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Entries in Style (106)


Rufus Shirts

April Singer Straten launched Rufus Shirts in Spring 2004, and began with the development of a classic dress shirt. By taking the traditional elements of Savile Row and stitching them together with contemporary American style, they created a unique look for the "updated traditionalist".

You launched in 2004. What fueled your decision? 

I started Rufus when I returned to NYC after living in London for five years. After visiting many men’s stores I realized that there lacked a happy medium in men’s contemporary shirting. It was either the classically boxy shapes of decades past or the very slim European cut which overlooked the more casual approach of American style. Prompted by the encouragement of my boyfriend at the time (now husband) I set out to create a brand that spoke directly to this underserved category.

What's the origin of the name Rufus? 

When I was living in London I met Brett Theodore Rufus Straten who would eventually become my husband.  Rufus means red in Latin and Brett was actually called Rufus when he was a child because of his red hair.  I admired his sense of style that reflected an eclectic mixing of current and classic pieces.

Tell us about the brand's value proposition.  

Rufus shirts are classic yet eclectic. Manufactured in the United States of exceptional quality European fabric, Rufus was born from the desire to have a quality fashionable shirt that will travel beyond this year’s trend.

Where are the shirts currently produced? 

The shirts are produced in Fall River, Mass.

Who's your target customer?  

We found our target customer to be men 30 – 50yrs old. Our guy is optimistic, self-possessed and embracing of color. The details are for the personal consumption of the man who wears a Rufus shirt.

Our shirts will never shout across a room, but at a conversational distance, a Rufus shirt will confidently exhibit all the assurance and style of the man wearing it.

Walk us through your distinctive design details, and of course those signature red cufflinks. 

The color red is used subtly through detailing. Red stitching on the shirt cuff buttonholes and signature red cufflinks come with all French cuff shirts. All shirts have contrast fabric on the inside of the cuff.

Our fit is classic American with generous shoulders and a fitted body. Darts down the back take out the excess fabric on the main line and the sides are shaped with out the darting on the casual line. We use a traditional cut away collar with a high neck stand and thick collar stays so it can be worn open and casual but also looks great with a tie.

Last but not least our stacked shatter resistant buttons add an element of fashion and distinction.

Assuming we had the power to confidentially grant you a do-over regarding the Rufus launch, what would it be? 

Honestly I don’t know. The stars all seemed to be aligned at the launch and the business has flowed since day one.

Are there any product line extensions on the horizon? 

We are beginning development of a jacket line to launch with Fall 2011. Expect clean lines and impactful Rufus details.

How do you envision Rufus brand evolving in the coming years? 

As we've become known as a preeminent shirting resource, a natural evolution for us would be to introduce new shirt fits and models. In addition to the shirts our plan is to design other categories to create a total Rufus line for our customer.

Having lived abroad and worked in the international markets for several years prior to launching Rufus, I look forward to launching the line internationally.

You can learn more about Rufus at


Ceravelo Ascots

The ascot is making a comeback. This suave accoutrement states an almost archaic formality admixed with casual. The wearer – glibly above the fray, and nonchalantly engaged in an event. Devoid of the beet faced ligature present in traditional neckties, the ascot sports a dressy masculine plumage from beneath the unbuttoned collar, and says “Hey, I’m here, and I am having a pretty good time of it. Relax there, uncomfortable tie guy at the table across from me at the wedding.” Perhaps part of a larger 19th century nostalgia trend, the ascot isn’t as obvious and garish as the waxed moustaches, high boy bicycles, and gentlemanly tropes present in steam punk and hipster subcultures.

San Fransisco based boutique Ceravelo has been putting the ascot back into the modern parlance since 2011. The ascots, fashioned from vintage and reused materials, are available in various colors and patterns to suit tastes. You might be a paisley guy. Or maybe a simple stripe pattern. Whatever the choice, the ascot is the intersection of high fashion and a level of cool not had by traditional neckties.


Restoration Hardware 

In 1979, Stephen Gordon was in the process of restoring his Queen Anne styled house when he discovered that finding authentic, timeless period hardware was about as difficult as building a time machine to zip back to the era when such craftsmanship was dominant. Disappointment turned into opportunity, and within a year Gordon’s home became the site of the first Restoration Hardware.

These days the company has no real estate dilemmas. Typically the anchor store in upscale commerce centers, Restoration Hardware is a purveyor of modern throwbacks, a provider of the accoutrements to an existence that is driven by a refined and classic style. The products inside of a store, from door knobs and hinges to furniture and lighting (and much more), share the rustic aesthetic of 20th century New York. It is a curated tour through the annals of design, a historical journey that breeds inspiration into the capability of our homes. And as classic as the décor they offer, Restoration Hardware focuses on the American tradition of pride and durability in their wares. It is an old but true adage, and simplicity fosters brilliance.

Restoration Hardware operates 87 domestic retail stores while somehow retaining the essence of a neighborhood niche boutique. And in doing so, they help bring our homes to achievement. Unlike cookie-cutter factory styled competitors, a Restoration Hardware home is unique to the owner, the DNA imprint nudged by history’s interior design victors. No fleeting trends or passing fads smuggle their way into a store and as a result, our homes endure as the genuine article.

Remember the days of shag carpeting and aluminum siding? This is life throwing us a commerce mulligan. Restoring the home, restoring the soul. These are the nuts and bolts of what they do at Restoration Hardware.


Standard Goods 

Garrett Colton might be a good candidate for the television series “Hoarders”, and that’s alright with us.

After a two-year gig alongside Scott Sternberg at L.A. menswear label Band of Outsiders, Colton’s harboring tendencies, combined with a creative influx that filled his worldview with everything from clothing and books to coffee beans and locally crafted jams, led to a passion project; a modern take on the timeless general store.

Standard Goods opened last fall in a small storefront on Beverly Boulevard in Los Angeles. A throwback to the small town department store, Standard Goods offers a variety of must-haves. A meticulously scrutinized clothing line, vintage LL Bean and products from MAKR among them. West Sweet Preserves find their way to the shelves, as do Tourne ceramic vessels, skateboard decks, leather goods and anything else that might be found through local artists, obscure international brands or the unabashed treasured cove that is the garage sale. It is a lesson in the rustic, a dive into the eccentric. From behind the counter, a painting of the debonair (and just a touch unnerving) Davenport Brothers watches over the operation, a 1960’s relic that serves as homage to the diverse vibe that filters the room.

Standard Goods has unleashed a “Guest Buyer” series, employing artistic souls (RTH’s René Holguin, Saving the Season’s Kevin West to name a few) to purchase items for the shop. Guest buyers educate clients on their purchases in a video produced for Standard Goods’ web site. It is, in affect, more experience than commerce; unlike its name, nothing standard occurs here.

At Standard Goods, expect an artist’s den and a new outlook on what we call “things”. But don’t expect to buy the Davenport Brothers painting-something so effortlessly cool cannot have a price tag put on it.


Hickey Freeman

Rochester, New York, is a piece of the American pie in many ways. Of note, the community was the epicenter of the gentlemen’s booming clothing industry in the late 19th/early 20th centuries. Before the dark years, when our interests found a home overseas, one company held its head high in this bustling city. And now that the American spirit is finding its way back to our wardrobe, the same company still holds its head high. Of course, Hickey Freeman never left.

A 77,000-square-foot factory in Rochester, The Temple is Mecca for pinpointed brilliance. Tailors spanning the world converge at Hickey Freeman’s thread- and- needle Mensa meeting  to set, stitch and roll the uniforms of our lives. Each tailor comes armed with an expertise, their endgame unified; to craft suits that represent the very pinnacle of American tailoring. And they exist through a motto, a mission statement, a culture-“Keep the Quality Up”. Simple words that filter through the company bloodline today.

A company that holds their craft to holy standards? Only in America. Thankfully.



There are few rules in life that are not open to interpretation:

1) Call your mother.

2) Root for the home team, no matter how many premature grey hairs they cause.

3) Smell nice.

Pretty simple stuff, really. And since 1752 (twenty-four years before our states became united), Caswell-Massey has helped Americans with that tricky last rule. The Newport, Rhode Island, based personal care/apothecary is one of the oldest toiletry companies in America. As a perfumery it ranks as the third longest running organization in the world, not bad considering the relatively newborn existence of the United States. It is hardly sheer luck; that golden third rule is a requirement and it takes a special breed of operation to provide such assistance for the better part of three centuries.

Sparing stuffy, historical name-dropping that definitely exists (but would cause the world’s oldest man to scratch his head in confusion), Caswell-Massey, which has one retail store (NYC) and a presence online and in department stores, has been the preferred personal care choice for such iconic modern stalwarts as Jackie O and The Rolling Stones. Their products cater to the elite with one caveat-anyone can join this club. Focused on fragrances, shaving accoutrements, soaps and lotions, the company realizes that some things are essentially timeless. Though it is called personal care, it is anything but personal; Caswell-Massey is a purveyor of arms, necessary weapons in the war of attraction, because at our best, everything we do is for that someone special. A famed, anonymous quote exists as such: “Every guy should give their girl three things-a stuffed animal, jewelry, and one of his sweatshirts, sprayed with cologne.”

It takes no genius to realize which of the three she will cherish most. And since the days of powdered wigs and colonies, Caswell-Massey has had us smelling like roses.


Warby Parker

Cofounder, Neil Blumenthal

Jack Kerouac changed the way we see the written word. In a smaller dose, he might just be changing the way we see, period.

Warby Parker as a name stems from a collaboration of characters from the great writer’s earlier works. Warby Parker as a company is the revolutionary eyewear collaboration between a tight-knit quartet of friends, hell-bent on creating an alternative to the overpriced and drab eyewear market. Turned off by what they perceived as artificial costs from large companies taking advantage of consumers with nowhere else to turn, the gang at Warby Parker has unveiled a collection of prescription lenses that are designed with a timeless flair and the finest of customizations. Essentially, the eyewear, paired next to a traditionally high end brand, either matches or surpasses the quality and pleasing aesthetic, while costing the consumer substantially less. It is a pricing point technique that has won Warby Parker a growing legion of devotees.

When not saving its loyalists money, Warby Parker is saving the eye health of those who need it the most. Staunch believers in “eyewear with a purpose”, the company strongly believes that the right to see is not only for the fortunate. With millions of people globally bereft of proper vision care, Warby Parker seeks to eradicate the problem by partnering with renowned non-profits to deliver a pair of glasses to someone in need for every pair that they sell.

Kerouac wrote “The Road Less Traveled”, another nod to the literary giant that Warby Parker seems to have followed. For a company that plies its trade in the field of sight, Warby Parker’s greatest contribution to the commerce and philanthropic worlds just might be its vision.

Images 2 & 3 Gabriel Boone Photography


Black & Denim

James Dean. The epitome of American cool, period.

It is a fact that merits little rebuttal, as the man who strolled along the Boulevard of Broken Dreams was emblematic of an aloof “it” factor, an avatar of rugged, gritty American spirit. It is a lofty and ambitious undertaking to employ James Dean as the unofficial human mission statement of a company. The boys at Black & Denim would have it no other way.

The Tampa based Black & Denim is a high end clothing line that specializes in T-shirts, bags, button up shirts and, naturally, jeans. Inspired by that aforementioned iconoclast and spurred by a rebirth that gave denim a casual/formal duality, the unlikely dream began in a down economy with nothing more than an insatiable hunger and a hustle that would make Rocky Balboa jealous. The dreamers: Roberto Torres, a recent college grad addicted to the bio lines of successful men he aimed to rub shoulders with; Chris Findeisen, a jobless graphic designer who would make his own luck through a die-hard moxie that began while most were still asleep; Luis Montanez, a digital marketing/web guru with a finger on the pulse of our culture and the direction he would help guide it. Together this trio developed Black & Denim (motto: “American inspired, American made”) into a singular, streamlined operation that runs on a communal passion of traditional artisan craftsmanship and future world industry change.

The goods: Handcrafted pieces, with military and music themes; Authentic collections that express individuality through casual yet upscale garments; Quality driven stitching and attention to detail, enduring as both a classic throwback and contemporary couture.

Black & Denim buys American and fabricates American. And by doing so they are creating jobs in America. Stores in NYC, Chicago and Tampa are showcasing the hip young brand, as is Epcot Center at Disneyworld. Aside from a Patriotic bloodline that pumps like it is about to explode, the company also thrives on a global theme that affects us all-the environment. Their Three R concept (Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle) helps give the world a fighting chance against the generations that have failed it. Unlike their inspiration, it seems that these rebels in fact do have a cause.

With an undeniably pure aesthetic and early flashes of a brilliant legacy, the James Dean thing makes perfect sense. And though it took the fellas three lifetimes worth of ballsy chutzpah and unbridled determination to actualize their brand, a client only needs to slip into a Black & Denim pair of jeans or cardigan to achieve effortless cool.

Kinda like some eternally fashionable young actor we know.


Emil Erwin 

Nashville continues to be a bastion of American pride, through its legendary music scene, artistic outlets and general way of life. So it is without shock that designer Emil Congdon, brainchild behind the leather line Emil Erwin, has always called it home.

As a young man, Congdon did not set his sights on a Park Avenue life. Fashion Week was not something circled on his calendar, couture was not something he lived and breathed. The breakthrough? A simple hole in the pants. Give a man a pair of khakis and... he is wearing pants. Teach a man to sew (or self teach, as in his case) and he is wearing those pants for a long time. This accident and an early disapproval of the lackluster quality of goods spurred Emil Erwin, a small heritage shop rife with American values. Founded in 2008, Emil Erwin is a company proud of its craftsmanship. With the renaissance of smaller organizations hell bent on resurrecting the American manufacturing legacy, Emil personally hand crafts, sews and designs his wares in his Nashville shop. The line is based on quality and function with impeccable attention to detail. The meticulously strewn and immaculately detailed heirlooms are comprised of American materials (hides from Chicago’s Horween Leather, waxed canvas from New Jersey’s Fairfield Textile) and an undeniably patriotic approach to fabrication. Essentially, the totes, mailbags, satchels and cases are classic enough to accompany the tastes of our grandchildren’s grandchildren-and durable enough to last that long as well.

Never taking on more than his small operation can handle (quality reigns here), Emil Erwin provides a unique experience. Though available at Barney’s NYC, as well as his Nashville roots, Congdon is personally invested. His lifetime guarantee comes handwritten. His cell phone number is included to further illustrate this point.

How many times has Inspector #7 from a Chinese factory offered such a thing? That would be one expensive phone call.

At Emil Erwin, its just another day at the office.


Flint & Tinder

You might think you bleed red, white and blue. Perhaps your car is four wheels of Detroit’s finest. The shoes that glide you through the urban jungle, that speed demon running gear that is handcrafted in the Lower 48; your produce local, ditto for your barbeque grill and the shirt on your back. We salute you-kudos, you are a noble soldier in the war against outsourcing. But it is a devious and scheming enemy, and it attacks in an unsuspecting and invasive manner.

Have you checked your skivvies lately?

Flint and Tinder mastermind Jake Bronstein did. Flint and Tinder is a men’s underwear label that is stamping its patriotic imprint on the industry. It has been a numbers game to reach actualization.

One: One out of the top fifty manufacturers of our intimate wear (2%) is American made.

Nine: The number of times Flint and Tinder surpassed their Kickstarter goal.

One hundred: The age in years of the recession-victimized warehouse where Flint and Tinder produces their refined Supina cotton underwear. Also the % of the product that is produced in the United States.

One thousand: The number of pairs needed to be sold to add a full time job on the assembly team. Flint and Tinder, for the time being, exclusively sells via its website to avoid the markup that is found at most retailers. Sparked by a surge of interest in their superior boxers, briefs and the original hybrid, the boxer-brief, that strategy could very well change over time, but Flint and Tinder will remain an American company. And Uncle Sam can finally disrobe of those star spangled pants at the end of every day with confidence.
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