03
May 12

FEATURE: The Talk

Please don't say we need to talk, please don't say we need to talk.... Image from iStockphoto/Thinkstock.

We need to talk.

Really, we do. This is serious; sit down (you probably are, actually… okay well stay down… good boy).

I’ve been noticing something creeping its way back into our once peaceful lives; a menace that is insisting itself upon every man – young and old.

It’s a horror that is changing grown men back into helpless teenagers and ridding them of any chance of ever reproducing.

I’m talking about the graphic t-shirt.

From the “Bazzinga” print to the dreaded “Female Body Inspector” (yes, it still exists; it prompted this article), the menace of the boyish charm ideal has been stretched into the land of the lost boys.

Even though I can understand the appeal of staying young and friendly to your hobbies and interests, there is a line to be drawn here, gentlemen.

For instance, just because I have an unhealthy obsession for Marmite doesn’t mean that I’m going to rush out and print a “Love me or hate me” t-shirt.

Ergo, if you always wanted to be a fireman but you’re too… um… “mature” for it, don’t wear a FDNY t-shirt (you’re not fooling anyone, I promise you that).

This is not so say that t-shirts with prints on them are the cause for all potential damnation. I actually love a great print on a t-shirt; otherwise we’d all look like something out of a George Orwell novel.

Maybe there is a magical place that we can all go where we look good, and don’t look like we nicked a shirt from a high school lost and found.

Maybe it’s called… the place of the happy balance! (of which I have yet to find with these chocolate covered cranberries next to me… baby steps).

Such a place exists in the genius of Bang On – a custom print t-shirt company that started here, in my fickle town of Vancouver back in 1999, just down the road from where I’m sitting now.

http://bang-on.com/

Their concept is quoted as:

A retro style custom t-shirt shop with plenty of cool transfers and t-shirts. They achieved this with flying colours and now offer their service to the rest of the world- rejoice!

You can check out Bang On’s official website at www.bang-on.com.

The system is simple:  You get to flip through hundreds upon hundreds of designs (or simply provide your own) and they’ll screen print it onto a t-shirt of your choice (although to confess, I’ve been buying their shirts plain and using them as my ‘plain white T’ for the past few years).

Friendly staff and a great product all add together to make a growing empire that is popularizing the world of customized marketing.

Ethnic pattern from bang-on.com.

Be warned when you head to their website!  There are such prints that play on Lucky Charms logos and even Captain Kirk with the “Beam me up, Scotty” slogan – but please, try to remember that you’re past puberty and scroll through to the “Ethnic Patterns” section.

Check out the colours used in these prints.  They’ll open up your wardrobe without looking like you really tried all that hard.

Or say, you’ve been bitten by the travel bug and have a hard time keeping it in? Let it out with heading to the Travel page and explore the vintage pictures of buildings as opposed to the ”I heart Japan” prints.

But maybe you’re like me.  And you’re fussy.  And whatever anyone has dreamt up before you is just too damn unimaginative? How do you narrow down the socially appropriate?

Keep it simple!

I’m considering treating myself to a new t-shirt.  Exams are almost done and I’m the type that needs an incentive (just a few dollars shy of my Berlinetta, you see).

One of the things I love to wear the most is a good, old fashioned, rock and roll t-shirt.

But all the ones out there are horridly over-produced and at the end of the day, I’ll look like one of those girls who wears a Freddie Meme t-shirt but couldn’t sing Bohemian Rhapsody for her life.

*insert table flip here*

I love Queen. And, as I’ve previously discussed in other articles, I’m in the process of starting the International Church of Brian May.

However, while that is still getting its legs I want to wear the best Queen shirt out there! (Too bad that they are all mediocre.)

That’s when the magical land of Bang On told me how if I took my own picture into a store, they will gladly print it on for me! *angles singing* here I come, Brian!

But to those of you who don’t live near a Bang-On store, you’ve got Zazzle.

Zazzle is a website dedicated to serving your every customized need from mugs to calendars and even the precious T shirt and can be found at www.zazzle.com.

http://www.zazzle.com/

Shipping worldwide and providing excellent help in every step, Zazzle is perfect for the ‘noob’ of the customized T shirt world.

Simply upload your picture and watch it transform into a garment of which you can view in multiple ways (even on a ‘model!). Perhaps my favourite feature is how it will actually tell you if the resolution is out of whack; no one likes a blurry Brian.

Whatever your feel, you’ll get your fix of personal expression without metaphorically welding yourself a chastity belt; trust me, nothing says “please don’t use the phone number I just gave you” like a scantily clad anime character holding a Pokémon ball (yes…it happened).

Don’t make me have to deal with that again, please.


19
Apr 12

GEAR: The Awesome and The Ugly

This dude could totally use a Becca Talbott techonology/style upgrade STAT! Image from Comstock/Thinkstock.

Technology is awesome.

Yes, this I know. This is something that we all know.  It’s fast, it’s fun, it’s shiny, oh so expensive and yes, we all love it.

But it’s ugly.

Home technology is garish, and blatantly obnoxious. It enters your home and it wants to be the centre of attention – it doesn’t care how much you spent at Ikea trying to conceal it, technology will always win.

And Lord help you if you actually want to show it off, because then it looks like you’re the type of person who loves to spend ridiculous amounts of money on something that requires a specialist to fix it.

Last week, my beloved laptop (aptly nicknamed, “Toshibasaurus”) died.

It had been my first laptop; a graduation present from Mum and  something that had become a giant and barely portable piece of my heart. I used and abused it to the point where even the charge port called it a day.

Bravo.

So after a lot of profanity and acceptance of my new financial burden, I swallowed my pride and went looking for a new ‘baby’.  As I browsed through rows on rows of endless screens I noticed something – they were all ugly.

Even the ones that had been doubled in price because the manufacturer attempted to make them look pretty were still ugly.  Even the one I ended up with (a much more ‘article friendly’ netbook) is a bit too plain-Jane for me.

And since buying this new venture, I’ve been exploring ways to make it a bit more… fashionable.

If you’re like me and you need to add some ‘human’ to your robot, check out www.skinit.com

Use http://www.skinit.com/ to sexify your tech.

Skinit.com is a haven of personalization for anything that looks even remotely ‘ordinary’. It all starts with the simple process of selecting your device from their large (read: massive) list of gadgets.

Grab a skin for your phone, your netbook, your calculator or even your humidifier (yup).

After this, it‘s merely a matter of browsing through their hundreds, probably thousands of pages worth of designs, selecting one, and getting shipped to you.

Boom – instant sexification.

But if you‘re truly like me, that‘s probably not good enough. This is where the real fun comes in – go click on ‘create your own’ bar at the top of the site and all of a sudden, your fantastically expensive gadget is at the mercy of your imagination.

I’ve been working on a few designs of my own and when I’ve finally decided on one, I’ll be sure to post the fantastic pictures of it *insert girly/nerdy squeal of excitement here*.

If everyone had the means and knowledge to personalize and fashion-ify their do-dads, wouldn’t that make our homes just that bit more homey and less like the control centre of command? (Hint to you men – you’re guilty of this and you know it).

The blessed beau, Mike, gets to be my example for yet another entry.

He has a studio apartment, it’s small and it does the job. He also loves his computers and has proudly mounted four monitors on his spanking new mounting system (which you can see from the street, six floors down).

Now I’m not saying that it’s a terrible thing;  I’ve warned him that if he wants a girl to reside with him at any point in time this set up is probably not ideal.

There’s a whole yin and yang of showing ones’ personality through their home, in a fashionable sense; just like with one’s wardrobe *Ding! Lightbulb*.

For instance, if you love a certain game (let’s say Portal), you wouldn’t walk around in an orange and white cropped jumpsuit (you wouldn’t, gentlemen). So why display whatever it is from the game around your house, with no apparent use whatsoever?

Instead of recreating the game scene in your living room, why not head over to www.thisiswhyimbroke.com

http://www.thisiswhyimbroke.com/

The self-proclaimed ‘internet mall’ is a treasure trove of all things cool, awesome and just plain strange. From $2 Portable Liquor shots to $47,000 Pumpkin Carriage beds (yes!) this site shows you all things you could ever want/need/be in awe of its existence.

So for all you men who still have that slight boyish charm that just bursts when you think of computers, games - even Star Wars - head to this site. It’ll let you show off your interests and obsessions in more ‘outside world-friendly’ ways like the following:

Love the old days of games? Grab a Nintendo Controller Coffee table or even a Space Invaders couch.

Nintendo controller table image from http://www.thisiswhyimbroke.com/. Now imagine the game console it came with.

Want to make your everyday computer a little less…black? Pick up a wireless bamboo keyboard and mouse or even splurge a little to get your hands on a custom built LCD monitor with an extremely classy (and gentleman-ly) vintage look.

Is it me or do these moniters look like they are glowing? Image from http://www.thisiswhyimbroke.com/.

Now I could continue talking about the rare and fantastically random things offered on this site (I`ve got my eye on the `Ctrl-Alt-Delete’ cup set), but I think I’ll let you all check the rest out for yourselves.

Wireless bamboo keyboard and mouse image from http://www.thisiswhyimbroke.com/.

So go and make your obnoxious technology a little less garish and a little more…well…friendly. Because the friendlier it is, the friendlier you’ll be, and the more willing you’ll be to help solve world hunger.

Ah, I love when I’m right.

Note: Frank and Oak (see last article) has just sent Mike an email accepting his request- he will be browsing their collection soon-


05
Apr 12

STYLE: Solving World Hunger

To think, our very own Becca Talbott can be the face of one of these stamps one day. Image from iStockphoto/Thinkstock.

I think I’ve solved world hunger.

Sure…my high school graduation class voted the guy with the 120% average to do this – but I’ve beaten him (take that, Allen! Now…go cure Cancer).

Now, I’m sure the board at the Nobel Prize HQ will think my reasoning a little ‘unorthodox’ but that same thing was probably said about Richard Branson at some point – so I’m looking into a down payment on an island.

As I was standing in the queue at my regular article-stewing coffee house, I noticed the worker at the till asking for donations for a cause (hunger… or something of the sort).

Order by order, I listened in for people’s answers; some yes, some no.

But I noticed a pattern; those who said yes to the donation had something different about them (and for lack of a better phrase – they were more ‘put together’).

The people who weren’t as such all seemed a little gloomier than others.

Now I can hear all you pessimists saying, “well they probably have more money, thus they have more means to look ‘put together’ and then obviously they are willing to give up a dollar or two”.

But NO! I beg to differ.

Being a rather ‘to the penny’ (read: cheap) person myself I tend to associate with people of the same level of income as I and may I say we all look ‘put together’.  We find it easy to find good pieces at even better prices and we adore walking around with a swing in our step knowing that we look like we’re worth about double what we are in reality.

So what happened to the other, sad half of the queue in front of me?

I resorted to the men I knew in the town of which I first lived in Canada; Kelowna, B.C.; a great little town (little…town) and full of nice people, nestled in a valley.  Kelowna is a very wealthy place – most people who live there earn too much to mention without blushing – yet (and forgive me) they all look like crap.

I asked these men what their favourite article of clothing is, what their weaknesses are if they see a sale (we all have them) and the reply I got was simple: “T-shirts….they’re easy”.

Assuming these people in front of me in this line up weren’t all from Kelowna – I’ve got a conclusion for you gentlemen that I’m sure you could have told me at the start of this prelude:  shopping needs to be easier.

If shopping is easier, then people will take time to look more ‘put together’, making them feel a little cheerier and thus willing to donate a dollar to a ‘stop hunger’ foundation… ergo… solving world hunger.

BOOM *insert mind being blown here*

So let’s get started, gentlemen!

In order to start my quest to the bat cave of the Nobel Prize Gods, I’ve done some research and found two fantastic businesses that have a simple aim in life; to make your lives easier.

The Trunk Club. Image from http://www.trunkclub.com.

The Trunk Club is the baby of Brian Spaly (CEO) and was started in December 2009. Since then they have been pushing the barriers of pure convenience and providing members with outfits specifically styled to them. The process is easy and painless – and if it wasn’t for the fact that they only ship within the U.S, I would have signed Michael up for it (with his consent, of course…).

You sign up for free and within a couple of days, a cheery little message is waiting in your inbox. This message welcomes you to the Trunk Club and requests that you get in touch with a stylist via (whoever contacted you).

So, you, being the charming gentleman you are, oblige and before you know it, you’re talking to a stylist who is asking you a few things about what you like and what your typical budget would be.

Fast forward a couple of weeks, open your door, and *BAM* a small ‘trunk’ is sitting there for you to open up and see that inside is everything you could want – pants, shirts, blazers, accessories etc.  All exactly to your impeccable taste and ready for you to pick up in the morning, throw on, run out the doorand solve world hunger.  Easy!

I had the pleasure of talking with Keyur, a staff member at the company. He informed me of the whole process and also explained that if a customer does not like something that is sent to him – he can send it back in the pre-paid postage that came with the clothes; no cost to him at all.

To check out the Trunk Club and to get in touch with these charming people, please head to: www.trunkclub.com.

Frank and Oak for those folks that live outside the United States. Image from http://www.frankandoak.com/.

But what about those of us who don’t have the pleasure of residing in the United States? Do we all have to suffer and look hopeless? Nope!

*Insert superhero fanfare here*

Frank & Oak is a business offering the same service as The Trunk Club but is based out of Quebec, Canada (woohoo!).

They are slightly more ‘budget related’ in the sense that they are so conscious about respecting your pocket that they are the designers, manufacturers and the retailers of the clothing (otherwise known as vertically integrated – school is paying off, Mum!).

The website quotes that they have “studied different guys… their builds, how they move, how their clothes fit. Then [they] created clothes that work: slim-fitting, yet extremely comfortable”.

Now that’s a heck of a brag – and they’re backing it up to every member.

With Frank & Oak, membership is limited. I requested a membership for Michael about four days ago now and was replied explaining that because of the vertical integration concept, pieces are in limited supply thus limiting memberships and that I will be contacted as soon as there is a place available.

One thing to note is that this company (Trunk Club has a similar option) offer monthly delivery once a month you get a fresh batch to check out. It’s automatically charged to your magical piece of plastic that somehow seems to accumulate more than you remember with each bill (but there’s no real harm in it, right?).

For more information about Frank & Oak, please visit: www.frankandoak.com

Look at that! In less than a thousand words I’ve solved one of history’s greatest conundrums.

Please, no fan mail.

- Note that Michael is very interested, and if he gets a membership soon he’s allowed me to keep you all posted with the process and the result. So you better stay tuned! -


12
Mar 12

STYLE: Top Gear and the Spring 2012 Collections for Men

*Insert British accent here*

Hello, Gentlemen.

It’s that time of year again, where the snow is turning to rain and the flowers are starting to bloom.  We’re ending the latest Top Gear season and along with the new car smell there is a new whiff of style in the air for all you savvy men (*sniff* such a magical time).

There are some of you who enjoy staying with what you consider to be your true style (your ‘niche’ of the clothing universe) and then there are some of you who are as indecisive as I am at the front of the Starbucks line.

Never fear, there’s something for everyone; Spring 2012 will be lined with all sorts of style options and I will be outlining my favorites below.

If I had any sense, I would have called up my boyfriend before writing this to ask him his style opinions (that is, until I suddenly flashed back to his camouflage ball-cap phase…) but when I opened up the word document, I concluded I was flying solo on this one.

Just so you know – I’m a traditionalist for menswear; growing up in London, my father always wore suits, as did every other man that I ever saw.  Even the boys I knew lived in their school uniforms, and in off-time men were still with their clean lines and semi-fitted splendor.

So guess what I’ll be lovin’ on for this article?

Phillip Lim

All bias aside, there’s something to be said for that magical world in-between conventional and crazy that Phillip Lim seems to be wandering around in.

His spring collection was mostly of a slightly oversized and ‘slung’ look; it reminded me of a scene where a teenager had just spent the day on his Minecraft server and realized he was out of Dr. Pepper, so he grabbed his elder brother’s clothes and ran out the house. In the best way possible, of course; I call it a sort of boyish charm.

3.1 Phillip Lim Spring 2012 image from http://www.31philliplim.com/collections/mens-ss12-ready-to-wear.

The one thing, I’m afraid, I’m wagging my finger to Mr. Lim for is the shorts he has created (actually, not just him - in more than a fair number of the spring 2012 collections, there are some rather daring shorts making an appearance).

Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against anyone, of any gender, being proud of their bodies.  I’m sorry, gentlemen, but bottom line - you need the legs for it (and the wax job…and the heels…and the pedi…..oops, sorry).

Umit Benan

A young designer, he created his collection with inspiration from that well-loved decade, the 1980’s.

One can definitely see the influence here, (and more influence…oh the shorts) but there is a cheer to be had for the patterns.

Umit Benan Spring 2012. Image from http://www.umitbenan.com/.

A bold check, a polka dot, all sorts- this is when a lot of you charming bloke’s might shy away but please don’t.

A print says ‘fun’. And who doesn’t want to have fun?

Michael Bastian

Perhaps the unsung hero of the spring 2012 collections would have to be Michael Bastian.

He spent the last year away from the lights of the runway and instead in the trenches of the industry, clawing his way back into production; but he’s come out just beaming on the other side.

This collection was the epitome of ‘cool’ as the inspiration was the definition of the word itself; James Dean.

Michael Bastian. James Dean cool. Image from http://www.michaelbastiannyc.com/.

Admitting to keeping this collection in his ‘back pocket’ over the years, it’s a marvelous blend of the unique and the classical pieces that make this collection probably one of the most versatile on the runway this season.

No one can resist the rebel, even that glorious red windbreaker and the penny loafers (pennies included) to match. The denim, the jackets, the knits, and even the perfectly tailored pants were thrown together with such precision that it seemed almost flawless, and effortless.

So much of menswear on the runway is over-styled these days, and it was nothing short of a refreshing gulp to see ‘classic cool’ drift on down.

These pieces are so versatile, even my man would go for them (in exchange for a burning of the ball-cap, of course).

So although we are all sad this season of Top Gear is over and you most probably don’t own a Ferrari 458 or Lamborghini Murcielago, you can at least roll around in your mom’s car with my picks for the latest colors and styles for Spring 2012.

For more information about 3.1 Phillip Lim, you can check out http://www.31philliplim.com/collections.  For more information about Umit Benan, you can check out http://www.umitbenan.com/.  Finally, for Michael Bastian, you can check out http://www.michaelbastiannyc.com/.