1. setteneck:

    Happy Thanksgiving! #ties #turkey #gobblegobble (at www.setteneckwear.com)

    Can’t wait to have Pete at the shop for the Meet The Maker Series 

    Dec. 7th 5-7 pm 1606 20th St NW

     
  2. The Process: Posted By A Distinctive Taste

    Photo by Rachel Couch

    "Love what you do, love who you do it with and love who you do it for." - John Paul DeJoria

     Starting off with a powerful quote and potentially a glass of scotch has always helped lubricate the writing process for me. Motivation is something that comes from the most remarkable places. I find that most of the time it comes from within, what I am doing and the people I surround myself with. I wanted to touch on that for a brief second and break you off with a nugget or three.

    • Love What You Do

    That’s the most obvious right? There are still tons of people out there making good money off of doing something that they don’t love doing. Even worse there are even more people not making money doing what they don’t love to do. Then you have this other group of people who don’t make much but love what they do. They can’t sleep because they love doing it. They can’t wait to wake up and start doing it again.  Every once in a while, you meet the luckiest person in the world. The one who loves what they do and generates enough revenue for themselves and family to not have to worry about money at all. I guess what I am trying to say is, make sure you love what you do, you will be a happier person for it. 

    •  Love Who You Are Doing It With

    I have a simple way of knowing if I can work with someone or not. I need to trust you. I need to know if you can get the job done. Most importantly I need to be able to have a beer with you.  It has to be all three. No exceptions. You can trust someone who can get the job done but when shit hits the fan and you can’t have a beer with that person, it’s not going to be pretty. It’s not about friendship. It’s about being able to meet on common ground and discuss our problems, identify solutions and move on. I just so happen to work with some of my best friends, but they can all get the job done and I trust them. You may not be as lucky so just stick to those three and you should be fine. 

    • Love Who You Are Doing It For

    Business development is all about relationships and respecting your client/customer It is almost impossible to forge an authentic relationship with someone if you can’t figure out a way to like and potentially love them. I learned this from hanging with a lot of criminal defense attorneys. Why? Because we want them to love us and our brand. People love when we listen to them, when we hook them up with a drink or something special. I can’t stress this point enough. The moment you no longer love the people you are doing it for will be the moment they begin to talk to someone else who is willing to listen to them and take your business. 

     
  3. The Process: Posted by A Distinctive Taste

    Photos by Manshion

    “If you don’t know where you are coming from, you don’t know where you are going”

    This past week, we hosted our fourth pre-launch event for State Of Affairs. Having some of my old friends there to support made me remember our very first event with The Selected Few. Small intimate session, music by Adam E and great drinks. Allow me to take you back with me a second. The date is Thursday the 11th of November, 2011.  I want to start off by using the words of the man that has provided you with the images above to put this all into context. 

    "The first in a series of menswear trunk shows based in Washington, DC. An air of mystery surrounded the affair, held in an undisclosed speak-easy (home of the finest mixologists in DC, i.m.h.o.) with attendees granted access by passcode only. A limited supply of hand-picked pieces were available for sale in the swanky atmosphere chock full of in-the-know DC style enthusiasts. " 

    image

    As you can see, we had a nice selection of brands that we felt matched the DC aesthetic. Personally, I never considered myself to be an “arbiter of style” or anything close to it. We knew about great brands that were not represented in DC via the internet. We wanted to introduce them to people who either didn’t know about them or never had the opportunity to see and touch it in person.The accessories were primarily showcased in the front room and heavier items such as jackets, pants and shirts were in the back to lower the risk of shrinkage. Like Manshion said, we knew that space was limited and could only fit around 100-150 people so we didn’t give away the location or password until two hours before the event. Slowly but surely, the RSVP’s came in. The first hour sporadically but the second a new RSVP per minute as well as one or two plus one guests per invite. That was a huge risk but it worked out extremely well given the circumstances. 

    The show was both a great success and an absolute failure.  A success because we saw that we can build up enough expectations for an event and pack the place even if no one knew exactly where it’s being held. I believe it was a failure because people purchased jack shit. We knew it was the “right” crowd. Well-dressed professionals willing to spend $15 a drink at the venue we hosted the gathering in. They came, they saw, they left.  

    image

    My takeaway from all that were a few things: DC has conscious buyers but none that are terribly educated regarding men’s clothing. They look something up and if they like the quality, they will try to find it cheaper online. Or if they just like the style of it, they will try to find something similar and cheaper elsewhere. The next observation was that there was also no real connection to the brands besides what Grant and myself could explain to our guest. Those concepts brought us to the realization that we needed to scrap the idea of monthly pop-ups with brands that came at a premium price. Instead we would use only brands that matched a certain level of quality and maintained a reasonable price point. For me, it’s about combining the great experience that our guest had with collection of brands that are easier for customers to purchase. 

    When it comes down to it, we kind of mimic the business model of a Venture Capital firm because when it’s all said and done, a VC firm is nothing more than a service provider. They provide a company with the capital and resources that will ensure their LP’s  get a return on their investment. We look for certain brands to invest in. We provide capital in creating a customer demand for their product which is done by providing tailored editorial content as well as proper brand placement. All of this is done so that the customer interaction with the brand is one that falls in line directly with the integrity of the brand.  

    It’s a hell of a ride and I can’t wait to launch. I honestly hope that these pre-launch events pay off and the people appreciate the hard work we have put into creating this world for them.   

     
  4. The Process Posted By: A Distinctive Taste

    photos by Rachel Couch

    Distillation 

    dis·til·la·tion 

    n. The extraction of the volatile components of a mixture by the condensation and collection of the vapors that are produced as the mixture is heated.
    Recently, my free time has been becoming more and more of a precious commodity. If it’s not spent with my family, I try to use the sparse hours I have to myself to build worthwhile relationships with individuals that I can really learn from. Everyday I find myself talking to an adventurous, stylish and creative menswear entrepreneur who is on the verge of blowing your f*cking mind. At times these amazing conversations of life, industry and fashion, that I begin to feel smothered and consistently operating within a ‘bubble’. It’s this reason why I relish the times I’m able to reach out to entrepreneurs who are doing something in a totally different industry than myself. One of those companies is the team at New Columbia Distillers who produce Green Hat Gin. The brand was named after George Cassiday, a prohibition-era bootlegger to members of Congress who was known as “The Man in the Green Hat” for his distinctive green fedora. 

    The Distillers is a family-run shop operated by Michael Lowe and his wife Melissa, along with daughter Elizabeth and son-in-law John. Mike, a former attorney for Verizon and a Yale Law graduate, is (in more or less words) a smart ass dude. So when I come by their facilities announced or unannounced, I can always find him in pursuit of his two passions: the process of distilling, or establishing his digital brand on Twitter. During my last visit, Mike had an excess of leftover alcohol that had 180 proof strength (akin to moonshine) that he was diluting down to use again in a future batch. After having a sip or two we began to talk about the concept of patience, and the tenuous idea of “getting it right and not right now.” By that, Mike is referencing the amount of money and batches of Green Hat his team “wasted” (arguable use of the word) before they got it just right, as well as at the right price point. 
    During the period of time when State Of Affairs was known as “State Of DC”, we originally wanted the company to be a trade show to introduce menswear brands into the city’s market with a three day festival of music, menswear and culture. We had close to 130 brands on our list, a number that has been distilled down to about 20 proof brands (see what I did there?) that sell a quality product and will stand the test of time. Eric once told me, “You have to been patient with fashion,” something we plan on doing. 
    Don’t get me wrong folks, a hand-made full-canvas suit with Super 140s-150s under $900 is a hard thing to do. But we did it. With our machine-made lines and variation of fabrics, we have managed to get them to a little under $600. We must have gone through 6 or 7 variations of our patterns before we nailed it down. As you know with the creative process, it can and will always get better. But I promise that it will never be at the cost of our customer. My favorite method of pushing my creative boundaries is the art of negotiation; it’s a difficult process of building a relationship, timing and measuring the value for both sides to get the right finish.
    Selling our suits and selling gin are not entirely unrelated: It gets heated at times, but if you’re doing it right and hit that perfect temperature, you have yourself something that is ready to bottle and sell to the world. 
     
  5. What to Expect From State Of Affairs Content By: Carl Pierre

    photo by Rachel Couch


    Elements Of Style - Menswear, Style and Lifestyle This is the backbone of the brand, so an emphasis on fashion trends and relevant news is necessary for SoA’s online publication. Content would span from latest trends, notable figures/people, and discussion on what the future holds for the industry as a whole. This would also be a golden opportunity to discuss fashion industry companies beyond SoA, as well as a chance for partnerships and collaborations for sponsored (paid) content and profile features on various people or organizations.


    The Fifth Estate - To stay relevant to the zeitgeist of our users, we have to discuss and engage the relevant topics of dialogue and the various events happening in their lives. In order for the site to be a full immersion experience for everything in men’s lifestyle, we have to leave no stone unturned when it comes to coverage and discussion, and this means providing extensive content and investigative reports within government, media, global and social affairs


    Trusted Travelers - This is another crucial component of our editorial strategy for the site. Discussing the nuanced details of living in various cities as a young professional will provide ample opportunity to direct discussion and dialogue, as well as broach topics we feel are pertinent to our readers. This is also provides additional opportunity for paid or sponsored content, specifically when it comes to features on new organizations, restaurants, stores, or events that want to reach our readership (which is also one of the most desirable demos of consumers with disposable income in the city).


    Creative Types  - Since our demographic is leading the charge when it comes to adapting and being a catalyst to current technology trends, discussing the latest in the many innovations happening around the city is a must. This also makes the brand appear constantly on the cutting-edge of trends in the city, especially if we can direct the dialogue with our content.


    Industrialist and Intellectuals - Our readers come from a educational and financial background which requires them to endure tremendous amounts of research. This is an opportunity to read profiles and ideas from captains of industry and actual thought leaders in the education space training the leaders of tomorrow.

     
     
  6. The Process: Posted By A Distinctive Taste

    photo by Rachel Couch

    Lovers and Haters

    One of the first things you are going to just have to deal with living in DC is that this is home of the haters. To simply generalize a hater you could lose out on some real knowledge. Let’s start off with the most obvious hater. The straight up hater. This person offers zero constructive criticism. They almost seem to be hating for no real reason than to hate. Steer clear of these people, keep them out of your inner circle and never take what they say personal. My philosphy on them is that they hate some aspect of their work. They hate the work they do, the pay the receive or the boss they work for.  They hate to see you doing what you love and reflect that in some way either in front of your face or behind your back. They personify a hole in the ass. 

    The second is a Lover who Hates. This is my second least favorite for a few reasons. They love your idea, your brand and everything else to death. They never have anything negative to say and make you feel warm and fuzzy. Their biggest problem is that they hate to give bad news or constructive criticism. These lovers have done a great job of inflating my ego and less of a good job in the area of profit margins. I love them too but have to keep them around only in sporadic doses because I could get lost in the sauce and think I am better than what I truly am. 

    The last and my favorite are the Haters who Love. These are people that are normally on the level as far as taste style and usually know a lot more about quality than yourself.  They hate all the brands that cut corners, offer a lower quality product at higher prices and have no sense of customer awareness. They hate these things because they love the opposite. They come off as haters and may even hate on your idea, product or execution from time to time. They always will back it up with a nice dose of constructive criticism usually citing brands that they love who are doing it right.

    Keep an eye out for the haters and learn to differentiate from the three.

    Cheers

    ADT 

     
  7. The Process posted by: A Distinctive Taste

    photos by Rachel Couch

    Amancio and Tadashi are my only role models. Ralph and Ingvar are my only role models. If you will allow me to take you back to the beginning of the process; it would have to be 2001 when I got my first job working as a barista at Starbucks. For me, that was my first taste at financial freedom and the ability to save and invest. All for the love of Air Jordans. At the time I had no idea that by maintaining them I would be able to sell them years later. But my infatuation turned into an obsession all the way down to the process of how Nike designed and ultimately constructed them.  


    Learning about the treatment and compensation of the employees in the Nke Vietnam factories opened my mind up at a young age to the possibilities of being able to create my own brand under better circumstances. Fast forward to 2008, I am slowly making my transition from streetwear to a modern menswear look. Slimmer cut suits, higher quality ties ect. The problem is by that time, I was a hype beast japan streetwear feign. The Japanese had taught me to appreciate quality and craftsmanship over anything else. I found myself in similar situation although the stakes were much higher. The difference in cost between a pair of shoes and quality pair was $100-$300. The difference between average menswear and quality was $500-$1000. 

    Enter thrifting. My eye was there, I knew what I wanted and knew the brands that produced the quality. The biggest problem with my thrifted finds was having to get them altered and at the end of the day, it was mine. My biggest question were; why does it cost so much to have quality and why have so many other vendors in the game decided to go with the status quo of appealing only to a small sector of men who can afford their clothes leaving out so many others to have to either thrift or wear poorly made clothes?  The answer turned out to be three things; Cost to manufacture, brand profit and retail markup. The retail markup being the biggest cost to the customer. You have heard the saying “if you put in one dollar you need to make $4-$5 back”  

    What we are doing is different because our retail location has multiple revenue streams from coffee, food and we have editorial partners lined up. This allows us to lower the retail markup. All the brands we work with have very little if any distribution around the world but have painstakingly perfected their craft and artisinal qualities. We work with them to keep their prices low while selling in the shop and online at the same price they have established. We take a cut for displaying it in the shop and keep it moving. Because we never have more than one or two items of each, it has allowed us to keep our retail cost extremely low which is something that I absolutely pride myself on for not passing that on to my customer. I am also happy to take on this venture because very few in the industry have been able to successfully embrace this model. 

    The point I am trying to make in all of this is that we have found a way to make custom accessible to the average man without jeopardizing the integrity or quality in our craftsmanship.Over the past month we have been introducing our MTM line to receive constructive feedback from our potential customers. But the theory and whiskey will soon be brought to an end and we will let the streets talk with their wallets.  I hope they will enjoy the brands and experience we bring to them as much as we have enjoyed creating it.

    ADT

     
  8. The Real La Marzocco Experience by Carl Pierre

    La Marzocco is in many senses, a loaded term. If you were to enter any circle of coffee aficionados or speak with any barista worth their mettle behind an espresso machine, they would tell you that the words La Marzocco are synonymous with the words incomparable, inimitable, or perhaps nonpareil (for the more verbose coffee enthusiasts). The fact of the matter is they wouldn’t at all be lying, since this particular piece of machinery is probably one of the most elegantly refined and elaborately designed tools in the world of coffee, specifically engineered to pull the perfect shot of espresso. With that said, you wouldn’t believe this assertion if you were to look at the current status quo of how these machines are treated or used in many parts of the country today.

    My own personal experiences with La Marzocco serve as the best case study for this point.I first became acquainted with La Marzocco when one of the best baristas (I’m certain you can guess which one I’m alluding to) in the country trained me on one. Suffice to say it was a magical machine to interact with, and like anything that possesses the intricacies of creating nuanced notes and flavors for the palate, I was taught to treat it with respect. Unfortunately for me, I was hired by a bakery that cared little for the quality of coffee or the power of the machine they possessed. They were concerned more about the ability to tout to their customers that they had the ‘best coffee in town’, and flaunt the brand recognition of the beans they purchased and the machines they were paired with.

    The potential for creativity, the possibilities for imagination, and the dynamic between barista and machine pushing the limits of the espresso were lost in the shuffle of profits and decent margins. The volume of rushed, poorly made drinks went up and the beauty of working with this machine quickly diminished.Suffice to say my brief journey with La Marzocco became tainted, and I personally quit being a barista. I later learned that the bakery eventually abandoned using the bean suppliers they originally partnered with, blaming them for their drop in customers and they scrapped their coffee program all together. To this day I’m unsure as to what they did with their machine.As depressing as that anecdote was, particularly for a brand as celebrated as La Marzocco, it’s a common story for growing coffee shops across the country. The appetite for exploration and creativity has abated to gorge the masses in caramel macchiatos and 20 oz soy lattes. Which is why we have approached La Marzocco with this modest proposal: lend our cafe and men’s shop a machine for six months.

    The driving idea of State of Affairs is to emphasize the small wonders of quality, a pleasure often overlooked by many of the men in D.C. We want to provide our customers with the same quality materials and suits you would find in parisian boutiques or shops in Italy, but have the ability to pair it with coffee of comparable quality. When it comes to the drinks we serve, the journey of crafting our beverages is almost as important as the beverage itself.

    The price tag and luxurious nature of the machine are both inconsequential and not relevant to our customers, it’s the ability to pair the right barista with the right machine to deliver the perfect shot of espresso that will reconnect our clients with the perennial adage that quality should never be compromised. We would like to rediscover that joy again, rekindle the lost art of creating superior espresso with the ability to experiment and deliver our customers to the driving roots of La Marzocco. Incomparable, inimitable, non pareil. La Marzocco can embody these words again. At the very least, we can try.Thank you for reading our open letter.

    Cheers,

    The Gentlemen of SoA

     
  9. The Process: Posted by A Distinctive Taste photo by Rachel Couch 

    There is something to be said to people who embark on endeavors who have a certain level of “taste”. I watched a video on tumblr a few years back that people with taste and know whats good usually suck at their creative endeavors and never achieve the level of what they consider to be good for quite sometime. Within that time a lot of people tend to quit. I think that can be said when it comes to starting a business. One of the things I did early on in my career was begin to surround myself with individuals who knew a lot more and in certain cases were much more accomplished/creative than myself.  One of those people is the big homey Tips who gave me the idea of documenting the process of starting the business and continue through its launch phase. 

    I suppose this is why the title is named The Process. The person pictured above is Joseph Sprott my personal friend and coincidentally our project manager for the company Nclud that is designing our blog site and e-commerce solution and overall branding. We decided to work with them based off of a personal relationship and the fact that they have the chops to pull it off. Having already designed sites for Mashable, Men’s Health and the Washington Post, we proposed a challenge. A site that is both easy on the eyes and experience, while being very difficult to forget. "I want this to be so dope it wins some kind of award and sets a new standard of online media" I should have probably shut the fuck up because once I told them that, they replied "Sure, we can have it done by Feb 1"  


    image


    So what this means is almost half a year of creating thought provoking content that will inspire you enough to share with your network.  We entertained using Medium (and still may), but decided to finish off where we all began, here on tumblr. Working with Nclud has been a breath of fresh air. They are in charge of our entire branding both on and offline with logo slated to launch by the middle of this month. They care because they are our friends and want us to succeed more than they want a paycheck. In the mean time, it’s important for us to stay connected to the people as we build this community. This process is long, arduous but an experience that you just possibly cannot learn accept going this route. I definitely recommend it to anyone who has the stomach. It’s also important to have a team of people you trust helping you along the way. It helps to have others committed in their own way to the greater good and helps the time go by faster.


    One question I was asked a lot in the beginning was, Why are you spending time and money on making a high powered blog and investing in content providers when you are selling clothes and coffee?” The answer was usually given in three parts. The first is you will not see State Of Affairs bombard your online life with sponsored/suggested tweets, posts, pages or likes. The second was the fact that we were not going to invest in dropping cookies on our visitors pc’s so that we followed them as they went on with their lives on the internet. We felt it to be intrusive and at the end of the day doesn’t appeal to our ideal customer.  The third and final answer was that we aspire to not write about what’s going on solely in the fashion/lifestyle arena. That market is a tad bit over saturated as is and our customers don’t need constant reminders or tips on lifestyle and clothes. What they do crave are great motivational, controversial or just quick stories and videos that give them a leg up in their respective industry. Lets not kid ourselves. We are selling menswear to people with jobs and ambition. As we progress, think of us as a hybrid between Business Insider and Vice. Informative and provocative all in one place. The only way to achieve the aesthetic and experience we are looking for was to partner with Nclud. 

    image


    At the end of the day when it comes down to it, Carl Pierre our Editorial Director puts it the best. “

    One of the many ways that State of Affairs will differentiate itself from the current landscape of various competitors within men’s lifestyle publications and brick and mortar shops is that it provides both a physical location for customers to engage the brand as well as a digital presence that will both complement and reinforce the company’s reach within the city.

    The online presence for SoA is crucial to the execution of the physical location due to the fact that the company’s target demographic of customers and consumers require an online dimension to how they interact with brands they use. We want SoA to not just be synonymous with men’s lifestyle and culture but also business, creativity and global affairs. To accomplish this we must incorporate the brand into every facet of the average young professional’s life. By providing a regular stream of content that is both compelling and relevant to our customers, SoA can remain a thought leader within the community of our consumers and reach a level of brand awareness that extends beyond being ‘just a men’s fashion company’.


    image

    I appreciate you taking the time to ride with us on this journey. I have no idea what to expect from this only that we will learn and have as much fun as possible on this journey. Most importantly, failing fast.

    -ADT 
     
  10. So I guess I will let the cat out of the bag. Starting this fall and winter, myself Grant Harris, Brandon Yoshimura (both pictured above) and Corey Knight of A&H Mag are opening a mens retail space and coffee bar here in D.C. called State Of Affairs.  A new concept on retail and coffee but we feel that the market is mature enough to really embrace it. Not sure what to expect. We plan to house a combination of quality menswear from brands that are not currently represented within the District and/or the U.S. We have also fought to identify brands that match our aesthetic but also have a price point that is achievable to most working men. That has probably been the hardest because high quality is usually accompanied by high price tags. It has been a breath of fresh air to work with brands who believe that concept to be false and have worked hard to achieve a certain quality while keeping the cost low.  

    Within the store, State Of Affairs plans to house our own brand of made to measure suits and shirts. Stay tuned in as we document our progression of achieving the highest quality while building a online and offline community that we can collaborate with. 

    Cheers

    Great shots of Broshi taken by Rachel for the profile pictures for the site.