The latest installment in our Gilt MAN Finds series is one of the best yet, due in large part to the man doing the finding: Michael Williams, the A Continuous Lean blogger, MANual contributor, and all around menswear macher. On offer are collaborations with some of America’s coolest men’s brands (some of which he reps via his PR firm Paul + Williams), including ties from Alexander Olch, derby boots by Mark McNairy, and jeans by Tellason, made (in the U.S.A.) from Cone White Oak selvedge denim. We talked to Mr. Williams about the items in the sale and what makes them special.
Lots of what is here—Tellason denim, Hamilton shirts, Olch ties—was born out of collaborations specifically with ACL. What made you want to work with these brands, and where are ACL’s fingerprints to be found in the final products?
When I started my shop the goal was to make collaboration items with my friends and with brands I admired. The first items I made were a small selection of shoes with Mark McNairy. I have been friends with Mark for a long time and have always wanted to do some special product with him. Same thing for Alexander Olch: We have been friends, and worked together, for years and it was only logical to do some special ties with him.
The idea for those Olch pieces is based on an old men’s shop catalog that I found at Brimfield. I showed it to Alexander and he had the great idea to reproduce the silk repp strip patterns at his mill in England. I think the patterns turned out great and the concept is perfect for ACL, old meets new.
You and McNairy are buds—what can you tell us about the shoes that only a friend would know?
I remember when Mark was first starting his shoe collection, he was going to England a bunch and sending me pictures from the factory. It was pretty amazing to see Mark put his spin on such classic English footwear. When he got back I was thinking about my shop, we started talking, and next thing you know I was ordering five pairs of special shoes.
The whole process was sort of Mr. Potato Head: We took an outsole from one shoe, and combined it with the upper and shape of another. That’s the beauty of what McNairy does, there are so many possibilities with the collection. But when it comes down to it, these collaborations are really just a way for me to get special product that I want to wear. Very selfish, I know.
Going to make you choose favorites here.
I love the jeans we did with Tellason—the fit was created just for me and my shop. Also, the way I see it, these McNairy saddle chukkas with red brick soles are the best of old and new. Classic McNairy genius right there on your feet.