Every fall season, I can’t seem to stop myself from buying more sweaters, but the one I keep coming back to, year after year, is my reliable grey sweatshirt. For casual use with chinos and jeans, I can’t think of anything better. It’s low-maintenance, sporty, and if the fit is right, can look pretty great.
My favorite sweatshirts are made by Japanese companies such as Buzz Rickson, The Real McCoys, and Strike Gold. These brands specialize in mid-century reproductions, and often use older production techniques (these techniques don’t lend any special advantage, they’re just neat if you care about such things). They’re also thicker and denser than most other sweatshirts on the market. You can find them at them at Self Edge, Blue in Green, Superdenim, and Bench & Loom.
Naturally, many people may be wondering what’s the difference between a ~$150 sweatshirt and something that you can find for ~$50. Some of this will be in the detailing, such as some having loopwheeled constructions (which again, are just old ways of making these garments). Some of this will be in the quality of the materials. My Buzz Rickson sweatshirt, for example, is nice and dense, and doesn’t stretch out as easily as the one I bought from J. Crew. It also has a “vintage” fit that I like, which is slightly boxy and short. I think it goes well with the kind of boots, jeans, and jackets I like to wear.
In the end, however, you just need to find something that fits you well, and works for your budget. Not all sweatshirts have to be dumpy, and not all nice ones have to cost an arm and a leg. If you find that your sweatshirt stretches out easily, just throw it in the wash and put it in the dryer after each wear. It should shrink back to shape. The color might dull from being in the dryer so much, but … it’s a sweatshirt. These look better beat up.
Brooklyn-based Battenwear, formerly Batten Sportswear, combines an extensive knowledge of vintage sportswear with a sharp eye for fabric and fit. The result is a collection of fun, high-performance clothing that’s ready for whatever you’ve got planned this weekend.
The Travel Shell 2 Parka and the Retro Day Pack, with felt-padded shoulders and suede-reinforced bottom, are great for meeting up with friends for a morning coffee before catching a train to the Hudson Highlands (the only section of the Appalachian Trail with a designated rail stop).
The Overhang Shorts, with zip pockets and a crotch gusset for a full range of movement, are perfect for urban climbers taking the C train to 110th, where “Worthless Boulder” provides some worthy challenges.
And practitioners of the time-honored outdoor activity of chilling on Central Park’s Great Lawn should check out the Five-Pocket Island Shirt; it combines elements from classic Hawaiian shirts and the Cuban Guayabera shirt, with an added fifth pocket for your metro card and enough cash to buy a hot pretzel.
Battenwear’s designer Shinya Hasegawa is a dedicated east coast surfer himself. The sport and location inspires his designs in both style and spirit. Surfing in New York is tough; it’s a long train ride to the beach, and the water is cold most of the year. But these obstacles give New York surf culture a special flavor—like they say about the bagels, it’s gotta be something in the water.