Crocs

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They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, if so, the bosses at Crocs must have been be swollen with pride. Or were they?

Perhaps the most blatantly ripped off shoes, er… in the history of jelly shoe rip-offs – Fakes infringing the patents owned by Crocs – called “croc-offs”- can now be purchased at leading hyper markets at a bargain basement price point. A supermarket pair of knocked off at €7.99 are a sorry challenge to the real thing that you can buy on Amazon from €19.00. The hookie versions are not as good as, or even similar, in quality to the originals, but how often can that be said.

Why is this product so clearly ripe for rip-off? Crocs are “good” but they are not a Louis Vuitton handbags or a Rolex watches.

The manufacturers has striven to make a distinguishable difference between their better designed and better made products in an apparent ambivalence to the knock off version. 

Fluffy linings, flip-flop versions, extreme paint jobs and themed versions have not save this iconic product from throwing itself on its sword as it was announced in August 2018 that in the light of the wholesale rip-off market Crocs will be ceasing production and closing its manufacturing facilities. Curiously the announcement went on to say that production would be shifted to third parties “to meet the growing demand for Crocs.” It seems the future for a version of Crocs is “bright and bold”. May be its worth storing in your wardrobe a pair as they become scare and increase in value.

I have a pair that resemble a French maritime uniform they are unbelievably comfortable and comprehensively over deliver in most respects. That said they are a little prone to make already hot feet a little stickier. They are not particularly good looking but neither were their wooden antecedents.

See here a piece I did for Aestheticons on Jeremy Atkinson a Master English Clog Maker Jeremy Atkinson – The Last English Clog maker

What’s the story of these favoured jelly shoes that have become the guilty pleasure for many of us.

Founded by Scott Seamans, Lyndon “Duke” Hanson, and George Boedecker, Jr. who had acquired the design from a third party. Originally intended for the boating community the injection mounded foam clog was launched at the Fort Luaderdale Boat Show in 2002 with two hundred pairs being sold.

Word has it that over 300 million pairs of shoes have been legitimately made. In plants in Mexico and Italy. There have been many colourful variations including those decorated with bling called “jibbitz” – the company that created these was acquired by Croc in 2006 – that clip into the holes on the upper. In 2008 a pair of Croc styled golf shoes called “the Ace” were launched.

The subject of some controversy Crocs had become the preferred footwear for the medical profession. Now effectively banned for anti-static reasons; though Croc has responded producing pairs that dissipate static. The shoes have featured in more contentious situations including several claims, particularly in Japan from parents that argued their kids Crocs had become dangerously lodged in escalators.

Image Credits – Crocs

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Black Cabs – London’s Taxis

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Any visitor to London cannot fail to notice that aside from the usual array of private cars, bikes/scooters and delivery vans that the streets are punctuated with two of perhaps the World’s most recognizable and iconic vehicles. The red London Bus – see our previous post here that features the New Routemaster Bus – Thomas Heatherwick – and the Black Cabs – London’s Taxis or more properly “Hackney Carriages”.

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It may be just an impression but certain parts of the West End, that are not already bus and taxi only, but fall within the Congestion Charge Zone – and a daily rate of £11.50 – have taken on a new character. They seem to flow better and are sparsely occupied by private vehicles but are dominated by well managed public transport provided by Transport for London (TfL) – see here our piece on the iconic London Transport Roundels –  London Transport roundels  – and the Carriage Office – the body responsible for the Black Cabs.

The Black Cab is undergoing a revolution. The streets are a battleground where private mini-cabs, recently licence-reprieved Uber cars and Black Cabs vie to secure a ride but they reflect a clash of cultures. The Black Cab driver knows where he/she’s going having successfully completed the Knowledge see our previous post here – London A-Z street atlas – The Knowledge  – whilst the mini-cab or Uber drivers world is linked to one of the many digital street services following pre-selected routes that guide the driver to the chosen post code. Simple but not foolproof!

Price is an issue but I tend to prefer the comfort of Black Cabs. However, with respect to those Uber drivers that I have met, the London Cabbie is often overall much better “value”. They tend to be better informed about London, its Mayor and its political life, the perils of supporting one of London’s eleven football teams, the most recent celebrity they carried and the best route to avoid congestion.

Cabbie’s opinions matter. In a recent and highly effective Twitter piece, Robert Wood “Woody” Johnson, the US Ambassador to the UK – probably as a result of looking for someone to go “Sarf of the River” to the new US Embassy in Vauxhall – toured several of the thirteen remaining London’s Green Cabbie’s shelters. The driver’s opinions on Brexit and the US President seem very welcome. US Ambassador Cab Shelter Tour 

A new Black Cab appeared on the streets of London at the end of 2017 competing with the most recent diesel version of the iconic Black Cab, the TX4, that was produced between 2007 and 2017. Called the LEVC “TX” and seen below next to an older TX4, the cab is built in a new Chinese owned factory outside Coventry and combines a 1.5l petrol engine with a 110kW lithium battery driven electric motor. Conforming perfectly to the zeroing of diesel emissions and the promotion of the recharge economy.

 

A recent journey in the new cab, that tend to be rented by Cabbie’s for under £200 per  week on a five year deal, suggests the comfort is still very much there. The new cab’s driver explained the electric motor delivered around 70 to 80 miles on one 50p electricity recharge and whilst the TX leasing arrangement is slightly more costly, the fuel saving is expected to be around £100 per week. Will this bring cab fares more in line with Uber’s prices?

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Other cities around the world have their own distinctive cabs, the canary Yellow Cabs – Medallion Taxi – that have superseded their checker forerunners – in New York, the Black Body and Yellow Doors in Barcelona but in its own right London’s iconic Black Cab – a vehicle designed and built for a single task – should be seen a beacon of security in an unfamiliar city. Just don’t try and flag on done if its yellow roof light is not illuminated – its occupied!

Images used with grateful thanks – Transport For Londons, Daily Telegraph and LEVC TX.

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Favourite T-Shirts

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I have a favourite T Shirt – our featured image. It’s not the slightly lewd text, nor the “End of the Pier” – “Nudge, Nudge” – humour that appeals most to me. It’s the fact that Mrs W bought it over 20 years ago in New York City and it is loved as much for the item as the thought that went into its purchase.

Indeed it may have been on impulse – she doesn’t like shopping much – but it is the expression of her view towards me as her then relatively new husband who was coming to terms with his then slightly thinning hair. It’s been worn by us both over the years and amazingly it has outlasted many branded shirts that have been worn half as much.

I like T-Shirts especially as the summer turns to crank up the heat into the early 30’s.

T-Shirts have, in my view, to deliver in two simple respects. They need to be 100% cotton – whatever the brands try to persuade you of their new wonder fabric that will keep you as cool as a Polar Bear’s backside – sorry cotton is best. It’s also needs to be slightly on the big side allowing it to flap in whatever wind is available capturing some cooling and fanning effect as it goes.

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For me, some of the very best T-Shirts are made by Fruit of the Loom – they are consistently good and I really respect a company that stays loyal – in the main – to the one product that they are noted for and deliver year after year. We have featured Fruit of the Loom on Aestheticons before and you can read our previous post here – Fruit of the Loom – T shirts

I really like certain iconic T-Shirts that shout loudly about your preferences. Many of you will know of my love for New York City and the iconic Milton Glaser design – I ❤️ NY – is simply, though a little cliched by over familiarity, but as valid as a tattoo.

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Equally my London home is well represented by the shirts of the Hard Rock Cafe – again a little jaded and over-exposed – you can pick up the same shirt in London, Moscow or Marbella – but still its a cultural icon. Hard Rock Cafe T Shirt

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Last year I picked up on a ranking of the 10 most Iconic T-Shirts – Iconic T-Shirts    there will be those who will make it their mission – not in any charitable campaign sense but just as a bit of fun – to seek to collect all 10. Not for me, but please go ahead.

Enjoy the summer and enjoy your T-Shirts and I’d love to know which T-Shirts are your treasures!

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Image credits – with grateful thanks – Milton Glaser, Hard Rock Cafe and Fruit of the Loom.

 

AesthetIcons – Happy New Year

Targa 2018

For this, my 250th AesthetIcons’ post and first of the New Year, I am going to be a little self indulgent, introspective and, perhaps, somewhat overly analytical. Many of you will have read my praises of the “aesthetic” and the “iconic” – often both – but I want to regroup in order to further develop Aestheticons.com.

What may be aesthetic and/or iconic, is probably in the eye of the beholder. Clearly, it’s primarily subjective. Indeed, I am happy that not all of us with love the same designs. Conversely, it is entirely possible to appreciate something that we don’t particularly like. The Toyota Prius, whilst I recognise it may be iconic – in a curiously evolutionary way – it’s just not particularly aesthetic!

Not all will appreciate my almost clinical devotion to the products produced for over seventy years by the Stuttgart based Porsche AG, from the earliest incarnations of the 1950’s with 356 to the most recent iterations of the Porsche Targa. To me, Porsche cars are the very definition of what is both Aesthetic and Iconic.

Porsche 356

The use over many hundreds of years of Icons by the Russian Orthodox religion gives us much of the substance to our present day usage of the expression – although the etymological root of the word itself comes from the Greek “eikōn” meaning “image”. Whether worship of icons is entirely sound is a matter of personal faith but they do present a focus for devotion.

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The word “iconic” is often used in the media as short-hand for “famous”. Is David Beckham an “icon” – possibly – he was certainly was an amazing footballer who is now using his brand equity for commercial and philanthropic purposes. Coco Chanel, the originator of the Little Black Dress and the wonderful No. 5 perfume, is often described as an icon and her creations are equally titled. She also very ably ticks the box that spells ”Aesthetic”.

Kim Kardashian is described as having her own “Aesthetic” aside from her charms I struggle to see this as being more than “style”. This may result from the relationship between the host of a Twitter or Instagram account and their legion of followers, who, sadly, are unlikely to ever see yet alone meet their icon! For me Aesthetic is adjacent to “Art”. Essentially, the viewer’s reaction that confirming the objects status – again entirely subjective.

It seems that an adopted definition of an “Icon” is that the subject acquires its title through familiarity, use and enjoyment, especially, over a number of years.

Whilst New York’s Chrysler Building – see our previous post here Chrysler Building, New York City– or the Guggenheim Museum – see our previous post here Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and London’s Battersea Power Station – see our previous post here Battersea Power Station are undisputed icons of world architecture and they enjoy substantial praise for their aesthetic values. Is it time alone that has cemented these giants into the public’s consciousness, appreciation and nostalgia? Can London’s The Shard by Renzo Piano, The Gherkin by Foster and Shuttleworth or Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao see our previous post here Guggenheim Museum Bilbao hope to stand shoulder to shoulder with these masterpieces? Obviously yes, but it is much more than a question of  merely adding time.

It seems that there are certain icons that are loved and cherished that fail, taking their brand equity with them. Some of the familiar brands that have disappeared recently include: The US airline, once the emblem of the “Jet Set” international travel, Pan Am collapsed into bankruptcy in 1994. Hummer, once the Schwarzenegger of SUVs, in 2008 General Motors sensing the end of the road for conspicuous consumption tried to sell the brand but due to a lack of commercial interest in 2010 the doors were shut. Woolworths, the Home of Pic’N’Mix, largely due to the 2007 Credit Crunch, filed for Administration in November 2008, closing all stores within a couple of months. Athenasee our previous post here – Tennis Girl and Friends – founded in 1964, the home of student poster decoration, entered administration in 1995.

Some truly iconic brands have been saved and thrive, evolving into new markets whilst ensuring the continued affection of fans. These include: Falcon Enamel Wear see our previous post here – Falcon Enamelware Bugatti was founded in 1909 by Ettore Bugatti, following years at the leading edge of motor racing the factory was bombed in WWII and with Bugatti’s death the business was eventually acquired by Volkswagen in 1990s today producing £2.0m supercars. Moleskinesee our previous post here – Moleskine Notebook the original manufacturer, a France-based family, ceased production in 1986 following the death of its principal. The brand was very successfully revived eleven years later by Italian publisher Modo & Modo.

I am particularly determined to revive – see our previous post here – Woods & Sons “Beryl Ware” crockery – quite simply the most familiar crockery that you have known for years, as used in all manner of cafes and, I suspect, you’d love to own. Do you remember the Husky Quilted Jackets? Loved by English Princesses and Milanese businessmen – with the corduroy collar and cuffs that came in fire-engine red, marine blue and Hunter welly’s green – see our previous post here – Hunter Green Wellington Boots My research has shown the brand was acquired in a corporate buy-out but I challenge you to find a new Husky jacket.

My interests in the Aesthetic and Iconic are unlimited by genre, item or product type. There are the new and old, the familiar and less familiar. As we evolve, our core philosophy remains constant – to celebrate beautiful things. We will continue to curate and to introduce our audience to iconic designs. I relish the journey!

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Image Credits with thanks: Porsche AG, Volkswagen, Falcon Enamel Wear, Hunter Wellingtons, Moleskine, Tudor Watches, Chanel.

Baseball Caps

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Frankly, whilst I love baseball caps and have several cherished examples, I don’t really think they suit me. Its like my head is the wrong shape or my ears protrude but trust me that doesn’t stop me.

I particularly like the design classic and iconic, New York Yankees cap and I have had two, both reliably sized 7 1/2 inches. Both are classic New era 59/FIFTY fitted caps (a design that dates from 1954) , with my first being purchased in the early 1980’s from a store in New York, it’s a deep boiled melton 100% wool that has gradually shrunk but stayed colour fast despite surviving ski trip snow storm. My second from the New York Yankees store off Times Square which is now 100% polyester.

For many outside the US they may not even connect the cap with baseball – where the sport is less known. The appearance of the cap, titled side ways or backwards on a rappers head, in gold or silver as an essential accessory to a cat walk show, the cap’s reach is much more than a piece of sportswear. Go ahead ask any non-affionado about Babe Ruth Joe DiMaggio or Derek Jeter.

The NY Yankees caps are often seen in the media on noted fans like Tom Cruise wearing them in movies such as in 2013’s “Oblivion”. Having been to Yankee Stadium there is every chance you’ll see celebrity fans appearing on the huge TV screens. During a recent visit preceded by the playing of “You Can Call me Al” was a smiling and cap wearing Paul Simon.

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Even the prestigious Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York has created, with the guys from New Era, a special limited edition (at $48.00 plus p&p) New York Yankee/MoMA cap.

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The New Era Cap Company was founded in Buffalo (New York) by Ehrhardt Koch in 1920. He had borrowed $5,000 from an aunt to start on his own. Koch’s first production took place on the third floor of 1830 Genesee Street in Buffalo and in the first year 60,000 caps were made.

The first Major League Baseball (MLB) caps were first manufactured in 1934 with the first licensor being Cleveland Indians. The 59/FIFTY On-field caps first became available to the general public in 1978. In 1993, New Era were granted an MLB wide license to make all MLB teams on field caps with an equivalent deals from the National Football League (NFL) and National Basketball Association (NBA) was signed in 2012 and 2017, respectively.

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I particularly like the NFL team, New Orlean Saints, and the “Fleur de Lys” logo on their caps. Get your own one here by clicking the following AMAZON link NFL New Orleans Saints Heather Crisp 9FORTY Adjustable Cap, One Size, Black Heather

1996 the film director, Spike Lee, specifically asked New Era for a red New York Yankees cap – not a team colour – an event that is seen as the dawn of a new era which saw the New York Yankees cap becoming associated as much with the streets as the ball park.

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Get you own New York Yankees Cap by clicking the following AMAZON link New Era Cap | 9FIFTY Snapback | New York Yankees | Navy/White (Medium – Large)

Photo credit to the New Era Cap Company

Iconic T-Shirts

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I came across the following list of the 100 Most Iconic T-Shirts on the CustomInk T-Shirt Designers blog. It was made to celebrate the 100th birthday of the T-Shirt in 2013. Apparently, in 1913 US Navy recruits were issued for the first time with white crewneck T-shirts that were made to be worn under their uniforms, giving birth to an American icon.

See it here (it’s a good read) 100 Most Iconic T-Shirts

I was really happy to see that two T-shirts that we have posted about are in the Top 10.

The Hard Rock Cafe T-Shirt at Number 7 – see our post here Hard Rock Cafe T Shirt

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and

The I ❤️NY T-Shirt at Number 1 – see our post here I ❤️ NY

Also see the accompanying video by the guys at “Toplists” for the Top 10 Iconic T Shirts. Top 10 Most Iconic T-Shirts

Cross Classic Century – Sterling Silver ballpen

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The Cross family business was founded in Providence (Rhode Island) in 1846 by Richard Cross who manufactured gold and silver casings for pencils. Richard’s son, Alonzo T Cross, inherited the business from his father and developed a host of innovations including the predecessors of the mechanical pencil and modern ball-pen.

Cross pens are the essence of understatement and their simple, iconic and fine Art Deco lines make them timeless. The ladies’ Classic Century is elegant and its Sterling Silver body acquires an allure with age – a patina that, in my view, should only rarely be cleaned.

I was in New York looking for a gift for my wife and there is something classically American about this iconic and authentic pen that forms part of a range that was launched in 1946.  Its patented twist-action barrel sparked a design revolution and its sleek profile has found an army of loyal fans.

Cross is, perhaps, not regarded as being a foremost luxury brand but for me the range, style and workmanship are underrated. The Classic Century is an authentic American classic with a trade mark design that evokes the majesty of certain of New York’s skyline. See our earlier post on The iconic Chrysler Building Chrysler Building, New York City

In 2013 the business of AT Cross was purchased by Clarion Capital Partners LLC.

Should you like me be tempted to buy the special lady in your life an heirloom pen then I can highly recommend the Cross Classic Century – please click the following AMAZON link below the image – to gift this beautiful pen.

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Cross Century Classic Hallmark Silver Ball Point Pen

You may also be interested to add the matching and equally iconic Century Classic Sterling Silver Pencil to this wonderful gift. Please click the Amazon link below the image

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Cross Classic Century Sterling Silver 0.7mm Pencil (H300305)

Don’t risk losing you beautiful and valuable pens – keep them in a bespoke designed leather holder – available for one or two pens – please click the AMAZON link below the image

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Cross Classic Century Pencil Cases, 15 cm, Black

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Image Credits AT Cross & Co Inc. – with grateful thanks.