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Perhaps you’ve been following the True Religion premium denim brand since its inception in the early 2000s in Manhattan Beach, CA. If so, you already know some designs: the name-making bootcut jean and maybe also the more recent jogger silhouettes–though the boot fit is definitely still in the building.

The brand is growing its audience with new official spokespeople, basketball star Russell Westbrook and supermodel Joan Smalls. But let’s talk about unofficial spokespeople for a second.

Because there’s a good chance you learned about True Religion from rappers.

In the last decade and change, rappers have shouted out “Trues” 50 billion times in their lyrics, including heavyweights such as Kanye West, Nicki Minaj, 2 Chainz and Jim Jones.

To sate our curiosity about how and why this came to be, we sent one of our favorite music journalists and rap experts–the uncommonly thoughtful David Drake–deep into the True Religion/rap music overlap.

This is his report.

–Andrew Matson

Shop: True Religion

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 Janie Bryant image by Elisabeth Caran

As huge Mad Men fans we are naturally in awe of Janie Bryant, the book-writing, Emmy-winning boss who designs the costumes on the AMC television show–now in its seventh and final season. 

Bryant’s depiction of dress codes and coded dressing in the American office space in the late 1960s/early 1970s is crucial to the story of every episode. Her creations are their own characters, speaking to the viewership on several levels about the message-conveying power of surfaces and the ways they can be used to mentally manipulate others and also ourselves.

Bryant spoke to us on the phone about designing for characters’ traits–Joan’s “provocative” appreciation of her own body; Don’s desire to never change–and answered the question: Who has better style: Don Draper or Roger Sterling?

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Required reading for those interested in the Venn diagram of style, culture and music: “Hooking Up” by Jon Caramanica in the New York Times’ T Magazine–an article about the influence of hip-hop on today’s newly fired-up menswear.

Click here to read the article.

SPOILER: Caramanica’s thesis is fashion runways used to influence the streets and now the streets influence the runways. The “direction of diffusion,” as he writes, has inverted. It’s also about men caring about fashion and being comfortable caring about fashion.

Below is a list of important hip-hop/menswear figures in the order Caramanica mentions them, which is more or less chronologically, with his excerpted characterizations.

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Miami Heat superstar Dwyane Wade has a well-documented passion for fashion, standing apart from most NBA players with his adventurous fits and bright colors. The latter is a hallmark of his new line of Stance socks.

We spoke to the man himself about what he’s bumping right now (Trey Songz, Nicki Minaj and Ed Sheeran), personal style heroes and how Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood factored into his Stance line.

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OK, this is not strictly (or very much at all) menswear related. But if you have even one iota of interest in New York Fashion Week, we recommend keeping up with these fun, edifying, vibe-heavy, media-rich journal posts by Nordstrom blogs editor Laura Cassidy and copilot Jessica Carter.

Here’s one of their “Blank Book” images featuring photographer Nabile Quenum, along with an animated GIF from backstage at the Jason Wu show and a video interview with the designer himself:

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converse andy warhol

Andy Warhol
Converse Extra Special Value
c. 1985-86
Synthetic polymer paint on canvas
116 x 180 inches

Check out Converse Extra Special Value, above. That’s artwork featuring classic Converse All Stars by the late pop master Andy Warhol, mimicking his own early work in advertising. As an illustrator and graphic designer, Warhol sometimes drew shoes for ads. As an artist, he brought elements of ads into his pieces shown in galleries and museums, challenging people to see them in a different light.

If that were the only link, Converse’s new Chuck Taylor All Star Andy Warhol Collection sneakers would make sense by themselves. But it gets deeper. Adorned with Warhol’s beloved Campbell’s Soup cans, the Converse x Warhol sneakers are a swirl of classic American products-for-the-people.

In conversation with Carrie Dedon, assistant curator at  Seattle Art Museum, we go even further. Among other things, we learn from Dedon that Warhol definitely saw himself as a product, and we find out what his exaltation of logo design had to do with his concept of democracy.

Images courtesy of The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and Converse

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January 26, 2015

Follow Up: @SolesBySir

The series in which we hook you up with the feeds you need.

The outcome of Super Bowl XLIX between the Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots will certainly be measured in points–though in the larger game of life, you could argue that the true winner will be the team with the fewest concussions. But there is another competition afoot: Which player will have the illest shoes?

We spoke about what to expect on Super Bowl Sunday with Marcus Rivero, aka Soles by Sir, the custom-footwear king of the NFL. The Miami-based painter and designer says his shoes will be worn by players on both teams on February 1. Sales have been good since his status spiked this month after Instagramming a pair of gold-flake cleats commissioned by the Seahawks’ Marshawn Lynch, which were instantly banned by the NFL. 

Apparently there’s some league rule we don’t understand about shoes needing to match the color of uniforms. But we do understand banning a shoe is a sure-fire way to make it legendary and Rivero says business is better than ever.

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December 23, 2014

Gifted Giver: Lord Quas

We’ve been counting down the crucial pre-Christmas shopping days with a series called Gifted Givers, but in this, the final chapter, we’ve gone a little rogue…

Through a spiritual medium in Los Angeles, we reached out to Quasimoto, a dirtbag, deadbeat, bad-guy rapper from the fictional city of Lost Gates, CA. The city is fictional but trust us, the rapper himself is real enough that there’s an NPR story on him. We wouldn’t normally seek the advice of such a low-down character, except for the fact that there’s some real genius and an utterly unique style to his music—the kind that makes Erykah Badu and Kanye West collaborators and fans.

Turns out Lord Quas was in a gift-giving mood for the holiday season, albeit mostly giving to himself. (And yeah, not quite giving enough that he could follow our customary Gifted Giver format.)

Seen here at his most festive, he cheers the world while drinking from the Das Horn Drinking Horn he gave himself and wearing a couple new Lego Brick Watches. They don’t really come in purple, but he wishes they did. Generously, he bought his homeboys Freddie Gibbs and Madlib each an oversized stuffed zebra from Melissa & Doug to celebrate their album Piñata. Quas also picked out Power Mama Maternity Panties and a Chiffon Short Robe by Naked Princess for his girlfriends. Things got real.

Illustration by Jeff Jank

SHOP: Holiday Gifts for Guys

–Andrew Matson

November 14, 2014

Your Friday Spirit Animal

Hey, wake up. The end of the week has arrived. Here’s what English-born pop artist David Hockney has to say about the weekend: “You must plan to be spontaneous.”

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SHOP: Cardigans

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Travis Gumbs (left) and Joshua Kissi—two of our favorite photographers, stylists, travel journalists, fashion historians and the masterminds behind globally influential men’s interest blog Street Etiquette—are always up to something.

This time around, it’s a travelogue/lookbook in cahoots with Australian brand Zanerobe (progenitors of some of the best jogger pants in the biz, along with next-level shirts, shorts, jackets and more). The photographic essay, titled On the Road, took them out of their standard stomping ground of New York, and up the West Coast—hitting Los Angeles, Portland and our hometown of Seattle along the way.

Keep reading to see the results, and to shop selected items from Zanerobe’s ‘ZNRB’ fall collection.

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