SkyMall Monday: Jeans Lounge Pants

I’ve never understood people who relax in their homes while wearing jeans. First of all, denim is not all that comfortable. Second, most people don’t wash their jeans frequently, meaning that they’re wearing filthy clothes on their couches and beds. And third, in the summer, jeans just aren’t breathable and it’s expensive to run your air conditioner all the time. That’s why I strip down to my skivvies when I walk into SkyMall Monday headquarters. I like to air out while I’m in my personal space. That, of course, makes conducting meetings quite awkward. We need to maintain an aura of edginess and danger around here. Thankfully, SkyMall has a way to let us look casual while being comfortable and maintaining our innate hipness all the while. No one does cool quite like SkyMall, so you know that you’re going to look good when you slip on a pair of Jeans Lounge Pants.Of course, you have a choice of soft-textured pants that are made to look like jeans. We understand that you can go the Pajama Jeans route. Heck, after watching the commercial, who among us hasn’t placed an order for a dozen or so? But, Pajama Jeans look so pristine and formal. What if you like to keep things more “downtown chic? Ripped jeans let people know that you’re edgy and playful rather than stuffy and dull.

Think that jeans should be jeans and not secret pajamas? Believe that you could just buy a pair of comfortable pants made of something other than denim? Well, while you get lost in your walk-in closet, we’ll be reading the product description:

These lounge pants look like a ripped-up, much-beloved pair of denim jeans–but they’re actually super-soft cotton with amazingly realistic front-and-back printing and a much more forgiving stretch.

Sure, you own sweatpants, yoga pants, gym shorts, pajama pants, leggings and several other articles of clothing with a forgiving stretch for when you pillage a pint of Ben & Jerry’s, but those pants don’t make you look like you live in Seattle circa 1994.

You deserve to be comfortable while you look dangerous. You deserve Jeans Lounge Pants.

Check out all of the previous SkyMall Monday posts HERE.

VIDEO: Many steps around the world

A new video by Japanese filmmaker Takayuki Akachi shows people taking steps all around the world. Sounds simplistic, because it is, but the video shows a beautiful slice-of-life from around the globe. His concept is described as “collecting the steps from all over the world and playing a music with the steps.” The artist specializes in a “lone backpacker” style of filming that allows him to travel without a film crew. This isn’t his first round-the-world video effort: last year he made the stop-motion Traveling Denim, documenting a pair of jeans over two years and 50 countries. Check out all of his videos on Vimeo.

Music by Dulo, video sponsored by Onitsuka Tiger sneakers. MANY STEPS from Takayuki Akachi on Vimeo.

Road testing men’s outfitter The Trunk Club

The first time that John Flowerton came into my life was during a dinner party at my flat in Chicago. An underweight, lanky man non unlike myself, John is one of the smartest people that I know — a trader by vocation and a man fiercely dedicated to his work — so much that he rarely spends time worrying over what he wears or why he wears it. His parter, Alina, just deposits clothing in his wardrobe and the pieces that he likes end up on his shoulders.

For people like John, the Trunk Club, a new service created by the founder of Bonobos might be the perfect match. The Trunk Club works like a remote personal shopper. The client first interfaces with a real-life style consultant, whether on the phone, Skype or over email to detail his style and fit. A series of customized outfits is then sent over in a “trunk,” and the client can keep (and purchase) whatever components that he sees fit. He then applies the included return label to the package and everything else is returned free of charge.

Based in Chicago, the Trunk Club is employs a dozen or so style consultants just northwest of the Loop in a lofty, artistic part of town. When Gadling Labs stopped by the space earlier this year, the office was still humming at 7PM, with young consultants eagerly helping clients over the phone and racing through rows of clothing, darting between fabrics and piecing together customized trunks.

Their head style consultant, Mike Barkin sat me down for a discussion on fit. What shirts usually fit the best? How tight did I like my jeans? What colors did I usually wear? Everything went into his table, a host of data collected from which future clothing styles would feed.

Some of the clients ask for specific wardrobes – a wedding in Florida where slacks and a pink shirt would be appropriate, or a meeting in New York where a blazer and jeans might work as well. Others leave the door open. They might like to layer and need outfits for the lake house, for example, or maybe need to impress a date on a night out on the town. Each style consultant takes time to weigh the target fit and style options against the chosen itinerary and put together a few suitable outfits.

And they don’t always work either – occasionally a shirt won’t fit right or jeans will be too large or small. That’s why the consultants encourage you to feed back to the mother ship as soon as the trunk is received. Honing the Trunk Club database on what brands and what sizes work best for one’s fit and style is part of the process, and as the third or fourth trunk is received, most outfits should look like they came straight out of the client’s home closet.

Where the service is particularly useful is for quick turn travelers. One can leave the office with a toothbrush and extra pair of boxers and have trunks meet them on waypoints throughout a week of destinations. Alternatively, cold weather clothing can meet the businessman in one corner of the country early in the week while warm weather gear could round out the trip in the California at week’s end.

Gadling Labs gave that very program a trial last month at the Trump SoHo in New York City. Four days prior to departure, a quick phone call to Mr. Barkin laid out the plan for our weekend trip, what sort of outfits might work and the location of our hotel. On arrival, a bell hop brought up the trunk, a 2′ x 2′ x 18″ cardboard crate with the Trunk Club elephant logo emblazoned on the front. Inside, three custom outfits with jeans, slacks, corduroys, oxfords and sweaters were laid out, some collated to show the obvious overlap and others left separate for creative use. The Jeremy Argyle button down shirts? A refreshingly good fit. The Ben Sherman sweaters? A bit too short. Bonobo slacks? Really great pants, but a bit out of our price range. We ended up sticking with a red and blue Jeremy Argyle shirt, tucking the rest of the clothing back into the trunk and moving on with the weekend. At checkout, we dropped the package off at Trump SoHo’s reception and they took care of the rest.

And that’s how the Trunk Club is supposed to work. It’s low maintenance – you make a phone call, direct your consultant and give them a destination. The product shows up quietly, has your gear laid out and makes it easy to pick out your wardrobe. Five minutes later it’s buttoned back up and headed towards the front desk while you’ve got something unique to wear for the next few days.

The only considerations? The Trunk Club’s shopping profile and their respective partners fit into a fairly specific price and style range. Shirts in the Gadling Labs trunk ranged from $70 to just under $200, while pants were as high as $150. They also don’t necessarily go on sale – the consumer is pinned to the shelf-price for the product which can add up pretty quickly.

But these considerations are the worries of a person tightly dedicated to frugality and highly selective of his wardrobe – and that’s not necessarily the demographic that perfectly matches up with the Trunk Club clientele. For me? I’m too picky about what I wear and its heritage to let someone do my shopping. But John Flowerton’s life may never be the same.

Slip into Noko jeans: North Korean fashion in Sweden

HELLO IT’S Noko Jeans! from Noko Jeans on Vimeo.

Capitalism fever has crossed the DMZ and wandered into North Korea. The reclusive communist state has launched a line of designer jeans, which are set to go on sale at a fashionable Stockholm department store on Friday. Drop $215 a pop to sport “Noko” brand jeans and show that you can get your hands on an unusual and hard-to-find brand. Make sure everyone sees the label: “Made in North Korea.” So, when you’re cruising a PUB store in Sweden, saunter past Guess and Levi’s, and drop your ass into North Korea.

Noko is actually a Swedish company, and the founders spent more than a year trying to work out some arrangements with factory operators in North Korea. Communications were obviously an issue, as was trying to figure out how to do capitalist business in a communist place. Jacob Astrom, one of the founders, told Reuters, “There is a political gap, there is a mental gap, and there is an economic gap,” continuing, “all contacts with the country are difficult and remain so to this day.”

The founders of Noko got the idea to launch a project in North Korea out of curiosity, and Astrom said that the “reason we did this was to come closer to a country that was very difficult to get into contact with.” Hell, the country certainly isn’t known as a fashion center.

Sweden was a natural fit for pushing into the country that does its best to keep outsiders outside. It is only one of seven countries with an embassy in North Korea. So, this would seem like a great starting point for building relationships … but would overlook the countless challenges that exist even after you get a foot in the door.

The first company, the largest textile manufacturer in the country, turned Noko down, but the Swedes found some luck with Trade 4, the largest mining company in North Korea (mining: file this one under “only in North Korea”). Trade 4 also runs a small textile operation.

The effort was complicated that the folks at Noko wanted a North Korean factory to make 1,100 pairs of something it had never produced before. The first pair of jeans to roll off the line was the first ever for the country. Yet, this was just the start. Yet, the North Korean team was nothing if not helpful: a trade representative offered to find Astrom a pirated version of free software Adobe Acrobat to help him read files.

A trip to North Korea this past summer drove home the need for micromanagement at the factory. But, that didn’t stop the jeans from shipping. They hit shelves in Sweden on December 4, 2009, though you can order them from Noko’s website. Just don’t look for them in Pyongyang: it seems jeans are counterrevolutionary.

Brazilian Fashion from Japan: The Jeankini

Yes, this is a real product. You can really buy it, if you want to. But why would you? Aside from serving no practical purpose, this jean-bikini hybrid available from “Brazil Fashion” store (located in, um, Japan) Sanna’s for ¥ 9.240 (about $80 US), is proabably the trashiest piece of clothing I’ve ever seen. You can’t even swim in them!

[via cynicalc]