How many pairs of shoes do you have? Five? Seven? More? But how well do you know each style? We take a look at the different styles and their evolution. The Oxford shoe The oxford shoe gets its name from a shoe called the Oxonian that was popular at Oxford around the 1800s. The Oxonian was a half boot with side slits. The side-slits soon evolved into a side-lace and eventually the side-lace moved to the instep. The cap-toe oxford was mostly worn on formal occasions and to work, but today, it is made from a variety of materials and in numerous styles, and is also part of the casual attire. The Blucher The Blucher is named after Prussian general Gebhard Leberecht von Blucher, who, before he fought Napoleon at Waterloo, commissioned a better-built shoe for his troops. In the mid-1850s, the blucher was worn as a hunting shoe and it later evolved into a town shoe. According to Alan Flusser’s Dressing the Man, the Blucher was “distinguished from earlier shoes by the forward extension of its quarters over the vamp…it often has a tongue cut in one piece with the forepart”. The contemporary blucher complements both formal and casual occasions, and is considered to be slightly less dressy than the oxford. The monk-strap This style of shoe was first worn by friars in Italy in the 15th century, and it travelled to England, thanks to a visiting monk who was highly impressed with its construction. A contemporary monk strap has an upper made of three pieces, and is available in different avatars, including brogue monk straps and suede monks. Modern monk straps, including the double monk, which, essentially, is a monk strap with two straps, slot somewhere in between a lace-up and a slip-on and can handle both work and leisure. The chukka boot The original chukka boot was a two-eyelet ankle boot, and, despite numerous interpretations, it still remains the most stylish. The chukka boot was popular among polo players during the Raj, and the British named it after the ‘chukker’ (a period of continuous play that lasted around seven minutes). Chukka boots are generally made of suede or calf-skin and are quintessentially casual. The wing tip brogue The brogue is a low heeled oxford that features perforations known as broguings. Brogues were first worn in the Scottish highlands and by the Irish, and the elaborate punchings that adorn brogues today were once actually holes punched into the shoe to drain water out in the Highlands. The wing tip brogue is considered less dressy than a cap-toe oxford brogue. The suede shoe The suede shoe first made its mark when it was worn in 1924, in America, by the Prince of Wales. And its first sighting, at a polo match at Long Island, left many aghast. The Prince of Wales had worn his suede shoes with a suit no less, and for a long time, suede shoes weren’t considered to be proper attire for real men. Today, while suede shoes are essentially considered casual wear, it is not uncommon to find stylish men who team, say, suede brogues up with a good suit. The Slip-On Moccasin/Loafers The moccasin evolved from the simple shoddings stitched by Norwegian fishermen. Over time these shoes were worked on by Norwegian designers and exported to Britain and Europe. The Norwegian designers, in fact, were inspired by Native Indians who, according to Flusser, inserted a plug of leather to cover the forepart of the foot and hand-stitched it to a combination sole and upper. The Norwegian design has seen numerous interpretations, including the penny loafer, the tassled loafer and the Gucci loafer. Loafers or moccasins are worn by both men and women with jeans, chinos and trousers. They should be ideally worn without socks. Out here, we should also mention the Dress Slip-On, a lightweight, more difnified Italian interpretation, that was once, and, at times, is still seen in boardrooms in America.
If you have been perusing the Entertainment section and the Page 3s of newspapers, you would have observed that a lot of Bollywood stars are wearing coloured shoes. Farhan Akhtar, whose style is as eclectic as the movies he acts in or produces, was recently spotted wearing canary yellow loafers. Abhishek Bachchan and Ranveer Singh, too, were spotted wearing colourful shoes. Abhishek, in fact, teamed his bright blue shoes with a pinstriped suit. Bollywood’s actors are merely echoing an international trend that has been gathering steam since the autumn of last year. Colourful sneakers, loafers and boat shoes have been a prominent presence on catwalks across the world. Calvin Klein’s spring summer collection last year had some eye-catching citrus-coloured lace-ups, while Kenzo’s models wore some bright green leather lace-ups. It takes a bit of intelligence to wear these pop-colour shoes, says fashion designer and stylist Aki Narula. “You can’t, for instance, wear a bright shoe with an equally bright shirt,” says Narula. “Wear it with grey, black, or with white shirt and denims. If you want to wear a bright coloured shoe with a suit, make sure the style of the shoe is formal.” If brightly coloured loafers and lace-ups are not your style, you could try shoes with coloured soles that too is as big a trend in men’s fashion as pop-colour loafers. We really dig Cole Haan’s collection that includes a very classy suede chukka boot with a fluorescent Nike LunarGrand sole.
Don’t come running to us if PETA raids your house but the hot trend this season is leather. We know it isn’t the right thing to talk about but look around and you will realize how versatile leather is. From wallets to shoes, coats and even couches, leather can be converted into practically everything. Okay, to be on the good side let’s promise not to use exotic skin, no matter how much you fall in love with them. We’re listing three things that you must have in leather, apart from the obvious belt and shoes. Jackets: Don’t think of the leather jacket as biker gear. Leather jackets have become much more fashionable than that. Look for one of that is a sports coat, a cropped one or a long outer coat. Good quality leather jackets can be expensive but they last you a lifetime, if you take care of them. If your budget permits you just one, buy a cropped jacket. Those will never go out of style. Make sure that the collar and maybe even the lapels are lined with sheepskin for a pinch of Hollywood style glamour. Gloves: You might have seen your father using leather gloves while driving. Don’t try and steal those. He will need them more than you do. What you need is a pair of gloves in tan or black that fit you like, obviously, a glove. Gloves are a must have in cold climates and unless you are 15 woolen gloves should not be in your wardrobe. Travel wallet: Trust us, you will thank us when you start using a travel wallet. Having your passport, ticket, boarding pass, foreign exchange and hotel confirmations in one place is a blessing in disguise. Or are you the kind who rummages through his bag to hunt for the boarding pass when the ground staff ask for it? Change that habit, right now. We prefer the ones that can be zipped up, just so that we don’t drop anything precious.
In the ’90s when Govinda wore a pair of yellow or red trousers, people thought that it was his way of playing the role of the funny man. Almost two decades later, coloured trousers are back. This time they’re not on Govinda, but at stores all around the world and worn by some of the classiest men around town. Fashion designer Narendra Kumar has been a big advocate, seen wearing them five years ago when they were nowhere near becoming a trend even on fashion runways in Milan and Paris. If you want to take your style quotient from safe to chic, you must experiment with trousers that are beyond the basic blue, black, grey and beige. Remember, this ain’t for the faint-hearted and while you will get many compliments from those who understand the trend, you’ll also get laughed at. Let the Neanderthals be the losers. You’ll win all the attention of the women. Coloured trousers come in various fits and styles ranging from demins, slim fit chinos and formal trousers. Think of it as a progression. Step 1: Start with denims to get accustomed to wearing something colourful from the waist down. Team it with a simple white shirt or a light coloured basic T-shirt to go for a casual lunch Step 2: Only when you are confident enough to try out the next step, get yourself a pair of slim-fit coloured chinos. Roll up the legs, colour block them with a pair of driving loafers and catch up with a few friends for a Sunday brunch. Or even a casual cocktail. Step 3: If you want to plunge into the deep end, you better know how to swim. There will be no lifeguard to save you. Formal coloured trousers teamed with structured jackets are for those who are fashionably very advanced. If you do them well, there is no looking back. You’ve opened yourself up to a whole new world of stylish dressing. Try a pair of red ones with a deep blue jacket and brown leather loafers. If you think they work, experiment with many more colour combinations.
We’ve been through many, many bags. As teenagers, we loved Samsonites and those nearly indestructible Eastpaks. Then, when we started working, we veered towards Hidesign and other brands that made similar bags for the office. Not too long ago, we even ditched the bag, and carried a simple folder that had room for just our iPad, cell phone and the morning’s newspapers. Last year, though, we rediscovered Crumpler, a brand we had flirted with around 2009. And the bag that reacquainted us with the Australian brand was the Boston Heist. We will come to the Boston Heist in a bit, first, a bit about Crumpler. Crumpler was set up in 1995, in Melbourne, by Dave Roper, Will Miller and Stuart Crumpler. The guys initially made messenger bags, but soon expanded into camera bags, duffel bags, luggage and laptop bags. The thing with Crumpler, which is HQ-ed in Melbourne and Berlin, is that they are bloody durable, funky and superbly functional. Take the Boston Heist (above and below), for instance. It has the soul of a messenger bag, has many well thought out compartments, is big enough for an overnight trip and yet small enough to take to work everyday. The BH features a pretty commodious (24.5 litres, in case you can comprehend volume and such like) main compartment, with four pockets, a padded sleeve for up to 17-inch laptops. Two external zippered pockets that are up to the task of holding your tablet, books, passports etc The Boston Heist is with neoprene-cushioned carry handles and a detachable padded strap. The water-resistant Boston Heist, like all Crumplers, comes with a lifetime warrantee. A year after we picked up the Boston Heist, it is still going strong. Another bag maker which has caught our eye is Mismo. Mismo is based in Denmark, and was started a decade ago by the husband and wife team of Adam Alexander Bach and Rikke Overgaard. Mismo makes some very fine luggage and wallets and has attracted attention for its clean, minimalist lines and robust construction. Mismo product range includes everything from credit card holders to duffel bags to urban holdalls. According to Bach, Mismo slots between Head Porter and Louis Vuitton. That would mean his bags are as functional as a Porter and as distinctive as a Louis Vuitton. Among our favourites is the good-looking Explorer, a graceful blend of leather and canvas, and a bag that, we are sure, will never go out of style.
Asus PadFone 2: Do we like the Asus PadFone 2? We think we do. It’s an interesting and original concept that has just been launched in a much-improved version. So, what happens is a massively power phone and tablet come together. The phone, which slots into the tablet, powers the tablet. That’s about it, but it’s pretty novel, isn’t it? The PadFone 2 runs Android Ice Cream Sandwich and has a 4.3-inch screen, but when you slot it into the tablet, you get a 10.1-inch tablet. Asus’ DynamicDisplay technology allows for a seamless transition between standalone and docked modes and for automatic enhancement and adjustment of the various applications to suit the larger screen. Since the PadFone 2 powers the tablet, users only need one data plan for the two devices. The tablet ships with a keyboard dock that is equipped with USB ports and a card reader. The PadFone, which boasts a Super AMOLED qHD display, is powered by a 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor, is equipped with an 8-megapixel digital camera, and music lovers will dig the tablet’s built-in Asus SonicMaster speakers that deliver high quality sound. The PadFone is priced at Rs 64,000. asus.com/mobile/padfone Lenovo ThinkPad Twist: A normal laptop has a single mode, the Twist has four: apart from being a regular laptop, it has a stand mode, a tablet mode (where the swiveling laptop screen rotates on a centre hinge and folds down into a tablet); and a tent mode. Lenovo says that you use the Twist as a tablet while on the move, as a stand when you want to share presentations, and enter tent mode when need to browse. The Twist, which runs Windows 8, is powered by a Core i7 3rd Generation Intel processor, and is equipped with Dolby Home Theatre v4 audio, a mini DisplayPort and miniHDMI connectors and you can choose between either a 320GB or a 500GB hard drive or a 128GB SSD. Canon EOS 6D: Is this the entry-level full-frame DSLR you’ve been waiting for? The Canon EOS 6D certainly appears to be a very capable camera. It is equipped with a new Canon full-frame CMOS sensor that delivers a pixel count of 20.2 megapixels (a full-frame sensor is larger than the APS-C size sensors found in most DSLR cameras. A full-frame sensor maximises the full potential of visual data captured by lenses designed for 35mm cameras), and it’s got integrated WiFi, so you can just float your pics across to your computer or to a printer, and hell, its integrated GPS enables the user to embed location data on every image. But while the EOS 6D, which, according to Canon, is the world’s lightest full-frame sensor-equipped DSLR, has loads of tech, we wish it also had more autofocus points and a 100 percent field-of-view optical viewfinder. That would have made it really worth its Rs 1,66,000 price. The EOS 6D ships with a 24-105 kit lens.
You’ve probably seen it whizzing around our cities, ridden by young chaps kitted out in impressive-looking gear. But what you wouldn’t know is that the KTM Duke 200 is almost a cult machine. Within a year or so of its launch, the flaming-orange liveried Duke is having fun and delivering loads of it to its riders as well. But, the thing is, while we wouldn’t mind having one in our garage, what we would really like is 200’s big bad brother: the 1290 Super Duke R. Just look at it: it’s mad, it’s got immense attitude and we have a feeling it will sound gorgeous as well. The Super Duke R, though, is still a concept. Unveiled at a motorcycle show late last year, in Italy, the motorcycle is slated to go into production sometime this year, and when it does hit the roads, the Super Duke will be the maddest machine ever built by Austrian motorcycle manufacturer KTM (now part-owned by Bajaj). And here’s the spec sheet: 180 bhp V twin, steel tube trellis frame, racing-spec wheels, brakes and tyres and ABS and traction control. What’s not to like? If Bajaj decides to get the Super Duke R into the country, we are going to beg, borrow or steal to get our hands on one.