Brand Focus

Reflecting on the rough weather thus far in 2014, and our New Year’s resolution to get some fresh air in spite of it, we decided to take a closer look at one of our favorite outdoor brands: The North Face.

You probably know that The North Face protects you from frigid conditions so that you can enjoy all manner of al fresco pursuits—from extreme sports to a corner-store beer run—in comfort and style. You might also guess that the brand has outfitted explorers, researchers, and daredevils on journeys to the furthest (and highest) reaches of the planet, from the Arctic Circle to Mount Everest. But did you know The North Face’s roots reach back to 1960s San Francisco, and that The Grateful Dead helped launch the brand’s first store?

Keep reading to learn more about The North Face’s nearly five-decade history of counterculture, innovation and environmentalism.

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Founded in 1966 in Anaheim, California, and still family-operated, Vans has grown to represent more than a mere shoe company. We had a chance to tour their headquarters recently, and were treated to a glimpse at the brand’s rich history—which includes Venice’s infamous and revolution-sparking Z-Boys, Sean Penn’s Jeff Spicoli in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, the Vans Warped Tour, and countless other legendary collaborators and zeitgeist-shifting moments. Here’s a look inside one of America’s finest surf/skate/counterculture institutions:


Visitor’s badge: check. Homage to Vans founder Paul Van Doren on the way in: double check.


Left: Vans’ mission statement. (You can’t quite tell here, but this resided on a two-story-tall installation.)
Right: A recent winning design from the Vans Custom Culture competition—in which high-school art students from every state receive pure-white Vans as blank canvases for their creativity. Winning designs are manufactured and sold nationwide—and earn money to support their school’s art program.


Left: Big shoes to fill. No, founder Paul was not 30 feet tall—but he did know how to make customers laugh with unique store visuals.
Right: Cool installations tracing the brand’s history, decade by decade, line the halls.


One giant, vaulted-ceiling room at Vans HQ is devoted entirely to one-of-a-kind artworks by the brand’s favorite artists. Each work answers the question: “What does ‘Off the Wall’ mean to you?” This piece by graffiti artist Neck Face might not be attractive in the traditional sense—but we liked what he had to say in the placard beside it.


Left: The back room is a huge warehouse / skate park. We were told blind skateboarder Tommy Carroll was a guest here just days prior, and spent hours skating and sweating in the bowl. He’ll be back for the Vans Pool Party, a pro contest, on May 11.
Right: Past visitors’ shoes dangling from the rafters above.


Left: A display devoted to Vans’ recent Metallica collaboration.
Right: A sketch on a random wall of Tony Trujillo—a pro skater and lover of loud music.

Below: Worlds collide when Tony, his wife Ashley, and Metallica bass player Robert Trujillo meet up, jam, and form the Trujillo Trio. We highly recommend watching this—if nothing else, to marvel at Mrs. Trujillo absolutely shred on drums:



Today, Vans has expanded beyond shoes to produce some truly killer clothing and accessories—from backpacks to board shorts and everything in between. Click the images above or the link below to shop the current collection.

SHOP: VANS | ALL SURF & SKATE

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Joining the ranks of past honorees like Alexander Wang, Michael Bastian and Billy Reid, Matt Baldwin of Kansas City brand Baldwin has been named one of GQ Magazine’s Best New Menswear Designers in America, 2013.

When Jay-Z wears your stuff, you know you’re doing something right. But the proof is in the pudding—here are the five Baldwin styles we have in-stock for Spring; try on a pair and see for yourself why GQ called Mr. Baldwin “the high priest of low-key gear.”

By Baldwin, from left:
‘Henley’ Dry Selvedge Jeans | ‘Ryan’ Camo Chinos | ‘Henley’ in ‘David’ wash
‘Reed’ Canvas Pants | ‘Henley’ in ‘Joshua’ wash
(Of the jeans shown above, Matt Baldwin told GQ: “Our Henley cut has a lot of fans. They taper at the calf, but the thigh’s not tight. It looks slim, but you can move.”)
 

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Hoping for a glimpse inside Baldwin’s creative process, we asked the designer to name a few current influences. His responses, exclusive to Men’s Shop Daily, are below. (Check out more on the brand’s Instagram feed, @Baldwin).

[Clockwise from top left]:

1. Mammoth Mountain, CA. “My first visit to Mammoth was this March, and I hit the powder trip of the year. My love for the sport led me into the clothing industry. Living in Kansas City, a good pow day is few and far between. This was an epic trip.”

2. DJ’ing the 2012 MLB All-Star Game. “I was asked to DJ the All-Star Game this last year, so I brought a good friend and musician, Miles Bonny, to play with me. A random and super cool highlight of last year.”

3. When Radiohead Played KC.Radiohead has been on constant rotation for me since high school. They played a show in Kansas City last year, and I was stoked to meet them in our shop. They got jeans, and I got to check them out live for the first time. Amazing show.”

4. Farnsworth House / Lego Architecture Series.Modern architecture and design has been a core foundation of the brand’s roots since the beginning. I have two boys, ages 5 and 7. Lego mania has taken over the Baldwin home. It’s super rad having relevant, cool things to do with your kids.”

5. GQ Best New Menswear Designer 2013. “This year started off with an amazing honor. I’m very blessed to be considered amongst the industry’s top talent. The future is bright.”

 

SHOP: BALDWIN | ALL MEN’S JEANS

 
 
 

[Matt Baldwin portrait by Jason Frank Rothenberg for GQ. Inspiration images courtesy of Baldwin.]

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