fashion, lifestyle, dating and humor for the average guy

Archive for the month “October, 2014”

The second-hand sneaker trade. Major profits in collectible Nikes.


Sticking with our recent topic of sneakers, we recently read a fascinating article by Lisa Chow in about the second-hand sneaker market.  We all knew there were sneaker collectors.  Those fanatics willing to stand in line on a Saturday morning to pick up the latest pair of Jordans or Lebrons but who knew they could be resold for thousands of dollars.

While the majority of individuals are buying for their own collections, some entrepreneurial spirits are collecting on Nike’s strategy of offering limited edition and supply sneakers.  With a secondary market estimated to be approximately $230 million, it’s not chump change.

While we love living in a pair of comfortable sneakers, second only to a great pair of flip-flops, you do need to know when to leave them in the closet for a pair of casual shoes but if the occasion calls for it maybe your next pair of kicks will be something with a small Jordan figure leaping across the back.

Shirod Ince sat at the front of a line of more than 100 people, mostly guys in their early 20s, on a Friday evening last month. For two days, he and his friends had been taking turns waiting outside a Foot Locker in Harlem to buy the new LeBron sneaker. Through the long, restless hours, they had sustained themselves on Popeye’s, McDonald’s and a belief that it would all pay off in the end.

Ince had no plans to wear the new Nikes. No, for the past two years, the 22-year-old basketball coach has been reselling the sneakers he waits for. And he thought he could double, triple, possibly even quadruple his money for this particular pair, getting anywhere between $500 and $900 for a sneaker that was selling for $250 retail.

Read the entire article here:


Eytys. Hitting the mark or better left in the past?


I recently discovered the Swedish sneaker brand Eytys (pronounced like the decade, 80’s).  I was attracted to the minimalist, utilitarian aspect of the initial product, “Mother”.  A basic, single color sneaker with a fat white sole.  Basic, straight forward and understated simplicity.  Built to be comfortable and versatile.  Plus they come from a small privately owned company and we always like people who take the dive to make their dream products.

The Mother is made in canvas, suede and leather, priced from $150 to $230.  Eytys also produces a high top for $300.  All a little on the pricey side.  Especially for something so straight forward but in a world where most quality training sneakers cost $750-$150 its not insane.

 In a little over a year, Jonathan Hirschfeld and Max Schiller have managed to turn their fledgling Swedish sneaker brand, Eytys (pronounced ’80s’ and spelled with Ys in reference to Generation Y), into a growing cult sensation set to generate €2 million (about $2.5 million) in revenue in 2014. This is surprising, considering that, until very recently, Eytys made only one product: a unisex platform sneaker with a significantly thick rubber and cork sole and a minimal upper that looks like a ubiquitous deck shoe. This model, the “Mother,” gleans its maternal name from its “mothership” status as the label’s first foray into footwear.

To read the entire article from The Business of Fashion:

Has anyone tried them?  Let us know what you think.

Life for a NBA rookie: Welcome to The Big Leagues

<strong>A LEG UP</strong> Spencer Dinwiddie of the Detroit Pistons during a down moment before the N.B.A.'s rookie photo shoot.

  Photo by Eric White
  Quotes by Sarah Lyall in Tmagazine blogs from the New York Times

A killer three-pointer no longer cuts it in the world of pro basketball. To succeed as a multimillion-dollar brand, an athlete needs business savvy, fashion know-how and good table manners. Welcome to the N.B.A.’s other training camp.

They had heard a succession of horrifying tales about drug addiction, alcohol abuse and women of ill repute who hang around hotel lobbies in unfamiliar cities. They had been told how to seize control of their new fortunes, how to distinguish genuine friends from opportunistic hangers-on and how to nimbly sidestep tricky questions in interviews. And now, as part of a program to help them prepare for the most seismic transformation of their lives, members of the National Basketball Association’s rookie class of 2014 were assembled in a conference room in a hotel in Florham Park, N.J., being lectured on a crucial part of their new job: personal style.

It’s hard to be a newly minted multi-millionaire newly drafted into the NBA.  Fame, fortune, women and of course lots and lots of stylish new clothes and accompanying bling.  Once we are done feeling bad for these unfortunate young men we can appreciate the attempt the league is making at helping them avoid some of the pitfalls of those who have come before them.  Granted that will deny us the pleasure of reading about another wealthy, famous person crashing back to reality with the rest of us but really it is a good thing.  The reality is sports stars are role models and aspirational figures for today’s boys and young men.  If our sports stars learn to surround themselves with positive influences, save and invest their money wisely and represent themselves as positive figures who deserve to be emulated then perhaps everyone wins.

One of the interesting topics that this crop of rookies is taught is how to develop a personal style.  One that projects the image that the league and all those eager prospective sponsors want to be associated with.  The advice is appropriate not just for budding NBA stars but for anyone who wants to control the image they project along with spending their wardrobe budget wisely.  According to celebrity stylist Rachel Johnson who lectured at this years meeting:

Every gentleman should have a peacoat, a raincoat, a varsity jacket and an overcoat, she said; also a blue suit, a gray suit and a black suit. Cargo pants are versatile and can be dressed up to look fancier than they are. You can mix and match; the navy jacket will look just fine with the black pants. Do not use the same Irish Spring soap on your face that you use under your arms. When you leave the house, throw on a classic watch and your signature fragrance, and assume that you are being observed at all times.

Some sound advice.  You don’t need a closet full of custom suits and enough pants and shirts to risk breaking the clothes rack along with your bank account.  The right combination of key pieces goes a long way to looking like you were just drafted into the big leagues.

Read the rest of the article at:

Inexpensive suits that fit like an expensive custom suit. Is it possible?

It’s nice to see that some attention is finally being paid to developing nice suits that don’t cost more then the average guy earns in a month.  For your typical starting fresh out of school investment banker this may be an entry level suit but for the average guy this is probably the most expensive suit he will ever own.  Most men find their one and only suit at a local large department store or perhaps one of a small handful of national specialized chains.  A few hundred dollars and you can manage the average wedding, funeral or job interview.  The problem is most of these suits are to big, baggy and unflattering.  Take a closer look around at the next wedding you are invited to.  Yes the men can “get by” but if you really start evaluating the fit and cut of their suits your perspective will never be the same.

From the September 23, 2014 Wall Street Journal online:

The starter suit is not what it used to be. A generation ago, a man without a great deal of means—whether he was embarking on his first job or attending his first wedding—had to settle for boxy cuts in rayon and wool-blends from departments stores. But beginning a decade ago and ramping up over the past five years, there has been a veritable revolution in men’s suiting priced under $1,000. Brands like J. Crew, Club Monaco and Suitsupply have invested in fine Italian wools, slimmer cuts and refined construction to produce moderately priced suits that offer men something similar to, and occasionally indistinguishable from, their upscale counterparts.

Read the rest of the article  here:

Have any of our fellow short men tried any of these yet?  If so let us know your opinion on how well they work for today’s shorter man or are we out of luck once again.

The changing face of men’s fashion designers

Selling clothes that people actually want to wear.  That was the message that Paul Trimble, a founder of Ledbury, expressed in a recent New York Times article, “But Can They Write Fashion Code? “New wave of male entrepreneurs changing fashion scene”

This article struck close to home as the founder of a men’s clothing line that was designed to not to express some unmet creative need or cater to an elite sartorially inclined group but to meet the need of a large and long overlooked segment of the population that craves basic, classic pieces that actually fit.  A simple solution to a long standing problem.  Shortees was founded with a simple mission, create a t-shirt that could be worn untucked by shorter men.

I identify with the founders of these companies as someone with no fashion design or industry experience who dove into the deep end on the first try.  Like them it was far harder then I ever imagined.  The lack of industry knowledge, unfamiliarity with the secret language that all industries use to streamline communications and keep outsiders from understanding what is going on and the total lack of connections have made it a near impossible task some days.

Every day that I get online I find multiple new apparel companies and countless others talking about starting one.  The entrepreneurial side of me salutes every one of these founders or prospective founders for taking the bold step.  The practical side of me wants to shake them and say they have no idea what they are getting into and the odds of their success are vastly small then they could ever imagine.  When I started Shortees I at least had the advantage of having completed business school along with a number of years of experience developing small businesses so I understood both the challenge as well as many of the business functions that were going to be necessary.  Even with those skills I still faced a monumental challenge entering an industry I knew nothing about , and still feel that I barely know.

The t-shirt industry is a unique animal.  For most new brands they stake their space based on graphics and the segment of the population that identifies with their ascetic and lifestyle message. The growth of street-wear totally changed the t-shirt market and made it not only cool but a potential source of riches.  The tales of small brands started by no-names in their garages abound.  Suddenly everyone thinks they have the greatest new graphics that everyone will love as much as their close friends and mother does.  For these founders the path is actually quite simple.  Pick any of the countless mass produced blank t-shirts that are manufactured in enormous quantities.  They are quite inexpensive and readily available in both large and small quantities.  Find a decent screen printer and for a few hundred dollars more you have inventory.  Throw up a basic shopping site for a few hundred to thousand more and you are in business.  For a lucky few the orders start rolling in.  For  the majority its a lesson in Field of Dreams Theory.  If you build it they will not come.  You have to go out and find them and drag them back to you.

For those like Shortees that want or need to redesign their products and have them manufactured to custom specs its an entirely different and much more challenging process.  Designers, pattern makers, sample makers all have to be identified and vetted.  If you can get through that process then you have to deal with finding a manufacturer.  While there are hundreds if not thousands of garment factories around the world finding one that can not only make your product but make it to your actual specifications at an acceptable level of quality is an enormous challenge.  Then there is the cost.  If you just want to print a few dozen to a few hundred shirts its pretty affordable.  If you need to go through the entire design process and custom manufacture its an entirely different economic scale.  Tens of thousands at a minimum if not hundreds.  And we haven’t even touched on web site development and marketing costs.

As I read the New York Times article what stands out to me about the companies they mention are the backgrounds of their founders.  Private equity, finance, technology.  These founders are used to six figure incomes and had resources to finance their new projects or at least savings to support themselves as the launched their new careers.  Do I feel bad for the failure of You Tube founder Chad Hurley’s foray into upscale apparel and accessories with Hlaska? Not at all.  He will be fine living off his millions.  I stumbled upon a Hlaska store when they first appeared.  They suffered from the same mistake that many others do.  Simply launching a brand and expecting that by virtue of your price point that consumers will identify and value you as a luxury brand.  Yes it works for some brands but it either takes a lot of money, time and patience or a great deal of luck.  Most luxury brands earned their way to the top or spent a fortune positioning themselves there.  Though Chad, if you want to invest in an up and coming men’s brand focusing on the 25% of the population under 5’8″, touch base.  I’m easy to find.

I’m proud of my roots in personal training.  Shortees was built on the back of hundreds and hundreds of personal training sessions and continues to be supported by my other business.  Its the primary reason for the slow growth of my apparel company.  It would have been wonderful and ideal to work full time on Shortees but I had the misfortune of having to earn a living while I launched it and generating some form of cash flow to support the company until it was able to reach a self sustaining level.  Even today our biggest limiting factor is the cost of expanding is greater then what we can cover at any given time.  The result, a slow but steady growth curve and a long list of happy but frustrated customers that want more then what we can deliver them.

Do I feel like a fashion designer?  Not usually but some days. So go out and support your local small scale fashion designer.  Skip the big box retailer and large fashion houses and try something new.  You never know, your next favorite shirt may be designed by a former equity trader, internet-technology start up code writer or even a personal trainer.

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