Daily Archives: June 19, 2009

Things My Father Taught Me: Jake Davis

Filmmaker and blogger extraordinaire, Jake Davis is attuned to an aesthetic so similar to my own, its remarkable how often I visit his site and think, “Oh, man! Beat me to it.” He’s a hero, hammering out the hits time and again, and he does such a good job of explaining style — something I struggle with daily. I’m so honored to have his words grace the pages of all plaidout.

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I think more than anything my father gave me a level of taste. And as I’ve gotten older and have met a wide range of people from the cool street kid to the uber-celebrity you learn that taste has nothing to do with money. There’s an inherent taste level in all things. And there’s a value in that… Not a price tag but a value.

My father taught me to share that taste with the people. Now, there was never a sit down lesson. It’s just the way he is. So I feel with my music videos, commercials, and films there’s a certain taste level that I try to achieve. It’s not something you can put your finger on. It’s just there. And when I haven’t achieved it. He’s the first person to let me know. Tough love and shit.

There’s an endless influence when you have someone so willing to share themselves with you like that. But if I had to give one example of the lessons he taught me that have had the most resonance it’s the times where he provided me the opportunity to be the person I wanted to be, but always let me know there’s an origin to everything.

“Jake, that Beastie Boys record you love so much samples this Beatles album. And the Beatles were influenced by this album. Check it out.” He was never a hater like most older people are for the new shit. He always made it a point to understand the new shit and provide the necessary information to me to make tasteful decisions.

If at age six he hadn’t bought me that first Public Enemy cassette, gotten my pants tapered and hemmed, and introduced me to David Lynch films I’d be a completely different person. That’s for sure. I was able to understand what I like at a very early age. And for that I will be eternally grateful because some people spend their whole lives trying to figure it out.

So instead of a picture of the old man and me. How about a typical lesson. Here’s a still from my new video for U.S. Royalty featuring my friend lead singer John Thornley. And here is the origin… Martin Sheen as Kit in Badlands. Always do your homework just not necessarily at home.U.S.Royalty

MartinSheen_Badlands

Jake Davis

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Things My Father Taught Me: Jay Carroll

While on my tours of L.L. Bean and Quoddy Moccasin in Maine this March, Mr. Jay Carroll of Rogues Gallery was sending me text messages from afar. In the midst of preparing last month’s pop-up shop, One Trip Pass, a veritable, vintage dreamland stocked to the brim with his finds from a road trip through the American Southwest, Jay would send me text messages something along the lines of, “Two Lights Lobster Roll. Do it” and “Fore St. or Die.” Whether its his love of food, music, movies, or clothing, Jay Carroll is a kindred spirit, and it’s with great pleasure I share the latest in our epic correspondence.

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Cannery RowHere’s my old man on Cannery Row, 1969. I think I found/noticed this picture when I was about 13, right after my dad had shoved On the Road in my face and subsequently sparked a “my dad is cool again” phase. I remember immediately scouring his closet for that shirt. It was a waffle weave thermal henley.
I still have it somewhere, but I could never pull it off like he did.

– Jay Carroll, Rogues Gallery, PTLDME

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Things My Father Taught Me: Aaron Britt

Aaron Britt helms The Pocket Square, a weekly column in The San Francisco Chronicle, and he toils away day-to-day as an editor at Dwell Magazine. Suffice to say, he is one of my favorite writers. As you read about his father, Dan, you’ll soon see why.

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Dan and Aaron Britt

If we accept the notion, and teams of advertisers are hoping we do, that our clothes are some direct representation of who we are, then my father is a man unfettered. Bolo ties, multi-hued batiked shorts, a plumed fedora, and of late, even a warm, woolen beret have found their way into his wardrobe. He runs around the Northern California town in which I grew up in clothes I would never wear, stalking the garden in Keens, a tasseled fleece jester hat flapping behind him while snowboarding, the suspenders and 20s-inspired garb he sported at his wedding two years ago.

He didn’t always dress with such abandon, and in the main he still doesn’t. Most of his clothes are those of a small-town carpenter: work boots, dirty jeans, fleece jackets and t-shirts bearing his company’s logo. Growing up, working clothes defined my father’s style of dress—not the work wear now so voraciously embraced by the urban fashion set, work clothes in which you paint a house or set forms, work clothes you mar, then quickly destroy. Anything that was initially to be kept apart from the jobsite—corduroy pants or button-down shirt—invariably came home with flecks of dried concrete or marked with spray paint. He seemed to me a man largely defined by his work, and was at times reluctant to extend beyond that, and he dressed accordingly. Fashion was not his concern. He kept his head down. Little suggested an inconsequential person more than undue flash.

But since my parents’ divorce nearly ten years ago, this inward man has expanded. Suddenly free to break from old routines, root out what was inessential and honestly reckon with what he wanted from the rest of his life, the burdens of a long marriage a glimpse of what might lay in store invigorated him. Bouts of sullenness, or ill-temper, things that I had taken to be essential elements of his personality were revealed as little more than entrenched habit, and were cast off. He became lighter, more open, more accepting and more fun. He had always been a very kind, generous and loving father, and I saw these qualities, those which I take to be his core, renewed. Like many things in his life, his sense of style was in for renaissance.

Now let me reiterate, I’m not terribly sanguine with all his choices, but to see him embrace so many new aspects of his life has been a joy for me. From his wild hats to his Jack Nicholson glasses to his bright yellow shirts, dressing is now one of his pleasures. He’s given himself license to play, to dress for pleasure, and for all the snappy patter in the media about what’s in, what’s out and what’s next, let us–men who give it a second thought when we put on our clothes in the morning–never forget to dress for the sheer fun of it. Perish vanity, perish self-consciousness, perish trends.

For years my dad didn’t allow himself to dress for any reason save keeping out the cold. But of late his whole outlook has changed, and though he remains uninterested in what’s cool, what’s in, he has started asking himself, “What do I like?” In dressing to please only himself, in coming to see his clothes at as another avenue for expression and delight, my father has immensely pleased me. May I one day pass on that idea, that a man can do a thing to please himself without becoming inauthentic or solipsistic, to a son of my own.

Aaron Britt

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Things My Father Taught Me: The Bray Brothers

I had the good fortune to meet the Bray Brothers of Billykirk recently, and I found their candor, their honesty so refreshing. Two nicer guys you’ll never meet. Billykirk offers a well-curated, well-crafted collection of new twists on classic, rugged men’s accessories that truly are things of beauty. Fashioned of leather and canvas, many of the products are made by a family of leather workers in the Amish country of Pennsylvania. When I told them of my little Father’s Day project, they both jumped at the opportunity to take time to write about their dad, Tom.

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60'sMy father, Tom Bray, is a pretty traditional Lands’ End, LL Bean, Bass Weejun type of guy. In the middle class suburbs of Minnesota where I grew up, this was the standard attire. My father was a medical sales rep for 3M for 35 years, and wearing a suit was part of the deal. He used to coach my brother Kirk and my baseball and soccer teams and he would come straight from work in his tan or navy suit trousers and white or chambray Lands’ End button down. He spent $1000’s with Lands’ End throughout the 80s and 90s. He is now retired and spends most of his time in Russell sweatshirts, Nikes and Levi’s.

While we may not have necessarily shared the same fashion tastes, my father was always well groomed and polished. That is the main fashion-related thing I gleaned from him. I remember nearly every night before dinner he would take out his shoe shine kit and clean and polish his loafers for the next day. He was not a lace-up dress shoe guy and I honestly doubt he owned a pair. Tassels or penny loafers. Period. I got my first pair of ‘adult like’ dress shoes when I was around 12. They were stiff-as-boards Bass Weejun penny loafers just like my father’s. I still remember how sore my feet where when I wore them for the first time. I also remember when he taught me how to polish and clean them. He also ironed his own dress shirts each morning. That was another important learning lesson. I remember all the dry cleaners he went through like water. None of them could do it right and all of them broke buttons or over-starched them. So, each morning, there he was in the living room wearing his v-neck, white briefs, and dress socks ironing away.
80'sWhile my father may not have had any sort of allegiance to a dry cleaner, he did when it came to his barber. His good friend Greg cut and styled his hair every three weeks for over twenty-five years. The style remained essentially the same, though it was a bit bushier in the early 80’s. Sadly, Greg passed a way a few months ago.

My father was also a huge stickler for long unkempt finger nails. His profession called for clean manicured nails and to this day, when my nails get just slightly long, I can hear him telling me to, “cut your damn nails!”

I think most men would agree, when you are a kid you want to look just like your father, then, you become a teenager and want to look nothing like him, then, as the years pass by, you start to look more like him again. I am sure my father’s closet has some old Lands’ End or LL Bean relics I wouldn’t mind having. Not to mention, they were probably bought back when they were still being manufactured in the US.

– Chris Bray, Billykirk, Selectism

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todayI have borrowed quite a few nuggets from my dad over the years and there are quite a few I never would borrow (insert Mock T’s here), but the one that does stands out for me is all about hair and its importance. My dad’s hair hasn’t changed in over twenty-five years. He’s consistent to a fault. His hair is a modern low profile bouffant and when it’s not at its peak or when he’s fresh from the shower, he looks like a wet puppy. It is a handsome cut though and by no means gaudy. His methods for achieving his ‘do, however, were not borrowed by me. My hair is short at the moment, and besides a clean wash using Kiehl’s sport shampoo, it requires no product most days. My dad’s on the other hand; let’s just say he and the ozone are not too close. In fact, on a recent trip to visit us in Jersey City, he stumbled across his favorite hair spray at a Shoprite and proceeded to buy 8 cans. 8 cans! Apparently they stopped carrying it in Minnesota. You would think after twenty-five years it would stand on its own! My brother and I give him shit about it a lot, but he is one hell of a sport. And who am I to judge? I have had my share fair of bad haircuts over the years. Despite our difference in styling, he did teach me the importance of looking good and having good hygiene.

Happy Father’s Day, Pops!

– Kirk Bray, Billykirk, KirklandBray.com

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Things My Father Taught Me: Jeremy Kirkland

A recording industry whiz kid and a believer that quality is tantamount to style, Jeremy Kirkland of Start with Typewriters provides us with a few words on his grandfather.

pic 1My grandpa was a well-mannered man with average posture. He was polite and kind, and he had impeccable style. Like most Italians from Abruzzi, it was the little things in life that he was amazed by: good coffee, nice ties, and the occasional game of video poker.

pic 5My grandpa’s style was his own. There were very few times he wasn’t in a suit and tie. Always had his matching Jordache luggage on visits, tweed of course. Always at least one thing on his outfit that made it pop, an Italian nautical polo, or a striped dress shirt. It’s funny; as I was looking at these photos, I talked to my mom and said, “He never really wore jeans.” She shrieked as if I spoke blasphemy.

“Your grandpa never wore jeans. Ever.”

I guess — why would he? He valued a hard days work, and I assume there was something about workwear and jeans that threw him off. He wasn’t in that class he was a true gentleman. pic 2

– Jeremy Kirkland, Start with Typewriters

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Things My Father Taught Me: Jon Moy

Upon reflection, Jon Moy of Getting Beat Like You Stole Something admits that dressing like his father is inevitable.

dadsshoesThere are two things that stick out as early memories of my father. First, his hands are always warm, no matter what. We used to walk around a lot, and I’ll never forget how warm his hand would be when he would grab mine to cross the street. Secondly, he always let me help pick out his new briefcases. When he got a new one, he’d let me have his old one. I loved carrying around those hard shell briefcases. I stuffed them full of papers, pencils, and G.I. Joes.

I ended up taking those briefcases on a lot of adventures with my dad. Everywhere from his office, to a dairy farm, to a surprise day off from school. I’d always ask, “Where are we going?” and he’d always reply: “On an adventure….” My dad has always understood the importance of the small, quiet, fleeting moments.

My dad has always been my biggest supporter. He checks the blog every day and always has a comment or a new idea for content. This isn’t really anything new, though. My dad always knew where the coolest comic book stores were, no matter what city we were in at the time. And he always took the time out on Wednesdays (new comic day to us nerds) to take me to my favorite local shop. My dad has taken me to the newest shops and boutiques, dealing with loud, pretentious music and jaded hipster service. He’s helped convince my mom I was ready for a Red Ryder BB Gun and a Swiss Army knife. He let me watch Die Hard and took me to a midnight screening of The Crow. My dad also understood when I told him I wasn’t going to pursue a career in law for the time being.

My dad has always known his son and never asked me to be anything other than his son. He’s never tried to be my friend or my boss – just my dad. I think the greatest lessons I’ve learned so far from him are to cherish those you love, be kind and magnanimous, and keep you wardrobe classic and free of ostentation.

We talk a lot about style icons. We may like to talk about them, but I think we more often dress like our fathers. I carry a Swiss Army knife in my bag like my dad. I wear his Fell Co. pea coat all the time. He rode a motorcycle quite like the one I am working on. I really like gray suits, like the one my dad has. And one day I might be able to fill in his brown leather brogues. After all, they are large shoes to fill.

– Jon Moy, Getting Beat Like You Stole Something

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