Many specimens in the menswear pantheon are born of utilitarian necessity. Few become electrically charged with symbolic meaning through their decades of use and abuse.
The leather motorcycle jacket falls into both categories: assembled from logic and imbued with snarling attitude, thanks to being embraced by countless iconic antiheroes from Marlon Brando to The Ramones. No one knows this better than legendary leather-jacket manufacturer Schott NYC, whose founder, Irving Schott, invented the motorcycle jacket nearly 100 years ago.
Keep reading for our Q&A with Jason Schott (great-grandson of Irving and current Chief Operating Officer of the family business)—and to see the historical figures who have built Schott’s legacy by donning their incredible leather jackets over the years.
Not unlike Nordstrom, Schott NYC has been around—and has remained family-operated—for over 100 years.
Through the decades, founder Irving Schott evolved a Lower-East-Side basement operation with his brother into an international success—securing contracts with Harley Davidson and the US Military along the way. He invented the ‘Perfecto’ leather motorcycle jacket as well as the bomber jacket, among countless other innovations. And his family continues to set trends rather than follow them, all thanks to staying true to a standard of quality, integrity, and self-determination.
Four generations later, the good people at Schott NYC shared with us a few of the details that set a ‘Perfecto’ leather jacket apart from the pack—as much now as in 1928, when Irving Schott named the creation after his favorite Cuban cigar. Keep reading to learn more.
With Christmas right around the corner, we asked three male colleagues here at Nordstrom HQ to share what’s on their gift radar this year. Last up is Danny Mankin, our Lead Men’s Stylist—a man whose sneaker collection we envy almost as much as his interior-design skills. If this sounds like someone on your own holiday shopping list, continue reading to find the perfect gift.
Our study in Fall contrast continues with clean-cut prep, worn-in leather, streamlined stripes, and woodsy plaid from some of our favorite Designer Collections. Photographed at Kubota Garden, a 20-acre sanctum of lush pines nestled amongst the stark pavement of south Seattle. [See part 1 of this series.]
Style Profiles. In honor of our twice-a-year Men’s Shop Catalog dropping this month, we decided to profile 6 real men of style and substance. Here, Big-Apple BMX rider Nigel Sylvester.
Growing up in Jamaica, Queens—where dirt tracks are a rare sight, to say the least—a young Nigel Sylvester says few people supported his obsession with BMX bike riding. He doesn’t mind though, insisting it just gave him a thicker skin for criticism.
After getting his start pulling daredevil burnouts on Big Wheels, Sylvester soon graduated to two wheels—helped pioneer and popularize a unique East-Coast, in-city, free-form riding style that grinds on NYC concrete rather than launching off So-Cal clay—and despite (or perhaps because of) his alternative approach, has risen to the forefront of his sport.
We caught up with Sylvester to find out what every man can learn from a BMX master—like how to fail with dignity, sweat the small stuff, and follow your gut at all costs.
STICK WITH IT. “With BMX riding, you want to be the first one in your neighborhood, or even in the world, to land a trick. You’re going to fall down. It’s all about getting back up. I feel like those setbacks just help build character. If you’re determined enough, you’re going to get back up and do it again.”
LEARN NEW TRICKS. “I’m competitive by nature, mostly with myself. I always want to outdo myself and be better than yesterday. So I’m always looking at, how do I progress? How do I learn new tricks—on and off my bike? Be a better brother, better son, better person in general.”
KEEP IT PROFESSIONAL. “Being a pro BMX rider means that you ride on a professional level. You’re doing tricks on a professional level. And you conduct yourself in a professional manner off your bicycle, as well.”
VISUALIZE SUCCESS. “Bike riding, for me, is very mental. I like to think about what I’m doing, envision what I do before I do it. I want to make sure it looks good. Presentation is so important. The details are what separate the good from the great.”
MY TRAINING REGIMEN. “Riding is my training. I don’t go to the gym and life weights or whatever. I do some cardio, a bunch of stretching, push-ups, sit-ups, but mostly bike riding is the actual exercise and training. When I go out on a ride, let’s say I’m bunny-hopping. I’m lifting up my body weight, plus the weight of the bike—so that right there is 200-plus pounds every time—and I may do 100 bunny hops in a day.”
MIND & BODY. “Riding is a full-body exercise. You need your full body to go out and ride. As well as your mind—so it’s like [exercising] everything.”
FULL CIRCLE. “It was crazy for me, because the first time I saw the X Games on TV, Dave Mirra won. And I guess it kind of came full-circle for me when it was him who turned me professional. He signed me to his company at the age of 18. This is my childhood idol, and then he comes and starts off my professional bicycle career. I’ll never forget that.”
SEE WHAT HAPPENS. “The advice I give people is to follow your heart and do what you love. Don’t let anyone deter you from your dreams and your goals—because you already know what’s going to happen if you don’t do it. So you might as well find out what’s going to happen if you put your mind to it.”
GOING GLOBAL. “As professionals, we strive to be the best at what we do and to do things that stand the test of time. So if I do a trick here in New York that people in Japan or Beijing or Africa are going to go on YouTube, watch it, and then talk about it around the world, that’s an incredible feeling. There’s nothing better than going to a new country, and people are like, ‘I saw your video, and you did this trick, and it was awesome.’ You’re touching people all around the world.”
BLAZING A TRAIL. “Growing up in New York, we didn’t have many [BMX] competitions. New York City riders, our style is a little bit different. We’re more just about going out free-riding, filming video parts, and kind of just doing whatever feels right. That’s one of the best things about action sports—that you can be a contest rider or a video-part rider, and still be successful.”
IN THE ZONE. “I listen to music all the time. Jay-Z’s Reasonable Doubt, Lauryn Hill, Young Jeezy, Kanye West’s new album. Most of the time when I’m riding, I have my headphones in. Music helps me just zone in and block out all the other distractions around me—planes, ambulances driving by, people talking sh–. Music helps me just zone out and focus on the task at hand.”
NO PLACE LIKE HOME. “I wanted to do a video series that gave my fans a different perspective of my life. We did a series called Get Sylvester—we shot in Chicago, Barcelona, Dominican Republic…[But] there’s no feeling like coming back home. Go see my mom, see my friends, go hang out. It makes you appreciate the things that you have in life that you can’t buy.”
LIGHTS OUT. “One essential item, whether I’m riding, going out, or going to a meeting, is black jeans. I wear black jeans almost every day. They’re a definite staple in my closet.”
PROPER FOOTWEAR. “Sneakers—I got a lot of those. I probably have, in my house right now, maybe 300 pairs of sneakers. In New York, you pull up, one of the first things that a lady looks at is your sneakers. Yeah. Sneakers are important. Got to have a good sneaker game.”
MY MOST PRIZED POSSESSION. “My bicycle, first and foremost…I’m going to ride my bike until I can’t ride it any longer. BMX riding is such a big part of my life that I will never, ever take it for granted. I put my heart into it as much as I possibly can. I wake up thinking about it. I go to sleep thinking about it. It just makes me feel like nothing else on this earth can.”
Yin and yang. Light and shade. Concrete and jungle. Life is a study in contrasts—and your Fall wardrobe should be, too.
To fully meditate on Fall’s dense tweeds, intricate knits, revved-up leather, and sturdy workwear, we took our favorite Designer Collections to Seattle’s historical, 20-acre wooded oasis, Kubota Garden—as well as the surrounding urban sprawl. The conclusion is clear: Fall’s best clothes feel calm, cool and collected, whether you’re in nature’s domain or the wilds of the city.
Electronic-music aficionado or not, you’ve probably caught wind of this mysterious, helmet-clad, hype-generating duo known as Daft Punk as of late. Hedi Slimane of Saint Laurent Paris shot them for the new issue of Dazed & Confused (above)…Our friends at GQ managed to score an in-depth Q&A with the elusive hitmakers…And Spin has posted a virtual smorgasbord of articles, from an oral history of the Frenchmen’s first show on US soil to a retrospective of their 19 savviest samples (highlights range from Barry White to Barry Manilow).
The recent flood of Daft Punk buzz (leading up to the pair’s first new album in eight years, Random Access Memories) started about two months ago with brief snippets debuted during Saturday Night Live and at Coachella—like the one below, featuring Pharrell Williams and ’70s studio legend Nile Rodgers:
Next came a series of interviews that revealed not only the dream team of collaborators Daft Punk hand-picked for their new project, but also the return to analog equipment and old-school studio techniques they embraced—a bold departure from the electronic movement they helped birth almost two decades ago. (Our favorites are below; watch all eight episodes here.)
Then, yesterday, an official video from Daft Punk depicting “The Robots” in the flesh, unwrapping the first copy of their new record and cueing it up on the turntable in their trusty spaceship:
(Click the link above to visit Daft Punk’s site—then click the album cover to open iTunes, where you can stream the full album and pre-order prior to its May 21 release.)
— — —
The Hedi Slimane-designed, sequined dinner jackets Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo wear in the pics abouve (yes, there are humans under there after all) are cool and all—but we tend to favor Daft Punk’s biker phase. Emulate their robo-moto look with one of our favorite leather jackets below—but as far as fully automated cyborg helmets go, you’ll have to look elsewhere.
Having started as a forward-thinking shoemaker to Hollywood stars of the 1920s, the late Salvatore Ferragamo’s eponymous brand has come a long way. One aspect that remains a guiding force under Creative Director Massimiliano Giornetti: a scientific approach to the art of style. Chiseled lines and innovative mixes of luxe leather and wool with technical fabrics define this calculated new collection, rooted in a cavernous spectrum of near-black hues. The result is an army of outerwear that would somehow look as at-home in the Matrix as it would on your sunless, socked-in commutes next Fall.
Leather Weather. The show featured a wide range of takes on this quintessential piece of all-attitude menswear—from cropped biker jackets to hip-length trialmasters to knee-length trenches.
Soldier of Fortune.Military references are invading throughout the season’s shows. No exception here, with double-breasted officer coats and peacoats, aerodynamic bomber jackets, and the all-terrain trench in the Twitter pic up top.
Rain Men. Soaked cement was a clear influence, with storm sounds starting the show and puddles literally lining the runway. Giornetti found countless ways to revel in the rain—like a voluminous cloak, rubberized sweater and futuristic poncho fit for a gunslinger in space. (Click images to enlarge.)
Watch the video above for a glimpse backstage prior to the Salvatore Ferragamo Fall/Winter 2013 runway show—which took place in Milan only a few days ago—and hear from Giornetti himself on the thought process behind the new designs.
Though the guide is stocked with a range of outerwear from uptown overcoats to summit-ready mountain gear, we were inspired by the year-round versatility, and all-around badness*, of a leather jacket.
Throw one on over a T-shirt and jeans in warmer months, and you’re basically Marlon Brando. Fast-forward 30 years, grab a guitar, and you’re Joe Strummer. Add a rebel streak to your shirt and tie with a trim-fitting leather jacket, and you’re straight out of GQ.
When it comes to braving colder months, it’s a simple question of creative layering. If you like your leather to fit trim and streamlined, like the Italian-made bomber above, underpin it with a toasty thermal or cashmere sweater, then add a scarf, hat and/or gloves on top. If you opt for a looser-fitting fatigue style, like the caramel-colored number below, you can get more creative with chunky knits underneath—we even saw a member of our visual merchandising team sport a denim jacket under his leather coat just yesterday.
Check out a few more favorites below, then shop our full selection of leather jackets.
*Speaking of badness: Did you catch Spike Lee’s 25th-anniversary special on Michael Jackson’s Bad last week, in which Kanye West confirms that Jackson’s black leathers in the 1987 Martin Scorsese-directed short film (Part 1 | Part 2) still influence his stage wardrobe to this day? Check out the trailer.
Mummy Kanye West. In a song lyric, the exact phrasing of which we can’t repeat here, West once inquired as to whether listeners have had romantic inclinations toward a Pharaoh. Well, we all know what’s under that tough, 24-karat-gold exterior: a well-rested mummy, limping around and moaning “Haaaaaanh?!” between witty verses. Start with a handy, Halloween-themed Morphsuit (toilet paper will suffice in a pinch, and you can prank your neighbor’s house with the leftovers). Layer on all-black biker gear—it’s safe to say Kanye and co. have transitioned out of the prep phase and into a goth-ninja motif. Finish with a back pain-inducing chain in the likeness of an Egyptian god, and you’re ready to hit tonight’s Halloween parties. Lambo optional—but try not to pull up in a Taurus.