Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Kantje Boord

On a recent trip to the Netherlands and my old home-town of Naarden, I came upon this beautiful shop full of nautical clothes: Kantje Boord
Apart from the Ukrainian sailors tops and Chinese Peoples Navy's T-shirts (that you can only find at South Pacific Berets), this shop sells marinieres in dozens of styles and colour combinations, smocks, hats and berets, beautiful woolen pea coats and accessories of all kinds. 
Unfortunately, the web site is in Dutch only, but easy to read with instant translation by Google.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

More from China

The Sea-Striped-Shirt is a big thing in China (see posts June 15 and 18). Here a lengthy article with a wealth on information on the Chinese striped shirt and a massive amount of photo's. 

For those who do not master Chinese, you can get an instant translation through Google.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Corto Maltese

Corto Maltese (whose name is possibly derived from the Venetian Corte Maltese - Courtyard of the Maltese, today Corte Contarini del Bovolo, next to Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo) is a laconic sea captain adventuring during the early 20th century (1900-1920s). 
A "rogue with a heart of gold," he is tolerant and sympathetic to the underdog. Born in Valletta on July 10, 1887, he is a son of a British sailor from Cornwall and a gypsy Andalusian witch and prostitute known as "La Niña de Gibraltar". As a boy growing up in the Jewish quarter of Córdoba, Maltese discovered that he had no fate line on his palm and therefore carved his own with a razor, determining that his fate was his to choose. Although maintaining a neutral position, Corto instinctively supports the disadvantaged and oppressed.
The character embodies the author's skepticism of national, ideological, and religious assertions. Corto befriends people from all walks of life, including the murderous Russian Rasputin (no relation with the historical figure, apart from physical resemblance and some character traits), British heir Tristan Bantam, Voodoo priestess Gold Mouth and Czech academic Jeremiah Steiner. He also knows and meets various real-life historical figures, including Jack LondonErnest HemingwayHerman HesseButch CassidyJames JoyceFrederick RolfeJoseph ConradSukhbaatarJohn ReedWhite Russian general Roman Ungern von Sternberg and Enver Pasha of Turkey. His acquaintances treat him with great respect, as when a telephone call to Joseph Stalin frees him from arrest when he is threatened with execution on the border of Turkey and Armenia.

Corto's favourite reading is Utopia by Thomas More, but he never finished it. He also read books by LondonLugonesStevensonMelville and Conrad.

Corto Maltese stories range from straight historical adventure to occult dream sequences. He is present when the Red Baron is shot down, helps the Jivaros in South America, and flees Fascists in Venice, but also unwittingly helps Merlin and Oberon to defend Britain and visits the lost continent of Mu.
Chronologically, the first Corto Maltese adventure, La giovinezza (The Early Years), happens during the Russo-Japanese War. In other albums he experiences the Great War in several locations, participates in the Russian Civil War after the October Revolution, and appears during the early stages of Fascist Italy. In a separate series by Pratt, Gli Scorpioni del Deserto (The Desert Scorpions) he is described as disappearing in Spain during the Spanish Civil War.

Monday, June 21, 2010

From the January 15 Wall Street Journal

Designer Jacqueline Krafka was surprised recently when a navy-and-white striped dress from her T-Los Angeles spring collection became an overnight best seller. In order to meet the demand for the $120 dress, she moved up her delivery schedule.

Seeing Stripes

A look at stars, past and present, who have worn the mariniere shirt.
Audrey Hepburn sports the look in the 1950s
It's just one of the signs that we are in for a very striped spring. "We love stripes!" says Colleen Sherin, women's fashion director for Saks Fifth Avenue, whose stores will be awash in striped styles in February: tanks, T-shirts, mini-dresses, tunics—"really, just stripes galore," she says.
Fashion lines from Givenchy by Riccardo Tisci to Esprit and Comptoir des Cotonniers are bringing out the nautically inspired stripes for spring women's wear, and menswear designers including Michael Bastian and Burberry Brit are also going with the look. It's based on the boat-necked French marine pullover, which is traditionally worn by low-ranking sailors as they swabbed the decks and hence known in France as a marinière, or sailor-style, shirt.
For all the pondering and pontificating that goes into creating fashion, the reasons why a style takes off are often mysterious. Sometimes, trends evolve slowly from the runways where high-fashion designers strive to introduce new concepts. The plaid that's everywhere this winter emerged from the fall 2007 runways, where Jean Paul Gaultier showed a vividly plaid Scottish collection.
[STYLE]Agence France-Presse/Getty Images
Designer Jean Paul Gaultier features stripes in spring fashions.
In the case of Ms. Krafka's stripes, though, the source lies more in the streets and movie theaters. A popular film and several recent books about Coco Chanel have everything to do with the marinière revival. When the French-language film "Coco Before Chanel" debuted in April 2009, it helped ignite new interest in the designer's 60-year career and habit of adapting menswear to her own devices. The marinière is so closely connected with Ms. Chanel that its use in fashion is often attributed to her. The actress Audrey Tautou wore a marinière in her role as Ms. Chanel.
American Vogue showed striped nautical shirts from Marni and Proenza Schouler in May 2009, hitting the streets around the same time as the film. About that time, actress Gwyneth Paltrow put a photo of herself in a Saint James marinière on her Web site,, writing, "The classic French T-shirt always looks right in spring year after year." In the following months, the shirts made appearances in magazines from "Elle" to Japan's "Child" magazine.
During Paris fashion week this fall—right when store buyers were placing spring orders and magazines were figuring out what to show on their spring pages—the streets of Paris were full of young men and women wearing marinières. They were everywhere—so numerous that I began snapping photos with my BlackBerry—in one case capturing the backs of four young people walking abreast, all in nautical-striped shirts tossed over slouchy pants or skirts.
Sailor stripes seem perfectly attuned to the current zeitgeist. For men, they offer a sense of tradition, honest labor and virility. That's the stuff so many longed for when the boom economy went bust. What kind of man is sexy when bankers aren't? A hearty working stiff, a hunky deck swab. For women, the marinière offers clean unisex simplicity. And despite the adage about horizontal stripes being fattening, their clean, crisp lines are actually flattering.
Associated Press
The marinière shirt gained new impetus from the 2009 movie "Coco Before Chanel," featuring Audrey Tautou.
"We've been very much more ornamented in recent years," says Julie Gilhart, fashion director for Barneys New York. After stocking winter clothes covered with sequins and other embellishments, it has ordered a quantity of stripes for spring. "Now our customer wants to go back to something more simple."
Sailor uniforms have come in and out of fashion for more than a century. Often, the looks were based on the officers' double-breasted coats or the dressier uniforms that have a broad collar with a V-shaped front and a flap across the back. The striped sailor's work shirt is decidedly more casual. It's such a steady muse for Mr. Gaultier that he dresses his press assistants in them for his shows each season. Last year, France's Musée National de la Marine thanked Mr. Gaultier for "exceptional" help in producing its book "Les Marins Font La Mode," or "Sailors Make Fashion."
This cyclical interest has long been a boon to Saint James, the French company that has made marinière shirts and sweaters since roughly 1850. It makes a variety of styles for men, women and kids today, but the traditional men's sweaters come in two versions: The trim one known as the "matelot" is priced at $170. The "binic" is more generously cut "for if you enjoy life—if you are a little fat," explains the French Manhattan store manager, Brian Lebretton. It's priced at $215.
My only advice, if you catch this bug and go for the authentic Saint James marinière, is to get it in cotton. The wool version is so authentic—i.e., scratchy—that I'm even more in awe of the sailors who wore them.
—Contact me at or in The Wall Street Journal, page W3

Friday, June 18, 2010

He Yong (何勇)

He Yong () (born in Beijing, 1969) is a Chinese rock musician who has been particularly active in the 1980s and 1990s. A self-styled punk, He Yong's lyrics and outspoken nature have made him controversial in mainland China and Hong Kong. His only album, Garbage Dump, exemplified his negative, though often nostalgic perspective toward life. He is regarded as one of the pioneers of Chinese rock.
From the age of six He Yong began learning music from his father He Yusheng (何玉声), a professional sanxian (three-string snakeskin banjo) player. In 1980, he appeared in the children's movie Four Little Friends (四个小伙伴). He Yong began playing the guitar when he was fifteen and joined the band Mayday (五月天) in 1987. The group gave a much publicised performance for the students of the Tiananmen protests in 1989. Around this time He Yong was active in the underground rock movement and met a number of other musicians, including Cui Jian and Dou Wei, among others.

He reached the height of his fame in May 1994, when he released Garbage Dump. The fatalistic "Garbage Dump", written at the height of the Tiananmen protests, is the most well-known song of the album. It features repeated guitar riffs, explosive pounding of drums, culminating in the repeated primal screams of the phrase "Is there any hope?" (有没有希望?) Other songs, however, such as "Pretty Girl" and "Drum and Bell Tower", explore issues including materialismenvironmentalismgender issues and heritage conservation. Around this time He Yong became known as one of the "Three prominents of Moyan" (魔岩三杰) along with Dou Wei and Zhang Chu, after their record company Moyan Culture (魔岩文化). His "Bell and Drum Towers", a nostalgic remembrance of life in the old quarter of Beijing, appeared in the soundtrack of the Zhang Yuan movie Beijing Bastards (1993).
On 17 December 1994, He Yong performed at a groundbreaking concert in Hong Kong with Chinese metal-prog rock harbingers Tang Dynasty and others. Interviewed before the concert, he was antagonistically critical of Cantopop music, saying: "Hong Kong only has entertainment, it has no music. Out of the 'Four Great Heavenly Kings' only Zhang Xueyou (Jacky Cheung) can be considered a singer, the rest are all clowns". In response Jacky Cheung is said to have retorted: "Mainland musicians all live in caves."
The death of Tang Dynasty bass guitarist Zhang Ju (张炬), one of He Yong's best friends, on 11 May 1995 affected him in a terrible way. He Yong fell out over a record deal and sank into depression and alcoholism. In 1999, He Yong spent three months in France and the Netherlands, playing and recording music. Since his first album, He Yong has not produced any new material, which prompted one Chinese newspaper to question: "He Yong, do you still have energy to rock?".
He Yong has made isolated performances in Beijing clubs since the 1994 Hong Kong concert but has performed few large concerts. In 2002, he attempted to set himself alight in his Beijing apartment and was subsequently incarcerated and has been receiving medical treatment. Between 6-8 August 2004, he attended a concert entitled the "Glorious Road of Chinese Rock" (中国摇滚的光辉道路) held near the Helan Mountains (贺兰山) in Ningxia. Accompanied by his father and band, He Yong again performed beside the veterans of Chinese rock. He has hinted that the concert will signal his re-emergence into the Chinese music scene.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Chinese Sailor Shirts

These two are students at the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing (对外经济贸易大学). In a few months, they are both going to Rheims, France, where they will study for a total of three years.
Military influenced items and actual items from the military are quite popular with Beijing youth. Though originally intended for men, these shirts are worn by both sexes. Wearers tend to be young artistic types in rock bands, creative industries, etc. Stripy shirts, in the sailor style, other than these authentic naval ones do not seem to be overly popular. People want the real thing or nothing, it seems.
These shirts are available in several outlets in Beijing, though the biggest size, 1, is equivalent to an American small.
Liu Jian only wears Chinese navy shirts – he owns 25 in total. Since they only come with long sleeves, he had several of them altered for summer wear. These shirts are actually a pretty appropriate choice for Liu Jian since he served in the Chinese military for six years. He is an author and folk musician and a member of East District Power, a Shanghai-based folk rock collective.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Prisoners, Chain Gangs and Hollywood

Striped shirts (and pants) of a completely different order: American prison uniforms.
These suits were standard issue for US prisoners and chain gangs in the first half of the last century and made immortal by Hollywood. Pictured here is Charlie Chaplin, but also Laurel and Hardy were wholesale users of this stripey combination. Below a picture of a North Carolina chain gang (not by Hollywood).
One could easily think these humiliating outfits are a thing of the past, but not in Arizona's Maricopa County, where a mad elected(!) sheriff reinstated the stripes ánd chain gangs.
Sheriff Joe Arpaio is proud of his work and the controversy he causes. The fact that there are people like Joe Arpaio doesn't surprise me; that there are thousands of people who choose someone like him to be there law-enforcer does.
 Women in Sheriff Joe Arpaio`s jail are forced to work like the men.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Haihun Shan - Sea Stripes are big in China

The following article comes from NeochaEDGE, a daily-curated, bilingual website and discovery engine dedicated to showcasing leading-edge creative content and emerging youth culture in China, and tells how big the Breton Style Shirt, or Haihun Shan is in China.
For those that have spent time around Chinese youth, this is probably not the first time you’ve seen this blue and white striped shirt. Don’t get it?
Ladies and gentleman, allow me to introduce the Haihun Shan (海魂衫), the “soul of the sea” shirt.

In the beginning, it was just a generic undershirt for sailors and seamen, but over the years it has evolved into a sort of fashion / youth culture phenomenon. But how? OK, I’ll explain.
China wasn’t a very colorful place in the 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s, in fact, the 80s weren't much of an improvement either. Essentially, clothing during the “revolutionary period” was limited to three main colors: black, white, and grey (and sometimes dark blue). If someone owned a haihun shan they were admired by all – it was considered very flamboyant and fashionable. Interestingly though, these weren’t very hard to get hold of during that time; they just weren’t worn because most people didn’t want to break the mold and standout.

As China began to reform socially, culturally, and economically in the late 80s and early 90s, He Yong (one of three members of “Moyan Sanjie,” a nickname given to three of China’s early rock pioneers under the Moyan record label: He Yong, Dou Wei, and Zhang Chu) adopted the haihun shan as his trademark. When He Yong performed on stage he always wore the shirt together with a “young pioneers” red scarf to the delight of adoring, screaming fans. It wasn’t long before the haihun shan came to represent the power of the first Chinese rock ‘n roll movement.  This was the starting point of a Chinese counter-culture fashion phenomenon. From that time on, this pairing of the classic haihun shan with a simple red scarf spread like wildfire among music fans, particularly Chinese youth, as a key symbol of Chinese rock ‘n roll.

The haihun shan has since become a mainstream fashion trend. Over the past few years, Chinese music fans and local hispters have fully, almost excessively, embraced the haihun shan and red scarf combo as a retro fashion trend. Nowadays in China, you can often see these two classic elements proudly worn together with another Chinese retro classic: Warrior (回力) brand sneakers.
Sailor stripes and other elements from seamen attire isn’t just a Chinese thing, they have shown up in other markets as well – even finding their way into the French fashion sphere as a big part of haute couture designer Jean Paul Gaultier’s recent men’s and women’s lines.
All things sailor have become must have pieces for fashion lovers worldwide as they can be used almost universally to match anything whether dressing up or down. I leave you with one final thought, don’t be caught this summer without a classic Chinese haihun shan! /// 洁米
NB The original short sleeved T-shirts of the Chines Peoples Navy are now available through South Pacific Berets; click here!