Since we’ve been reviewing clothing here since late 2017, we figured it was time to look back and add long term updates to many of our reviews. These will be rolling out in batches, and here’s what we chose for the first update.
Spier & Mackay is a well regarded Canadian menswear brand, well known for their high quality suits and other traditional items. They’ve been having quite a few sales through the pandemic, so when I saw their merino wool cardigan on sale, I decided to give it a try.
This sweater is knitted with 100% 2-ply Australian merino wool with an anti-pill treatment. I’m not sure what that treatment is, and being merino and a sweater, I haven’t had to wash it yet, but I haven’t noticed any pilling. Even if it does pill, a sweater shaver or stone is always a great trick.
The fabric is light and soft, and doesn’t have any wool scratchiness at all. It is also machine washable (lay flat dry), so no need for a trip to the dry cleaners when it eventually needs to be washed.
Fit & Style
The fit here is quite slim. I went with my normal XL (which they say fits up to a 44” chest) and it fits great everywhere, except it is quite snug when I button it. For me, that makes it more casual, since I prefer to wear it unbuttoned. Sizing up seems like it would likely make other parts of the sweater fit too big.
Spier & Mackay describe the style as easy to dress up or down, and I agree. I even threw it on over a t-shirt when I got chilly in my home office, and I thought it still looked pretty good.
Not much to discuss here other than its 100% merino — it doesn’t retain odors and likely will only need very infrequent washing.
Otherwise, it is quite lightweight, so I would describe it as a layer to take the chill off inside, rather than a sweater to keep you warm. It is also thin enough that you could wear it as a layer under a blazer.
Spier & Mackay did a nice job with this cardigan. It’s a little slim for me, but it certainly isn’t overly slim. The quality of the knit and the fabric seems to be above what you’d expect at the price point, and one sale, definitely would beat a UNIQLO cardigan. I paid $37, but think it represents a good value even at the current price of $68.
With reviews slowing a bit since we are not going into the office still, we thought we’d pick some of our favorite brands to interview about how they are doing and what they are looking forward to for 2021. Enjoy our first interview with Will Watters, Co-Founder and Creative Director of Western Rise.
2020 was a wild year for most companies, was there any product in your lineup that started flying out the door once lockdowns started?
I can’t say that one product began flying off of the shelves, but we did see an increase in demand for our pants with our Spectrum Joggers being a top new performer.
Following up on that, was there any product you were surprised did not start flying out the door for lockdown life?
Not surprisingly, our more formal button down options experienced a decline in sales.
One thing we’ve always appreciated about Western Rise clothing is that it is not just another brand sewing up the same fabric from the same mills. Can you give us some insight into how you develop new fabrics?
Thank you! Our process is a bit different from most brands. We typically start with trying to solve a specific problem. We typically try and find the perfect fabric first as starting from the yarn level can create far longer lead times. We typically scour fabric shows both in the USA and Europe, searching both at performance shows and fashion shows seeking to find fabrics that live between fashion and performance while meeting our needs. If we can’t find a fabric that solves the specific problem we are seeking solve, we typically work with our existing partners and their yarn suppliers to help develop something completely new and different. Right now our fabrics come from our amazing mill partners in the USA, Europe, and Asia and are shipped to our factory partners in those various regions to create the finished garments.
Heading into 2021 and beyond there’s a debate with seemingly equal parts of people on either side. Either you think people will rebel against the loungewear they got used to wearing and start a more formal wardrobe, or the other side being that you think people will not settle for going back to uncomfortable clothing. Where do y’all see this trend going?
I certainly don’t think comfort is going away. I think it has just been added as a new baseline for clothing. Our theory when we started Western Rise was that Performance and Style did not need to be mutually exclusive. We create garments that perform better than your outdoor or athletic clothing, with a sophisticated style that allows for everyday wear. Our belief is that comfort has just been added to that equation. With modern fabrics and construction technologies, clothing must be comfortable, it must perform, and it must be styled to be worn in the broadest wear spectrum possible. It’s time to embrace comfort, but do it in style.
Part of 2021 is that the incoming USA administration is very focused on climate change, and as a Climate Neutral Certified brand, do you see more changes coming to your business and mindsets to point you in different clothing directions?
At Western Rise, we have been mindful of our impact since we began. Climate Neutral really just gave us a tool to measure that impact more effectively. From the yarns we choose to the garments we design, to the location of our mills and our garment factories, we always consider impact. Our supply chain isn’t perfect, and it probably never will be, but Climate Neutral allows us to measure how we are performing, make changes to improve that score, and offset what we are not able to improve with carbon offsets. We hope to see more brands join in that pledge in 2021.
How do you look at staying on trend, while not creating fast-fashion and waste?
We don’t chase trends. We strive to create clothing that is seasonless and timeless. The world doesn’t need another fashion brand and most certainly doesn’t need more clothing. Our goal is to flip the fashion paradigm. Instead of buying more garments and using them less than ever, filling closets and creating waste, we seek to re-create the timeless, essential garments in every guy’s closet using the world’s best high performance fabrics allowing him to own less, carry less, and experience more.
What are you most excited for in 2021?
Travel. Travel not only broadens our perceptions and view of the world, but it allows us to meet in-person with our suppliers, mills, and garment factories. Creating garments is such a hands-on business and I cannot wait to get back to doing it in-person. Travel also pushes us to consider why each garment exists in our line. The constraints of needing to pack in one small carry-on bag really highlights the most-versatile styles. Each new climate or destination presents a new challenge and really guides our thoughts on what pieces should exist in our line and where opportunities exist.
Last question: all the performance pants out there wear quite slim, but the fashion watchers say pants are going more relaxed — what do you think?
Fit is constantly changing. While I don’t prefer ultra-slim fitting pants, I do prefer creating pants that fit correctly. Maximum Versatility is always our North Star as we design products. Choosing a fit that flatters the body, can be dressed up or down, and allows the body to move will always be the most versatile. I do think the fashion landscape will trend a bit wider than it has in 2021 due to the demand for more comfort. If a brand is not using fabrics with a high stretch content, the only way to maintain comfort is to widen the fit.
Here are some of our favorites—
Prometheus Design Werx makes outdoor clothing, tools, soft goods, etc. and often makes their clothing in small runs with various fabrics.
Ben pointed the DRB Woodsman Shirt in Merino Red-Black-Gray Plaid out to me when it was on sale this Fall, because it would be way too warm for Texas. I picked it up, and this is a very warm shirt — the warmest I have.
Let’s dive right in.
The shirt is made from 18% 14 oz. Australian Merino Wool Melton/15% nylon. The cuffs and back of the collar are lined with 100% “Fine Brushed Poly Twill”.
In researching what Melton Wool actually is, I found that is often used in naval garments like CPO shirts and peacoat. It is also referred to as the equivalent of selvedge to denim or shell cordovan to leather. This is because it is a very dense woven and robust wool fabric, imparting both wind and water resistant properties.
In practice, this fabric is surprisingly wind resistant and does a nice job beading up a light snow or rain.
PDW mentions that their Melton is softer than typical Melton. While I’m not sure I’ve handled a Melton peacoat, this fabric is still stiff, but is somewhat softer than what I’d expect from a peacoat.
This fabric does put it firmly into the shirt jacket category. I’m not one to think wool feels rough against my skin, but wearing the shirt with just a t-shirt, it is uncomfortable against my arms.
As far as the weight, this is heavy. I thought my Patagonia wool shirt was heavy at 6.9 oz., the 14 oz. weight here is downright burley.
Fit & Style
PDW describes this shirt perfectly:
This is like your grandfather’s favorite outdoor shirt he wore to the cabin, or what your father threw on after an early morning session at his favorite break, but better. A modern regular fit for comfort and freedom of movement.
I don’t think I can do better than that. It’s fit like a shirt jacket (so plenty of room throughout the body, sleeves, and cuffs for layering shirts, sweaters, or hoodies), yet its designed well enough that it doesn’t look ridiculous over a long-sleeve tee or thermal.
The large chest pockets look a little out of place in the product photos, but I don’t think they look bad in person (they are sized to fit smartphones — my iPhone XS fits, but I’m not sure a bigger phone would). The slotted buttons also add to the rugged look (and the durability of the shirt — no more popped buttons).
This shirt is very interesting. When I first received it in early Fall, I tried it on inside and it made me hot very quickly. Now that it has cooled down, I can wear it unbuttoned inside if I’m feeling chilly, but it’s too warm for all-around inside wear for me. I wore it for socially distanced Halloween night and it kept me warm just sitting around in the high 40s °F with just a long sleeve tee under. In the 30s °F, this shirt still works well as an outer layer, with some warmer base/mid-layers underneath.
The only negative for colder weather performance is the length. Since it is a shirt length, there isn’t too much protection from cold air blowing up from the bottom.
The shirt also features full-length side arm panels (a strip of fabric that runs up the side of the shirt and down the arm) to help improve motion. It seems that this helps a little with the typical lifting of a heavy shirt when you raise your arms.
The double reinforced elbows are also a nice touch. As this is a shirt that is meant to take some abuse, the elbows are often the first place a shirt wears through.
Even though the shirt is listed as dry clean only, I don’t think that’s going to be an issue since its wool and is an outer layer.
The DRB Woodsman shirt is a great example of a classic shirt jacket in a very heavy fabric. While it is currently out of stock, PDW tends to release small batches of their clothing each year, so you might be able to find this shirt or something similar in the future.
If you’re looking for a classic warm wool shirt jacket when this is in stock, its definitely worth consideration, although if you find wool scratchy, it’s not for you.
I’ve seen moleskin blazers often in the past, I never really dug into the fabric. It was originally produced as a sturdy and comfortable fabric for farmers and hunters, and transitioned to military and factory use. I won’t go into the details, you can read more here if you’re curious, but it’s a dense cotton fabric that is shorn and brushed on one side for softness — and it’s the same as corduroy without the wales (the ridges).
When I saw that Outerknown had released a more modern cut shirt in moleskin, the Lost Coast Moleskin Shirt, I had to give it a try.
This moleskin is 100% organic cotton described as “woven tough and brushed for softness. It gets even better as it breaks in over time”.
While I’ve only been wearing it for a bit over a month, I already feel it getting softer without feeling like it’s wearing out or getting thin. The “Curry” color I have is also garment dyed (I assume they all are, but it’s not specified). This will also add to the improvement with age, as the color will likely fade a little at wear points. While they warn about color transfer, I haven’t seen any issues, but something to watch out for in the darker colors (think dark indigo denim).
Fit & Style
Outerknown lists this as their “Relaxed” cut. I stuck with my normal XL (the size I have in their “Classic” cut BBQ Shirt) and it fits well. It has room for layering with a long or short sleeve t-shirt, but if you intend to wear it as an over shirt, you will want to size up.
Even though the cut is “Relaxed”, it is good-looking and modern. It gives you room to move (since there is no stretch to the fabric) while not looking baggy. It is long enough to tuck in, but I wear it untucked with either jeans or other workwear style pants. The natural corozo nut buttons add a little sustainable flair.
It fits and looks great for an all-around weekend shirt — tough enough for the shop but with the good looks for (socially distant and outdoor) drinks with friends. The Curry color is great, with more of a brown tone than yellow.
Outerknown makes a big performance claim with this shirt “Tougher than a flannel…one of the best fabrics you can wear in cold weather.”
While I can’t yet judge if it is tougher than a flannel in practice, it certainly seems so. The density of moleskin fabric does make it a great cold weather shirt, as claimed. I found that it does a great job cutting the wind. For me, it’s comfortable on its own even into the low 50s °F, while also breathing well and still being comfortable inside.
Ben brought up the question of if the areas of wear get shiny like corduroy, it doesn’t seem like they do — I’m guessing because the whole outer face is brushed. This is a tough shirt that will get better over time.
Outerknown did a great job with this modern take on a moleskin shirt. I’ve been wearing it every weekend since it’s been cool enough, and foresee it being a go-to piece throughout the rest of the fall and winter.
Great value at the full price of $98, and a steal on sale. Highly recommended.
Note: This pullover was provided by Faherty Brand for review purposes.
With the pandemic and work from home still part of daily life, a good pullover has become an essential part of my wardrobe now that the weather is changing. My office is located in one of the cooler portions of my house, so I often find myself adding and removing layers throughout the day. Lacking a nice looking pullover, I had been resorting to a sweatshirt or one of my technical mid-layers, not the best look for video calls. Enter the Faherty Brand Epic Quilted Fleece Pullover which solved that and more.
The fabric is a three-layer, double-knit jacquard. The faces are cotton with a poly layer in the middle for insulation, bringing the content to 67% cotton, 33% polyester. An interesting part of the material is that rather than being stitched, the quilting looks like it’s fused through the fabric — no loose threads here.
The hand feel of the fabric is super soft, which is likely why the care instructions are to machine wash cold, inside out — the website states tumble dry low while the tag says lay flat dry. I haven’t seen any pilling on either side though, so that’s a great sign for long term durability. One note: it does not dry quickly.
Fit and Style
I am on the cusp of L/XL sizing, and since the large short sleeve button down I have from them fits closely, I decided to go with the XL for plenty of room for layering. A large would likely have fit, but I’ve been enjoying the extra room.
Faherty Brand states “”Sweatshirt-level comfort with extra polish” was our M.O. when designing this midweight layer.” and I think they hit that spot on. The quilting, chest pocket, snaps, and ribbed cuffs and hem make this a great looking layer. I’d have no problems wearing it into the office.
This pullover exceeded my expectations in performance. I was able to wear it over a t-shirt on a windy 40 °F day and be comfortable outside walking the dog. The ribbed hem was welcome here, keeping the wind out.
It also breathes well enough that I was also completely comfortable inside. The snap neck adds to the versatility, allowing for some adjustment of heat retention.
The only downside to the performance is how long it takes to dry. Definitely not something you’d want exposed to wet weather.
The Epic Quilted Fleece Pullover is just that, epic. It looks great from casual to business casual and is comfortable in a wide range of temperatures.
While I likely would have hesitated with the $148 price point before wearing it, but I think it’s fairly priced for the level of finish and quality of the materials.
It’s also available in a CPO style, for anyone who prefers a jacket over a pullover.
On Wednesday, we will be publishing the first issue of our newsletter The Editorial.
Here we hope to give you a behind the scenes look at what we talk about as part of the execution of Everyday Wear. We also will share our posts since the last issue, as well as sales or other things worth checking out.
In the first issue, we will to take you through our thoughts on boots, which stemmed from some discussions of what post-pandemic Men’s footwear will look like.
You can sign-up below if you are interested.
Taylor Stitch has quite a few standard items that they make in different fabrics. The Camp Pant is one of them, and I’ve been testing the pants in the Dark Olive Boss Duck. You can also find these in Corduroy, Wool, Herringbone, and Reverse Sateen.
Let’s dive in.
Boss Duck is Taylor Stitch’s workwear fabric. I believe there were iterations before this version, but here it is a 12 oz., light stone washed blend of 54% hemp, 30% recycled polyester, 14% organic cotton, 2% spandex.
That’s a mouthful, but what it comes down to is a heavy, tough workwear fabric that feels soft from the start. When I looked up the content, I was surprised to see the spandex listed. I hadn’t noticed any stretch in the fabric while wearing, but now that I’m looking for it, I can feel it by hand as just a slight stretch in the horizontal direction.
The hemp content here is what helps increase the fabric’s strength, gives it a great texture, and gives it some performant features.
Fit & Style
The Camp Pant and the more workwear styled The Chore Pant share a cut. I find it to be relaxed without looking baggy or sloppy and something that should fit in well with the trend towards less slim pants. These styles also come with a button, rather than zip fly.
The fit is spot on where you don’t ever feel restricted, even though the fabric doesn’t really have stretch to speak of. This is also helped by the availability of even and odd waist sizing, as you can make sure you have a good waist fit. This is important because the waist is the only place I occasionally noticed the lack of stretch.
To be noted — this fabric comes in the old 36” inseam, but they are currently transitioning to 34” inseam and offering free mail-in tailoring.
This style could find its way into a business casual wardrobe (front slash pockets, rear patch pockets), although not in this fabric. The hemp texture, for me at least, keeps it in the casual realm. It looks really sharp with a flannel or other casual shirt for the weekend.
The high hemp content of this fabric not only helps with the durability and abrasion resistance, but also with the breathability. I found these pants to have a wider range of comfortable temperatures than a standard cotton or cotton/poly workwear pant in this weight.
Even though they are breathable enough for a warmer day or heavy work, I also found that the weave of the fabric seems to keep cold wind from cutting through the pants — something I was wondering about when wearing these comfortably before the temperatures dropped. I’d call these three-season.
The Camp Pant in Olive Boss Duck is a great use of workwear fabric in a less-casual cut. These are at home anywhere from on the weekend hanging out with friends, to chopping wood or woodworking. The fabric is three-season for the northeast temperatures, and wouldn’t be too heavy for the colder months down south. They come broken-in, and I expect them to only soften up more with wear.
At $128 they are certainly on the high end of the pricing spectrum. I’m not sure I’d pay quite that much for them, but if you can grab them during one of Taylor Stitch’s sales, I think they are a great value.
The chore coat seems to be the new hot outerwear item this Fall. I’ve been wearing the Wellen Stretch Chore Coat for a few months now, with a lot of wear recently with the cooler weather.
This jacket is a lighter hemp canvas made from 66% organic cotton, 32% hemp, 2% spandex.
The texture looks like a tough canvas, but the hand-feel is quite soft since it is garment washed. The 2% spandex adds a slightly noticeable stretch while the hemp adds strength and breathability.
Overall, this seems like it will be a long-wearing, casual fabric.
Fit & Style
The jacket is listed as a “tailored, athletic cut” as well as a “Classic workwear silhouette made with sustainable materials you can feel good about wearing”. I’d put it more towards that tailored cut. I ended up with a XL, which is listed as a 48” chest (I have a 44” chest). It has room for layering with a heavy flannel, but wouldn’t fit something bulky like a hoodie. So if you want to wear this over a thick insulation layer, size up.
Style-wise this is fully casual workwear. Something that can look good with a flannel and boots, but not something that you are going to dress up or wear to an office job. The patch pockets and shank buttons work well with the style.
The performance is in the hemp content of the fabric. When I first got this jacket, it was still warm out, but the jacket was comfortable even in the 60s (ºF) — the hemp makes it quite breathable. I could even see this being a shirt to throw on over a t-shirt in the summer when you need some extra protection. While I haven’t abused it yet, the fabric seems like it will hold up quite well to the abrasion of using it for woodworking or the like.
The stretch content is not very noticeable in the hand, I don’t feel my motion ever being restricted, so it must be doing something since the cut is a bit tailored. Likely the splits at the side seams also help when the jacket is buttoned.
The pockets are what make a chore coat have its unique style and functionality. Here the lower two patch pockets are dual-entry, meaning you can store something in the top opening, while having a side opening available to warm your hands. There also is a generous interior chest pocket for something like a phone or wallet and an exterior chest pocket.
The functioning sleeve buttons also add to the performance, allowing you to easily roll up the sleeves
The Stretch Chore Coat from Wellen is a worthy contender in the sea of chore coats that have been coming out for the Fall. The lighter weight but durable fabric makes it a very versatile piece. A great option if you are going for a comfortable and casual chore coat or something you want to do heavy work in. Currently on sale for $75 ($128 retail price), it is a great deal. Recommended.