Wednesday, June 8, 2016


I came to Texas with a mission, to redefine the something I love, to figure out how to pass that passion to everyone.

From the outset, inspired by the past and encouraged by my friends, I was able to bring back brand defining styles using the original machinery with the original hat making techniques, many dating back to the 1920s and before.

With my own archives, I applied elements that I loved, to redefine iconic styles to suit the fashion of the modern day. I installed in the line, pieces that could fight the trend of fast fashion, to be that item you could put on your head knowing it added rather than took away.

I reintroduced a line of women’s hats and watched as more and more styles populated the lineup, and I was proud that the factory could visibly see a change happening when the floor that was covered in racks of cowboy hats day in day out, turned into a sea of red as Marvel’s Agent Carter hit the airwaves, atop her head was a Stetson.

For the 150th anniversary of the company, I designed a roundtable of the finest quality pieces that could be produced, knowing that these were the same steps that over a century of Stetson master hatters used to make the pronounced, yet subtly elegant look of America’s hat.

I willed into being and negotiated the return of the Iconic Manhattan Neon Stetson sign that was, and now again is, above JJ Hatcenter on Fifth Avenue.

Exotic locations, extraordinary situations, one day I was discussing the toquila palm crop with the Ecuadorian consulate while driving to work, the next, I was in Manhattan being tracked down by an Italian man wanting to sweep me up in his SUV, just so I could explain the fall lineup. Videoconferences with Germany at 2am, all-nighters to clean up my Japanese business etiquette because the clients are arriving early… 

I’ve made new friends here, I’ve had great adventures, and Big Tex Under the shade of his Cowboy hat has looked down at me and smiled. I went to the rodeos, to the barn dances and I got to know the kings and queens of the outlaw country scene.

I came to Texas with a mission, to redefine the something I love, to figure out how to pass that passion to everyone.

I feel that’s what I’ve done.

Of all the endeavors I’ve set my sights on, this one, being the Creative Director of Stetson’s dress hats was one of the most fulfilling. Now, I need to move to my next adventure, and that begins by steeping myself in my hometown of Los Angeles. Reconnecting with my closest, and taking in that warmth of what is my city.

Yours in hatting,

Joseph C. Brandstetter

Monday, February 23, 2015

The February 2015 post about ties and more.

I’ve really been exercising my reading habit more than my writing habit lately.

Here we go again.

Kazuki Kodaka has done a few things I wish I could do when it comes to this new world of fashion where we are continuing in the footsteps of the classic tailors that knew and believed in durability and making clothing that was formed around the anatomy of the wearer, and not founded on the fast food idea of fashion that has been in charge for the last few decades. I’ve been admiring his work from the US for a few years now and have to say… it’s excellent when it comes to getting it right. I’ve always been a fan of the belted back suit that accentuates the waist of the wearer. I’ve worked with a local tailor to get this look right. But when it comes to cloth used and that classic flattering drape from the days of old, Adjustable Costume has nailed it. I’ve recently become the proud owner of a pair of the most complicated suspenders a man could ever own, but being a suspender wearer, they are perhaps the most comfortable I will ever own… especially since they are engineered for the high waisted trouser I wear.

I’ll post more pics in following posts. But for now I wanted to showcase the necktie. It’s a repro of a classic early 1930s unlined and folded raw piece of silk. Something that would just get caught in the wind and flutter about. Nothing like the modern day overly heavy ties you find at your local high end department store. It’s something that is built around the romance. There is a  luxury in the simplicity.

On the left is the Adjustable Costume Octopus tie. On the right is an original 1930s brocade tie. My compliments go to Kazuki for getting it right when it comes to the details and the construction. 

McColgan for Hollywood

On another note; A fun acquisition on my part… A few years back I sold off a lot of my old wears, one of my prized pieces was an A-2 leather jacket that I’d wear on occasion. I did love that jacket yet circumstances required I part with it. In the hunt for a replacement, I thought I’d stick with my aesthetic of old school workwear that’s’ been trending as of late… and in that vein of though I needed something that was properly accurate to the uniform standards of the originals made in the 1930s and 40s.

The Steve McColgan clothing company has been historically accurate jackets and gear for decades. Whether it be for Saving Private Ryan, or Band of Brothers, he’s been the man on call when it comes to making it look right… because it is right. I would have nothing less. I’ve seen the works from the competition like Eastman Leather or Real McCoys, the competition for WWII Americana is growing, but there is nothing Like a classic made in the USA A-2 that’s just like those our flyboys wore in their planes during the war. Something that you’d find in a surplus store in the 50s if you were lucky. Anywho… the jacket is still in break in mode and I’ll be beating it up on a daily basis on the cooler days in the Stetson hat factory.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

It's all in the details: Manhattan 2014

Ignacio Quiles, Dandy Wellington, Matt Deckard

I’m continuously neglecting putting pen to paper or even fingers to keyboard. Something I’ve shied away from for the last few years… just a lot of trauma I guess. Best hopes dashed on some fronts and losing both my parents in quick succession… Just not the recipe for taking time to sit and concentrate in the ways I’ve done in the past.

To the blog (We still use that word? It’s quite groggy).

I went to Manhattan to work out some hats and attend MRket menswear show with my fellow chaps from Stetson. That may be the important part, and bits on hats and hat care and hat creation are often my strong suit, but that information will come with future posts and videos. What I want to talk about is the sharing of knowledge and the fun that was had after all those hours pounding the pavement while wearing various pairs of shoes.

I met and hung out with many interesting and captivating New Yorkers…

Me and Gibson Frazier
Let’s start with Gibson Frazier. I didn’t expect to be surprised by the intellect, but you’re always going to be taken a back when you meet in person, someone that just has that “it” quality that used to be often talked about, but is rarely defined. He’s a playwright that often does cameos on the big screen and television, but primarily has worked at the keyboard writing breakthrough artistic pieces… newer ones having strong online kickstarter backing. I first learned of him through a movie he put together in 1999 called Man of the Century where his character lived his affinity for the past and was a man of the 1920s from hat to spats, living in the world of the 90s. You need to see it. That’s acting chops put to their test.

We met at the Norwood, a classic social club that looked exactly like what you’d imagine Manhattan would have, with a ledger to sign in at the door to boot.
Great art on the walls, small tables with conversations happening and someone to come by offering a cocktail every time your glass looked as though the ice were all you had left. We sat, talked sartorial past and future, art and acting, and just had a very good conversation. It was (to use my California wording) awesome.

That was one of the greater highlights of the visit, but there were many others, like meeting with Rose Callihan and Kellfire Bray. Rose is the photographer that catalogued the nuances of the dandy set of today in the new book I am Dandy. A book that is in a way the culmination of the well-dressed movement that’s been coming back to this world, a world that has had a serious bout with being lackadaisical toward dressing in general, and this is the book showcasing the generals leading the resistance. We met at The Rum House where luckily enough Jesse Gelber and Michael Arenella had already setup shop owning the place with some intoxicating swing and jazz music. The talk was intellectual and humorous, going from adventures to see some of these fellows, to tales of the nightlife in New York. Kellfire was a man with great gravitas with a tight grasp on fit and detail when the conversation went to suits.  You two were fun, and Rose… I need my book signed!

Rose Calahan sporting a prototype Stetson
I don’t want to fill this blog with too much to read about, as most people expect a video nowadays… but I absolutely must say meeting DandyWellington … well, when it comes to getting the classics perfect, he’s an expert. Not just in dress, but also in playing the period music he’s mastered. His mode of dress is as suave as his voice, and his skill on the dance floor… well he looked just as at home there as well.

Ignacio Quiles (Sartorial Pairings); It takes a lifetime of riffing on classics to make those classics look balanced and acceptable to many that just have an eye for now. He’s perfect at it. As we walked one of the halls of the latest New York menswear trade shows I lost a suspender button somewhere along the way… he replaced it using a pin from one of the venders tables. Not just quick thinking, quick styling. The look after made me wonder why I had a button sewn on there in the first place. Later that Monday we had a profound conversation on how clubs featuring bands should turn down their ambient music between sets so that patrons can take a breather from focusing on the entertainment to talk.

What else to say… Had a lovely conversation with CharleyMarcuse and Rory Duffy, an amazing tailor and winner of the Savile Row Golden Sheers award. Much about cutting jacket to be open or cutting them to be closed, At the time we were getting more and more tired as we went to a local Irish pub to continue talking about the slightest minutiae on fitting the hardest to fit individuals when it comes to bespoke tailoring.

Me swinging with Gin Minsky
Thank you for all the dances Gin Minsky. Meeting Bernard Delgado and Jack Newcastle is always captivating conversation about the best of what is New Yorks Nightlife. And to Laura, our Archivist at Stetson. I don't know how many hours we dug through the history and talked the state of clothing in general, but it was all smashing to see and learn and know.

Woman looking uncomfortable on bicycle while wearing awesome helmet

Laura Kimsey looking smashing

When you go to New York and you want to swing dance… see George Gee!
Dandy being Dandy
Michael Davis… We need to talk more about suits!

Now from Dallas… Matt Deckard.

Oh… by the by, check out the new Stetson hats at JJ hats!