twenty fifteen

Honor Roll 2015 In Review

I started this article the same way I always do: staring into a blank wordpress draft, ghost-tapping the keyboard, hoping a writer’s muscle-memory would find a way to begin.  Then I’ll delete, and start the process again.

Writing’s tough, man.  Expecting my students to compose a compare and contrast essay never ceases to hit me back with a pang of guilt.  So as long as I assign writing, I’ll ask the same of myself.

But somewhere in the fifteen to ninety minutes in the trenches of writer’s block, I emerge with something worthwhile to share, and inspiration takes hold.  It is at this moment that I am full with what I made this site for: purpose.

2015 was the first complete year of the honor roll.  I’ve had the pleasure to meet and talk with unique artists, and the opportunity to contribute to their work, which I fully believe in.  And from the artists, their work, and the people who value them, I have learned.  And for that I am most grateful.

From this year I’ve selected twelve moments.  If you’re a frequent reader of the honor roll, please revisit these pieces.  If you’re new, I hope these stories will help you to understand why I love what I do.

Click on the photos to read the articles.  Enjoy.  Happy new year.

  • January - Why Good Shoes Matter
    January - Why Good Shoes Matter
    "There I was, grading papers in class, and I saw my shoes sweating. I rubbed the condensation off, when my thumb turned black. The layers of polish were flaking off the cheap leather and onto the ground. It was my Huffy all over again. Two hours of work and the feeling that I beat the system crumbled in a coal dandruff."
  • February - Snow Day in Hakone
    February - Snow Day in Hakone
    "Every cut and corner of tatami – the straw mats that compose its flooring – was precise to every centimeter of the space. The room was peacefully bare and quiet, save for the interval hawing of the heater. There were the required technologies to modernize the abode, but with the aroma of fresh wood and tea leaves, this was an escape."
  • March - Ring People
    March - Ring People
    "Any well-fitting suit begins and reveals its mettle at the neck to shoulder line. Why? Take a look at your buddies for a moment. From the bottom of their neck to the edge of their shoulder, notice the near-snowflake array of variation in slope, bulge, length, shape, and more. Any miscalculation can turn a smooth neck-to-shoulder- slope into an avalanche of bumps and breaks. Koroshi Eri is the technique in custom clothing to truly suit the customer’s neck-to-shoulder line. It is by their tailors’ dedication of applying this technique in ready-to-wear garments that Ring Jacket has solidified their place atop this market of suits."
  • April - 沈阳制造 | Made in Shenyang
    April - 沈阳制造 | Made in Shenyang
    Not a lot of people would pay attention to the inside stitch. On a finished pair, you see a single inseam stitch, but it takes a process to get here. After the sewing the jeans together at the edge, we run a single stitch to close the inseam while the jeans are inside-out. Then we turn out the pair, fold over the first track, and finish off with a single chain stitch. From the inside, you’ll see the first white stitch, and the parallel pair. But from the outside, you see one even, neat stitch, and you’d never know the hidden track underneath. But I do, and I love that.
  • May - Kelvin's Colors
    May - Kelvin's Colors
    "Kelvin laid out his fine and fraying brushes, bottles of dyes, and blank canvasses of calfskin, tied his apron, and began a layer, accompanied by curious onlookers and those like myself unloading with English and Cantonese questions. Answering left and right, in between and during edge marks, Kel seemed unfazed by these inquiries, begetting a reflexive memorization of the coloring lessons he learned in Paris when he began his apprenticeship."
  • June - Arte con Brio
    June - Arte con Brio
    "As a home is an extension of its owner, I’d have to assume that an experienced curator founded BRIO. The brands alone suggest discerning taste, with each handmade flourish and graceful imperfection shining under the house’s lights. The store also reserves many of its walls for enormous canvasses of fine art, sculptures, or antique tools of the trade; even the central table’s ebony undulations are something to behold."
  • July - Under the Brim
    July - Under the Brim
    "So when you receive a Nick Fouquet hat by Alberto Hernandez, understand that you get a piece of Rubin with it. The sweat that beaded on his temple after one more steam press to settle the felt just a bit more. The flecks of dust on his fingers, bending and pulling a stubborn brim. The proud Guanajuato tradition of making sombreros. The lessons from his father, who learned from his father, of how to make, wear, and completely own your hat."
  • August - Talking Totems: Chad and his Suits
    August - Talking Totems: Chad and his Suits
    "My father has made every (suit I own).' 'Do you remember the first one?' 'Yes, when I was a teenager. It was my high school graduation, and he made it just for that day. It was . . . gray, herringbone, three-button. A classic suit.' 'Was this kind of suit your idea?' Chad shakes his head, points to the elder Park, and smiles."
  • September - Fifteen Years of Take5
    September - Fifteen Years of Take5
    "It’s a point that I belabor, only because I admire – envy, now and again – these individuals. But if you have a genuine passion for something, and you can make a career out of it, then why don’t you? It’s an idea that I tend to oversimplify, but when it comes down to it, that’s what Benny did to make Take5 and get it where it is today. I’ve met too many gentlemen who’s storefronts are testaments to this belief, and it makes me think, why the hell not?"
  • October - Toasting for Five Past, to Five More
    October - Toasting for Five Past, to Five More
    "I, like many others in the Asian region, owe a lot of my self-discovery in the world of style to The Armoury. It’s difficult to place a finger at what exactly this store does that holds such an influence, and it’s just as difficult to think where I’d be without their guidance. In a city of fast and fused garments, the aptly-titled retailer uses a few hundred square meters of territory, holding strong in the battle for good clothing."
  • November - Things We Like, That You Should Too: Yellow Hook Neckties & Co.
    November - Things We Like, That You Should Too: Yellow Hook Neckties & Co.
    "Rob and Courtney started Yellow Hook Neckties & Co. as a labor of love, an outlet for their creativity. But it’s also their connection to their past. To Rob’s own great grandfather Leo and his Coney Island barber chair. To his great uncles Antonio and Vincenzo, outfitting the locals from their tailoring house on 18th and 86th. To his stoop on Bay Ridge, whose’s golden soil gave the town a different name."
  • December - Clockenflap: A Hong Kong Home
    December - Clockenflap: A Hong Kong Home
    "It took me three years, but last winter came to an understanding: for all the gargantuan acts that attract the masses to this part of the city, something else entirely keeps us there: community. Now, as a visitor – frequent that may be – I’m curious to see what Clockenflap actually does for the city of Hong Kong. Does the magic of the Harbour Flap Stage flicker out with the Sunday headliner, or does it linger just long enough to inspire real action?"

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