Introducing our 2023 Style & Design selections, an annual tradition where men’s diary editors and contributors carefully choose the latest gear that will enhance your life in the coming year, and do it well.
We’ve rounded up an eclectic list that ranges from build-it-yourself supercars and electric jet skis to eco-jackets and bio-circular boots, plus four interviews with the makers behind the gear, so dig in and find some new toys. to call yours.
Contributors: Graham Averill, Adam Bible, Berne Broudy, Kate Erwin, Steve Russell, Jeremy K. Spencer, Ryan Stuart, Sal Vaglica
Meet the creators
David Smith, p.resident and CEO of Factory Five Racing
For the car guys, the sound of a hoarse or howling exhaust note hitting your ears on the street is sure to have your necks twisting, searching for the vehicle attached to that musical cacophony. If it’s a rare muscle car or a new Italian exotic, that sound has a price tag of at least $100,000.
But Factory Five Racing, which has grown over the past 27 years to become the king of “kit cars”, can get you started building a legit supercar or badass hot rod for less than $25,000, at provided you don’t mind getting your hands a little dirty.
David Smith, co-founder of Factory Five, learned computer-aided design (CAD) while working for medical school. He used his CAD knowledge to found a company making replica Shelby 427 Cobras with his equally muscle car-obsessed brother. “We brought a professional business plan and good computer technology to the game,” says Smith, “and revolutionized the business of building your own car from home.”
After succeeding with a near-exact 1967 Cobra copy (with modern frame and components), they now offer “built, not buy” kits ranging from a 1965 Shelby Daytona replica and a hot rod impersonator. 1932 Ford to an original design supercar and nimble street racer.
Kits can be purchased with the base build to get the best value. Just supply the basics – transmission, suspension, brakes, fuel tank – from donor cars. Or you can select all options and let them send you everything you need, minus the running gear.
“The kits we sell are mostly complete: no cutting, no welding, no fabrication,” Smith explains. “What we do for our clients is essentially the hardest part. All parts that took us 25 years to make right.[From $10,990; factoryfive.com]
Noah Swartz, ffounder and CEO of Erem
After Noah Swartz, a fourth-generation shoemaker – his great-grandfather founded Timberland – got blisters while hiking in southwestern Utah when the temperature went from freezing to sweltering in a matter of hours, he realized that there was no such thing as a hiking shoe designed specifically for the rigors of desert travel.
Swartz, a self-proclaimed radical environmentalist, founded Erem to manufacture this boot and model a manufacturing company with the highest social and environmental standards.
Desert-focused, Erem makes bio-circular desert hiking boots – all materials can be returned to nature in a timely manner, from linen yarn to full-grain leather. “We don’t claim our boots are 100% biodegradable,” says Swartz. “Brass lace guides won’t break down, but they won’t pollute your water. Our boots can be taken apart and aired in their respective next lives, and they will mostly decompose in the wild if not reused.
Consider Erem Leather. Most leathers are tanned with chrome, a process that is carcinogenic to humans and the planet. Erem uses vegetable tanned leather – its food-grade tannins are so mild that the by-products can be turned into organic fertilizer.
The Xerocole reverse grain leather hiking boot is sewn, not glued, so it’s truly breathable, as well as supportive and durable. It is also resolable and repairable. And everything from the aglet (the lace end, which is brass) to the insole is designed for high performance to a bio-circular standard.
Erem will take his boots back to rehab, take them apart, reuse them, and recycle them after you wear them out. Plus, proceeds from every sale help plant desert prickly pears to fight climate change, sequester carbon, and provide food.[$170; eremlife.com]
Matt Czach, againstice President of Product Experience and Design at Traeger
Traeger introduced the first pellet grill in the mid-’80s, and since then its design – essentially a barrel with a box on the side – has been copied and modified by everyone. For the next big leap in pellet grill design and technology – the new Timberline – Traeger had to reinvent the archetype.
One of the first steps was to redesign the outer shell, says Matt Czach, vice president of product experience and design. “We’ve really taken the steps to migrate to something that’s much more of a consumer good than a piece of equipment.” To do this, they moved the hopper and control assembly into a more monolithic design and pushed the feet to each corner.
Other notable changes to the exterior include interactive features such as a color touchscreen, light rings that indicate status changes, automatic exterior LED grill lights, and a rail system. 270 degree snap-in accessories.
Internally, the focus has been on a more sophisticated thermal system and easier-to-use features, Czach says, namely the ability to grab and collect grease and ash in one place. The first part was carried out not by increasing the temperature, but by increasing the heat. The grill still goes to 500 degrees, but there is a lot more radiant heat coming from the grill grates. “We’re able to build up a heat load that gives you sex and sizzle — you can get grill marks on burgers and steaks,” says Czach.
The other common problem is ash and grease management. “Ash buildup in the firepot does not exist on this product as we designed it. The fan will blow away all the ash – it will just fall into the bucket.
Other nifty features include a side induction hob that reaches 700 degrees, becoming your outdoor hob, and a “smart combustion” system that includes multiple sensors for better heat management.[From $3,500; traeger.com]
Christian Epp, ddirector of the Americas at Tilke Design
You see plenty of sights up and down the Vegas Strip – crooner beggars, boozy bachelor parties, random public nudity. You don’t usually see a race car roaring at 200 mph.
Yet that’s exactly what will happen – repeatedly – in November 2023 when Formula 1 hits Sin City in its quest to win the eyes and wallets of a growing American fan base.
The problem is that Vegas has a lot of traffic, but no F1 circuit. (It’s what F1 folks call a race track.) So it’s time to put a top track designer in the driver’s seat, namely Christian Epp of international design firm Tilke.
“The idea is that this race takes place in the center of the action, so we knew from the start that we were going to create a circuit using the existing streets, like in Monaco,” explains Epp. “The concept of driving around casinos is great.”
Yes, the stripper limos will be forced to detour, but Vegas bigwigs are on board, given that casinos love those high-energy events (think boxing) to catch the big-spending whales.
A major design factor is that F1 circuits require lap times of 90 to 120 seconds to best serve spectators, both in the stands and on television. To that end, Tilke stitched together the 3.8-mile Vegas Circuit, with direct access through Caesars Palace and the famous Bellagio Fountains, and 14 looping corners to include the High Roller Ferris wheel.
And, despite Vegas’ abundance of neon lights, the incorporation of millions of watts of lighting is also on the checklist, as organizers have opted to complicate matters further by staging one of F1’s few night races. .
When the starting grid finally aligns next fall, the Strip promises racers more than F1’s glitziest straight. At a mile long, it ranks among the longest, allowing speeds of up to 212 mph. “There will definitely be some great racing and overtaking,” says Epp. “People will be entertained.”[formula1.com]
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