FA2L is for anyone who cares about beautiful things–clothing, shoes, accessories, home furnishings–and the interconnected tribes of those who make, sell, market and desire them. If something speaks to you, buy it now or hold your peace: there are links in each story, so the item you want is just a click away. I'd like to hear from you, too: please view my profile, use the email button and send me your comments.MG

Friday, October 23, 2009

Hamilton's 1883: Unstuffing the Stuffed Shirt

This happens to be a great moment for menswear. FA2L is thrilled, of course, but also curious: why such an explosion of talent at this particular time? Cultural anthropologists would likely point to cross-pollinating effects of globalization (and they're probably right), but we suspect something more visceral is also at work: Recent generations of designers, having grown up in the shadow of a greedy, overbearing corporate culture, are literally starving for self-expression.

The result is options, and plenty of them, from aggressive, futuristic tailoring (think Alexander McQueen or Raf Simons) to frankly nostalgic reworkings of beloved classics. Many traditional brands tap into this youthful energy by hiring young designers and setting them loose in the archives, with varying degrees of success. Sometimes, true love ensues (Thom Browne's quirky Black Fleece collection for Brooks Bros is obviously born from a match made in heaven) but such pairings work best when they strengthen a label's DNA. And fashion, like any human endeavor, has its own bloodlines and family trees.

Hamilton Shirts isn't as old as Brooks Bros, but it does boast an impressive pedigree. This Houston-based custom shirt maker was founded in 1883 and is now owned by fourth-generation siblings David and Kelly Hamilton. Together, they've plumbed the company's past and launched a ready-to-wear collection, 1883, combining vintage details, beautiful fabrics and decidedly unstuffy styling. There are distinctive Texan touches, including tissue-thin cotton utility shirts with button tabs (for rolled-up sleeves), trim madras button-downs and a range of lightweight popovers, like the linen version shown here. And since everything's designed for Houston's brutal heat, Hamilton's 1883 shirts can help men keep their cool just about anywhere in the world.