Top Drawer

The F*ck You Buck

by Eric Twardzik

The air in 2019 is rife with four-letter words, and we’d rather not contribute to the chorus unless we really mean it. And in the case of the F*ck You Buck, made in collaboration with Blackstock & Weber, we most certainly do.

So, why the French? We think it’s in keeping with the true spirit of the white buck, which today is viewed through too genteel of a lens. Before the white shoe became synonymous with garden parties and seersucker, it was the shoe of choice for college punks. That’s right, punks. White suede bucks were Dr. Martens before Dr. Martens.

During the Jazz Age, rebellious Ivy League students would lace up white bucks with their tweed and flannels. From grass stains to beer splotches, they’d let their white bucks accumulate as much dirt as possible as a way of politely extending their middle finger towards the establishment.

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Perhaps that’s why the white buck feels like the missing link between Fred’s past and present. During his adolescent punk phase, Fred lived in Docs. So when the opportunity arose to design a shoe with Blackstock & Weber—another made in England shoe label—he saw it as a chance to revive the white buck’s punk spirit by infusing it with Dr. Marten-inspired details.

What kind of details? For starters, we set our buck on a boot last that flaunts a bulbous toe box and a rounder profile akin to the original Dr. Marten 1461. We then bulked it up with metal eyelets, and a chunky, aggressive sole perfectly capable of kicking someone’s teeth in (of course, only when in dire straits).

But we didn’t abandon any of the refined details that have kept the white buck a prep staple through the years. Its upper is made from supple white suede—not nubuck—and has a velvety nap. In keeping with tradition, its chunky Ridgeway sole is made from brick-red rubber with an art deco tread pattern.

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The other features are in line with quality shoemaking (and as Blackstock & Weber employs a third-generation Northampton workshop, we’d expect nothing less). You may know the drill: all-over calfskin leather lining, traditional Goodyear cork lining, and a storm-welted Goodyear construction that seam-seals the outsole, keeping out moisture (i.e. Negronis) and the elements (i.e. other people’s Negronis).

And yet, these carefully considered details will have been in vain if only worn to your annual Derby Day party. We designed the F*ck You Buck for everyday wear through dilapidated downtown subways, on post-dinner strolls, and for snuffing out American Spirits greedily smoked all the way down to the filter. The nappy white suede is primed to bare every scuff, scrape, and stain until they’re as lived-in as the threadbare Persian rug on your living room floor.

Wear your F*ck You Bucks after Labor Day…especially after Labor Day. And if anyone doesn’t like it, well, let your shoes deliver your French for you.

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Stubbs & Wootton Bespoke

by Eric Twardzik


We’ve got a soft spot for impractically. And when it comes to footwear, nothing rivals the Prince Albert slipper for its outright rejection of utility in favor of decor. You certainly don’t need a velvet upper with a hand embroidered monogram to get yourself from here to there—but it makes getting there a lot more fun.

Stubbs & Wootton continues to uphold this old-world art from their home base of Palm Beach, Florida. The slipper-maker was founded in 1993, but feels as if it belongs to another time. Part of that trick is their reverence for traditional shoemaking methods. The other is their borrowing the surnames of two English artists from the 18th century, George Stubbs and John Wootton. The two were famous for their equestrian scenes, making them appropriate namesakes for a brand whose product is inexorably linked to aristocratic excess and flair.

F.E. Castleberry for Stubbs & Wootton bespoke in a Harris Tweed herringbone.

Each pair is meticulously hand-crafted by artisans in Southern Spain and comes fully leather lined, complete with a leather outsole and a short stacked heel. They offer a variety of ready-to-wear styles, ranging from a discreet, solid black velvet to leopard print needlepoint to embroidered smoking joints. Fine choices, all; but their bespoke program is where the possibilities are, well…endless.

First you’ll choose your style of embroidery: monogram, motif, varsity-style sweater letters, or International maritime signal flags. Then you’ll pick from their signature classic evening slipper last or a square-toed UK last with a higher vamp. Once that’s put to bed, the real fun begins—starting with fabrics.

In designing this bespoke pair, Fred supplied Stubbs & Wootton with suiting fabric and tie silk for the commission. He began with a grey herringbone Harris Tweed cloth, set it on their UK last, and then trimmed it with an English repp stripe silk. Then, throwing all caution to the wind, Fred had his monogram hand stitched in 14K gold bullion, a type of metal thread.

English repp stripe silk piping.

English repp stripe silk piping.

Hand embroiderd 14K gold bullion monogram.

Hand embroiderd 14K gold bullion monogram.

Goldwork, the art of embroidery of metal threads, is particularly prized for the way light plays on it. Originally developed in Asia more than 2000 years ago, its use reached a remarkable level of skill in the Middle Ages when a style called Opus Anglicanum was developed in England and used extensively in church vestments and hangings. After this period, it was then routinely employed in the clothing and furnishings of the royalty and nobility throughout Europe.

Today, it’s increasingly difficult to find anyone adept in goldwork. It’s time consuming, expensive, and laborious. Did we mention expensive? Especially when working with 14K gold. It’s a modern day go-to-hell move for the genteel.

As anyone who’s had one too many martinis at a cocktail party can testify, it’s all too easy to place your foot in your mouth. One way to avoid this is to let your feet do all the talking from the get-go…especially if what you’re saying is, “Go to hell (if you don’t like ‘em).”

Drake's Neckties

by Eric Twardzik


“Choosing a tie has to be an irrational act.”
Eugenio Marinella


This maxim, issued by the founder of E. Marinella, comes from a man submerged in neckwear. And yet it speaks to our own ethos concerning the tie. We don’t need them to keep us warm, protect us from the elements, or to wipe our mouths with (though feel free to do so with any Ralph Lauren factory/outlet tie). They serve a higher purpose. As Glenn O’Brien reasons in How to Be a Man, “The tie’s only function is beauty. It is an emblem of art and artifice.” And art is anything but rational.

It’s true that ties have become a rarer sight in our ever more casual world, but we’re not complaining. We’d rather see the necktie embraced by those wearing them out of free will rather than compliance. And if you’re anything like us, there’s no point in volunteering for tie duty unless you’re going to wear the very best—and that brings us to Drake’s.

Drake's spring/summer '18 neckties.

Drake's spring/summer '18 neckties.

The London maker offers scores of new ties with each season. And while the colors, patterns, and prints offer more diversity than a Brown admissions brochure, each collection is united by a triptych of details that have collectively become known as sort of a Drake’s signature.

Almost all feature hand-rolled edges, a flared back blade, and—perhaps the most noticeable peculiarity—blades without tipping. “Tipping” refers to the fabric that backs most modern ties at each blade’s end. While the de rigueur practice of the day, tipping was historically seen as slightly suspect, as if it were concealing lazy craftsmanship.

By intentionally foregoing tipping, Drake’s casually pulls off the sartorial equivalent of a humble brag. The result is a relaxed—you might even say “floppy”—gait that emphasizes the hand-rolled edges, flared back blade, and devil-may-care rakishness of its ancestor, the cravat scarf.

Fred wears  Drake's green sailing print silk and cotton tie  with our made-to-measure khaki cotton suit.

Fred wears Drake's green sailing print silk and cotton tie with our made-to-measure khaki cotton suit.

Highlights from the Spring '18 season employ interesting fabrics from Drake’s enormous offering. There are vibrantly colored tile and medallion prints in Panama silk, a lightweight textile known for its open, textural weave, matte finish, and remarkable knack for retaining bright hues. There is an orange mini circle and diamond print imbued with the luminosity unique to foulard silk. An abstract, rounded square print in navy uses the chalky power of madder silk to leave its mark.

It’s nearly impossible to pick a favorite. But if you really press us, we’ll shamelessly admit to fawning over these preppier designs: the medallions, the dots, the motif of a green sailing boat emblazoned on a silk/cotton blend. It’s just the right mix of texture, sheen, and weight and pairs perfectly with our English khaki cotton suit. The entire collection is so beautifully designed that you can be irrational in your choice and yet still be rationally dressed.

F.E. Castleberry Rockets

by Frederick Egan Castleberry

At the beginning of the year, Greats approached me about designing a shoe. Greats is the Brooklyn shoe company with a reputation for turning out top-shelf sneakers made by hand in Italy. After a handful of design meetings and a lot of Americanos, the result of our collaboration is the leather trainer nicknamed the “Rocket.”

Jonah naps in the green Rockets.

Jonah naps in the green Rockets.

“There's a lot of ingredients go into being a good tennis player.”
Rod Laver

We believe the same when it comes to designing a good shoe. I started with various vintage iterations of my favorite sneaker…then set out composing a luxurious love letter to it. While the low-top tennis shoe proved to be a classic after it was first introduced in leather in the late 1960s, it felt just as timely for an homage using the best ingredients. The F.E. Castleberry for Greats Rocket is handmade in Italy of full grain leather (the only type that truly gets better with age), sports an American crocodile heel tab, dual color midsole, waxed cotton laces, and rich vegetable tan Vachetta calf leather lining.

Vachetta leather is a straight-forward material. It’s an untreated cowhide, meaning it hasn’t been dyed or treated with preservation processes that more commonplace leathers undergo. This allows it to age naturally, develop a beautiful patina (a sheen of oils and other elements from the foot that darken the Vachetta leather), and allows you to wear them barefoot. Socks, wear them only to weddings…and then, well only if it’s your own.

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Since launching my eponymous made-to-measure suiting, I’ve had a penchant for little design details only my clients see or will ever know about. It’s a secret handshake, more or less, between me and the wearer. The Rocket is no exception. Up the side of the right tongue, “Rocket” is scrawled in cursive with blue ink. When laced up it’s invisible. It’s a nod to middle school when we’d scribble on our sneakers. The go-to-hell green soul and crocodile heel tab is also rendered in yellow and royal blue color ways for men and women. They’re on sale now for $240 at Greats.com.

The Free & Easy Suit

We choose to wear suits; they aren’t required. What they are is a uniform—and we love a good uniform. So much so that we wanted one we could walk the dog in, paint in, or simply daydream in. Our Free & Easy suit is designed for just that.

You don't have to think about it (too much). It’s cut a little looser, worn a little shorter, and made-to-measure in British fabrics like moleskin, wide-wale corduroy, and wool tweeds and thick flannels. We deconstructed it—while maintaining some of the handwork—so it feels almost as comfortable as wearing a sweater. Settle down, we said almost.

Made-to-measure wide-wale corduroy Free & Easy suit in camel ($1700).

Made-to-measure wide-wale corduroy Free & Easy suit in camel ($1700).

Here, Alex Beh takes a beat between shots in our Free & Easy wide-wale camel corduroy suit. The actor/director/writer of shorts and features including Coffees, Babe, Warren, and the newly released Three Women is currently working on his second feature film The Next Darling. Here, in a red cashmere knit hat, grey scarf, and a Boast fleece sweatshirt, Mr. Beh turns out a loose iteration of our uniform. Wear twice a week. Repeat.

Adidas Rod Lavers

by Frederick Egan Castleberry

“I like to let my racket do the talking.”
Rod Laver

When it comes to sneakers, I like to let them do the talking too. And by them I mean my Adidas Rod Lavers. There’s this inherent offbeat disposition to Rod Lavers—they’re cool…because they’re not. Lavers are unapologetically an athletic tennis shoe—shunning simple clean lines for functionality and performance (albeit 1970s performance). The fairway green sole and heel patch, white perforated mesh upper, and suede toe guard signal more social outsider than fashion insider. They borderline on “dad sneaker” (given their chunky profile and economical $65 price tag). To wear them is to do so deliberately. To wear them is to whisper, “When I’ve got you down, I’ll rub you out”—yet in an air of politeness.

It was Wes Anderson’s 1998 film Rushmore in which I slowly fell in like with the sneaker. Max Fischer, an eccentrically ambitious 15-year-old on scholarship at Rushmore Academy, spends the entire film in an unkempt pair with burgundy shoe laces. Worn with a navy Rushmore blazer and dumpy khakis, his “uniform” signified a young man navigating the grey area between boyhood and manhood. Fischer’s Lavers provided deeper insight into why he might vengefully cut (and know how to cut before even possessing a driver license) the brakes on Mr. Blume’s Rolls Royce. There was a mannered cutthroat spirit to them that deeply resonated with me.

My Adidas Rod Lavers, one year old.

Rodney George Laver is widely considered to be the best tennis player of all time. The Australian turned pro in 1962, following the first of his Grand Slam titles. Laver racked up so many titles during his career that listing them all would take longer than a John McEnroe dispute. But you could forget about all but one of Laver’s feats and he’d still be the greatest of all time simply because he’s the only player to win the singles’ calendar Grand Slam…twice.

Despite their namesake’s dominance on the tennis court in the 1960s, Lavers enjoy little name recognition comparitavely. Their subtle orthopedic demeanor seems to keep them under the pop culture radar while still maintaining a fervent cult following. Introduced in 1970, the Adidas Rod Laver arrived on the back of the Rocket from Rockhampton’s second Grand Slam. Laver, I should note, did play a hand in its development, wearing prototypes during his triumphant run through 1969. The result is a true cult classic that speaks softly and carries a big stick racket.