The behind-the-scenes video above, shot while filming the dapperly appointed, slo-mo-wood-chip-scattering clip we screened for you a couple weeks ago, happens to feature quite a deft display of acting prowess. That’s because Nick Hounslow, the English actor/model astutely studying that woodcarving-for-dummies book, happened to know a thing or two about chainsaws before we ever hired him.
“I build furniture as a hobby,” Nick said. “I started back in England, where I would make tables and benches or use old crates to make bookshelves and things. I learnt to use a chainsaw to cut up huge old railway sleepers [the wood logs used to lay tracks] before assembling them into furniture. It was more of a hobby—something to do in between acting jobs and modeling gigs. It really helped me ground myself and became a form of therapy.”
Food for thought. Next time you’re stressed, skip yoga and hit up the hardware store. Here are a few fruits of Nick’s labors:
He called this “a REALLY rough attempt at a garden bench using a chainsaw.” Don’t be so hard on yourself, Nick.
A refurbished-fruit-crate bookshelf—before and after.
Our favorite: a coffee table Nick made for a friend. If you thought that boxed-up Ikea one you brought home was heavy, think again. “It weighs a ton!” Nick said of his minimalist creation. “And sadly, my poor dad broke his finger underneath it, helping me lift it!” Luckily, no fingers were harmed in the making of our ‘YOUphoria’ chainsaw video.
1. We launched a new online destination this week for The Rail—which is a men’s department in our stores, yes, but also an amalgamation of the clothes, ideas and events we find interesting at any given moment. CHECK OUT THE RAIL—bookmark it, live it, love it, etc.
2. For said Rail launch, we shot a ton of images in the nooks and crannies of Brooklyn a few weeks ago, with modern-day Renaissance men like model/artist/on-screen personality Ivan Olita (above, in sunglasses). Take in large amounts of inspiration at Ivan’s webstite. And play with his face here—if you’re into that kind of thing.
3. It turns out that Fashion Week, despite all its stony-faced models and austere stage designs, gets kind of wild after dark. Check out the hijinks that Ivan, a native Italian, partook of at Milan Fashion Week in the video below—all at the wise request of V Magazine. (And, if you missed it, catch up on our own Fashion Week coverage: for men and women.)
Half Steve McQueen (inspired by the rugged, wax-coated Barbour jackets he often wore racing), half Kanye West (the subtle sheen complements floor-length fur nicely), coated jeans are a little flashy, highly functional for anyone spill-prone, and a favorite amongst denim brands this Fall.
If you’re not familiar, coated denim is treated with a transparent resin material (usually acrylic or polyurethane) that gives the underlying cotton a protective, breathable veneer with stain-resistant properties and a slight luster. The coating is normally permanent, able to sustain multiple launderings, and protects the color of the jeans from fading.*
One of our stylists, Carmella, mentioned she used to wear a pair while bartending at Seattle’s Sunset Tavern. Despite being busy shooting kids (with a camera, she clarified), Carm was kind enough to answer a few questions about bar etiquette, impersonating Robert Plant, and the best after-work cure for a boring Tuesday.
Favorite thing about your old job?
“Bartending gives you a sense of wielding great power.”
How did coated jeans come in handy?
“On a slammin’ night when beers go flying, a nice coated denim just needs a wipe-down and they’re still ready to go.”
Advice for staying in your local bartender’s good graces? “Speak clearly, look them in the eye, and if you think they are worthy—tip accordingly. Oh, and always get out of the way for the next person in line.”
Should a male patron even bother trying to get to know a lady bartender—or are they inherently out of his league? “Heck yeah! We are all there because we like socializing. Unless it’s super busy, then you must hang ’til the time is right. A good return customer with something witty to say is always welcome.”
You sing in several bands here in Seattle. Which ones, and how did you get into singing?
“I started at ‘Rockaraoke’ at the Sunset, where a live band played the covers you sang to. I would close the show with ‘Stairway to Heaven’ or ‘Black Dog.’ [Ed. note: Killer, early, live Led Zeppelin version below, complete with 'Out on the Tiles' intro.]
…Mr. Kurt Bloch of the Fastbacks asked if I would like to join a band with him. I tried out, and Sgt. Major was my first band. Since then, we have ventured into other kinds of music, and currently Mr. Bloch, Drew Church (of Hazlewood), the Sangster Brothers Jim and Johnny, and I are in a ’60s garage band called The Basements. I’m also in a new band called Hearts Are Thugs and an angry rock band called The Rags. I like to sing as much as possible.”
Your signature drink?
“I used to drink negronis—three equal parts gin, sweet vermouth and Campari. Nowadays, I like it even spicier and need micheladas wherever I go.”
[Nordstrom stylists, like Carmella, can pull off octagon specs with a satin peak-lapel and
Nosferatu tee like it's not even a thing. Emulate at your own risk.]
Like most staples of modern menswear, Disruptive Pattern Material (that’s DPM for short—aka camouflage) has serious history.
The hand-crafted camo above (top left) was painted by Eugène Corbin in 1914, when the French military first commissioned artists to experiment with less-visible uniforms (advances in long-range weaponry having deemed the traditional, brightly colored infantry coats utterly obsolete).
To the right of that is an ‘Elm Leaf’ motif first worn by Cuban military advisers. Third over is the distinctive ‘Tigerstripe’ pattern, a Vietnamese version of the French ‘Lizard‘ print. Below those three is a modern twist on traditional British DPM from the ’60s, designed in 2004 by London brand Maharishi—whose founder, Hardy Blechman, literally wrote the book on camouflage.
(Check out Blechman’s detailed history of 25 camo patterns at Complex.com.)
The work of naturalist and painter Abbott Handerson Thayer (1849–1921) influenced the initial creation and implementation of military camouflage in WWI. In his succinctly titled 1909 book, Concealing Coloration in the Animal Kingdom: An Exposition of the Laws of Disguise Through Color and Pattern; Being a Summary of Abbott H. Thayer’s Disclosures, he contended that even ornate animals (like a peacock, above) are well-adapted to blend into their surroundings.
Soon Italy, Germany, America and Russia followed France’s lead, innovating and experimenting with camouflage styles of their own. The proliferation of unique patterns was not based on artists’ whims alone, however—this was serious science. Members of the US Engineering Research and Development Laboratory (ERDL) became experts in dyestuff chemistry, color science, and spectrometer measurement.
(Above, Cuban and Russian forces wear a horizontal ‘Lizard’ pattern. More at The Atlantic. Also find a thorough summary of every nation’s standard-issue camo print at Wikipedia.)
In the ’70s and ’80s, members of underground subcultures like punk and the increasingly political reggae of the time began donning combat gear—not as a fashion statement so much as a symbolic declaration of their own aggressive opposition to violence, injustice, and mainstream society at large.
(The Clash, 1982. Photo by Bob Gruen, via The Selvedge Yard. Click through for many more classic Clash images.)
Today, you don’t have to reject society to wear camouflage—but it does add a rebellious vibe to anything you pair it with (especially a suit). Just bear in mind: Pulled out of their element and placed in the concrete jungle, naturalistic camo patterns do the opposite of what they were invented for—they stand out. Which means even a little camo goes a long way.
One of our favorite menswear sites recently made fun of this practice. But when it’s done with a spirit of preservation (say, rescuing your vintage concert tee with the dorky, tight neckline from getting Goodwilled), we think there’s something to be said for giving old favorite T-shirts a new lease on life—with scissors.
Eric Yanez, a buyer for The Rail department, showed us three ways to chop a T-shirt into a tank top in no time at all. He used new T-shirts—but use your imagination and picture a rare gem from the back of your drawer.
See instructions below, plus ideas for how to wear them this Labor-Day weekend (perhaps your last chance to exercise the right to bare arms for a while).
- You can use a ruler and marker if you want to get technical…But Eric just eyeballed it.
- Use the part of the scissors near the hinge to cut through thick seams easily.
- Once you cut off the first sleeve, use it as a rough template for the other side before you toss it.
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Style 1: Classic Tank Top. For the most straightforward approach, simply cut an inch or two inside the sleeve seams, and take off the ribbed collar as well. Works for a backyard BBQ, but bring an extra layer in case the after-party heads downtown.
Style 2: Beach Bound.[Black lines = front of shirt. Red lines = back.] This one cuts in further in back—advisable for the beach, poolside, and anywhere else clothing is optional. Make sure you follow the red lines above for the BACK only.