Once again, SuckUK, the London design house, has released an ingenious product: the tubemap wallet. Made of quality-grade black leather, this wallet, which retails for £35 (about $70), holds up to eight credit cards, has a fold-out see-through window for an ID and a cash sleeve. But the brilliant piece of the puzzle is the further folding out of the wallet reveals a full-color map of the London Tube (the wallet is also available for the New York City subway system). For anyone living in London or New York, this wallet allows you to carry one less item during your constant travels underground. Just don't loan your map to any suspicious-looking characters -- or you might end up losing more than your sense of direction.
After months of speculation in the blogosphere where numerous renderings, predictions and debate flared, Steve Jobs today -- actually just moments ago -- announced during his keynote at MacWorld in SF the forthcoming arrival of the iPhone. This revolutionary gadget will turn the cellular world on edge. Measuring an exceptionally thin 11.6 millimeters, the all-touchscreen phone is also Apple's newest true-video iPod, holding up to 8 GB of music, photos or video. The touchscreen itself is 3.5 inches wide and has a built-in sensor so that when it gets close to your face, it locks up. The iPhone comes with a built-in 2-mp camera, Bluetooth, WiFi and a quadband GSM radio with EDGE. It will run OS X and allow for rich HTML email (both IMAP and POP3), run Safari, Google Maps and widgets. Available, initially, through Cingular. Let the drooling being.
Update: The iPhone will begin shipping to the US in June and in Europe at the end of 2007. Cost? A 4GB version will run $499 while the 8GB phone will go for $599, of course both are attached to a two-year contract, but why would you want to give up the service?
If you're concerned about identity theft and also cherish style and quality, you must check out Stewart/Stand's stainless steel wallets. The first batch of wallets released last year were made entirely of steel cloth threads that are three times thinner than paper but durable as hell. The silky soft steel adds a layer of protection against electronic theft if you have any RFID chips embedded in your credit cards. The company recently introduced gorgeous leather wallets that are lined with the stainless steel, giving you both form and function. And the wallets are extremely affordable, most coming in between $50 and $100. The company has decent nationwide distribution, but you can also buy online at their site.
If you discovered a material that, when you touched it, immediately filled you with joy -- would you ever let it go? Would you want to roll around in it? Fill your wardrobe with it? Dress your baby or dog with it? Cover your couch with it? If you discovered Kashwére you would.
A sensational synthetic fabric that's a cross between cashmere, chenille and fleece, Kashwére is one of the softest things I have ever put against my body. What started as a small company making robes has exploded and now manufactures everything from baby wraps and men's caps to blankets, bath mats, socks and day beds. Kashwére is so amazingly soft and delectable, that major spas, including those at the Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay and Four Seasons Whistler, outfit their treatment rooms with the furniture.
The fabric is completely washable (washer and dryer safe) -- even pillow covers come off the couch for easy cleaning. There's a Kashwére boutique in LA on Melrose and a line of dog products available at FurrMe. I stumbled upon Kashwére at Plush Living, a great home store in Chicago's Wicker Park neighborhood, that is, I believe, this city's exclusive carrier of the line.
There was a time when having the same, white earbuds as other people in the world meant you were part of a community. It signified that you were ahead of the curve, that you knew how cool it was to have an iPod. But then everyone got one and, well, maybe you didn't want to be associated with everyone anymore. Shufflesome remedies that need for individuality with their iPod Sticker Outfits -- skin-like covers that dress up your iPod in a variety of senses. Shufflesome outfits are designed for the Nano and now for the second-generation Shuffle (just launched last week) by an international collective comprising 32 artists spanning 14 nations (including Italy, Spain, Australia, China and the US) and was started in Cologne, Germany by Alexander Ebrahim Schneider. Whether you're into a ghetto blaster, flowers, skulls, snowboarding or a leather fetish gorilla, you'll be hard-pressed to not find something to make your iPod your own. And you can submit your own designs for consideration -- and if you're a company, submit your corporate identity for a custom sticker outfit. Shufflesome Outfits are sold worldwide and cost about $9.
Jack Spade makes a range of great men's products -- bags, accessories, books, paper goods, travel pieces and more -- and their site was a little cumbersome. They recently launched a redesign that puts all the products on the home page in a sort of tag cloud setting. You can browse the page, scroll over each individual item to get more information and click on the image to go directly to the product's page.
I love bags. Honestly, it's a good thing I'm not a woman because I think I would spend all my money on bags and purses. Fortunately I have limited need to have a bag with me at all times but when I do find a good one, I usually go for it -- be it a man-bag (aka the "murse"), laptop bag or a perfect beach bag (whenever I'm lucky enough to go on a warm-weather vacation). So the other day when I discovered Passchal's Dad's Baby Bag, made from recycled truck and tractor tire inner tubes, I flipped. I should come clean that I don't have any kids (and don't have plans to have them any time soon) so fortunately this fantastic bag has multiple uses.
First off, the bag is deep and super wide -- wide enough for a laptop and many other things. It has a waterproof lining (which would be great for today's abysmal snow storm that hit Chicago), spots for a cell phone and iPod (with holes for your headphones to snake through), mesh water bottle holder (see how I'm adapting it from "baby bottle holder" -- pretty clever, no?) and loads of little pockets. It's stylish, durable and uber efficient. It has an adjustable shoulder strap and is lined with black hemp for extra strength.
It normally retails for $175, but Passchal is currently offering a special holiday price of $119.
There's playing a game -- and then there's playing a game designed by Geoffrey Parker. Made for the discerning classic gamer, Geoffrey Parker has been creating exclusive board, travel and casino games for nearly 50 years. These hand-made, fine-crafted sets are woven and constructed in England and sold to stores like Barneys (today) and Harrods (back in the day) for well-heeled folks. The sets -- backgammon, Monopoly, chess and, of course my favorite, Scrabble -- have leather, wood-carved, gun-metal and ivory-carved pieces. The company which is now headed by Geoffrey's son, Max, has made in-roads into many of the world's top corporations (with its enticement of bespoke gifts), hotels and even worked alongside Gucci to produce an exclusive product for the Italian designer. The games will run you into the thousands (Monopoly is $4550 and Scrabble goes for $3300) and you can easily spend upwards of $500k for a one-of-a-kind board with silver, rubies, diamonds -- even real money for a Monopoly set. If you're willing to pay, Geoffrey Parker will deliver.
Building off the popularity of the Nike+ system, Nike has just released its Hatphones: a Therma-Fit soft fleece skull cap that has earbuds stitched into the hat and pull down right over your ears. There's also a slot inside the hat for an iPod Nano that when faced outwards gives you touch-panel control over what you're listening to. If you want to have more visaul control over the music, you can go "corded" and have your iPod extend downward outside the cap. This is just another great example of an iconic brand answering the need of the masses. Just because it's getting cold outside doesn't mean that your outdoor activities -- snowboarding, jogging, walking to work -- have to be as numbing as the frigid winter air.
Hatphones come in four colors -- black, grey, navy and red -- and are available for $60 at Nike.com.
Start is not one but two of the hippest clothing stores in London. Holding two storefronts down the street from each other in the city's trendy Hoxton enclave, Start carries an eclectic mix of styles for both men and women. Being more interested in the men's options, I popped into 59 Rivington Street (the original space) and found an amazing collection of designers from England, the Continent and abroad. The shop is owned by Philip Start (founder of menswear chain Woodhouse) and Brix Smith (former guitarist for the Fall in the '80s). Their backgrounds in fashion and music seamlessly intersected with the burgeoning artist, design and rocker cliques of Hoxton to create this little fashion haven.
Set on two floors, the shop itself is easy to navigate and aesthetically appealing, with exposed brick, a mix of patterns on the wall, dark wood displays and even a neon sculpture. For men looking for anything and everything, from accessories and shoes to suits, topcoats and hats, Start has it. It features wares from Miu Miu, Rykiel Homme, Comme des Garcon, PRPS, U-Boat watches, Mario Mateo, Tretorn sneakers, Nicolo Ceschi Berrini sweaters (so yummy!), REN Skincare -- not to mention the bespoke suit option and extensive denim selection. Start is a veritable men's department store whose presence only ups the cool factor in this uber-hot area. This could be London's answer to Barneys CO-OP -- at least until it crosses the pond.