Our favorite posts aren’t the most popular – does that mean we have bad taste?!
While we enjoy writing each and every post on the site, there are always some posts that are simply more enjoyable to write for one reason or another.
A subject that scratches a creative itch or allows us to dig deeper into a bigger editorial idea. A scope of work that challenges us to go above and beyond in both our written and visual storytelling. Or a newfound passion that reignites the flame of curiosity.
These are the things that keep us energized because we don’t write because we have to, but because we want to.
We don’t write because we have to, but because we want to
If there was ever any doubt about that statement, I would respectfully ask you to take note of the fact that none of the posts included on our “favorites” list appear on our list of most popular posts of 2016. Do we wish some of our favorites would be your favorites too? Sure. But that’s not what it’s all about.
To that end, we’re thankful to have an audience that indulges our more creative and long form side from time to time. You are known by the company you keep. And we’ve got some amazing readers.
So here are our 10 favorite He Spoke Style posts of 2016 – in no particular order – and the stories behind the stories.
1. Speaking Style With Edward Sexton
A huge highlight. It’s not every day that you get to sit down with – and get measured by – a living legend. And Edward Sexton is about as legendary as they come in British tailoring. In addition to hearing all of Edward’s amazing stories and meeting the house’s exceptionally astute Creative Director, Dominic Sebag-Montefiore, this was a big moment for us in terms of content creation.
As a bunch of perfectionists dedicated to producing the highest quality product all the time, we can sometimes paint ourselves into a corner and induce paralysis when it comes to the actual execution of a high-level project.
The fact that we shot this on two cameras in the span of about three hours and produced an immersive, image-rich post along with an insightful video interview that generated a ton of positive feedback, gave us an immense amount of confidence in our ability to be light on our feet, mobile and create exceptional content even when time and resources are less than ideal.
2. Some Thoughts On Embracing Luxury
We’ve made very clear our position on transparency when it comes to our brand partnerships. As I know you’ve heard me say before, we are fortunate to be in a position where we can be selective with the brands we choose to partner with. We’ve worked with brands in the very distant past who have been incredibly prescriptive. And we’ve learned from those experiences that those arrangements never turn out positively for anyone – especially for you, our readers.
We want to work with brands who respect our editorial voice and vision, who know that we know our readers and brands that we are honestly very passionate about. In other words, brands who get it.
IWC is one of those brands. As part of a three-part content series centered around the release of a limited edition Portugieser (see below), we were turned loose and allowed the freedom to dig into a bigger cultural idea. I can tell you from experience that being given that sort of latitude by a brand is exceptional and is one of the reasons why we truly love working with IWC.
3. A Menswear Meet Up With Fabio Attanasio
Via the medium of Instagram, I’ve been able to discover and connect with like-minded and passionate people all over the world. And also via Instagram, one day in NYC I saw that one of those people, Fabio Attanasio, was in town as well. Though we were members of a mutual admiration society and had engaged online a bit, I’d not met Fabio in person. Until this day.
Our meeting was short – much too short, honestly – as Fabio had to catch a plane back to Italy later in the day after a successful trunk show in the city. But it was great to finally make a real life connection. Most important, however, was learning that Fabio IRL was the same Fabio I “knew” from Instagram. That’s not always the case these days and it was refreshing to know that there are some truly genuine folks out there.
4. HSS At Three: The Lost Art of Blogging
This was a big one for me. Did everyone like it? I don’t think so. I ruffled more than a few feathers – which I honestly intended to do in a free advice/teachable moment kind of way – and got called out for swearing. Do I regret it? Absolutely not. Why? Because it started a conversation.
In the past I’ve seen some of my favorite websites have some serious head-eating-the-tail moments so being self-reflective – even if it happened to be in a public forum – and honest about the space we work in was important. It allowed me to be up front with all of you and to reinforce to you and ourselves by laying it all out there, why it is that we believe we do it “right”.
5. The IWC Portugierser Tourbillon Edition “D.H. Craig USA”
I enjoyed writing and creative directing this post immensely. It was something completely new for us. Styling and shooting watches is not easy. It’s tedious. It requires excellent light. And it’s time consuming – no way around it. You shoot with a macro lens on a tripod and hold your breath while you’re making video files to turn into cinemagraphs. But it’s all worth it when you know you’re delivering a finished product of a quality that few others will actually take the time to produce.
Here’s an extremely interesting tidbit. If you’ve read the post – or just happen to be a watch nerd and/or IWC fanboy – you know that there were only 27 of these $57,000 pieces made. However, what we discovered after the fact was that the particular watch that we had been given to shoot and play around with was actually one-of-a-kind.
When we submitted our post to IWC for review, someone in the company noticed a small, but important, detail on the dial. Recently, IWC updated the font used for “Schaffhausen” from one with a serif to a sans serif font. Our watch, which was actually a prototype, had the serifed font. The watches available to the public used the new font. Don’t believe me? Check out the actual dial on the watches that were sold!
6. Remembering Bill Cunningham
When Bill Cunningham passed away on June 25, 2016, Instagram was awash with people posting photos of themselves that had been taken by Mr. Cunningham adorned by captions expressing how “honored” they felt to have been photographed by him.
Within this sea of ambulance chasing narcissism, our own Robin West penned a heartfelt, respectful and very sincere personal remembrance of a man – the progenitor of modern street style photography – who inspired her (and countless others) to express herself through the medium of fashion and to pursue a career in the industry.
This is the kind of relevant and affecting content so in line with our “don’t look at me, listen to me” ethos that we wish was possible to post three times a day.
7. A Rare Experience: The Macallan Rare Cask
One of the pillars of advice from our guide to drinking whiskey like a gentleman is “friends first”. So when the opportunity arose to partner with The Macallan to highlight their Rare Cask offering, inviting my buddy (and HSS whiskey editor) Chris Sarangoulis to experience it one afternoon was a no-brainer.
As someone who has pretty much tasted it all, Chris can be something of a skeptic when it comes to trying something new. And since up until that point, scotch hadn’t piqued his interest the same way that bourbon and rye had, he was doubly dubious of this NAS offering. While the food and the company were fantastic that afternoon, my favorite part of the experience was Chris saying, “Wow, that’s really awesome scotch!” And now he’s really into scotch…
8. A Guide To Buying Your First Rolex
This was a personal post. But one that turned out to be very useful to more people than I thought. Luxury watches are not cheap. In fact, they’re extremely expensive. And buying one is not an activity to be taken lightly. It’s a big deal. As I note in the post itself, it took me the better part of a year to research and decide which exact Rolex I was going purchase as my first. I thought by sharing my personal journey – both the good and the bad – that others in the same situation could benefit from that experience.
We have a set of three questions written on our white board in the studio designed to guide everything we do and every decision we make. We revisit them constantly. The first of those questions is, “What is truly unique about He Spoke Style?” And one of the answers to that question is the personal connection we’ve created with our readers.
We are not just another mostly voiceless editorial publication that is beholden to advertisers and the perpetual fashion calendar cycle, publishing boilerplate editorial because we have to. Over time we’ve nurtured a relationship with our readers to where you want to know what I – what we – think about this, that or the other thing.
I’m extremely proud that this particular article took nearly an entire year of actual, real-life research to write. I think it shows. And it is what, in my opinion, makes it stand out amongst the many similarly styled pieces – many from larger, “big league” publications – that exist out there on the interwebs. I wrote this because I had something I was passionate about and wanted to share with others who may share that passion, not because we needed this piece of content in our portfolio.
9. Italian Prep: Going From Polo To Pellegrino
Amidst a slew of posts focused on higher-level editorial ideas and personal and team achievements, a single outfit post might appear to be something of an interloper. But for a very simple reason, I like this one. A lot. For many guys, especially those just beginning their personal style journey, Italian style can seem a little advanced and very flamboyant. In keeping with our idea of approachability, the aim of this post was to demonstrate that this is not always the case. With a few simple tweaks, we showed you how to transform a classic preppy look into something a little more European – no excessive flair necessary.
10. What’s It Like To Drive a Ferrari?
This was a favorite (and absolutely amazing) for obvious reasons. Driving a Ferrari up the PCH on a pristine late-spring day is the type of once-in-a-lifetime experience that will never be forgotten. It was also a whirlwind. In less than 48 hours, I was on the east coast, in Big Sur and then back on the east coast after an overnight flight.
Aside from the apparent, there were two other personal highlights I’d like to note from this trip. First, connecting with a select few on the trip who I deeply respect and admire for their work. Second, having the opportunity to work with the photographer Michael Shaffer.
I rarely – hardly ever, actually – work with anyone other than Rob. In fact, it gives me great anxiety to step in front of someone else’s lens, especially for a high-profile project. Are they going to get it? Do they know how we regularly shoot? It’s scary when you’re required to create something without the person you create with 99.9% of the time.
But on this trip I had Mike. Lucky me. You’ve likely seen his photos gracing the pages of magazines like Motor Trend and for big advertising campaigns by luxury auto manufacturers all over the world. So it should be pretty easy to understand why I feel very fortunate to have had the chance to work with him.
What were some of your favorite HSS articles of 2016? Chime in below!
Thanks, as always, for reading.
He Spoke Style