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018: Oren Aks bought Off-White and no one was supposed to know
Plus 30% off everything at Mango, Nicole Saldaña's first stab at outerwear, and a totally undervalued leather trench.
I took a short hiatus from features, over which we got to know each other a bit better in this intro section—that was nice! But I’m also excited to be back with a shopping interview after several weeks, a conversation with my good friend Oren Aks who’s undergoing a really relatable personal style journey. That said, I’ll keep this opener short so that you can get to the good stuff.
My receiving office (i.e. the ottoman in my living room where I hack at packages with a box cutter) saw some great things come through this week. In the last send, I talked Italic, the D2C brand making goods in designer factories for a fraction the price, and I finally got to try a piece of their clothing: a fantastic leather trench with clever details like a sewn-on belt and dramatic broad collar. It sells for $350 compared to $2,800 Frame ones made in the same place.
It would be very on the nose to wear that coat with other newcomer, this Les Tien yacht pullover and sweats set. This was my aspirational pandemic loungewear look and I hate to say that Rosie HW (my guilty basic blogger muse) made me do it. JLo also wears them with a rotation of Birkin bags, but for some mysterious reason this does not move the needle for me.
This Ciao Lucia Veneta dress arrived, and it smells like near-past nostalgia, the first I’ve encountered since settling into, I mean, sweats and leather trenches season, obviously. She’s the reason I finally started my passport renewal process this afternoon.
Lastly, I finally got my hands on some Simi Haze beauty, and I’m not sure why we aren’t talking about this more? The packaging is truly, truly incredible—the lipstick makes the most satisfying use of a magnet closure, the silicone orbs gently thudding shut upon contact—and the colors are exacting.
When you’re an ecommerce behemoth like, say, Farfetch, you’re swimming in data that details—down to the stitch—just what customers are buying. Couple that with fluency in high-caliber design and fabric choices captured after years of trafficking the world’s best, and what’s stopping you from producing your own line of quantitatively perfect apparel? The answer is apparently nothing at all, because that’s just what Farfetch has done with its newly introduced in-house label There Was One. The capsule could feasibly replace your entire wardrobe, with pared-back, mix-and-match basics that can be styled for anywhere from the couch to coffee meetings to a dinner-and-dancing thing.
I’ve been toying with the notion lately that different regions best deliver for different seasons (beyond, like, ok Alaska makes snow gear or whatever). France and the UK for spring, Italy for summer, and Spain and Portugal in the fall. The Iberian idiosyncrasy comes from brands like Hereu and Babaa and their deftness producing impeccable leather boots and ten-gallon knits, respectively. Portuguese shoe designer Nicole Saldaña’s foray into outerwear is further evidence for this case. The Mary Janes stylish girls have worn season after season will look rich and sharp with soft knit socks and a shearling Saldaña bomber, and they’ll be twice as interesting as with some household name producing lesser versions for double the cost.
Following the success of their February partnership, New Balance and Staud have teamed up on a fall release of heritage-inspired primary-color sneakers and RTW, which launches today at noon. It’s giving Spike Lee meets the Google logo, and it’s almost definitely going to sell out again soon.
As Heron Preston and Calvin Klein’s partnership enters another season, it’s interesting to reflect on how a mega-brand like CK, which taps into both affluent and lower-income customer bases, is attracting niche, hype buyers via the signifying marks of a brand that takes those cues from historically low-cost industrial workwear brands like Carhartt. It’s not a critique—prices fall on the lower end, much closer to core CK intimates than core HP RTW—but food for thought on how narrowly one needs to follow along the crowded fashion narrative to assign value to any of this stuff in the first place.
Similarly, Dickies carries on its own reinvention as art handler-couture with a Highsnobiety limited edition collab. One can easily run out of things to say about Dickies collabs, but I’ll admit that, yeah it’s pretty nice! Pants and a couple jacket styles seem decent quality, and the fits are nice for gyals and guys alike.
When I tell you I wore my Homecoat every single day during quarantine. Offhours is one of those really special brands that knew exactly who it was from the jump and didn’t try to besmirch its own good name crowding its product assortment. They make a phenomenal robe that weighs a lot and feels great enough on that you will legitimately cancel plans. A new colorway, Riparian, signals a return for the brand that spent a good chunk of the past year contentedly sold out.
There’s also: Simon Miller’s Resort ‘22 collection, “Block Party” drops, furthering the brand’s ever-solidifying universe; Collina Strada launches swim for the first time ever at SSENSE and everything’s under $300; nap dress brand Hill House Home released a fall collection, which sold out almost straight away, but its most recent collab with Fanm Mon, a green knit cardigan, is still available; Brazil’s biggest fashion brand, Farm Rio, collabs with Adidas again for F21; Lisa Says Gah’s got the spunky clogs you seek; and CAMPERLAB, too, is serving a fierce FW21 footwear lineup (what did I say about Spanish brands in the fall?).
What’s on sale
Mango is having a 30% off sitewide sale right now, and scrolling the product pages is like looking into a mirror, the exact holes in my current closet reflected back at me in generously priced, enduring pieces. Even if I reserve an ounce of skepticism for a leather-look jogger here and there, I can be pretty confident this Khaite-looking striped sweater ($42!) or this memorable fringe coat ($100 off!) would get way more wears this season than their prices suggest.
The Outnet has adopted a direct-to-diffusion model like those found at Nordstrom Rack or SO5, except it’s funneling Victoria Beckham pieces past its big sister site Net-a-Porter, straight onto its deal-laden pages. The British label has become synonymous with cool clothes for elegant ladies, so I would never scoff at the chance to own a piece or two for well under typical retail. It’s not a sale, per se, but VB for less than $400 is a nice find by any standard.
I love Halloween and buying designer as much as (maybe more than? I have dedicated a newsletter to it) the next person, but I can’t imagine a reality in which I’m buying YSL to make my cat costume, or whatever some promotional emails would have you believe. Whether that was Luisaviaroma’s intention when it launched its 30% off Halloween sale, valid on select full-price items with HLW30, is to be seen. There’s a ton worth buying that won’t end up on a special occasion Goodwill rack in 11 months—not even close.
4,000 items have already sold at Frame’s up-to-80%-off sample sale, but there’s still a sizable piece of the pie left. It’s not just jeans (though there are plenty), but button downs, blouses, sweats, and even boots and shoes marked down by the $100s.
There’s also: Shopbop is previewing its sale… with another sale… that goes for three days, with discounts reaching up to 40% off; Reebok’s 45% off everything plus extra 50% off sale ends tonight; luxury oil brand Costa Brazil is doing 25% off sitewide with BRAZIL25, which is as good a reason as any to blind-buy one of its shelf-candy bottles (the bit is that this is one of the best-smelling things I’ve ever met); and happy Diwali, celebrate with 20% off everything with code diya at melanated skincare brand Planktos.
Among Nordstrom’s many (many) gift guides launched over the last couple weeks, of which there’s sure to be many (many) more, one that flew largely under the radar was its SPACE gift edit. To refresh, SPACE is the Olivia Kim-led arm of the company that brings in experimental designers that don’t carry the same guaranteed revenue as a Topshop or an Ugg but keep the Nordstrom name relevant and the merchandise mix fresh. The SPACE gift edit is predictably a click more interesting than the rest, counting Eliou jewelry exclusives, Simone Rocha beaded bags, Acne Studios socks, and Sandy Liang fleeces.
For the here and now, Target has assembled an easy-to-shop storefront for Halloween goods available for same-day delivery. Last minute costumes and candy, but also pet costumes, themed platters (?), and DVDs (??).
A eulogy for Oren Aks’ uniform
When Steve Jobs-dressing dies, what takes its place?
I’ve known Oren for nearly a decade, and in that time he’s transformed his graphic design practice into a silent hand that’s steered some of our favorite news cycle snacks (see: Fyre Festival, Fuck Jerry). Perpetually left of center to scandal (and often hard to track down across the globe), Oren is the guy behind the scenes drumming up laser-focused social drama designed to spark conversation. Here, the conversation lands on him.
L: So Oren, who shops a lot—the last five things you bought. O: Probably two pairs of shoes, a pair of sunglasses, a sweater… basically like a full winter outfit, plus an extra pair of shoes. L: Beautiful, interview over. Just kidding, let’s talk about them specifically. O: The jacket is Acne, the pants are Acne. L: So the outfit you’re wearing now, these are your last five? O: Kind of, just missing the other pair of shoes. L: Ok, great I have a really good visual reference.
O: This one was like a last-second Uniqlo run purchase. L: By the way, he’s pointing to a white, lightweight, brushed flannel button-down. O: I love an autumn afternoon, having an hour till I meet someone and running into Uniqlo. I actually like how they dress up their mannequins, I start getting ideas.
O: But yeah the other pieces were some Nike shoes that are just really funky. They have this new mountain hiking line called CG or ECG, I don’t even know what it’s called now that there’s like a million little companies. L: Like, if you don’t know all their specific little letters, what are you even doing? [Editor’s note: I Googled it, it’s ACG] O: That one is having a moment that I’m infiltrating, I’m not part of that moment like Aime Leon Dore. L: You’re being gatekeeped from the moment. O: Not even, I’m on the side like, I just wanted a pair of shoes. But yeah, they're funky. They have these see-through areas, they kind of figured out the whole see-through thing where it's not awkward showing through to your socks. L: It’s not going to fog up with your sweat. O: But yeah, I’m trying to take my gym clothes to a new level. I feel like I’m always doing black on black, but I’ve had enough of that. I'm getting comfortable building on my wardrobe in the gym, which is very extra, it's part of the lifestyle shift.
O: I made a really funny crossover athleisure purchase this summer, which is like the most embarrassing purchase probably of my wardrobe: Off-White x Nike gym shorts. I was in this department store, it’s like an Italian Bloomingdale’s with a mini Off-White boutique, and they had just dropped the same day. I looked at them and they didn't say anything about Off-White. I was like, “I could fuck with these.” They’re cool, funky gym shorts, they’re nothing about hype. They were a little expensive, but I'm in Italy. So when in actual Rome.
O: I think over summer. I had a real moment of splurging. L: When I saw you last, you were saying how you had just exhausted your wardrobe and needed to do a big overhaul. O: You've known me probably this whole era, but I've been doing uniform wear for like 10 years, Steve Jobs-ing it. Uniqlo black tees before I figured out what works. But I got to a point during the pandemic where I was like, I want to live a little. L: Like, I want to feel something! O: Yeah, I want to feel alive! I’ll put a brown pant on! So yeah, I bought the whole wardrobe. I threw out everything and just bought everything from scratch.
O: I hadn’t shopped in like a decade, and then my ex turned me onto a few little things I can do with my outfits—not even brands, more like the fits. I realized none of my clothes really fit me. I wore things that just covered the body but they didn’t drape well. All of a sudden, it was like, “Ohh, that’s a thing, I have to think about that.” I still have work to do. I feel like women do a really good job at moodboarding, like you moodboard your body as an outfit for the day. It's been fun to just buy a whole new wardrobe and become Oren 2, like the person I want to project. I didn't think about that with the uniform where I was just like, “I'm Oren, everyone knows that,” but there is a layer of that they didn't know because maybe I looked really boring. L: It is also sort of hiding in a way. O: It’s hiding, it was me not wanting to deal with it. After the pandemic, I really woke up in all aspects of life and made the conscious decision to have fashion back in my life.
O: I hadn’t really shopped for real since I was in high school with Ed Hardy and the first time Chrome Hearts was cool. L: Oh my god. O: Everything was so gaudy, so I’m trying to balance… L: It couldn’t be more different, hah. O: I mean there’s gaudiness still, but trying to balance the uniform part with style 2.0 and Off-White… L: I know I said I bought Off-White, but I would never buy Off-White. O: But I would never do it again, haha.