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Thursday, September 27, 2018

G.H Bass Penny Loafers in Dark Brown Pull-up Leather - a Preppy/Ivy Classic

I bought these beautiful G.H. Bass & Co. Weejun Penny loafers a couple of years ago and have featured them on my 'Outfit of the Day' Instagram posts several times.  So I'm thinking it's high time for a complete review.  These are the second pair of Weejuns form Bass I have owned recently (the first being a two-tone pair that in their standard high shine leather).  The reason that I prefer this pair is that they are made from thick beautifully finish full grain pull-up leather that has a much more honest natural leather feel that their standard high-shine leather, which while genuine leather has a heavily corrected grain finish that to me feels very plastic like.  These Weejuns, on the other hand, have a soft low-shine finish that is typical of full grain pull-up leather.

The leather soles and heal are beautifully finished as well and I have added rubber sole caps to make them more durable and to provide better wet weather traction performance.  I do this with all my leather sole shoes and find that with the rubber sole caps, the soles virtually never wear out and since I tend to take reasonably good care of my uppers, my shoes will essentially last forever.  These shoes I took with me on several trips on the last couple of years including a week-long trip to New York City in the summer of 2017 (walking many city miles each day) and they performed perfectly and as you can see, the rubber sole caps on none the worst for wear.

I purchased these in UK size 10, which usually works for me, but since these are slip-ons and since a keep them in shoe trees when not in use, these have stretched a bit.  They still work fine especially with thicker socks, but if I were to purchase them again, I would go for a half size smaller.

I really love the hand-stitched upper and large 'Beef-Roll' details and as I've previously mentioned the low shine pull-up leather lends these shoes a nice casual look, which I find perfect with Chinos and Denims and can even be dressed up with some grey flannels and Blue blazer for a full Ivy professorial look:-)

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Today's outfit - beautiful Indian Summer

I know that September 15th is traditionally the 'Felt Hat Day' in many places, but today the weather is still very fine here in Bavaria and as we're often blessed with warm and wonderful 'Indian Summer', and so I'm stretching it out as long as possible.

Todays's outfit:
Panama Boater by Mayserhut 
White Polo by la Coste (these are still some of the very best polo shirts in the business)
Navy Cricket jumper in Marino and Cotton by Abercrombie & Fitch (wonderful sweater, now sold out on their website - hopefully, they will bring it back next year)
Chino Trousers by Brave Star Selvage (these are seriously high-quality Chinos, and highly recommended)
Penny Loafers in dark brown pull-up leather by G.H. Bass (a true classic and the pull-up leathers are my favorites)
Eyewear by Persol.  These are their  Persol 3007-V 1056 with Persol 3007-C clip-on sunglasses. You can read my review here.

Bonus: Watch = Blancpain Fifty Fathoms with Antique Tan Ostrich Leg skin strap by Dangerous9straps 

I must say, I've grown very fond of my handwoven Panama boater from  Mayser hat-makers.  You can read the full review of this hat here.  I know I'm on borrowed time this my precious straw hat this year and will be packing it away soon, and am already feeling the loss of it to my hat box.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Newly Arrived - Italian Handmade Moutain/Hiking Boots from Fracap! Magnifico is right!!

Having recently taken an 8-mile mountain hike in Braunbeck with the family wearing my trusty Grenson Fred brogues boots with lug soles, my wife and I decided it may be time to invest in a boot that's a bit better suited to mountain scrambling.  While I love my Grensons and they comport themselves well, they are a bit heavy and don't really have the cushion I find that I need as the hardcore mileage really begins piling up.

When even the wife, who typically just rolls her eyes and asks 'where will we ever put them all?' tells me it's time to purchase some footwear, I start shopping post haste!  My criteria for my new boots were: Super high-quality, handmade, all leather hiking boots that offer great performance and that are not too heavy as well as providing the vintage style that I love.  These criteria narrow the field of potential candidates considerably.  My search having taken me far and wide, including local outdoor sports outfitters (lightweight and high quality, but not handmade or with the correct vintage style), locally famous boot makers such as Bertl , which are handmade right here in Munich (handmade and with amazing tradition/vintage look, but far too heavy - these are for real hardcore mountaineering), and, of course, onto the internet.  During my Web searches, I found myself returning time and again to boots made by Fracap Italy (a brand as yet unknown to me).  Specifically, their M120 Magnifico Boot ticked all the boxes for me including the all-important vintage looks and relative lightweight.  I knew that I had found the ones!

Fracap was originally founded way back in 1908 by Antonio Cappello, the Cappello family has been making high-quality, handmade footwear in the same location in a small town in Puglia called Monteroni ever since.  Located in the 'heel of the boot' of Southern Italy, just a couple of kilometers to the Southwest of the larger city of Lecca,  This region contains from great history and looks to definitely worth a visit.

Fracap has a great website that allows you to essentially design and order your own custom-made boots, which they will make up for you in relatively short order.  They offer 35 colors of leather and suedes (all tanned in Italy), 4 colors of leather mid-layer, 10 different color/styles of outsole,  3 colors of heel (for ripple sole only) and 4 eyelet options, etc. right down to the laces, which results in well over 8,960 different possible combinations and I've not even included the 12 available shoe lace options. Which, if my math is correct, would result in 107,520 possibilities in just the model M120 boots.   For those among my readers that strive to have something that is totally unique, Fracap is for you - go crazy!  

For my first pair, however, I chose to order my boots from END clothing (easy purchase and fast delivery), since they had in stock just about the exact pair I would have had them build for me anyway AND they had them on sale (yes, I'm a sucker for a bargain)!!  The pair I chose is the Fracap M120 Natural Vibram Sole Scarponcino Boot in dark brown.  Although, I was also very tempted by the same version boot in Tan as well.  END Clothing has a nice selection of Fracap Boots.  If you're in Europe or the UK and don't necessarily need to have fully custom boots, I strongly recommend you check them out.


How was the arrival?  Top notch I can assure you.  My boots arrived just a few days after I place my order and I was immediately impressed by the packaging.  The box and general presentation are very well done.  Fracap has really gone to great lengths building these boots and no detail has been overlooked with the packaging and overall presentation either.  Included with my boots: correct color leather cream, three pairs of boot laces, and an extra set on in-soles, and a high-quality shoe brush.  And not to forget the heavenly scent of leather upon my opening the box!

Build Quality:
As you can see from the photos, these boots are made with the very traditional one-piece construction (just a single piece of leather is shaped over the last to form the entire upper).  This method is very difficult to execute well and more expensive in terms of leather since these leather pieces are cut so large, the quality of the leather has to be near to flawless and very uniform.  Fracap also uses only the highest quality vegetable tanned Italian tanned leathers inside and out (the boots are fulling line with beautifully soft calfskin. All this being married to your choice of 10 Vibram outsole options and using the very traditional handmade build methods makes for a boot that is built to last and to look great while doing it.  

Initial try on:
I ordered size UK 11 (US11, EU 45), which are a half size larger than I typically wear because I wanted extra room for thick socks and I certainly couldn't live with boots that were too tight.  In most instances, I wear EU size 44.5, but this size can be hard to come by so I figured I would be safest to size up a half size.  Turns out I probably would have been fine with UK size 10 (US 11, EU 44), because these have plenty of room even wearing thick socks.  I simply added the extra insoles (which just add extra comfort as well) and now they fit great!

The saw ridged outsole have a bit of a funny feeling when I first walk in them - adding a bit of spring to my step - an effect that will be welcome on-trail.   I think I've chosen the right outsole as well, as this rubber seems to be really dense and which I think should translate into very good long-term durability.

These look the business!

Initial Walking experience:
Our first family walk in the country was a relatively easy affair.  Starting with a kilometer of flat walking through our beautiful Bavarian farm country around Pei├čenberg transitioning to only a moderate climb up a well-marked trail, then more walking through farms and the natural landscapes.  We took our time stopping to pick a few apples and wild blackberries along the way and of course stopping to feed the cows:-)

From my initial kilometers walked, I can say that my feet enjoyed supreme comfort, we were walking in a drizzle to light rain most of the afternoon and my feet stayed warm and dry throughout the day.  The insoles provided just the right amount of cushion with each step

I'm looking forward to putting many more miles on these boots this fall and will update my review with a longer term update in future.  So far I can say that these boots are very well worth the investment!

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Vintage Harris Tweed - A Closeup

Ah, late summer is my favorite season in Bavaria only surpassed by my love for autumn.  I'm feeling autumn in the air these days, although I hope for a beautiful September, I love the crispness in the air, which of course is all the justification I need to begin to think about taking out the tweeds.  Of course, Harris Tweed being my favorite for both it's textureous, rustic nature and it's availability is a nearly endless variety or weaves.  Vintage Harris Tweeds especially come in nearly infinite varieties.  This jacket is a perfect example of this assertion.  Essentially a black and white herringbone with some barleycorn added in with very subtle gold and teal vertical stripes.  Certainly not a weave you would ever expect to find in shops today (except perhaps those selling vintage wear), this jacket was made up by a company (no longer in business sadly) called Cricketeer.  Purchased last spring from Misters E & Bay, this past spring, this is the first real opportunity I've had to wear it, which is a real treat.  Tailored with a beautiful 2-3 roll, which along with the weave itself and the patch pocket details was the reason for my purchase.  I think this jacket looks very sporty in an old school sort of way.  Indeed, this particular combination was inspired by my recent re-viewing the movie Chariots of Fire, one of the most influential style movies of my youth.  I love the casual way that tweeds and other sportswear such as the ubiquitous cricket jumper were combined in this movie, to set a mood of classic monied elegance. incidentally, some great stills from this classic movie have been gathered on Goldneagemenswear blog.

Also, looks great with tan, woven leather buttons:

Wool Pocket square from Gutteridge in Milan:

This sports coat is nicely done with patch pocket, which to my mind really makes it more casual and therefore conducive with sportswear (here shown with Chino's, White Polo shirt and cricket jumper).  Half-lined, and tidily finished on the inside, makes it breathe a bit more than a fully lined jacket and easier to wear in shoulder seasons when the weather can be a bit warmer (even here in Bavaria).

The Close-ups:
Provided for my own enjoyment and for that of my tweed obsessed brethren: Harris Tweed in black and White herringbone with a bit of barleycorn - giving the jacket a light gray overall presentation and with teal and gold/mustard stripe, which in this jacket just adds to its sporty feel.   Of course, as is nearly always the case with Harris Tweed, upon closer inspection the range of colors in the weave is amazing, adding up to a richness and depth of color that is just phenomenal:

I think it looks great over a pair of chinos from Marinepool, Cricket Sweater in ivory cotton and merino wool with navy stripe detail by Abercrombie & Fitch, white Polo shirt by Lacoste, and white and tan saddle shoes by G.H. Bass & Co.

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