27 February 2011

A visit to Studio Osti.

Words and pictures; Blake Witherow.
I bought my first Massimo Osti jacket over a month ago. I found it in a second hand store here in Milano. I was perplexed by this strange material and utilitarian styling. This jacket was from the ‘Left Hand’ collection and is made from ‘ThermoJoint’ material. From then onward I began looking for information about Massimo Osti and the legacy that he left, the first search I got was Oneupmanship's articles on Osti and Left Hand from several years ago, so I got in touch.
A large portion of the Massimo Osti legacy can be found at his Studio in Bologna. The Studio is located on the outskirts of Bologna. You can take a taxi to the Studio or be an idiot like me and walk for 45 minutes. The converted warehouse contains the Garment and Fabric collection and a graphic design firm. The Garment collection is at the back of the studio and the fabric collection is located underneath an elevated level containing even more dyed fabrics!

The first thing that hits you as the door to the Archive is opened is the smell. Leather, synthetics and natural fibres are mixed together in a rich, musky smell that should be made into a cologne for men to smell to smell more like men. Currently, Lorenzo and Pamela are still working on the upcoming book detailing Massimo’s contribution to the fashion world. The book currently sits at 350 pages and is due to be released next year. Hence the clothing archive can best be described as “organised chaos” Pamela explaining to me how they have documented all of the ranges of clothes and the different variations within that line of clothing, photographing and archiving each garment in a database. When I saw all of the racks together, it made it apparent that Massimo was extremely dedicated to his work (read: Passionate) For me, the most enthralling part was being able to touch and grope these garments that I could only ever normally view on a computer screen.
After two hours of going through the Archive, my shoulders were sore from holding jackets and pants. You could easily spend a full day going through all the clothes and samples. Pamela made an interesting point, Italians are not terribly excited about Massimo Osti but she said that many people from outside Italy are completely different. They are more involved and appreciate the brand and the history more. That was a fairly accurate description of me.

The fabric collection is absolutely mind boggling. Racks and more racks of every fabric that you could think of. I barely made it a quarter of the way through before I had to turn back. I was lucky enough to find a synthetic fabric that was used for inside of my own jacket. It gave me a warm fuzzy feeling inside. Unfortunately I had to head back to Milan that afternoon. Please take note if taking the train as there are the normal platforms and EAST or OVEST. Just so that you do not miss your train like I did and have to wait for one hour for the next. But if you have time (like I did) go for a walk around Bologna as it is nice city from what I briefly saw. I would like to thank Lorenzo and Pamela for their time and allowing me to view a piece of history that has influenced (and continues to provide influence) to many people all over the world.

24 February 2011


Sometimes something comes along that's worth a punt, you don't know much about it, it's always a gamble, but looks alright, those Thorogood's I mentioned almost a year ago were a good example, nobody knew about them, then within a short time loads bought them, even a higher end version ended up in the shops we like. I'm not saying I was the first, but y'know.
I got these today, a Swedish cohort put me on to them, they were so easily priced it was worth a stab, they may prove to be really crap, we'll soon see how they wear, I've got enough shoes to mix things up though so it's not like I'll wear them daily. Cheap shite or not that bad?
They look alright to me. See if you can find them, let me know what you think...

22 February 2011

Garbstore 'Men Who Did'.

Some good old fashioned patriotism from The Garbstore, with their latest collection now online, featuring these mega Motor Sweats with the sort of iconic Britons you'd normally see on pound notes, Monty, Churchill and Stephenson, very cool.

21 February 2011

'Beat a Storm'.

Well, it's a bit late now, I say late, but The Casual Connoisseur's Beat a Storm cagoule only went on sale just yesterday afternoon and all but sold out within the first hour. This is one I had a hand in, a fairly simple concept, the old school rain coat, a re-interpretation of one of my old favourites, old faithful, there's always a time I'll come back to old Peter be it over a polo in summer or over loads of layers in winter, always an essential item for me, such simple, classic style.
Done for many years by many brands, from the high end to the low end, we did it as it was, an exact re-telling with slightly enhanced technical details, more waterproof, less sweaty.
The Casual Connoisseur are doing things properly, the right way, they know who they are, they know where they are, they don't try and compete with those they cannot compete with, they just do their own thing. This is yet another a good example of that, selling out astonishingly quickly, just like the winter Weir hats, no need for churning out long winded spiel and hype, just a good product, competitively priced. Sold across Europe and all over the world, sought after, that does all the talking for them. ~

17 February 2011


I hear we have more snow on thew way? great, now I can get out in the open with this on my bonce. The Chamula new boys cap from Meg Company & Monitaly, hand knitted in Mexico. It must be the hippy in me, I love it, it's been winking at me for weeks on Garbstore, so I had to snap it up when I saw it in the sale.

14 February 2011

Icons of our time - Sidney James.

Everyone knows Sid James, he's an institution, a national hero, he has flags at England aways, he has scooter clubs in his name, adorning t-shirts, even modern day street graffiti, he's a face your familiar with, young or old. Likened to comic Arthur Smith, Alan Sugar and even the current Bond Daniel Craig, played on screen by the late Geoffrey Hutchings. With his trademark craggy scowl, more lines on his forehead than a Colombian house party, odd receding slicked back fuzzy hair like dirty cotton wool, bulbous nose and iconic dirty cackle laugh, he's the archetypal cockney.
Think dirty old man, crook, ladies man, smooth operator, family man, the wise cracker. He's been a doctor, a copper, an explorer, a cowboy, a cabby, a vicar, the king of England, he's bathed in milk with Cleopatra, shared the screen with Connery, Chaplin, Guinness and Bogarde. Never far away from a pipe and a pair of tits for that matter, Sid James is one of my heroes, is he stylish? I dunno, watch Two in Clover, is he funny? you decide, is he cool? damn right. The iconic Carry On films are where he made his name, that's undisputed, but he was a genuinely good straight actor too, with early roles in films such as Hell Drivers, The 39 Steps and I Was Monty's Double, a career that span four decades.

Born Soloman Joel Cohen in 1913, he was Jewish South African. Based in Johannesburg, he was already a bit of a rough diamond, claiming to work in various high esteemed jobs, such as a boxer a dance tutor and a diamond cutter, in reality he was a trained hairdresser. He enlisted in the South African army during WW2, where he then took up acting in the entertainment unit, by the end of the war he was on his way to Blighty to seek out a career in showbiz.
Spotted by the British post war film industry he got several acting roles, notably beginning with smaller parts in more serious films, with his first major role coming in 1951's The Lavender Hill Mob with Alec Guinness - which is still a rather cracking film even today, with more clever twists and turns than Tarantino. He soon forged a long term partnership and friendship with Tony Hancock, starting out on the radio before being moved to the small screen where they were then largely referred to as a double act in one of the most popular shows on telly at that time.
I personally love the old bawdy sixties and seventies British comedies, the Carry Ons, Steptoe, On the Buses, I'm not going to lie, you probably won't find me rolling on the floor beside myself with laughter at the gags and double entendres, tits falling out with a sneeze, people taking a tumble and landing in some cleavage, it's not really that funny, sometimes it's silly, but sometimes genius, really, it's just great. I find them funny, I do, but more than anything I just like them, they are of their time, picture postcard as they often say, silly, farcical, naughty yet innocent. I love the Tom Foolery of it all. I've got original posters on my wall, they take me back to easy innocent Saturday afternoons as a child when the Carry On's were on their various re-runs in the 80s, you'd see tits at two in the afternoon uncensored, I didn't really get them then but I liked them, not the tits, the films in general, though I remember not liking the opening credits, they went on and on as if it was actually going off, I just wanted them to start. I love that about old films now, especially the Rank gong man who always makes me double take if the telly's on in the background.

Putting the Great into Great Britain, that's what Sid did best, that's what followed with all the old lecherous leads like Sid of course and the likes of Connor, Scott, Askwith, Douglas, then Varney and his pal Jack in On The Buses, ugly, well weathered old faces, with big teeth, shit hair and cackly laughter constantly chasing skirt, little skirts with buxom breasts - most of the time getting it too, with much younger women, don't tell me that's not great. The general gist of most of those films were indeed these old men trying to get a shag, whilst usually all hell breaks loose around them.... But, there's always a happy ending, that's what I like, if I feel like shit then on goes Carry On Camping, seen it about sixty three times, some of the gags are predictable some still hilarious, I've seen Bab's tits fall out loads of times, even paused it, ha ha, it's all good fun. Heroes.
He then embarked on a career as the leading man in the Carry On series, the star of the show alongside the familiar team - such faces as Terry Scott, Bernard Bresslaw, Peter Butterworth, Kenneth Connor, Charles Hawtrey and Hattie Jaques, but only reported to be taking around five grand a film, it never made him wealthy. His characters ranged from pretty much anything as the series lampooned it's way through history, yet he still more often than not he bore the name Sid whilst in character. He also worked on television in Citizen James and later Bless this House as the put upon family man Sid Abbott.

Anything but a Toby, Sid's face fittingly ended up on Jugs.
Still cool today, immortalised in plastic.

Great old school artwork on the 60's and 70's posters.
Anthony and Cleopatra with her from Corrie.
With his private life often under scrutiny of the media he, like most of our heroes, he had his troubles, suffering a heart attack in 1967, he married three times, liked a drink and loved a gamble, really loved it, but never won anything, it was such a badly kept secret he had a portion of his wages secretly set aside for it. There were rumours he never got along with fellow Carry On big hitters like Kenneth Williams - the total antidote to Sid's womanising, hard drinking lifestyle, this was often played up with their characters on film constantly clashing.
His obsession and affair with fellow Carry On actress Barbara Windsor led to intimidation from the underworld, with her husband Ronnie Knight having all his furniture rearranged at home as a subtle threat, there were also rumours of him finding an axe in his floor. Like Tommy Cooper and Eric Morecambe Sid tragically died whilst performing live, collapsing on stage during a performance of The Mating Season at The Sunderland Empire. In typical comedy folklore, the crowd thought it was part of the act, and it generated laughter as those immortal words 'is there a doctor in the house?' were shouted from beside the stage, sadly it wasn't. He died shortly afterwards in hospital. Strangely enough the late Les Dawson claimed his ghost visited him in the dressing room and refused to play the venue ever again. His trademark cackle was sampled in the Shamen's ecstasy bound hit Ebeneezer Goode in 1992.
Brilliant 'Look at Life' documentary narrated by Sid.
Short rare
interview from the set of Carry On up the Jungle with Terry Scott and Bernard Bresslaw.
Sid singing The Ooter song, Our House, and Bermondsey.

11 February 2011

Heritage Research S/S 11.

As I exclusively mentioned their S/S lookbook in December, I've noticed Heritage Research have launched all their new stock on their official site, a great collection with a really cool ethos behind it from a brand who have gone from strength to strength, some real belters feature aswell.

10 February 2011


As I mentioned last year, Vera footwear is a good 'un to look out for, with some nice summer shoes out very soon, here's a sneak peak at their forthcoming A/W stuff, including their own take on the popular hiking boot with models Bilbao and Levante.

7 February 2011

Recent Pick-ups.

Verginia shoes, I love these, like a pimped up Clarks desert boot, in shoe form.

Heritage Research USN Watch shirt, I had to look fairly hard for this, so it was nice to find it half price, a great 50's replica heavyweight overshirt, a good all year rounder.

Carhartt Roper pant, a buckleback trouser in selvedge duck canvas, smart.

Garbstore Motor sweatshirt in a super rusty orange.

Converse Clean CVO, they'll be dirty when I've finished with 'em, sat ontop of another pair of those great UQ olive chinos.

Walz dark grey flannel cycling cap, it's a bit like what they wear on the Deathstar, which I think combined with an old racing bike will work well, no?

A few cool bits from Japanese/London jeansters Allevol.

YMC Chore shirt with nice curved collar and cool pocket detail.
6876 pinstripe shirt, always got time and space for more new (old) 6876 shirts.

Vintage New Man pinstripe shirt with nice hidden button down detail, picked up for a fiver.