Vineyard Vines

Vineyard Vines and I have a very complicated relationship.

Strike that. We actually have a very simple relationship.

I hate Vineyard Vines. See? Nice and simple.

Only such things are never quite so simple.

To be sure, my animus is predicated on some clear and justifiable premises. Despite the barrels of digital ink the brand dedicates to burnishing its American bonafides, precious little of what it produces is made in the United States. Its website and social media accounts are replete with photos of models, wearing items of Third World provenance, shown either waving the American flag or in deceptively close proximity to same.

But the company’s transgressions run even deeper. On the phone, its customer service representatives falsely assert that all its  products are made in the United States. When called out on that, they change their tune but refuse to divulge the country of origin on the grounds of “trade secrets.” It’s a preposterous claim, considering federal law requires conspicuous labeling of the country of origin on all clothing sold in the United States.

And, when it comes down to it, I think the company is a pale simulacrum of the preppy aesthetic.  Consider its ties. They’re a blatant ripoff  Salvatore Ferragamo ties. Which themselves are a blatant ripoff of Hermès ties.

But last week, I encountered something that tempered my rancor.

I was in a local discount store, and among the Chinese made effluvium was a belt from Vineyard Vines, made in the United States. Quite the surprise.

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So I made the purchase–my wardrobe’s first Vineyard Vines addition. The belt is classic, made of a beautiful moss green suede leather with a construction standard that appears impeccable.

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If only Vineyard Vines made more items in the United States and more items like this, it would earn a spot on the list of the companies we’re proud to do business with.

Thrift Store Find: Leather Man Ltd.

A few months ago, while in Denton, Texas to pick my son up for our Colorado trip, I ventured into a local thrift store.

As I sifted through varying collections of people’s castoffs, a little piece of American made treasure (in my size) presented itself: a nautical themed motif belt from Essex, Conn.-based Leather Man Ltd. I already have two of the company’s belts, both purchased new, both of which I’m quite fond. So this was a wonderful surprise, one which I eagerly purchased.

I’ve already worn it a few times, most recently with my new Velva Sheen Breton shirt and a pair of Jack Donnelly khakis.

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Velva-Sheen Manufacturing Co.

We’ve waxed rhapsodic about the Breton shirt before. Once the favored shirt of French fisherman (owing to its contrasting navy and white stripes, which made it easier to identify a man overboard ), the Breton shirt has insinuated itself into the pantheon of classic clothing.

This is not an unexpected thing. Many items of working class provenance (penny loafers, Shetland sweaters, Norwegian, Icelandic and Irish fisherman’s sweaters) are favored by the moneyed classes and aspirants to same.

Yesterday, I made the trek into Houston to visit my friends at Manready Mercantile. Among the new offerings on the store’s shelves was a Breton shirt from the Velva-Sheen Manufacturing Co. It became the newest addition to my wardrobe.

Wait, dear readers, don’t I already own a Breton shirt? Indeed, I do. And the purchase of an additional version would seem to violate the parsimony I inherited from my Puritan ancestors. But while the ColumbiaKnit version was a fine shirt, it had two drawbacks. First the fabric was a bit too heavy for the warm, humid weather that predominates in Southeast Texas. And second, the previous shirt’s neckline diverged from the shirt’s classic iteration.

The Velva-Sheen version rectified both of those deficiencies.

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Velva-Sheen’s roots stretch back to 1932. For generations, it was a thriving sportswear company, based in Cincinnati, Ohio, with a particular emphasis in licensed and custom apparel printing. By the 1990s, however, the company’s fortunes were in decline, and it became one of the unfortunate casualties of the outsourcing epidemic.

But the brand has acquired a new lease on life, recently purchased by the Topwin Corporation, which manufactures men’s and boy’s clothing in Torrance, Calif.