surf & skate

Summer’s upon us, and with it—thanks in part to our ahead-of-their-time, Hendrix-digging forefathers at Woodstock, above—a season rife with obscure music genres like chillwave, mathcore and grub-step (we made that last one up). In other words: Summer Music Festivals.

Depending on your fest of choice, the forecast is likely to include sweltering heat with a 97% chance of attractive people everywhere. Hence, you’ll need some warm-weather essentials like tank tops, T-shirts, shorts and sunglasses—and handsome ones at that, ideally with colors and patterns that stand out from the proverbial crowd. Click the images below to shop our Editor’s Picks for front-row festival style:

Now that you have your basic style needs covered, here are a few more things you’ll need before shipping out to Bonnaroo, Sasquatch or Lollapalooza:

1. A Plan. Starting at square one? Our friends at GQ put out a handy decision tree for finding the right fest for you a few years ago—which remains hilarious, and accurate, today. And, if you’re headed to this weekend’s festivities in Indio, California, you might want to pack Fuse’s mood-based cheat sheet.

2. A Camera. Because when you’re in the middle of a remote desert, your phone battery will probably deplete itself posthaste searching for a signal. And you never know when something like this might happen.

3. Protection. We mean sunscreen, of course. What’d you think?

4 & 5. A Lighter to Wave…and a Change of Clothes. Because if past music festivals are any indication, things could get epic—or messy—at any given moment:




[Intro image: Associated Press, via The New York Times.]


California-based outdoor brand Patagonia stakes its roots in rock-climbing—and an undying commitment to the environment. The company was founded by Yvon Chouinard, who began climbing in 1953 at age 14: He was a member of the Southern California Falconry Club, and first learned to rappel down cliffs to falcon nests.

[Above: Canadian Rockies. Photo by Honza Franta.]

A few years later, unsatisfied with single-use, soft-iron climbing pitons during multi-day ascents in Yosemite, Chouinard decided to make his own reusable hardware. He picked up a forge, anvil, tongs and hammers at a junkyard, and taught himself how to blacksmith.

[Above: Photo by Marko Prezelj from the book Unexpected: 30 Years of Patagonia Catalog Photography.]

After spending several years living on slender means, traveling between Yosemite, Wyoming, Canada and the Alps in search of adventure (and supporting himself by selling pitons for $1.50 each out of the back of his car along the way), the demand for Chouinard’s gear surpassed his DIY production process—so he set up shop in 1965 with Tom Frost, a climber-slash-aeronautical engineer.

[Above: Mike Epstein from page 25 of the 1988 Chouinard Backcountry Catalog.]

By 1970, Chouinard Equipment was the largest supplier of climbing hardware in the US—but the duo also realized the toll that pitons (which had to be repeatedly hammered in and out of rock walls) took on once-pristine rock walls. They phased out the piton business completely, focusing instead on aluminum chocks that could be wedged by hand rather than hammered into cracks. It was a risky business move that displayed a deeper commitment to the environment than to financial success. Chouinard even opened its 1972 catalog with a 14-page essay on ‘clean climbing.’

[Above: Photo by Barbara Rowell from the book Unexpected: 30 Years of Patagonia Catalog Photography.]

A quote from Chouinard Equipment’s October 1974 catalog on clean climbing:
“No longer can we assume the Earth’s resources are limitless; that there are ranges of unclimbed peaks extending endlessly beyond the horizon. Mountains are finite, and despite their massive appearance, they are fragile.” Read the rest here.

[Above: Page 95 from the Patagonia Spring 1988 Catalog.]

The company began selling and later producing clothing around 1972. It began when Chouinard brought back a regulation rugby shirt from a climbing trip to Scotland. Built sturdy to stand up to abuse (on the mountain as well as on the field) and with a collar that protected from hardware slings chafing the neck, the shirts flew off shelves when Chouinard tried stocking them stateside. The name ‘Patagonia’ was adopted for the quickly growing clothing line, so as not to dilute Chouinard Equipment’s reputation as a tool company.

[Above: The cover of the 1988 Chouinard Backcountry Catalog.]

Patagonia was still in its infancy when the company began devoting considerable time and money to environmental efforts in the early ’70s. Over the years, they’ve turned their attention to cleaning up the Ventura River, de-urbanizing Yosemite Valley, and have used only organic cotton since 1996.

[Above: Company founder Yvon Chouinard kicking back and relaxing in the Chouinard Mountain Lounger in the 1987 Chouinard Backcountry Catalog. Photo by Rick Ridgeway.]

Watch the video below to learn about Patagonia’s latest environmental campaign, Our Common Waters—and visit for further exploration.

[Above: Snow camping on Mt. Hood. Photo by Richard Hallman.]




[Photos courtesy of Patagonia’s official Tumblr page. Information source: Patagonia Company History.]


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.*

[Howe | Hudson | Comune]

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.”

[Joe’s | Hudson | Hudson]

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.]


[Top photo courtesy of our Fall 2012 Men’s Shop Catalog. *More info at]


The Seattle Music Project, a photography exhibit in the Men’s Shop at our flagship Downtown Seattle store, is still open through this weekend.

[UPDATE: The exhibit has been extended through October.]

Although it encompasses Northwest musicians (and photographers) from the 1960s through today, the exhibit—featuring hundreds of photos, songs, posters, flyers, backstage passes and more—was curated by local photographer Lance Mercer, whose career came into focus during the early-’90s (don’t call it grunge) Seattle music scene.

We talked with Mercer about the exhibit, his inspirations, and why perfection—and politeness—are overrated.

[This photo, and photo of Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder above, © Lance Mercer.]

MEN’S SHOP DAILY: What was your role in the Seattle Music Project exhibit, and how did it all come about?

LANCE MERCER: “Pete Nordstrom and I had coffee last winter…He wanted to have a photo exhibit in the store [incorporating] Seattle music. It was more of a grunge, ’90s vibe at first, but I was really inspired by this photo by Jini Dellaccio, who’s a big hero of mine. She shot all the early garage stuff. I started looking at her photo of the Sonics, the very iconic shot of them on the beach, and the clothes they’re wearing are very pertinent to today: the Beatle boots, the Mod [look], the peacoats and parkas.

“So the idea became: Let’s cover the last five decades of Northwest music, as it relates to fashion. I mean, Nordstrom is a Seattle landmark. I used to hang out at the [Nordstrom] coffee shop in the ’80s, with guys from Pearl Jam, Mother Love Bone…Bands have shopped at Nordstrom forever. Even Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart—they bought a lot of those clothes, like the whole gypsy look from their Little Queen era, at Nordstrom.

“Thanks to the Nordstrom creative team, we brainstormed and kept building on this idea—with ephemera, and music, and photography, and flyers—all this stuff. The process incorporated the things that I love: Music, photography, the people in Seattle, the connections I’ve made over the last 25-30 years—I was able to really put all those things to use. And man, I love going through people’s archives…That was kind of my job over the last six or seven months, just gathering and acquiring all this amazing content—and I love it.”

[Chris Cornell of Soundgarden, photo © Lance Mercer.]

MEN’S SHOP DAILY: How did you get started in photography?

LANCE MERCER: “I started going to shows when I was about 13. I was mainly going to punk shows, and the punk scene in Seattle at the time, around 1980 or ’81, was really small.

“The energy I was getting from those shows was something that I really latched onto, and one thing that really changed the course of my whole career path was the discovery of the Ramones, the Clash—and the photography that went along with it: Abrasive, not technically proficient, but very fitting [to that style of music]. I realized I didn’t have to be Ansel Adams to capture photography the way that I wanted to.

“The cover of London Calling by the Clash [photographed by Pennie Smith] had a huge impact on me—it was out of focus, it was just weird, but it captured the essence of that band. It’s very rare when that happens, when somebody can look at a photo and get that same feeling, like they were there.

“And when I was going to all these shows, that’s what I was trying to capture by taking photos: the feeling of being there. Still to this day, throughout my career, I’m still trying to capture that. I don’t think I’ve ever perfected it, and that’s one thing that keeps me going.”

[Photo © Lance Mercer.]

MEN’S SHOP DAILY: When did you realize that doing what you loved—shooting shows, hanging out with bands—could become a career?

LANCE MERCER: “Just continuing what I was already doing, I became friends with some of the guys in Green RiverMalfunkshun…and as they pursued their careers, I kind of just tagged along. As they gained notoriety and went on to Mother Love Bone, and eventually Pearl JamSoundgarden and all these things, I was kind of along for the ride.

“I would say it was definitely right place, right time, but also being pretty driven. I wanted to be Annie Leibovitz shooting the Stones, I wanted to be Robert Frank documenting people and events. It all kind of accumulated to being able to go on tour with Pearl Jam—just as a friend, and eventually becoming, for lack of a better term, their official photographer. That was ’91 or ’92, and I’ve been self-employed as a photographer ever since.”

[Photo © Charles Peterson.]

MEN’S SHOP DAILY: What makes Seattle a special place for music?

LANCE MERCER: “Since we were up here in the corner, and [touring bands] never came up here, we kind of created our own scene. There was some stuff here that was not happening anywhere else, and you could just kind of feel it. It’s been said, it’s cliche, but the weather definitely had a big influence on it—dark days, long winters, people locking themselves in the basement—and the music had that same vibe.

“Even the Sonics and the Wailers, and the old photos I’ve been looking at, are very representational of Seattle. It can be dark and gloomy here. Having traveled a lot, I know every scene has had their own experience based on where they’re from, and their own uniqueness—Athens, Minneapolis, there are very distinct sounds that come from there. And I think a lot of this kind of slowed-down, heavier music was a result of the vibe here in Seattle.”

[Photo © Charles Peterson.]

MEN’S SHOP DAILY: What’s been your most memorable music experience, as a fan?

LANCE MERCER: “Just being the impressionable teenager that I was, the Ramones at Eagles Auditorium, in like ’84. The DamnedTom Waits at the 5th Avenue Theater. Those are pretty unforgettable experiences.

“And Iggy Pop at the Showbox, way back in the day. Everything right now is really safe—thank you, and we’re glad to be here, and want to thank the promoter and all these people—but at that show, Iggy Pop came out and scared the crap out of me, to the point where I was frozen and couldn’t move, and had to stay and watch the rest to see what the hell was going to happen. Throwing the mic stand out, antagonizing the crowd. That danger level, I haven’t seen since—and I want that. It’s a feeling. It doesn’t have to make you feel good. So that really changed some perspective for me.”

[Photo © Charles Peterson.]

MEN’S SHOP DAILY: You’ve branched out over the years to many kinds of photography—but would you say shooting live shows is still your favorite?

LANCE MERCER: “Absolutely. I’m a little older, so I don’t have the physical capacity I used to. I mean you have to remember that shooting live back in the ’90s was like being a war photographer. I had the experience of being in punk clubs, being right up front, getting slammed around—but shooting festivals like Lollapalooza, or the Endfest, I mean—yeah, it was insane.

“But once that kind of synergy between the audience and the band ‘clicks’—people who play in bands know that feeling, and people who are at shows—it’s kind of unexplainable, and trying to capture it with photography is not easy. There’s nothing like it.”


: 1960s | 1970s

The Seattle Music Project
is an exhibit of photos and ephemera commemorating five decades of Northwest music. Curated by renowned local photographer Lance Mercer, the exhibit resides in the Men’s Shop of our Downtown Seattle store, now through the end of October.

[Additional photos above by Charles Peterson. Individuals featured do not endorse Nordstrom.]

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Camo File: Part 1

Researching the origin and influence of DPM (Disruptive Pattern Material) turned up more interesting results than we had space for last time. Get some inspiration below, and SHOP CAMOUFLAGE in The Rail Department for ‘disruptive’ jackets, pants, accessories and more.

Kane & Unke Jacket | via Nickel Cobalt

(L): Maharishi founder and DPM expert Hardy Blechman [source]
(R): The 944-page compendium of Blechman’s research on the subject [source]

Dries Van Noten | The Notorious B.I.G.

Andy Warhol | Topshop at Nordstrom

Milan Vukmirovic, via | The Rail by Public Opinion Thermal

Ivy Prepster Bow Tie | Pattern mixing, via

A little goes a long way, via | Topshop Sweater


Here’s the second installment of street-style pics our photographer sent home from London Fashion Week. (In case you missed it, check out Part 1.)


[Photos by Crystal Nicodemus.]


The Natural Evolution of Camo

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


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.

(Much more information on Thayer and his paintings at The Smithsonian.)


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.

(Photo courtesy of the pattern-mixing masters at Street Etiquette.)


jackets, hats, backpacks, pants and more—
in The Rail Department.

[Photos via Complex, The Smithsonian, The Atlantic, The Selvedge Yard, and Street Etiquette. Individuals pictured do not endorse Nordstrom.]

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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).

General Tips: 
– 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.

— — —

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.

Shop: The Poster List T-shirt | Reyn Spooner button-up shirt | Zanerobe swim trunks

—  —  —

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.

Shop: Bowery Supply T-shirt | Maui & Sons swim trunks

—  —  —

Style 3: Muscle Tee. Lose the sleeves but keep the neck intact. A good option for the gym, where you want to stay cool while keeping some fabric between you and the machinery.

Shop: Altru T-shirt | 1901 oxford shirt (also in green) | Original Paperbacks shorts

—  —  —

Final Tip: When in doubt, heed the advice of menswear designer and all-around class act Ms. Eunice Lee: Tank tops, like flip-flops, are more at home at the beach than in the city.

SHOP ALL: Ready-Made Tank Tops | Future-Classic T-Shirts


On Deck: Rag & Bone Spring 2013

Yes, it’s still Summer. And yes, we’re already ready to start talking Fall (our Fall men’s catalog drops in a couple weeks—more on that later). But NO, it’s never too soon to start talking Spring ’13.

Especially when it’s a collection, and lookbook, as innovative as Rag & Bone’s. Designers Marcus Wainwright and David Neville took a bold turn this time—eschewing the vintage menswear influences that often inform their work, in favor of lightweight technical fabrics with a sport-meets-military aesthetic.

To prove the clothes move as good as they look, the designers opted to shoot the collection on real-life pro skateboarders (outtakes above). Enjoy a sneak peek in the video below—and until Spring ’13, shop Rag & Bone’s Fall collection.


[Photos and video courtesy of Rag & Bone. Photos via]


Though founded just three short years ago, Herschel Supply Co. has already built a solid reputation for offering high-quality, cool-looking backpacks and travel accessories.

And, although inspired by the rolling hills and dirt roads of a 30-person town in rural Canada (‘Herschel,’ of course—where founders Jamie and Lyndon Cormack’s great-grandparents settled over 100 years ago), these sturdy bags are as comfortable exploring the city as they are trekking through remote backwoods.


Our current favorite (and by far the best-seller at our flagship Seattle store, according to a sales associate named Jenny), is the Little America model. Like the Herschel brand itself, this backpack is vintage-inspired but thoroughly modernized.

The strap details lend a subtle mountain-man vibe, whether you’re wearing it with boots and flannel or brogues and a blazer. One of Herschel’s largest designs, it has tons of room to accommodate clothes, groceries, even a laptop.


Don’t let those buckles turn you off. They’re just decorative, concealing magnetic snap closures—effortless to pull open and snap shut.


Besides the cool paisley lining, other unique features include a drawstring to secure your stuff and a port for headphone cords to pass through.


The fully padded, fleece-lined compartment is large enough to house most 17-inch laptops.


If you want something more streamlined, we carry plenty more Herschel Supply Co. bags, including the three above. (The bag on the right also has a laptop sleeve—perfect for your morning commute.) Shop the full selection here.


Herschel also makes tough, spacious, stylish duffel bags, ideal for long weekends. (The camo model above converts to be worn as a backpack, too.) Shop Herschel duffel bags here.


[Black-and-white images courtesy of Herschel Supply Co. website.]

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