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Archive for March, 2012

Urban Bike Lust

Posted by leighann | March 22nd, 2012 | Filed under Bikes, Design

tumblr_l7fe66pF1E1qd6hzlo1_500There’s something about 37 degrees and raining that makes us want to ride a bike—indoors. Seriously, this is about the time of year when we start dreaming of riding in shorts and a t-shirt, or maybe even a light wool sweater, not waterproof down. But while winter hangs on in the Pacific Northwest, it’s spring break everywhere else. (It’s currently 73 degrees in NYC and 83 in Chicago.) Despite the weather, here are a few urban rides that might spark your lust for sunnier days. At least, it did for us.


Courtesy of Ziba.com

All we need are some aviator goggles and maybe a small dog (like Dick Dastardly and his dog Muttley) for this urban bad boy. Our neighbors, Ziba Design, partnered with Signal Cycles to create this utility bike that pays homage to the classic side car. To learn more, go here.


Lagomorph Design

Wood is sexy. Wood on a bike is even sexier. Lagomorph Design, out of Chicago, custom built this single speed out of American Black Walnut.


Courtesy of Adventure Journal

Courtesy of Adventure Journal

We stumbled upon this classic beauty over on Adventure Journal. It’s a 1930′s racer called the Pashley Guvnor, retrofitted with the stately thread we’ve come to know as tweed.  Its creator, Ian ‘Corky’ Chisholm, is prepping it for London’s annual Tweed Run.


Rob's Woodgrain Bikes

Looks like wood; rides like steel. Why? Because that’s exactly what it is—steel. Rob Pollack, a retired panel beater, paints these faux woodgrain cycles with such detail it’s hard to tell the difference. To learn more, check out Etsy’s handcrafted portrait on Mr. Pollack, here.

Music Monday: A slice of audible inspiration

Posted by Caitlin | March 19th, 2012 | Filed under Music


It’s Monday and our Design Director Peter Kallen put together a music mix for EcoSalon. It’s a little bit rock and roll, a little bit electronic and a lot awesome. Check out “A Slice of Audible Inspiration” here.

Blue in Green – Miles Davis
Bellbottoms – Jon Spencer
Ode to a Boy – Yaz
Love is Stronger Than Death – The The
No Fun – Stooges
Fripp – Catherine Wheel
Pon de Replay – Rihanna
Go – Tones on Tail
Crazy Bitch – Buckcherry
Push It – Salt and Pepa
Ziggy Stardust – David Bowie
One More Yime – Daft Punk

Design Eye: Peter talks Spring, Succinct Trench

Posted by leighann | March 14th, 2012 | Filed under Design, Design Eye, Who We Are

Today, in the Thought Kitchen, Peter, our Creative Director (aka Maestro of Panache), reveals a few secrets behind the new spring line, why it’s different from seasons past, and why he likes a good pair of heels.

Off the grid: There are 35 new styles for spring with a lot of jackets and blazers. Why so much emphasis on outerwear in a season that is traditionally more about shedding layers than adding them?
In reality, the spring and summer season travels through a lot of weather conditions. With that in mind, we wanted to make sure that our collection was well-rounded and reflect the seasonality of this time of year. When a brief storm flies through, you want to make sure you have the proper outerwear. So the key to the collection is creating pieces that, although they might have an outerwear sensibility, they have a great quality that you can layer with all of the other items in the collection.

Ok, can we talk plaid? It seems like such an antiquated pattern, yet it’s back.
When people think of plaid they always think of multiple colors and 90′s grunge. But plaid is a great opportunity to express 90 degree lines in subtle context and colors, so it becomes an architecture of the cloth and an expression of the weave. Plaid is a great way to take a technical fabric and soften its presence by offering this classic weave that has been around for decades. For us, it means taking something that is perceived to be technical in a solid fabric and making it more approachable, more stylish and more familiar.

And there’s a lot of plaid in the women’s line and a lot more styles on the women’s line.
This season, we wanted to expand our women’s collection, so we spent a lot of time focusing on special silhouettes and how they can layer with one another. It’s a beautiful collection that offers both wonderful textiles in checks and plaids and beautiful cotton Tencel knits, and interesting silhouette changes. Our Ribellyun Long Sleeve is an interesting study in oversize, drapey, very luxurious feeling fabric. We have some beautiful textiles in our studio group. The cotton/lycra blends are done in silhouettes that are approachable and less specific in their end use. They are great in a gym or a studio setting, bouldering or climbing, or worn with jeans.

Draping fabrics, tailored pleats, 1950’s inspired designs, even some new colors in the line: how does this mesh with or deviate from Nau’s overarching design philosophy?
We take a lot of inspiration from a lot of different eras for every one of our collections. And inspired by a lot of retro, tailored clothes. Whether it be the high waist of yesterday’s chino, or beautiful pleating and draping, beautifully crafted couture pieces, or vintage pieces for that matter and we apply them to present day use with the intent of performance and comfort. We are obviously drawn to end use and how it interacts with the wearer and how it makes someone feel confident, stylish.

And your favorite piece to design?
It was the whole gesture of the pieces. When I approach the season, I look at silhouettes I want to explore, then I create a palette of silhouettes. What I enjoy the most is refining and subtracting what all of the styles represent in the expected world. Take the traditional trench: it’s boxy, geriatric, with clunky fabrication. You take away all those things, then you add what a concept of a trench could be in today’s world, like protection, minimal pocketing. If it’s for the bike, you add an expansion pleat. Leaving your office at dark, so you need reflectivity. So you’re breaking down how a design is good, then rebuilding it using today and tomorrow as the guideline and the judge.

Ok, here’s a free ticket to New York. You’ve got to leave now. What are you going to wear?
Most definitely, the People’s Chino Pant, the Basis t-shirt, and I would throw the Jaunt and the Succinct Trench in the Motil Ped. Every single one of these items is easy to take care of and stylish enough so I could go out to the galleries or for a nice long hike.

Now if I were cross dressing, I would take the Ribellyun Long Sleeve top for sure, the Ribellyun Tank, and I’d also have the Check Me Out shirt to throw on top of that. I would also take the Succinct Trench, the Flaxible Skirt and the Stylus Pant. So you would have this really beautiful, stylish set of layers perfect for styling up or styling down. Oh, and a good pair of sling back heels to accentuate the calf muscles and draw the booty out.

Local Grain: Wooden boards come west

Posted by leighann | March 12th, 2012 | Filed under Design, Outdoor Sport, Partnerships, Sustainability


We couldn’t imagine a better way to spend our Friday morning than hanging out with the brainchild behind Grain Surfboards, Mike LaVecchia, and his West coast point man Allen Anderson. They were in town from Maine (and Allen from LA) teaching one of their highly sought-after traveling board building classes. (You might remember, a few weeks ago, we featured one of Grain’s founders—Brad Anderson—on our blog).

From 7:30am till evening, for the past seven days, Mike and Allen’s intimate class of west coaters have been learning the fine craft of wooden surfboard building. Using classic boatbuilding techniques and locally harvested Northern Red Cedar, they’ve been carving, bending and shaping a floatable world.

We were lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the process and meet of few of their aspiring apprentices. You’ll find a few of our captured moments, below.

To learn more about Grain Surfboards and a class near you, check out their website: www.grainsurfboards.com. And definitely, check out their most recent write-up in Slide magazine.

NAU_GRAIN_SURFBOARD_CLASS-19 Alan and Mike, the guys with all of the knowledge.

Notice the wooden tepee in the background? Although it has nothing to do with Grain (as it was already part of the existing landscape), this week’s class took place at the Instrument builidng—an old boatbuilding warehouse in inner NE Portland.

photo 5Justin and his 8′ steamer, applying the bead and cove method. This is an old shipbuilding technique which uses 1/4″ strips of wood in which one edge has a groove cut and one edge is rounded. Thus, they fit together like a ball and socket or a tongue and groove, creating a tight joint. This is a relatively new method for building hallow wood surfboards (HWS) as opposed to the more well-known chambered technique.


Gluing down the planks. No foam core here.

NAU_GRAIN_SURFBOARD_CLASS-7Ed, a professional woodworker by trade, fairing in the top planks. So close to perfection.


Courtesy of Grain

If you were lucky enough to score a spot in this week’s class, you not only walked away with a floatable work of art and a lifelong sense of accomplishment, you also gained an invaluable knowledge of the craft and a community of like-minded surfers and craftsmen.

Music to ride by

Posted by Josie | March 8th, 2012 | Filed under Music


It’s Thursday, it’s sunny and a glorious 63 degrees outside: a perfect reason to dig through my music library and put together a playlist for the weekend ahead. Enjoy.

  1. LCD Soundsystem – Give It Up
  2. Memory Tapes – Bicycle
  3. Fujiya + Myagi – Cassettesingle
  4. Vetiver – Blue Driver
  5. Cut Copy – Lights and Music
  6. The Something Experience – German Sparkle Party
  7. Rapha Winter Playlist

Women into the Wind: Summiting Volcan Lautaro: Part 3

Posted by Guest | March 1st, 2012 | Filed under Outdoor Sport, Partnerships, Personal Reflection


Editor’s Note: And now, for the third and final installment in our Women into the Wind series. In part one and two, we follow Anno Davis and her crew of Argentinean mountaineers as they attempt to become the first all-female team to summit Volcan Lautaro—the highest peak in the Southern Patagonian Ice Cap. In this final edition, these self-proclaimed “Mujeres al viento” grapple with every mountaineer’s toughest decision: should we stay or should we go?

By Anno Davis

There we were, staring at the now-clear summit of Volcan Lautaro, faced with a difficult decision: should we risk it and make a second attempt or pack up and head home wasting months of preparation?

Reaching a consensus between five women with differing minds, perceptions, experiences, emotions, fears and ambitions was now our foremost challenge. One perspective: make the most of the now-clear day and head back up the mountain as far as we could. The opposing view: play it safe since conditions weren’t optimal, and take advantage of the relatively stable weather to return to the eastern side of the ice cap. Although we were wary of summit fever, we had spent months of preparation for this moment. We also had to consider the need to be conservative due to our remoteness, and the energy we would spend going up Lautaro would mean diminishing margins of error. But one thing was clear: if we couldn’t all agree, no one would convince others to go up against their desire. And so we continued back to the tent, deeply saddened and disappointed by the circumstances.

There was little time to loose. Solemnly, we broke camp and crossed the ice field again, this time taking advantage of strong, favorable winds that pushed us as we used our benefactors’ banners as makeshift sails. We turned around periodically to watch lenticular clouds form over Lautaro’s summit which, at around 4 pm, turned into a dark cape, quickly sweeping over the peak from the west; we were glad not to be on the mountain. Four miles past our first campsite on the glacier we reached the Chilean glaciology hut, Refugio Gorra Blanca at 9:30 pm, having skied at total of 16.25 miles from the base of Lautaro. We rested that night and the following day, listening to the howling wind outside, waiting to descend Paso Marconi at the right moment to avoid low visibility and gusting winds that could complicate our return.


Return across the ice field

The next day, we got an early start and skied all the way down the Marconi ramp, this time with just enough snow to make some delicate moves over thin snow bridges and reach the bottom of the ramp without removing our skis. There, we stashed our gear and food in hopes of making another attempt at Lautaro. This turned out to be a fortuitous decision; almost as soon as we started hiking down the rest of the glacier, the wind accelerated through the valley causing us to brace ourselves against the gusts. We laughed at the awkward feeling of being tossed around. But we would not have been able to take the situation with such humor if we had been carrying our sleds and skis on our packs.

We descended all the way to the trailhead—13 miles and 3,200 vertical feet below—back to Chaltén where we celebrated our safe return with a rich dinner and dancing until the wee hours of the morning.

Over the following days we discussed and debriefed our experience trying to eliminate lingering frustration and disappointment. We anxiously checked the forecast for the possibility of a second attempt. But as much as we wanted to summit Lautaro, we were starting to realize it wasn’t going to happen—this time around.

We decided that we would attempt the neighboring peak (Gorra Blanca), a more accessible mountain standing at 9,200 feet on the eastern flank of the ice field, on our way to pick up our stashed gear. Unfortunately, after reaching 7,600 feet, we started fighting strong winds before the clouds moved swiftly across the ice cap toward us. We could see these weren’t just passing clouds and, once again, decided to turn around. We headed down Gorra Blanca enjoying some of the best turns of the trip.

Heading to Gorra Blanca

To Gorra Blanca

Gorra Blanca

Gorra Blanca

Reflections: Post Lautaro

I find the saying, “hindsight is 20-20,” to be partially true. The lessons learned through the direct experience of carefully meditating and executing a plan are quite clear, like the importance of being in the right place at the right time, especially in Patagonia where the weather can make or break your success. Our trip reinforced our invaluable teamwork skills, like the need for clear and respectful communication at all times. We learned about mind-over-matter, realizing how important our initial motivation was in helping us reach the base of Lautaro faster than our original plan and quicker than any other past expedition. And we learned about the physical recuperation process, since we did not anticipate the lingering fatigue when considering a second attempt.

Something that I’ve learned over the years in the mountains and was confirmed on this trip: success is determined by your ability and willingness to return. And we will summit Lautaro—some day. In the mean time, we’re satisfied with our first “Mujeres Al Viento” adventure. It has reinforced our desire to continue to grow and learn by pushing our limits, and enjoy ourselves in this endless playground we call the outdoors.

Leaving Chalten

Leaving Chalten