From footwear to watches to accessories, our Editor in Chief presents a selection of gifts that would work for either you or your partner.
Let’s get it out there and say what you want about Valentine’s. Cheesy? Maybe. Overdone? Perhaps. But if there’s one thing that the pandemic has taught us, it’s that we shouldn’t be taking anything for granted. Least of all, a season like this: the month of love.
Between everything that’s going on and everything that’s still to happen over the year, I’ll take any chance to enjoy an occasion that celebrates love. Sometimes that means cooking up something special at home and sometimes that means picking out something as a gift as well—maybe even one for yourself.
In any case, if you’re on the lookout for gift ideas, I do have a few suggestions. They range from the acessible to the not-quite-so, and each one has a little something that makes it special.
Shoes, because we’re done with wearing slippers all the time
Just last year, enviro-social entrepreneurs Mike and Banj Claparols launched LAKAT Sustainables, a sneaker brand that makes use of eco-friendly, ethically-sourced and produced local materials.
So what does that all mean, exactly? It means they make shoes out of hand-woven pineapple and cotton fabrics. The pineapple fibers are sourced from discarded leaves: a common waste product during harvest season. They also make use of solar energy in the extraction process to lower their carbon footprint.
The fibers are then hand-woven by the Kabanklan weavers of Negros, and the resulting canvas is water repellant as well. The insoles are likewise made with pineapple fabric, and the outsoles use rubber that’s locally farmed in Mindanao, with discarded pineapple cotton fibers mixed in to reduce even more waste.
You have to admit, that is pretty cool.
The sneakers come in both low and high-cut versions, and the latter will remind you of vintage military high tops—a style that goes particularly well with Japanese denim and workwear.
On the feet, they’re very comfortable, and are suited to long days out or quick errands. Plus, you’re supporting a homegrown business and helping save the environment in the process. That makes them well worth the price of entry.
Berwick 1707 Loafers
If classic shoes are more your thing, Berwick could be an appealing prospect. These shoes are made in Almansa, a town in southeastern Spain with a long history in the cobbler’s tradition.
Berwick’s shoes are made completely in-house from raw materials. Much like in a mechanical watch, this detail actually matters because the house has complete control over manufacturing, resulting in better quality overall.
In any case, Berwick’s loafers lean toward classic designs, with colors mostly running along the neutral spectrum. This makes them easy to fit into a classic wardrobe, and would likely be a match for most casuals.
Watches, because they’re always a good idea
Alpina Alpiner 4 Chronograph “Granite”
Swiss mechanical watchmaking has quite a few stories to tell, and this watch isn’t any different. As it goes, Alpina feels underrated, and I think it should be a bit more popular than it currently is. It’s one of the more historical watchmakers and contributed more than a little to the industry’s modern development.
Gottlieb Hauser, the founder of Alpina, believed that there were four elements that a timepiece needed for it to qualify as a sports watch. Antimagnetism, shock-resistance, water-resistance, and built out of stainless steel—these qualities were necessary to survive an Alpine sports environment. This led to the development of the Alpina 4 in 1938, one of the first modern Swiss sports watches.
At 44mm, the modern Alpiner 4 Chronograph “Granite” takes up quite a bit of wrist space, but you do get a lot for all that, especially for its lower price point. Aside from Gottlieb Hauser’s four elements, Alpina has thrown in a chronograph, which gives it quite a bit more value. The light blue dial is inspired by the Alpine lakes and gives it a more modern-vintage appeal as well. This should be easy to match with neutrals in a more casual wardrobe.
And during these times, when vintage menswear and accessories are in our radar once again, these styles drawn from the past are going to make their way into how we dress.
Louis Vuitton Tambour Horizon
Hands down, this is probably the most elegant connected watch currently available. So if you’re not a particular fan of traditional watches but still want to wear something a few steps up from from the usual smart watch, this would likely fit the bill.
The Tambour Horizon takes its design cues from the Louis Vuitton aesthetic, coming steel, matte black, and matte brown. It’s hand finished as well, keeping in line with the Maison’s mechanical watches. The curving sapphire crystal acts as a screen, and is operated by touch. It’s also completely customizable, allowing you to change the watch face as often as you’d like and choose how you display the time. There are special faces for Valentine’s, the Lunar New Year, and even one made for Virgil Abloh’s 2054 collection.
The watch is powered by a Louis Vuitton’s custom-made OS, which lets you track your fitness, access your schedules, fix your travel plans, and even helps you navigate through cities with 30 of Louis Vuitton’s curated City Guides. This OS connects to your mobile as well, whether it’s running iOS, Android, or HarmonyOS.
Accessories, because they make ordinary things a bit more special
Bally Mavrick Backpack
Given everything we have to carry these days—phone, wallet, keys, spare masks, and hand sanitizer—bags are finding more use in general. Bally’s Mavrick backpack is a versatile piece of kit that would be just as comfortable with jeans and a shirt as it would be with a GORE-TEX jacket and a pullover. Basically, it’s an all-season pack that’s weather-resistant and, at a little over 16 inches tall, comes in a handy size for carrying daily.
While the one you see here is a little bold, the Mavrick also comes in more subdued colors like brown, which would be easier to match with a neutral wardrobe. Bally uses recycled leather and fabrics using recycled fibers for this range, so it’s an eco-conscious pick, should you decide to go with it.
Montblanc Great Characters Enzo Ferrari Edition
Montblanc’s Great Characters collection pays tribute to the people who had an immense impact the world. In this case, the character in question is motoring legend Enzo Ferrari. As a race car driver, entrepreneur, founder of the Scuderia Ferrari racing team, and founder of the Ferrari marque, Enzo Ferrari helped shape motorsports today (not to mention, gave us some of the most fantastic luxury sports cars in the world.)
The Great Characters Enzo Ferrari Special Edition takes its cues from Enzo Ferrari. The pen is made in red resin and the cap bears the prancing horse emblem as well as Enzo Ferrari’s signature. The metal clip also has a quote from the man, which reads: “You cannot describe passion, you can only live it.”
This is a good pick for anyone obsessed with Ferraris, and while most people may not be able to gift one for Valentine’s, this pen might just be up their alley.
Either way, whether you’re shopping for yourself or for someone else, there’s a lot of value in these picks. And while Valentine’s only lasts till tonight, there’s always the rest of the month of love to consider.