on designer footwear collaborations

It will be interesting to read about the current era of mens fashion in twenty or thirty years.  Although it’s difficult to put an exact date on it, something that I think is particularly worthy of investigating and praising is the rise of designer footwear collaborations.  Whether or not this is a trend or a shift in menswear remains to be seen, but I am capitalizing on its benefits while I can.

As I mentioned above, dating the rise of footwear collaborations is hard.  For me, I was first exposed to the phenomenon through Band of Outsiders retooling some of the classic Sperry Top-Sider silhouettes.  The first seasons they had classic boat shoes, but over time they’ve also done chukkas and boots (seen below) as well.

I succumbed to the genius of Scott Sternberg on multiple occasions.  Thanks to the rise of some other great things for thrifty shoppers (Gilt Groupe anyone?), I’m on my fifth pair.  Once you own a pair, it’s hard to go back to other boat shoes – the details are that good.  What’s not to like about a unique taste on the iconic offerings of Sperry?

Take the particular pair above (which I coincidentally own).  Laces have been replaced with safety pins, hemp is used and the leather is top notch.  While most of the models are changed with only reversed details (notice the tongue) and better materials, they all come in at a very reasonable price – $150 to $200 region for most pairs.  In my opinion, this is fair considering the materials used and the designer influence.  While other designers might charge a couple hundred dollars for their version of a boat shoes, you get the best of both worlds with a Band of Outsiders x Sperry shoe.  My eyes are currently set on the shearling pair of boat shoes:

If boat shoes aren’t your style, enter my most recent obsession – Mark McNairys collaborations.

While Mark McNairy’s line of shoes isn’t all that expensive, they’re still an “investment” for most people who aren’t used to dropping $350 on a pair of brogues.  As a college student that doesn’t wear dress shoes all that often, I couldn’t justify spending that amount of money on shoes I’d only wear a handful of times during the year.  What I really was hoping for was casual shoes that I could wear to class, that wouldn’t necessarily break the bank.

Enter in Keds.  Not a brand that was on my radar at all, but I’ve been paying attention every since they got “McNasty” to do some collaboration work.  The first collection was with the Royal CVO, redone in suede with a red brick sole:

With Mark McNairy New Amsterdam shoes coming in around $400, I think the collaboration with Keds are a steal at $100.  Seeing as how they weren’t very popular, I know of at least a few ways to get them for cheaper (as low as $40/pair).  Regardless of what price you pick them up at, they

I bought the navy pair (swap out those white laces and use the navy ones) and I’ve turned plenty of heads.  I never thought I’d see the day when a pair of Keds is responsible for turning heads.

The bottom line is designer shoe collaborations are a great thing.  I can’t help but hope that this isn’t a trend – that Scott Sternberg and Mark McNairy won’t be the last but rather the first of designers to properly transform classic shoes and reinvent them.  If you’ve got the money, Band of Outsiders clothing is fantastic (I can attest) as is Mark McNairy mainline shoes (as I hope to attest to soon).  But sometimes you don’t need to be dressed up, and these great collaborations with Sperry and Keds fit the bill.


on the finer things in life

I had a nice surprise tonight when it came to running some errands – I wouldn’t be driving my normal car.  Instead, I would be piloting my father’s car, something I enjoy quite a bit when I get the chance.  About halfway through the trip, I began thinking about something quite powerful that happens when you get a small dose of luxury – inspiration and motivation.

Driving around I couldn’t help but think that having a car with all these amenities really is worth the price tag.  While I’m used to a car that has for example, 3 settings for AC, it’s nice to have 10 settings.  Or a V8 with close to 400 horsepower instead of a 4 cylinder and less than half that.  Reading about luxury sedans in a magazine is one thing, but driving one of them is a different experience.

When some of my peers were playing video games in college, or too tired to go to class, or skipping class for no reason, I went to class and paid attention.  I wanted to get good grades to secure a job out of school and have a successful career.  There were plenty of days when I didn’t feel like going, but thinking about the doses of luxury I’ve experienced convinced me to go.

I can’t help but think that a lot of my peers might have had a different outlook if they had experienced some doses of luxury.  Restaurants, clothing, hotels, liquor – any one of them can be a powerful motivator.  Eating at a Michelin-star restaurant, wearing a cashmere sweater, staying at a boutique hotel or sipping on a nice whiskey or wine all work.  All those triggers (when experienced in small, infrequent doses) motivate you to make them a regular occurrence.

In my case, I’ll go back to 4 cylinders and a cloth interior tomorrow and it will be slightly depressing.  I’ll say goodbye to 400 horsepower, but I’ll be left better off.  Again, I will be motivated to work hard so that I can enjoy those luxuries in the future.  Until then, little doses will just have to do.

Note: Although not mentioned in the post, I think that a private flight is a luxury that most people can be motivated through.  This is a luxury that I have personally experienced, and it is quite the event.  No baggage check, no TSA, no liquid limits – flying any other way has been quite difficult since then.

on watching movies

I have a friend who sees probably 75% of movies that come through the theaters.  Anything with 3D, big name actors or big name directors that you can check out at your local Cineplex, he has probably seen it.  A friend like that is good to have, because he can always give you a heads up of what you should check out (along with Rotten Tomatoes & IMBD).

However, I personally try to see movies that don’t come through the theaters and aren’t available in IMAX & 3D.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a cinephile or a snob when it comes to movies.  I’ll gladly watch through The Dark Knight on a huge screen like most people, but I think it’s also worthwhile to watch movies that aren’t “blockblusters”.

What will surprise most people (as it did me) is that there are some unbelievably terrific movies that aren’t shown on thousands of screens nationwide.  Just because a movie isn’t available at your local Cineplex doesn’t mean that it should be avoided.  The combination of blogs, recommendation systems (try MyZeus) and YouTube (for checking trailers) allows you to make much better decisions on what you want to watch.

Netflix has made this task much easier, with a variety of streaming titles and the ability to get just about any movie you can think of.  I would highly recommend signing up for a plan, as it costs about 1 movie ticket a month.  Couple that with the savings you’ll reap by avoiding $4 sodas and $7.50 buckets of popcorn, and you’ll surely come out seeing a wider variety of movies and still have some money in your pocket.

I thought I might share a few movies that I believe are worth your time.  I realize that 4 out of the 5 recommendations are documentaries, and that is intentional.  Message to everyone: learning while watching a movie isn’t a bad thing.  Just because these films don’t have vampires or CGI or Hugh Grant and tell stories of fact rather than fiction, doesn’t mean they are bad.

Art of the Steal

I’ve recommended this movie to almost everyone I know who has a Netflix account, as you can stream this one. Fantastic story whether or not you like art at all.


This is the most recent film from Francis Ford Coppola (of Godfather fame) and it is quite beautiful.  A film about brotherhood.  Vincent Gallo does a great job.

The King of Kong

Quite simply, a documentary about the world’s best players of the arcade game Donkey Kong.  One of the great battles of good and evil.

Dear Zachary

If you don’t cry during this movie (men and women alike), you have got some serious issues.  Don’t read about this movie, just watch the trailer (if you have to) and stream this on Netflix.


A film about the typeface Helvetica.  Give it a chance and you might learn that a documentary about type isn’t boring – it’s actually quite interesting.

I’d love to hear your comments if you’ve seen these (or end up watching them).

on college fashion

Look familiar?

Looking back on my time here at college, I’ve made quite a few observations about the way college students dress.  As I walked out of my last class this morning, I could only hope to myself that my classmates weren’t going to take their sense of fashion and lack of common sense into the working world.

I’m not claiming to have been well dressed since I was a little kid, or even asserting that I’m straight out of a Polo ad while walking across the quad.  I had phases in my development that weren’t fashion forward, but that’s only to be expected.  Reading GQ and other mens style magazines in high school and continuing my interest in fashion has lead to me to, in my humble opinion, being fairly well dressed and even dapper in some instances.

That isn’t the case for a lot of people on campus.  I think fundamentally, these problems could be cured with just a few non-negotiable rules:

  • Pajamas are to be worn for sleeping and lounging around the house.
  • Workout and athletic clothes are to be worn when working out or engaging in athletic activity.
  • If you wore it last night, you shouldn’t be wearing it today.

It’s annoying to always hear complaints that the past was better, but I can’t help but think that sentiment is appropriate in this situation.  Perhaps that’s why Take Ivy had such a strong impact and buzz when it was re-released, as it depicts how college men used to dress on campus.

More than 40 years after these pictures are taken, I can’t help but think we’ve taken a step backwards.  Isn’t throwing on nice chino shorts just as easy as basketball shorts?  And slipping on Weejuns just the same as flip flops?  So convenience isn’t a defense.  And wouldn’t buying quality clothing that you can wear in a variety of situations benefit you in the long run?

There is a small percentage of people who dress appropriately on campus, and to those people, I applaud you.  You’ve proved to me that all is not lost.  But to everyone else that either is oblivious, or doesn’t care, I ask you:

If you don’t take yourself seriously, how can you expect anyone else to?

on to the next one

Was a little sad to be reminded I haven’t posted on my blog for an entire year.  It’s been a busy year to say the least, but the end of an era has finally come.  Out with the old, in with the new.

In short, HNIRZ is back.  Sort of.

When I started, I was excited to put my spin and opinion on a number of different things.  Over time, I think that opinion was eroded to strictly facts or a “Check this out”, which isn’t quite beneficial.  In the future, there won’t be a formula, a strict purpose for this blog, other than for me to provide the internets with something it doesn’t already have – my opinion.

If you’re looking for the newest in art or fashion or cars or politics or design, this shouldn’t be your first stop.  There are a number of other fantastic websites that have full time staff to deliver this coverage.  Frankly, that’s not something I can or want to do.  I’d like to impart through this blog my outlook on different things – whether it be products, trends, outlooks on life, really anything I see fit.

Welcome to HNIRZ 2.0.

on the house

As the school year winds down, many people may be out celebrating.  And with a lot of friends, a lot of these celebrations result in a variety of alcoholic shots.  I’d like to recommend a shot that my buddy turned me onto that needs more recognition.

Relax, I am a college student, and yes I am in a fraternity.  So many people think I’m referring to this:

You don’t really read HNIRZ thinking I’m going to be recommending jager bombs, do you?  No, I’m referring to the delicious shot known as Applesauce.  Any decent bartender should know what you’re referring to, but in case they don’t or you want to make one for the pregame/afterparty, here’s the recipe:

2/3 oz. Apple Pucker

1/3 oz. Goldschlager

Splash of pineapple juice

Shake over ice

Definitely recommended for all – it does the job, but doesn’t have any nasty aftertaste.  You really can’t help but remark afterward on how much it tasted like Mott’s.

This shot reminds me of this awesome Goldschlager triple-fluted shot glass I had that was shattered after only an hour.  Need to source another one of these ASAP for the permanent collection.

precious metals

I’ve had quite the affinity towards interesting and unique office supplies this past semester.  From my first Lamy Safari, to a Kuru Toga and a whole bunch of other Japanese exclusive leads and erasers, it’s a new hobby.  Discovering JetPens didn’t help, and I’ve still got my eye on the big dog Zebra Sharbo X:

I read a blog post a few weeks ago about a particular item I couldn’t believe I missed out on – a stainless steel Sharpie.  Everyone’s favorite permanent marker got an upgrade!

How does it hold up though?  The idea is a refreshing upgrade to the classic shape, and it features replaceable ink cartridges.  Did I mention this is a stainless steel Sharpie?

However, there are some downsides, starting with the weight.  I was surprised by how light the entire thing was.  I was hoping it would feel indestructible, and it didn’t give me that impression at all.

Another gripe is the fact that due to the replaceable ink cartridge, the bottom barrel screws off (where the black meets the stainless steel barrel).  Every time you try to pull off the cap, the lower portion gets a little loose.  You find yourself tightening the lower portion constantly.  Not a major problem, but why is it this easy to unscrew?  I don’t plan on refilling the ink after every use.

Overall, it’s a cool idea and concept, but lacks in execution.  The laser etching is a nice touch, but not something that redeems its other lacking qualities.  Still, at around $7, not a bad deal for the toughest Sharpie out there.