The Winter Top 5: End, GRP, Real McCoy’s, Baudoin & Acronym

Share
||- Begin Content -||

Anonymous Ism socks, via End

£30

The online version of End is a surprisingly good source for classic clothing. Although it’s still dominated by street wear, and the new shop off Carnaby Street is entirely trainers and hoodies, the website has a huge range. 

For example, it's one of the best places online to get shetland and Fair Isle sweaters. There’s Shetland Woollen Co, Howlin’, and Jamieson’s - the latter in a mad range of Fair Isle colour combinations. They also stock Alden, Anderson’s belts and Gitman Vintage. 

Here I want to highlight these simple socks, however. They’re from Japanese brand Anonymous Ism, and I bought my pair a year ago from Trunk (but they don’t stock them any more). 

Now, most of the time I can see the argument for buying cheap socks. If they’re short, casual, thicker ones, there’s just not as much of a difference in quality as there is with fine, dressy, over-the-calf ones. But these are easily the most comfortable socks I’ve ever worn. I was looking forward to Winter just to wear them. 

They’re fairly thick (like any sports sock) and so make decent slippers if that’s what you want. But inside a boot or loafer they’re amazing. It must be the cotton used, I think, because I can’t see anything else unusual about them. And they are the most expensive ones Anonymous Ism have. But given how much I wear and love them, easily worth it. 

GRP wool blouson, via John Simons

£375

John Simons has been criminally ignored on Permanent Style, and that will be fixed in a few different ways. The man who brought Ivy to London, and in the process turned it into something else, deserves deep coverage.

For anyone that hasn't been in, the shop is stocked entirely with heritage makers of quality clothing, and while they aren't all probably to the taste of PS readers, many are. For every brightly coloured varsity jacket, there's also an understated, quality piece like the blouson here.

Made by Italian manufacturers GRP, who have been working with John since the 1980s, it is made in a few different navy wools: the body is a dense, felt-like worsted, while the sleeves are an open-knit woollen. None of them contrast enough to stand out.

Among the knitwear styles from GRP, the quarter zip is probably the nicest. It's a long-necked vintage model that you often see in coarser wools, but not a nice smooth make like this. It's quite generous in the fit though, so worth trying on (whereas the blouson is a little trim).

The Real McCoy’s down vest

£1025

The Real McCoy’s launched a new website earlier this year, and the stock is both better and better organised. (They’re also opening a new physical store soon, while for the moment the downstairs section at Clutch Cafe remains.)

Among my favourite pieces is this down vest, which I bought last Winter. In fact, it got quite a few inquiries on Instagram when I shared a picture camping in it with my family over the Summer. I’ll likely do some more coverage of top-quality walking/camping/hiking gear at some point. 

The vest is veg-tanned deerskin, which is expensive but has a wonderful soft, substantial feel. The down is 91.5% duck feather. Basically, it’s what you expect from The Real McCoy’s: the best quality, in small runs, at a high price. 

I wear the vest over a sweatshirt with chinos if I’m going to park with my kids (we also did some den building during lockdown), for the aforementioned camping, and for going to and from sport - in that case, over a hoodie, with shorts, plus a watch cap. Standing at the bus stop. 

Other current pieces I’ve tried at The Real McCoy’s (though don’t own) are the milk-coloured loopwheel hoodie (probably the closest thing to my Loopwheeler one I’ve found here) and the field sports jacket, which is made from a really nice, tough herringbone wool, and horsehide. 

Baudoin & Lange Grand shoe, suede

£490

When I first covered the ‘Grand’ model from Baudoin & Lange at the beginning of last year, I wasn’t overly enthusiastic. 

It was a rather innovative shoe: Allan had done all sorts of things inside to make it more comfortable, the most surprising of which, probably, was cutting out an oval-shaped section of the structure around the joint of the little toe. 

But the overall look wasn’t me. It was too similar to a regular welted shoe in the leather and style, yet too dissimilar in construction. I ended up selling mine. 

I recently tried the same model in brown suede, and found that worked much better. In suede, there are fewer of the expectations of a dress loafer - it feels more similar to a Belgian or soft slip-on. 

It’s just more casual. If there are readers who like the idea of the Sagan (which again, would usually be suede) but want a version they can wear in more countries/weather, then I’d suggest this. Personally, I wouldn’t go for the calf versions. 

(And to anticipate the question - this has more structure than the Ginkgo model, and is Blake stitched rather than being cemented. There are often fine differences between the different parts of the B&L range.)

Acronym technical clothing

From €1700

Here's one to have regular readers spluttering into their coffee. I recently saw a friend wearing an Acronym waterproof jacket (the J1E) and have since become slightly obsessed with the design detail.

Yes, the models all look like they want to kill you; and yes, the website is stupid. It is also horrifically expensive. But the clothing is all driven by functionality, and it's fascinating reading about how it's all put together, and why.

It was a big thing a few years ago, when Acronym launched, but I think was missold in a lot of the coverage - primarily as a fashion brand.

A lot of the looks are strange and otherworldly, and the founder Errolson Hugh does have a habit of posing with zips halfway up his face. But the clothing is entirely about innovative materials and functional details: hidden phone pockets in the forearm, angled zips that allow movement while retaining rain cover, hoods that surround the neck without restricting it.

Have a look at this old video for a demonstration - in particular the gravity pockets in the sleeves, and the way the messenger bag works underneath the jacket. It's real cutting-edge technology and fascinating pattern cutting, driven by very particular functional needs. Not all synthetics either - a good few pieces in Ventile for example.

There's too much to go into here really, but if anyone is interested in technical clothing and has the budget, then I recommend reading up on Acronym. Perhaps something simple like the J27-GT (pictured). Without the drop-crotch trousers.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
42 Comments
Oldest
Newest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
JB

Ok that video was seriously cool. Hidden gravity pockets and the way the straps worked on the bag, I’d just play around with those all day.

Ian

I’d be afraid I’d start playing around with them, but would end up in a Mr. Bean/ Frank Spencer style comedy of errors or a succession of minor accidents.

Chris

As someone who has owned several Acronym jackets and tops, I’d say the features you mentioned are much more marketing novelties than actually useful in the day to day. Don’t get me wrong, it’s very cool to know they exist, but I’ve never put my phone in the gravity pockets — it just doesn’t give me much beyond a normal pocket. I don’t need to pop my phone out of nowhere; I work an office job. The jacket slings and magnetized earbud holders are also novelties IMO.

That said, I really love the three jackets of theirs that I’ve kept because the cut and fabrics are good, the mobility is great, and (normal, non-gimmick) pockets are placed in smart locations.

Chris

“I guess that’s a story of a very functionality-driven jacket being applied to a more urban, office use? Could some of those pieces of functionality be of more use in a more extreme or just outdoors situation?”

Simon – maybe.

With tongue in cheek, I have a hard time imagining what kind of ‘extreme’ situation might arise in my life where I need to summon my phone directly to my hand via gravity pocket, rather than just, you know, reach into a normal pocket to retrieve it.

But that’s the appeal of Acronym to a lot of people — you can imagine you *might* end up in some vague, extreme, worldsaving situation where those secret gadgets could be deployed under urgent conditions. Because if there were no possibility of that happening, why would someone have added this feature to the jacket?

I don’t often hear it voiced because it’s a little embarrassing, but I think this kind of fantasy-based thinking is common in menswear. It’s what makes someone attracted to a leather double rider — he imagines not only wearing the leather, but also taking on some of the rough-and-tough attitude along with it. And some people who want to wear suits, even though their environment doesn’t require it, have a similar fantasy; I see it often on the comments section here. The idea being that by putting on the tailored jacket, one also puts on his fantasy of being a ‘true sophisticate.’

I do think we can look critically at these fantasies without judging or shaming. Even if you only want a jacket here or there rather than the full kit, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to buy into Acronym’s fantasy (it’s a great fantasy).

As to usefulness in an outdoors situation… If it’s a normal outdoors situation and you really want pure functionality, then any technical jacket from an outdoors brand would be enough. I have skiied with one of my Acronym jackets and it worked well, but wasn’t in any way superior to jackets designed for skiing. I’ve also hiked in the rain with a different Acronym shell, and I felt the same.

At the end of the day, it’s not only about the practicality, it’s about how the thing makes you feel. And between the cut, solid functionality, and the details (and, if i’m being honesty, a dose of that cyberpunk fantasy) — I really do feel cooler in those jackets.

JB

Yes I think fantasy and the idea of what something could be used for would be a big part of it. I’d love to have gravity pockets in a tailored jacket too, if nothing else just for the spy gadget feel. I’m only human after all.

Anonymous

Thank you, Chris and Simon.

I find the use of pockets an interesting topic, particularly with suits / formal clothing rather than overcoats. Not sure if Simon has posted on this.

For example, I never use my back trouser pockets, but others probably do all of the time. Personally, the use of in-breast pockets with cell phone, etc. tends, in my opinion, to ruin the lines of a coat with the exception of drape cut clothing and I make use of the side flap pockets on business suits for this purpose.

Are there general rules and/or recommendations for the use of pockets?

Shoddy

When you say the website is stupid, do you have this sort of thing in mind:
“Kinetically remastered. All new original. J1B is built with nodal point weathered drone assassin math. 9 anatomic pockets allow for digital cardboard realism and sub-orbital saturation points. Interopsæ for frictionless free-market fetishism drugs. Asymmetric DIY 3rd Arm Legba refrigerator. Removable beef noodles franchise vinyl. ǍCROŇYMř systems order-flow remains unparalleled”
I don’t want to be precious, but I find this more than offputting.

But the white socks at item 1 of your post seem even more likely to “regular readers spluttering into their coffee.” Or are they for sport?
Honestly I don’t know what the internet does to me. I start out meaning to congratulate you on your article and end up instead sending something between Pooter and Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells. Forgive me, I do really enjoy your pieces.

Anonymous

Whoever came up with that website must have loved Nathan Barley so much they forgot it was satire.

Mark S

I’ve lusted over the RM vest for a while now. It’s such a lovely piece and so practical too. I’ll probably pretend to myself for another short while that I’m not shelling out >£1k on a leather vest… before I fold and buy it.

Solid recommendation.

Prince Florizel of Bohemia

Great article, Simon! I’m on a hunt for casual socks for winter. May I ask you would wear white socks such as these with? Cream or pale brown trousers?

Prince Florizel of Bohemia

Thank you.

Ian A

Great prose as always Simon! When I saw the heading I thought why only 5. Why not 10! Your assertions are spot on about End Clothing, I bought a fair isle Brown Shetland Jamison’s from them but I notice that Fair Isle sweaters often don’t feature on Permanent Style. I’m guessing it’s a bit too Granville (tv character) for the site.

JS

Simon what are your thoughts on Arcteryx Veilance? Very well made technical themed clothing similar to Acronymn.

Tony

Hi Simon

Your mention of the differences in construction on the Sagan reminds me of a question I’ve been meaning to ask about them – are they resolable, despite being cemented?

The reason I ask is it seems somewhat against your general approach of valuing clothes that can age with you to recommend a shoe with such high-quality uppers that you would need to throw out once the soles are worn through. It seems like it would be shame to throw them away, but if they can’t be re-soled there isn’t really another option.

Tony

That makes a lot of sense. I guess my trusty old (and not in the least stylish) ugg boots are barely showing a sign of wear after almost a decade for that very reason.

JDV

As of now they offer a rubber-sole as well. Probably works fine in wet conditions and therefore in between seasons.

zo

totally judged you there

Sam

I appreciate your openmindedness with Acronym. Personally I can’t get past the dystopian ninja aesthetics (and I doubt anyone needs that many tricks and straps and magnets in their clothing), but it’s very interesting to discuss this in the context of cutting, pattern-making, functionality. Would love to read a more in-depth piece if you ever do one.

Sam

Come to think of it, Abasi Rosborough is in a similar category. Again not my style at all, but I loved their conversation on Blamo a few years ago, very thoughtful.

J

Simon, that Real McCoy’s gilet is fantastic. I’m interested to your thoughts on value. I am fortunate enough such that it is affordable, however given the high price, interested to hear how you think value goes into the product? It is a gilet, of course, but do you tend to think about these things in terms of the material, design, longevity (do these things actually last for a while?)?

Slightly tangentially, what is your view on pricing on the Row? I find it a bit challenging that no house posts their prices online – which means you have to bother them to ask, or, have no clarity on pricing until you pick a fabric i guess. (I am only saving up for a visit so i dont want bother them months out in advance, however am itching to know how much the likes of Edward Sexton/C&M/A&S charge now…)

Perhaps a general musing on value and pricing i guess!

Chancellor

I think Simon’s Guide to Tailor Styles which covers many Saville Row tailors has prices at the start of each article. Some might be a little out of date and it’s not an apples to apples comparison, but I think you could probably mine several prices that way.

J

Thank you Simon, for the detailed answer. Would love to see that post when it comes out, of course.!

Jonathan

John Simons has been one of the most important figures in UK Menswear for over 50 years and I am happy to see that he is finally worthy of mention in PS. Two years ago an excellent documentary called John Simons A Modernist, was made about John’s life and influence. It is well worth seeing.

Daniel

Hi Simon. So true on retailer influence. Grew up and lived in Leeds for many years and when on occasion asked by friends about something I was wearing I would mention the shop rather than the label. Readers from that part of the world may remember ‘Wardrobe’ in the City centre and ‘Brills’ on Street Lane who would send customers a card on their birthday.

Max

Another Acronym fan here. I must say I am pleasantly surprised to see this brand featured on PS! While the “full kit” looks featured on the “mothership” (as fans refer to it) are intense, individual pieces go well with casual clothes. For example, I have a 3/4 length shell parka that looks and feels great over an Aran knit. And, I rely on the futuristic black cashmere neck gaiter with everything from a hoodie to my Coherence rain coat. Simon, I’d love to see you sport some Acronym gear in an upcoming post. Perhaps the to-be-released sweater: https://acrnm.com/products/C1-AJ_FW2021

Andrew Hughes

Hi Simon,

I wear an Italian Vest by Crescent Down Works. What do you think of the company?

Regards,

Andrew

Leonard

Hi Simon,

Those socks really caught my interest, as I’ve been searching for a more casual sock option for my wardrobe, but with a comparable level of craftsmanship to my Gammarellis.

However, they seem to bizarrely only come in a single size, and I happen to have size 47 EU (about a 12 UK). They are stated to stretch, but I am unsure whether that means that they can accomodate anything beyond a size 11.

Alternatively, would you know of any other comparable brands offering a casual, yet well-made sock option that pairs well low top sneakers and denim?

Best regards,