Tuesday, November 4, 2014

We Recommend...

At Jackson & Connor, we celebrate good taste and excellent craftsmanship, as all dapper & respectable gents should. Here's a sampling of some of the stuff we're into right now. Some brandly-new tasty treats and trusty old favorites...let us do the legwork, and you can reap the rewards.

1. Shiner Beer

Wow. This stuff is great...recently released in Massachusetts, this range of beers are from TX and worth every red cent. Flavorful, smooth, delicious, and the Wild Hare Pale Ale is a perfect mix of malty goodness and hoppy tang. The Bock is fresh and crisp, and the Family Reunion (a mix of Black Lager, Kosmos, Wild Hare, Bock, Prickly Pear and Shiner in a six-pack) is a nice sampling. Even my sleepy neighborhood package store has these on shelves, so go out and snatch up a six pack.

2. Fulton & Roark Solid Cologne Limited Release #1

This emerging line in men's care products is getting a ton of press for their innovative product and design. Fulton & Roark makes a slick-as-hell solid cologne that applies nice and clean, smells intoxicating, travels well (especially with those TSA liquid regulations), and hell, we've never seen anything like it before. They've just come out with this bad boy: Limited Reserve #1, their first in a series of limited edition colognes. Jackson & Connor was honored enough to carry three of these bad boys in the shop (of which two remain!), a rare privilege to be sure. The Limited is made from Madagascan geranium and oak moss (whaaaaat?), and smells like a dream. Available at Jackson & Connor.

3. KA-BAR Knives

Made in  originally by the Union Cutlery Co. in Olean NY (just down the road from my hometown of Rochester) the KA-BAR was adopted by the Marines in November of 1942. They're useful for just about anything, and a good sharp one will last forever. It features a full tang blade and a stacked leather handle. Accept no substitutes. Available in quality outdoor outfitters, or online.

4. Yamazaki single malt Japanese whisky

Yamazaki, how can I describe thee? Pure fucking malty goodness. Whenever I go into a nice liquor store, I sniff my way to the whisky aisle and find myself something I've never had before. I received a bottle of Nikka Coffey grain whisky from a dear friend and knew the Japanese distilleries were up to some good stuff. Most of the Japanese single malts were $100 and up. I grabbed something more middle-of-the road at $45, and for a 12-year, it blew me away. Suntory Yamazaki's history as a distillery goes back to 1923 -- at their distillery you can see a wall of whiskeys (thousands of boxes installed in a vaulted ceiling) as well as sit at the tasting table to blend different flavors. Amazing! This relatively young single malt whisky is flavorful, slightly sweet but its smoothness, warmth and richness are its most defining qualities. Available at high-end liquor stores -- I picked this up at Table & Vine in West Springfield.

5. Queen Bee Chip-Chip Cookies

If you think this looks like a heart attack doused with salt, you would be correct. What you're looking at is the Chip-Chip cookie from Queen Bee (just across the hall from us at Jackson & Connor) -- a delectable, crumbly cookie made with chocolate chips, potato chips, half-dipped in chocolate ganache, and then spinkled with sea salt (unh!). Once you start into one of these things (it's almost as big as a dinner plate), you will not stop until you've defeated the monster.
It's out of control. 
I regret nothing.
Available across the hall from Jackson & Connor at Queen Bee Cupcakery.

6. Jade Plants

Got a brown thumb? The browner the better with this little guy. My old roommate left two behind in an apartment we shared for a while, and I didn't care much for plants at the time. I figured I'd just stop watering the little guys until they shriveled up and died...so I stopped watering them for months, and they didn't die. They got bigger. Then eventually did water them, and they got even bigger, and then one of the petals fell off and a brand new jade plant started out of it in the same pot. So, that's my story about jade plants, which is my way of saying these little bastards are nearly indestructible. Get yourself a hearty one, stick it in a windowsill, and water it every once-in-a-who-cares and it should take care of itself. Available in most grocery stores, and at your local garden center.

7. Donut Dip

The best little spot in West Springfield. Our brilliant tailor is based in West Spfld, so I find myself driving there every week. I'm constantly discovering new places that I love, and Donut Dip rates first among them. Thoroughly dissatisified with Dunkin' Donuts, I went in search of a truly excellent donut shop and found Donut Dip.

 It is everything I hoped it would be. They're open 22 hours of the day -- closed from 1 to 3 -- and churning out fresh donuts every hour of every day. Touting over 49 varieties (they're not joking), it looks the same as it does the first day it opened.

(I was here last week -- replace the cars with newer models, and it looks exactly the same.)

There's no room to sit, no chairs...but there's always some regulars hanging out having coffee, shooting the breeze. I swing by and grab a dozen donuts (the chocolate frosted and honey glazed are personal favorites) for about $7.50. The Eclairs? Perfect. Crispy on the outside, doughy and soft on the inside, and never ever spongy or squishy...just baked, filled, chocolate-frosted perfection. Day in and day out, they crank out flawless donuts and baked goods, all the same every time. Available at the one and only Donut Dip on Riverdale Rd. in West Springfield.

8. Nippon Kodo Incense

Well known for their Morning Star line, Nippon Kodo has been making exceptional Japanese incense since 1942. The Morning Star boxes are a great go-to -- cedar, green tea, sandalwood, amber, rose -- they're pretty much all excellent scents. 

However, the real gem of this fine incense company is in their high-end incenses, which you can typically only find online or at boutqiues. The Kayuragi line is outrageous, and their sandalwood is a personal favorite. 

It's the perfect balance between smoky woody muskiness and the sweet, sparkling quality of sandal. They have a variety of other high-end and lower-end incense fragrances, and you really can't go wrong. As mentioned, these are available in high-end boutiques and online.

9. Shoe Trees

If you have a penchant like we do for fine leather shoes, do yourself a huge whopping favor and invest in a pair of shoe trees for each pair of nice leather shoes you own. As soon as you take that thing off, slide the shoe tree in -- the cedar will dry out the moisture from your sweaty, sweaty feet, reduce odors, and the pressure of the tree inside the shoe will kick out wrinkles keeping your Allen-Edmonds looking newer and nicer for longer. Available at most shoe stores.

10. Carthusia Fragrances

Made from the fragrances and flowers of Capri Italy -- and made in Capri as well -- Carthusia has been making incredible colognes, diffusers, perfumes and other products since . All of the men's scents are kissed with the sea salty air of Capri, and their line (Numero Uno, Corallium, Carthusia Uomo, Mediterraneo and Io Capri) is diverse without being scattered. Here's a quick blow-by-blow (the fig scent is on its way, we haven't smelled it just yet!). Available in high-end scent bars and shops, and coming very soon to Jackson & Connor (of course!).

Numero Uno - Traditional, leathery, animalic -- very musky and mens-y. Super formal and straight-forward. An excellent scent for fall.
Corallium - Fruity and light, highly floral and slightly salty -- if you like a cologne that comes pretty close to a perfume, you'll like this one.
Carthusia Uomo - Will's personal favorite. A perfect balance between bright sparkling floral notes and rich, heavy muskiness, with just a slightly salty sea water tang. Goes great for anyone any time of the year.
Mediterraneo - Fresh. This is a light and tart fragrance -- smells like half a lemon mixed with a light floral tinge that peeks out under the bright citrus notes. Great for spring and summer.

So that's what we're into right now! Now get off the computer and go grab yourself some gear.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Accessories Part 1

tAccessories are that category often neglected in men's clothing shops -- and are negligible in malls and department stores. We love accessories at Jackson & Connor because they allow you to add a little bit of color, pattern or texture, or to add a small touch to an outfit. Sometimes, the accessories are truly better than the outfit. This fall season, we're seeing so many excellent pieces -- favorites from seasons past as well as new ones.

Edward Armah

We've gushed about Edward in the past. He got his start in menswar in London and later moved to the States where he became a personal shopper for Nieman Marcus and Saks. He made the leap into meanswear with several wildly successful lines. He's particularly well known for his boutonnieres, pocket rounds, and bow ties, but he's moving into bags, scarves, neckties and other accessories. Here's a sampling:


Founded in South Shields, UK in 1894, Barbour is known throughout the world for their rugged waxed cotton jackets and coats. John Barbour started the company as an importer of oil cloth, and while the headquarters has moved around a little bit, they reside in South Shields where they started. Barbour is a classic line offering high quality sweaters, gloves, caps, umbrellas, and a wide variety of sportswear. They still make their waxed cotton coats in the UK -- and there is a hungry market, including but not limited to the royal family.

Studio Donegal

One day, Tristan Donaghy strolled into Jackson & Connor by chance while in Northampton on vacation, and told us about his little mill -- the Glebe Mill in Kilcar, County Donegal.

 (How did he get to Northampton, you probably wouldn't normally ask? He fucking sailed from Ireland to Canada, drove down, and hung out in our little town with friends.) He told us all about their amazing hand-dyed, hand-spun Irish wools that they weave by hand to make some of the most incredible scarves that are soft and smooth against the skin. The trick, he reminds me, is a twill weave, which tends to be more open, thus softer. Check out the macro shots -- they're unreal. The secret to their excellent scarf is that they are constantly tweaking the designs, creating new warps, coming up with new ways to show the bootlay...Tristan and the rest of their small crew produce 2-300 pieces a year.

Jack Sartori

We were introduced to Jack as a friend of a friend, and he quickly became one of our favorite people. As charming as he is handsome, his ties are outrageous. He's got business all over the northeast, including a high-end tie factory in Brooklyn producing some of the finest neckwear and accessories I've ever seen. When he decided he wanted to get into brick-and-moartar, Jackson & Connor was the first place Jack reached out to, and we're honored to carry such a quality line in our shop. His interliners are carefully selected, silks, wools and cottons painstakingly sourced, and recently Jack partnered up with Masel Milano in Como to create a 100% Zegna cashmere necktie. Wow. The knits below are 100% silk and handmade in Brooklyn. The vine and feather tie bars are sterling silver, etched to perfection, and the ties are brand new this fall -- perfection!

(bottom four images courteousy of the Jack Sartori website)

Ciré Gloves

These are my favorite gloves, hands down. Durable, quality leathers with cashmere and wool-cashmere blend linings. Their unlined driving gloves are a thing of beauty. Make sure you buy them small because you'll want them to still fit tightly after your hands stretch them out. One of their best gloves is the Elite -- it has a 100% cashmere liner that separates from the full grain deerskin outer. You can wear either, or on vicisously cold nights, wear both, stick them in your pockets and your hands will never feel the chill.


We discovered this line at the Magic shows (not rabbit out of a hat, but rather menswear/clothing/accessories trade show), and loved it right away, because what's not to like? Smart braided leather bracelets hand-wrapped by the owner and her mom right in New York. No "Made in China" nonsense, just great folks making great gentlemanly bracelets. Some have a t-hook (which never slips), while others have a fitted clasp with a magnet on each side to ensure a tight fit all day no matter what. The lighter the color leather you get, the more mottled and textured it becomes as you wear it, get it wet, abuse it and love it. She recommended showering with it -- for the sake of the glue that holds this sucker together, I wouldn't recommend that per se, but don't take it off when you do the dishes, shave, wash your hands...you get the idea.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Fall Fashion Guide 2014

Last week, the Daily Hampshire Gazette published its annual Fall Fashion issue for the Pioneer Valley, and the Jackson & Connor spread looked fantastic! You can check it out here.

We typically shoot one model in two different outfits, so this time to try something different, we did two models in two outfits.

Mary Carol Skinner is a good friend of the store, and blew it out of the water with this outfit:

Mary Carol wore Alberto Ceramica five-pocket pants -- a remarkable trouser. They're made entirely of synthetics, and yet they still breathe, have an open, woolly hand and work dressed up or down, any season but the dead of winter. The textured white shirt with cuff detailing comes from Luchiano Visconti, as does the vest. We love this one -- the lining is a nautical print featuring old sailboats, knots, harpoons and the like. The water repellent belted double-breasted black trench coat is from Ralph Lauren, and features a quilted button/zip-out lining to adjust for the wide range of temperatures we get in fall.

Kevin Ward is a newcomer at Jackson & Connor, and willingly offered himself up as our modeling guinea pig.

Kevin wore a Fezza medium gray nailhead two-piece, two-button suit, and wore it well. These suits have been cutting slim, but they're a great price, and work well on a slender frame. The Shirt is by Luchiano Visconti, the necktie is Braemore Neckwear, one of the newer lines at Jackson & Connor, but a big favorite of ours (and of our customers). Each necktie is handmade in their Canadian factory, and they feature twelve hand-stitchers just to put the finishing thread down the center of the seam. The boutonniere and silk pocket square are from Edward Armah -- Edward is one of the nicest guys in the industry, and one of the most creative. His innovative pocket rounds, boutonnieres, carte-poche and other items were already a smash hit -- now he's introduced leather goods and accessories, neckties, hats, and a robust array of new patterns. Just check out some shots of Edward's booth at the S/S 2014 MRket show:

 Pretty cool, huh? Our models were amazing -- thanks to them both! More shoots coming up, including a big one...so stay tuned.