Art & Design

In which we look at old Nordstrom logo fonts and give them a close look. These are the fonts of our lives.

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If you recognize the typeface above you are either a student of retail or a student of design. Or a Pacific Northwesterner, since this was the Nordstrom logo back in 1930 when we were a Seattle-only shoe store.

Now we’re national and international–with our third Canadian store opening in August in Vancouver, B.C. Next year we’ll add Toronto.

Learn about the features and history of this old-school Nordstrom typeface below, with commentary from Strath Shepard, our Creative Director of Designer and Pop-In@Nordstrom–hands-down the biggest font nerd we know.

–Andrew Matson

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conversechuckIIRedesigning the Converse Chuck Taylor All Star is a risky proposition. We’re talking about the most classic American sneaker, whose design has gone relatively untouched since 1917. A true shoe of the people.

Think about it. Which other garment is worn by young and old folks alike so prevalently? And in various stages of pristine or tattered? Chucks are like Levi’s 501s for your feet.

And yet: Converse designer Damion Silver was faced with a problem. Foot fatigue was an issue. Especially if you’re trying to wear them every day, All Stars have always been a little hard on your dogs.

Enter Lunarlon, Nike cushioning technology.

That’s just one way Silver–a visual artist who shows his own paintings at galleries all over the world–created the Chuck II, a stellar and more comfortable sequel to Chuck Taylor All Star.

We spoke with Silver on the phone at Converse headquarters in Boston proper about shoveling snow, his unrealistic fantasy of one day skateboarding on a frozen golf course–and the pressures of redesigning the brand’s #1 seller worldwide.

converselunarlonShop: Chuck II high | Chuck II low

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CMRTYZ | Behind the Brand

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A new brand for us, Seattle’s CMRTYZ (say each letter) operates in a downtown loft right around the corner from where Nirvana used to play. That would be about one mile south of Nordstrom headquarters. Because we’re 100% in love with CMRTYZ’s punk concert-poster aesthetic, which gets a streetwear twist in our exclusive mini collection of hockey jerseys and T-shirts, we dropped by the studio to learn more about designers CMR (Carlos Michael Ruiz) and TYZ (Ty Ziskis).

Inside, we found artwork and silkscreens on the floor and local punk band So Pitted carefully “hole-ing,” ripping holes in T-shirts for decoration. It made us laugh, looked cool and the band getting paid (“We’re huge fans,” said Ziskis) was a clear example of CMRTYZ’s ethos: support the scene that inspires you.

Nordstrom isn’t carrying CMRTYZ’s hole-y stuff. But there is a rough/degraded quality to our jerseys and tees due to Ruiz’s hand-drawn comics-style illustrations, quick cutouts and images processed via photocopier.

Check our interview below to learn about life-changing album art, how to make a bad impression during a business deal and what happens when the punks take marketing jobs–all filtered through Ruiz’s unique hand-style.

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Shop: CMRTYZ | The Rail

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Here’s a loosie from Nordstrom photographer Barb Penoyar’s In/On White, a series consisting of portraits of models shot using 100% natural light. It comes with a fashion tip from us: white clothes look good in summer.

Normally Barb shoots product images for our website and catalog. With these photos, though, it’s art for art’s sake. No flashbulbs or Photoshop, all light courtesy the glowing orb in the sky.

To read about why Barb likes the challenge of shooting with sunlight, hit this link and check the technique.

Shop: Vince baseball shirt | Bonobos shorts

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Fresh Dressed is the first-ever documentary about the history of hip-hop fashion, out now in theaters all over the U.S. We recommend you see it. You will be entertained and educated, and perhaps inspired to decorate your jacket.

Energy and insights in Fresh Dressed come from music and fashion leaders including Kanye West, Pharrell Williams, Dapper Dan, André Leon Talley, Riccardo Tisci and the duo of Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osbourne from Public School.

But the overall product is excellent mostly because it was directed by Sacha Jenkins, a 20-years-deep veteran of journalism with Beat Downego trip and Mass Appeal magazines. Mainstream America remembers his The (White) Rapper Show on VH1Some Pratt Institute students call him their professor.

Now you will know him from his interview with the Nordstrom blogs.

Check our interview with Jenkins and the trailer for Fresh Dressed below. And if you’re already feeling TL;DR, check this audio clip from Jenkins about how hip-hop style relates to freedom:

 

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In this series, we talk to artists and designers about their most personal works and the projects that are closest to their hearts.

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Shop: Alexander Simai tee

Nordstrom photographer Barb Penoyar is back with the third installment of her series In/On White: portraits of models shot using 100% natural light. We remain psyched on this series.

Read about the origin of Barb’s “white period”–as it will be known by art historians of the future–and see round one here. Round two is here.

We caught up with Barb, who has a new website by the way, to ask about her new work:

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The talent pool is deep over at Studio N, a warehouse space close to our Seattle headquarters where Nordstrom employees–stylists, art directors, photographers, tailors and hair & makeup artists–create imagery for our catalog and website. They do this amongst racks of choice product and models posing like perfect 10s. An inspiring environment.

Frequently they complete their day’s work and then create some more.

Photographer Matthew Sumi explains the impromptu photo shoot which yielded these shots:

“We shot a full day of men’s Anniversary looks on Tarik, then we decided to shoot more editorial images outside with this suit. I test often with all the models that come through the studio, to keep fresh and push myself artistically to always create new imagery. On this shoot I was playing with movement and black & white, specifically blur and focus. I’ve always loved trying different techniques. I think movement creates a strong visual element of mood. “

Shop: Calibrate suit | BOSS tie | Vince Camuto shirt | Magnanni monk strap loafer | all suits

Model: Tarik Lakehal

Photographer: Matthew Sumi

Stylist: Grace Erdman

Hair & makup: Pierra Lortie

Art Director: Brett Wiseman

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W.R.K | Behind the Brand

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New season, new inspiration says Matteo Gottardi, leader of the menswear brand W.R.K–seen here at The WRK Shop showroom and design studio in New York City.

This spring: Formula One racecars and their drivers, a sport that is as visually striking and glamorous as it is punishing and dangerous.

Gottardi’s interest in speedy machines makes sense: he’s a motorcycle enthusiast, his mind moves racecar fast in conversation–and his general view with W.R.K is menswear should be high performance

Because we’re never static, are we? We’re always moving at the speed of life, word to David Bowie and Xzibit

On the phone, Gottardi talked to us broadly about men and style, and took us under the hood of a few of his designs, including the rare beast known as the summer sweater.

All photos by Brad Ogbonna

Shop: W.R.K

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Photos by Regina Garcia

You’ve probably heard the modern, headphone-y pop music of Toronto duo Majid Jordan without knowing it through Drake: they wrote and were featured on Drake’s hit “Hold On, We’re Going Home,” and on “Legend,” he shouts them out, saying their album will drop this year on his label OVO.

While you’re waiting for that, peep their earlier work Afterhours and A Place Like This

Jamie Webster handles the entire visual presence of the group (Majid Al Maskati and Jordan Ullman) as creative director, in between his creative director and partner roles at the Common Good production company and design studio and co-owning the bar Dog & Bear. He took us site by site through the insiders’ tour of Toronto that is the music video for “Forever,” which he directed.

“The idea was to provide their audience with a glimpse of Toronto through Majid Jordan’s eyes. Not the CN Tower or cheesy buskers at Yonge-Dundas Square. It’s not a Toronto tourist video. It’s spaces that are cool or have a significance to us. We see the way the city is depicted and it’s often way off the mark.”

Get to know Majid Jordan’s Toronto below.

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Haspel | Behind the Brand

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Haspel invented the seersucker suit in New Orleans, and not like Puff Daddy “invented the remix.” This is for real.

The classic brand goes a lot deeper than one fabric, and with two new designers steering its style, we figured it’s a good time to go behind the brand with interviews and photos from Haspel’s showroom in New York.

But for one sec, let’s appreciate their heritage.

Haspel was born in New Orleans in 1909. They’ve outfitted every United States President post-Coolidge, Gregory Peck in To Kill a Mockingbird and Jon Hamm in Mad Men. Without Haspel, who knows if we’d have the idea of American suits that keep you literally cool. Or suits that you could wash and dry at home. (They pioneered wash-and-wear, too.)

These days, Sam Shipley and Jeff Halmos are the design force driving Haspel (you may know them from their own brands Shipley & Halmos and S&H Athletics). They were hired last year by Laurie Aronson Haspel, whose great-grandfather Joseph Haspel started the company and whose grandfather Joseph Haspel, Jr., remains something of a company spirit animal.

Jeff Halmos (on the right, above) spoke to us about taking a serious but light approach to handling so much history, about what’s fresh for Haspel for spring–and about what a rad dude Joseph Haspel, Jr., really was.

Shop: Haspel | spring suits | all suits | men’s style

Portrait courtesy Jeff Halmos; all other images by Brad Ogbonna

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