Leaving The Trad Mark

When all is said and done, what inheritance will the world gain by your existence?

It doesn’t take a man of Buffet means to leave a legacy. Careful, considerate, deliberate planning will do. But, what will you do? Will you leave a small collection of maritime maps, painstakingly found and preserved. Will you leave a small collection of Soviet realist novels? Not your thing? You’re a man of action, a trad man. A man who nonetheless likes to muck it up in wide open spaces. You, like many of our ilk, like to explore. Not hotel explore. But explore the surfaces and the crevices of this massive mob called earth.

You’re probably thinking, “Ok Bix, my pockets are sparce.” Fear not, the modern trad (you have kept up with an inheritance – however small it may have been – we’re talking real small…or even your stimulus package check will do…) is a DIY man who knows the world hasn’t been explored to death – no matter what the old rich guys think.

So, try your hand at Robert Twigger’s Top 10 places to explore:

“1. Interior Labrador, Newfoundland. Very remote, even now, and kept remote by an inhospitable climate: bugs in the summer, ice in the winter.

2. Sahara – anywhere where there is no oil, which is most of the southern desert.

3. Antarctic islands off Graham Land coast, particularly Anvers, Adelaide and Alexander islands.

4. Remote Tepuy – huge rock mesas that rise out of the jungle in south-eastern Venezuela, the most famous being ‘The Lost World’ of Conan Doyle, which, though often visited, still has unexplored sections.

5. The Sudd swamp – the world’s largest swamp – in the Sudan. Political upheaval and the difficulty of any travel in a swamp have kept this place interesting for explorers.

6. Cave systems anywhere; for example the huge Voronya Cave in Abkhazia, Georgia, the world’s deepest, which revealed more undiscovered passages earlier this year.

7. Mountains in the extreme east of Tibet. 159 out of 164 peaks over 6,000m are unclimbed here and mostly unnamed. Hard to get to but surrounded by huge unclimbed peaks and micro-areas of fertility in deep gorges. Shangri-La style, there could be more waiting to be found: in 2002, such a fertile oasis was found in the Himalayan reaches of the Tsangpo river.

8. Chukchi region of Siberia – the very far north-east of Russia. Due to economic collapse people still live in a traditional way herding reindeer and living in skin shelters. Apart from Roman Abramovich, that is, who bizarrely maintains a villa here – testament to his time as governor of the region.

9. Spice Islands, Indonesia. A huge number of small islands with rarely visited interiors between New Guinea and Sulawesi. Recently opened up after years of Muslim / Christian violence.

10. The myriad tiny feeder rivers and streams of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. Unlike footpaths they are very rarely travelled. Chances are there is one within a mile of your house. Buy some waders, or an old scout-group canoe and go exploring today.”

Leave your mark, explore, document and preserve your exploration. Contribute to the benefit of humankind. In a very Tradly way, of course.


From Trad to Tragic

Yes, they were Trad, Virginia.

Yes, they were Trad, Virginia.

To Uhm…does this come in crazy? 


Uhm...does that come in tweed?

Uhm...does that come in tweed?

What? Shut up! No! 

Yes. Once upon a time, A & F, now the purveyor of ironic t-shirts and confused and salacious advertising, started out as a rugged outdoor Trad outfitter with a fascinating tradistory. What? Still don’t believe me. Just keep reading.

“Abercrombie & Fitch is a retailer of casual clothing and accessories including cologne and perfume for men and women targeting the collegiate demographic. The company operates over 300 stores including “abercrombie” stores for children and teenagers; and also publishes a quarterly combination magazine/catalog.
The brand was established in 1892 and became known as a supplier of rugged, outdoor gear. It was acquired by The Limited Inc. in 1988 and in 1992 was repositioned as a more fashion-oriented casual apparel business. An initial public offering was held in 1996, where The Limited retained 84 percent of the company. It became independent in June 1998, when the remainder of the company was spun off to Limited shareholders.
In 1892 Abercrombie & Fitch began under the name David T. Abercrombie Co., a small waterfront shop and factory in downtown New York City owned by David Abercrombie.
David Abercrombie, born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, was a former trapper, prospector, topographer and railroad surveyor. He was also an inventor, an ingenious designer of tents, rucksacks and other camping equipment. It was his love of the great outdoors that inspired him to begin Abercrombie & Co., a shop dedicated to selling only the highest-quality camping, fishing and hunting gear. His clientele consisted mostly of professional hunters, explorers and trappers. And a man named Ezra Fitch.
Ezra Fitch was a successful lawyer in Kingston, New York. Restless and thoroughly bored with his life of law, Fitch spent all of his free time trekking the slopes of the Adirondacks and casting flies into the streams of the Catskill. In his search for exceptional outdoor gear, he had come to rely upon David Abercrombie’s shop, becoming one of its most devoted customers.
He was so devoted, in fact, that in 1900 he had convinced David Abercrombie to let him buy into the business and become a partner. By 1904, the shop (which by now had moved to 314 Broadway) was incorporated and the name was officially changed to Abercrombie & Fitch.
Both David Abercrombie and Ezra Fitch were stubborn, hot-tempered men, and they had vastly different views about the future of their business. Abercrombie was more conservative, content to continue the store as it was, selling professional gear to professional outdoorsmen. Fitch, on the other hand, was more of a visionary. He was positive that the future of the business lay in expansion, selling the outdoors and its delights to more of the general public. Long arguments between the two men ensued. Inevitably, the partnership came to an end, and David Abercrombie resigned in 1907.

In the meantime, the store continued to expand. Ezra Fitch was a determined innovator. As a result of his imagination, hard work and sheer force of will, what he created was no ordinary sporting goods shop. Fitch was determined that the store have an outdoor feeling. Stock was not hidden behind glass cabinets. Instead, it was displayed as if in use. He set up a tent and equipped it as if it were out in the middle of the wilds of the Adirondacks. A campfire blazed in one corner, where an experienced guide was always in attendance, imparting valuable information to interested customers.

The clerks hired at A&F were not professional salesmen, but true rugged outdoorsmen. Talking was their pleasure and selling was performed only at the customers’ insistence. By 1913, the store moved to a more fashionable and easily accessible midtown address just off Fifth Avenue, expanding its inventory to include sport clothing. A&F became the first store in New York to supply such clothing to women as well as men.

Shortly after Abercrombie’s resignation from the company, A&F began publishing a catalog. This impressive book featured 456 pages of outdoor gear and clothing as well as sage camping, hunting and fishing advice to 50,000 prospective customers around the world. Orders soon began to flood in from around the globe, bringing international status to the ever-expanding store.

By 1917, Abercrombie & Fitch moved to Madison Avenue and 45th Street, where it occupied an entire twelve story building. Outside a sign proclaimed “Where the Blazed Trail Crosses the Boulevard.” Abercrombie & Fitch had become the largest sporting goods store in the world, as well as the most impressive. A log cabin was built on the roof, which Fitch used as a townhouse. Next to it he had a casting pool installed, where serious fishermen could sample the store’s impressive collection of rods and flies. In the basement, an armored rifle range was set up. There was also a golf school, a floor dedicated solely to completely set-up camps, and a dog and cat kennel. In addition to the more standard types of outdoor goods, A&F had a selection of exotic sporting equipment that would make the imagination reel: hot air balloons, yachting pennants, portable trampolines, treadmills for exercising dogs, throwing knives, shirts of chainmail, leopard collars, and everything a person could possibly need for falconry.

Abercrombie & Fitch outfitted many great hunting and exploration expeditions, like Theodore Roosevelt’s trips to Africa and the Amazon and Robert Peary’s expedition to the North Pole. Ernest Hemingway bought his guns there. Presidents Hoover and Einsenhower relied on A&F for the best fishing equipment. Other famous clients included Amelia Earhart, Presidents Taft, Harding and Kennedy, the Duke of Windsor, Bing Crosby, Howard Hughes, Katharine Hepburn, Greta Garbo and Clark Gable. And there was more: Cole Porter ordered his evening clothes from Abercrombie & Fitch. During Prohibition, A&F was the place to buy hip flasks.

By 1928, Ezra Fitch retired from the business to enjoy his remaining few years in the great outdoors that he loved so much.

Abercrombie & Fitch continued to grow, with stores opening up in Chicago and San Francisco. But by the late ’60s the store hit upon hard times and went bankrupt in 1977. Oshman’s Sporting Goods, based in Houston, Texas, bought the company. Business wasn’t good. The Limited Inc. bought Abercrombie & Fitch in 1988.”

This is enough to give you a headache many times over. Abercrombie & Fitch has outfitted famous clients including Ernest Hemingway, Robert Peary, Amelia Earhart, Howard Hughes, the Duke of Windsor and Presidents Taft, Harding and Kennedy.  And today’s clients? I don’t even want to go there. Remember what I said about projectile vomitting.

-Charles Bixx




Camping, Trad Style

We Don't Need No Stinkin' North Face Tents

North Face Not Allowed

There was a time, not long ago, when men knew that camping meant, ‘roughing it’…

Now, camping is what you do outdoors with all your new expensive high tech camping gear to separate you, as much as possible, from the gritty beautful outdoors.  So leave the North Face mono/poly/insert-other-high-tech-camping-phrase, at home. Grab a wall tent (vintage or replication), your Rugby buddies, or closest friends and head out to the forest for a little camping. A camping trip is not meant  to be an edited sensory experience. You’re supposed to get a little wet, burn a little food, hassle with the tent (stakes included). Uh roughing it. Hello? Men? We’ve been too pampered, too coddled. Leave your coddled buddies at home (if you have any) and do a little fishing, take a little hike, play a little poker by the light of the lamp. Rough it. And please leave those little tents, you know, the ones where you unpack a little bag and throw the tent in the air with the expectation that it will hit the ground in perfect tent formation. Leave that untradly crap at home. Make Teddy Roosevelt proud. Enjoy the great outdoors – Trad style.

And Don’t Forget:

Gwalty Gear Big Backpack

Gwalty Gear Big Backpack

Alden Work Boot

Alden Work Boot

Rogues Gallery Sailing Time Sweater

Rogues Gallery Sailing Time Sweater

and of course, a vintage wall tent:

Vintage Wall Tent Replication

Vintage Wall Tent Replication

Pt. 1: A Few of my Favorite Trad Things (insert music…)

Alden Snuff Suede Indy Boots

Alden Snuff Suede Indy Boots

What do John F. Kennedy, Richard M. Nixon, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Indiana Jones have in common? Yes, I know, it’s a real stretch. Hint? Look at the shoes.  No, not Alden Snuff Suede Indy Boots, but all of the men mentioned above did wear Alden shoes and or boots.  Alden is one of the last of the great American shoemakers. My Alden Snuff Suede Indy Boots will have to be pried off my “dead feet” – or else they’re coming with me to the great beyond. This is how much I love these shoes. They may be pricey but, I assume that anyone reading this blog is not a fan of the disposable square toed plastic nightmares that masquerade as today’s mens footwear, and therefore understands that quality is at times, pricey. Perhaps the Trad man knows that a shoe is a gift to be shined, when needed, and resoled, when needed, until death do you part. The Trad man doesn’t give up his shoes. He treats them with care. And in return, they will last a lifetime.

The Sport of the Gods

Rugby: Sport of the Gods

Mens Sana in Corpore Sano, a healthy mind in a healthy body. Recite and memorize this little Latin phrase. Besides being incredibly fun, Rugby does three things very well: it helps build character, sportsmanship, and nurtures a competitive yet “tempered” spirit. Oh, and it may also be very good for your physicians wallet. So, in addition to “normal” Rugby, for those with delicate ankles, “touch” Rugby and “flag” Rugby will suffice (insert laughter). Play Rugby and you will be changed forever. Get a few guys together and play once a week. The lessons learned will be yours for a lifetime, much like a fractured collar bone. Every Trad man should excel in one sport. The Trad man is not interested in taking a seat among America’s sports fan cult class. Unfortunately,  todays man has become more adept at analyzing baseball statistics than knowing what a Louisville slugger feels like as it cracks a ball into center field. Enough watching – play already.

Custom Hide Barrister Bag

Custom Hide Barrister Bag

Custom Hide is another US based bag maker. Their bags are of exceptional quality and may very well outlive you. Http://www.customhide.com It’s a preferred bag of the adult species.

A Watchpiece for Grown Men

A Timepiece for Grown Men

Come a little closer, I want to whisper something in your ear. Please, for God’s sake, take off that hideous sportswatch. Put on a non-plastic watch. Is it too much to ask a man to wear a timepiece made for, well, him? I love my Hamilton military watch to death. A hand-me-down, from a military relative long since gone. Hamilton’s the famed US based (well once upon a time) watch maker. If you want to buy a real Hamilton, don’t buy a new Hamilton, only the vintage will do. The newer ones, I believe, are under a foreign manufacutuer and probably created with the sweat of a million foreign tongued child laborers.

What More Can I Say?

The Woodbridge from Southwick Clothing

It’s perfect and goes great with the aforementioned Alden boots.

If you have to ask...

If you have to ask...

You just wouldn’t get it. I’ve always been fond of the scholar/athlete. A Rugby ball snug in one arm and a copy of “Everyman a Speculator” under the other. Hmm…let’s see how do I put this politely? I have thousands of books. Most of them bought at discount and at a fair, excrutiatingly fair price from Edward R. Hamilton Booksellers. Visit them online and I can guarantee you – you will never shop at Borders or Barnes & Ignobler again. http://www.edwardrhamilton.com

Fashion Hell – Are We Boys or Are We Men?

The Downward Spiral

The Downward Spiral

Something has gone excrutiatingly wrong with men’s fashion and clothing. And this wrongheadedness is being poured down the throats of men everywhere. Take a close look at the bag above. Do the contents make vomiting look like an agreeable option? Are any of these accessories in your bag? If so, please find the nearest bridge and jump, quickly. Or, take a look back in time and view the bounty of style that once was and still is, true American style – Trad style.

Charles Bixx is about eternal style, not fashion. Clothing (30’s, 40’s, 50’s, 60’s are all good starting points), furniture, accessories, grooming, and lifestyle. Enjoy.

Metrosexuals, hipsters, trendsetters, and the athletically challenged, need not apply. Welcome to American Trad. Welcome to Charles Bixx.