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This Men’s Wear Shop Is Not for Everyone

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Lounging on a cerulean leather chair at his store on the Lower East Side, a glass of Bunnahabhain 12-year-old Scotch in hand, Vivek Nagrani talked about the two types of men who frequent high-end clothing shops.

“There’s Banker A, who goes to Harvard, Goldman and buys a Lamborghini,” said Mr. Nagrani, 44.

That’s not his usual customer.

“Or there’s the guy who went to community college (his parents had no money),” he said, “but he loved finance and made his way to the top. Our client tends to be that guy. Top of the industry, but he had to earn it.”

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And that guy, Mr. Nagrani said, doesn’t like to go with the crowd, even when it comes to his clothes. That’s why, since starting his first full collection in 2013, Mr. Nagrani has offered limited editions, with each item numbered on an inside tag. The pieces are made in factories and workshops in Italy or Peru. Suits start at $1,800, and the shirts range from $350 to $695.

Mr. Nagrani entered the business in 1999, when he formed a partnership with a French factory in an attempt to make the ultimate men’s socks. His plan worked: Esquire declared his product “the best dress socks in the world,” and his clients include Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.

Mr. Nagrani, born in Pune, India, and raised in Northern and Southern California, sold what he called “junk toys” before his foray into socks. He built the business from there.

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What makes a man sexy from a straight man’s perspective?

As a straight man, do I really have the credentials to discuss what makes a man sexy? After all, that would be counterintuitive, correct? One would agree; however, being in a rather superficial, judgmental, often full of hot air industry, I think we are well versed to provide you with what we believe makes a man sexy. Everyone has their type, but can we assume there is a universal set of traits, behaviors that we can all agree make a man sexy?

Let’s start with the totally superficial, the phenotype or physical characteristics. Be it a chiseled mid-section or a soft belly, to each her own. But the following physical attributes can objectively be included in defining the primitive, sexy male essence.

  • Sexy guys are groomed. This does not mean overly “man-scaped” but rather neatly groomed yet still apparent that one is a man. Having lunch lurking around your teeth or grime in your nails may appeal to a few, but remember we are talking about universally sexy.
  • Sexy guys tend to be in decent shape. Not everyone has the time or desire to spend most of the day in a gym and eating salads. A decent physical shape sends a message that one has discipline and takes care of him self and therefore would prove to be a good mate. This is simply an evolutionary fact. This let’s the female know you are physically able to provide and protect.
  • Sexy guys smell good. Well, this is a strange one. Our pheromones vary and like any chemical reaction, it appeals or repeals others. The good news is that a bit of fragrance, and I mean just a hint allows us all a fair chance.
  • Sexy guys have style. This is not particularly about the way a man dress, it is a way a man carries himself. With the right swag, sexy ranges from a vee neck t-shirt and jeans to a tailored suit. Style is about the way in which a man carries himself. Guys with a more relaxed, easy walk tend to be sexier than a guy with an awkward walk, jus’ sayin’.

Now, let us move our attention to demeanor. The way in which a man exists can be even sexier than the physical attributes.

  • Sexy guys have a cool, calm and level head. The “it will all be fine” attitude is the perfect balance to most women’s constant sense of urgency, inquiry or worry.
  • Sexy guys are courteous. Men who open doors for women or stand when a woman enters or exits exhibit a sense of culture and refinement. Again, a good indicator of a better gene pool. By now, she could careless what you look like or smell like, she see’s future generations of good genes.
  • Sexy guys are attentive. Men who listen and remember what they heard tend to have an edge over guys who just pretend to listen.
  • Sexy guys are confident, not arrogant. However, the two are often interchangeable to most people. There is a very big difference. Confidence is defined in silence where arrogance is exhibited with noise.

And last but not least, a woman needs to be stimulated mentally just as much as she does physically.

  • Sexy guys tend to be witty and funny. Usually this is a sign of intelligence, but in reality, the ability to lighten the mood or make someone laugh will always be in style. If you are neither, perhaps learning a few magic tricks will be helpful.
  • Sexy guys can engage in various topics of discussion. Look, you need not be a PhD in anything, but you should have a sense of the world at large. This usually comes from reading books, not Facebook or Instagram updates. Have an opinion and do not be afraid to express it. But equally be ready to learn and hear other perspectives.
  • Sexy guys have good intuition. Being able to read body language, energy and other non-verbal ques is very important. Touching without being invited is perky. Also, being drunk is never sexy.

 

****These are merely the opinions of a few idiots hanging out at the Lodge.
They do not in anyway have scientific proof or validation. ****

Women dress boys, VKNAGRANI dresses Gents

Men and women, as we have come to know, come from two totally different planets. I often think we are actually two separate species. This is never more apparent than in the world of clothing. Women and men approach clothing very differently. The intention, purpose and function of clothing differ greatly between the two genders.
We tend to discourage men bringing their wives or female significant others into the Lodge because women simply do not know how to shop for a man. Women can introduce them to new things, but to actually build a wardrobe for the gent requires a totally different play book. After all, if we left it to men, we would all still be wearing loin cloths.


How women shop

Most women love being “on trend” and “in the know” each and every season. Lord forbids you are caught walking around with last year’s it bags. Shame, shame, shame. As men, we love that you are always on point and we enjoy watching you and your friends keep the economy going. Most women tend to be highly competitive with their peers, often in a very passive aggressive way, but competitive as hell. Women do not ever want their man looking better than them. They can deny it all day long, but the truth is that they do not want their man garnering more attention than them – EVER.


How men shop

Men are basic. Far less complex than our female counterparts, men want everything easy. Having to shop is on par with a two hour dental appointment. It is an excruciating process for men. Men have been spoiled since birth. Mothers start buying their clothes in hopes of making them look “cute” and eventually they delegate the shopping to their significant others. Now, read the paragraph on how women shop. Do you understand where we are coming from? Women do not want you to look better than them yet they want a man who dresses well. And so it goes, “You can’t live with them or without them.”

Gents drink Scotch

In the pursuit of the art of genting, it is important to have a basic understanding of any and all things that interest you. More so than not, most men tend not to know the basic difference between scotch, whiskey and bourbon. In this piece, we will give you a basic understanding of the difference, without going into too much detail.   Should you wish to learn more, there is this thing called google that yields plenty of information on any topic you wish to learn about.


What is Whiskey or Whisky?

First, the spelling varies based on geographic location. Either way you spell it, it is correct. A whisky is composed of primarily of grain mash. Mashing is the process of hot water steeping that converts grains to a fermented sugar. Whisky’s are aged in Oak barrels without a specific maturation date. You can age from one year on. The grains used can be a mix of barley, wheat, corn or rye. Whisky’s can come from many geographic origins.

VK’s top choice: Hibiki, 17 years, neat


What is a Scotch?

Scotch comes from Scotland. There are 5 main regions that produce scotch. From the Lowlands to Speyside to Islay, each region offers a distinct taste. Scotch must be aged for a minimum of three years and is made primarily of malted barley. Aside from the caramel colouring, there are very few additives. The first written mention of Scotch whisky is in the Exchequer Rolls of Scotland, 1495. (Bender, 2005, p. 556) A friar named John Cor was the distiller at Lindores Abbey (the home of Scotch whisky) in the Kingdom of Fife.

VK’s top choice: Dalwhinnie, 15 years, neat


What is the difference between single malt and blended?

Most of us have been led to believe that single malt scotch comes from one batch, one barrel made with one particular yield of malted barley. Sorry, this is incorrect because that would be “Single barrel” scotch. What single malt basically means is that the scotches you are drinking are all from the same distillery. This allows the producer to keep a consistent taste to the end product. In single barrel scotches, each barrel would naturally yield a different tasting product.

VK’s top choice (blended): Royal Salute, 21 years, one cube of ice


What is Bourbon?

Bourbon is a by product of grain mash where the primary grain is corn (51%). There are no minimum aging requirements and it can be made anywhere. Once upon a time, the connoisseur would turn his nose to anyone that would offer bourbon. However, today, bourbons have a come a long way and are very enjoyable.

VK’s top choice: Blanton’s Straight from the Barrel, two cubes of ice

VKN VISION – AUGUST

The fall is by far my favourite time of the year.  This past summer was one of the best summers I’ve had in 20 years. The reason being, I took five weeks off and spent time with my parents, family and friends.

Now it’s time to get back to business. I am dumbfounded by how much has changed since last fall.  We have completely changed our focus and way of thinking.  It is unchartered territory and we have no idea what the outcome will be.  But rest assured, we are going to really stir the pot.

The goal is to take you to a whole new level when you visit us. Each new piece that we have created for this fall is absolutely amazing. I am being totally objective.

Each piece was created to enhance the way our client lives. There is zero shelf appeal.  To truly understand what makes these garments different one has to actually wear them.  It is only then that you begin to understand the artistry that goes into each garment.

The aesthetic is classic and very simplistic. The complexity of the garment unveils itself as you put the piece on. From there you can feel the attitude that was intended. You soon find yourself reaching for a particular piece all the time. We do not make clothes to hang in your closet.  We make clothes that you will enjoy living in.

Perhaps I am too old now, but I can careless for what is fashionable or on trend. What I am seeking and what I am creating are pieces that are timeless and enhance the way we live.  Production has been limited to no more than 40 pieces of each style. To me, it makes no sense to wear what everyone else is wearing.  I like knowing that only 39 super cool men will ever own what I own.

To schedule a one of a kind experience, visit us at vknagrani.com and make an appointment to visit us at the lodge. 

Buy VK Nagrani and Give to the Charity of Your Choice

Aside from a sophisticated, confident sense of fashion, the man who calls the world home does anything he can to help in its progress. After all, there is a civility in luxury. That’s why we’re excited to announce our charity partnership with Sparo. When you buy anything on the VK Nagrani site you can choose a charity to donate to. There are countless charities across the world doing amazing things everyday, and Sparo lets these charities be found, recognized and supported — all via normal purchases that probably would’ve happened anyway. If you’re reading this, you’re likely already an aspiring, or full-on gent — so be swift in your commitment to elevating the human existence as you peruse the VK Nagrani closet.

Keep reading to learn more about Sparo and their list of charities you can donate to. 

What exactly is Sparo?

Sparo recognizes that the major issue plaguing non-profits everywhere is securing funding. Most non-profit teams are already stretched thin, so having to spend considerable time and resources in fundraising takes much of the attention away from the actual issues at hand. Sparo aims to save non-profits time fundraising so they can get back to pushing their cause forward.

Sparo embeds onto any e-commerce website to make donating effortless. When you check out with your VK Nagrani fashion apparel, you’ll simply need to make one click to the charity of your choice for the donation to go through. Giving to charity has never felt so simple, warm and gentlemanly.

Who Can I Donate to?

Whatever your passionate about, chances are Sparo has you covered. The list of partnered charities spans the diverse categories of Animals; Arts, Culture, Humanities; Education; Environment; Health; Human Services; International Development and more!

Donate to the Urban Alliance—an organization empowering under-resourced youths to develop and succeed through paid internships, mentoring and formal training. Give 10 percent of your purchase to Seacology and help preserve threatened species and their habitats around the world. The choice is yours. Other notable charities include the National Disaster Relief Foundation, Leukemia Research Foundation, Special Olympics as well as countless local food banks and urban development organizations. It’s impossible to pick a bad charity to donate to!

Why Can’t I Just Give Directly to the Charities of My Choice?

You can! But, donating via VK Nagrani and Sparo costs you nothing: 10 percent of your total purchase is automatically given to the charity you choose, with no added fees for them or you. Doesn’t donating to charity with money you already spent on a tangible good sound like a win-win? The wise gent in you has to think so.

Channel your inner gent today by donating to charity and buying a few pieces from VK Nagrani’s wardrobe.

VKN VISION – JULY

As I find myself well into my 43rd year, I have started to come to terms with a lot. What was once so important to me has become negligible.  What was once taken for granted has now become revered.
What I am really enjoying these days is simply being me.  I am not on the hunt to make new friends nor do I seek approval from those that do not know me.  I am more focused on enjoying the great friendships I already have and the wonderful family I have been blessed with. Quite honestly, I just unapologetically do not give a shit.

 

Looking back over the year, I have realized I don’t have unlimited summers ahead. My daughter is becoming a little lady. My hair is slowly turning grey. The sands of time seem to be passing faster and faster.  It is now that a man begins to seek his real purpose in life.  What is it that one is here to do?  Albeit my purpose here is not as grand as I once imagined. My purpose here is to make people’s laundry.  It is humbling for sure.

 

But it is what I truly enjoy. With that said, I have immersed  myself into creating very specific, beautiful pieces that I love to wear.  I no longer care what is trending, how the market will react, or if something will sell.  It is art and it is made by people who share a similar passion for bringing beauty and craftsmanship to a world polluted with commodity.

 

I have come to terms that what I do can not truly be scaled to appease the mass population.  Hell, I do not even think it makes sense to most of the human race. However, I remain steadfast in doing things my way.  It is through making laundry for men of stature that I am desperately trying to elevate the human existence.  Working with small, family owned factories, developing the ‘eliminate waste elevate life’ project and ensuring that men feel great when wearing my work is my way of making the world a little better.

 

A very deep thank you for those who help me make my vision a reality and for those that embrace my work.

The Case for Sustainable Clothing

Looking back at previous generations, there has never been quite the same level of attention focused on one’s wardrobe and attire as there is today. While there’s no shortage of high quality clothing from companies like ours, many of today’s consumers are solely focused on finding the cheapest, fastest, and more regularly rotating designs.

If you’re heading into the same store week after week and consistently finding new articles of clothing on sale, you can either think of that store as a powerhouse that knows how to churn through merchandise at a breakneck pace, or you can look into them with a little more critical lens, realizing that the sort of working conditions that lead to that rapid turnover are not the ones that we should be supporting with our spending.

Sure, it might be difficult to tear yourself away from the ultra-appealing, super low price points that these “fast fashion” brands use to lure in their customers, but by looking at the quality of the clothing, and the quality of the treatment of workers who produce that clothing should be enough to turn you off of shopping there. Unsure what we’re talking about?

Let’s break it down.

The Problem: Ethical Working Conditions

Some large fashion manufacturers are employing unsustainable conditions to make sure they retain a loyal customer base who has come to expect only three things: cheap, fast, and new.

While there certainly has been greater attention focused on the fashion industry in recent years, pressuring manufacturers to pay closer attention to their partners to ensure safe production standards for employees and implementing compliance regulations for those that aren’t adhering to those standards, there is still room for improvement. Tragedies like the Rana Plaza collapse in Bangladesh have brought these issues to light, with more than a thousand workers killed in a facility that manufactured clothing for big-box western brands. Incidents like Rana Plaza cannot continue to occur, and it’s up to the consumer to pressure those in the fashion industry to prioritize sustainable conditions and improve the lives of the people who manufacture their products.

The Solution: A Focus on Quality over Quantity

If you’re looking for the solution to the issue of unethical working conditions that are rampant in the fast fashion industry, it starts with a change in attitude. For many of us, the constant desire for new clothes and new styles is the driving force behind why and how we approach shopping. Our focus needs to shift to emphasize the quality of production, the quality of the design, and the quality of the materials used rather than the quantity of items in our wardrobe. While you might not want to re-wear the pieces in your wardrobe, you might need to stop and consider that the reason behind that is that you’re not being judicious when you select those pieces during the shopping stage.

By opting for clothing designers like us that have a demonstrated passion for high quality design, high quality materials, and high quality production, you’re voting with your dollar to support a more sustainable clothing industry. That’s why we support initiatives like Sparo, in their mission to drive more conscious consumer decisions. Sparo lets shoppers choose a charity of their choice to designate for a portion of the proceeds from their transaction. At VK Nagrani, we donate 10% of all your online purchases to the charity of your choosing, because we know the importance of giving back to the world.

When you choose to buy your clothes from a sustainable designer like VK Nagrani, you’re not only supporting those that work in the garment business but you’re doing yourself a favor, outfitting yourself with clothing that looks better, feels better, and is ethically justified.

Do yourself a favor and put in some thought before you go shopping, you have the opportunity to make a real difference in the world.

The Origins of the Classic Bomber Jacket

Military uniforms have influenced mainstream fashion for centuries. It is not American, European or any sort of depiction to a particular people. It is a universal fact. Fashion often gets convoluted into something absurd or time sensitive. Military uniforms are designed to function and offer a rigid, fierce aesthetic. Many soldiers became so accustomed to wearing elements of their uniforms after serving that it began to catch on. Of course, the world view on soldiers after WW2 was reverence.   It would only make sense that people would embrace the design element that military regalia has to offer. The most recognizable article of clothing in mainstream life is the Classic Bomber Jacket.

The History or the Bomber Jacket

In 1917, the US ARMY created the Aviation Clothing Board and began the distribution of the bomber jacket. The American version of the jacket differed from the Royal Air Force jacket that was gaining popularity at the onset of WW1.  During the early 20’s, the US military recognized how important the flight jacket was. However, they felt the European style jackets which were more like car coats were not very functional. They cut the jacket to the hip, added the shearling in the collars for warmth, made the cuffs snug and waist snug and there born perhaps the most recognizable military influenced jacket – the US Airforce’s A-2 fighter pilot jacket.  The A-2 Jacket remained in production for 12 years at which point, General “Hap” Arnold wanted to make something better.  Remember, pilots often flew planes with open cockpits and therefore needed incredibly warm clothing to battle the sub zero temperatures.

Soon after, the Navy followed suit. The navy used seal skin rather than calf skin to better perform in their environments. With a few adjustments to the A-2, the navy introduced the G-1 flight jacket. It is almost as recognizable as the A-2, but the A-2 remains the king. The demand for the G-1 flight jacket forced Congress to stop production in 1978 because it was suffocating the US NAVY supply chain. The movie Top Gun revitalized the demand for the G-1 jacket and made it an iconic piece of American fashion.

Today, flight jackets are usually associated with the MA-1, a now-obsolete U.S. military jacket, which is mostly found in sage green. It is made with flight silk nylon and usually has a blaze orange lining, with the specification tag in the pocket, though earlier models had a sage-green lining and the specification tag on the neck area. It has two slanted flap pockets on the front, two inner pockets, and a zipped pocket with pen holders on the left sleeve. The lighter weight version of the MA-1 is known as the L-2B flight jacket, which in turn, replaced both the original L2 and L2A jackets, which all three differentiate from the MA-1 as they have snap-down epaulets and no inside pockets. The military flight jackets currently used today are the CWU-45P (for colder weather) and the CWU-36P (for warmer weather); both are made from Nomex.

Fall 2016

For Fall 2016, VKNAGRANI will introduce it’s own version of the classic Bomber jacket. The goal will be to encompass the iconic elements of both the A-2 Jacket and G-1 Jacket. With those basic elements, the jacket will then be designed to function in today’s time. The fit, the leather and the construction will be centered around the classic jacket. “I am going to re-invent this piece to be totally different than it’s predecessors. However, it will respect the original piece completely.” – VK NAGRANI

VKN Man of the Month – Jimmy Afshar

Based in Stockholm, Mr. Afshar comes to New York twice a year.  Last year he was introduced to us through the Mark Hotel.  Since then, Jimmy has become a huge fan of VKN and the Lodge.  Mr. Afshar is the Managing Director of ADEPTIC, a global venture capital firm.  He also competes in IronMan competitions around the world.  He is training for the Barcelona 70.0.   It took me two whisky’s to convince Jimmy to buy the DB; suit and now, he does not want anything else.  For Mr. Afshar, we created a wardrobe that allows him to stay stylish whether he is in Stockholm or Sao Paulo.

  • Hotel of choice in NYC — The Mark
  • Favorite restaurant NYC — Quality Meats
  • Favorite thing to do in NYC — Visiting the best restaurants, long runs (jogging) and clubbing
  • Favorite bar in NYC — The Mark Bar and The Lodge
  • Favorite cocktail — Whiskey Sour or Bourbon
  • What differentiates VKN from anything else you own — VK Nagrani is a unique species, I think he’s found the optimal way of mixing high quality fabric, elegance, color and practicality. Meeting him was like changing religion. I normally wear a single breasted dark suit with white or navy shirts and black socks . Since I met him, my new VKN double breasted suit feels like something I will not take off. Not to mention the fancy new socks I wear and the underwear makes flying a lot more enjoyable. Lots of nice comments from friends and colleagues. I want  to sort of sleep with them.