For Episode One of THE SNEAKER PROJECT: SNEAKERS IN YOUR CITY, we asked Seattle hip-hop legends Thig Nat and Prometheus Brown (aka Geo Quibuyen) to show us the best that their hometown (which happens to be Nordstrom’s hometown, too) has to offer.
Get a ground-level glimpse of the Emerald City in the short video above, and keep reading for a Q&A with Thig and Geo, behind-the-scenes photos, and a closer look at their favorite spots around town (as well as those sneakers they’re sporting).
“March 26, 1987 marked the release of the Air Max 1 and with it, a revolution began. In the form of a literal window to the sole, the invisible became visible, and Nike Air cushioning forever changed how Nike designed running sneakers.” —Nike Inc.
It’s not every day an aerospace engineer walks into your office with a history-making idea—even when you’re the CEO of Nike. Sparked from an Air-Sole prototype created by engineer Frank Rudy and brought to life through countless trials and errors by shoe designers Mark Parker and Tinker Hatfield, Nike’s iconic Air Max sneaker—the first to ever feature air cushioning you can see—turns 27 today.
Keep reading to see a timeline of vintage Nike ads (with a commemorative ‘Air Max Day’ twist), shop a selection of Air Max Editor’s Picks—and learn how to score a pair of extremely limited-edition sneakers from one of Nike’s elusive ‘Quickstrike’ releases.
On the heels of last season’s curated selection of American-made boots, our men’s shoe team has decided to one-up themselves with a tightly edited showcase of rare sneakers from legendary as well as up-and-coming brands. We’re calling it The Sneaker Project—and from retro runners to luxe leather trainers, we’re confident it offers shoes to knock the socks off even the most discriminating fan of the game.
Keep reading for a closer look at six of our favorite brands—plus a chance to see them in action.
As the mastermind behind every Pop-In @ Nordstrom—technically speaking, Olivia Kim hand-selected every item in our new, limited-time menswear shop: Heartbreakers Club. But because some might be daunted by the sheer volume of rare streetwear and historic menswear gems therein, we asked her to condense things down to a handful of cream-of-the-crop favorites.
Keep reading for a starter-set of exclusive and limited-edition menswear, from Heartbreakers Club curator Olivia Kim.
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.
These French flag-themedNew Balance 574s were made in the USA especially for our French Fling Pop-In Shopin extremely limited numbers—and there’s a decent chance we still have them in your size! But not for long. As the wise man who writes our product pages stated, they’re “more rare than an Henri Jayer Pinot Noir, and pair a heck of a lot better with shorts.”
Grab your tri-colors while you can, whether you care to show your allegiance to liberté, égalité and fraternité—or just want to out-class the world’s foremost street-style stars. (Sneakers this chic go with everything from turned-up dad jeans to tailored suits these days, don’t you know.)
Last week, Men’s Shop Daily had the distinct pleasure of catching up with Marcus Wainwright (left) and David Neville, co-founders of Rag & Bone, at their in-store appearance at Nordstrom Bellevue Square, near our Seattle headquarters.
Below, the two British designers—who met in boarding school in England, before starting Rag & Bone more than ten years ago in New York—discuss their fashion baptism in rural Kentucky, smashing guitars, and style advice that every man should swear by.
MEN’S SHOP DAILY: Welcome to Seattle. Have you been out here before?
DAVID NEVILLE OF RAG & BONE: “We’ve been a few times, but only ever to see the people at Nordstrom. It’s worth the trip. It’s an amazing company.”
MSD: That’s great to hear—what makes you say that?
NEVILLE: “I think that when you look at the history, and the legacy of how it was started, and what it is now…I’ve actually read [Bruce Nordstrom's] book, Leave It Better than You Found It. The fact that it’s still run by the family, and the approach to customer service, and differentiating themselves as a store…The success that’s bred is kind of amazing. It’s 130 stores in America. I should be like a spokesperson.” [Laughs.]
MSD: You’ve noted the photography of August Sander as an inspiration for your Fall ’13 men’s collection. What drew you to his work, and are there any favorite photographs that stick in your minds?
MARCUS WAINWRIGHT OF RAG & BONE: “I’ve got a lot of his photography. I like photography—I collect [it] and like taking pictures myself. Part of it is just the subject matter—apart from the photographs themselves, the clothes are really cool, and very relevant to Rag & Bone. We do a lot of workwear, we do a lot of tailoring, and the August Sander pictures capture a lot of people working—and he captures them in a period where people were working in suits. If you look at the early pictures of rag-and-bone men, after the Second World War, they’re working day-to-day in tailored clothing. There’s no T-shirts, there’s no just shirt-and-jeans. And there’s a sort of beauty in that handmade clothing that’s been disheveled and rumpled and rained on and worked in.
“So the subject matter of the pictures is amazing. There’s a German aspect to it, which is pretty cool—it’s quite sort of different from the English stuff; it’s less sort of ‘dandy.’ There’s an amazing picture of a baker…and one in particular of a guy in a street in the most beautiful coat, which we made a sort of version of, which closed the show. It’s just great photography.”
MSD: Does Michael Pitt [the actor in Rag & Bone's fall campaign] have the best hair in Hollywood?
NEVILLE: “We were actually a little bit worried about his hair in a couple of the pictures—it just looks a little bit too sort of retro, kind of Johnny Cash, which wasn’t really the reference, you know. But he’s a cool dude.”
WAINWRIGHT: “He does have good hair.”
NEVILLE: “We had fun. He was awesome. He came to the shoot really sort of enthused, and there’s an amazing moment where he smashes his guitar in the middle of 6th Avenue. That was his idea, and it was fairly impromptu—it wasn’t staged or anything. It was cool content to just be able to create.”
[Seattle band Campfire OK played a killer set at our in-store
event—decked out in Rag & Bone, of course.]
MSD: When the two of you first decided to start a clothing company, you visited a legendary denim factory in Kentucky. What was that experience like, and what did you learn there?
WAINWRIGHT: “It was the birth of Rag & Bone in many ways. It was a very old denim factory in Tompkinsville, Kentucky. It had been a massive factory at one point, but everything had shifted—been bought or invested in by a Mexican company, and a lot of denim [production] had moved to Mexico. So it basically shut down most of it, and it was just sort of 60 people, as a sample room for the Mexican production—but it was the best sewers and pant-makers that they had.
“It was an amazing place with 50 years of knowledge about how to make proper jeans. It was an incredible place to go to, when you had no experience in fashion at all, and never really been to a factory to speak of, and you were sort of baptized into the fashion and sewing world by these women who were in their 60s, sewing jeans all day, proper salt-of-the-earth ladies from Kentucky—in a dry county, so there’s no booze. It’s rural Kentucky, and they take great pride in their work, and they’re just lovely people. They taught us the meaning of quality and authenticity and the value of that history of craftsmanship—and the value of that experience, and how easy it is for that to disappear.
“They were the last of 3,000. They shut down within two or three years of us working with them. The ladies who’d been sewing their whole lives went to work in the local outboard motor factory, or Walmart, or waiting tables. Never to sew again. The American-invented and American-owned skill of sewing jeans just disappeared from that factory forever, and it’s happened across this country. And that’s sad. So I think our company has a lot to thank that experience—to thank them—for what they taught us about the importance of maintaining that, and not just shipping everything to a factory that’s chosen based purely on price.”
MSD: If you could give male readers one style tip for Fall 2013, what would it be?
NEVILLE: “Don’t try too hard. Do what feels right; what you feel comfortable in. Menswear should never really feel like you’re trying to make a fashion statement. I think that can go desperately wrong. You should just be wearing what you feel comfortable in—and what your wife tells you you should be wearing is maybe a good tip.” [Laughs.]
WAINWRIGHT: “Guys should take pride in their appearance. I think when guys go wrong it’s when they try too hard or they don’t try hard enough. And you get a guy who just doesn’t think about it, and buys a pair of ill-fitting, cheap jeans and a cheap shirt. There’s a lot of inherent beauty in clothes, and clothes can make you feel great, and I think clothes are worth investing in. It’s worth buying the perfect leather jacket, for example, because it’s something that will be with you forever. It may seem like a lot of money, but it’s worth it, and it makes you feel good. And I think it’s important that you take pride in your appearance.”
MSD: What’s changed, since you founded Rag & Bone in 2002, in your approach to designing menswear?
WAINWRIGHT: “Not a lot. Menswear doesn’t change much anyway. We’ve been through periods of being more or less adventurous with men’s design, and we learned a lesson as men’s designers, quite quickly, that if you go too far out of the box, guys don’t get it. Girls are way braver—and way more willing to take a risk. You couldn’t get a guy into a white, leopard-print jacket, for example. But that looks cool on you [nodding to our female video producer in the room]. You’ve got to reference things that a guy is familiar with, whether he’s conscious of it, or subconsciously, something he’s seen in a movie, or seen his dad wear, or seen in photographs. That’s what menswear is really about: beautiful fabric, and detail, and making clothes that guys are familiar with—but at the same time, pushing it gently forward in terms of design, and the fashion part of it.”
MSD: After growing up in England, you’ve both lived and worked in New York for more than ten years. What do you appreciate about each place you’ve called home?
NEVILLE: “New York City is an amazing place. The energy of the city is intoxicating, and it’s very different to London in that regard. We thank New York for really giving us the platform to start our company—not just from a practical standpoint, but also from an entrepreneurial sort of enthusiasm, which I don’t think you find in many places in the world. We’ve been in New York a long time, and we feel sort of like adopted New Yorkers now, so that’s great. We miss London, miss our friends, miss the pubs…but I think both of us are very happy where we are, and don’t really have any intention of moving back.”
MSD: Do you visit London often?
NEVILLE: “We have a store in London now, which is exciting—and I think made our parents quite proud.”
— — —
In Their Own Words. Here’s a short clip of Rag & Bone founders Marcus Wainwright and David Neville, filmed before their personal appearance at Bellevue Square Nordstrom last week:
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.”
It’s that special time of year: Anniversary Sale. A time not only to revel in scoring new Fall items, at sale prices, ahead of schedule—but also a time to look back on our 100+ years of history.
Did you know that the first Nordstrom was a shoe store? John W. Nordstrom himself set up shop in Downtown Seattle in the year 1901. A century later, we’re still here in Seattle—and still family-operated.
[Our founder standing proudly in front of his first store, circa 1901. His partner's name now graces our in-house, heritage-inspired brand, Wallin & Bros. For more vintage photos, read our post on Nordstrom's Illustrated History.]
Alright alright, enough reminiscing. Here are a few of our favorite fall steals on indispensable footwear—for the office, the gym, the bar, and everywhere in between. Find more Anniversary-Sale shoes here. Happy hunting.
Inter-brand collaborations in the menswear universe may have reached a near-comedic level years ago—but when a partnership starring labels as universally loved as New Balance and Herschel Supply Co. comes along, how can we do anything besides pause for a collective moment of admiration…Before starting in on the tough math of whether you can splurge for both the sneaker and the boot.