Monthly Archives: December 2009

The Denim Diaries: Part 3

Jeans are an essential piece of the California uniform, so I wanted to make sure I would have at least a couple of reliable pairs with me for my trip. The week before I left, my Earnest Sewns got another rip in the very top of the right thigh–which is where all my jeans seem to rip.

Earnest Sewn, Decca Straight Leg Sample

Because I got them at a sample sale, I can’t really claim this says anything about the quality (it may actually say more about the strain that my holiday indulgences have put my jeans under.) Anyway, I got them fixed at the New York Tailor Shop on Kenmare before my trip. They told me they patch holes in crotches of stretchy jeans every single day, and that they’re going to keep on ripping. But for the moment, I was happier with the investment of $8 and the time it took to drop off/pick up the pants than the idea of scouting out  a new pair of jeans.

So I packed my newly patched Earnest Sewns along with a pair of J Brand Scarlett Seven Eights jeans I got at Anthropologie last May into my suitcase for California.

It was news to me that these Scarlett jeans were marketed as “curvy fit” jeans until I just had a look at J Brand’s website, but it makes sense. Usually when I buy jeans to fit my backside, they gape at my waist. Or if buy them to fit my waist, they are outrageously tight everywhere else.

But not these–they fit my butt and my waist, and it’s likely because of that contoured waistband J Brand is touting on their website. That, of course, and a bit of stretch. I was surprised to see the content label say these have just 2% stretch, cause it feels like much more. The “Seven Eights” refers to the length, which is a good little capri length for shorties like me.

That shorter length makes them cute with espadrilles, which is what I was wearing yesterday when we took the California Christmas to another level, and went to see Avatar at the 3-D IMAX in Irvine. (So awesome!!) I ran to the ladies room before the film was about to begin, and when I went to zip my jeans…nada. I tugged and tugged to no avail. And this was not due to too many Christmas cookies, if that’s what you’re thinking. They buttoned up, no problem, but the zipper would not budge.

Luckily, the Laloo tee (purchased at the Steven Alan sample sale) and Edun cardigan (pictured here) I had on covered the open zipper, so it didn’t steal the thunder from my 3-D glasses, which provided an ample dose of wardrobe-related embarassment for the day.

One day later, that zipper still isn’t moving. It’s as if my denim supply is some sort of closed energy system, where once one pair is patched and back in action, another must become eliminated. Sounds sort of James Cameron, right? I just hope it doesn’t require an Avatar-sized budget and schedule to solve this, but I suspect we might be at the outset of a major project here.

Stay tuned…


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CLOSETTOUR, California Style

I did a pretty good job packing for a California Christmas, with one major exception: I forgot my sunglasses.

Flea Market Sunnies in Rio

I have a couple of great vintage pairs at home,  from Eu Amo Vintage in Rio de Janeiro, including the ones pictured below, but none made it into my suitcase.

My Stripey Blue Ones, pre-purchase at Eu Amo Vintage, 2008

I hate the thought of buying another pair when I’ve got these great ones at home. Borrowing isn’t really an option, since my host is a guy of formidable stature (a bonus when it comes to loaner sweatshirts, but not so much for sunnies.) But while I was taking a little morning walk around San Clemente today, cooling off after a hot yoga class (it seems I always end up closing my practice with second-hand shopping), I came across the Casa de Kathy Thrift Shop. California thrift shops are the greatest, as I’ve mentioned in my reminiscence of Ventura, and Kathy’s was no exception.There were only a couple pairs of sunnies, but I scored these for a grand total of 50 cents.

The Case de Kathy had some other great pieces too, like a pair of high-waisted, pleated, peg-legged Ralph Lauren Country khakis that would be muy cute with wedge espadrilles and a black tank top in New York, were it not 35 degrees farenheit there. They were made in the U.S.A., and the boy working said although they were marked $6, he could sell them for $3.50. It’s something to think about. Maybe after yoga tomorrow. For now I’m kicking back behind my new shades.


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My Neighborhood Mollusk

Yesterday I took the wetsuit search to Mollusk, a surf shop not far from my place in Brooklyn. They didn’t have any loaners hanging around, but I have to admit that on a winter afternoon with vacation just a day away, I sort of just liked the idea of biking to a neighborhood spot. 

I never really thought about the surf shop as community center, since I’ve never been a big surfer (standing up for me, is a victorious day on the waves), but last fall when I made this little audio slideshow there, and one of the guys there told me how in the ’50s and ’60s surf shops served that function, it did make sense.

I think it was my friend, neighbor, and former colleague from LoomstateMoose Huerta (I still like his old blog) who first introduced me to the spot, probably via some summer evening barbeque, or stopping by to replace a broken fin (his, not mine) or something lovely of that nature.

Mollusk was equally pleasant yesterday. As always, it smelled like neoprene inside–an odor that was totally charmless when I lived in Santa Barbara, where surfers’ wetsuits hung in most showers; but is sort of precious now, and coupled with afternoon sunlight bouncing off the snow outside the window, made for a nice visit. Chris Gentile, one of the owners was working, and he told me that they’re moving to a bigger space soon. It’s rather sad they’re leaving the exceptional space that is Monster Island (more to come on that), but they’ll have more room for rental boards and wetsuits, apparel, books, and beyond.

I love the cabin-like corner on River Street where Mollusk lives for the moment, but I imagine they’ll take that neighborhood vibe and neoprene smell wherever they go. 

And in the meantime, I think a wetsuit has materialized in San Clemente.

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Seasonal Share (Seeking Wetsuit)

As I mentioned the other day, one of the perks of having a sister in the southern hemisphere is the ability to have a shared wardrobe on a seasonal time share. Sharing doesn’t work for everyone, or every item, but I’m hoping that some like-minded, similar-sized lady might step forward with a wetsuit to lend me for the rest of the week.


I’m taking an unexpected trip, and could happily leave you my coat in New York as collateral. Please send me an email or leave a comment if you might be able to help!

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Entranced by Cotton

I started reading Stephen Yafa’s book, Cotton, in bed this morning (wrapped in cotton sheets) and when I reached a part about the simple genius of the spindle, a tapered wooden stick that allows tangled cotton fuzz to be spun into thread, I was reminded of Sleeping Beauty, cursed to prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel, and sleep for many years. 

Cotton‘s not putting me to sleep, but the history of the stuff is certainly casting a spell on me, and I’m holed up here in my little Brooklyn castle as a result.

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Graduation Gift: Inoue Brothers Scarf

As I mentioned the other morning, my graduation gift to myself was an alpaca scarf from the Inoue Brothers, and not a moment too soon. There it is keeping me warm under the picturesque Brooklyn-Queens Expressways as the snowflakes started to fall this afternoon.

I fell in love when I saw a similar one wrapped around the neck of Tomoko Ogura, who knows a thing or two about shopping–she oversees all the buyers for the Barney’s Co-op. When I complimented its rainbow hues she quickly turned over one corner to show me this:

and told me about how the Inoue Brothers, born and raised in Denmark, now based in Copenhagen and London, combine their Japanese heritage and European design sense with the expertise of Bolivian artisans to turn out these wonderful scarves, which she snapped right up on Barney’s behalf.

I resisted for about four hours that afternoon, doing schoolwork before I finally googled the Inoue Brothers and landed on their really lovely website.

I read more about the brothers, got a closer look at the scarves, and decided I better ring Barney’s.
I still liked the grey best, which is what I had seen Tomoko wearing, but I thought the marigold, poppy red, or darker green could do nicely too. But the man at Barney’s told me they only had lavender, pink, and blue left. None would have been quite right for me. It needed to be a cozy color for everyday, and cool colors (as opposed to warms and neutrals) are just not my thing. I went back to the designers’ website, where I found an email address. I sent a message about my crush on the scarf, and asking whether there were any more available. 

17 minutes after I hit “send,” on a Sunday, no less, Satoru Inoue–one of the designers, wrote back saying he would check with the stock guys, who were busy with Christmas orders, and see what he could do. Sure enough, he found me a grey one, though in a slightly different size. He sent me a message outlining the difference in measurements (a matter of several centimeters), and offered to send it at a smaller price, for the smaller size. I said, “yes, please,” and asked for some more information about his company.

The Inoue Brothers, Image from Limited Hype

He sent me their profile, and even better, a link to this interview on Limited Hype, which I thoroughly enjoyed. There are great photos of the brothers (Satoru–at least I think it’s Satoru, on the left, looks strangely similar to Rogan. A kindred soul across the pond), as well as the Bolivian knitters, and a nice outline of their design and production process. I thought this bit was a highlight:

LH: Does putting social responsibility and sustainability first hinder your growth as a brand at all?

Satoru Inoue: Both yes and no. It all depends on how you look at it and how you define value. Business is driven by efficiency and profit. If those two principles are valued in only financial means, then our methods are slow in growth. But valued in human development, quality and creativity, then our methods have been very profitable.

The day before graduation, I got a package notice from the post office. An envelope was waiting for me, with my lovely new scarf folded up inside with a hangtag that told me a little more about its production:

But as the brothers note on their website, “talk is cheap,” and they hope their work speaks for itself.

So far, so good.


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Update: Retail and Restoration

You may remember how disappointed I was last month when I came across this on a restorative walk through SoHo.


One of my favorite vintage haunts, Sweet Tater, had closed. I’ve since received emails from both of the Sweet Tater tots, Sarah and Christina, telling me where to find their wares. Sarah sells her vintage denim, shoes, and coats at Artists and Fleas every Saturday in Williamsburg, and Christina has opened a lovely shop, Portia & Manny, on Elizabeth Street in Nolita.
Portia & Manny, 198 Elizabeth Street
My sister, not usually one for vintage, picked up a pair of ’70s wide-leg jeans at Portia & Manny when she visited from Australia a few weeks ago. They’re made of nice sturdy denim, but are thin and loose enough to be comfortable for the summer Down Under. There she is in her front yard. 

I would be tempted to see if there’s a sister pair at Portia & Manny with my name on them, but the lovely thing about having a sister in the Southern Hemisphere is that we have our summer clothes on a time share. Maybe when Sara packs up the sundresses in May, maybe she’ll put those pretty pants in the box for me too. 


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