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March 18, 2015

Behind the Brand: Haspel

haspel

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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Street League–our current streetwear collection–is built on a few key silhouettes and a rebellious shift in men’s fashion. What are those silhouettes and how did we get here? We sat with two of our in-house experts and had us a good long think.

Edited convo below with Nordstrom Men’s Fashion Director Jorge Valls and Lead Men’s Stylist Danny Mankin.  

jogger pants streetwear

Joggers

Nordstrom blogs: The jogger pant came to the streets from runways, right? Or did we get here through athletics?

Jorge Valls: From a designer level, Dries Van Noten was one of the first brands that I saw taking a pant silhouette and trying to make it new. I saw them put a cuff on a cotton pant or a wool pant. And drawstrings, too.

Danny Mankin: But there’s definitely an athletic influence.

Jorge: It’s very athletics-inspired, but it’s not what you wear to the gym. It’s athletic that you wear outdoors, on the street. But it’s elevated, an organic evolution. The current generation wears comfortable clothes all the time, so this is their version of dressing up. And the sneaker excitement right now? These are all fashion sneakers. You can work out in these, but they’re fashion.

Danny: I think the evolution of the jogger pant was influenced by the rise of the sneaker. The sneaker was rising so fast, it became a fashion statement. That influenced the gathering of the pant at the ankle.

Jorge: And some goth culture. That comes from Rick Owens, that goth-athletics aspect. He’s a body builder, and a lot of his clothes are built for movement. I would say any body type could wear this, though. It’s very forgiving.

Nordstrom blogs: What about the colors?

Jorge: Right, well, another big part of this look is the graphic element. High contrast. Black and white is perfect to create that. You’ll notice that the clothes tend to be black-and-white or tonal. But the sneaker is where most guys are unafraid to do crazy color and have it be a pop, a statement.

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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.

toirtoiseshell sunglasses

Nordstrom photographer Barb Penoyar is back with the second installment of her series “In/On White”: portraits of models shot using 100% natural light. We are feeling her new work. See round one here.

Barb works on this project in her free time at our Studio N, in between shooting Complete Looks for our website. Why? Because as a pro photog and photography teacher, she loves the creative challenge posed by shooting with sunlight. Learn more about that here.

And for winter/spring, she’s just really into white.

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hanni el khatib

Images by Elizabeth Rudge

Bay Area native Hanni El Khatib is an all-around aesthetician, full-time rock bandleader, rap fan, record label owner (Innovative Leisure), streetwear design legend for the brand HUF–speaking of which, have you seen Nordstrom’s new streetwear collection?–and a real pleasure to speak with over a glass of ice water and a Murder magazine.

Right now it’s rock time for El Khatib. He’s playing shows almost every night.

He talked to us about touring, being back in the saddle as a skate/street designer and why most rap-rock songs are atrocious.

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boat shoes

How to rock boat shoes with mad ‘80s style? Sweatpants and athletic socks, player!

But let’s take them into today’s fashion climate, which is easy to do since the design is classic, and then reconsider this image from the ‘87 Nordstrom Anniversary catalog.

Guy on the left, you lose. Guys in the middle and on the right, you’re killing it.

Specifically: No socks is (still) the right move, for sure. And that oceanic indigo denim with the earthy Sperrys is very rich indeed, a surf-and-turf slam dunk.

The sweats and bulky white athletic socks ensemble, though? Only for checking the mail.

Shop: Sperry Top-Sider | All boat shoes

fashion-week-journals-text

Menswear is what we rock, but fashion in general interests us–and Nordstrom blogs editor Laura Cassidy is our favorite writer to break it down. Basically, she helps us feel educated not alienated.

She went ham with her Fashion Week Journal entries from New York, London and Paris fashion weeks, creating deep, weird, of-the-moment stuff with considerable replay value.

Get versed and peep the illest headlines in the game:

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nytimes

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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toirtoiseshell sunglasses

Hark, there goes one Solange Knowles at Paris Fashion Week, captured through the lens of Nordstrom street photographer Crystal Nicodemus. If you wanna get so close you can virtually smell the Gauloises, click here to see more Scene Snaps from Paris Fashion Week.

In between whatever rad stuff Solange did at #PFW, she threw a low-key party for the brand ELEVENPARIS–whose menswear happens to be a major factor in our new Street League collection. Just saying.

OK, now to listen to “Losing You” on repeat as we power through this Monday.

Shop: ELEVENPARIS | Men’s streetwear

throwback thursday

Thumpers L-R: Marcus Pepperell, John Hamson, Jr.; image courtesy Sub Pop

We’ve had “Galore” by London-based duo Thumpers on repeat during this seasonal shift from frost to flowers, an album so energetic and full of life it can make spring cleaning fly by. Peep a snippet of the track “Roller” in our garden-kaleidoscope Spring Field Guide video, and listen to the full song below.

John Hamson, Jr. (drummer, multi-instrumentalist) talked to us from a coffee shop in the English countryside about growing up on Missy Elliott and feeling like most indie rock music is hecka boring.

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throwback thursday

Images by Studio N

Introducing the waviest streetwear/outdoor gear we’ve ever seen: the new capsule collaboration between Barbour and White Mountaineering. We’re biased because we sell it, but believe us when we tell you we love this stuff.

That anorak with those Timberlands? Too clean! The image above shows a Complete Look made by our stylists at Studio N. And if you thought that jacket might also look good with Stan Smiths, another of our Complete Looks confirms you are correct.

For the inside scoop on the English/Japanese team-up, we reached out to Barbour’s head of menswear, Ian Bergin, and White Mountaineering creative director Yosuke Aizawa.

throwback thursday

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