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A guide to help the average man... look less average

Filtering by Category: Product Review

Product Review: Hucklebury Shirts

Mark Kwak

Visit Hucklebury's site.

One thing that I think I have too much of in my closet is shirts, more specifically, dress shirts. As a result, I haven't been all that interested in these new shirt companies popping up that claim to have the latest and greatest in "shirt-building" technology. I've stuck with my tried and true Brooks Brothers, Thom Browne, and Gitman Vintage shirts, and haven't really looked back.

However, the other day, I had the pleasure of meeting a guy named Parag, one of the founders of Hucklebury, an online shirt-maker based in San Francisco. He told me about his line of ready-to-wear dress shirts, and actually got me pretty curious. Why? Because he brought some shirts for me to look at, and my first impressions were wildly positive.

I took a couple of the shirts home (unfortunately they weren't my size, so I had to have my friend try them on) to see what I thought of them overall. Here are some pictures of the shirts I received:



As you can see, these are the same shirts that were actually used in the Signature Style post I put up yesterday. For more pictures, check that post out.

So let's get into the review. I'm judging these shirts on five main criteria: fit, design, quality, value, and experience. See below for my thoughts.

Fit: Hucklebury offers two fits for their shirts, classic and slim. I personally took home just the slim fit, but I'll tell you, the shirts fit pretty damn well on my buddy. They have a very tailored look to them that I generally see on Made-to-Measure shirts, and also have a decent length for untucking if you're average or slightly above average height. There are darts on the back for that more tailored look, but the shirts aren't overtly slim either. I have a feeling that the fit would work well with a wide array of folks. One problem, I will say, is that they don't offer a smaller size than 15" x 32" at the moment. They told me they will be changing that soon, but just wanted to let you all know in case you're a smaller guy.

Design: Checking through their site, most of their patterns and designs are pretty solid. Nothing too flashy, nothing too outdated. Classics like gingham, stripes, checks, and solids are all in the mix, and the colors they offer are standard. One interesting note though: the classic fit shirts are offered with a spread collar, while the slim fit shirts are offered with a button down collar. You can't get it any other way. Not sure why they did this, but just wanted to let you know in case you decide to order.

Quality: I think this is where Hucklebury excels. The quality of the shirts is wonderful. These shirts are made of 100% Egyptian cotton from some of the best mills around, Thomas Mason and Tessitura Monti included. The construction is rock solid, the attention to detail is awesome (check out the collars, cuffs, darts, and buttons), and clearly you can see that a lot of thought has been put into making each shirt both comfortable and durable. So in all, the fabric, stitching, and detail is top notch. No complaints here.

Value: Right now, shirts are between $110 and $120 a pop. Though these shirts might be worth the price, I feel like this is dangerous territory to play in, especially considering that there are many shirt makers out there offering made to measure stuff within the $80-$100 range. I do still think that the fabric and quality justify the price, but I can't say that these shirts necessarily have amazing value.

Experience: The website was pretty easy to navigate, the customer service was wonderful, and the process was self explanatory. No problems for me. Also, the good news is that if there are problems or concerns, you can give feedback directly to the owners, and Parag has told me that they take feedback very seriously, and have made many adjustments as necessary.

So in conclusion, do I like these shirts? Yes. Do I wish they offered more sizes, variation in collars, and cheaper prices? Yes as well.

So they're not perfect, but the superb quality and fit certainly win me over, and get my recommendation overall. If you're in need of a new dress shirt, try Hucklebury out. If anything, you're supporting a San Franciscan shirtmaker's endeavor to bring you the best quality stuff at reasonable prices.

Product Review: Alden Long Wing Bluchers

Mark Kwak

Once in a while, I'd like to review a product for you guys on this blog. Sometimes, it might be my initial reactions towards a product I just purchased, and other times I'll go over something that has been part of my outfit rotation for some time. Today, I'll start with a fairly new purchase: a pair of shoes by the famous American shoemaker Alden. Alden is one of the few remaining true American shoemakers. They manufacture in Middleborough, Massachusetts, and have been at it since 1884. The pair I got is one of their most classic designs, known commonly as the long wing blucher (LWB). The design is fairly similar to that of a normal wingtip, the only difference being that the wing design extends from the front of the shoe all the way to the back. Here are some pictures below:

alden lwb4

Alden Made in the U.S.A.

alden lwb1

See how the wingtip design extends all the way throughout the shoe?

alden lwb2

You can tell the stitching on the welt ends at a point near the heel.

alden lwb3

Black leather sole with rubber at the edge of the heel.

alden lwb5

Wearing the shoes around the house.

alden lwb7

You can get these in many shades of brown as well.

alden lwb8

Pretty handsome shoe in my opinion.

alden lwb6

Outfit I'm wearing with the shoes.

Shirt: Brooks Brothers | Sweater: Old Navy | Watch: Omega

Bracelet: Unbranded | Jeans: Tellason | Shoes: Alden

Okay, so let me go into the review.

Construction: These shoes are solidly constructed. First off, all Alden shoes are Goodyear welted, meaning that the upper portion of the shoes are sewn onto a welt that also attaches to the sole. This is definitely one of the highest forms of shoe construction you can find, and Alden's been doing it brilliantly for generations. The other great thing about Goodyear welting is that it allows you to easily resole the shoes when your soles start to fall apart. Alden has a great policy where you can send in your old shoes to them, and for around $100, they can refinish the entire shoe, get you a new sole, and have them back to you looking altogether brand new.

Another thing to add is that the attention to detail is top notch, probably because these shoes are hand-made domestically. I can't find any flaws in stitching, lining, broguing, or just about any other construction element of the shoes. Suffice it to say, I'm happy with the overall quality.

Comfort: Comfort is surprisingly good. When comparing these to my Allen Edmonds, the Aldens are actually more comfortable even out of the box. I do believe they still require some breaking in of the sole, as the sole is a bit stiff from the get-go, but for the most part I think comfort isn't going to be a problem. Might also have to do with the fact that the last (the shape/mold of the shoe) is a bit roomier than my other pairs of shoes.

Design: Truth is, I don't think these shoes are very sleek or sexy. The last that these shoes are on, called the Barrie last, is slightly chunky, and the longwing design takes a bit of getting used to at first. For that reason, some might consider the design to be too old or boring. However, I don't think these shoes are trying to be some sort of modern chic cocktail-hour shoe (like many English or Italian shoes might be).

They're designed to be a daily workhorse of sorts, with a signature American look & feel to them. The chunkier sole helps support your foot better, the rock solid leather defends your foot from the elements, and the long wingtip design is a classic design that's been loved and worn for ages. I personally love the look, hence me purchasing, but can see why others might feel like the shoes aren't handsome enough to buy.

Material: The materials used are very high in quality. I can already tell that the sole and uppers feel hefty by touch, and will stand up to daily wear and tear with ease. Good news is that leather is still soft, despite being so durable, making the shoes a pleasure to wear.

Price: The price of most Alden shoes will be between $400 and $600 (when made with calf-skin). Clearly, they're expensive, and not something to be taken lightly. To add, Aldens don't go on sale. I was lucky enough to find a loophole and get some on sale via some menswear forums, but I likely won't have an opportunity like that again. So the question begs, are they worth the asking price?

Well, it depends. To some, the price increase from a pair of Allen Edmonds might not be worth it. They're constructed similarly and might even source their leather from the same place. I do know they use the same cordovan leather. However, I do think that the attention to detail on these shoes is much higher than any of my Allen Edmonds. The shoes feels sturdier, and thus, looks like they'll last longer. They're also more comfortable. So to me, the increase in quality is evident, and sometimes I'm willing to shell out some more dough as a result.

Just be aware that the law of diminishing returns is certainly playing a factor at this point. Let's say these were almost two times as expensive as my Allen Edmonds. Are they two times as good? No. Are they, in my opinion, maybe 10-20% better? Probably. So the question really becomes, are you willing to pay double the price for a slight increase in construction and quality (and design for those who like it)?

Conclusion: Overall, the shoes are constructed with the highest quality materials, feel rather comfortable even from the get-go, and are clearly strong enough to be in the game for the long haul. The look of these shoes can take a little getting used to (as I had to), but they are a classic Alden design- something that will likely never go out of style. The asking price is steep, but could be worth it for some of you. For those who need to save some money, stick with Loake, Charles Tyrwhitt, or Allen Edmonds. If you like any of their designs and have the money though, I highly recommend a pair of Aldens. You're guaranteed excellent quality and construction.

Here are some links if you'd like a pair for yourself:


Alden of Carmel


Initial Impressions: Gustin Selvedge Raw Denim Jeans

Mark Kwak

By now, you probably know that I love denim. Denim shirts, denim pants, denim jackets, love 'em all. Add characteristics like raw, selvedge, and made in the U.S.A (or more specifically San Francisco) to that denim, and now you've got my undivided attention. Well, two guys I met in SF recently, Josh Gustin and Stephen Powell, did just that by showing me their line of raw selvedge, made in the U.S.A. jeans, proudly branded Gustin.

GUSTIN denim at three stages of wear - new, 6 months, 1.5 years

At first, the guys and I talked about the history and vision of the company. Some really interesting stuff these guys are doing, which I'll go into in a sec. More importantly though, we talked about their main product, their jeans. They whipped out some of their denim, and I got a chance to look at and feel them out, and boy was I impressed.

I've owned over 5 pairs of selvedge jeans since discovering selvedge several years ago, and it was clear that these Gustin jeans were on par, if not better in construction and quality than most of my other pairs. Thus, I asked if I could try a pair at home, just to give them a true test. They kindly said yes, and I jumped on the opportunity.

So I've been wearing these Gustin jeans for the last three days now, and I have to say, I'm still pretty impressed. Here are some of my initial thoughts:


1. The weight of the denim is hefty and strong. Feels rock solid and looks very durable.

2. The attention to detail is surprisingly high. Belt loops are nicely tucked, the stitching, buttons, and pockets are all flawless, and the accent selvedge signature is tastefully placed.

3. The jeans are incredibly simple. No unnecessary stitching, design, or whatever. Very clean lines, stitching, and color.

4. The price? Whoa... I'll get into that below.


1. The jeans don't fit me all that well in the thigh area. I have weird leg proportions, so that might be why, but they flare out slightly when I wear them.

2. The rise is a more standard rise, which to me is a bit higher than I prefer. Since I'm shorter, I prefer more of a low rise jean.

Here are some extremely poor quality cell phone pictures of the fit on me:



Now, here's the juicy part. The two guys over at Gustin are tired of selling their jeans to boutiques just so that these boutiques can turn around and sell them for a hefty 100% profit to their customers. Sure the jeans might be worth $205, but the team at Gustin thinks that they can do the consumer a solid by changing up their business model a bit.

Instead of selling to boutiques, they've decided to start selling their jeans at wholesale prices directly to the consumer. So instead of $205 for a pair of these jeans, they're going to be selling them for $81.  Now I don't know about you, but to me, $81 is an absolute steal for Cone Mills raw selvedge denim, constructed in San Francisco. Frankly, this makes all my other selvedge denim purchases seem like a waste of money. That's only $25 more than a pair of Levi's you might buy at Macy's. Crazy!

Now, I don't endorse products that I don't believe in, but this company Gustin... I do endorse. Not only is their product high in quality, but the entire experience is wonderful. They take in user feedback for their future designs, offer amazing shipping and return policies, and provide excellent customer service along the way. Not too shabby in my book.

They're starting it all off on Kickstarter, and there, you can read all about them, and get the full scoop. You can also purchase their jeans on there if you help raise them money. I suggest you get over there right now and pledge $81, and get yourself a pair of nice raw selvedge denim. Probably the best deal you'll get on a pair of jeans like this for a while.