“I think it’s cool.”
That’s what my friend said when she saw the triumvirate of chalky white smudges on my black sweatshirt. They could have been flour or toothpaste; I wasn’t sure how they got there. But they resembled the fingerprints of a large primate, or Blim Blam.
Upon their discovery, I was beside myself, because from the moment I’d found this sweatshirt—Anybrand’s oil washed sweatshirt, in black—it had rarely left my back. The New York-based knitwear company that makes it has figured out the alchemic balance between structure and comfort in their sweatshirt; their “gold” is the incredible, faded-looking wash, which feels special.
This aesthetic sweet spot is achieved through their oil-washing process, which allows some element of white and grey to appear at the seams. The effect is remarkable, specifically because it looks real, not an attempt at “worn” or “vintage,” which would be a fail.
Sidebar: I despise new things that are made to look vintage. If I could offer one piece of fashion advice to men it wouldn’t be a tirade against Crocs or cargo shorts, it would be this general rule: never buy anything faded, or made to look old, especially jeans. Fake fades are a disease. And unless you're a porn star, and the scene you’re performing takes place in the 90s, and involves you entering in shredded up Dolce & Gabbana denim, you should not be buying jeans pre-ripped. (Also, shouldn’t the wardrobe department be taking care of this? This production sounds dodgy as hell; make sure to get a receipt). Long story short, if you want old-looking jeans, go to a thrift store and buy some. They are cheap, plentiful, easily adjusted by a tailor, and versatile.
As is this sweatshirt. I’m wearing it with vintage Levis right now (orange tab, purchased at House of Vintage in Toronto). But last week, I was wearing it with the trousers from a suit, on top of an Oxford cloth button-down. Earlier this summer, I wore it with nothing underneath, on a breezy day out by the lake. This sweatshirt looks good with anything; it’s the Ryan Gosling of wovens (except made in America—with American-grown cotton—not Canada).
Another part of the brand's success here is mixing some vintage elements—a triangle up front under the collar—with a modern cut and a lack of ornamentation. This makes it a challenge, or riposte to streetwear, which lives and dies by its aggressive visual. This sweatshirt is arresting, but more like deja vu. The coloring along the seams falls short of a visual bark, but that’s the point; it's different. That’s where tension happens in menswear, along the borders. It’s black but not black, worn but not worn, casual but structured.
Which is why I was despondent over the smudges. I missed the granulated black perfection that was there before. But my friend’s words soothed me. The spots—this was actual wear. Whether it’s a pair of bucks or a raincoat or your jeans, our clothes should last and improve with time. Temporary imperfections become part of a garment, and part of the men who wear them. It’s called growth. And it’s why we should invest in clothes, and not just buy them. The ROI for this $99 work of wonder? Undeniable cool.