposition on how terrible of a person she is or have her learn a lesson. The real story is in her interactions with Maxine, Alan, her aunt Ruth (Elizabeth Ashley), and her mother Lenora (Chloë Sevigny). As such, there is so much going on at once, but so little of it actually matters.

The human condition sometimes can’t easily be described with words. In these situations, we often look to references and metaphors to help us understand what is going on. Russian Doll has constructed an apt metaphor for how necessary it is for our mental health to confront and address our inner demons, including drug addiction. However, while the series is short with a roughly 3.5 hour runtime so you don’t have to devote a lot of time to it, the message the creators wanted to convey could probably have been told in half that time or at least be more succinct. That said, it is often hilarious, giving us such lines as “Nothing in this life is easy except for pissing in the shower,” and this is probably the standout performance of Lyonne’s career. Give it a few episodes and see what you think.

Score: 3.5 out of 5

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After Marvel Cancellations, Netflix Missing Out on Prime Crossover Opportunities

There’s no denying the fact that the Defenders on Netflix a failed experiment. The entire concept was grand, meant to give people a TV version of the MCU’s Avengers concept. Unfortunately, since the hugely anticipated team-up miniseries was a dud, that lead to a precipitous decline in viewership for the other related Marvel series. Once the streaming giant essentially gave up on future seasons of the Defenders, the spirit behind all the solo efforts fizzled out as well. Now that all 6 series to come out of that original agreement have been cancelled, we can look back and appreciate what an immense endeavor it was from the start. However, instead of lamenting about what could have been or analyzing what went wrong (it was actually a confluence of many things), I prefer to look to the future.

Though Netflix is not a fan of releasing numbers, subscriptions likely increased in anticipation of the superhero crossover. People were initially excited for the Defenders when it was announced. Perhaps that same excitement is what led to its downfall as subscribers were less impressed with the result. But maybe there is a lesson in here for the company. Maybe they tried to go too hard, too fast into their first crossover when they should have gone small. It is a fact that audiences love crossovers and ratings spike with them, so there is no reason why they couldn’t or shouldn’t try it again on a smaller scale. They could draw people to the service who still watch live TV exclusively. Or they could simply cross-pollinate some of their original series to help keep subscribers entrenched in the service.

Here are just a few ideas I have for the next great Netflix crossover:

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina/Riverdale

This one is the most obvious on this list because the two series take place in the same universe and are made by CW. They even have the same showrunner! Though I haven’t seen Riverdale, I have seen Sabrina, and the characters mention the rival high school a handful of times. I’m not familiar enough with the source material to guess what a crossover would look like, but even a proper cameo from Riverdale might suffice, though they kinda did that already. As recently as October, the showrunner spoke favorably about the idea, but questioned whether it would ever happen. Get on it people!

Stranger Things/Big Mouth

I know it seems silly, but stranger things have happened. (See what I did there?) Ahem. This idea was actually inspired by a GQ article I read recently about how the monster in season 3 of Stranger Things is puberty. You what show is entirely about kids going through puberty? Big Mouth! I see no reason why the cast of the former can’t be animated and shoved into the plot of the latter considering the Supernatural/Scooby-Doo crossover was a thing that happened. All the teenagers’ puberty monsters can battle each other or have an orgy or something.

The Crown/Downton Abbey

I know Downton Abbey as a series is over and a film is being released later this year. I also know that The Crown takes place about 40 years after the show. But hear me out on this one. The film will possibly reinvigorate an audience that will have missed the Crawleys, so why not ride that wave of enthusiasm? Characters depicted as children in the show could be fully functioning (and scheming) adults taking care of their parents in their advanced age. It would be a first for historical dramas, which I don’t believe have ever crossed over. We know that not everything in The Crown is completely factual, so the Crawleys meeting the Queen wouldn’t be too out of the ordinary.

Grace and Frankie/Queer Eye

This script practically writes itself! Obviously Grace or Frankie gets into a rut and needs to be saved by the Fab 5. Everyone is supportive, doing personal interviews like they do on Queer Eye, and the makeover is amazing, giving the recipient a new lease on life. Or everything goes wrong and one of the leading ladies causes a huge scene. Honestly, I could see it going either way, but the resulting episode would be must-watch TV. Even better if the effects are felt for the rest of the season.

House of Cards/Orange is the New Black

This one isn’t a serious suggestion, merely bemoaning a missed opportunity for two of Netflix’s first, and at one point best, original series. Orange is the New Black was created with the premise of showing how truly unjust the prison system is. Having a politician from House of Cards show up to tour Wakefield (or whatever prison) could have been a powerful statement. Sadly, both series took a nosedive after a couple seasons. Today, one has already been cancelled while the other will release its final season later this year. C’est la vie.

Santa Clarita Diet/Get Shorty

This one probably couldn’t take place in Get Shorty’s world because it’s more grounded in realism, but it would be so easy in Santa Clarita Diet for a Hollywood film crew, led by gangster cum movie producer Miles Daly, to show up in town for filming. Miles meats Sheila and wants to cast her in the movie. Somehow her secret gets out and Miles wants to use her to complete a job that he has in town. Hilarious horror ensues.

‘Love Death + Robots’ Is a Short but Riotous Romp Through the Apocalypse

To Lacie, thanks for the suggestion

The anthology series succinctly titled Love Death + Robots (LDR) requires a little bit of context to fully appreciate. Back in 1981, there was an animated anthology movie released called Heavy Metal. It was based on the dark fantasy adult magazine by the same name, was produced by said magazine’s publisher, and featured a heavy metal soundtrack that was released simultaneously. Though the film received a lukewarm reception from critics, it’s become something of a cult classic and is notable for moving American animation in a more R-rated direction. A sequel by the name of Heavy Metal 2000 was eventually released. It was not well-received.

In 2008, there were talks of a reboot of the original film with directors David Fincher and Tim Miller involved in some capacity. Subsequently in 2011, filmmaker Robert Rodriguez announced that he had purchased the film rights. As of this writing, that production is in limbo. It seems that LDR is largely inspired by what Fincher and Miller had created before Rodriguez bought the property, an anthology of shorts more science fiction in nature vice Heavy Metal’s fantasy themes. The general premise feels like Miller, as creator, sat down in a conference with all the other directors and said, “Future dystopia…and…go!”

Keep in mind that this animated anthology is not your dad’s Bugs Bunny. Heck, it’s not even Family Guy. There’s gratuitous nudity, blood and gore, and flagrant language. That said, the animation is often outstanding. There were times when I couldn’t tell that the CGI wasn’t real life. In fact, when Topher Grace stepped into one short, I wasn’t initially convinced he was flesh and blood (he was). Many of the episodes were great fun as well in spite of, or perhaps because of, the nudity and gore. My eyes were glued to the screen a number of times when scenes were just too dazzlingly displayed to look away or I didn’t miss what would happen next.

Though many of the episodes are amazing and sometimes emotional, there are others that are either forgettable or nearly pointless. One episode uses a concept that was better-executed by the Futurama episode “Godfellas”. Still another has a woman running around naked for nearly the entire short. I get the symbolism of her being defenseless, but a lot of the violence toward women and the full-frontal nudity of both sexes throughout the series feels like it’s just inserted for shock value instead of serving the story. The numerous F-bombs also get a little irritating. I curse like a sailor myself, but using the word constantly makes a script sound lazy. I mean, there are a bevy of curse words out there besides just the one.

Love Death + Robots is a very mixed bag with some outstanding episodes–Three Robots, Zima Blue, Lucky 13–and others that are just barely worth watching–Blindspot, Sucker of Souls, The Witness. Generally speaking, this show feels perfect for the YouTube generation; Black Mirror or Aeon Flux-level concepts in short, bite-sized chunks. But its length is definitely in its favor, as what makes this show worth watching is the fact that all the shorts together are only around 3.5 hours, and for that amount of time, any viewer will be thoroughly entertained.

Score: 4 out of 5

How to Wear a Cricket Sweater

Cricket season is nearly upon us here in the Northern Hemisphere, so now is the best time to buy the sweater typically associated with the sport. Unlike most every other garment in existence today, not much is known how or where the knitwear became an essential part of our wardrobes. In fact, it’s not only been associated with cricket but also golf and tennis. Sleuthy fashion historians have dated the original jumper all the back to somewhere between the late 1800s and 1920s, so it has quite a history.

Despite the unclear timeline, the sweater is firmly rooted in prepwear. Just like rugby shirts, the cricket sweater began its life as a uniform for preppy men who played the sport and as the sport itself grew in popularity, the fashion industry assimilated the style and reinterpreted its meaning. As such, the sweater looks great when worn with other pieces that revolve around the same trend, but today’s crazy fashion rules have opened up new opportunities in coordinating outfits. They can be made from cotton, wool, or cashmere and are traditionally mostly white, making the knitwear a prime piece for layering or toning down a wild outfit.

Fashion Forward

jacket by RRL; sweater by Kent & Curwen; shirt by Polo Ralph Lauren; joggers by Carhartt WIP; boots by Dr. Martens; bag by Supreme; hat by Uniqlo x JW Anderson

Just because the cricket sweater has stuffy roots doesn’t mean your outfits have to look stuffy, too. The key, while mixing in other prep-inspired pieces, is not to think too much about matching the sweater. Intentionally wearing clashing pieces is much easier with this sweater because it is a neutral white and will draw attention away from all the patterns you’re wearing. The black crossbody bag and boots, also neutral, help tone things down even more.

Easygoing Casual

sweater by Kent & Curwen; shirt by Officine Générale; jeans by Gant; boots by Timberland; hat by Huckberry x Ebbets Field Flannels

This is a great look for men who don’t want to be too loud with their outfits. Since jeans go with everything, that’s the best place to start. Just add a neutral pair of boots, a black belt, and a simple patterned shirt. You could even get away with wearing no shirt underneath, if you’re feeling slightly adventurous.

Total Prep

sweater by Kent & Curwen; shirt by Frank & Oak; jeans by LL Bean Signature; boots by Wolverine; hat by vintage

If you don’t have to wear a tie to work, this look could work for you. Otherwise, if you feel like turning the prep up to 10, just go all out with critter-embroidered chinos and a tweed cap. The modern boots and basic unbuttoned shirt help keep this fit from looking too costumey.

Smart Casual

sweater by Kent & Curwen; shirt by J Crew; tie by Brooks Brothers; trousers by Gant; loafers and socks by New Republic

My initial idea for this outfit was to wear a full suit, but unfortunately, that thought was dashed when I realized that my sweater was wool and oversized. Since tweed is now out of season (and that is the only suit I have that would look right), I figured I’d show you something you can wear today, now that the weather has begun to warm up. Though it may not work for the suit-and-tie crowd, those guys who have a little more leeway should be able to get by and grab some compliments.

Best Cricket Sweaters Right Now

Polo Ralph Lauren


Smart Turnout


Kent & Curwen


Thom Browne


Burberry


Maison Margiela