Category Archives: sartorialism

Visiting: The Academy

Long Beach is a working class town. Always has been, always will be. But there’s a shop lurking around on 1st Street that brings a refined element to Long Beach. The Academy.

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You’ll immediately feel comfortable with its environs–unfinished wood displays, taxidermy, bikes, and grease abound. But you’re distracted by all the mise en scene–enchanting though they may be–and what you should really pay attention to are the clothes because they’re refinements of menswear staples.

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Let’s start with shirting, which is comprised mostly of Turkish chambray. Though chambray is known as a blue collar fabric, the Academy’s take on it is decidedly modern with its slender collar, lack of pocket, and slim fit. What you will find instead, if you look closely, are hidden buttons for the collar and French seams along the side hem. Sure, they’re subtle but what I like most about clothes in general and the Academy in particular are the nuances that you’ll only notice over time.

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Sam, the proprietor of the Academy, also takes pride in his denim which is sourced from the vaunted Cone Mills and then constructed in Los Angeles. Now, let’s be fair, there are a lot of high-end makers that source from Cone Mills or a Japanese textile mill and then build them in Los Angeles. In fact, if you own a pair of high-end denim, chances are they’re built in Los Angeles. But what sets the Academy apart is that they allow you to “build your own denim.” What does that mean? It means no rivets at all, copper rivets, blue enameled rivets, or rivets on the back pocket. (Ever wonder why rivets on the back pocket are so rare? Back in the day, cowboys used to complain about the copper edges scraping their leather saddles, so out they went.) It’s a simple touch but one that goes a long way in making the clothes more unique.

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Let’s talk about Sam a little bit, though. He studied product design at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena and explains his attention to the minutia. At the Academy all design is done in-house, including the design of the simple deerskin wallet below made of one continuous piece of leather.

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At first you’ll say about the wallet that anyone could have made that but simplicity is deceptively difficult to achieve. As Antoine de Saint-Exupéry said, “a designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”

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The Academy’s got some other things coming out of the pipeline, too. I’d stay tuned if I were you.

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Railcar’s Type 3 Classic Apron

Railcar Fine Goods, based in Arcadia, California, has put out some great stuff and their Type 3 Classic Apron is no different.

Railcar Type 3 Classic Apron. Photo: Railcar Fine Goods

If you recognize that pocket, it’s because it’s based on the iconic Levi’s Type III denim jacket.

Levi’s Type III jacket. Photo: Unionmade Goods

Add to it the 12 ounce Cone Mills denim and adjustable leather straps and you have one fine looking apron that will age more gracefully than Sean Connery. And possibly best of all, it’s made in-house by a crew of five and not contracted out. (It’s true, I’ve seen their shop firsthand.)

Now who will be the first to make denim boxer briefs I’ve always wanted?

My Belt from Steelhead Fine Goods

I recently got my belt and key lanyard from Allan (a.k.a. Steelhead Fine Goods) and I have to say, these things are gorgeous. Well, let’s back up and let me say this: it’s less about how gorgeous they look now and more about how they’ll look a year from now.

Truthfully, natural vegetable tanned leather looks kind of boring to me; I’ve always liked medium colored leather because of the way it looks so ‘lived in.’ But there are very few materials that wear in as beautifully as leather. It darkens with age, gets scratched and then absorbs oils, and cracks in the areas of most use.


Beauty through usage.

And so goes the idea of this belt. The more I wear it, the more it will become mine. Soaking up skin oils where I might place my hands when I’m standing akimbo or where my hips scrape against a door jamb. The belt and lanyard are blank canvases.

But they’re f*cking beautiful canvases.


The copper rivets on either side of the belt keeper are a discrete but elegant touch. It might never be seen by most people but it’s kind of like lacy underwear on a woman–though she’s got something over them, she just feels sexier wearing them instead of the white cotton alternative.


I love the lanyard so far, too. Despite initially thinking it was too long I changed my mind when I went to unlock the door and realized I could reach the lock without ever removing the key cluster. Function wins over form.

I’ll be sure to keep you posted on how it wears in but at first glance I could not be happier.

Related: Visiting: Steelhead Fine Goods

NorthernGRADE Los Angeles

There are going to be some great, local brands at NorthernGRADE Los Angeles. Image and more info here.