Swag: Hublot Spirit of Big Bang “All Black”

SIHH is on in Geneva, Switzerland at the moment and as usual the Swiss watchmakers present their most exciting upcoming releases. Our favorite announcement from Hublot is the Spirit of Big Bang “All Black” model pictured above. It fully embodies the spirit of BIG BANG, translating the design language and elements of the popular watch series into a tonneau case. The fusion of the two works really well and the result is a sporty, yet elegant new watch.

The new Hublot Spirit of Big Bang “All Black” will release in a limited edition of only 500 watches.

Style Check: Vans Spring 2015 Classic Slip-On “Leather”

For Spring 2015, Vans offers a variety of Classic Slip-Ons in updated materials and colors for the new season. The highlights of the collection come from a rich selection of leather variations that showcase the fine detail put into sneaker design. You can choose from a dress blues colorway that features diamond-perforated leather or an all-white option with a crackled leather, giving it pre-worn appearance. An embossed mini-checkerboard in port royal, embossed weave in black, and embossed croc in black and “winetasting” complete the leather offering. The Vans Spring 2015 Classic Slip-On “Leather” pack is now available online and at select retailers

Facial Hair Is Back in Style in Business Settings

A century or so after the handlebar mustache made boardrooms look like a convention of Kaiser Wilhelm II impersonators, facial hair has found its way back to the professional setting.

As a new generation of men rises into positions of power in the workplace — helping to relax standards for what constitutes executive style — beards and even Hercule Poirot-esque waxed mustaches are becoming more common in the office.

The secret to pulling off this look, according to barbers and style consultants for businessmen, is striking the right balance of hair and common sense. That means understanding one’s industry and taking into account one’s age, general appearance — and physical limitations.

“Facial hair can look great, but it has to suit the right person,” said Brent Pankhurst, owner of the Pankhurst salon in London’s Mayfair neighborhood. (It offers haircuts in the style of Steve McQueen, for the tousled tough-guy effect, and Montgomery Clift, for the more classically handsome.) And there’s a facial hair approach à la Michael Fassbender (stubble) or Ryan Gosling (medium length).

“A good barber takes into consideration how a guy looks when he walks through the door, what’s he interested in, and then makes him look as good as he can and gives him something he can manage,” Mr. Pankhurst said during an interview in his über-masculine salon.

In the booming industry of upscale men’s grooming, facial hair is like any other element of executive style. From a simple evaluation in a barber’s chair — Mr. Pankhurst’s chairs are designed by Bentley, with the same leather and cross-stitching as the company’s car seats — to a session with a consultant who dresses professionals and advises on facial hair, fingernail length, what-have-you, the aim is to find what works best for the individual in an environment where individualism may not always be celebrated.

“For example, the fisherman’s beard is a trend, but it will go out of fashion,” Mr. Pankhurst said, referring to the moppy, bunchy beards that can grow inches below the chin. “People will look back on photographs in 10 years and ask, ‘What the hell was I thinking?”’ he said. “Anything longer than a medium-length beard is a no-no for the boardroom.”

Of course, the workplace and the company’s style help determine what’s acceptable. For Joseph Rosenfeld, a personal brand and style strategist in San Jose, Calif., the hipster look of the Silicon Valley executive, combined with the nerd factor, has changed the approach to facial hair in the last decade or so, as the goatee went from an innovation to a trend to almost a cliché.

“When you’re dealing with a base of engineers who create all the different products and solutions in this area, it’s pretty acceptable for guys to wear facial hair in all different configurations,” Mr. Rosenfeld, 45, said in a phone interview. “But you have to be very careful because of the messages that could be conveyed by a beard that looks incomplete or not fully grown. It can be incongruous with a guy who gets the job done.”

Mr. Rosenfeld also sees facial hair as more than just a fashion statement or even something beyond an expression of masculinity or sexuality — especially in the workplace. It can help some workers feel more comfortable.

“Facial hair might give someone a cover if he’s more introverted, or he can grow a beard to put on a better face if, for example, he has pockmarks,” he said. “It’s no different than a woman putting on makeup.”

But especially in the start-up and tech world, many people have become executives at a young age — and with it attendant wealth and self-importance, Mr. Rosenfeld said.

“There’s a bit of ego at that level that they want to do what they want to do,” Mr. Rosenfeld said, citing Mark Zuckerberg’s fondness for wearing hoodies to Facebook’s board meetings and corporate events.

A prototype of the tech wunderkind is Lawrence J. Ellison, who founded the software company Oracle in 1977 and now, at age 70, is one of the world’s richest people. He has long sported some sort of beard-mustache combination.

“Larry Ellison of Oracle has facial hair, but it can look at little rough, like sandpaper on him, and he could be perceived as being abrasive to some,” Mr. Rosenfeld said. “I’m concerned about that kind of thing when I work with my clients.”

Mr. Ellison, through a spokeswoman, declined to comment.

As with any business, discovering what works best for the client involves a continuous quest. At the Ottoman Crew in the Bloomsbury neighborhood of London, the 18-year-old owner, Hasan Yaman, manages a group of young barbers. Many display their own styles of facial hair, in a sort of self-experimentation as they cater to ever-changing customer whims.

“About six or seven years ago most young guys wanted a slim jawline cut and, over the lips, something more detailed and more sharp,” Mr. Yaman said. “Now they’re going for a more natural look.” But, he cautions, “when it’s too natural, it’s a bit scruffy and out of hand.”

His old-style Turkish barbershop, complete with lavish gold-trimmed mirrors and sparkling chandeliers above rust-colored leather chairs, is at once cozy and spiffy. The barbers wear red-trimmed vests and serve Turkish tea. Mr. Yaman said it’s all part of the mood for the repeat customer, many of whom come in every couple of weeks for a tune-up, especially executives who want to maintain a consistent and clean look.

“With hair, you can really fix it up, but a beard is more stubborn, so it takes a bit of time and effort. When you comb it down, you still get bits sticking out,” he said. “Mustaches are becoming more trendy now, and I’m even seeing guys curling them up.”

The amount of care and use of “product” previously restricted to hair grooming is now often devoted to facial preening, Mr. Yaman said. “They’re twisting their mustaches and rubbing their beards instead of running their hands through their hair.”

Too fussy, though, is too much, according to Mr. Pankhurst, the Mayfair barber. “The most important thing is not to have hard, clean lines,” he said. “You should always leave it as natural as possible.”

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That is the aim of one of the Pankhurst patrons, Daniel Millar. Mr. Millar, 37, owns a Dubai-based commodities trading firm, Ferrocadia, but has his barbering done back in his native London whenever possible.

“In Dubai, with the locals you see a lot of beard-staches and lots of laser hair removal so that they have these perfect lines on their beards,” Mr. Millar said. “I always just leave a bit of stubble. I don’t like the long-bearded look. I don’t think that fits with board meetings.”

Another Pankhurst regular is Clive Darby, 48, a fashion and luxury consultant, who owns CD Consultancy in London.

“I dip in and out of going heavy on the beard, and I think the perception of facial hair today has changed so dramatically,” Mr. Darby said during a recent interview over drinks in the guyishly swanky Map Room at Claridge’s Hotel. “Men have all those metrosexual things and, just like for the ladies, these become security blankets. You like to put them on and you like to feel good and smell good. Men actually sit around a table and say, ‘By the way, you’re hair is looking great’ or ‘I really like your beard.’

“That would have never happened in my father’s era.”

YOUR BEARD WON’T BE FULLY FESTIVE THIS SEASON IF IT DOESN’T HAVE BEARD BAUBLES

A beard with ornaments, of course! This was the creative thought process behind Beard Baubles, a festive charitable drive.

Creative duo Mike Kennedy and Pauline Ashford from London ad shop Grey London came up with the idea when the agency asked staff to work on the company Christmas card.

Inspired by the brief: “Do something famous or do something good—ideally both,” Kennedy and Ashford came up with an idea that is not simply a charitable card but an actual product that can be sold. They then got in touch with Jimmy Niggles who runs “Beard Season”, a campaign against skin cancer in Australia where melanoma kills more young people than any other cancer.

Niggles (aka Scott Maggs) founded Beard Season and an associated beard-sharing platform called “This is Beard” following the death of his friend Wes Bonny at 26 years old. Wes died in 2009 from a melanoma on his neck and, because beards were a lot less popular then, Niggles and his friends decided to grow spectacular beards and share Wes’s story with everyone who asked about them—encouraging people to have their skin checked.

Niggles welcomed the ad agency’s festive idea and all proceeds from sales of Beard Baubles will go to Beard Season. The baubly images are modeled by some of Grey London’s more hirsute members of staff and will serve as the company’s 2014 Christmas card.

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Suits Inspired by Ugly Christmas Sweaters

Shinesty has released a line of three incredible suits inspired by ugly Christmas sweaters. The three designs are The Ugly Christmas Sweater Suit, the Holiday Tree Suit, and The Rudolph.

Do you remember all those Christmas parties you went to last year dressed in your mom’s baggy vintage 88′ Christmas sweater complete with shoulder pads and shedding small trinkets from holidays past with each step you took? Do you remember going home to your sad, cold bed a little tipsy and utterly alone? Thought so. But what is there to do? You don’t want to be the stiff who shows up dressed all “normal and boring” to a holiday party. Well luckily for you, daddy (that’s us) went up North and got some of Ole man Nick’s hobbit friends to whip up something a bit more… dapper. You’re welcome. And no we don’t want milk and cookies, just give name your first born in our honor.

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The XOO Belt Lets You Charge Your Phone Anytime, Anywhere

External batteries are often seen as a necessary burden, given their unwieldy size and the awkwardness of having your phone plugged in and tied down while simultaneously trying to use it with any semblance of normalcy. Cue the XOO Belt by Nifty, a true example of invisible design which combines minimalist aesthetics with the latest innovations in flexible battery technology to produce a belt that packs 2,100mAh of juice into its length, as well as an additional 800mAh in the buckle. Chargeable via USB, the premium tanned leather belt incorporates a magnetic cable that snaps away when not in use, two charging ports, as well as a ratchet system that allows adjustments of a quarter of an inch. Having already raised $30,000 of its $50,000 USD goal, head over to the product’s Indiegogo page before early bird supplies run out.

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No Shave November… 9 Problems Only Guys Who Can’t Grow Beards Will Understand

Welcome to the support group. We understand your pain.

  1. The biggest problem is the Internet – and everyone you know – glorifies beards.
  2. You feel like you’re the only guy you know who can’t grow one.
  3. Because you’re a long term sufferer of Eternal Boy Face Syndrome.
  4. You only care because people say that facial hair determines if you’re hot or not.
  5. Your buddies give you a hard time for being follically challenged.
  6. So you secretly dream of growing one.
  7. Because you think that girls and/or boys will respect and pay more attention to you.
  8. Movember.
  9. But even though the struggle is real, be confident in the fact that your shining, child-like face is always on display.

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