Ground Control’s Back To School Guide (Part Two)

Ground Control’s Back To School Guide (Part Two)

Saturday, 22 August 2015
ARTIST: Ground Control’s Back To School Guide (Part Two)
Time is growing short, here is Ground Control’s last cram for the stuff you might need to make life livable after you go back to school.
DATE: 08-22-15
WRITER: Ollie Ottoman

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Mininch Toolpen
If you can see a certain trend in our back to school guide, it’s that practical and space saving are incredibly important to us. Living in a dorm can be the most fulfilling experience of your life, but it’s also the most crowded. The portability and compactness of all you items is definitely a factor. This is most certainly the case with your decorations, your media consumption, your laptop, and it most definitely should be the case with your toolkit.

For the ultimate compact and handy toolkit, look no further than the Mininch Toolpen. Durable, sturdy, and genius in its design, the toolpen is just what its name implies: a toolkit in a pen. With metric, imperial, and EU formatted tips, the Toolpen is the most practical way to keep your tools handy, whether they it’s screwdrivers, hex bits, star bits, or Robertson bits, this thing has it all. And sometimes, that’s exactly what you need. And of course, we don’t have to tell you how this is the perfect item to take with you on your outdoors trip. It’s better to be prepared than sorry.

Instead of endlessly searching for that clunky toolbox next time you’re in dire need of it, wouldn’t it make more sense to keep your tools on hand.

Peg and Awl Leather goods

Now hang on just a second, because the craftsmanship you get from the folks at Peg and Awl is truly striking. It’s not just that their gear looks so great, or that they use second hand products and reinvent them, or that they’re based in Philadelphia, or that these guys are so versatile that they can produce the highest of quality home, kitchen, office, garden, or dry goods, it’s that you’re going to want it all. Yes it all looks rustic, but also incredibly elegant, don’t you think?

These folks even make quality jewelry, journals and desks that are inspired and unique. Seriously, you need to do yourself a favor and check out the sheer assortment they offer, because you’re bound to find something you’ll fall on love with. Because, Peg and Awl makes stuff that stands on its own, and stands out on your home or on your body. What else can you expect from a husband and wife team? Unlike what you get from a chain, Peg and Awl products look like a labor of love.

Iron and Resin

Iron and Resin is a company which has been baffling me. It’s not just their sheer variety of products, but also because their clothes have a certain rugged look to them while also being classy. One casual look at their catalog, and one gets the feeling of a California beachtown or a hitchhiker in the 60s trying to make their way to Big Sur. With this kind of broad appeal, it’s no wonder that their clothes look so good to everyone.

Whether it’s their shirts (which gladly come in non-oxford styles), pants, dense hoodies which are so soft you’ll want to wear them in the Summer , their beanies (which are made out of such high quality material that they actually look like they fit on your head), Iron and Resin clothes don’t aren’t just comfortable but also know how to breathe right, all while keeping w working-class inspiration going. Also, these guys know how to pick the right colors, sticking with calmer or earthy tones with their clothes. This makes them ideal for almost any occasion: the big dinner or the campsite.

And it doesn’t just end there, because Iron and Resin also have the right accessories for your travel or your daily activities, such as water bottles, leather belts, journal covers and wallets  (and a killer Anchor keychain which has enamored me). Seriously, Iron and Resin have everything you’re going to need and keep for a long time. That is, until they unleash a new collection on us.

Jack Wolfskin

Sometimes we live in perfect harmony with nature. Other times,nature is out to get us. Like I’ve mentioned in the past, there’s nothing like the comforts of the city. It;s truly where humanity is meant to be. But unfortunately in some cases, our friends drag us out to nature, on hikes or camping trips, on ski or mountain adventures. And when you’re in a position where you actually need protection from nature, the good people at Jack Wolfskin are who you need to look to for help.

Looking through their catalog, there is a feeling of relief that washes over me, because I simply feel safer knowing that Jack Wolfskin have done their thinking for me. They don’t just have the right clothing and accessories for the outdoors, but I also get the feeling that these clothes are going to withstand the depths of hell itself. After all, German engineering goes a long way. In addition to that, they’ve got you covered for everyday city-wear as well, with comfortable underwear, socks, and elemental clothing that will help you escape the tundra that a city can sometimes be. Even their raincoats are built out of the softest and most waterproof materials, which will guarantee that you’ll reach your destination bone dry.

You can heard the call of nature sometimes, and before you respond, make sure you’ve got Jack Wolfskin in tow.

Crosley record players

Give it up to Crosley for being absolutely in tune with what kids need nowadays in their dorms: something practical, affordable, and cool as hell. With the vinyl craze that’s happening right now, it’s really a shame if a music lover is not taking advantage of it. A love for vinyl is something that has to be fostered, and with the bulk of record players out there, it’s hard to know where to start.

In a dorm room (or anywhere where space is an issue), I would be inclined to bring the Crosley record players to your attention. Why? Well, because they are portable (yes, they look like suitcases, because they actually function like suitcases) come with their own built-in speakers, and are crazy affordable. These Crosley record players are a perfect starting point for vinyl and music aficionados (let’s be honest, some of you owned a couple records before you owned your own record player), they come ready to be enjoyed, and look beautiful even stored away.

And don’t want to share your music with the room? No problem. These bad boys have a headphone plugin. And as it would happen, Crosley sell some pretty cool headphones that will perfectly match your product, so you can get personal with the music you love. Is there any doubt that Crosley has everything you need?

LSTN Sound Earbuds
We’re a music site here at Ground Control. or at least, we’re mostly a music site. As such, we take pride in not just what we listen to but also how we listen to our music. As a kid in high school, I remember the exact moment when carrying around a discman became the cool thing to do on the playground. Then when I went to college that all stopped. Fast forward five years, and that certain MP3 player just about made wearing earphones cool again.

And speaking of cool again, LSTN makes the listening part of the music experience cool again. Caring about your ear buds is like caring about the tires on your car. The car itself might be top quality, but the tires are the only parts that are actually making contact. And wow, do these earbuds look great. Like a work of art, am I right? The ear buds are such that they isolate in your ear which makes it ideal for quiet listening (you can catch every detail of your music), and the nylon cables make them tangle-free and durable, because let me tell you, it’s the cable that actually breaks when your ear buds stop working. So clearly LSTN cares about the process of making their products.??Maybe most importantly, id LSTN’s mission: with every purchase of a LSTN product, your money goes on to support a worldwide campaign to provide hearing aid to those in need. So it’s not just you that gets to enjoy music in the long run. How cool is that? With a purpose like that, everyone should own a pair of LSTN ear buds.

Audio Technica Sonic Fuel Earphones

As anyone who has an MP3 player will tell you, the earbuds that are automatically included with your player are the cheapest, and clunkiest pieces of crap you’ll ever encounter in your life. After all, they’re focused on the MP3 player itself and not the earbuds. For that quality company that actually about how the music gets carried to your ears, you should check out Audio Technica.

I should go on record that I love their recording mics and noise-cancelling headphones, and they’ve earned their trust in me as a consumer. As such, I was excited to check out their earbuds, and as someone who hits the gym more often than not (party because of the sheer amount of Turkish food I like to injest), the Sonic Fuel earphones are the perfect place to start. Even better, AT knows to give their customers plenty of colors to pick from, which suits my black-fetish just fine!

I was completely unfamiliar with this new cochlear style of fastening the ear buds to your ears, and I have to say I’m impressed. To be clear, the extensions on these ear buds don’t go around the ears, but actually fit on the inside of your ears. Made out of rubber, they are a tight and extremely comfortable fit, and are perfect for running or exercise, or if you have an active lifestyle in general. As far as audio is concerned, this is Audio Technica we’re talking about so you know you’re getting quality from these guys. So not only will you get the best audio during your workout, but you won’t miss a beat either.

Naked and Famous Denim

I’ve been hearing about this raw and selvedge denim movement for quite a while. You know, the ones that you’re supposed to get wet and let them dry on. You’re also supposed to wear them indefinitely, and never wash them. Why, for such a feat, these jeans have to be made out of some titanium alloy, I thought. Then I checked out Naked and Famous, and I was thoroughly impressed by the heavy duty pair of jeans they offer. So that’s why they call it raw denim.

Naked and Famous are not only made out of what appears to be timeless material, they also fit right. And one would think these jeans are a bit too stiff to be comfortable (you are supposed to break these in, after all), but you wouldn’t think that after you get them on. These guys have every style (loose, slim, stack, stretch, etc) which come in various forms of thickness and colors (but seriously, nothing beats a dark indigo, if you ask me). And it’s a good thing these jeans are meant to be durable, because as soon as Summer is over, I don’t plan on taking them off. If true love is meant to last forever, and these jeans are built to last forever, then maybe this time it’s just meant to be.

The Tie Bar

Look, it’s great having your tried and true clothes that you rotate through every week. I would know, because I’m one of those guys. Whether it’s work, lounging around at home catching up on HBO programming, going to shows, or grabbing drinks at a bar, my daily rotation is basically interchangeable on all these. I like to keep things simple, because honestly, I wouldn’t know where to begin with anything that requires a tie.

Fear not, because the Tie Bar is here to help. Have a fancy event, a gathering, a date, or simply trying to impress the folks, well you probably need to head on over to the Tie Bar. And it’s not just that these guys have got an absolutely extensive collection of everything you need for a situation where you need to impress. These guys have got you covered whether it’s ties of any style, socks, pocket squares, belts, and even cool details like cuff links and tie clips. Don’t know where to start? Well that’s the genius Tie Bar: they have an automated stylist on their website that helps you find the right look based on some very simple questions. Not sure how your accessories will look with your shirts? No problem, as Tie Bar will match what you’ve picked with what you already have.

So next time, do yourself a favor. Skip the formalities (or don’t) and head over to the Tie Bar or your next special occasion.

Blank Label Shirts

We should all be impressed with what they’re doing over at Blank Label. It sounds strange, but brand loyalty is most definitely a thing when finding clothes that fit. And I’m not talking about finding the right size, but finding clothes that fit your frame. Some companies just make things that look better on me than others. We’ve got some excellent companies covered in this guide that I wholeheartedly endorse. Sometimes, however, you’re looking for something precise. And for that there’s Blank Label.

What do I mean by precise? Well, I mean clothes that are custom made to fit your frame and body type. This is a lot artform and one that Blank Label has brought back with a vengeance. I was lucky enough to visit their Boston location not too long ago for a shirt fitting. A quick chat with the clerk and we were off to the races, where I could pick color, material, collar type, length, and even where to put my initials. Altogether it took 15 minutes. My custom-fit shirt arrived at my doorstep in a little over a week, looking and feeling great. And don’t think this is a $300 commitment. We’re talking $95 here, folks. For a shirt that fits perfectly.

These guys are expanding to DC in the coming months and setting up shop down there for those who like the kind of service with their clothing that’s actually worthwhile (not “can I bring you another size”). And if Blank Label is not coming to your neck of the woods, don’t worry. Get your measurements and start an account on their website, where you can enter them in and they’ll be saved to your profile. That way, your next shirt or pair of pants is just a couple clicks away, at a perfect fit. The future, guys. It’s happening.

Blackwing stationary
There’s classic and then there’s classic.

Everything from Palomino and Blackwing oozes style. Maybe it’s because they’re German made. It’s what one would expect from the kind of people that have been making products for almost 90 years. And we’re not talking lead tips here, but Japanese graphite for a soft and smooth feel. And even though these are still pencils we’re talking about here, these are some damn fine pencils. After all, Chuck Jones used these in his cartooning days – so you’ve got a practical reliable product here that’s also a conversation piece. Maybe also a source of inspiration. And while you’re at it compliment these pencils with their pencil sharpener which looks like a BMW.

But the fun doesn’t end there. Blackwing also makes the Slate sewn and bound hardcover journal for those times when that mental stimulus just needs to get onto the page.

I think their branding is onto something here. These really might THE pencils to own.

Koh-i-noor Pens
Now it’s time to talk about the heavyweights. The guys who are known for one thing and one thing only, and that’s because they deserve it. And that’s Koh-i-noor pens.

Listen folks, if it’s your art, your webcomic that you’re starting, your calligraphy, or just plan fancy writing, you need to look no further than Koh-i-noor pens. They handle like pencils, not dragging or digging like some cheap pens do. Like driving a stick shift car, Koh-i-noor puts you in control of your lines with an instrument you can trust. With an easy to follow set up (you need to refill these pens and actually get to know what you’re working with here), these Rapidograph pens are precise (just look at all the sizes), reliable, durable (made out of stainless steel tips) and hands down give you  beautiful lines. Preffered by amateurs and professionals alike (we’re talking heavyweight cartoonists), Koh-i-noor makes drawing and writing feel good again.

/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/field-notes-contest.jpg Field Notes
It’s hard to think of a company that is considered more of gold standard in notebooks than Field Notes. And for good reason. Field Notes has garnered a reputation for not just changing the way we collect our thoughts but making it look good in the process.

There is absolutely no reason in this day and age not to be using Field Notes books, pens, or pencils even. If you’ve got clammy hands like I do, their unpainted pencils are a perfect go-to for drawing and writing. You also have a variety of notebooks to pick from: plain, ruled, or graph paper. In the classroom or just in your daily life, you’re got the right medium to work with. Personally, I also like to credit Field Notes with inspiring me to keep a notebook handy for writing down errands, or simply as a place to write down daily tasks. Their original or pitchblack softcover think notebooks are perfect for this.

Also, I need to bring your attention to their amazing Space Pen which uses gas pressure to make sure you can draw at any angle. And as if that wasn’t cool enough, it’s size and weight make holding it as satisfying as writing with it. A cool addition to any repertoire.

Cavallini Papers and Co.
For all (and I mean ALL) your stationary needs it’s hard to find a more complete company than Cavallini. It’s not just that they cover just about anything you think you’ll need, it’s that they also do it with class. Inspired by vintage Italian culture, whether it’s their desk, writing, drawing, or decor products, these guys have figured out how to giver their goods a classic feel. And with such an extensive range of products, from calendars, to notebooks, to pen and pencil sets, to paperclips, to gift tags, to postcard sets, it’s hard to narrow what you’re going to need from these guys to just a dozen products.

Whether you’re writing a letter, or taking notes, or need t get your life organized, Cavallini have your back. And topping it all off, they also offer some pretty nice posters (yes, they’re supposed to be gift wrap, but what a shame not to cover your walls with these prints!), which are bound to liven up any room

This might work against them in some way, but Cavallini products look so good, they blur the line between practical and aesthetically pleasing. They’re almost too cool to use!

Timothy Doyle/Nakatomi Inc.
I might not be a fan of art but I know what I like. And that’s artists that are more interested in sharing their work with people than pretentiously pricing their art at ridiculous prices. That’s one of the reasons I’ve always like Shephard Fairey.

I came across Timothy Doyle’s art while browsing stores in Austin Texas this year and immediately fell in love. I need his art on my wall and so do you. Doyle’s art is certainly cartoony, but is also elegant in many aspects, and his style is definitely one that would appeal to a wide range of people, young or old, male or female. Let’s just put it this way, Doyle’s art is the only one that doesn’t raise a debate in my household over whether we’re putting it on display or not.

Although it’s his Wes Anderson series that caught my attention (and I would highly recommend picking these up on his site while they’re still available), you would be remiss to check out his Master Stroke and Sea Also Rises prints, which are so detailed that you’ll be staring at them for hours. All of Doyle’s prints are silkscreened, signed (!), and $50 or lower. Get ’em!

Classic Shaving
Oh, what a great time it is to be a shaving man. We’ve had the pleasure of highlighting some pretty great products from some excellent companies, and as far as software (the creams, the tonics, etc), we thing we have you covered. Now let’s talk hardware, and let’s talk Classic Shaving.

I dare you to go on their website and not immediately start dreaming of your favorite shaving kit. The beauty here is of course that you can’t go wrong with any Classic Shaving product. But this is where we come in. What you’re going to need to do this right is a shaving bowl (might we recommend the New Worlds?), a goodbrush (Classic have a couple themselves that are perfect for home or on the go), and nice heavy jaw dropping straight razor (such as the Stubby), which is a sight to behold. Now all you’re going to need is some premium shaving soap and you’re on the road to smooth face the way nature and history intended to. Because a well-groomed man is a classic thing.

Stanley Products

Look folks, in the new school year, you are bound to run into the outdoorsy camping crowd. Yes, it sucks I know as camping is terribly overrated. Luckily, Stanley makes products that make the outdoor that much more bearable. But just because your friends have dragged you out into the outdoors, doesn’t mean your food and drinks have to fall prey to the elements (like ants and bears). Perfect for the campsite or as a way to pack your lunch so that it doesn’t leak all over your other valuable goods, the Stanley Vacuum mug and Food Jar have got your back.

Sturdy doesn’t quite describe it, as Stanley ups the ante just a little more by making their storage containers practical and leakproof.  Made out of sturdy stainless steel and plastic, you can be sure your colds will stay cold and your hots will remain hot.  And honestly, it’ll take superhuman strength to break one of these guys. So rest assured, when you’re taking a break at work or on your hiking trail you’ll have perfectly preserved (for up to 12 hours!) goods that’ll get you through the rest of your day.

Dr. Martens Shoes
Here at Ground Control we love building relationships with folks and the people over at Dr. Martens are most certainly in the cool folks group. We highlighted them in our Holiday Guide last year and are proud to feature them again in our Back to School guide. Nevermind the fact that Dr. Martens should be your go-to stop for essential footwear (living in New England, their 1460 boots are cool, practical and downright essential in the snowy weather), but like we mentioned last time, they have stepped up their game in recent years, expanding into more formal and and casual citywear with styles that basically fit with any outfit or lifestyle.

Highlighted this time around are their wonderful Siano and Charlton shoes, which as you can tell are classic and sleek and shoed be basics in any wardrobe. Made from the same durable and sown PVC soles, these shoes are not going to fall apart like the standard glued crap you buy from whatever store you’re getting your shoes from. The hardcore leather takes a little breaking in (although the Charlton was already remarkably comfortable right out of the gate!) , but as soon as you’ve worn them, Dr Martens shoes will quickly become the MVP of any ensemble. We’ll say it again: everybody needs a pair of Docs!

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