Though the runway only occupied a single city block, the 14th annual West 18th Street Fashion Show was the focal point of the Kansas City Crossroads District—an area already known for its independent boutiques, trendy restaurants, and creative spaces. Walking around a couple hours before the show, it was immediately apparent how special this event is both in the KC community and within the fashion world as a whole.
For a city not necessarily known for its size or population, the show was very well attended, welcoming both locals and fashion figures from around the country. There were just under 1,000 chairs lining the runway, which were sold out well in advance. Behind the seated rows, countless people lined what was left of the street and sidewalks. Some even watched from the windows and rooftops of the surrounding buildings to see the fourteen distinct collections by twenty local designers.
It would have been impossible to come away from the West 18th Street Fashion Show without picking up on a pervasive sense of communal pride. (After all, there is a lot to be proud of). But in addition to sharing in what was an incredible event, I also came away with some inspiration of my own.
What started out as a temporary pop-up shop quickly expanded to something much more, and now Side Project Skateboards has two collaborative capsule collections under its belt. Carrying momentum from a collection of 15 custom stained boards for Grungy Gentleman of NYC, Side Project Skateboards debuted a smaller collection of 7 hand painted cruisers alongside London-based menswear boutique Jamboree.
The collection itself takes a slightly different approach to the same vintage-inspired appeal that Side Project Skateboards was founded on. Featuring a vibrant palette of colors, the collection directly speaks to the carefree sensibilities of the late 60’s.
It’s easy being a visitor to Kansas City. It’s accessible, it’s affordable, and there are so many eager and enthusiastic locals ready to share the best of what their city has to offer. In that sense, it’s somewhat pointless to put together a ‘city-guide’ seeing as most KC natives will drop what they are doing to show you around. So instead, here is one of many perfect days you can have during your stay:
Start your morning at QUAY, a wonderful coffee house located in the River Market area. Despite being a relatively new fixture in Kansas City, it has quickly become a top destination for coffee connoisseurs. Part of this stems from their Fair Trade coffee beans, which are sourced and roasted by Oddly Correct (another great local coffee destination if you have the time or caffeine tolerance).412 Delaware Ste. B, Kansas City, MO 64105 – (816) 471 7277
After checking out the River Market area, migrate over to The Crossroads—a repurposed industrial neighborhood that sports a variety of great restaurants and interesting boutiques. Perhaps the most unique is Oracle, which specializes in what they call “fine curiosities.” In other words, this beautifully curated shop features a variety of natural items from terrariums to momento mori pieces and unusual taxidermy. While there are macabre undertones to many of their items, everything they curate is absolutely beautiful in one way or another. 130 W 18th St., Kansas City, MO 64108 – (816) 982 9550
Everything about budding leather goods label Atelier Pall juxtaposes old and new. For starters, the brand hinges on collective leatherworking knowledge handed down through several consecutive generations. Yet rather than remain complacent with the family legacy, the craftsman behind the label decided to update their work to create a more modern product line. And thus, Atelier Pall was (re)born.
Atelier Pall natural color inspiration – chestnut
Beneath their wide collection of leather accessories and carrygoods, the label allegorizes the tension between traditional practices and innovative technology—albeit in the best way possible. The vast majority of their products are handcrafted using age-old skills that run throughout the family, yet these same products are designed using the accuracy of vector programming and embellished with laser etching technology.
If she were still alive, my grandmother would shop at Opening Ceremony. It’s not because she was fashionable (she wasn’t), or because she had money to spend (she didn’t), but because she would have been completely enamored by their recent collaboration with Mickey Mouse.
It seems like a dig—or that I’m somehow being disingenuous—but I’m absolutely serious when I say that she would have rocked a red Mickey Mouse sweater and all the accouterments she could pair with it. While it wouldn’t have been her first pair of Mickey Mouse socks, she would have enjoyed her inaugural pair of Vans… and quite frankly, I would have too.
Perhaps it is because cologne is so ubiquitous that there doesn’t seem to be any considerable level of innovation within the industry. Most men are careful to choose a fragrance that matches their personality and body chemistry, but they often leave it at that. Yet for Kevin Keller and Allen Shafer—co-founders of men’s grooming label Fulton & Roark—cologne means much more than the distillation and pairing of high quality ingredients: it’s an integral part of a man’s daily routine.
While there is a plethora of colognes on the market, Keller and Shafer recognized that something was lacking across the board—namely an understanding of the consumer’s experience while actually using the product. As such, they set out to develop a series of colognes designed around the details that shape the lives of men, from the dimensions of trouser pockets to the requirements of a global traveler—even considering the real estate surrounding the bathroom sink.
The duo put in over a year of research and development that eventually led them to their current product line: three distinctive solid colognes made using ceresin. This microcrystalline wax not only retains fragrance incredibly well, but is also strong enough to withstand the rigors of travel, whether in your front pocket or your carry on. Additionally, ceresin doesn’t irritate the skin unlike other options on the market.
The trouble with reimagining ‘the basics’ in fashion (or anything for that matter) is that there is a fine line between innovation and corruption. Like it or not, there are legacies engrained into certain wardrobe staples that demand respect – a crisp, white button-up shirt being one of the most iconic examples.
It’s a considerable challenge to fix what isn’t broken (or more pointedly, to improve what is already wonderful). Not to sound callous, but it’s also rather rare that someone succeeds at doing so. Yet during this year’s Salone del Mobile in Milan, Swedish fashion house COS and Japanese design firm nendo launched a special collaborative installation that did just that.
In short, the installation is comprised of a series of white button-up shirts that each interact with a collection of three-dimensional steel frames. Wanting to draw attention to the otherwise negative space within these open-air cubes, the shirts are colored wherever they penetrate the exterior threshold of these geometric forms. Often times, a single garment will be contained within several cubes at a time (as in the header image above), with unique coloring to correspond to each sector.
I remember pulling my grandfather’s long-neglected guitar out from behind the couch in their living room when I was still in elementary school. It was my first interaction with a musical instrument, and what surprised me most was not sounds it made as I naïvely fumbled with such an oversized and cumbersome discovery, but the wonderful scent of French laquer and antiqued wood that wafted out when I first opened the hard case.
I still think of music in those terms—an odd mixture of the senses.
I had initially struggled to pinpoint what it was about the music by Danish singer/songwriter Agnes Obel that resonated with me in such a profound and personal way. My first taste of her music stemmed from her performance at this year’s South by Southwest music Festival in Austin. But in the weeks since I discovered her work, I’ve steadily realized that Obel’s music hinges on that sort of multi-sensory experience. It is not just sound; it is expression, interaction, and a shining example of what music can be.
I may be a little close to the industry at this point, but you can find understated, utilitarian menswear virtually anywhere. Even if we narrow the scope to focus only on brands that produce their collections here in the states, there are still lots of options available. From there, choosing specific labels boils down to subtle nuances in aesthetics and materials – or at least that’s what I thought.
It turns out that menswear label Todd Shelton has amassed a great deal of success based on these two points, but has garnered even more attention thanks to their unique emphasis on sizing. In short, the label coined a DIY fit evaluation program that works directly with their customers to produce custom-fitting garments without the hassle and price point of bespoke clothiers.
Take the Todd Shelton jean for example. Not only can you choose from wide range of selvedge denim fabrics, but you can also determine specific measurements for the waist, knee opening, bottom opening, and the inseam. And this is just the beginning.
I’ve been struggling with how to adequately introduce Houston, TX. In all fairness, it is a huge city to whittle down to a single paragraph, page, or even a full-on paperback book…
Houston from space
But that is the beauty of Houston. It is unfathomable. Having lived there for a number of years, I can say with honesty that there is something there for everybody, from the most underground of underground music scenes to the highest manifestations of high art. It is America’s most ethnically diverse city – yes, even more so than New York City and Los Angeles – and is set to overtake Chicago as the third largest city in the states. It is home to old money, new upstarts, bull riders, hip-hop legends, farmers, tattoo artists, fashion figures, social activists, country singers, and – alas – even politicians. And that’s not even scratching the surface.
Cy Twombly Gallery – The Menil Collection
As you can imagine, it’s impossible to pull together a comprehensive guide to Houston that appeals to everyone’s sense of what the city has to offer. So what follows is a tailored list of what made Houston a home to me. Call it an indulgence or call it insight, but everything on here is worth experiencing if you ever find yourself in The Bayou City:
I will go out on a limb to say that Hugo’s is my absolute favorite restaurant in Houston – if not the entire country. Not many people understand the difference between authentic Mexican and Tex-Mex (or that there is a difference at all), but one visit to Hugo’s will change that. In short, the restaurant is based exclusively on upscale, yet traditional Mexican dishes from Chapulines (pan-sautéed grasshoppers) to Cochinta Pibil (slow-roasted baby pig cooked banana leaf). If you have the opportunity, I recommend visiting during Sunday brunch, where you can sample the gamut of what Hugo’s has to offer. Make a B-line for their subtly spiced house-made hot chocolate, and then take some home in disc form. 1600 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77006 - (713) 524 7744
When was the last time you experienced something undeniably authentic? It’s not something that most people think about on a daily basis. Then again, it shouldn’t be something people think about on a daily basis. It should be a given.
I’d apologize for my soapbox but have three points to make instead. Firstly, I’m not sorry. This is how I feel – and I’ll wager many of you do as well. Secondly, I’m optimistic that this is changing. There are so many talented and dedicated people out there working hard to infuse meaning back into what they do. Thirdly, I could think of no other word than authenticity to introduce the work of Juniper Ridge – a tiny conglomerate of nature enthusiasts who make up the world’s only wild fragrance company.
When I first learned about Juniper Ridge and what they do, I was honestly surprised. It had never occurred to me that perfume and fragrance companies wouldn’t handle the entire process from collecting materials to distilling to bottling. How else would it work? It seems that the only way to produce the best product possible is to have a hand in all of it.
In a nutshell, this is their platform. It all starts with harvesting wild plants, bark, moss, mushrooms, and other organic materials in their natural environment. The fifteen employee/members of Juniper Ridge travel throughout the West Coast, spanning different ecological areas from piney forests to the Mojave Desert.
Not too long ago, husband and wife team Adam and Danise Nance decided to launch Busk & Bask – a small design studio in the Mojave Desert of southern Nevada. And while it’s not the first place that comes to mind when one thinks of modern architecture, geometric forms, and handcrafted leather goods, it happens that these three tenets form the basis of a promising young accessories label.
To clarify, Busk & Bask is interested in functionality. Their collection of carry goods features an interesting array of pieces from all-leather briefcases to key fobs, but is devoid of frivolous components, nuances, and embellishments. In this sense, their work poses an interesting paradox. In other words, it is progressively reductive.
“It’s called nesting.”
Admittedly, I didn’t know what to do with that at first. I quickly learned that this word… this ‘nesting’… is a clever moniker for the likes of decorative pillows and maybe-not-so-functional throw blankets. But to be fair, it also encompasses other, more permanent interior installations that I personally find much more exciting.
It was only a couple years ago that I realized my affinity for handmade furnishings. Since then, I’ve passed many an afternoon researching different designers and makers for the day when we actually have the money to procure more permanent pieces.
And so, I have set my sights on independent lighting design studio Allied Maker. Having evolved from the artful woodworking studio of Ryden Rizzo, Allied Maker now utilizes a variety of materials and crafting techniques to craft their stunning range of handmade lighting fixtures.
Still from Travis’s “Moving” music video
I have distinct memories of sitting in my elementary school classroom, following along as our teacher conducted class using an overhead projector. Looking back, those were the first clues that I was a visually oriented person. I’ll admit that my interest in that technology was not so much the lesson plan, but a fleeting and beautiful moment that most probably ignored. There was something special about a transparency sheet that was marked with dry erase pens of all different colors. When we concluded the point at hand, or it became to cluttered on screen, there was a flash of liquid cleaner, and the colors would bleed into one another in unthinkable textures and patterns before being wiped away with a paper towel.
That was the beauty of projection: the accidental.
Still from Enra’s “Pleiades” performative dance & projection
Of course, this was two decades ago. Now classrooms are equipped with $5,000 SMART Boards or highly interactive digital projectors. The technology has totally changed. Yet there is a new kind of beauty that I have found in recent weeks, pertaining specifically to this sort of bittersweet progress – especially concerning the new possibilities that it unleashes in the creative community.
As such, I’ve compiled three compelling outlets that center on projection as an artistic medium, each in it’s own way:
Artists Left to Right: Laura Lark, Hilary Wilder, Margaret Smithers-Crump, & Paul Kittelson
For those of who you haven’t been to Texas during the ‘colder’ months, winters in Houston are rather dispassionate. It’s not warm enough to make it a destination for those who live up north, but not cold enough to warrant an escape either. It is, for all intensive purposes, drab and unremarkable.
Charles Wiese “Alcove” 2011: Digital media on German etching paper 2/3
Perhaps this is why I was so intrigued by the most recent show at Devin Borden Gallery, which ran from early December to Jan 10th. Entitled “Winter Garden,” the group exhibit celebrates the ironically unseasonable allure of winter colors, textures, and atmospheres – associations that remain somewhat alien to native Houstonians. It figures that it was a cold, overcast day when I finally had the opportunity to see the show, lending a subtle and thematic ambiance to the entire experience.
Since discovering Artifact Bag Co. late last year, I have quietly championed their work to friends and family in need of beautiful, yet solid carry goods. The label has a diverse collection from vibrantly colored personal effects bags to full on briefcases and totes – all hand crafted from high quality, domestically produced canvas and bridle leathers.
Perhaps it appeals to the sensibilities and circumstance of a fellow maker such as myself, but I am particularly inspired by the story behind the label. Several years ago, Artifact Bag Co. founder Chris Hughes lost his job to the recession, landing in a cubicle working a menial position for little pay. Yet in early 2010, he found a vintage commercial sewing machine on Craig’s List and began making bags, aprons, etc. Initially working in his basement, he left his job before the year was out to run Artifact Bag Co. full time.
It’s arbitrary when you think about it, but as the New Year approaches, most of us can’t help but to look back to the last twelve months in review. After all, it’s nice to know where you came from to see where you’re going. Twenty-thirteen was a big year for Procured Design, so it’s especially rewarding to ruminate on our new friends, inspirations, and developments. In light of that, it seemed appropriate to gather together the most popular posts of each month.
Enjoy the spread and have a wonderful New Year!
As we’re nearing the final opportunities to grab gifts for you and yours before Christmas, I wanted to put together a last-minute gift guide. To be honest, I’ve been grappling with this for some time now and should have had something out at least a week ago. What it boils down to was my dissatisfaction with the standard gift-guide archetype, which is to say a single image with nicely arranged products and matching descriptions. The problem with this is that there are so many wonderful things out there that aren’t photographed well or that aren’t conducive to that format. So in light of aesthetics and in want of something different, we’re switching things up a bit.
It’s not necessarily anything new, but I decided to debut the Procured Design last-minute holiday gift guide via Twitter. Starting now, we will put out a new product every hour for a full day using #PDgiftguide. Just a heads up, the guide is good for him, her, the kids, the in-laws, or anybody really. There is also a wide range of price points, covering everything from stocking stuffers to serious indulgences.
Be sure to follow Procured Design on Twitter so you can pay special attention to our 24 hour gift guide!
Admittedly I don’t know much about contemporary artist Allison Schulnik. Furthermore, I’m not that familiar with Grizzly Bear. Yet all ignorance aside, I am a huge proponent of their collaborative work in “Forest”. In short, it is an incredibly engaging music video shot exclusively in claymation.
As both director and sculptor, Allison Schulnick draws on her ongoing character studies, which is to say the creation of highly tactile oil paintings and clay sculptures of anthropomorphic beings. What’s amazing about this work in particular is the seamlessness surrounding the stop animation – a process which is both meticulous and incredibly time-consuming. Schulnick handles the clay so well throughout the video, that it seems oddly sentient beyond that of depicting distinct personalities and carrying a narrative. Instead, her extreme sensitivity towards the material allows her to stream through various color and contours as she folds characters in on themselves, only to remold the clay into something else entirely. Often times, the concept of creation is inherently bound in a binary with destruction. However in “Forest,” there is a consistent flow of creation and re-creation that – I find – speaks to a more positivistic approach to creativity itself.
Kiriko is a small unisex accessories label based in Portland, Oregon that uses traditional and vintage Japanese textiles to craft their continually changing collection of unique scarves, ties, pocket squares, and other miscellany. As such, much of their work is devoted to and inspired by time-honored production methods of traditional Japanese textile weaving, whether it’s kasuri, boro, sashiko, or any other number of conventional styles.
Products aside, what’s beautiful about the label is that it propagates a broad aesthetic, conceptual, and consumer interest in these heritage fabrics – even despite their commercial decline over the last half century. Although the traditional production methods behind these heritage fabrics may no longer be profitable for textile manufacturers, the pieces themselves are in no way outmoded. In fact, if Kiriko’s growth as a brand is any indication, vintage Japanese fabrics are regaining relevance amongst contemporary consumers connoisseurs.
Wanting to know more about the label, I was lucky enough to catch Dawn Yanagihara (Kiriko’s co-founder and creative director) amidst the holiday rush to discuss the label and why creativity is a constant pursuit: